One of the biggest challenges for content writers is finding original ideas and new material. The whole principle of content marketing is to provide a steady and consistent stream of content with fresh ideas or perspectives. But that can be quite challenging and exhausting after a while.
This article offers some of the ways that you can generate content ideas for yourself. It looks at using the following;
- Content Creating Tools
- Identify and Answer Niche Questions
- Follow Current Topics
- Social Media
- Existing Content
- Comment Threads
- Ask for Ideas
- Motivational Quotes
- Develop a Content Plan
Keyword tools can also be a great way to develop themes for your article. A general idea such as Content Writing can be entered into a keyword tool such as Jaaxy and the results will provide other possible headings or themes.
In this example keyword tools has also provided ideas for three potential articles.
- best keyword tool
- best SEO tools
- best free keyword tools
One article could be written on a review of one particular keyword tool, another article could compare five or six keyword tools on the market and a third article could look at general SEO tools.
Using Google Autosuggest
If I start to type in the google search bar it will automatically begin to suggest possible things that I may be looking for. Using the example of ‘keyword’ I got the following suggestions from google –
Any of these suggestions could be used as the basis for a new blog post including articles on keyword tools, doing research or using keywords in blog posts.
Tools for Creating Content
Some of the larger content marketing companies have developed large databases of content headings which they have have now developed into topic generators. One example of this is HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator which is an easy to use tool that simply requires you to list 3 nouns and they will provide a list of 5 topics.
The list below shows what they came up with for the three nouns – blog, content, ideas
Answer Questions – That Are Being Asked in Your Niche Area
One of the secrets to producing good quality content, is to try and provide answers or solutions to people’s problems. So how do you discover what the problems are?
One of the easiest ways is to visit niche forums, where members are discussing many of the problems within your subject area.
One of the forums that I use is Quora which works as a great base for looking at questions in my sector.
I have registered with Quora for my own niche related topics, which are mainly SEO related and content marketing.
I may be asked questions directly or I can contribute to other questions being asked.
However I can also read through the lists of related questions and use the ideas as the basis for a new article.
Another forum I use is Wealthy Affiliate, which has a support forum for affiliate marketing bloggers. Many of these members are new to marketing and it provides a great source of questions and the sharing of niche related advice.
The advantage of both these forums, but especially Quora, is that you can link your answers back to relevant material on your website.
Follow the News – Google Alerts
Writing about current and trending topics is another important aspect of content creation. I use Google alerts as one way to ensure that all the current articles on topics within my niches are captured.
You can set up alerts with google and they will deliver them as you choose. Daily is a good option but the email content soon starts to build up. However if you set up a folder in your email system this can enable them to be saved for later viewing.
Social Media Articles
Within any niche there are other bloggers writing about topics that are of interest and relevant to your own blog. Most of these articles are posted onto social media and can provide a source of inspiration.
In particular I like Twitter because you can easily follow key thought leaders in your niche. If you retweet the content it will be saved into your own stream, allowing for easier access and re-reading later on.
Pinterest in another way to easily save articles and content onto your own boards and then access it later. You can also create different boards that break content down into smaller niche topics, or create secret boards that allow you to sort things out without revealing it to the public.
The content that you have already produced can also be an inspiration for new content. Old content can often get lost in the blog if you do have a lot of new articles on the site. Here are four ways that you can use your existing content.
- The comments that people add to your posts often include questions that may inspire a new topic, or enable you to further develop an existing post.
- In your existing content there may be a heading or section that could be developed into its own blog post or page.
- There may be updates or developments that need a new post written on the topic that can link to the older one showing how things have changed.
- An existing post could be divided into two separate themes and each one developed further resulting in two new posts.
Links to existing content can also be added into new posts, as part of your internal linking strategy. This ensures that the material on your site stays easily available to readers and shows Google how the material on your site is connected, which can increase rankings.
If you are blogging about a particular niche you will also be reading about it. These niche articles often have comments from its members, who are also members of your own target audience. The questions that they ask are as important as the content you are reading because they reflect what the key issues are in the sector.
It could be that you don’t agree with the answers provided and can then use that as the start for your own perspective on the topic.
Videos, Podcasts and Presentations
Don’t just restrict your reading to articles, look at the content within podcasts perhaps you can convert existing material into a different format. Similarly videos are a useful way to demonstrate tasks as many people prefer a visual explanation to just text.
There are also other sites such as Slideshare which be an effective way of producing short presentations I like this one by Gary Vaynerchuk It is only 3 mins and illustrates how a simple message can be transmitted through video and use the LinkedIn Slideshare site.
It is not necessarily the people with the greatest number of Twitter followers who are the leading industry experts. Sometimes your local niche audience can have people who are thought leaders in their particular market.
You can interview people and get ideas for your written content and possibly record the interview for a Youtube video or podcast.
Ask for Ideas
If you have a good following on your own website you can ask for ideas for content. This also helps to ensure that whatever you write is relevant to your audience. Even if you have a broad idea you can ask for suggestions about the specifics –
- for example – If you are going to write about social media perhaps you could ask which platform people are most interested to hear about at the moment.
Sometimes using quotes for inspiration is a good way to settle the mind and start writing. Or you may also begin to see links between the quotes and ideas for a new blog post. I wrote a short blog that revolved around three photos I had taken with rain in them and which I had added rain related inspirational quotes.
I could develop that idea further now and write a more in-depth blog about how to edit photos and which motivational quotes to look for.
Develop a Content Plan
I have mentioned in a previous article, about the importance of using a content plan to cut down on research time and writing. However you can also use it to develop a theme of content ideas for the next week or two.
List All Your ideas
The first stage in developing a plan is to brainstorm, or write down all the possible ideas for topics that you can think of. This list can be 40 or 50 blog titles but as you begin writing some titles will evolve into themes of articles and can be grouped together.
It’s important to remember that content plans should link into your business plan – in content marketing there is also a marketing element it isn’t just about content.
Although many of the larger companies offer sophisticated content strategy templates, for example there is one by Moz available to download. I have chosen a very simple template which in this example looks at enveloping one small theme of three blogs.
This template doesn’t show the link to a business plan directly, that can be added in at the top. The sub themes however do represent the objective for each post – so a post on keywords is linked to the theme, or aim, of improving ranking using SEO
A strategy has several different elements that need to be considered when planning content.
- A link to the business aim – product to be branded or sold
- A strong title that will capture readers interest and will answer their question or need
- A link to previous content
- An awareness of future content and ready to promote the new post
- A social media strategy to promote the content
You can use any of the method or techniques mentioned above in order to develop your content strategy. As you can see from this template it doesn’t have to be that sophisticated.
There are a number of other articles on this site that look at managing content writing that you may be interested in –
I wish you luck in your own writing and I would love to hear any other ideas that you have for generating content, so please add them to the comments section below.