Sometimes the hardest part of creating quality content for your blog isn’t the writing, it’s coming up with ideas. Content generation is difficult whether you’re just starting out as a blogger, or if you’ve been writing for years. Sometimes you just run out of inspiration!
But don’t worry.
It happens to the best of us and there are plenty of simple ways to come up with ideas for your blog:
Ask Your Audience
Want to know what your target audience is interested in? Ask them! Your audience knows what they like better than anyone, and they’ll be thrilled to know that you care about their interests. There are heaps of ways to use your target market to come up with content ideas. If you have social media, put up a post or a poll asking what they’d like to see. Ask if your fans and customers would be willing to fill out a questionnaire. Their answers could inspire a thousand new ideas.
Sometimes the best way to come up with ideas for your blog, is to get someone else to think of them for you! So don’t be afraid to ask people what they want.
Check Out Your Competitors
No matter what industry you’re working in, you’re bound to have competition. Your competitors are a fantastic resource for coming up with content ideas, so use them! Check out their blog and their social media. Find out what’s working for them and what’s not.
What posts have the most engagement? The most views? The most likes?
If lots of people are interacting on a post, you should consider writing on the same topic. But don’t just copy their article word-for-word. Try to see if there’s anything that your competitor missed. Perhaps there’s a point they failed to make, or there’s an alternative angle that you could take on the subject.
While it’s important to write about popular or ‘trending’ topics, you should always try to offer something new. So take a look at your more successful competitors to decide what you should be writing about.
Remember Your FAQs
What are the most frequently asked questions that you receive from your customers? What questions are your target market asking? Perhaps you should consider basing an article or an infographic around the topic.
For example: say you’re an online shoe store and your customers are always asking you what size they should buy. You could write a piece explaining how to find the right sized shoe, create an infographic explaining how to measure your foot when ordering shoes online and you could even write another piece on the difference between American and Australian shoe sizes.
There you go! Three content ideas right off the bat!
Chances are, if one customer has asked you a question, there are a dozen others who are asking themselves the same thing. So give them the answers they’re seeking and use their questions to inspire your content marketing strategy.
When you first started out in your industry, you probably had a lot of questions. I’m sure you had to research all sorts of things to get where you are today.
Have a think about the questions you needed to answer before starting out your business. What did you need to learn? Now ask yourself if your target market would benefit from this information too? If yes, then write about it!
Your knowledge and experience are powerful tools. But your past inexperience can be just as useful when it comes to content writing. Remember, your target market likely knows very little about your industry. You can always educate them by answering the questions you needed answered when you first started.
If you’re only just starting out now, start compiling a list of all the questions you ask yourself along the way. That list could be vital to your content marketing strategy in the future.
Look Up Current Trends
We’re living in the ‘hashtag’ trending era. It seems that every week there’s a new fad that everyone’s talking about. And you should be talking about it too!
Keep an eye on the latest trends for ideas for blog posts. Facebook and Twitter both highlight trending topics, which is a valuable resource for the uninspired blogger. Look out for new trends and see if there’s any relevant way you can write about them.
This is a great way to ensure that you’re writing about the topics people are interested in. It’s also a clever way to maximise exposure; you know people are already searching for these topics, so you might as well get in on the action!
Online forums such as Quora allow users to ask and answer questions on any topic you can imagine. These provide an excellent resource for bloggers looking for new content.
Forums can give you a glimpse into the kinds of questions people are asking, and what information they’re searching for. You can then use these questions as inspiration for your blog posts.
Don’t just be a fly on the wall. It’s good to get involved in the community and try to answer questions if you can. You can even post relevant links in your answers (great for generating traffic to your website). But make sure to actually answers questions in your response. No one likes a link spammer.
Social Media Comments
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn can be a great way of coming up with content ideas.
Check out the comments section of some of the bigger pages on social media. Quite often people will tell you what they would like to read about, and you can get a good sense of what gets people talking.
This goes for your own page as well. Make sure to pay attention to what your followers are telling you, and always respond to their comments. Not only does this allow you to build a relationship with your target audience, you can also take their suggestions and turn them into quality content.
While your website should always be the hero of your business, social media is an excellent source of traffic and inspiration for your content marketing strategy.
I’m sure many of us remember wikipedia as the big referencing no-no from our schooling years. It’s true, anyone can edit a wikipedia page, which is why it isn’t a very reliable source of information. What it is good for is generating content ideas for your blog or social media.
Wikipedia gives you an in-depth explanation of almost anything you can imagine. It’s also absolutely packed with links to other relevant articles. It’s these links that can inspire articles of your own!
Look up something relevant to your industry. Start with something very broad. For example, if I were looking for content ideas, I might look up ‘Digital Marketing’. From there I may find a link to ‘SEO’. From ‘SEO’ I’d find links to ‘Keywords’. From there I might find a link to ‘Keyword Stuffing’, ‘Long Tail Keywords’ and ‘Keyword Research Tools’, and the search goes on and on, growing more specific the deeper I go.
Every step along this wikipedia journey is a potential piece of writing. From that search alone I could write an article titled ‘What Are Long Tail Keywords?’, another called ‘How to Write SEO Content’ and a third on ‘The Best Keyword Research Tools For You’.
So if you’re out of ideas, perhaps you should let yourself get sucked into the wikipedia vortex and see what you find.
There are plenty of fantastic online tools for coming up with content ideas. Both Moz and SEMrush offer a keyword research tool that allows you to see the popularity of search terms, as well as how strong the competition is for those terms. The higher the search volume, the more people are looking for that topic.
Both Moz and SEMrush offer a free but limited version of this tool, but to get the full benefit, you need to pay for a monthly subscription.
SEMrush also offers a fantastic ‘Topic Research’ tool that will generate hundreds of blog post ideas for you. I use this tool myself on occasion, and I have to admit it’s been invaluable. The Topic Research tool is only offered in their Guru Plan or higher. It’s pretty pricey but well worth the money if you can afford it.
Alternatively there are resources like Buzzsumo which spits out popular results on any topic you enter into the search bar. The tool even shows post activity such as shares on Twitter and Facebook; linking pages and an ‘evergreen score’. But, as with many research tools, access is limited for non-paying users and you’ll need to subscribe to get the full benefits.
Another great source of inspiration is … you!
Content recycling is a great way of generating content ideas using old material. Perhaps a complicated article you wrote could be condensed into a simple infographic. Maybe a poll or quiz could be written based around an old blog post. Perhaps there were terms or concepts mentioned in an old post that you didn’t explore in depth. You could write an article explaining those concepts!
Topics that you’ve already written about aren’t necessarily dead. You can always approach them from new angles, or explain them in a new way.
It can be hard to come up with content ideas for your blog or social media. But the world is filled with sources of inspiration. By taking a look around you; finding out what people want to know about, or sprucing up some old content, you’ll never run out of ideas.
Good luck and don’t stop writing.