how to find content ideas
Your eyes flash open and your pupils dilate as you rise from your sorely-needed sleep in the dead of night. You feel sweat forming in places you’re not used to or comfortable with.
This was me. One night not far in the past, I found myself in a blissful nightmare where our business had created a massive audience through consistent and high-quality content delivery only to lose it all because we ran out of content ideas. Through some breathing exercises and screaming ‘om’ into the panic-stricken visage that stared back at me in the mirror, I was able to re-establish some semblance of reason within myself. I grabbed my notebook and pen that I keep close by my bedside and poured out some ideas of places to hunt for content ideas going forward. I’ve elaborated on those notes below to share with you in the hopes that we can both sleep a little more soundly going forward.
1. Your content marketing strategy
Specifically, make sure you have content assets to fill all the holes of your Content Segmentation Grid.
This is the first significant push with a new content strategy, and it’s this first push of content that will enable you to cash in on the most profitable content ideas (which we’ll go over below). Once you have produced content to fill all the critical content gaps, then it’s time to look at sub-segmenting content or creating content to hit different target keywords in your content strategy.
2. Enrich your existing content base
Blogs aren’t books. And for that reason, it’s nearly impossible to cover a topic fully in a single blog post or even video. It’s for this reason that you should review all your content assets with an eye attuned to spotting new content opportunities. Look for terms that need to be defined or elaborated upon or opportunities to reframe content to match another relevant target keyword.
3. Document and digest (A.k.a. “the GaryVee model”)
GaryVee sermonizes to his audience this idea of document and digest as a way to produce a lot of great content without strenuous ideation. The idea behind this approach is to create content out of the events that are already taking place in your life/business as your major content push and then intelligently using that content to repurpose/atomize into a tremendous amount of high-value content for all your channels.
Check out GaryVee’s SlideShare here to learn more about this.
4. Go where people ask questions
As a digital native, I’ve grown up with technology, and I’ve watched it evolve alongside my own evolution from childhood to adulthood. One of the most salient memories I have of the internet getting significantly better was when I found Yahoo Answers, and later, StackOverflow. However, questions/answer sites were just a new twist on an old concept known as forums and we still have plenty of great forums online.
Reddit claims to be the front page of the internet and I find that title quite fitting for the trend-setting power Reddit wields. Currently, we’re lucky to have countless forums and Q&A sites. One of my favourites to frequent these days is Quora, which enables me to find questions relevant to my expertise and offer my insights to other people’s problems. Better still, we can provide even more value to Quora answer-seekers by producing content that gives excellent responses to their questions and drives traffic to our own website in the process.
See also: ask me anything, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups, and other forums relevant to your expertise.
5. Use a topic discovery tool
Often, when we create content, we’re not actually telling the internet anything new, but we are offering our unique insights and spin on existing ideas. It’s amazing how big a difference a change in perspective can have. A great way to find ideas that garner traffic and engagement results is to use a tool like BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo helps us find the most shared content and to identify thought-leaders and influencers relevant to our search terms. Depending on your needs, BuzzSumo can cost you some coin, but if you’re serious about content marketing, then it’s one of the most referenced tools in the content marketing space.
Alternatively, you can use some of the great tools available through Google such as Google Trends, Google keyword tool, and Google Webmaster Tools to help you identify and refine content ideas/opportunities.
6. Re-interpret/add commentary to existing third-party content
If you’re going to base your content off of the content of others, you have to offer something new and interesting, otherwise, you risk appearing unoriginal or plagiaristic. You have a unique audience and you are their connection to the topics you will be talking about, so frame your thinking around being the interpreter between your audience and your industry.
By helping our audience understand industry news and trends, you become a valuable source of knowledge, offering competitive opportunities for them. Try to frame your thinking around pros/cons/opportunities/threats to your target audience to drive real value for them.
7. Listen to your audience and customers
Finally, we get to the best part!
After you’ve been producing content for a while, you’ll witness an uptake in engagements and reach. You’ll see your subscriber count climbing and eventually that precious audience you’ve worked so hard to build will ask you directly for information they want/need. We could have only ever reached this point by leveraging some of the aforementioned content idea discovery options, so it is vitally important that you are responsive to your audience's requests when they do finally start asking. Use your audience questions to drive future content production and make sure to return to the source to provide a link to that content (hopefully promptly) and watch your audience engagement and subscriber count when you do.
As you can see, there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of places where you can discover great content topics easily within reach. You’ll find as you continue on your content marketing journey that content ideas become more accessible and easier to come by. As your audience grows, and your audience’s engagement with your content grows, you’ll enjoy the benefit of the two-way dialogue digital marketing offers. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is listen to your audience and fill content gaps using their insights.
This blog has been by no means a comprehensive list and I’d love to hear more ideas in the comments where you discover your content ideas.
Cheers to making the internet a better place through great content!