You already know that blogging is a powerful tool to grow your reach as well as your business. Starting a blog is one thing. But getting your blog noticed and using it to generate traffic is another. One of the best ways to do so is by creating content of outstanding quality. The first task you’ll have is to come up with ideas regarding what to write about.
You want this content to serve a particular purpose, and to do so, you need a plan when it comes to getting ideas and structuring those ideas into the topics you can analyze.
Here are some thoughts on how to find fresh content ideas.
General forums and Q&A sites
These websites provide precious information regarding the topics and questions people are really curious about. You’ll find genuine questions and dilemmas people have which can become your next content idea.
Here’s how to do this.
You already have a keyword or keyword phrase that’s relevant for your blog. It’s something that’s related to your business or blog. However, try to be more specific and use long-tail keywords. For example, if your blog supports a local furniture manufacturing business, you won’t start searching queries for the word “furniture”. That’s too general, and will get you a massive list of results which you will have a hard time filtering and going through. Instead, use specific keywords or phrases such as “furniture ideas in Jefferson town” or “Brooklyn based furniture company”.
Type the phrase of interest and hit the search. Check out the results. What kind of questions do you find most inspiring to answer in a blog post? Are there any that would particularly be a good topic for your blog? How about answers that are already posted? Can you detect a topic that is left sort of unanswered?
Those should all be your cues when it comes to finding writing ideas. Another one of the popular sites you can use for this research is Quora.
Use social networks
You can apply the same search concept on social networks. Explore the topics that are of interest to your business. Try using hashtags to see all the public posts available on that specific topic. Experiment with adding words to create a sort of a phrase and then test a couple of those.
It’s also helpful to be a member of niche groups on social networks, such as Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups that match up with your business target group. Again, this directly gives you insights into what people are asking. With such a resource, you will discover truly relevant topics, ones that you can give a quality answer to and provide content that makes a difference. It is especially helpful if you find topics that have not been answered yet.
Check out Reddit
Even though it isn’t as popular as social networks, Reddit is an awesome place to find content ideas. It’s organized as a news aggregation site with users submitting new content in the form of links, text posts, etc. Users directly influence the visibility of such post through their engagement, which is done via the voting system and comments.
Start by searching the relevant keyword on Reddit. You will get a list of related subreddits, i.e. topics where that keyword is mentioned. Choose one of those subreddits and click on it. It will show you the recent discussions, questions, and relevant posts.
At this point, you have to be able to assess what could be a content idea for you. Make a list of the most popular questions you can find. Make sure those are in fact appropriate for your blog and relevant to your target group. This way you ensure that such content will perform well.
Find relevant studies and research
Staying informed about the industry standards and trends is very helpful to keep you up-to-date and familiar with the trending news. This also reflects upon your content. When you look up information online and discover resources you want to quote and base your content upon, always make sure those are credible sources with accurate information.
Each industry has companies or organizations that do all sorts of research about user behavior, relationship, current trends, usage of specific products, etc. The data and statistics on their own might be boring, but try to find that relevant context that you can elaborate on and analyze in depth. It can be one specific statistic, or you can mention various statistics from the research or report. You could also make a comparison between the studies and then focus on analyzing a specific trend, such as a noticeable decline, or a pattern, etc.
Even though it might be kind of obvious, but try googling the keyword you have in mind. Firstly, it’s helpful to see what kind of content comes up first. You can immediately see what is lacking, and how the data that already exists can be adapted, changed and improved. Also, check out the end of the search engine page. You will see related search queries. This could give you ideas about the topics that are commonly searched for and are related to the keywords you are using.
Now, this can be a bit too broad research and you might end up with millions of pages of search results. Try to narrow down your search by adding some common words people use when typing in their query. Think of it like this.
If someone wants to make vanilla cupcakes, they won’t go and search for “vanilla cupcakes”. They’ll use a particular phrase such as “how to make vanilla cupcakes” or “vanilla cupcakes recipes”, etc. Combine your keywords into natural-sounding phrases to get specific search queries your target audience might use. Let’s look at the example:
- how to [eat healthy]
- how do you [eat healthy]
- what’s the best way to [eat healthy]
- how can I [eat healthy]
- suggestions on [eating healthy]
- tips on [eating healthy]
- struggle with [eating healthy]
- I need help with [eating healthy]
The list goes on but what these phrases have in common is that users who type them in the search engine are eager to find a practical solution to their question or problem. Try to combine these phrases with the keyword (or keyword phrase) that is relevant and look those up on Google once again.
Additionally, you should check these ideas for creating engaging and effective headlines: 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails.
Ask a question
This is a very effective strategy if you have lots of online followers and you can expect a considerable response rate. Ask your followers questions about problems they are having, where they usually find solutions, how they deal with a certain situation, etc. Anything really that you can use to create content that matters to them. The answers you get could be used as new topics to cover on your blog.
For example, you teach web development, and you find out that a lot of your followers have a problem with a particular program or app. Here’s your content idea right there. Create a blog post where you will explain the app. Try to make this as sort of a comprehensive guide that readers will find extremely useful. Have in mind that only a small percentage of online users will be participating in this research of yours. And if a lot of them are having the same problems, there is a great chance that a lot of online users will be having trouble as well. This way you create helpful content that has great viral potential in the online world.
You can ask questions on social networks, create surveys, you can interact with your email subscribers. You could even join online communities such as Quora and ask the question directly there.
Check out your competitors
Checking out your competitors might be a good way to keep up with the current standards and practices. In terms of content, their content can help you discover some things you might be missing. You obviously are targeting the same audience. This means that the content they post is probably quite relevant to your followers.
Look up inspirational ideas and quotes
Use the relevant keyword to look up quotes and other inspirational ideas. Try to find some engaging thoughts and something relatable. Use inspiration from those ideas that can be elaborated and still make quality content for your followers to read. Sometimes you might just get inspiration from a certain quote which might take you in a completely different direction. Or you could share the quote directly as a part of the content which you analyze.
Check your existing content
If you already have content, this could potentially be an excellent source of inspiration. Even though you might think you are all done with those ideas, take a look at the statistics. You surely can find valuable information there. Here’s how to approach this.
Firstly, detect the most popular, high-performing content. Also, find the most engaging content. It can be your blog post, your social media post, or even an email newsletter. Any content you put out there and make available to your followers works for this purpose.
Once you gather all those ideas, think about how good this content really is. Does it cover the subject completely? Is there any aspect of the topic that has not been covered yet? Is there a topic that is relevant and related to the ideas you gathered?
Have in mind that content you analyze here might be years old. It’s evident that at this point, you have more experience and more knowledge about the topic. You could either update the existing content, or create a completely new piece of content inspired by new ideas.
Use a topic generator
Perhaps the quickest way (with zero research and thinking) is to use a topic generator. It’s a tool that allows you to type a keyword or keywords and get automated results that contain those terms. Since the process is automated, you might get some ridiculous results. However, the essential ingredient you need is a spark of an idea. You don’t have to use the exact topic the tool generates. But this can help your thinking process and encourage you to come up with an interesting idea on your own.
The whole process is quite simple. Use the online tool and type in the topic you want to write about. Sometimes you can provide one word, sometimes you can add a phrase or even a couple of words. Then click on the button and wait for the tool to generate ideas. It’s recommended that you save the list, so you can have it ready next time you’re planning your content.
Here are the most popular topic generator tools you can use:
When you create content and work on new ideas, you won’t have success every time. Sometimes you might just not be in the mood for writing. Or you simply can’t think of anything good.
You also need to be aware that an idea might struck you at any time of the day. Ideas are actually all around you at any moment. You might be standing in the supermarket queue, carelessly thinking, when you get this amazing content idea. Or during all those hours watching YouTube videos or spending time on Twitter reading through current trends, you might actually get inspired by what someone had said or done.
This is why you need to be ready. Have a small notebook and a pen to be prepared to put the idea down before you forget it. Just write it down and analyze later. Or if you prefer a digital environment, just record the idea with your phone and then get back to it when you have the time. Be prepared to capture any idea that pops into your mind out of the blue. You never know, one of these might just be your next viral content topic.