You must publish thrilling content consistently to grow your site. To do so requires a constant stream of great, intelligent and novel ideas. How does one come up with so many post ideas that people enjoy and want to share?
One of the main challenges bloggers have is finding those genius content ideas that power great posts. You cannot afford to sit and wait for inspiration to strike. Use these tips to create new brain sparks today, find fresh ideas and blast away at a new content piece with sense of inspiration and purpose. You will not run out of blog post ideas again.
Look into the social memes and trending topics
Trending topics are everywhere across social media platforms. Explore them to discover what people are interested in and identify which trends you should cover and how you may be able to use them on your own site.
This is what viral sites like BuzzFeed are very good at. They constantly scour the web for ideas figuring out which are worth pursuing. Essentially they look and find stuff that is already a minor trend and a success on niche communities, make it better and make it a bigger hit.
Beware of the latest happenings within your field. Has there been any recent developments that may affect the number of searches in the future? Can the recent developments affect the keyword phrases people chose to search for to find your content? Follow the recent events and trends and try to incorporate the latest buzz words relevant to your field into your content.
Be alert to the industry shifts, to what your target audience is talking about, and to the new keywords that these trends create. Read relevant blogs, subscribe to relevant keywords via Google Alerts, follow search trends via Google Hot Trends and following the trending topics in social media. This can keep you up to date on the latest trends and events in your field, which will help you discover new content opportunities.
Here are some interesting resources to get you started:
Find questions from people in your target audience
There are several question-answer based platforms that you can use to find questions from your audience that you then can answer on your site. Two most well-known are Yahoo Answers and Quora. The nature of these sites means that they are very popular for beginners and newbies to certain topics. Create your profile, select your niche area and read through the popular user questions.
Quora has a huge database of questions, including those about specific brands or businesses, and has very useful ‘Best Questions’ and ‘Follow’ features. The Best Questions are the ones that have been voted up by the users.
If you pick up the ones associated with your niche area, you will get a neat list of subjects that your target market wants information on. The number of ‘followers’ in open questions also indicate their popularity, thus giving you an idea of how many Quora users are interested in knowing the answer.
Explore other sites
Use sites like Buzzsumo and Ruzzit to search for and identify popular content and most shared content around the web. Analyse what has been big recently, it doesn’t necessary have to be from your niche only.
Look at headlines that work, the content format they use (infographics, quizzes, podcasts…), how they present the content, what people are saying in the comments area. Any of these elements can be inspiring and can help lead the way for you on your own site and your own content.
Look at sites like Mashable, and BuzzFeed, also Gawker, even Upworthy and others that push the boundaries of online content and are often behind some of the most viral and most shared content. Chances are, you’ll find yourself on a fresh crawl around the web that will spark new, unique ways of looking at the world.
Look at best-selling books
Reading online is on the rise, but books (and ebooks) are not to be neglected. Figuring out what type of fiction and non-fiction people are reading will help you come up with content ideas. Look at Amazon’s Best Selling section. It also features lists for “Movers And Shakers” and “Most Wished For”. This will again help you find content and topics that are in demand.
Analyze the search volumes
You can use a keyword tool, the popular choice being Google Keyword Planner to help you identify how popular your ideas are and even discover similar themes. The higher the search volume is, more searches there are for the particular topic, and more potential there is in an idea to drive traffic to you.
Important thing to note is that no keyword tool is 100% accurate. Keyword tools use the data of previous searches and what was searched for last week, may not be searched for next week. Google not providing keyword data doesn’t help with this, but at least you get an idea of popularity.
Find content ideas in demand with your following
Don’t have any assumptions about your audience. They are not as experienced as you are in the topic you have expertise in. You are the knowledgeable one, that is why they come to you. Remembering this helps you get into the beginner mindset and create content that beginner’s will enjoy.
Having no knowledge is sometimes exactly what is needed to find a solution.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your audience
Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and think about what type of questions they may have. What would your target audience type in the search engine to find content related to your site? What problems would they be looking to solve and what questions would they be looking to get answered? If you were a beginner and were searching yourself, what would you search for?
- Look into your analytics
What search keywords and phrases do people find your site with? Create some engaging content about those topics. Improve your existing posts to make them more timely and relevant. Create new posts with detailed information and instructions on topics people searched for.
- Use your search feature to learn what people search for
What do your visitors use the search box to find on your site? Keep track of what your visitors are searching for in your search box in Google Analytics, Piwik or the Search Meter plugin. Search Meter will automatically record what your visitors are searching for and whether they are finding what they are looking for. Give people what they want by creating content on topics they are looking for.
- Get inspiration from comments area
Get busy studying your comments area (or authoritative sites in your niche). What questions are people asking? What common problem are they discussing? What solutions did other readers suggest? Visitors may be pouring out their problems in comments expecting solutions to come up. Jot down the problems and work out post ideas to solve them.
- Source inspiration from your visitors and social media followers
Ask questions in your posts or your social media profiles. Get feedback and ideas from the responses. You could even do a question and answer (Ask Me Anything) type series asking your following to submit questions or ideas to what they would love to read that is otherwise not covered on your site. Surround yourself with productive people, people who ship things. This will help motivate you to become more productive yourself.
Don’t plan too much, don’t think too much, don’t wait too long. Just get your minimum viable product out there to the people, collect the feedback and progress from there.
With rock’n’roll, the more you think, the more you stink. – Neil Young
Write every day
This doesn’t mean that you have to publish something new every day. It just means to actually sit down and make sure you write every day. Writing is like any other skill. The more you do it, the better you are going to get at it. Get into the habit of doing a bit of writing every single day on some idea you have for a new post.
Work on your writing every day. Practice is what makes you better. Write daily, write for a long period and you will see the progress you will be making.
Just write every day and you’ll be surprised what comes out.
Get ahead of yourself, keep an ideas document
This is something that I cannot stress enough. Always be on the lookout for good ideas and write them down as soon as you get them as you may easily forget some great ideas.
I don’t stop for anything. I just carried a pad with me and would write when something came to mind. I never had to try to write. I learned to be ready to write when an ideas came into my head, whether it was in school or wherever. I learned to drop everything else and pay attention to the song I was hearing. The more I did that, the more songs I heard.
Don’t start working on a post the day you need to publish it. Without a reserve supply of post ideas and drafts you will get stuck and create a rushed job. Ideas and inspiration can come and go in a flash so make sure you capture them. The worst thing that can happen to an idea is to let it slip through your fingers like sand.
The simplest way I have found to continuously beat the writer’s block is to be well-organized and keep an ideas document. When it is time to work on a new post you simply use the idea document as reference and off you go. Your ideas are ready to be actioned. You don’t need to start with a blank screen.
The ideas document be a simple text doc that has a list of ideas for your future posts. It can be draft posts in your WordPress admin. Ideas can be in form of irresistible sounding post headlines, questions you were asked, a paragraph of text that you read and that created a spark.
Keep the doc synced between your devices to look it up or use it for on-the-spot note taking when something new comes to your mind. Some alternatives are Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote or Simplenote.
Read a lot
Reading is one of the most important inspirational sources for writers. It helps you get fresh ideas, a different point-of-view and another perspective. As I read, ideas for new posts just fly from the pages into my mind. I highlight words, phrases and quotes that I can later use as ideas for content. The more I read, the more ideas I get about tools to try, things to research and topics to explore deeper.
Read a variety of sources both online and offline to expose yourself to completely different, random viewpoints and truly spark creativity. Newspaper and magazine reading counts as well. Look into topics they cover, angles they use and how they structure headlines to attract you.
Think how you can turn these ideas into quality and meaningful posts for your own site. If you read on Kindle use the functionality to highlight certain parts and then just copy this from your Kindle archives into the ideas doc.
Steps to mindful reading
There are “dangers” to reading too much. I have the reading addiction myself. My appetite for knowledge and for reading grows even more as I am feeding it. With internet being such an amazing source of information some days I feel I cannot do anything other than reading more and clicking on further links.
Consuming all this information doesn’t necessary mean that I get the knowledge and end using it practically. It doesn’t make me smarter. Having all the facts doesn’t necessary mean that I have the understanding.
Do you find yourself reading an article, but forgetting what you have read? We are easily distracted and unfocused. Sometimes I cannot even remember facts about what I’ve read and that makes me wonder what the point was of spending time consuming it in the first place.
We read something because we think it will be useful to us, but while we are reading, our mind wonders and we have so many thoughts in our heads, which results in us not really getting what we just read. Multitasking and not being focused and concentrated doesn’t really work when you need to learn something or get something done.
Are you transforming the data you consume into knowledge that you need? Are you just a consumer of data, or do you actually use the information? How do you deal with reading to actually read mindfully and focus yourself to get something out of the time you spend reading? This is what I would suggest:
- Don’t have a strict schedule.
- Pick relevant books that can teach you things (non-fiction instead of fiction, biographies of dead people etc).
- Disconnect. Pay attention. Read slowly. Don’t skim. Make sure to understand what you are reading.
- Focus on that one thing you are doing, remove all the distractions. Think and reflect on what you are reading.
- As soon as you realize that your mind has wandered off, focus back on what you were reading.
- Highlight interesting paragraphs and quotes (if using Kindle this is pretty simple to do and you will have a nice overview of all your highlights).
- Write down notes, ideas and actionable points you get while reading or you will forget them. Keep a doc where you put in all these ideas and sort through the doc regularly to keep it organized. This is especially useful to help you with the writer’s block
- Implement ideas that you got from the things that you have read. Otherwise there is not much good in reading.
- Stop. Always be aware of the reading addiction trap to make sure to spend more time producing something instead of always consuming something.
For something to become true knowledge, it needs a mix of experience, skills, and the theoretical and practical understanding of it. By reading we might get the idea on the theoretical level, but it means nothing without also getting to experience it by practicing it. Doing this you will hopefully optimize the benefits you get from the information that you consume.
Research and brainstorm
@AlmostPractical basically going very deep and writing down a list of specifics you can cover on each single topic area? i like it.
— Marko Saric (@MarkoSaric) February 22, 2014
Take one broad topic and spend time brainstorming the deeper ideas and specifics that you can cover within that topic area. Then research into each individual idea. Write some specific headlines for posts that you can create. Check out this process as well:
Attend meetups, conferences and seminars
Many conferences, seminars and other events are being held both online and offline all the time. There are too many ideas springing up day by day and too many marketers, speakers and others want to sell something. This contributes to a hit and miss nature of these events as the quality and depth varies. But there are also many free meetings, so there is always an option for everyone. Look at exploring Meetups in your area.
With these meetings held daily, getting inspired becomes easier as the events create room for bunch of content creation ideas. All you need do is attend, listen, reflect, talk to people and then act. The topics discussed at these events center on people’s problems, questions and how to solve them – exact content and ideas that you need.
Go offline – let the muse come in
Sometimes it is best not to force inspiration, let it come to you. If you feel like procrastinating just do it. Rest in the fact that it helps you relax and eventually find the inspiration you need.
Disconnect, get out among people and find stories because they are everywhere. Be aware of your environment and train your ear and your mind to know when something of interest has happened or has been said so you note it down. Look at the world with the “I’ve got to post about this mindset” and ideas will come.
It is important to get offline and disconnect from all your devices once in a while. I call this digital downtime and I practice is regularly. Read a book, a newspaper or a magazine paper versions instead of online. Go for a walk. Explore your city. Talk to people.
Walking has always been good to me. I love to walk. Long walks on the ranch or over the lava in Hawaii are therapeutic and result in a clear head. I open up and start thinking about all kinds of ideas about music, life, my family, all matters personal. I take all of this to heart in my personal time of reflection. – Neil Young
@MarkoSaric Usually, when watching a movie or talking to friends, especially if topics are totally unrelated.
— Montse Cano (@MontseCano) February 21, 2014
If you’re stuck but need to publish something, these are the stopgap solutions you can improvise with while getting your other content ideas ready:
- Guest posts. Allow other people to write guest posts on your own site. This is what you need to know when accepting guest posts.
- Interviews. Feature other bloggers. Get in touch with them and get them to answer some questions that you then publish on your site. Can be done in text format, can be in audio or even video.
- Repurpose and revisit. Recycle some of your older content by either updating and improving it, or by repurposing it in a different format. These are the creative ways you can recycle and repurpose your archives.
- Experiment with new post types. You might be stuck always posting the same type of post, so do refresh your content by publishing something different. This can be comparisons, reviews, top lists or case studies.
I hope this post has helped you get that spark and a different pathway in your thinking that will result in new ideas. All of this comes down to developing a momentum. Once you hit your stride, you will see that coming up with new ideas is not all that difficult.
The only thing of concern now is actually finding the time to sit down and create the content that you have noted in your ideas doc and that only lives in your head. Finding the time to produce all your ideas can be challenging so this is where being careful and productive with the way you spend your time is key. Good luck!