Your job is to publish exciting content that people enjoy and want to share with their network. This requires a consistent stream of great ideas. Discovering these content opportunities is one of the main challenges for bloggers.
You cannot afford to sit and wait for inspiration to strike. Use these tips to spark fresh ideas and blast away at a new content piece with a sense of purpose. You will not get stuck for ideas again.
Keep an ideas document
The worst thing that can happen to an idea is to let it slip through your fingers like sand. Inspiration comes and goes in a flash so make sure to capture it. Be well-organized and keep an ideas document. These ideas can be in the form of irresistible sounding headlines, questions you were asked, a quote or a paragraph that you read and that created a spark.
Keep the document synced between your devices to look it up or use it for on-the-spot note taking when something new comes to your mind. Google Docs and Simplenote are two of my favorites. You can also use the drafts feature in your WordPress admin.
Never start with an empty page
Is it time for you to create new content? Don’t just start with a blank screen and an empty page. Now is not the time to brainstorm and think of content ideas. Starting from scratch without a reserve supply of ideas, you will get stuck and create a rushed, inadequate job.
When it’s time to work on a new post, you simply open your ideas document as a reference. Your ideas are ready to be put into action. Pick the idea you want to work on and off you go.
Simply read a lot
Reading helps you get fresh ideas, a different point-of-view, and another perspective. A quote from Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood novel tells it like this: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”.
Look out of your field, and use the fresh outside perspective to find inspiration for your content. Read a variety of sources both online and offline. Expose yourself to entirely different, random viewpoints to truly spark creativity.
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. Think how you can turn these into meaningful posts and capture it all in your ideas document.
Learn from the most shared content online
Many people are doing it right in the online publishing world. Identify them. Monitor them for new ideas. There are valuable things that you can learn.
Follow a broad range of websites. Look at sites like Mashable and BuzzFeed, even Upworthy and others that push the boundaries of online content. Use sites like Buzzsumo and Ruzzit to search for and identify most shared content on the web.
Figure out how they do it. Analyze what makes an article shareable. Look at headlines that work. Look at how they format and present the content. See what people are saying in the comments area.
Get inspired but don’t copy them. Model your posts on things that work and put your personal spin on things.
Look into the social memes and trending topics
Publishers such as BuzzFeed regularly scour the web for ideas, figuring out which are worth pursuing. They discover stuff that is already a minor trend in a niche community, make it better and make it a bigger hit.
Keep an eye on the latest happenings within your field. Explore memes, trending topics and other relevant trends to discover what people are interested in. What your potential audience is talking about. See how you may be able to take advantage of these in your content.
It’s not only about following the trending topics on Instagram and Facebook. Subscribe to relevant topics via Google Alerts. Follow search trends via Google Hot Trends. Here are some more interesting resources:
Discover questions real people are asking
They have a huge database of questions, and they also give you an idea of how many people are interested in knowing the answer. Pick up the ones associated with your niche area and those you have expertise in. Respond to these questions on your site and become a resource on that topic.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience
Try to think like a beginner to your topic would think. What type of questions do they have? What problems are they looking to solve? What would they type in the search engine to find content related to your site? What websites and other resources will they be looking at?
Try to remember also how your journey went when you were a newbie. What steps did you take in those early days and since then to get to where you are now? What were your main challenges? Get all these points into your ideas document and start creating content that helps people get ahead.
Keep track of what your visitors are saying
Keep track of what your visitors search for in the search box on your site. Search Meter plugin records the searches and whether visitors find what they’re looking for. Study your comments area. What questions are people asking? What common problems are they discussing? Jot down the problems and give people what they want.
Comment on and document the world
Sometimes it’s useful to document the world rather than having to create new content from scratch. Your content doesn’t always have to be all about your thoughts and advice. You could talk to the world and facilitate the conversation on your blog too.
Get in touch with interesting people and interview them. Get them to answer some popular questions. Publish the answers on your site. Feature their stories and lessons learned. You could also combine the answers from more than one person into one larger story.
Browse the best-selling books
Books and ebooks are not to be neglected. Looking at what type of fiction and non-fiction books people are reading can help you come up with content ideas too. Look at Amazon’s Best Selling section. Browse through lists such as “Movers And Shakers” and “Most Wished For”.
Analyze the search volumes
Use a keyword tool such as Google Keyword Planner to help you identify what topics people search for in search engines. The higher the search volume is, the more potential there is in an idea.
Attend meetups, conferences, and seminars
There are many conferences, seminars, and other events you could attend. All the time. Both online and offline. For free even. Look at exploring Meetups in your area.
All you need to 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 ideas that you need.
Structure your content features by themes
Be creative and come up with different themes that can become regular features in your content calendar. Then you don’t always have to start from scratch.
Friday could be “the preview of the weekend ” post. Wednesday could be “the user of the week”. The first week of a new month can be the time to review the previous month and notable things that have happened.
Update your existing content to make it relevant again
Just because you already published a post on a particular topic last year doesn’t mean that you have to leave it outdated and irrelevant. You can rework the article. Update your existing post and make it timely and relevant again. Improve the content, add fresh information to it, include complementary imagery and video.
Then republish the post and share it with your audience again. Don’t be afraid. Most people haven’t seen it the first time around. Those that have might have forgotten about it. In any case, updated, relevant and useful content is always attracting to everyone.
Experiment with new post types and formats
If you’re always posting the same kind of post, the easiest way to get creative and bring fresh ideas is to switch up the format. Are you stuck always posting how-to guides and have no more ideas? Try something different. The creative options are limitless when you leave your go-to format behind.
Do a top list post of places, tools, or people in your niche. Do a comparison post where you benchmark multiple items against each other and crown a winner. Review products in detail and do unboxing video. Publish case studies with insights and lessons learned. Create stunning graphics and imagery. Do a podcast show reading out one of your old posts.
Get offline, live, and let the muse come to you
Sometimes you just cannot force inspiration. You might not have anything to say. You may not be in the mood for creating content. Let your procrastination be the natural filter. Rest in the fact that it helps you relax and eventually find the inspiration you need.
Disconnect, live, and experience things. Get out among people and find stories. They are everywhere. Be aware of your environment. Look at the world with the “I’ve got to post about this” mindset and ideas will come. Train your ear to know when something of interest has happened or has been said. Note it all down in your valuable ideas document.
Write every day
Sit down, open an empty text file and make sure to write. Just write. 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 and new ideas will flow.
All of the ideas in this article boil down to you developing a momentum. Once you hit your stride, you will see that coming up with new ideas is not all that difficult. You will never look back.