In order for content marketing to be successful, you need a consistent way to generate ideas that are interesting, useful and worth clicking on.
Generating a large number of content ideas can be difficult unless you have a system to capture them and alert you to new trends in your chosen industry.
Create a single place to capture your content ideas
Setup an Excel spreadsheet or Google doc with the following columns to capture all your ideas.
- Idea or Theme
What is the general idea that the article is targeting?
What is the blog post or video’s title? You want this to generate enough curiosity that the user feels compelled to click through and find out more.
- Content Type
Blog post, Video, Podcast, Slide deck etc.
List any URLs for reference that you can use to help build out the points of the article.
It is important to capture all of your ideas in one place. Avoid the temptation to use multiple lists. Any ideas you have while on the move can be entered directly in to the Google doc via your mobile, or emailed for update in to the master document.
Start by spending 10 minutes writing down any ideas that come to mind. Set aside the time to write this without distraction and force yourself to focus for the full 10 minutes. Do this without editing for quality—the important thing is to get the ideas out of your head and onto your ideas list.
You can select the best ideas from the list later. Asking relevant questions can help the brainstorming process to generate ideas:
- What are we doing that our competitors are not?
- What are the most frequently asked questions from customers?
- What do we get the most support calls on?
- What is missing from the industry currently, and what needs to happen?
- Would a step-by-step tutorial be helpful for customers, and if so how many different areas could you break this down in to?
- What are the most important things to know in your industry? What are the traps?
- Think about the content you may have done in the past. Can it repurposed in to a different format, e.g., do you have videos that could be transcribed and turned into articles?
- What tools or software do you find helpful?
- Have there been recent changes to government legislation that affect your industry?
Setup Google Alerts
Choose the top 5 keywords that relate to your industry. You can now use these to monitor the web for mentions of these terms, and Google will send you a list of related blog posts and news.
- Enter your keyword and do a search.
- Preview the results to make sure they are relevant.
- Select the options button to restrict alerts to a certain type, such as news, blog posts or video and further refine by country or region.
- Press create alert.
Depending on the options you chose, you will now receive a daily or weekly email full of relevant ideas and news.
Collate Ideas using an RSS Reader
Collate relevant news stories and blog posts with an RSS reader.
The most popular reader currently is Feedly
It will collate all the different industry and competitor website articles in to one place making your own topic-specific magazine. This makes it easy to read, and a great way to generate ideas for your own articles.
Feedly is particularly good because it has a desktop version, as well as apps for Android, IOS and Kindle.
- Add industry leaders and their blogs.
- Follow competitors’ blogs.
- You can also configure Google Alerts to send what it finds directly to your RSS reader.
Other Content Generating Ideas
A great place to generate more ideas is to look at the bestsellers lists on Amazon for your industry or topic. Browse through the categories for the closest match to your industry.
- What are the best selling products in your industry?
- Look at books and what topics authors are focusing on.
- If there is a “Dummies Series” devoted to your topic, check the table of contents for ideas.
- What are the top selling magazines for your topic and what headlines are they using on the cover to capture readers? Magazines are masters of the headline, and you can copy their headline formats and simply enter a different topic.
Linkedin, the social network for professionals, will have groups related to your industry.
Join these and see the articles that group members are posting. This is also a good place to find interesting questions and to pinpoint issues that people are trying to solve.
All of these have the potential to be an article.
Use sites like The Biggest Boards to find industry specific forums. Visit the most active forums in your industry and check the most active threads for topic ideas.
Interview an Expert
Do you have access to an expert, possibly even yourself that could be interviewed?
The interview can be recorded, or even done as a webinar and later put online as audio or transcribed into a blogpost.
Analytics & Webmaster Tools
Check your Google Analytics and webmaster tools to see the search terms that people are using to arrive at your site. Consider developing articles around these terms.
The secret weapon of content marketing ideas, Buzzsumo, will show a list of articles that have done well on social media, ranked by the number of shares, tweets and likes from the major social networks.
Buzzsumo is particularly helpful as it shows headlines that have been popular enough for people to click and then share the article.
Quora is a popular question and answer site that you can search for ideas related to your industry. People vote for the most popular questions to be answered, which allows you to see what is of top interest to users.
You now have a number of fantastic tools and resources to not only generate ideas, but to validate that they will be popular ahead of time.
You also have a way to easily collate and record those ideas prior to development. This makes generating content ideas scalable while remaining of great value to your potential customers.