A lack of inspiration leaves most people feeling stumped when they need to create a blog post. Fingers poised above the keyboard, they find themselves struggling to come up with exciting or useful topics that their readers will love and soon, they’re too disheartened to continue. But inspiration is all around and there are thousands of places to find content ideas for blog posts when you really need to publish engaging material.
Don’t believe me? I’ve been creating content for audiences for over a decade now and while I’m not an infallible expert, I have enough experience to know what I’m talking about! Below is just a small section of the tools, sources and formats I use when developing new content ideas.
This is a favourite tool of mine when I want to see the latest buzz (geddit??) around a certain product or topic I’m researching. The online software shows you the most socially successful articles on a topic and you can search within the last week or up to the last year. I use the free version, which gives you the top 10 or so articles for each search but a paid subscription will give you more content.
I only came across this last month, but it’s been a faithful tool in my content box since then. Soovle allows you to generate keywords and long-tale searches around the words you type in. It may sound like another version of Google’s Keywords Tools, but it’s SO much more. The software gives you results from a variety of sources, like Bing, Answers.com, Google, Wiki and more all at once. Inspiration gold when you want to find content ideas for blog posts.
I began using this in March when I wanted a clean, organised way to keep on top of a wide variety of news sources. My own interests are expansive, but I also need to track industry news for my regular clients, which range from technology to beauty. Feedly allows you to collate different publications and blog sources into different categories, all of which can be accessed from an app on your phone. For me, this was the perfect way to get on top of things from the comfort of my bed first thing in the morning.
#4. Headline Generators
I never use headline generators to create actual headlines, but I do use them to get the creative juices flowing when I need a boost. I just pop in a few keywords, see what headlines I get back and I brainstorm from there. Hubspot’s generator is my personal favourite.
#5. Web Analytics
You know that Google Analytics code you installed on your site or the built-in statistics included in your WordPress theme? Well, it has a lot of uses. As well as tracking traffic numbers, website analytics will also show you the search queries bringing people to your site. Keep an eye on these and if someone visits by asking a question you haven’t answered, get on it and you’ll soon attract more of the same.
Reddit is more than viral pictures and trolls – it’s actually a great source of content for every niche in existence (I honestly don’t think that’s an exaggeration). Topics with the highest rank in each sub-reddit are the ones users are engaging with the most, so these are usually a good bet if you’re looking for new topics to write about.
#7. Industry Forums
When I first began writing for technology clients, I was stumped. I read a lot and can usually come up with topics for most industries very easily, but how the hell was I going to solve problems for web developers when I literally couldn’t speak their language? Trawling technology forums was my saving grace and pretty soon, I was able to find ideas for blog posts simply by seeing what questions the audience was asking.
This questions-and-answers site is similar to Reddit, but less intimidating and less seedy. You can keep on top of the latest questions people are asking about your industry or the topics you’re interested in, which gives you insight into the biggest issues of the day. Not only can you connect with people by answering their questions on the site, you can also create entire posts around the questions being asked if you feel there’s a demand.
#9. Search Suggestions
An oldie but a goodie. If you need some quick inspiration, simply start typing your keyword or topic into the Google search box and take a look at the suggestions it generates based on what other users are asking. The results tend to be too general to build an effective post around, but they can kick start a brainstorming process.
#10. Yahoo Answers
Another great tool for getting into the heads of your target demographic. Here you can search for topics through trends, keywords or categories…just try not to despair for the human race when you see some of the things being asked.
#11. Psychology Publications
This was one I discovered after I began writing for a client in the life coaching business. I often found myself on psychology publications when researching topics and soon I was finding material for all of my clients. Whether you apply a psychological principle to your field or simply use a new finding as a jumping off point, there’s something for everyone here.
#12. Comment Sections
Every time you read an article or blog post from your industry, have a quick look at the comments. Even if it’s not from your industry, check them out anyway. Yes, you’ll no doubt see trolls, but in general, if people take the time to write a few sentences, it’s because they care. Here you’ll find questions, thoughts and general insights, all of which are a great jumping off point for a new post.
#13. Ask The Audience
Go straight to the source and interview one of your clients or someone within your target demographic. Have a relaxed chat and get them to open up about their experience with your product, the industry and everything in between. The important thing is to ask intelligent questions that encourage them to talk expansively and to LISTEN rather than interjecting your own thoughts and experiences. Afterwards, you can run through the problems, frustrations and insights they had and I guarantee you’ll come away with several content ideas.
#14. Stalk Your Competitors
Not literally, but hey, if they’re running a successful business, they must be doing something right. Check out their website, FAQ section and blog. Read testimonials and reviews and spend time on their social media channels. Take note of what was popular with their (your) audience and see what people are saying about them.
#15. Online Groups
And speaking of social media, LinkedIn and Facebook groups are great sources of inspiration when you want to find content ideas for blog posts. See what people are saying or what they need advice on and don’t be afraid to offer your own opinions or insights.
#16. Industry Influencers
You’re probably on mailing lists for big names in your industry or at the very least, following them on Twitter or LinkedIn. Investigate their community and see what their followers are asking or responding to and take note of which of the influencer’s posts are getting the most traction. Don’t steal the ideas, but do build on them and find your own unique angle.
This one is two-fold. Talk to interesting people, like your clients or industry influencers and use this to create a post. Then listen back to the interview and pick out interesting nuggets that you can turn into other articles.
Big industry announcement or news story? Maybe an article or blog post was published that you have strong positive or negative feelings about? Don’t be afraid to publish your opinion.
People are often reluctant to court controversy and prefer to be super positive about everything in order to stay in everyone’s good books. Do you have a controversial opinion that’s backed up with reliable fact or experience? Share it. Don’t be afraid of some backlash if the truth is on your side. Your audience will respect you more for it.
#20. Real-Life Failures
Making mistakes or screwing up isn’t an embarrassing failure if you learned from it. Show your human side and tell your audience how you face planted, while showing them how to avoid making the same errors and telling them how you bounced back.
#21. Success Stories
Misery loves company, but people also like to be inspired! Don’t go down the ‘humble brag’ avenue or I will give you a stern lecture on the Irish anomaly that is ‘notions’. Instead tell people honestly how you got to where you are now or how you overcame a certain problem they may encounter themselves.
#22. Common Practices
Every industry has its age-old rules that everyone mindlessly follows. Sometimes it’s because it genuinely works, sometimes it’s because it used to work and sometimes it’s because it just looked like it worked due to the fact it didn’t cause an actual fire. Technology is ever-evolving and this influences the way things are done in every area, so feel free to debunk myths and offer up new best practices.
#23. Behind the Scenes
Give your audience a peak behind the curtain. Let them see how products are made, how you achieved certain successes or maybe showcase something fun happening in your office. It’s always nice to see the human side of a company or brand and you’re guaranteed some social traction if you feature employees.
#24. Answer The Unanswered
When I worked as the editor of a women’s lifestyle publication, I decided one day that we should tackle the issue of bikini waxing. Not the general maintenance angle that had been done to death, but the awkward, embarrassing side that no one wanted to talk about. The piece was a huge hit and our audience loved it because we answered questions they were afraid to ask.
In your day-to-day life, take note of the random questions you’re asking or the things your mindlessly Google and turn them into engaging content.
#25. Customer Reviews
If customers are leaving you reviews, you should use them to create a compilation post when you’re stuck for time. This is especially good for business if these reviews are being left on social media where new visitors can’t see them. You can also do feature posts on specific customers who have had success with your products or services.
#26. Your Own Reviews
It’s not a good idea to trash your competitors, but it’s perfectly ok to do honest reviews of products, tools and services that are relevant to your customers. Take this post as an example – the first section contained mini reviews of tools you can use to develop content ideas. It won’t negatively impact my business, but it will help you, my audience, the next time you sit down to write a blog post.
#27. Sneak Peeks
New launch coming up? Why not post a few teasers and previews! Not only is it a great way to generate interest from a marketing perspective, it also provides you with blogging material.
Perfect for those days when you just don’t have the time to research. Simply compile a list of helpful articles within a specific topic (10 is always a good number), add a short synopsis for each one and hit ‘Publish’. The articles can be from your own blogging archives, from other sources or even a Latest Industry News collection.
Now, it’s time for YOU to find content ideas for blog posts…
Phew! So many sources and I don’t feel like I’ve scratched the surface yet! Hopefully you’re feeling incredibly inspired now and will tackle your next content creation assignment with new confidence. I’ll have a Part 2 post down the line, but I think you’ve more than enough to be getting on with now – good luck!