How to Find Content Ideas: 25 Essential Resources to Enhance Your Content Marketing Strategies
Great content starts with a good topic – something that people are searching for and interested in learning more about. Whether you’re new to content marketing or you’ve been beating the content marketing drum for some time, finding good content ideas can be challenging.
But it doesn’t have to be.
If you have the right tools and resources, you can generate a huge list of content ideas to keep you and/or your writing team busy generating compelling content for weeks or even months to come.
To help you get started, here’s a guide to some essential online and offline resources for finding great content ideas. Using these resources can save you time with – and enhance the ROI of – your content marketing efforts.
How to Find Content Ideas: Online Tools
1. BuzzSumo – This tool ranks the stories, posts and other content that are receiving the most traffic and engagement (based on a given topic). This can uncover the most popular news, blogs, etc. related to your industry, possibly unearthing interesting new content ideas.
2. AnswerThePublic – This tool assembles the top questions people are asking when they search about a given topic. Providing dynamic visual displays of the hows, whats, whys and whens, this info can point you to the exact ways people are searching for information about your industry, business, product(s), and/or services. So, why not answer those questions in your content, giving people the info they’re looking for?
3. Google Alerts – Schedule some Google alerts for specific topics (or keyword phrases). These alerts will deliver a list of content (pertaining to the topic you select) via email. In other words, this is a great way to get Google to work for you by curating top circulating content (about a given subject) and delivering it at your preferred frequency (daily, weekly, etc.).
4. Feedly – This tool will pull together all of the news, journals, blogs, YouTube videos and other content you follow (or want to be in the loop with). It can help you organize your content feeds and hone in on the best stories and topics to focus on in your new content.
5. Scoop It & Curata – These content curation and distribution tools assemble content from across the web (including social media) based on keywords of your choosing. These tools can refresh your perspective and help you generate a number of new content ideas (and, of course, each does offer unique features beyond content curation).
Other Online Resources to Mine for Content Ideas
6. Reddit – News stories, discussions, videos and much more abound on Reddit. Browse the stories on this site – and check out the hot topic page – for new content ideas. This can be easy way to pinpoint topics that will be interesting and compelling to your audience.
7. You May Also Like Suggestions – When you’re browsing industry news or your favorite blogs or news sites, take a moment to check out the “related” and/or “suggested” content (usually featured below or alongside of the main content). This can reveal associated stories of interest that may uncover new ideas for your content.
8. Google search suggestions and related searches – For the hot topics (or target keyword phrases) related to your business or industry, do a Google search. Check out the related searches at the bottom of the page. Also, see what Google automatically suggests with the drop-down autofill options (as you are typing in your search phrase). Both of these can be great sources for new content ideas.
9. Reviews & feedback – See what people have to say about your published posts, as well as tools, products and/or services related to your industry. You can take this a step further by mining Amazon book reviews, webinar reviews and feedback, and even reviews posted on sites like Yelp. These can reveal the concerns, questions, and points of interest that are most relevant to your audience – and that can be excellent topics for new content.
10. Podcasts – Have you heard any interesting podcasts lately? Have you gotten recommendations to follow any industry podcasts? Check these sources out – don’t forget to browse the reviews and feedback for them. They can be a great hotspot for new content ideas.
11. Newsletters – Email blasts that you receive (from competitors, industry leaders, colleagues, etc.) can be another great source of new content ideas.
12. Social posts & trending topics – What posts in social networks have caught your attention (or inspired you to share, comment, etc.)? Are there any trending topics related to your industry? Take a note from social spaces and let those conversations inspire you with new content ideas.
13. Competitor & industry leader websites – Check out the blogs and other content that your top competitors are posting on their sites. You can take this a step further by looking at the content published by leaders in other industries. After all, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can use what’s already out there as a basis for new content ideas, improving it with your own spin, twist and/or insights.
14. Industry forums & groups – Investigate the conversations and questions posted in industry forums and groups (both on and off social networks). The threads in these groups can highlight great new content ideas.
15. Web analytics data – What pages on your site (or posts on your social media pages) are getting the most engagement? Check out the analytics data and figure out if you can do a follow-up or related piece for those topics.
16. Industry white papers and research – Translate technical industry documents, like white papers and research reports, into readable content for your audience.
Offline Sources for Content Ideas & Inspiration
17. Conference agendas – These can point out new hot topics, as well as “insider” ideas or facets, related to your industry. Agendas can also point you to industry leaders and new research/data that can uncover a wealth of content ideas.
18. Networking events – Take note of how you explain your business (and/or industry) to colleagues and other professionals at networking events. Pay special attention to the questions they ask because these can be questions that your prospects may ask about your business – and you may be able to easily answer them in your content.
19. Industry myths – If there are common misconceptions about your business (or industry), address and dispel these in your content. This can be a great way to connect and develop trust with your target audience.
20. Quizzes – People love to test their knowledge, so why not invite them to do so with your content?
21. Behind the curtain – Give your audience an inside look at your business, your operations and/or your industry by discussing the “unseen” aspects in your content. You can share info about your day-to-day operations, how your services are provided, and/or how your products are made.
22. Personal experience – Have you been struggling with some aspect of your business recently? Have you experienced any recent (or major) successes? Have you made some avoidable mistakes? Reflect on your personal experiences in starting and growing your business in your content. This can humanize your brand – and get conversations with your target audience going.
23. Predictions – Where do you think your business and/or industry are heading? Do you foresee some new industry trend (or the end of a current trend)? Share your predictions, perceptions and industry insights in your content.
24. Audience suggestions and insights – Ask your audience, as well as your current or former clients, what topics they are interested in? You can do this directly when interacting with them (online or face-to-face). You can also use surveys, contact forms, newsletters and social media to ask for these suggestions. You may even want to offer something in exchange for these suggestions (like a free eBook or discount on your products/services, for instance).
25. Your team – Ask your staff what questions prospects and clients are asking them? Your sales and customer service people – e.g., those who work directly with your prospects and clients – may have a wealth of info to share about common concerns, misconceptions or even helpful selling points related to your business.
Got Some Great Content Ideas? Here’s What to Do Next…
- Develop a content calendar – Prioritize your content ideas, and consider using tools (like Workflowy, for instance) to help you stay organized. Then, make a plan for writing and publishing each piece. Set due dates so you’re accountable.
- Find the right format for each topic – Consider whether a how-to guide, a checklist, a list of tips or some other format is the best way to present a given topic. How you discuss an idea can be just as important as the content idea itself.
- Start writing, then refine – For your first draft, just start writing. Don’t overthink it. Let your ideas flow freely. Once you’ve finished a first draft, step away from it, and come back to it with fresh eyes (to refine, add new ideas, etc.).
- Publish & distribute – Don’t just publish your great content on your site. Make a plan for sharing it across social media and getting it out to as many spaces as possible. You may even want to include it in an email blast.
- Repurpose – Get the most out of every good content idea by finding new ways to present and share the info. Consider whether you can repurpose your great content in the form of an infographic, a series of social media posts, etc. This can help you maximize the ROI for your content marketing efforts and investments.
The bottom line is that, when it comes to content ideas and effective content marketing:
- You have to provide something of value to the reader.
- Sharing knowledge, answering questions people have and educating your audience (e.g., prospects) is what it’s all about.
- When done right, you can earn the trust of your audience, make your brand memorable and grow your authority. That can be the key to seeing more conversions, better leads and growing your business.
What resources or tactics do you use to find great content ideas? Share your experiences and keep the conversation going in the comments below and/or on social media.