11 ways to generate content ideas to die for

a brainThe pressure is on. It’s clear that adding fresh, authoritative content to your website is one of the best ways to keep Google happy, improve your natural visibility, get more traffic, better engage your visitors, win social media shares, gain credibility and ultimately enhance conversion.
Get it right and you’re onto a winner. But how do you keep up a constant flow of innovative, useful and interesting ideas for content week in, week out?

How to generate great content ideas

I try to update my blog a couple of times a week. I could do better, I know, but there are only so many hours in a day. Here are some of the tips and tricks I use to keep new ideas flowing.

1. Using a note book

My notebook goes everywhere I go. I could jot down blog post ideas on my phone or tablet, of course, but there’s something special about seeing a list of ideas written on paper. It somehow makes them more real.
Whether you use paper and pen or gadgetry, writing ideas down as and when they surface, whether you’re at your desk, in bed or abroad on holiday, really helps. You’ll never forget a brilliant idea again.

2. Noting down late night ideas

I don’t know about you, but I tend to have a flurry of ideas after dinner in the evenings. Admittedly most of them fall by the wayside. They’re far too ‘out there’ to stand up in the unforgiving light of day! But about one in ten is a goodie, so it’s worth writing them down even if they do make you wince.
Not that I’m advocating getting pie-eyed in the interests of content creation, but you might as well write down ideas that float into your addled brain when you’re tiddly, too. You never know what esoteric gems you might unearth after a few pints!

3. Questioning everything

Most bloggers play safe, discussing ideas, developments and concepts without being too controversial. But you’re likely to create more bang for your buck if you go out on  a limb and play devil’s advocate. Never take information’s accuracy or efficacy for granted. Explore your sector with eyes wide open, and don’t be scared to criticise accepted wisdom.

4. Viewing the world through content-obsessed eyes

Where do you find ideas for quality content? Everywhere, that’s where.
You might pick up a story that you can build a post around from a TV soap opera or movie, book or comedian, your granny, a radio programme, magazine, conversation with friends and family, customer feedback or case study, newspaper or magazine article, trending news on social media or what individuals in your social networks are saying. Even your kids and pets.
Nothing is sacred, nothing is forbidden. So leave no ground unexplored.

5. Approaching subjects from an amateur’s perspective

Because you’re an expert in your own field, some subjects might seem blindingly obvious. But your target audience might appreciate knowing what you know inside out, from the bottom up.
If you haven’t covered the basics, do it. It can result in evergreen content that people love… and keep on loving for months if not years.

6. Answering real-life questions

What are the questions real people ask most often? I scour Yahoo Answers and similar services for subjects my audience are likely to want answers to.
When you team the approach with basic keyword research, you can identify and answer the most popular questions of all.

7. Doing it better than anyone else

Who is already on page one of Google for the subject you want to write about? What have they done to deserve such an accolade? Analyse their content and make yours better: more in-depth, more contentious, more detailed, longer, more succinct, simpler, in plainer language, whatever it takes to tip the balance in your favour.

8. Mashing it up

I collect little snippets of interesting copywriting, content creation and digital marketing news, as well as snippets that relate to my core subject matter. None of them are enough to write an entire post about but together they make an interesting read, especially when they all relate in one way or another to a single subject, for example new tech, research and development or changing attitudes.
If you can find unusual ways to connect seemingly disparate subjects, even better. As DNA-deep pattern seekers, we humans love discovering unexpected connections.

9. Thinking outside the box

You might operate in the building sector. You can talk about building until the cows come home. But what’s stopping you relating your products, services and so on to topics that, at first, might seem unrelated?
You could blog way off piste, looking at the effects of Japanese knotweed on infrastructure, how to get a loan for a building project, the latest insulation materials used by NASA…
Working along these lines, I’ve created a blog category called ‘diary’. As a freelance writer, I’m selling myself and my writing skills. Which means I can blog about more or less anything. While my posts might not always involve relevant key terms, that’s not a problem. Variety is good for readers and it helps my blog look natural, revealing I’m not in the business of overtly playing the SEO system. Or at least not all of the time!

10. Asking others for inspiration

You can ask people in your sector for ideas, tapping into their expertise. And you can ask people who haven’t the faintest clue about your business, what you do, how, where, for whom and why. Both types of people are potential sources of cool subjects, for entirely different reasons.

11. Doing what your competitors have already done

Have you covered absolutely everything your competitors have talked about on their sites? If not, write a list of the things your blog is missing and make sure you tackle them.

Any more ideas for identifying great subjects for content?

What’s your most reliable source of content subject matter?

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