We all get stuck from time to time on trying to come up with new ideas we can develop into valuable content that our audience wants to see from us. Personally, I find the idea part to be the most time consuming, but once I have that initial idea the actual content creation happens very quickly.
Fortunately over my time blogging I have found methods that will either help me generate new content ideas or tools that I will use to retrieve content ideas that I have stashed there previously.
What I want to do today is share with you a few of these tools and techniques that I use to come up with ideas so that the next time you are stuck for an idea you can turn to this list, find what you need and get back on track.
One of the first places I always turn to when stuck for ideas is my website analytics. I use these analytics in a couple of ways.
The first is by tracking internal searches, this way I can create content around what my audience is searching for.
If you use Google Analytics and have site search integrated you can find this report under Behaviour -> Site Search.
If you have yet to set up site search in Google Analytics it is very easy to do and won’t take more than a minute.
Go to your Admin screen for the web property you wish to include Site Search for, click on View Settings and then scroll down to the bottom and under Site Search Settings, turn Site Search Tracking On and then enter the Query Paramater that is used within your site. Once you save this, Google Analytics will start recording searches happening within your site. You can read more about Site Search tracking from the Google Analytics Help here
The second way, is I look at what my top landing pages over the past six months to a year have been and I look to see if I can either update one of these posts to make it current or I see if I can spin it into something new.
My new favourite tool has to be BuzzSumo. This is a life saving tool for not only content discovery but for idea generation and competition analysis as well.
Using BuzzSumo you can run searches on any topic or niche that you can think of and view the top content based on social shares within different time ranges. You can look through these ideas and see if you can spin off topic ideas, update what they are saying or even offer a differing opinion.
BuzzSumo is also great for looking at what your competition is doing. You can drop your competitors URL into the search and see what content is working for them and then use this information to help you generate ideas that your audience may be interested in as well.
You probably belong to many social networks and you probably are friends with many individuals or follow many brands that are involved within your industry. Look at what they’re sharing and what they are talking about to help you come up with new ideas. You can even take advantage of search within Google+, Twitter and Pinterest to help you find new topic ideas. I particularly fond of the Pinterest search as it allows me to quickly move from topic to topic with their guided visual search.
The ultimate place to find questions being asked on just about any topic imaginable. I use Quora to search for question related to topics in my industry and then I look through the questions that are being asked and create blog posts and other content around answering those very same questions.
One of the older tools in my toolbox and one I don’t use as much anymore, but UberSuggest is still highly valuable. This is a suggestion tool that uses data from several different sources, after performing a search you will receive suggestion results from A to Z based off your initial search. For example a search for dog walking will return ideas such as dog walking tips and dog walking rates which for someone in that industry can be starting points for content ideas. You can also collect all your generated suggestions and then by clicking Get, you can copy and paste them into another application for sorting; this gives you a great opportunity to mine for a lot of content ideas rather quickly.
Similar to the UberSuggest idea, Google Suggest is another great way to grab content ideas. Head on over to Google and enter in your search term but don’t press enter and below the search box you will receive search suggestions which could (and often have for me) turn into content ideas.
Along the way you will have built different communities this could be either an email list, a Facebook page, your Google+ Page or wherever your audience happens to be. Why not turn to this built in audience and ask them what they want to see from you? Your readers are there for your content, so why not give them what they are asking for?
This is kind of a fun little hit or miss tool that you can try but I warn you that results may vary. To use this tool simply drop in 3 nouns that describe your business or topic you are looking to create content around and the Blog Topic Generator will spit out 5 titles that you can then use as a starting point for your content creation. The ideas are sometimes a little off the wall or make very little sense but with some tweaking you can get some really great ideas to work with.
This may seem a little outdated but I really like using a pencil and a pad of paper to brainstorm content ideas. I find that getting off the computer, moving to a different location and just sitting and writing down anything and everything that pops into my head often results in a large list of potential topics in a very short time. I can then take this list and work with it to create topic ideas and titles that I can turn into blog posts or other types of content.
I have to give a hat tip to Mike Allton for this suggestion as I never was a huge Evernote user until reading his blog post on How To Blog Like Mike. The one thing that has really helped me in keeping a fresh supply of topic ideas to work from is having set up an idea notebook in Evernote and this way anytime an idea hits me and with my phone generally near me I go over to Evernote and drop a quick note into this idea notebook. This way the next time I’m in search of an idea I can simply pull up Evernote and look through this idea file for something to work on.
Those are 10 of my tools and methods for generating ideas for creating content and I hope that some of them find a place in your own workflow so that the next time you are in search of content topics you can quickly and easily create something that your audience is looking for.
How do you come up with new content ideas?