For some, coming up with new content ideas is easy, and for others, it’s challenging. We have a workshop to help called “Stand Out Content” and if you want to know more about it, get in touch!
In any case, it’s important to have the right method. If you consider yourself, to any extent, a content writer, you can’t sit around waiting for your next topic. It’s inefficient to spend half an hour every morning staring blankly at your screen, waiting for the next idea to sprout. Instead, you need to plan content (preferably months in advance.)
The step-by-step guide is designed to help you avoid writer’s block completely. This isn’t just for blog posts either, you can use it to plan videos, podcasts, research articles, social media posts, ebooks, and more.
Step 1: Brainstorm
Before you start digging around online for content ideas, see what you can come up with using just your brainpower. Create topic headers and just start listing ideas (in a spreadsheet, so it’s easy to edit). For example, if you work in the pet care industry, you might come up with titles like ‘How To Make Your Dog Listen’. Don’t overthink content ideas at this stage, just write down anything that comes into your head. When you start to run out of ideas, move onto the next step.
One of the best brainstorming methods is a spider diagram. Start with the main keyword for your idea and start writing all of the things that come to mind. Then, do the same for all of your new topics.
Step 2: Use a cheat sheet
Now that you have a lot of ideas, it’s time to turn them into fully-formed content titles. To do this, many writers use a cheat sheet. Here’s an example of a cheat sheet:
- The 10 Secrets About ___________ Only A Handful Of People Know
- 7 Small (But Important) Things To Remember About ___________
- Why Are Experts Saying That ___________ Is Underrated
- The Ultimate Guide To ___________
- Learn The Truth Behind ___________ In The Next 60 Seconds
- The 10 Best ___________
- The Top 10 ___________
- Never Underestimate The Influence Of ___________
- The Pros And Cons Of ___________
- 16 Important Facts You Should Know About ___________
Some of these titles might sound like “dlickbait”, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s only “clickbait” if it doesn’t deliver. Make sure the content is top-notch, and it’s not just an enticing title.
Step 3: Use Google
Once you’ve run out of organic ideas, it’s time to turn to Google. The Google search bar is an excellent tool for generating content ideas. Type in your keyword, and it will generate 10 of the most common searches. For example, if you type in ‘Pet Care’, it might come up with ‘Pet Care Insurance’. You can then turn this into ‘The Ultimate Guide To Pet Care Insurance’. Repeat this process for every keyword, topic, product, service, etc.
Step 4: Check your own blog comments
If you have an existing blog with regular traffic, the comment section could be a goldmine. For example, on the award-winning blog Champion of My Heart, the active audience is always providing potential topics. Check out this post that covers how the trend towards smaller dogs could affect owners. One commenter brought up an excellent point about landlords bringing in weight restrictions for dogs. This could easily spawn a whole post about the different weight restrictions in different areas/countries.
Step 5: Go to social media and forums
As a content writer, you should always be trying to answer your reader’s questions. If they aren’t asking you questions directly, you need to access the place where they are asking questions. That means heading to social media and forums. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all useful, depending on your industry. Join up to groups, follow influencers and check out your competitors. You should be able to find out what your readers/customers are talking about.
You also need to check out Reddit and Quora if you’re serious about getting to know your readers/customers. There is a SubReddit for just about anything you can think of (e.g. r/peoplewithbirdheads where people photoshop bird heads onto humans). Quora is a place where people go for answers. You can answer questions in your niche in the form of a blog post.
Step 6: Audit your competitors
The next step is to check out the competition. That doesn’t mean you should go to their blog and copy all of the ideas verbatim. Instead, look at what they’re writing about and see what you could do better. Also, check out which of their topics get the most shares and comments. This should give you an indication of which topics are hot.
You should always try to provide something slightly different from your competition – it gives customers/readers a reason to choose you. However, you’re likely to cover a lot of the same topics, so you might as well check out what they’re doing.
Step 7: Collect all your ideas and prioritise
Now, you need to prioritise your content ideas. You could go off your gut feeling, your brand priorities, or the search volume. However, it’s far more effective to have criteria in place for prioritizing content ideas. You can use the following criteria to prioritise your content:
- Does it line up with your business goals?
Your business will have its own unique goals, and you need to make sure that the content you create will support them. These goals could include increasing website traffic, converting leads to sales, creating long-term readers, clicking affiliate links, etc. By deciding on your goals first, you can create content as part of a wider marketing funnel. This avoids creating content for the sake of it.
- Can you write on the topic with authority?
The best way to build an audience is to write with authority. If you’re an expert in dog training, you can provide information that 99% of people can’t. Use your expertise to your advantage and create original content that provides value to your readers.
- Can you compete for search traffic?
When you’re first starting out, it’s better to build authority by niching down (choosing more specific areas with less competition). For example, the keyword ‘dog training’ has a keyword difficulty of 81%, and there are 296 million results on SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). Whereas the keyword ‘Shih Tzu training’ has a keyword difficulty of 71% and only 12.3 million results on SERP. These results were found using SEMrush. By niching down, you can build authority quickly. Then, you can tackle the more difficult-to-rank-for keywords.
If your content ticks all three of these boxes, it should be prioritised.
Step 8: Keep your content organised
Once you have started creating content, you will find that new ideas happen all of the time. This is when it gets easy. However, it’s important to keep all of your content organised, so you can build on content and avoid repeating yourself. The benefits of keeping your content organised are huge. To do it, you should check out Digital Asset Management software.