I’ve got 99 problems, but coming up with content ideas ain’t one.
Jealous? Don’t be. Read on and I’ll give you 3 ways you can turn on a waterfall of ideas that help you, your in-house creators, or your outsourced content team build on your pillar topics.
Pillar what now?
OK, let’s start there. If you’re creating content about all the things – like everything you know about – that’s probably one of your problems.
It seems weird, but thinking too broadly can actually make it harder, not easier, to build individual pieces.
I get the skepticism but try drilling down on 2-3 broad topics you want to be known for. For example, let’s say you’re creating content for a meal kit delivery service. Your pillars might be:
✅ Healthy meals can be easy to prepare.
✅ Eating healthy shouldn’t be expensive.
✅ Plant-based meals are delicious.
Now instead of coming up with content ideas around the intimidatingly broad and vague topic of “food,” you have three manageable umbrella topics you can nestle your content ideas under.
Now, on to the 3 techniques.
3 Ways to Find Content Ideas
#1: Social listening
This is Marketing 101. It’s a buzzwordy way of saying listen to what your audience is already talking about because joining a conversation is way easier than starting one.
- What FAQs do your customers and leads have?
- What questions are being asked on Quora and Reddit forums under your chosen topics?
- What discussions are happening on social media under hashtags relevant to your topics?
- What’s being talked about in Facebook groups, Slack channels, and other social forums your target customer hangs out in?
- How are your current customers using your product? How would they improve it? Come right out and ask them.
#2: Keyword research
When using keyword research, think deeply. It’s not just about the question the audience is asking, it’s about the pain point they’re experiencing.
For example, if you find the question, “How do I get my kid to eat broccoli?” don’t just publish a kid-friendly broccoli recipe and check it off the list. What’s the deeper problem?
You can create tons of content around kids and nutrition, handling picky eaters, why some kids are so picky, and getting kids to eat vegetables in general – along with recipes to get them to eat specific veggies in your meal kits.
You don’t need to be an SEO whiz or buy a pricey tool to research keywords. You can get dozens of ideas with just a little light research using free or freemium tools.
- Start to type your topic into the Google search bar. What suggestions does it give you to autocomplete? Those are things people are searching.
- Look over Page 1 of your search results. What questions are under “People also ask” and “Related searches?”
Using Answer the Public
Head over to Answer the Public and run a search on one of your pillars. This is a fantastic tool that takes your one- or two-word topic and generates a ton of long-tail keywords and questions people are asking of search engines.
Two things to be aware of:
1. You can search any country in the world. The default setting is the UK, so make sure you change that if you want to search your locality.
2. You’re limited to 2 free searches a day, so unless you’re ready to shell out for the paid version, choose your broad term carefully.
#3: Experiment on your social channels
Social media is a great place to test drive content ideas because there’s no pressure. Before you invest a ton of time and energy into a content idea, you can post a high-level, skeleton version of it on social and see what kind of engagement you get. If it strikes a chord, you can be more confident about fleshing it out. If it falls flat, change it up a little and try again to see if it’s the idea itself or something else.
Bonus idea: Look to the calendar
Speaking of social, while there’s less pressure to create durable content there, there is some pressure to create consistently. When I have a gap I just don’t know what to do with, I like visiting Checkiday for inspiration.
Sometimes the offbeat holiday of the day or “This Day in History” anniversary is enough to build a post around. Usually it’s not, but it can still get the wheels turning to inspire a relevant post.
For example, May 19 is Brown Bag It Day. If I were creating content for that meal kit delivery service I might be inspired by this idea to create some content around healthy lunches that don’t need to be refrigerated, brown-bag lunches for people who don’t like sandwiches, or how to turn last night’s dinner leftovers into today’s lunch.
The more time you spend brainstorming ideas, the more often you’ll be struck by inspiration. You might want to start keeping a notes file in your phone or a notebook in your pocket to jot down great ideas before they fly away.
Need help building your content calendar? I’m your huckleberry – content calendar creation is one of the services you’ll find under the Writing page.