At one point, my ideas didn’t do the trick in terms of producing new, engaging, and relevant content. I’m sure you can relate.
It dawned on me that I needed to change my strategy and fully embrace this sentiment from Kevin Roberts: “Ideas are the currency of the future.”
Great ideas are based on logic, data, and emotions. To hit those marks, I use different tools and surveys as well as logic-focused tricks. Here are some that will help you find great content ideas to which your audience will respond.
Follow your industry
The first tactic is straightforward. Research and analyze websites that you already visit or should visit to stay updated or learn more about your enterprise’s niche. Create a spreadsheet to track each of those sites.
When scrolling these websites, leverage the ideas, research tidbits, or data-supported points to infuse your own unique content.
Use an aggregator
For example, I select 10 great articles, extract interesting and useful data, and create phenomenal content from my point of view using the original source. Linking to the original source is essential, not only to credit the original authoritative source but also to allow your readers to trust your content more.
Although each aggregator operates slightly differently, you usually can conduct one-off searches or register to monitor certain subjects on an ongoing basis.
Take their pressure
Consumer Barometer with Google is a tool that helps understand how people use the Internet across the world. It uses data from the Consumer Barometer questionnaire and the Connected Consumer Study, which weights the barometer results across the total population.
View its interface for geographic-, product-, or insight-specific information about consumers. Use this data to inspire custom ideas and stories for your own target audience.
Get to the forum
Forums are another fountain of idea generation. You may be surprised how many great ideas and experiences people share. As a marketing industry writer, I really love the Warrior forum, as its members are really responsive, open-minded, and willing to share their tricks.
Quora is another valuable community where real people ask real questions and discuss the content they’re interested in and issues they care about. This is a powerful way to find out the needs of your target audience. You first must create a profile (don’t forget to mention your brand and include your owned media links in it). Then you can:
- Create topics for discussion.
- Set up notifications so that you’re alerted when your pre-designated topics, blogs, or experts pop up in conversations.
- Test your ideas – ask the question, pose your possible solution.
- Check out the popularity of topic-related threads through the up-votes and conversations to find a particular angle to make a great blog post.
- Review the headlines by typing your keywords and seeing what questions (headlines) people are asking about those topics. The most popular questions and up-votes can be a good guarantee about the value of the things mentioned and help you with content creation.
Other valuable communities for trend monitoring include:
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Look at your competitors
You also should analyze your competitors’ content and user engagement to find angles where your brand could offer a different way of thinking or an alternative view on a topic. Your competitors’ content also can allow you to find sources for your content and to leave relevant comments to their posts and mention your brand.
I use Ahrefs to monitor the activities and content of competitors:
- Ahrefs is an amazing content analysis tool that allows you to view what is performing best based on keywords. You can easily track the most popular content of any domain and search for interesting trends.
Seek your own data
You choose the target audience:
At this point, Google shows you how much it could cost. It usually charges 10 cents for a single-question survey and $1.10 to $3.50 for longer surveys. You can ask up to 10 questions.
The next step is to write questions that will be perfect for content creation. You can use the most relevant format, such as a rating system, multiple choice, side-by-side images, and open ended. Pick the one that best serves your planned content creation.
Results are available within 24 hours.
I want to give you a priceless tip that I have discovered over time that always works well for me in creating content – roundup articles always fly off the shelf.
You can survey experts to share their opinions on a recent relevant news event, trend, or question. I’ve created this kind of content a few times and the articles get shared like crazy. It also is a great chance to build good relationships with well-respected leaders in your niche.
You don’t need to know the experts to collect unique insights. I recommend MyBlogU to gather ideas and opinions from knowledgeable people. Its group-interview feature is the most exciting one on this platform – you ask, the experts answer.
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Grab a pen or whiteboard
Now that you have a volume of idea-generation resources at hand, the biggest challenge is not jumping right into content creation. To be truly effective, you should tie together the ideas to ensure that they complement each other to produce an amazing and fresh perspective.
I know using a whiteboard or sticky notes sounds silly, but it’s a great way to get everything out and filter through all of the thoughts before moving on to a first draft.
I wonder if Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday series starts with his original presentation or is adapted after each article is written. Either way, he illustrates how to connect a topic particularly well.
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In the long run
When is this writing battle over? Unfortunately, there are no specific and quick rules that discover how to make your content phenomenal. Only hard work and experience can help you continually improve the process.
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute