Finding content ideas

Your job as a blogger is to publish exciting blog content that people enjoy and want to share with their network. This requires a consistent stream of great blog post ideas.

Generating blog post ideas is one of the main challenges for bloggers but you cannot afford to sit and wait for inspiration to strike.

Use these tips to spark fresh blog post ideas and blast away at a new content piece with a sense of purpose. They will get you into the writing zone and you will not get stuck for blog post ideas again.

Keep an ideas document and never start with an empty page

The worst thing that can happen to an idea is to let it slip through your fingers like sand. Inspiration comes and goes in a flash so make sure to capture it.

Be well-organized and keep an ideas document. These ideas can be in the form of irresistible sounding headlines, questions you were asked, a quote or a paragraph that you read and that created a spark.

Keep the document synced between your devices to look it up or use it for on-the-spot note taking when something new comes to your mind. Google Docs and Simplenote are two of my favorite tools for keeping an ideas doc. You can also use the drafts feature in your WordPress admin.

Is it time for you to create a new piece of blog content? Don’t just start with a blank screen and an empty page. Now is not the time to brainstorm and think of great content ideas.

Starting from scratch without a reserve supply of ideas, you will get stuck and create a rushed, inadequate job. When it’s time to work on a new blog post, you simply open your ideas document as a reference. Your ideas are ready to be put into action. Pick the idea you want to work on and off you go.

Learn what works for your competitors and do it better

One of the easiest ways to come up with new and brilliant article ideas is to monitor your competitors. And one of the best ways to judge the quality of their content is to see which of their articles are most shared in social media. If people are sharing their content, it shows that there is an interest and demand for this idea. Use tools like Buzzsumo to search for and identify most shared content of any website.

So you collect all the most shared topics of your competitors and create your own content about those and similar topics too. The key is to make your content much better than the content they already published. Expand on it, make it more detailed, easier to understand, more educational or more entertaining. Be more visual too. Add graphics, do podcasts on the topic and create videos.

Take a look at my guide on how to publish amazing content that people want to read and share.

Learn from the most shared content online

Many other people are doing it right in the online publishing world. Identify them. Monitor them for new ideas. There are valuable things that you can learn.

Follow a broad range of websites. Look at sites like BuzzFeed, Upworthy and others that push the boundaries of online content.

Figure out how they do it. Analyze what makes an article shareable. Look at headlines that work. Look at how they format and present the content. See what people are saying in the comments area. Get inspired but don’t copy them. Model your blog posts on things that work and put your personal spin on things.

Publishers such as BuzzFeed regularly scour the web for ideas, figuring out which are worth pursuing. They discover stuff that is already a minor trend in a niche community, make it better and make it a bigger hit.

Keep an eye on the latest happenings within your field. Explore memes, trending topics and other relevant trends to discover what people are interested in.

What your potential audience is talking about. See how you may be able to take advantage of these in your content.

It’s not only about following the trending topics on Instagram and Facebook. Subscribe to relevant topics via Google Alerts. Follow search trends via Google Hot Trends. Here are some more interesting resources:

Discover questions real people are asking

Use question-answer platforms such as Yahoo Answers and Quora to find questions real people are asking. Look at a site such as AnswerThePublic that aggregates user questions.

The nature of these sites means they’re popular with beginners and newbies to a topic. They have a huge database of questions, and they also give you an idea of how many people are interested in knowing the answer.

Pick up the ones associated with your niche area and those you have expertise in. Respond to these questions on your blog and become a resource on that topic.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience

Try to think like a beginner to your topic would think. What type of questions do they have? What problems are they looking to solve? What would they type in the search engine to find content related to your blog? What websites and other resources will they be looking at?

Try to remember also how your journey went when you were a newbie. What steps did you take in those early days and since then to get to where you are now? What were your main challenges? Get all these points into your ideas document and start creating content that helps people get ahead.

Structure your blog content by themes

Be creative and come up with different themes that can become regular features in your content calendar. Then you don’t always have to start from scratch.

Users love these. Just look at the usage of trending hashtags such as #ThrowbackThursday and #Caturday.

What could the equivalent be for your community? Friday could be “the preview of the weekend” post. Wednesday could be “the user of the week”. The first week of a new month can be the time to review the previous month and notable things that have happened.

Experiment with new blog post types and formats

If you’re always posting the same kind of post, the easiest way to get creative and bring fresh ideas is to switch up the format. Are you stuck always posting how-to guides and have no more ideas? Try something different. The creative options are limitless when you leave your go-to format behind.

  • Success/failure stories. Look inwards and tell about your past success/failures and what you have learned from the experience.
  • Quote. Quote someone and add your own commentary to the quote.
  • Infographic. Create an infographic with a bunch of facts, stats and quotes on a topic.
  • Leaderboard. Create a leaderboard ranking of people, sites, locations, events and similar.
  • Behind the scenes. Be open and show people what’s happening in your life.
  • Ask me anything. Answer reader questions in a complete post.
  • Link out. Link to a post from another site and add your opinion to the topic.
  • Guides and tutorials. Write how-to guides and tutorials where you lead the visitor in the step-by-step instructional process.
  • Video it. Create a YouTube video where you talk directly to the camera or record your computer screen explaining a certain process.
  • Webinar. Do a webinar, record it and publish it on its own.
  • Listicle. Do a top list post, focus on long lists as those top 3 or top 5 posts have lost their novelty.
  • Curated link/resources post. Collect a list of interesting links, articles and resources on a topic.
  • Rant. Be controversial. Write a rant about a topic, an event or a person.
  • Post series. Create an engaging post series by spreading a story or a guide over several posts.
  • Reviews and unboxing. Review a product or a service that is relevant to your audience. Do unboxing videos too.
  • Comparison. Do a detailed comparison between two or more competitive products in your niche. Benchmark multiple items against each other and crown a winner.
  • Book review. Read a book and write your opinion about it, include lessons learned from reading it.
  • Quotes from a book. Collect best quotes from the book you’ve read and publish them with your comments.
  • Ultimate or top list post. Aggregate your best content on a specific topic, put an irresistible headline on it and publish as the ultimate guide or a top list of places, tools, or people in your niche.
  • Influencer list. Collect the most influential people in a field.
  • Cheat sheet or a checklist. Create a cheat sheet or a checklist list to help people go through a specific topic.
  • Quiz. Create a quiz and allow people to take your quiz.
  • Stats/revenue post. Write a post with a summary of your visitors, sales and earnings.
  • Survey. Do a survey, collect all the answer, analyse the findings and publish them.
  • Contest. Do a contest on your site and giveaway a prize.
  • Ebook. Collect several of your posts on a topic, style and edit them and publish them as a free e-book download.
  • Photo/GIF post. Collect best images from an event and publish them in an image post. Or just do GIF’s.
  • White paper or a case study. Create a report or a white paper on a topical topic in your industry.
  • Challenge. Set a challenge for yourself and your audience and follow-up on the progress.
  • FAQ. Collect all the frequently asked questions, answer them and release them as the ultimate FAQ.
  • Roundup. Create a roundup post after events, releases and other important happenings.
  • Guest post. Publish an interesting guest post from another writer.

Simply read a lot and learn constantly

Reading helps you get fresh ideas, a different point-of-view, and another perspective. A quote from Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood novel tells it like this: “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”.

Look out of your field, and use the fresh outside perspective to find inspiration for your blog content. Read a variety of sources both online and offline. Expose yourself to entirely different, random viewpoints to truly spark creativity.

As I read, ideas for new posts just fly from the pages into my mind. I highlight words, phrases, and quotes that I can later use. Think how you can turn these into meaningful posts and capture it all in your ideas document.

Summarize the best-selling books on your topic. Take your favorite concepts from these books and write about them from your perspective with examples from your own experience.

Keep reading and learning. Do a lot of research. Read about the same subject that you’re covering too. Read the blogs in your field. Find examples to inspire your own stories, make notes on topics so you don’t miss anything out on your own blog.

Time to read

Comment on and document the world

Sometimes it’s useful to document the world rather than having to create new content from scratch. Your blog content doesn’t always have to be all about your thoughts and advice. You could talk to the world and facilitate the conversation on your blog too.

Get in touch with interesting people and interview them. Get them to answer some popular questions. Publish the answers on your blog. Feature their stories and lessons learned. You could also combine the answers from more than one person into one larger story.

Browse the best-selling books

Books and ebooks are not to be neglected. Looking at what type of fiction and non-fiction books people are reading can help you come up with content ideas too. Look at Amazon’s Best Selling section. Browse through lists such as “Movers And Shakers” and “Most Wished For”.

Analyze the search volumes

Use a keyword tool such as Google Keyword Planner to help you identify what topics people search for in search engines. The higher the search volume is, the more potential there is in an idea.

Attend meetups, conferences, and seminars

There are many conferences, seminars, and other events you could attend. All the time. Both online and offline. For free even. Look at exploring Meetups in your area.

All you need to do is attend, listen, reflect, talk to people and then act. The topics discussed at these events center on people’s problems, questions and how to solve them. Exact content ideas that you need.

Keep track of what your blog visitors are saying

Keep track of what your visitors search for in the search box on your blog. Search Meter WordPress plugin records the searches and whether visitors find what they’re looking for.

Study your comments area. What questions are people asking? What common problems are they discussing? Jot down the problems and give people what they want.

Update your existing blog content to make it relevant again

Just because you already published a blog post on a particular topic last year doesn’t mean that you have to leave it outdated and irrelevant. You can rework the article.

Update your existing post and make it timely and relevant again. Improve the content, add fresh information to it, include complementary imagery and video. Then republish the post and share it with your audience again.

Don’t be afraid. Most people haven’t seen it the first time around. Those that have might have forgotten about it. In any case, updated, relevant and useful content is always attracting to everyone.

Get offline, live, and let the muse come to you

Sometimes you just cannot force inspiration. You might not have anything to say. You may not be in the mood for creating content.

Let your procrastination be the natural filter. Rest in the fact that it helps you relax and eventually find the inspiration you need.

Disconnect, live, and experience things. Get out among people and find stories. They are everywhere.

Be aware of your environment. Look at the world with the “I’ve got to post about this” mindset and ideas will come. Train your ear to know when something of interest has happened or has been said. Note it all down in your valuable ideas document.

Write every day

The best way to make progress is to make a commitment to write every single day. Sit down, open an empty text file or your WordPress blog editor and make sure to write. Just write. Write 500 words, even 1,000 words. Write them every day, consistently, no matter what.

Writing is like any other skill. The more you do it, the better you are going to get at it. Don’t be a perfectionist. Don’t worry about the quality of the things that you write. It’s better to write anything than to write nothing at all.

Just write. Write like you talk. You will edit later. You can add extra explanation later too.

Get into the habit of doing a bit of writing every single day and new ideas will flow. All of the ideas in this article boil down to you developing a momentum. Once you hit your stride, you will see that coming up with new blog post ideas is not all that difficult. You will never look back.