As much as you want to put out stellar content on a regular basis, it can be tiring. Sometimes, you just run out of ideas to write about and create anything with.
Especially when you’re a small team or alone (!), the idea well can dry up pretty quick. But, know what? Most of the time, it’s just a matter of having something trigger your brain into creativity again. Taking and sharing ideas aren’t all bad. They aren’t bad at all.
Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard put it perfectly:
It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.
We put together this list of tools and techniques that will help you come up with content ideas so you can focus on creating and dishing out pieces for your audience.
Use questions to spur new ideas
I think the biggest reason we run out of ideas is because we always go about the same process of creating and finding them. A great way to shake things up a bit is to ask questions to yourself. If you’re part of a team, collectively answer these questions.
This collection of questions help you to see things in a different perspective, think of your industry in ways you’ve never before, find information gaps in your content strategy and overall kick your content ideation to high gear.
� What do prospect always ask about?
� What’s a question you always prepare for but never gets asked?
� What are some unfounded beliefs in your industry?
� What are the last points of doubt of someone who’s already willing to buy?
� What isn’t being asked around here?
� What’s something we’ve always believed that isn’t really true?
� What are the common complaints in your industry?
� What’s something that can be improved in your niche, culture-wise?
Social media: Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are wildly popular across all industries.
Doesn’t matter if you’re from “serious” niches like executive coaching or physical therapy, there is a Facebook group that caters to your area of business.
In these groups, engagement is quite high—people are commenting, asking questions, sharing experiences and overall just being a good online community.
Now how do use Facebook groups to get new content ideas?
On Facebook, type your industry or field in the search bar then click Groups.
For example, you’re running a woodworking shop or supply store. Let’s search for woodworking.
Join the top groups. Look at the number of people in them. I think if it’s less than 500 people, there’s not much to get from the group. That’s not a hard rule though. If it’s a Public group, you can snoop around before deciding to join. If the engagement is low, better skip the group for now. Remember, we are talking about idea generation and not community building for this post.
If there are Public groups, you can immediately get in and start scanning conversations, shared posts and links. From there, you can get an idea of mundane and common concerns on the ground level.
Let’s see what woodworkers like to talk about.
After a quick scan, it’s apparent that woodworkers love showing off their work.
Why not create a post for your audience teach them how to showcase their work online? Or photography suggestions for woodworking pieces?
Of course, joining the conversation is the strategic approach. Post questions, share your ideas—it will pay off when you gain the trust of this highly targeted group.
Online tool: Google News
Who knew? Google News isn’t just a bland Google feature. If you’ve had the chance to use it, you’ll know what I mean.
Google News is a nifty Google product that shows you the latest news. Now, when we think of news, it’s either politics, economics, or any of the more traditional topics that scream news.
Google News is a bit forward thinking. First, it covers ALL searchable topics and will show you the latest news piece and even blog posts. Second, not all posts make it to Google news. They only show high-quality and reputable websites.
You probably know where I’m going with this: Use Google News to find out what the best of the best are talking about. From there, you’ll surely get a topic you can build on using your own perspective.
Of course, if your niche is politics or sports, you might get good ideas from the frontpage of Google News. If you’re from a very targeted niche though, you need to utilize Google News’ robust search algorithm.
Say you are a home care facility and you’ve run out of ideas to write about in your blog. Go to news.google.com and just type a random word that’s related to your niche. In this case, let’s use homecare.
The search will return news from your niche—latest technology, new practices, good blog posts. It’s never a bad idea to keep yourself sped up to the top tier. Synthesize the ideas and come up with something from your perspective!
Social Listening Tool: BuzzSumo
I looove BuzzSumo.
Ok, so now that we have the bias out of the way, let me show you how awesome BuzzSumo is for coming up with content ideas.
Here’s what Noah Kagan of AppSumo said about BuzzSumo:
Buzzsumo is also a great place to see which topics related to your business get the most attention. Do more of what works.
BuzzSumo is a social listening-content marketing swiss knife. You can find out the best people to reach out to in terms of expertise and audience size, you get data as to what’s trending at the moment, and for the purposes of this post, BuzzSumo shows you which pieces of content works in your industry and around the topics you create content for.
They don’t stop at topics, they include information on the content type (articles, inforgraphics, video, etc.) that works best in your niche. They have various filters like location, language and dates so you can adjust according to what you’re looking for.
For example, we’re searching for popular posts around the coffee niche. I typed in coffee in the BuzzSumo search bar and the results page looked like this:
Right smack in the results, you’ll get the most shared content in the last year (default filter). Just by looking at what’s popular, you can get an idea what you can create for your own business. Looks like for coffee, the newer and more sustainable practices are widely-shared. Of course, the top post is viral-worthy and quirky.
Take what you can from these top posts and transform it into your own content that fits your context.
Read industry blogs: Leaders, competitors, new players
With the boom of content marketing, it’s tough to differentiate yourself from your peers. Now, that has to have you wondering.
If I have to differentiate myself from my peers, why would I turn to competition to get content ideas?
Well, frankly, a lot of the content out there flat-out sucks. If there’s one business who would make improving content its advocacy, that business would make a killing.
So, here’s what you can do.
Subscribe to newsletters
Carefully choose who you subscribe to. Emails today are full of noise so make sure to vet blogs before signing up. You don’t want to waste precious minutes going over emails that just don’t add anything to your life. Blogs that send one email digest a week are generally better in my experience. They take time to curate the content they share to your personal space (inbox) and these people are carrying out elaborate email marketing funnels so you’re sure that they’re providing your value because they want you to buy-in.
Create Twitter lists
Remember, not everyone with more than 10,000 subscribers is an influencer. With so many tools out there meant to grow your Twitter following, a lot of the profile followers are just vanity, meaning they don’t bring value at all. So, what you can do is take the handful of people you already follow and whose content you trust and go over their profiles to see who they follow. Follow those people. Group them into lists based on niche/industry/specialization. When you’re running out of ideas, check the feed of the list. You’re sure to get a topic or two that can feed your imagination.
Set aside an hour a day for industry-related reading
Even when you’re not in ideation mode, knowing what’s up in your industry is a MUST. Keeping your idea funnel full is the best way to escape running out of ideas ever. Make it a practice to internal brainstorm as part of this reading time. In today’s world, it’s easy for our minds to go numb because of the info bombardment. Don’t let that be you.
How about that?
Get to your mindmap, drawing board, slack group, dinner table, conference room and get your creative zones brewing with these ways to generate ideas for content marketing.
What’s your own ideation process?