3 Slick Ways To Source Content Ideas When You’re Drawing Blanks
Find yourself running out of content ideas for your site?
Do you often think you’ve exhausted all possible topics on Early Childhood Education, artisanal pizza or whatever it is your business is centered on?
Is creating different content types in your plans but that always gets pushed because you just can’t think of something to make into an infographic or a video?
It’s a common issue—so don’t panic. I’ve had dry spells myself and I know how frustrating it is to want to write but not have an idea what to write about. It’s not unusual to feel like you’ve already wrung the last drop from a topic.
You know what finally got me out of that rut?
Realizing there’s no way all ideas come from just me. I’m telling you now…the internet is filled with people talking and sharing about anything and everything. Partaking in that, whether you’re participating in the conversation or just watching as a spectator, will make your life as a content creator and marketer so much easier.
How exactly do you start doing that, you ask?
Source ideas by going where your audience is
How about getting ideas straight from your audience? Online forums are a goldmine for content marketers. Not only do you find out what interests your audience, you only see firsthand how they communicate, the tone that works for them. As you know, this is mighty important when writing for an audience.
Well, I put together this list of ways to source content ideas so you can begin hitting the online streets and gathering content ideas to fill up your content calendar STAT!
Here are the places you should be looking into when sourcing content ideas:
Reddit is a huge website that’s part online forum, part social bookmarking site, part marketplace, part job board, and everything else you can think of.
The site is spread out into subreddits—a bit like chat channels where people with the same interests are grouped into a smaller version of the site. In the subreddits, reddit users (or “redditors”) post questions, share links, tell stories and just discuss things that are relevant to the topic of the subreddit.
Reddit curates posts through “upvotes” where redditors can vote for a post if they think it’s valuable and downvote ones which they think are irrelevant to the interests of the subreddit. This makes subreddits an immensely valuable resource for social listening and just finding out what’s hot in a niche, what are the usual concerns around it and other insider info readily available.
As of last year, there are 853,824 subreddits and a total of 36 million Reddit users from all over the world. You’re sure to find a subreddit related to your niche—if not one revolving around it exactly.
On to the good stuff. Here’s how to use Reddit to generate content ideas. You don’t need to sign up at all.
Say for example you have a tax assistance firm and you want to reach out to indie artists and creatives who sell on Etsy.
Go to Reddit.com. In the search bar, type Etsy.
Subreddits will be shown on top of the search results page.
Most subreddits have a short description in the search results that should help you choose the most relevant subreddit to your niche.
Click on the subreddit which seems closest to the community you’re looking for.
In this case, there’s a subreddit dedicated to all things Etsy so I click on that.
Inside the subreddit, taking up most of the page is the post list. In the photo above, you can see that there are content ideas ready for the picking.
However, since we want to get ideas for a tax firm, we will filter out the posts.
Type your keyword into the search bar inside the subreddit. In this case, we type in tax.
Make sure that you tick the box where it says limit my search to /r/Etsy. Then hit enter or click the small magnifying glass inside the search bar.
Searching for tax returned discussions around taxes, and threads where taxes were mentioned.
As you can see in this photo, redditors discuss real-world problems related to Etsy and taxes.
From these initial results, here are some possible topics:
- Do all Etsy sellers need to pay taxes?
- Is it possible to run a business on Etsy and still make profits despite taxes?
- How to file taxes as an Etsy store owner
There are loads of posts in most subreddits so make sure you keep exploring inside the subreddit. Don’t settle for the first set of results that come up. Know that Reddit also allows you to sort search results to show links from the past hour, past 24 hours, and so on, and to show posts with the most upvotes, the most recent, and those with the most comments.
Often, the problems the posts are very particular and in-depth too. I would recommend extracting topics from threads with at least 5 comments and with some upvotes. That’s easy market research right there!
Read through the comments and use those ideas as starting point for your blog post or any content type. Build upon the ideas discussed, add relevant data and research, provide alternate views. Of course, you should know better than to cut and paste responses from the threads. Use the comments as framework. Besides, you only need inspiration and now you have topics at the tip of your fingers.
Quora is Yahoo! Answers’ newer, smarter, legitimate sister. We have questions. Quora often has the right answers. It’s a free site where users can ask experts and peers about anything—from the mundane, to the technical.
I’ve seen questions about weight loss, recipes, how to build a pitch deck, how to fix a roof and even when’s the best time to give your dog a bath. Quora has it all.
If you’re running out of content ideas, Quora could definitely help.Here’s a hypothetical sitution. Let’s say I handle content for a learning institute that holds baking classes.
Here’s one way to use Quora to get content ideas:
At the top of the Quora page is a search bar. I must type in my niche or any keyword related to the content I want to create. I decided to type in baking.
Quora will suggest multiple topics related to my search term. I chose Bread Baking since that’s a topic I haven’t really covered in my blog posts and podcasts.
As you can see, the results are questions asked within Quora. The top results are those with credible answers and have a good amount of activity. This is a long page of results, all of which are yours for the taking as inspiration for your next blog post.
Like Reddit, you can take notes from the existing answers for the questions and build upon them to create a valuable piece of content. If you have a lot of time, you can even post a question ahead and get answers from experts and informed peers.
This need to share information is still alive today although it’s present in more sophisticated forms like Quora, Facebook Groups, Slack Chats and Reddit.
However, online forums or message boards are still alive and well. In fact, for most small and very particular niches, these forums are still very similar to those from 20 years ago.
Still, it’s a source of great insider information and a good peer into the interests of people in your niche.
The way to use it is similar to Quora and Reddit. If you’re familiar with these online forums, the only barrier between you and your content ideas is finding forums in your niche.
No matter what the area of interest for your content is, I guarantee that there’s an active community based around that niche.
Use Google search to find niche forums
For example, you sell doggie diapers. Your audience is dog owners so you want to look for an active forum for dog owners.
Search for “dog owners” + “forum”. As you can see, the search results are links to message boards catering to dog owners. Hit the forums and start digging for content ideas.
If that doesn’t net good results, also try these search queries:
niche forum (no quotation marks, no plus signs)
Just one active forum in your niche can supply you with content ideas to keep you busy for a while. You might also consider joining these forums to spark discussions and discuss ideas that you can also extract content ideas from.
Give and you shall receive
Hands down, the best way to gather content ideas is immersing yourself in communities where your audience hangs out.
Sure, these tips allow you to dip your fingers in the honey jar once in a while—but developing a sustained presence in the local and niche forums help your brand much more than you think.
Of course, if you join these forums, make sure that you share valuable content and not just promote. Sites like Reddit are notorious for sniffing out businesses who only come to the forums to promote. Be careful. As long as you provide valuable content to online communities, you’ll be all good.