We all know it’s important to have consistent content going out, whether its blog posts, YouTube videos, or social media updates, but it can be overwhelming to do all of the work that’s necessary to be consistent.
So today I have 9 ways to generate content ideas. Depending on where you are and what you’ve written about recently, I’m confident that at least a couple will help you come up with some great material.
How to generate content ideas
1. Audience Survey
Sending an audience survey is something I just tried a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the surveys I sent out, I have more topic ideas than I know what to do with. I’m even sharing some of those topic ideas with friends, since it will take me months to cover everything.
I’ve tried surveys in the past that were far less effective. In December of 2015, I did a year-end survey to my email list, which had 250-300 people at the time. That survey got me about 3 responses, one of which was a friend just giving me crazy answers.
My survey from two weeks ago was much more effective, thanks to a little bribery. In my email, I said that whoever filled out my survey with thoughtful responses would be entered to win a gift card to Creative Market.
I wasn’t sure how that would work, I was expecting about 10-15 responses. But it turns out that bribery works because I got over 90 responses – most of them with quality results. Just from that survey, I have post ideas to last months and even some new product ideas to move forward with!
If you haven’t sent out an audience survey within the last few months, give it a try! To help you out, here are a couple of the questions that gave me high-quality answers:
- What do you find the most frustrating about trying to X?
- What is your biggest struggle with X?
2. Welcome email
Next, create an introductory email to go out automatically when someone signs up for your email list. This email can include things like:
- an introduction to yourself and your business
- what they can expect from your list and content, and
- what they’ll gain from your list
At the end, ask what they’re struggling in related to your niche or most popular topics.
A lot of people won’t respond, but you’ll occasionally get some really helpful answers.
It’s always good to respond back to the people who answer your questions with a quick solution, but then you can expand upon it in a future piece of content.
If you need an example, try something like, “What is the biggest question you have about X? I read every message and would love to help you out if I can!”
3. Identify audience struggles
A great way to come up with content that will truly help your audience is to identify the things they’re struggling with without asking them. Asking specific questions can be great, but sometimes your audience won’t know enough about what you do to really understand their struggles.
Instead, you can take a deep look at the websites and social media accounts (or whatever makes sense for your niche) of the people in your audience and take note of the things they need help with. The notes you take can then be made into actionable pieces of content that will help your target audience.
4. Facebook groups
Are you in far too many Facebook groups like I am? A huge benefit of the larger groups is that there are constantly questions being asked on all kinds of topics.
Using the search box on the top-right side of a Facebook group, you can search for keywords related to your niche. You can then scroll through the questions people have asked and use those for future content ideas.
Right now, jump in to one of your favorite Facebook groups with a lot of activity and type a keyword in the search bar. What kinds of results do you see?
5. Study your current content
Taking a closer look at your current content is a perfect way to identify what’s working and what’s not. There are a couple of different ways to go about this.
First, look at which pieces of content have the most views, comments, and repins. The pieces of content that stand out from the rest, as far as stats go, are things that you may want to write more about.
The second way is to use SumoMe heat maps, which I talked about in this post. Enabling heat maps for specific blog posts will track the places that people click throughout the post. Using that data, you can see which topics, phrases, and words resonated with your audience.
Head over to your blog and take a look at your stats. Write down the post title that has the most views, the one that has the most comments, and the one that has the most repins. What kind of similar content can you write?
Next, install SumoMe and get heat maps running on some of your more popular posts. In a couple weeks, you can come back and see which pieces are really standing out to your readers.
6. Think back
Think back to right when you were getting started with the topic you’re writing on. What do you wish you would have known right away? It’s likely that your audience would like to know that very same thing.
Don’t be afraid to start at Step 1 (or even -1) and give the very basics. It’s likely that those topics are necessary to catch your audience up with where the rest of your content is at!
7. Prep your audience
Look at each of your products and services. What does your target audience need to know in order to be ready to move forward with a purchase?
It’s likely that your audience needs to learn something before they’re ready to hire or buy. For example, my audience doesn’t automatically know why a blog strategy is important. Because of that, I’ve written several posts about the importance of having a strategy and I also link to those or do a quick explanation in each piece of content that needs it.
Take a few minutes to do some brainstorming. How can you prepare your audience for what you offer?
8. Timed brainstorm
This method is effective because you’re giving yourself a period of time, where you don’t feel rushed, to sit and think about new ideas.
Grab a big piece of paper or a whiteboard and write the main categories you blog about along the top, in columns. Then, set a timer for 10-minutes and focus on coming up with content ideas for one of those categories.
During that 10 minutes, don’t filter your ideas. Write down everything you can think of, even if you’ve written about it before or don’t think it’s a great idea. You’ll be surprised at all of the amazing ideas you come up with!
For a more detailed explanation of this post, hop on over here.
9. Use themes
This idea was pointed out to me by J Gilbert from Joyfully J. Choosing one main topic to write about and using that as the theme for the month allows you to come up with one main idea, and break it down into smaller, more detailed pieces of content.
A couple of extra benefits of this are that your readers will become involved in the topic and will be excited for the new topic each week. It’s also a great way to keep visitors on your website longer. If someone comes to your website to read one post, it’s likely that they’d also stick around to read other related posts if you had them available.
What kinds of themes could you write about?
Which of these worked best for you?
Which of the content generation ideas above left you with the most ideas? Do you have any other specific ways you like to generate ideas?