Brainstorming fresh blog content ideas can be a tall order, especially if your content schedule relies on frequent content. Sometimes this may tempt you to deliver sub-par content just to meet a deadline. In other cases, you may simply be out of ideas and need a new method to jump-start your brain.
In either case, you always want to make sure you’re delivering quality content to your readers. The methods below will help you do just that.
From Social Media
1. Ask your followers what they want you to write about; tell them to be specific. After the content is live you can thank them publicly. This can act as a form of ego bait for this person and they will, in turn, have a vested interest in promoting that piece of content.
2. Leveraging Reddit. Most of us aren’t strangers to Reddit, but forget the memes for a second and browse the subreddits. For example, if you’re struggling to come up with an idea for your organic gardening blog, you can search the organic gardening subreddit and use it to come up with something fresh (yes, pun intended).
3. Use blog search engines to find niche-specific content ideas. Technorati, BlogCatelog, and Google Blog Search all have ways to segment searches to find the right kind of blog.
4. Check the Quora topics that relate to your niche. This can give you not only a great idea for content, but can also give you several unique points of views that can help diversify the information you present to your audience.
5. Follow (and engage) people and their boards on Pinterest. Frequently updated boards in your niche will always have gold nuggets of brainstorming information.
6. StumbleUpon, Google+, and Twitter have discover and #hashtag options. Similar to using blog search engines, this can be used to find niche specific content and trends.
7. Ask your LinkedIn connections. Often more professional than an average “follower” your connections on LinkedIn are a group of like-minded individuals that you know fairly well. This is the perfect market to tap and ask what kind of content you should feature next. This is especially successful if your connections are also frequent readers.
8. Don’t just answer, ask too. Places like Quora, LinkedIn, SEOmoz, are all Q&A friendly. Asking questions (especially on Quora) is an extremely underutilized strategy to crowd-sourcing and traffic driving. Asking the right question can draw as much curiosity from thought leaders to you as answering the right question.
9. Checking industry-related blogs can give you the most updated information on what people are curious about. Here you will find up to date information that like-minded people will want insight on. Studying not only the blog comments on these blogs but the people as well can put you in a position to answer and reach out to them with answers.
10. Use Social Mentions to keep up to date. Social Mentions allows you to get notified of words and phrases that you designate. This can come from almost anywhere: social media, news, etc.
11. Keeping up to date with webinars, podcasts, and workshops. The information that’s later posted in blogs, news, and regurgitated in countless tweets is often born in speaking events. If you keep up to date with these various types of events, you’re sure to have an almost endless supply of content resources.
12. Get information from an industry event or meetup. Almost every niche nowadays has a meetup going on in their city. This is the perfect opportunity to brainstorm content ideas from people just like you. Since networking is a huge aspect of these events, you should be able to easily network yourself to 10+ content ideas in a single evening.
13. If you’re local at all, check your newspaper. If you play your cards right, generating content from a local newspaper can not only get you links from the paper but is also a great way to generate local buzz around your brand.
14. Check trending quotes. Quotes are always trending on social networks; the great thing about them is that they are often vague enough to relate to many industries in some form or fashion. So by researching the latest quotes (Pinterest, BrainyQuote, etc), you can brainstorm some great content ideas that bridge the gap between the quote and your industry.
15. Find (hopefully from your contacts) an interviewee. Depending on how high a profile this person is, he/she will naturally help you spread the word about this piece of content.
16. Browsing forums can be a data goldmine. This is something that takes time, reputation, and being proactive. Because the information here is almost always time sensitive, you want to make sure you stay on top of issues that arise in the threads and keep your readers in an as-it-happens type of mindset.
Around The Web
17. Use Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics data. Use the data here to uncover keywords that you’re getting found for in the search engines, but haven’t yet written a lot of information about.
18. Use keyword research tools. Researching a few head terms can bring back more detailed, long tail keywords that can help. Google’s tool, Keyword Spy, Wordtracker, and even Ubersuggest can all help get your noggin working on fresh content ideas.
19. Polls and surveys can provide instant content. Creating a poll or survey from services like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms can be a super easy solution to gathering voluntary information about your visitors. Used correctly, this can be leveraged to provide targeted content towards said users.
20. Try Google Consumer Surveys. A little different from typical survey makers, Consumer Surveys is much more robust and can get expensive depending on how large, and how specific you want your data pool to be.
21. Use an RSS reader to keep up with websites in your niche. This will ensure that you have a wealth of niche-specific content delivered to you on a regular basis. My tool of choice here is Hootsuite.
22. Review new tools or publications related to your industry. Reviewing new tools can be great for your readers because it gives them your perspective on the tool and they can make an informed decision on whether or not to try/buy it. Who knows, you may even get a link out of it from whatever company made the product.
23. Get content ideas from lists. There are sure to be lists similar industry blogs that you follow (prime example), but there are also entire websites dedicated to lists. Places like Listverse, TopTenz, and The Top Tens are all prime for brainstorming.
24. Search Amazon for books in your niche. Once you find a book, click the “Look inside” button and check out the table of contents to start your brainstorming.
25. Content curation. Organizing content can be very time consuming but pays off when brainstorming for fresh content ideas. Use any number of curation methods – like detailed bookmarking, list building, or with your favorite tool.
26. Find a company to create a case study about. Use sites like http://www.corporationwiki.com/ and http://www.crunchbase.com/ to help find a good company that fits within your niche.
27. Related and Instant searches. YouTube and Google have instant searches that can often help give you some extra ideas. Google also has related searches at the bottom of the SERPs that can also help you (although a poor substitute for Wonder Wheel).
28. Google Trends. Great tools for uncovering hot topics for content in your industry.
29. Subscribe to competitors. Keep up with the type of content that competitors are publishing. As long as you’re not copying and pasting their information, getting creative impulses from competitive activities is definitely a smart way to brainstorm (and improve upon) new ideas.
30. Portent Idea Generator. This tool promises to be as humorous as it is helpful. Using a series of hooks to come up with titles, the idea generator can be extremely helpful for sparking an idea.
31. Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo is probably my favorite newer tool that I’ve discovered. It’s primarily for influencer search and content discovery, but can also be used for brainstorming content ideas.
32. Alltop. In addition to being a huge collection of new content, browsing the plethora of categories can help spark an idea within your niche.
33. Mural.ly. This is the most recent addition to my arsenal. Mural.ly is designed so that it can be used for collaboration, brainstorming, mind mapping, among several applications. Similar to how you might save a new post as a draft while building upon it over time, you can do the same thing with here, just with more sharing and export power. Alternatively, another option would be to use a mapping tool like Creately. They also have powerful mind-mapping ability, and can help you with brainstorming techniques as well.
From Your Blog
34. Answer, elaborate, or keep the conversation going from old comments. Many times people will leave questions or show a want for more information on a particular topic. This is a great opportunity to reach out to your readers and show them that they have a voice. If a question warrants a more long-winded answer than a simple reply on the comments, write a post about it.
35. Get ideas from older posts. You’re likely to have paragraphs in various posts that are about similar topics. Take some of these paragraphs, freshen them up, and put them together to create a unique post.
36. Know your newsletter inside and out. If you have enough followers, you should be able to get a good sense of what type of content your visitors are most interested in by the open rate for certain campaigns. For instance, if you have a dog website, do you receive a better response when it’s about dog food or walking parks? You get the idea.
Some of the real power comes from combining some of these methods. For example, RSS reader + forum threads, or combining your newsletter + polls, can lead to a ton of content ideas. The possibilities are almost endless. But, I’m sure I missed some. What other brainstorming methods do you have? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list.
Thanks for the post! Useful for more than just blog post ideas. I find that I use #18 the most these days - an afternoon with keyword planner and ubersuggest open is usually enough to generate a few good ideas. Also, researching competition is a must - there\'s an extension called \"similar web\" which lets you view a webpage\'s rank and top keywords. It\'s really useful.
Also, http://relatedwords.org or onelook\'s reverse dictionary and other concept exploring tools like that are really useful.
Can you do a case study on SerpClix? I used it to move up 5 spots to #8, but it won\'t move it further. Can you test it, or link me to a study where you have tested it?