Content is King. This phrase originated in 1996 from a Bill Gates essay that had been posted to the Microsoft website. In it he describes the future of the internet and how content creators were driving force behind value. Many things have changed in the 25 years since then, but this surely remains true.
If you want to reach people, connect to people, inform people, entertain people, or otherwise provide value on the web then focusing on creating content is a cornerstone to accomplishing those things. It sounds simple on the surface, but for some this can be the stumbling block that prevents them from growing thier reach and realizing their potential. We all suffer from blocks where we fail to come up with new ideas. This post is for those folks who just need a spark to get them going. In no particular order we bring you:
It's not a great strategy to sit down and bang out content with no idea about what you intend to focus on. Instead, it's much easier to start from a list. Before you begin writing content or shooting video you should have a topic to focus on. By collecting ideas en masee you then have a list to turn to which should make it easier to begin creating. Your lists might be tied a content calendar so they are timely to an event, anniversary or holiday or they might be open-ended lists of topics. Either way, having lists of the ideas that cross your mind is key.
Interviews are great fodder for new content. If you interview a recognized expert or influencer in your field it is possible to attract attention to your own brand or business as their own followers may be interested in what you offer. If you interview one (or several) of your own followers, staff, or customers you may end up with new content ideas coming from their perspective. The interview itself need not be the ocntent you produce, but you can always use it as a way of discovering new topics.
Running surveys offers you dual benefits. Surveys allow you to collect intelligence about what your customers need or want. This can lead to helping you not only with content ideas, but with focus on solving customer pain points. The survey responses themselves may be useful for further content creation. Some organizations do annual surveys, the results of which are highly anticipated by respondents.
If you attend a professional conference that relates to what your online content is typically about then consider using the conference itself as a springboard for discussion. Are there any interesting discussions, panels, or other agenda items from the conference that you can use to spark new content ideas for your own site?
If you already have a body of content on your own site it can be helpful to take a look at what has performed well so far. Are there opportunities to revist a topic you have already covered, but from a different angle? Has anything changed since you created that content that would allow you to do a follow-up? Use Analytics to find what's popular, but be sure to use a long timeframe in your reports so you account for all your content through history.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing. If they are getting a lot of traction with a particular post or page then consider whether or not you can also approach those topics, ideally with your own take on the subject. Do not plaigarize or copy your competitor's content, but certainly feel free to learn from it and maybe even one-up them in the process.
Search on Google for something you might be interested in creating content around and at the bottom of the search results Google offers "related searches". These are great for uncovering similar topics.
Similar to related searches, Google suggests searches when you start typing. Each suggested search could potentially lead you to new content ideas.
Bonus Tip: Google isn't the only game in town for suggested searches. You might also want to check out Pinterest for a different set of suggested searches.
Product reviews are great because they can also be pretty painless to create. If you own a wine shop and love to drink wine then by all means take the time to write about your experience. Ideally you'll want to review products and services that you have first-hand awareness of. Others may suggest that you are free to create reviews based on other people's reactions, but we think that lacks authenticity and isn't really fair to the product or service you are reviewing.
Product reviews are great for brick & mortar as well as click & mortar shops. The more in-depth the review, the better.
Right alongside product reviews are the ever-popular unboxing experience videos. People love these, but the competition can be stiff. If you intend to create unboxing videos be sure to invest in a good setup for sound and for lighting. Also, be prepared to buy early. Unboxing last years' model of anything is less likely to gain traction.
One quick way to get a bunch of content ideas scheduled is to write or create content that is focused on an anniversary, a day in history, or holidays. It may be that these sources for content are tangential to your business, but they are opportunities to express to your audience what is important to your brand. They also give you a chance to fill out your social postings with topics that are not neccessarily directly related to your offerings.
We all make mistakes. Own it and write about it. If you've made a blunder and learned from the experience you can help others avoid a similar fate while also showing yourself to be quite human.
On the opposite end of mistakes are the wins. Create content featuring the positive things that have happened for you and your business.
Break down the walls between your business and the rest of the world by featuring content that shows a behind-the-scenes look at your operations. Be careful not to disclose any secrets, but show the world what daily life at your place is work is really like. How is the sausage made?
Alongside the inside scoop you might consider interviewing your own staff and creating biographical content about them. Of course you'll need their permission and this might not be applicable to every business.
Are you making a new window display? Remodeling an office space? Creating a new website? Before & After is a great format for creating new content. For some professions like hair dressers and interior designers this can be done with nearly every customer!
If you have a new product or product category or service then by all means consider these ripe for creating new content! Announcing new products is one thing, but following up with a complete review of the new product is another.
You may wonder if "hashtaggery" is even a word. If it wasn't before, it is now.
Look at what hashtags are being used by your competitors and by experts in your field. These can provide powerful nudges for new content ideas.
If you are looking at long-form content then research is going to be your friend. Once you discover a general topic you intend to write about then start digging deep. The more complete you can make your content, the more likely it will gain attention.
No matter what your line of business, it is likely that there are common problems that you and others in your position face. Think about the things that you have overcome with procedures of your own and if they aren't trade secrets then they can become content ideas. Think about the questions beginners in your field seem to ask about often and answer those in your content.
If you have knowledge that can be captured as a how-to tutorial then go for it. People are looking for instruction all the time. Bonus points if you can turn your how-to article on your website or blog into rich snippet material.
Valuable content is often content that answers a question. If there are questions your customers or audience are asking regularly then consider creating an FAQ page if you don't have one, or updating your existing FAQ with additional questions and answers. If you aren't involved in the day-to-day with your customers you may not be aware of the questions they actually ask in which case speaking to your sales or support teams may unearth some FAQs you were unaware of.
You've probably heard the warning to "never read the comments" - especially on YouTube, but comments from users are a good way to find opportunities for new content. Often comments on blogs will contain perspectives or questions which can drive new content creation for you.
If you work in an industry that is subject to trends then take a stab at forecasting what will happen in the coming year or quarter. Once that timeframe has elapsed then you can review your own forecast to see what actually transpired compared to what you thought.
If yours is a local business then by all means feel free to create content around local events and local news. Providing an opinion on a local issue, engaging in community events and responding to local news items are all fodder for new content creation.
Coming up with new content ideas is not always easy, but we hope these suggestions can help you when you are feeling stuck. As you begin to gather new ideas be sure to capture your ideas to a list (see #1) so you can come back to them if you don't have the time at the moment inspiration strikes.