If you work in content marketing, there’s nothing worse than staring at an empty content calendar, racking your brains for some great new blog topic ideas and drawing a blank.
And it happens – all the time.
If you spend all day, every day thinking about content, it’s only natural to get writer’s block once in a while.
Thinking of blog ideas that not only make money and build brand awareness, but that your audience will actually love time after time can be tough.
Yet as the Content Marketing Institute’s research reveals year after year, commitment is one of the most important indicators of content marketing success.
When that deadline is looming and you’re feeling stumped, these steps should help you rev up that creative engine and think of a new list of ideas in no time.
1. Harness the power of audience-generated content
While you can’t ask your audience to simply write their own blogs so you can go on holiday, you can however, get your target market to provide useful insights and inspiration.
Ideally, your product or service helps to solve a problem your audience has – and so too should your content. So instead of guessing what your audience wants to read, go straight to the source!
There are a few ways you can go about this. The first is via social listening: Check what your audience is talking about online in Facebook groups or Reddit threads related to your brand or product. If you have a decent idea of the content or blog topics your audience likes, put together 2-4 ideas and create a poll on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Otherwise, you could post an open-ended question on your social media profiles asking something like, “What content would you like to see from us?” If your audience is engaged, they’ll most likely flood your feed with suggestions.
By reaching out to your audience on social media, you’re also strengthening the relationship between customer and brand. Social media is a two-way street. Customers are hyper-connected, and they appreciate brands that open up the conversation and listen to what they say.
Top TipIf you want to dig deeper, you could also send out an email survey to your subscribers – and offer an incentive for completing it.
2. Think about what’s worked in the past
As content marketers, we’re always focusing on the future. What’s the next content piece? What’s the next keyword to target? What’s the next pitch?
But sometimes, it’s worth looking back at your past successes. When you’re trying to generate new content ideas, conduct a content audit or tap into your Google Analytics and comb through your best-performing posts. This step alone may inspire some ideas.
If so, you can take it up a notch and figure out which formula received the most engagement. Was it how-to articles, listicles or personal essays?
If you want or need more ideas, try out some of these tactics:
- Pick apart any lists – Let’s say you have a post about ‘10 tips to save money on flights,’ or ‘99 ways to be more eco-friendly in your everyday life.’ Can you single out one of those things, and write a whole article about it?
- Consider spin-offs – On a similar note, look for content that deserves a deep-dive. For example, if you have a high-performing piece on the different types of life insurance, it could be worth writing a page elaborating on each of the main policies (like term and whole life).
- Read the comments – When you find a great article on your site, scour the comments. What are the readers saying? Are they looking for more information – or confirmation – on a particular topic?
- Run a social media audit – Your social media analytics are a treasure trove of information, too. On Facebook, go to Page Insights > Posts to see the posts with the highest reach and engagement. For Instagram, click on Analytics > Posts > See More. You can choose to sort your top posts by impressions, engagement or reach. Start with those profiles, and look for common topics or interesting comments.
3. Use search engine optimisation tools
Meet your new best friend: Google Search Console.
This nifty tool will tell you what people typed into Google to find your website, as well as which topics you’re ranking for. If you know what keywords users are searching for, you can leverage those to create new content ideas.
There are two other ways to make the most of Google’s intel:
- Use the autocomplete function – Google auto-suggests similar topics when you type a query into the search bar, which may spark an idea for you. Say you’re looking for ideas about the ‘best Sydney restaurants.’ Google might autocomplete your sentence with ‘for vegans,’ ‘for groups,’ or ‘with a view’ – that’s three new ideas!
- Look at the related searches – Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where Google lists the related searches. Let’s say you searched for ‘best banking apps.’ Google might offer: ‘best banking apps for millennials’ or ‘best banking apps for saving.’ Maybe your content can hone in on one of those ideas. The ‘people also ask’ section near the top of the SERPs is useful too. And it’s clickable – the more you scroll, the more options will generate.
Top TipWhile you’re in the zone, consider using content research tools like Buzzsumo and HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator. With Buzzsumo, you type in a keyword and the system reveals the most-shared content based on that keyword. And if you enter a noun on HubSpot, it spits out five blog ideas.
4. Don’t go it alone: Talk to your team
Who knows – the engineering or sales department could be bursting with ideas, so give your wider team the opportunity to contribute! Host a brainstorming session in the office, or start a Slack channel for people to drop in ideas whenever they pop up.
In particular, your sales and customer service teams will likely be a goldmine of customer knowledge and have valuable insights. They speak to customers day in, day out, so they’re in a good position to tell you what your audiences are thinking about.
You could ask:
- What are the most frequently asked questions?
- What do customers want to know about our product or service?
- What are the major pain points for both current and prospective customers?
- What motivates our customers to buy from us (or come back for repeat purchases)?
Then, build content around the answers.
5. Check out what your peers are posting
It’s never a good idea to steal or plagiarise content from your competitors. In fact, Google will penalise you for that. But you can look at industry leaders and companies with similar target audiences for content inspiration. As you’re scrolling through their blogs, social media posts, or newsletters, try to identify any key topics or patterns in their top performing articles. You might also be able to localise the content for an Australian audience.
You can even try finding inspiration from content outside your own industry. Some of the best ideas can come from a totally different field of thought, adding fresh new perspectives on how you communicate with your customers.
If you come up with an interesting topic, be sure to do your research and write the piece in your own unique style. Your content should be original. If you do pull a stat or fact from another source, it’s always good practice to credit it accordingly.
Top TipForums like Quora, Reddit and TrustPilot can be minefields of information and inspiration, so it’s worth checking them regularly.
Beat the blank space and begin again
Continually thinking of fresh new ideas is challenging, especially when you have a million other things on your to do list. But don’t give up!
As Hubspot points out, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less. SMBs that use content marketing get 126% more leads than businesses that don’t.
Whether you want to outsource your content creation or take your existing content to the next level, at Yoghurt Digital we can help you build a cohesive strategy based on data-driven insights. To start, contact our team of content marketing specialists to talk about the best approach for your business today!