I hear a lot of people compare the New Year to a blank piece of paper.
On the one hand, that’s great! A fresh slate! On the other hand, there is nothing scarier than a blank piece of paper when you need to fill it with ideas.
Just a few weeks ago, I sat down at my desk to create my 2021 editorial calendar. That’s where I put down all of the topics that I want to cover in my podcast, blog, webinars, and YouTube videos. Let me tell you, coming up with 52+ fresh ideas is NOT easy!
And I know that I’m not alone. Many of the small business owners I talk with also have trouble generating content ideas. They might have dozens of great ideas floating around their heads during the day, but the second they sit down to write them down… POOF! They’re gone!
As a professional digital marketer and content creator, I know this problem well. But I also know ways to stimulate ideas when it comes to content creation. I used all of these techniques when I was coming up with my new editorial calendar, and guess what? Two hours later, I finished it!
So, if you feel stuck trying to create a solid year’s worth of content ideas, here is how you do it!
I’m a big fan of asking questions. It’s something I did a ton when I decided to start my own business.
Not only does this help me connect with customers and learn their needs, but questions can also help me grow my own business. And some of the best questions from my clients!
For example, whenever I hear a great question from a potential client on a consultation call, I make sure that I write it down. If that potential client is curious about that question, the chances are that others will too. It’s the reason why I always encourage my current clients to ask me anything.
Another place I see a lot of great questions is on my social media feeds. Over the last year, I’ve been putting tremendous effort into growing my brand on Instagram by increasing engagement. With that increased engagement came many questions about me: what I do, how I can help small businesses, what does my team look like? By taking the time to answer these questions, I can create content that has real relevance to my clients.
So, what questions are your customers asking you? By answering them, you will be doing more than providing excellent customer service. You will also be creating useful content!
For many people, hashtags are simply ways to get their social media message out. For example, you might see me use #virtualasssitant or #digitalmarketing in some of my posts. Hashtags are also an incredibly effective way to make your content easier to find. But there are other uses for hashtags, and that’s to engage with your audience directly.
If you lack content ideas, I can guarantee that your audience has a ton of them. So, why not use hashtags to reach out to your followers (and potential followers) on social media?
Simply ask them what they would like to learn more about. What kind of content would they want to see from you in the future? Add a hashtag like #futurecontent or #AMA (ask me anything). Who knows? Your next great content idea might come from you surveying your audience!
It amazes me how little some clients pay attention to the wealth of information provided by their website.
Your website is one of the most valuable tools you have for generating useful data, especially when it comes to content ideas. If you utilize WordPress, Squarespace, or other similar services, there are dozens of analytic features that can tell you which of your pages/blogs are getting the most traffic.
It’s interesting data, but how can you use it to generate ideas? Well, why not take a look at how all of your previous blogs performed. If you have a blog with an incredible level of engagement, it might be smart to take that topic and spin it off into several more pieces of content. If you have a blog that performed terribly, you might want to forego using similar topics in the future.
Of course, your website isn’t the only source of analytics that you can use to generate content ideas. Facebook provides you with a ton of analytics, especially if you have been running Facebook Ads. By seeing what people click on, you can generate more of that sort of content.
While, yes, you should always be trying new things as a small business owner, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t give your customers exactly what they are looking for in terms of content. Heck, it might even give you some ideas for new products, like webinars!
When it comes to content, it’s often the keywords that are going to bring you traffic.
Keywords are precisely that: the “key” words and phrases in a piece of content that people are searching for when using Google or other search engines. It’s a necessary part of a viable SEO strategy. By using interesting, unique keywords, your content will appear in people’s search results. The problem is that you need to figure out which keywords are “just right.”
To help with this, I am a big fan of an online tool called “Ubersuggest.” With it, you can see what keywords are ranked highly by search engines and Facebook alike.
Using these keyword search tools, you will also get suggestions for new keywords that could generate exciting content ideas. For example, let’s say that you search for the keyword “video games” (Shoutout to my son!)
Well, if you put that into Ubersuggest, you will get new keyword suggestions like video game store, video game controller, movies with video games, video game characters. You could take any of those keywords and spin it off into its own blog topic!
Another excellent method to come up with new ideas is to do a Google search. There are literally billions of blogs on the internet, millions of which are probably focused on your industry. By reading other people’s blogs, they could inspire you to write brand-new blogs!
Please keep in mind, I am in NO WAY advocating stealing other people’s ideas here. Copying a blog title word-for-word is plagiarism, period. What I do suggest is letting interesting and well-written blogs inspire NEW ideas! Ah, but where should you put those great ideas as you have them…?
Keep an Idea Notebook
Sometimes, the old ways are the best!
Yes, I realize that I’m a digital marketing expert, but there are times when I prefer to go old school with pen and paper. Specifically, when it comes to my ideas.
You never know when inspiration might strike. There have been times when I’m working on a client’s social media campaign or editing an email where I suddenly got an idea for a blog, webinar, or online course. At times like that, I reach for my trusty idea notebook on my desk and jot it down! Occasionally, you might even be able to split a single good idea into several different pieces of content!
Sometimes, the ideas are fantastic. Sometimes, well, not so much. (I once woke up from a dream with a “great” idea, wrote it down, and woke up the next morning to find a note that says “Noodles on ice!” sitting on my nightstand. Yeah…)
If a pen and paper notebook isn’t your thing, no problem. Just open up a new note on your phone and keep your ideas there. Every now and then, refer back to them when you need to come up with some content.
So, What Did We Learn?
Let’s review what we learned:
- Nothing’s scarier than a blank piece of paper.
- It’s possible to write a year’s worth of content ideas in two hours.
- Always ask questions of yourself, your clients, your coworkers, your audience, etc.
- Use hashtags to survey your audience on social media.
- Your website analytics can show you your most popular content.
- Your social media analytics can show you the content people are actually clicking on.
- Use Ubersuggest to come up with fresh, new keywords to base your content on.
- Always carry around a notebook to jot down your ideas.
- If you don’t like pen & paper, use the Notes app on your phone!
- A single idea can be split into several different pieces of content.
One last tip! Trying to come up with ideas in a vacuum is always challenging. But when you have a framework to put your ideas in, creativity can flow better than ever! That’s why I created this free Editorial Calendar Template. With it, you can break down your ideas into a detailed editorial calendar!
And if you’re still feeling stuck, why not try brainstorming with me? Please feel free to contact me here for a free consultation to talk about the kinds of content you want to create and how to get it out there to your audience!
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