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How to generate Content Ideas

Alejandra Melara
May 28, 2019 9:29:16 AM

Did you know that content marketing is one of the top lead generation tools out there?

If you want your website ranking on search engines a good content marketing strategy needs to take place. You need to have great content that attracts your audience to your site.

And, great content is nothing without having topic ideas and blog post ideas to write about.

Problem is, great ideas don't just pop in your head.

We’ve all gotten the famous “writer’s block”.steve-johnson-606754-unsplash

All of a sudden you run out of topics and ideas to produce content about.

As humans, we are curious and creative creatures, we are always coming up with new ideas.

Personally, I believe that everything is already out there, there is not much more we can create from scratch. We are left with reinventing what’s already out there and making it better.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about stealing someone else’s ideas and content.

As content creators, when we run out of ideas our work pretty much stalls.

But we all know we are not a machine generating content left and right (I wish I was though), this is where having a well-established process comes in handy.

How do you create relevant content?

1. Start with your audience in mind.

Content completely depends on your audience. There is no such topic that talks to everyone.

When you know who you are writing to, understand what they like, how they speak and how they communicate it will be a lot easier to address what they want to hear.

You will know what to write about and how to write about.

Great content will always focus on a specific audience.

2. Understand the user intent.

You must pay close attention to what your intended audience is searching for on search engines, specifically HOW they are searching for it and the search volume of each topic.

To understand the user intent of your target audience you must understand that they are looking for one of four things:

  • Know something
  • Do something (informational queries)
  • Go somewhere
  • Entertain themselves

If you know how they are searching for topics you will understand how to create content for them.

3. Create a list of keywords.

Once you understand your niche (audience) and understand their user intent you can start building a list of keywords to use in your content.

Something that helps me a lot when it comes to content strategy and keyword research is using a keyword planner.

When searching for keywords think about two things:

  • What are you selling?
  • What problem are you solving for your audience?

4. Focus on SEO efforts.

Once you've identified the right keywords you must use them accordingly.

Here is where you should place the keywords:

Use a variation of the keyword in the title, H1 tag, the post itself and the image alt-text.

5. Make sure it's relevant and timely.

One of the most important things is making sure you are writing about trending topics that are relevant to your niche.

To make sure your content is timely and relevant focus your content strategy and social media marketing on current events and news. As well as producing evergreen-style content that is timely.

Now, that you know how to create relevant content lets focus on the process to generate ideas that will prevent you from running out of topic ideas.

Why do you need a process to generate ideas?bench-accounting-49906-unsplash

Having a process will allow you to come up with topics that might not be apparent.

There are several reasons why content creation should have a process to generate ideas:

  • Your days are always busy.

Like many other content marketers, you probably wear many different hats.

You have to write blog posts, produce podcasts and record webinars. Coming up with content ideas for all of those initiatives can be daunting at times.

And if all of that wasn’t enough, ideas can’t just be original they must also respond to your buyer persona’s needs and your overall marketing strategy.

Having a process will allow you to have a predictable and constant flow of ideas for all your efforts.

  • It allows you to come up with ideas that you never would've thought on your own.

Sometimes having a team to back you up and brainstorm with you will help you come up with the best ideas.

Having a different perspective and getting out of your own thoughts will open up an endless flow of new ideas for your content.

  • You will eventually run out of ideas

Now what? You and I both now that we don’t have an endless amount of time to come up with ideas.

We have clients that are waiting with real delivery dates, we can’t just get stuck.

The solution to having a writer's block is having a process that you can guide you in case this happens.

  • Having a process will allow your team to scale

When you are growing a business, clients come when you least expect them.

One week you were creating content for 5 clients and the next you have 3 more.

How do you keep up with all of them? You can’t do it all by yourself, so your team will scale and begin to grow.

It’s important to have systems and processes in place that will guide these new members along the way.

At our agency, we follow Tim Ferri’s system: DEAL, which means Define, Eliminate, Automate and Liberate.

We define what's important, eliminate what's not, automate a process to follow and therefore liberate on our day to day tasks.

Ultimately having a process to generate content ideas will help you DEAL with content.

Now, before I dive into the 2 ways to generate content ideas we must understand where ideas come from.

Where do ideas come from?

While I was in training with Hubspot, I remember them mentioning James Webb Young’s book called “A technique for producing ideas”.

Young’s main idea or thesis is that ideas don’t just come from random inspiration but rather from a well-established process behind it.

He said that if you understand the process and follow it you will become great content marketers.

Young and I have that in common, he also states that “an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”

He broke up the ideation process in four steps:

Step 1: Gathering raw materiallonely-planet-622111-unsplash

This means that you need to consume and gather as much content as you can.

You don’t necessarily have to consume content just on your industry, in fact, you must consume content from a wide range of topics.

This will broaden your mind and help you get creative with the ideas you come up with.

Be curious and read a lot, about everything you can. Sports, Music, Poetry, Entrepreneurship, Business, Marketing, Fashion, etc.

Once you have all that information contained in your mind, you’ll be surprised how it easy it becomes to generate unique and fresh ideas for content.

Step 2: Digesting the material

Once you’ve gathered all that raw material and you’ve indulged yourself in many different types of content (raw material) it's time to get creative.

This means, making new combinations see how different topics can connect or how you can build relationships amongst different types of content.

This is where Young’s “combination of old elements” come in place.

Step 3: Unconscious processing

Once you’ve done the previous stages you must let your unconscious mind take place.

Forget the whole ideation process for a while.

Listen to your favorite music, go for a run, hang out with your friends or binge watch Friends on Netflix as I do.

Let your mind breathe for a second.artem-beliaikin-689657-unsplash

Step 4: The Eureka Moment

Once you are done with the previous three stages you’ll all of a sudden get the Eureka moment.

Be patient, just like in love and life. It will happen when you least expect it.

Out of nowhere a great idea will pop into your head and you’ll have an amazing topic to write content about.

If you ask me, out of the four stages or steps the most important one is gathering raw material. That is where most of the inspiration will come from.

Now, let’s talk about the actual process that will help you generate ideas.

How do you generate ideas for content creation?

There are 3 main paths you can use when it comes to generating great content ideas.

  • Do your homework and do some research.

About your buyer personas. One of the most important things is choosing the right topic for your intended audience.

Yes, you can come up with incredibly creative topic ideas but if they don’t stick to what your buyer persona is looking for then you won't get the results that you are looking for.

The whole purpose of content is to help your audience and act as an advisor to them, you want to be seen as a source of information whom they can trust and rely on for whatever inquiry.

Fully understand what they are like, how they behave, how they talk and communicate, what are their main problems, how do they look for solutions, etc. This way you can address all of them and generate content ideas that will actually speak to them.

About your competitors. You should also be looking at your competitor’s high performance content.

They are your competitors for a reason, they are most likely targeting the same audience.

Look at their top performing content and see what they are all about.

Don’t copy their ideas, instead see how you can combine those ideas with your own or with any raw material that you’ve previously consumed.

The purpose of this is to identify key topics that are relevant for your audience and see how you can improve it and surpass the competition.

  • Look for what people are asking for on Search Engines

This is my personal favorite part of the content generation process.

As a content marketer, you want to make sure you are hitting the right spot when it comes to producing content.

What better way to do that than by addressing the exact questions that people are asking for on search engines?

Look for what people are asking for in Google.

Now, you may be wondering, how do I find those relevant searches?

I use different tools and techniques, here are some of them:

SEMrush. This platform is paid but it sure those give you great insights. I use several different tools inside the platform when it comes to making my content visible online.

The topic research tool inside the platform will show you exactly which searches are being made about a specific keyword or topic in real time.

You can find thousands of questions in relation to any topic, these questions can work as content ideas, not just for blogs but for guides and even webinars.

Answerthepublic.com. Opposite to SEMrush, answer the public is free.

This tool is specifically designed to show you the relevant searches and questions that people are making on a specific topic.

Google Search Console. If you have access to google search console and is properly linked and verified to your domain you should be able to see queries that users used to find your website. It will also show you the current topics you are ranking for.

This will give you an idea into what your audience is interested at the moment and guide your idea generation process.

Use Google’s own search bar. You don’t even have to go too far as to using a specific tool.

Just type into Google's search bar whatever query you think is most relevant to your buyer personas and it will immediately show the most relevant questions in relation to that query.

See the image below.bd

You can also look at the related searches on the bottom of the page, like the image below.bd 2

All of these four techniques and tools have really helped me whenever I have writer's block and keeps me focused and a lot more results-driven in my content creation.

  • Use different brainstorming techniques

Brainstorming can definitely get you out of your own head and really get you thinking outside the box.

That is why brainstorming can be super helpful when it comes to generating unique content ideas.

You can either do brainstorming:

By yourself or

In a group

Even though most brainstorming techniques are conducted in a group you can definitely try some of these techniques by yourself and you’ll be amazed by the ideas that pop into your head.

Here are a few of my favorite Brainstorming techniques that I’m sure will help you get those ideas flowing.austin-distel-1590560-unsplash

Figuring Storming: This technique consists of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Act like you are your buyer persona and ask yourself what questions could they possibly have in relation to a specific subject, how would they react to certain situations

Starbursting: This technique involves asking questions rather than answering them.

Everyone in the group has to come up with as many questions as they can on a specific subject.

Rapid ideation: Choose a topic and begin writing whatever word comes into your head when you think of that topic in a short period of time.

Once you are done with the first list of words repeat the process with each of the new words that came up on the previous round.

Repeat this rounds 3 to 4 times.

The purpose of this rapid ideation is to make connections between the words that came up on each of the rounds which result in a unique and creative idea.

Round Robin Brainstorming: During this brainstorming session, each participant must come up with an idea of their own. Once the topic is shared each person goes in a round and offer their ideas. At the end of the session, you can mix and match ideas or go for the one that everyone in the team agrees upon.

All of these three methods combined will help you generate effective content ideas. You must always keep in mind that powerful content comes from great research and the use of creative techniques.

I know that it’s easy to lose patience sometimes, but keep in mind that even the most talented writers get stuck once in a while.

To avoid this, remember:

  • You must follow a process
  • Read and gather as much raw data as you can on different subjects
  • Understand your buyer personas and your competition
  • Look for queries your audience is asking for on search engines and,
  • Use brainstorming techniques.

I hope this helps you. Next time you run out of ideas, you know what to do!

Coming up with topics and ideas is just one part of the content marketing puzzle if you are still struggling to engage with your audience with the content you create, reach out to us! We love seeing businesses grow and will be happy to help!

 

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