Coming up with ideas for content like blog posts, podcasts, videos, ebooks and more can be tough.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog or other form of content you probably have a half dozen or so ideas.
That’s pretty common and it’s great!
But getting beyond those first few ideas is tough.
There is a saying in the music industry that a recording artist or songwriter has their entire life to write songs for their first record. Then they have about a month to write for their second album.
That’s kind of how it works with creating content for a business website. You have all the time you’ve been thinking about doing it to come up with the first few ideas. Then you create those and pretty soon you’re under the gun to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming posts and if you want the effort to work you need to keep creating on a regular schedule so the fun never stops.
It can be. There are a large number of business blogs out there with about 6-12 posts and then nothing…crickets. They might have a post here and there, but usually it starts with a bang and then fades with a thud.
So let’s stop that from happening to your blog (or podcast or video series or whatever). A content strategy is great for bringing traffic to your website. It’s a good long-term strategy and can be used in tandem with a paid traffic strategy.
But it only works if you keep the content flowing over time.
Here are my best tips for coming up with content ideas.
1. Start With Your Customer In Mind
This is a big one.
When you’re writing content for your business website it can be easy to write content that is interesting to you. That would be fine if you are the perfect match for your target customer. However, most businesses are not in that situation.
So your job is to start with your target customer in mind and what that person wants to read.
I like to focus on the questions the target customer is asking in relation to the industry. And if you’re a B2B then focus on what the person is looking for in relation to their job. If you’re a B2C then focus on what the person is searching for in relation to their everyday life.
2. Create 3-7 Categories
Once you have a feel for your customer and what questions they might be asking it’s good to have about 3-7 categories for your titles to fit into.
A key point here is that most or even all of your posts really won’t get into selling your service. For example, your target customer might ask a question about how much your services cost, but a blog post or podcast is not really the type of content to answer those questions. You want to answer those questions on the main pages on your site because a customer asking those questions is almost ready to buy.
Blog posts and other forms of content marketing are aimed at the point when a target customer doesn’t even know you exist or they know you exist, but they’re not ready to buy. You’re providing value to earn their trust and to later earn their business.
So with categories you’re going to focus on what’s going on in their lives as it relates to your industry.
Let’s say you’re a dentist. Possible categories for your blog would be:
- Oral Health
- General Health & Wellness
- Local News
- Company Updates
The Oral Health category would include tips for keeping your teeth, gums and mouth healthy. That’s the bread and butter category for a dentist. The general health and wellness provides tips on other health-related items like suggestions for how to live a healthy life. Maybe a post on healthy food or on exercise.
Local news is a good one because a dentist is usually very involved in the community. And people are looking for a source of local news. A dentist can provide some of those updates.
And it’s also good to have a category where you can share some company updates like new team members, company outings, etc.
3. Do Content Brainstorming Every Two Months
Once you’re past the first flurry of ideas for your blog it can be tough to find more ideas. Something we’ve discovered at my company, Ghost Blog Writers, is that it’s nice to do the content idea brainstorming every two months. Maybe every month or three months, but you get the idea.
Let’s say you do one post each week. That means that you’ll be coming up with about 10 ideas at a time.
It’s good to do this many at once because once you get in a flow of finding ideas you might as well fill out two months worth at once. If you can find three ideas at one time then you can take a little more time and come up with ten.
Then once the ideas are on a content calendar (just a spreadsheet with a few notes) the person in charge or creating the content can just login and get started. They see the idea, the notes and they’re on their way.
This process eliminates the need to sit down under the gun and come up with the idea and then do all the research and writing.
I didn’t mention this earlier, but now will work.
To figure out what your customers are searching for there are a few tricks…
Listen To Current Customers
Your current customers likely have a ton of potential blog post ideas. Send out a survey to them and ask what they’ve been struggling with lately or what they’ve been curious about. See if you can get some ideas directly from them. Odds are that if one or two of your customers have a question about a topic that others like them will have the same question.
Look In Industry Forums
Also look in industry forums. Those old message boards might seem outdated with social media and things, but they’re still a place that people like to go online. Find the ones in your industry and see what people are talking about. Search for “[your industry] forum” on Google and you’re on your way.
Look At Industry Publications & Websites
Also check out the popular publications and websites in your industry. Magazines are great. Newspapers can work. And blogs and online magazines are great. See what content is most popular. Those are good topics to cover with your own spin on things.
4. Stick With A Few Basic Content Formats
You can experiment with different forms of a blog post or podcast or whatever (more on that later), but it’s good to stick with a few basics.
For example, you might do weekly posts or four per month. For two of those you’ll do a top ten list like Top 10 Tips… or 10 Tips For… or 10 Ways To… That’s always a tried and true format. For the other two you might to How To… posts or maybe you’ll do featured story for one of them.
Stick with a few basic forms that you see on other industry blogs and you know you’ll have a good chance of giving your readers what they want.
5. Experiment ~5% Of The Time
That being said…it’s still good to experiment about 5% of the time. That means that every so often you throw in a wildcard post or something that’s really different. Maybe it’s a personal case study from your business or maybe it’s just a fun post that really doesn’t have anything to do with your business. Maybe that dentist from earlier would do a post like, 10 Crazy Dentist Tools You Won’t Believe Were Used… That post will be fun and something that will catch readers off guard a little, but in a good way.
A blogging strategy is a great way to bring organic traffic to your business website. It won’t happen overnight, but if you commit to doing it for years then you’ll see the return over time. The trick is that not many businesses will stick it out that long. They’ll create 6-12 posts and then give up on it.
That also means that you have an opportunity to do what others aren’t. You can provide content that your target customer wants. But it takes a good plan and strategy. Follow the tips above and you’ll be in good shape for creating content on a regular schedule and you shouldn’t really ever run out of ideas.