where to find inspiration

How to Come Up With Fresh and Effective Content Ideas

Jade Tolley 5 months ago

Coming up with blog content ideas is easy, right?

Some people think so but the thought of a blank blog strategy calendar fills many of us with dread. We’ve all got KPIs to hit, growth to deliver and the blog section of a site is a good place to start.

So when it comes to what you actually post on there – where do you come up with ideas?

This post aims to provide a host of places to start your search, when it comes to putting together shareable and relevant content for your blog.

Before we start though, it’s worth noting that blog content doesn’t just have to be about targeting search – you do have a little bit of freedom to take a creative approach when it comes to content and can test how this is received when shared on your main social platforms.

The key to keywords

Keywords are a good starting point when it comes to content inspiration, they give you an idea of what your demographic is searching for, what they care about and therefore the kind of content you need to be creating to include those all-important search terms to tempt people onto the site.

I write content for a living, so I’ll leave it to a very capable SEO colleague here at Zazzle Media to explain how to do keyword research.

Once you’ve got the keywords ready to go in a snazzy spreadsheet, identify which ones you need to be targeting and mock up some blog post titles that can feature these naturally.

Next, once these basics are covered, it’s time to look around for inspiration when it comes to content matter if you’re feeling a little stuck. Here’s how to go about it:

Keep up to speed with the industry news

To ensure you are considered an industry thought leader via the content on your blog, it’s important you stay clued into changes and updates within your industry.

Let’s use a fictional business called ‘Roddy’s Gym’, as an example.

As a business within the realm of fitness and lifestyle, they’ll need to know what changes are taking place in the industry. Are we pushing vegan lifestyles now? Are people still taking supplements? Is there a new ‘wonder veg’? Or a new way to burn fat? Staying on top of the relevant news will help ensure their content is topical and – if posted in time – being searched for.

Source relevant newsletters and take some time to look these over when they land in your inbox and be sure to put together a post if there’s anything important or juicy in there.

You could also set up CSS alerts or Google alerts so that you’ll be notified whenever a specific topic is mentioned elsewhere on the web.

Keep an eye on social media

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are gold mines when it comes to content inspiration. For example, you could look at the regular questions your customers are asking you online and determine whether you need to create a blog post to answer these.

Even if they’re as mundane as how to cancel a membership or if the lockers have padlocks, it’s still a content win if people want to know.

Take advantage of national ‘holidays’

Besides the big ones – Pancake Day (very important), Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day and Halloween – there are numerous other national days to jump on when it comes to content.

For example, a dog grooming company might put together a fun piece about National Puppy Day (which takes place March 23 by the way and gives you the perfect excuse to look at pictures of cute dogs) or a dessert restaurant might pen a piece around National Chocolate Mousse Day (definitely one to add to the calendar on April 3).

Days of the Year – Now, it’s probably a good idea to take some of these with a pinch of salt because not all the days listed on this site have been created officially. However, it’s definitely a fun place to start the search for national days! I mean, Sunday the 3rd April is apparently known as ‘Love your Produce Manager Day’ each year – an important national holiday we can all get behind.

National Day Calendar – This is another site featuring all the relevant days, as well as the fun, wacky ones that are planned in the yearly calendar. You can view these by month, so it’s easy to add them into your own content calendar.

Awareness Days – This site lists all the important charity events and national days encouraging wellbeing and fun in the UK, throughout the year. These aren’t only great for blogposts but for your work calendar as well, if your business enjoys planning events for charity.

If you need a hand with fitting these into your strategy then don’t hesitate to download this seasonal campaign planning template.

Twitter Hashtags

If you’re geared up for creating responsive content, the Twitter hashtags sidebar is a good place to see what’s trending that day, as people will usually be talking about it. Just a 300-word piece around the subject, that you can then share on the social platform, is a good way of getting noticed in the hashtag feed.

However, it’s a good idea to only talk about national days that are relevant to your industry or in a way that makes them relevant. You don’t want to piggyback on anything that could get people fired up.

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Attend industry events

Your industry no doubt offers annual events that you can attend, to network with other members and suppliers, so take advantage of these when they roll round to source blog inspiration.

Many offer free seminars or workshops that can help you when it comes to content inspiration. You’ll come away with a diary full of potential content ideas, featuring industry news, future updates and products that you can talk about in detail.

Bookmark these sites

As Stephen King, one of the greatest authors of all time, noted: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” and while I understand that you’re only here because you want to know where to go for inspiration, when it comes to your blog, the sentiment is true.

Reading and looking at great content, created by other publishing platforms, isn’t cheating.

It’s actually a really good way of inspiring your next post. Bookmark these sites and refer to them regularly to see what’s trending:

Pinterest

Best for: Interiors, exercise, food and crafts for kid’s ideas.
Looking for a new way to take on an everyday task to discuss in your blog? Pinterest is the place to visit for inspiration and the more unusual ways to put together DIY projects or recipes.

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BuzzFeed

Best for: Listicle inspiration.
BuzzFeed is a good starting point when looking for inspiration on how to put together fun, easy to read pieces of content. It is also the ideal website to turn to when it comes to checking up on what has gone viral.

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Reddit

Best for: Discovering what’s going viral.
If your business wants to be at the forefront of the latest viral hit – content that answers a question about a viral issue or educational value is well received – then Reddit is a good place to look. Some of the content on there is…strange or even controversial, but it’s the best place for the newest memes, as well as funny videos and images. You can search by industry or topic too, instead of having to scroll through the reams and reams of listings. Check out my colleague Abbey’s post on how to use Reddit to your advantage.

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Quora

Best for: Educational content inspiration
This forum website is a great destination when looking for inspiration for your educational content. You can search by a topic you think your customers or readers will be interested in and find out what people are asking about in relation to this. This then allows you to create content that aims to answer these questions and draw people onto the site.

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Comments sections

Best for: Working out what’s wrong in the industry.
Does your competitor have a particularly vocal audience, commenting on their blog posts? Then have a read through the comments sections and discover what they’re saying and what questions they are asking that the writer didn’t cover within the content. You can then answer any questions they may have on your own blog. If you’re feeling confident you can even slap a link to it in that comments section in response to those asking the question.

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Leading publications

Best for: Scouting out thought leaders.
Industry related publications or household magazines that relate to your business are good starting points for content inspiration. Here you’ll find the latest interviews with up and coming thought leaders, as well as being able to spot the latest trends to base posts around. You could even look into interviewing or featuring a guest post from a thought leader on your site. Having someone with a strong influence in the industry on your site and them sharing your post will get the views up and the prospective leads and transactions rolling in.

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TED Talks

Best for: Stirring up inspiration.
Simply search for talks that have taken place that match your business industry then enjoy the inspiration that comes with it. Perhaps comment on an interesting talk you’ve watched, suggesting other ideas or even disagreeing with something that’s been said to engage people.

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Answer the Public

Best for: Learning what customers want to know.
This clever website compiles all the search terms and questions people have been typing in around a keyword you type in. So, Roddy’s Gym, for example, may want to know what people are looking to learn when they type in ‘core exercises’, the site then tells us people are asking if ‘core exercises are safe during pregnancy’ or ‘what muscles do core exercises work?’. You can then write blogposts answering these questions, to tap into the searches around the terms. Easy!

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FAQ Fox

Best for: Seeing what competitors are writing about.
This site does all the hard work for you when looking at competitor sites and what content they are putting out on a particular topic. Simply type your keyword into the top box, then add the sites you want to check out and you’ll get a list of posts to read. This means you can better understand what your competitors are writing about on the subject. You can then write something better!

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Bloomberry

Best for: Browsing site specific search queries.
Like Quora, Bloomberry scouts the net to see what questions people are typing into specific sites. It pulls out the top sites where people are searching (Amazon, Reddit, IGN and relevant industry sites) to find more specific questions. This then allows you to build up a content strategy on niche issues, which could pull in a whole new type of demographic and broaden your reach. You can then write something better!

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Storybase

Best for: Finding new keywords and questions to answer.
This tool is mainly used by marketers but is ideal for those looking for content inspiration. It gives you access to an enormous keyword and phrase database and over 100 million questions that you can answer in your blog posts. You can see how many searches are made on these keywords and questions each month to give you an idea of which ones will provide you with the best reach and chance of drawing people to the site. It also provides you with an instant overview of the demographic searching for these things, allowing you to instantly understand who you need to cater content to.

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Ahrefs

Best for: Seeing what keywords are the top.
Understanding what keywords are going to provide you with the best return is an important part of the blogging process. There’s no point including keywords that are going to grant you little to no return. Ahrefs allows you to see which keywords are the best performers for your industry to determine which ones you should be targeting in your on-page blog.

Even more content ideas

Need more? Then here are a few extra ways of getting ideas for your blog content:

Have an in house brainstorm

Talking about ideas and bouncing off colleagues is a great way of compiling a list of blog posts for the future. Someone else might come up with an angle you may not have thought of and vice versa, plus it’s interesting to see other people’s views of the industry and what they believe makes good content.

Be sure to make notes as you chat; you don’t want to forget that great blog idea when you come to write later!

Here at Zazzle Media, we follow a careful ideation process when putting together content ideas. Take note of the following steps and attempt to implement these when you and your team are sitting round a table throwing around ideas:

  1. Agree an objective – you need to all be on the same page when it comes to why you’re brainstorming for these blogposts. Do you want to raise awareness? Capture search? Ensure it is clear right at the very beginning.
  2. Check your personas – you should have a clear idea of who your demographic is. Familiarise yourself with these again and get into their mindset to think up ideas they will find engaging. If you need to work on this area, use our persona template to get started.
  3. Think about the purchase funnel – how will the ideas you’re thinking up lead to those all important purchases later down the line? Carefully consider how you can naturally feature internal links and how your business is relevant to what you are writing about.
  4. Consider seasonal and community dates – it’s a good idea to tie your content into events taking place that you can then share your posts into via social media, using relevant hashtags later. Keep a calendar of key industry events close by while brainstorming and consider how you can capitalise on these.
  5. Check in on the wider marketing plan – you no doubt have more marketing material planned than just your blog, and if you need to create a wider marketing plan then use our guide. Can you put together any ideas to link with what your PR team are getting up to at events or with any influencer work you have lined up?
  6. Look at old ideas – if you’ve brainstormed before, take a look at those old ideas that didn’t quite make it past the drawing board. There might be something that you can now flesh out and make amazing or think of another angle on.
  7. Validate your ideas – once you have a decent list, take some time to validate each one and consider how it could impact and influence each of your personas. If you don’t feel like it could make much of a difference to their perception of your brand or help them in any way, perhaps put them to the side. No idea is a bad idea, it perhaps just isn’t the best time for it.

Conduct a survey

Not only do surveys provide you with original, exclusive data to include in your blog but they’re also a great source of inspiration when putting together content. It’s easier if you have a large social media following to share the survey with, to receive responses, but there are also paid services such as Censuswide that will send out questions for you and even put the data together in an easy to read format.

Not only do these provide great fodder for blog content, but they should also provide plenty of material for press releases and other marketing material.

Ask for feedback

Whether you want to know what your customers want to read or you have access to an industry thought leader, find out what people are looking for when it comes blog content and attempt to tailor your site to their suggestions.

Update older blog content

If you’ve been writing blog posts for a while it’s a good idea to take an older post and give it a refresh to make it relevant now and include relevant keywords to bring it up in searches online.

Glossaries do well

Glossaries are a great blog post idea and they can be as comprehensive as you like, as well as targeting keywords at the same time. Let’s jump back to our gym example, they could put together a selection of glossaries such as exercise machines in the gym and what they do, a supplement glossary and what they can help with and exercises for each body type. If you’re feeling techy, you could even get the camera out and put together supporting video content for these posts.

Spotify playlists are the new trend

More and more content is featuring exclusive Spotify playlists to accompany and support posts. These can be embedded using the URL from Spotify and readers can then listen to this. The trend for sending messages via Spotify playlists will encourage users to click through, you could even jump on the bandwagon and make one with a special message too – with a blog post to support it, of course.

Myth busting

We all love a myth busting post, so take a look at the common misconceptions within your industry and create a post about what is true or false. Comments sections and other blogs are good resources for myths that need to be busted but be sure to get your info from a reliable source.

A-Z posts are a good read

A-Z posts are easy to read but allow you the opportunity to dish out lots of information. They can be as serious or humorous as you like. Roddy’s Gym, for example, could do the A-Z of getting healthy (P is for protein, which means cooking up a whole poultry farm on a Sunday and trying to find 30 ways of making this bland bird taste good) or an A-Z of the latest exercise trends.

Follow influencers

Bloggers and YouTubers are helpful when it comes to inspiration for blog content. Let’s go back to using Roddy’s Gym as an example, seeing what the fitness bloggers are sharing could inspire your next post and understand what people are engaging with. If their workout videos are doing particularly well it might be worth considering creating your own, alternatively if people want to see what’s best to eat to lose weight a meal plan created with the help of a dietician is a good idea. You could also look into collaborating with these influencers, featuring them on your blog will get readers engaged especially if they have a big following.

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Curate content

Putting together a regular post featuring links to great blogs from other sites may feel a little like cheating but it’s actually an excellent way of increasing traffic and also putting yourself out there as a supportive member of the industry. Praising another’s excellent content puts you in a good light and they may even return the favour in the future. Plus, it means you have some great content to feature on your page and you can write a blog post about why it’s so good.

Take some time to try out a few of these suggestions and watch as your content plan grows! If you need a hand with somewhere to put all these ideas, download our campaign planner.

This advice forms part of Zazzle’s The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Your Brand Volume One. Click here to download the full eBook for more advice on planning and preparing your blog content.

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  • Love this fresh ideas, Thanks for sharing such a kind information 🙂

    • Kirsty Daniel

      No problem Nicoli! Hope you found them useful!