Everyone of us who create content for our business blogs and websites regularly can have challenges coming with ideas from time to time. Heck, some folks struggle with it most of the time.
Well here are some places you can go to find creative ideas for you blog content. The key is to take ideas you find and make them your own by filtering them for your audience and adding the perspective of your business.
Don’t Be Boring
A lot of times I see folks just slap up a link to a page with some interesting info, add a sentance of two about it and hit the publish button. Every once in a while that might be OK. But sites that make that a habit can get boring fast and see their audience begin to evaporate.
And boring is the bigest cardinal sin of content creation.
Instead present your own unique perspective. Filter your post with an eye toward your audience, or the audience you are looking to attract.
Here are some sources to get your mind working whenever you find yourself stuck.
1. Google Alerts
Google Alerts will email you search results for keywords you enter. One thing you can do is set up alerts for each of your blog categories. Then you can have a steady stream of ideas flowing to your email. Whenever you get stuck you can go to your email and see what else is happening in the areas your site focuses on.
Oh, and as an aside you should set up google alerts for your business name and significant keywords so you know when people are talking about your business online.
2. LinkedIn Answers
The LinkedIn Answers section is a great place to find ideas. Do a quick search on your topic and find out what people are asking. Then you can write up a post that addresses that topic.
As an added bonus, if it happens to be a recent question you can then go back and post an answer with a link back to your post.
3. Yahoo Answers
You can do the same thing with Yahoo Answers as well.
If you are looking for ideas of topics that are trending right now you can go to Digg and search for your keywords. Not only can the titles help get your creative juices flowing but you can click through some of the popular posts to get a feel for what it takes to create content that will go viral on the web.
5. RSS Reader
You use an RSS feed reader to keep up with other blogs in your niche, don’t you? I use Google Reader myself. Since I’m a Mac guy I also use NewsNetWire and sync my laptop with my desktop. For those of you on Windows machines I hear FeedDemon also syncs with Google Reader.
As an added bonus you can get your Google Alerts in your feed reader so that you don’t clog up your email. Just select “feed” in the “Deliver to” option and then subscribe the the feed that is created.
6. Comments on Your Blog
Of course you pay close attention to the comments on your blog. (You do, don’t you?) Sometimes you can expand your reply to a comment or question into a whole post. When you do, be generous and link to the website of the commenter who stimulated the discussion.
7. Use PollDaddy
You can ask your audience what they are interested in. Poll Daddy makes it easy to set up polls and surveys. A poll or a survey is good for at least 2 posts – one where you ask the your audience the question plus the one where you give an answers. And, since the service is owned by the same company that created WordPress, it integrates with your WordPress site seamlessly.
8. Google Groups
Another place where people are asking questions and looking for answers is Google Groups. And, true to most Google services, Groups is very searchable which makes it easy to find on topic content ideas.
Delicious is a social bookmarking site where people save links to web pages they want to be able to find later. Because the site uses tags to catalog the links it is easy to search for your relevant keywords and find lots of topic ideas for your blog. When you search for your keywords Delicious will give you the option to refine your search by popular tags. You can find a ton of ideas there.
Believe it or not a photo sharing site can be a source for post ideas. Maybe it’s just that my mind works in weird ways. But I will sometimes go to Flickr and search for some of my keywords to see what images come up. Invariably I’ll get some new and creative post ideas.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world behind Google. Videos make great content for your site. Search for a keyword that relates to your site, find and interesting video, embed it in a post and add a little discussion about it. When you hit publish you’ve got a quick post with some great dynamic content. And it doesn’t take long at all!
12. Google Keyword Tool
Using the Google Keyword Tool is a bit of an advanced technique. For one thing I’m pretty sure you’ll need to have an AdWords account with Google to use it. But, if you do it can be a handy way to get post ideas.
When you put your keywords in to the tool it will kick out a ton of keyword ideas. Not only that, but it will show you the monthly search volume for those keywords. So using this tool can give you the added benefit of finding topics that you might not thought of to post about which will potentially bring more search traffic to your site.
13. Archive Content
Have you been posting to your blog for a while? If so, take a look through your website analytics program to see which of your posts are getting the most traffic. Try to think of ways to amplify and expand on those topics and ideas. Doing that periodically can help you focus on the most productive topics for your site.
And if you aren’t using any kind of analytics packages on your site you really need to be! You can’t manage what you don’t measure! There are lots of good analytics services out there. Google Analytics is pretty much the gold standard and I also use StatCounter to get “live” stats.
14. Competitor’s Websites
While I don’t think it’s a good idea to get too obsessed with what your competition is doing it is a good idea to keep an eye on them. If you’re stuck for content ideas, maybe a look at their sites can stimulate some content ideas for you.
Do you have customers and clients who are saying good things about you? Let everyone else know about it! Hopefully your business has some system for collecting these positive comments from folks. Going through those testimonial files may show you some things that your business does exceptionally well that can highlight. Sometimes these things may seem obvious to you, but if you don’t let the rest of the world know about them how will they know ’em?
16. Ask Employees
Your employees can be a great source for content ideas. They are down in the trenches in your business day in and day out. They’ve probably got a good idea about what you do well and what your customers are saying. Ask them!
You might be surprised about some of the great ideas that they come up with.
17. Ask Vendors
On that same note, your vendors are dealing with other folks in your industry and they may have some ideas about trends in your industry. They can likely give you a different perspective about your business. If you ask them you might find some good content ideas for your website.
Mix It Up!
It’s not a good idea to fixate on any one source for your content topics. Don’t be lazy and always go to the same place for your ideas. If you do, it won’t take long for you to land in that same disastrous boring zone.
But if you mix it up you’ll never run out of interesting and relevant things to share. Over time publishing that kind of content will bring in a big audience, bring you new customers and add to your bottom line.