It’s difficult to feed the beast. According to eMarketer, 60% of marketers are creating at least one piece of new content every day. Creating valuable content on a deadline is hard. Most marketers suffer from writer’s block at least once during the year, where you stare at the screen until you think your brain will bleed and then you decide to check out what’s happening on your Facebook page. Hours later….
But don’t feel bad about it. It’s inevitable. When you are producing tons of content (and you need to be for your business) you’re going to have dry moments. When that happens, you have two options – offer up some wine to the Muses or consult this list of best places to steal content.
To be clear, you should never “steal” content. Even if it’s not copyrighted. You may use things with a creative commons license and proper attribution, but if you want people to know you and your business as experts, you can’t afford to take other people’s copy and content. Instead “steal” ideas and give them your unique view. This list tells you where to find content ideas so that you can create your own masterpiece. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, even democracy was a “stolen” idea.
Best Places to Steal Content Ideas
- Quora: this question and answer site is rich with ideas to spark inspiration but be careful it can also be a fascinating rabbit hole. Make sure you only search on things relevant to your business, industry, or target demographic. If you search an interest of yours, you could be there for hours reading.
- Medium: anymore this blogging platform is one of my go-to places for excellent content to share. It can also be a strong source of ideas. There’s a uniqueness to the posts here.
- Twitter: I often read my stream as if it was comprised of newspaper headlines to spark ideas.
- Cosmopolitan Magazine: Speaking of headlines, run an image search on Cosmo covers. Now read their headlines and substitute a few key nouns and verbs for your industry terms. Their salacious headlines sell magazines and they’re good for clicks too.
- HubSpot Blog Idea Generator: If you use this source a lot, you’ll notice a pattern in its output but it’s still a good place to go when you get stuck. Just enter in your topic and it will give you some ideas.
- Your Customer Service and Sales Areas: Sit with customer service and talk wth sales. Questions they often get asked translate to great blog topics because you already know there’s an interest in them in your target market.
- Your competition: are they answering questions you’re not? Are they covering topics you haven’t thought of? Don’t reproduce them verbatim. Put your own spin on them.
- Google alerts: Set up keyword alerts so you know what people are talking about on that topic.
- Association magazine or online community: if your industry has an association, skim the content of their journal or magazine or their online community. The association has a slightly different audience than you do, but it may cover a business that is helping its customers and that may yield ideas. Don’t forget the letter to the editor section.
- Feedly: similar to Google alerts. Tell it what you’re interested in and it will deliver content from across the web.
- Your life: look for ways your experience can yield ideas for your content.
- Yahoo Forum: like Quora, people go there for answers.
- Facebook and LinkedIn Groups: find a group with a similar demographic and interests to your audience, then lurk to see what they’re asking. Answer their questions in a helpful, non-salesy way and you not only have content but you also have another outlet for your content.
- Blog comments: read the comments on popular blogs that appeal to your demographic. For instance, if you sell craft supplies, not only do you want to follow DIY bloggers but you want to read what people are commenting about as well.
- Popular culture: tying in concerns of your customers and what’s going on in the world can be very effective but, as a general rule, keep it more to the Kardashians and less about the real news. People prefer to be entertained with valuable information than stirred up with political rhetoric and current events.
- Slideshare: if someone produced a slide deck about the topic, we’ll assume – somewhere – there was an audience for it.
- YouTube: as the second largest search engine, you should be paying attention to this site. Besides video of people flipping water bottles in outrageous places, what are people sharing? Keep an eye on the comments too.
- Instagram Feeds and Comments: again the gold is in the feedback from viewers. See what people are asking and sharing. Sometimes something they love can be turned into a post as well, particularly if you know those people are your ideal demographic.
- People: I don’t go to coffee shops to write but it can benefit you to get out of the office when you get stuck. When you do, talk to others. You’ll be amazed what people share with you, especially if you tell them you’re writing a book. And who knows. You might be if you get enough great content.
- Surveys: if you survey your customers or potential customers use the comments for post ideas. Don’t forget to look at your blog comments and other website page comments.
- FAQS: every one of your FAQs should be blog posts or content created in some form or fashion. They should be on target with what your customers and prospects need and will often be keyword rich. The same goes for your competitors’ FAQs.
- Studies and findings: keep your eyes open for studies that say something to, or would be of interest to, your target market. Give your opinion on them with a link back. You can also use popular lists when they’re released like “Top Places to Retire” and give your feedback per your industry. For instance, “Phoenix: A Top Place to Retire. Realtors Get Ready.”
A Few More Content Ideas
If you’re still at a loss for ideas, consider a roundup post. Some people even do these every week. They can be internal – as in “Our Best Blog Posts of May” or external “5 of the Smartest Things on the Internet This Week.” Internal round-ups give you additional views, while external ones may get more traffic when the people you’re celebrating share your content.
Finally, all of these ideas will be for naught if you don’t have a place to keep them. Create an idea file today so that you always have a source for great content, even when you’re not feeling inspired.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect to their audience through content for higher conversions and greater loyalty. Her articles have appeared in Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
Christina’s an introvert who loves presenting and working with groups to help improve their storytelling and content marketing, yet she feels incredibly awkward at cocktail parties.Share