If you’ve decided to jump into content marketing, you might be wondering how to continually come up with topics for all the content you’ll be producing. Here are 21 ways to help you generate great ideas.
1. Your Business “101”
Say your good friend came to you and said she wanted to get into your line of work. What would you tell her? Start there. You can make a variety of pieces with this concept in mind for various parts of your business.
For example, a beauty salon owner may have separate 101-style pieces of content for hair care, hairstyling, spray tanning, and make-up application.
2. Your FAQs
What do people always ask you? Depending on how in-depth the answers are, you may devote an entire piece to a single question, or do what many companies do on their websites, which is to put several questions on a single page.
3. Favorite resources
Share a list of your relevant go-to sites. You can introduce your readers to your favorite blogs by picking out a favorite post from each and giving a short description.
4. Relevant Statistics
Take interesting statistics about your business and put them into a colorful infographic.
“10 Mistakes You’re Making and Don’t Even Realize!” Okay, that title is a little click-bait-y, but there’s a reason you see articles like this so often. People like these kinds of posts. Use your hard-won experience to let your readers/listeners know how they can avoid common mistakes. This is especially suited for a numbered list blog post.
For example, an accountant might list the ways in which people make mistakes when calculating their deductions (not keeping track of miles accurately, forgetting things that can be deducted, deducting things that shouldn’t be, etc.).
Involve Other People
6. An Interview
Ask to interview someone who is related to your business and who has something of value to give your readers/listeners. For example, a real estate agent might interview a mortgage broker, or vice versa. This works great for text (blog post), audio (podcast), and video.
7. Customer success story
Get permission from a client to share their story of working with you. Cover what their original problem was, how you helped them, and how their business benefited from it.
In addition to giving concrete examples of your value, this is a great way to walk potential clients through the process of working with you.
Make it Interactive
8. A worksheet
I know I’m not the only one who loves worksheets. Worksheets get people involved in a way that blog posts and videos can’t. If you’ve already got an intake form for new clients, try adapting that. Or create a self-assessment that shows people where they are and where they need to improve. Do it right and they’ll become your next client.
9. A checklist
Like a worksheet, a checklist gets people involved. It can be extremely useful and even fun.
A financial advisor may create a checklist of the essential estate planning documents you and your family should have (a will, a living will, a power of attorney). A dog walker may create a checklist of all the things you should bring with you on a trip that includes Fido (bowl, bed, toy, medication). You get the idea.
Make it Actionable
10. Help Improve and Optimize
A lot of times, your customers don’t even know what they don’t know. That’s why they consider you an expert. Think of ways they may be missing out on something simply because they don’t know what you know, and tell them what to do to optimize.
For example, a technology company might explain how voice over IP is a great alternative or addition to traditional phone lines for small businesses who have never considered it before.
11. How-To Guide
Zero in on one particular problem your customers have that they can address themselves and give them the tools to fix it. Explain it step by step, like a WikiHow article. This kind of content is great for blog posts, ebooks, and videos, too.
Also consider creating a troubleshooting guide or series of videos, if that’s relevant to your work.
Have an Angle
12. Use the News
Take a hot news topic and skew it to your angle. Some divorce and family attorneys do this by commenting on the most recent celebrity break-up, using it as a chance to discuss pre-nuptial agreements and how to get a divorce.
(Of course, you can also write on the news if it is directly related to your industry – as long as you can make it interesting and useful to your readers/listeners.)
13. Go Against the Grain
Is there “conventional wisdom” in your industry you think is wrong or simply misguided? Write something defending your position. Be controversial.
14. Take a Side
Similarly, think of a hot button issue in your industry right now. Pick a side and make your case. Don’t try to win both sides by staying neutral. If you have strong feelings on something, be clear about it.
Maybe you’re a financial advisor and you believe that all debt is bad debt. Or maybe you believe that some low-interest debt isn’t that bad depending on how you manage it. Whatever you believe, make it clear.
15. Take Both Sides
Sometimes you may not have a strong opinion either way. In that case, try a pros and cons list or podcast, where you go through the good and the bad of a method, a product, or an idea. This is especially useful when comparing two things that seem very similar, like a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit, for example.
16. Get personal
Don’t be afraid to share personal stuff with your readers/listeners sometimes. You can discuss how you got into your current industry and what you love most about your work, for starters.
When You’re Really Stuck
Take another piece of content you’ve done – a step-by-step guide, or a checklist – and expand on each point individually to multiply the amount of content you have.
Blog posts can become short videos, articles can become snippets for social media, webinar slides can become infographics, etc. Use a variety of media to reach people through different channels. Get creative.
Find something from a few years ago and give it a new life. Add more information – surely you’ve learned something between then and now – and add a new spin to make it relevant to what’s going on today.
Look at your competitors’ blogs, websites, and social media accounts. What are they doing? Don’t plagiarize, of course, but use their popular content (the stuff with the most shares, etc.) as a jumping off point to inspire you.
21. Check These Out
This Pinterest board is all about coming up with ideas for blog posts (but many are applicable to other kinds of content), and this topic generator will give you a week’s worth of ideas for your blog.
Think about each one of these ideas above for each type of content you produce and see what makes the most sense. Larger topics may be able to sustain a webinar or a multi-part blog series. Smaller topics may be expressed in a simple 1-page infographic or 3-minute video. Take the topic and fit it to the right medium.