I used to spend at least three hours of my day staring at a blank word document.
As a writer, that’s pretty standard, the initial idea for a useful article is an elusive thing, and writing the first sentence can be as hard as matching your left eyeliner flick to the right one.
But I’ve found some ways of generating great content ideas that I’m actually excited to write about.
Let me share them with you.
1. Read other publications in your niche
What you take in influences what you put out, so reading is important as well as writing when it comes to blogging.
Once you’ve found your niche and target audience, which you should do before you even start to blog, mine is career and dating advice for what everyone likes to call “millennials”, find other blogs and publications in that same niche and subscribe to their newsletter or read them regularly.
Not only will you be up to speed on the topic your blog specialises in, but you’ll also get some ideas for content and layout, and see what’s already popular with readers.
2. Get inspired by your own tweets
Have you ever tweeted about something you thought was only relevant to you, and then a whole bunch of other people could relate to it and so started retweeting?
Those tweets are important. These are topics or ideas that your audience are interested in, so turn those popular tweets into whole blog posts, embedding the original tweet in the piece so people can see where it all started.
3. React to what’s trending
Back to good old Twitter (and Facebook) again. Take a look at trending hashtags and keywords to see what people are talking about, and then craft posts around them.
For example say #MakeASongTitleLonger is trending (which it is at the time of writing) and you’re a music blogger, you could write a post called; 11 of the funniest #MakeASongTitleLonger tweets.
A real life example of this is an article I wrote about #IfAfricaWasASchool for CNN International.
Pro tip: change your settings on Twitter to reflect your niche – so either worldwide if that’s your audience, or your specific city if that’s the area your blog caters to e.g. if your blog is called ‘The London cookie monster’ you should be looking at what’s trending in London.
4. Spend time with people
Yes, real human beans. Take some time away from the blank piece of paper or word document to be around people who inspire you. Many of my blog posts have come from a passing comment or statement made by one of my friends (mostly the ones about dating.)
Even a witty line written on a chalkboard outside an independent Soho coffee house can turn into an article (9 things you’ll see on a stroll through Soho/11 coffee shop signs that could only exist in Soho.)
5. Listen to other people’s conversations
An afternoon of people watching/listening while having lunch can provide some great blog ideas (in a really non-creepy way.)
Overhearing one sentence could lead to a post on; 21 things all girls say to each other but don’t really mean/7 faces men make when on a boozy lads lunch/11 people you’ll see in a central London Starbucks.
6. Add your own spin on an established format
There are some things that seem to have been done to death on blogs e.g. reviews, listicles and how tos. BUT if you can find your own unique way to present any of these, you’re on to a winner.
How about a make-up review where you try the product on three friends or members of your family instead of just you? Or a video/audio version of your listicle? Or a how to video where you say each step and someone else demonstrates it, to prove how easy/hard it is.
You can also add your own spin on articles that already exist, and make them more niche.
So Buzzfeed’s 47 Drake lyrics for when you need an Instagram caption, became my 15 UK Grime lyrics for when you need an Instagram caption, and then later my even more niche 15 Skepta lyrics for when you need an Instagram caption.
Pro tip: It’s good form to include a link to the original publication’s post when you do this.
7. See what people are searching for
Type key words that are relevant to your niche into Google and see how it auto completes your sentence, that will give you an idea of what people commonly search for.
Google trends is also an awesome tool to see what people want to know about. Make sure you add those keywords to your post when you publish it for maximum SEO exposure.
How do you find new content ideas for your blog? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @PhoebeParke.
Bored of reading and want to listen to my voice instead? Check out the latest episode of my radio show, The Grimary School.
You can now sign up to my email list to receive my free workbook on how to market your content effectively on and offline: http://eepurl.com/b2rdHP
“And he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze.” – Exodus 35: 31 – 32