5 Tactics to Make Sure You Never Run Out of Content Ideas
Google claims that by the end of 2017, 100 percent of their data centers will be running off renewable energy. This is both great for the environment and great for Google, reducing their enormous energy consumption, which in 2016 matched that of the entire city of San Francisco.
By using solar, wind, and other renewable energy resources, Google is ensuring it will never run out of energy or be reliant on external power again. If only this could be done for all resources: becoming self-sufficient, decreasing energy output and saving both time and money.
In many ways, content is similar to energy. Google and many other companies rely on both to fuel their business. Like energy, content is being generated constantly—just think of the articles written before, during, and after a single NFL Sunday.
The key is creating content that’s relevant without spending tons of money and time in the process. You want your content to be both great and plentiful, and you want it to be generated sustainably—like Google’s energy will soon be. (highlight to tweet)
To help you become self-reliant and stress-free when it comes to content, here are five ways you can turn your content into a renewable resource, ensuring that you never run out of ideas or waste precious time and energy again.
1. Use “Sort by Top” on Reddit (and Other Forums) to Find Interesting Topics
Reddit declares itself to be the “Front page of the Internet,” and for good reason. As of June 2015, Reddit had over 36 million registered users and millions of posts and comments. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to be on the front page of Reddit, you know the thrill of the accomplishment—and the agony of knowing how short the stay at the top can be.
With a very large and active user community, Reddit sees millions of posts and comments daily. People come together in subreddits, which are small communities created to discuss specific topics in detail. There are subreddits all about the latest TV shows, video games, pop culture, politics, and more. Some of the most informed people on any given topic spend hours sharing their expertise with community members on Reddit.
This is why it’s a great place for content ideas. Let’s say, for example, I’m running a niche blog all about yoga. If I happened to hit a roadblock, I could use Reddit for inspiration. I would start by finding a relevant subreddit like reddit.com/r/yoga and checking to see if it’s active. On the right side of every Subreddit you’ll see subscriber and activity levels:
With 10,000 active Subreddits (and more than 800,000 others) to choose from, you can get as general or specific as you’d like. When searching for content ideas, I like to find Subreddits with at least 10,000 subscribers, as they tend to have the most gold. Once you’ve found a promising community, sort the content by what’s most popular—this is typically the “top” button in the navigation bar:
Using this feature lets you know exactly what people are reading and talking about and can give you a leg up on finding what to write about. Here’s a sample of top content from the yoga community:
From this, I can find a handful of ideas:
- Five Lessons from Russell Simmons That Will Help Your Yoga Practice
- Everything You Need to Know About a Maksikanagasana
- Why Yoga Can Offer You a Wonderful Perspective on Discomfort
- Six Ways to Improve Your Yoga Handstand (with Visuals)
- What Every Guy Needs to Know Before Trying Yoga
And trust me—I could go on and on!
2. Track Your Own Successes and Failures, Then Write About Them
Are you doing better than last year or worse? Are you plateauing when you projected growth? Did you gain 10 pounds from working too hard or lose the 20 you’ve been meaning to lose? Are you fired up about a world-changing idea, or have you finally decided to stop working on a not-so-world-changing idea?
Any of these things are teachable moments, and not just for you. If something works for you, let others know. If you took a swing and missed, don’t just keep that to yourself—it’s what your audience is looking for. Stories of trying and failing and trying again can make some of the best content out there. Take, for example, the brilliance of the Buffer blog, which is filled with transparent, behind-the-scenes articles such as these classics:
- The 19 Awesome Investors In Our $450,000 Seed Round And How We Met Them
- Buffer September Update: $2,088,000 run rate, 1,046,000 users
Or one of my most popular blog posts published on Inbound:
Just as any NFL game gives birth to 100 plays, on which 100 articles can be written, so too does any day, week, or year of your business or personal life. Share your highs and lows with your audience. Sometimes you may know exactly why an idea worked or didn’t; sometimes your audience may have to point it out for you. Share your journey. You’ll be surprised how many people find value in learning from your struggles and successes.
3. Use GetCrate.co to Find Inspiration for Content Ideas
Rather than scouring the internet for content ideas, let Crate do the work for you.
(Full disclosure: I’m the co-founder of Crate, so as much as I love the tool, I’m obviously a bit biased.)
Crate is kind of like Buffer Suggestions, a content curation tool that was discontinued by Buffer but had thousands of users. Today, Crate has found 200,000 (and growing) curated articles to hit any niche or topic you want. While the site is built for content curation, it can also be a brilliant resource for anyone looking to find inspiration for their content.
I’ve relied on Crate many times to help me come up with new ideas for blog posts and SlideShare decks. For example, let’s say I’m writing a blog post about artificial intelligence. I simply type that into my Crate:
And within seconds, I see a feed filled with articles on the topic:
To get started with Crate, sign up with your Twitter account, and you will be prompted to either select a topic or create your own Crate:
A Crate is a collection of relevant keywords, authors, Twitter users, and domains that the site uses to find content that’s relevant to you. This is why Crate is great for gaining insight into what type of content a specific audience might be interested in.
For example, if I wanted to create a blog post that the folks at Entrepreneur or INC.com might find interesting, I could type in their domains and Twitter handles into Crate:
Crate will start looking at the content these sites have published or shared on Twitter, searching for the content that people on social media liked the most. From there, I’m met with another feed:
From this, I can immediately see which content has generated the most shares and identify any trends. One trend I notice from this small sample is that Entrepreneur likes infographics.
4. Remix Old Content Ideas into New (or Updated) Resources
If you know anything about hip-hop, you know that a big part of what makes the genre unique is the remixing and sampling of other artists’ work. A$AP Rocky takes the hook from a Rod Stewart song, or Tribe Called Quest samples Elton John. There are countless examples of musicians who take inspiration from older works and turn them into something special.
Speed it up. Slow it down. Put it on repeat.
Content is no different. Okay, it’s a little different—but go with me here. If you’re a content creator, you may have already created hundreds or even thousands of articles or posts. Sometimes what you need to create has already been written—by you! By moving your own words around and putting them in the right format, you can hit the right audience and create a hit.
For example, I’ve taken this already successful SlideShare deck (with over 66 thousand views):
And republished it as a Medium post to give the content a second life. Similarly, I’ve taken old blog posts and remixed them into SlideShare presentations.
Sometimes it’s not the content itself that would benefit from a remix, but the way it’s delivered. A blog can become an infographic; an infographic can become a blog or a video post or a white paper.
Similarly, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on your old content by doing a blog update. This is a tactic I picked up from Glenn at ViperChill. It’s the idea of updating old blog posts with new content to make them as fresh and relevant today as they were three or four years ago:
Remember that SlideShare you created? Remember that study you conducted? Use the resources and tips in this post to beef up one of your older pieces of content.
5. Use Google Keyword Planner to Find Commonly Searched Topics
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what other people were thinking? If you knew everyone’s thoughts, you would be able to close any sale, win any hand of poker, or avoid that awkward moment on the street when you and a stranger end up doing a dance as you try to sidestep each other. And if you knew what people were thinking and searching for online, you would be able to create content you knew for sure would receive quality views.
Luckily, you can. Enter Google Keyword Planner. Rather than guessing what your readers are looking for or scouring social media to find a talking point, use Google Keyword Planner to see exactly which words are searched and in what combinations, so you can find what to write about and which keywords to use.
Let’s take that yoga example again. Here’s what shows up if I use Google Keyword Planner and do a global search for yoga tips:
From this, I can quickly see that yoga poses, yoga exercises, and yoga asanas are topics that my audience would find interesting. Then I can plug these phrases into a tool like Crate or BuzzSumo and see what relevant content comes back.
Though these are tried and tested methods that I use to come up with content ideas, they aren’t the only ways to find content inspiration—I’m sure you rely on other resources I haven’t mentioned. That’s why I want to hear from you. What tools do you use to find content ideas? If you’re feeling inspired by any of the resources I listed above, try them out and share your results. What cool content ideas did you find Let me know in the comments—I’d love to hear your take!
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