Finding inspiration for blog posts and web content is a constant battle.
If you blog frequently, coming up with new and fresh ideas every day is difficult. If you’re an infrequent blogger, it can take hours to get into the right headspace to create anything close to appealing.
Unfortunately, sitting and staring at a blank page won’t bring inspiration. In fact, it’s more likely to lead to procrastination and panic.
Fortunately, however, there are sources of content inspiration all around you. In many cases, there’s no need to look further than your own website and social media channels.
1 – Your Own Blog Comments
If you have engaged blog readers, you should be checking comments and responding to them regularly. This gives you great insight into what your readers are asking and what they want to know.
It might not be practical, or beneficial, to write a blog post for every question a blog post receives, but if the same question crops up time and time again, it is a ripe topic to be turned into a post.
If you want to expand your possibilities, take a look at the comments on your competitors’ posts and use these.
2 – Your Social Media Channels
When you post updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social media channels, you should be monitoring responses here too.
Go back through conversations you’ve had with your followers, and look at what people in your network are posting about. If there’s a hot topic that you need to cover, you will find it here.
Don’t be afraid to expand beyond your own social media. Look at competitor and industry channels, and don’t overlook a social media site just because you don’t use it.
3 – Your Analytics
Find your most popular posts by analysing your analytics. Dig deeper than simply looking at your most popular posts, though.
Consider the exact search terms that are being used. You might find some surprising searches are causing readers to land on your pages. Take advantage of these by curating the results and creating compelling pieces that your visitors are actually looking for.
4 – Your Own Notebook
It’s always a good idea to keep a pen and paper handy, or keep a Word document of ideas. I prefer a pen and paper, but there are definite benefits to being able to CTRL and F for a particular topic or keyword.
Once you start writing a post, ideas will come to you. These ideas might not make the cut in the piece you’re working on, but they could provide a good basis for a future post. If you don’t take note or write them down, there’s a good chance you’ll forget them in the future.
Social Media For Guest Blogging Ideas
It is worth casting your net a little further than just your own site. Social media is filled with trending topics and hot stories. Make the most of these, check the latest trends, and put a spin on the story so that it’s laser targeted to your own requirements.
Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook often break with new stories, and you can follow trending topics quickly and easily. Just log in to Twitter or Facebook to find the most popular stories in the world. Alternatively, there is a variety of tools, most of which are free, that you can use to discover better targeted trending topics.
Trendsmap doesn’t enable you to drill down by category, but it does give a great visual representation of local trending topics. The information can be a bit overwhelming but it is also an interesting way to see how trends change according to locale and region.
If you want to cover stories as soon as, or soon after, they break, then tools like CrowdTangle are very useful. There is a somewhat complicated signup procedure to get started, but it is worth it for news hounds.
6 – Social Media Groups And Communities
Join groups on Facebook, search relevant communities on Google Plus, and follow Twitter accounts that regularly publish new stories. You will receive alerts when something new is added, and you will also be able to scour current and previous entries to find inspiration.
Consider the social media platforms that are most relevant to your industry and niche.
If you manage a B2B content marketing campaign, then LinkedIn will be a good source of potential content.
If gaming is your thing, then YouTube is now only awash with gamers but is packed with game news, reviews, tutorials, and more.
Ensure that you join the most relevant groups and communities, and get involved with the discussions that you use for inspiration. It will come in handy when you embark on a social media campaign.
7 – Buzzsumo
BuzzSumo is very easy to use and can provide you with dozens of stories to give you inspiration. As far as content discovery tools go, it is difficult to beat. It also provides a wealth of different information.
Simply enter your search term and hit Search. In most cases we use quotation marks around the search query, otherwise the results can be a little… unpredictable.
Once you have searched you can check the number of social shares and the number of backlinks that a piece has. There’s also a really handy Trending Now tab that not only lets you change the trending period but that lets you view trending stories by topic.
Finding Blog Post Inspiration Away From Your Site
If you’re feeling especially brave, you can venture further away and into the abyss of the Internet. At least as far as Google News and authoritative sites in your industry.
8 – Google News
Google News is one of the most popular news aggregation sites there is. Shortly after a story breaks, Google News will normally have dozens or hundreds of links to relevant articles on that particular piece.
As well as being a potentially great source of traffic for websites that have a news section, it is also a goldmine of content inspiration. Simply search for your industry, the topic that you cover, or a specific keyword.
Google News allegedly demands that all pieces are hard news based, when you submit a site to them, but this definitely isn’t always the case. It will take a little fishing, but it is worth the effort.
9 – Industry Sites
Whether you sell trainers, are a B2B consultant, or you’re a plastic surgeon, there are authoritative sites within your industry that publish regular content. You should already know of the most authoritative bodies and influencers in your industry. Use this information, find the sites, follow them on social media, and prepare to quickly fill your editorial schedule with pieces.
If you want to find more authoritative industry sites, simple search Google using queries like:
“keyword” + news
“keyword” + blog
10 – Your Competitors
As well as industry based news sites and blogs, your competitors are an excellent source of inspiration. When looking at competitor content, try to find ways in which you can improve on the content. Do it bigger, do it better, or offer something entirely unique.
Again, you should have a good idea of who your main competitors are so subscribe to their blogs, sign up for their newsletters, and keep on top of their latest posts.
If you can improve on every bit of content published by your competitors, you will benefit with increased traffic, conversions, and engagement. You will be considered the authority in your industry, rather than your competitors enjoying the plaudits.
Eventually, you are likely to exhaust the questions posed by your own blog readers and social media followers. Fortunately, the Internet makes it very easy to be a voyeuristic content marketer.
11 – Quora
Quora is the biggest question and answer community out there. Users post questions and answer questions posed by others. Where other similar sites have fallen over in the past is that they became filled with useless or spammy responses, but Quora does a very good job of remaining clean and on point.
Search the site, find questions that are relevant to your topic, and find the questions that are asked most frequently. This gives you an insight into the information that your potential visitors are looking for.
You can create a question and answer series on your own blog, and then establish yourself as an authority on Quora. Answer the questions and provide a helpful link to your page as a resource.
12 – AnswerThePublic
AnswerThePublic is a great tool, and one that I have mentioned a couple of times in the past. But only because I use it frequently as part of my guest blogging service. As well as using it for inspiration to create blog posts, I also use the site to help create top notch content. It enables me to find out what information potential readers are looking for, and answer the questions people have before they have even had the chance to ask.
AnswerThePublic is also very easy to use, but I would strongly urge you to use the Data tab, rather than the Visualisation tab. The wheel does look great, but you will get neckache if there’s more than one or two questions for a topic.
As well as questions, the site also provides you with a list of potential keywords and search queries that you can use to further target your content.
13 – AllTop
AllTop is essentially a blog directory, but it is selective over the blogs it grants entry to, and this makes a genuinely useful tool for finding out what others are writing, and to potentially find content ideas that you can borrow.
Remember that your blog should have its own narrative voice and style, so you really should only be borrowing content ideas. Put your own spin on the topic, add your own voice, and benefit from better branding efforts.
The Guest Blog Site Itself
If you’re pitching a guest post idea to a blog owner, why not write about the topics that have performed best for them in the past? You’ve gone to the effort of finding guest posting sites so why not make the most of that research?
14 – Guest Blog Popular Posts
Most blogs have a list of the most popular posts on their page. This gives you insight into the specific topics that are most popular, and it also allows you to see the type of content that performs. One some sites, list posts perform best, while question and answer type posts might enjoy more success on another site.
You can use the list to help generate content ideas, and you can also cite a couple of relevant high-performing posts when you pitch your own idea to the site owner.
15 – Guest Blog Keywords
Enter the URL and click the Search button. You will be able to access lots of useful information, including the posts that likely drive the most search engine traffic, and the keywords that perform best for the site.
Again, this is another opportunity for you to improve your guest post pitches. The site owner undoubtedly knows which keywords are important, but you can offer niche keywords, keyword clusters, and you show that you have done your research – guest blog site owners do appreciate it when you put the extra effort in to show that you know something about their blog and their audience.