When people find out that I run a content writing business, one of the first things they ask is how do I come up with content ideas? It’s a fair question.
However, the process of finding new blog post topics is not as hard as it seems, even if you are regularly posting content day after day.
All you need is a systematic process. Then you can easily start to generate as many new content writing topics as you need for your editorial calendar.
This is true whether you are a blogger, YouTuber, podcaster, or any kind of content creator.
Once you have a content strategy in place, there is no shortage of ways you can come up with new blog post ideas that inform and help your audience.
Conduct Audience Interviews
Having one on one conversations with people in your target audience can provide benefits which simply can’t be achieved with other methods. There are often blind spots you won’t have considered on your own.
When you actually talk to someone in your audience, problems and uses you didn’t know will come into the picture.
Your personas (covered in the next section) will be more authentic and accurate. And you’ll be able to create content that your target audience will just eat up. Here’s a great article on the process you can follow to conduct these interviews.
You should ask questions that are relevant to your niche and which help you gain more blog content ideas.
Take Audience Surveys
Surveys can be really effective in gaining useful insights and topics to write content about, but only when you have a plan to begin with. You need to be clear on:
- The goals of your survey - what exactly do you hope to know.
- Who will you survey - customers, social media followers, leads etc
- How will you reach those people - email list, advertising, social media etc.
Once you have a concrete survey strategy in place, there are a number of tools you can use to help with setting up and distributing your survey. Some of the well known ones are Google Forms, Survey Monkey and Typeform.
Also remember that it can be challenging to reach out to and get people to fill out your survey. So consider offering an incentive to get more responses to your survey.
Check Social Networks
Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are a goldmine for audience data which can turn into blogging topics. And they all offer some type of analytics solution to get more information about your niche market.
Facebook Audience Insights, for instance, is a powerful marketing analytics tool available. It gives you aggregated information about two groups of people:
- People connected to your Page
- All the people on Facebook
So you can easily find more people like the ones in your current audience. Here’s how it typically looks like.
The left part allows you to select the audience attributes you already know and the right part shows you the data.
There is also a demographics overview which lets you see details like age, gender breakdowns, education levels, job titles, relationship statuses and more.
But what we’re really interested in is the Page Likes tab. It shows what other pages people in your audience have liked. This can tell you a lot about what blog post ideas will resonate with them.
Find Forums & QAs
Another great way to find out what your target audience is like and what is troubling them is through online communities and forums. This is where people connect on shared interests and discuss their problems and solutions.
We live in an era where public conversations are going on about almost all the content topics.
Based on your brand’s area of interest, you can find dozens of relevant Facebook groups, subreddits, Quora communities, Twitter threads and niche forums.
You can find forums in your niche by using Google. However, to find a forum, you need to add the word “forum” to your search query. For example, if you’re looking for cooking-related forums, simply type “cooking forum” on Google.
Once you find an online community, then going through their discussions can be a helpful resource for coming up with content writing ideas.
Let’s take Quora for example. It’s a website where people come together to ask and answer questions on anything that strikes their curiosity.
It is one of the most high-traffic platforms on the web and full of questions covering a wide spectrum of topics. It also has a great interface to quickly skim through a lot of questions on a given topic.
Just type your topic in Quora’s search bar and it’ll present you with relevant questions. Another awesome thing is it also shows how many people are following a question, indicating how important it is for your target audience.
Moreover, by looking at the answers which got the most upvotes, you can get all sorts of data on what type of content your target market values and how they communicate.
Competitor Analysis (Reviews & Comments)
Looking at the high-performing content your competitors are writing and sharing can also give you a wealth of data on who your audiences are and what they want.
You can also go through the comments they are getting on their blog posts or YouTube videos. The kind of questions people are asking can lead to great ideas for blogging.
In addition, there is wealth of information hidden in customer reviews on your competitors:
- If you sell a digital product, check reviews on websites like Product Hunt, Capterra, G2 and GetApp.
- If it’s a physical product, look at websites like Amazon, Consumer Reports and Consumer Search for reviews.
- To find reviews on service providers, sites like Clutch, GoodFirms and AgencyList are great.
Remember, your own customer reviews are not enough to get holistic data in your target audience. Including competitor reviews in your analysis gives you even more advantage when coming up with blog post topics.
Use Keyword Research
What better way to learn more about your potential customer and generate content topics than to be able to see what they are searching for? Keyword research allows you to know the common questions and phrases they use, which are also relevant to your brand.
All you need are one or more seed keywords, and to run them through a keyword research tool.
Most keyword research tools show useful statistics like search volume, SEO difficulty, PPC competition and the top content ranking for those keywords.
If you don’t have the budget for a premium keyword tool, there are several free options available to use.
Content Performance Analysis
What if you could see real, concrete data on what type of content has performed the best with your target audience in the past? That would be a jackpot of content ideas right?
Thankfully, there are tools these days which make it easy to gather information on what topics or formats have been successful. One such tool is BuzzSumo.
Once you enter a seed topic in BuzzSumo, it shows a list of content on that topic, along with the social media engagement and number of backlinks it has. In fact, you can identify the actual people who shared or mentioned that topic on social media.
For example, let’s say you are a web design company. When you search for the term “web design” in BuzzSumo, you see the most popular content on that topic and how it’s performing on major social networks.
These insights are just the tip of the iceberg. With BuzzSumo’s paid plan, you can go even deeper to understand things like which content types and lengths got the most engagement and more.
Search Engine Results
Google is a wealth of information because around 51 percent of all online traffic begins by using a search engine.
I use Google’s search function to find out the kind of content my audience is looking for. This is a reliable way of generating new content creation ideas because it taps into the current trends in your niche.
Type in the search bar using keywords that are relevant to your niche and check the search suggestions that Google makes.
For example, start typing “cooking” and Google will automatically suggest a number of cooking-related searches that people are making. You can use these searches as the basis for your next content creation topics.
Another way is to search Google for a popular topic, and then check the “Searches Related” section of your search results.
This will give you other searches that people are making so that you can better address the needs of your audience with your next blog post ideas.
Similarly, also look at Google’s People Also Ask section.
Online Topic Generators
There are quite a few topic research tools that you can use to come up with reliable blog post topics for your readers.
For example, a topic research tool like HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator is a quick way to research blogging ideas. Such tools combine data gathered from a large number of sources so that you get better results.
You just have to enter keywords to find ideas relating to that keyword. This tool is used by content creators across niches.
When I’m having trouble with ideas, I tend to use topic generator tools because they are an almost guaranteed way to find a few new blog content topics.
Bestselling Online Courses
You can find an online course on almost any niche under the sun. Topics that are covered in an online course are usually based on things that people want to know about.
You can use these topics to gain content topic ideas for your own content. You do not have to sign up for an online course to view these topics. The list of topics covered by an online course is available for free.
One of the most popular sites where you can find online courses is Udemy. On Udemy, simply type the niche on which you are looking for courses. For example, if you are looking for content topic ideas on cooking, type “cooking” into the search bar.
You will find a list of courses that are available in the niche. Click on each course to view the list of topics that the course covers.
You can check out as many online courses as you want which will help you get numerous content writing ideas.
By online publications I mean news websites, magazines, or blogs in your niche that provide content relevant to your niche. These publications will discuss the latest trends, tips, how-tos, etc., that you should know about.
You can check out their content to gain ideas about content writing topics. Try to expand on the content that they have made or provide your own take on that topic.
For example, if you’re looking for cooking-related content, the BBC has a cooking website that discusses almost everything related to cooking.
You can find the best publications in your niche by using Google Search. Simply type your niche or a popular query related to your niche and check the results. For example:
- [Niche] + blogs
- [Niche] + magazines
- [Niche] + publications
The results in the first few pages are usually the top publications. Remember to keep your query general or try a few different queries to ensure that you find the right publications.
Browse Idea Lists
There are many articles online with huge lists of content topics you can write about. Here are some of the in-depth pieces that I know of.
- The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas
- 103 Blog Post Ideas That Your Readers Will LOVE
- What To Post On Social Media: 35 Engaging Content Ideas
- 60 Blog Post Ideas For Entrepreneurs, Marketers, And Businesses
- 60 Blog Post Ideas to Fill Your Content Calendar
- 189 Creative Blog Post Ideas That Will Delight Your Audience
Go through these lists and select the content ideas you like. In no time, you’ll have months worth of content topics. In addition, just going through the topics will give you inspiration for coming up with your own ideas.
Customer Facing Staff
Customer service representatives, customer success engineers and salespeople are your direct link with your customer base. These teams interact with your customers day-in and day-out, so they know the needs and doubts of your customers.
You can find a lot of blog post topics for your company website by talking to or interviewing these representatives. You can ask them about questions that they most often receive or customer needs that are going unfulfilled.
For example, if you have a company that makes kitchen appliances, you can ask your representatives questions such as:
- Which are the most common questions that you get from customers?
- How do you think we can help customers understand how to use our products?
- What is the general demographic of the customers who call customer support?
If you have a lot of people on these teams, then instead of talking to them individually, it may be a good idea to ask them to fill a survey.
This survey could be an online survey or a printout. Remember to ask them general questions so that you receive detailed answers relating to their own experience.
Latest Industry Research/Reports
Tapping into industry research firms and marketing research firms is a good way to find insights relevant to your niche.
These firms regularly conduct research on the latest trends that may affect your market or how recent developments are already affecting the market.
You can use the insights that you gain from reading their reports to form the basis for your blog post ideas. You can either comment on these findings or provide a summary of their reports.
They provide a lot of research and news for free on their respective company websites. I regularly follow their reports not just for content ideas but also to stay up to date with the latest market information.
Expand On/Spin Off Your Own Content
Go through your own previous blog posts. Then for each article, identify subtopics which you could expand on.
These are the content writing topics you had more to say about, but you didn’t because of scope or length constraints.
Also check your web analytics to see which of your content has been the most popular. Identify ways to expand, update or follow up on this content.
Updating old content is also great for SEO and can increase your ranking and traffic with little effort. This is because you've already done the work. Making an update will not be that much of an effort.
Thinking of new ideas or blogging topics is not as hard as it seems. Even if you have been creating content for a long time and are slowly running out of ideas, know that there are almost an infinite number of new possibilities.
Being able to come up with new content ideas not only helps you maintain and grow your audience, it helps you become an expert in your niche.
However, generating the best content creation ideas is not going to work if you use those ideas to write mediocre content.
Every piece of content you write must be of high quality. For more information, see my guide on how to write a blog post.
Did I miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.