Producing high quality, education-based content as a way to draw leads and attract search engine spiders is a must. But, sometimes coming up with good ideas to write about can be a real grind.
To make idea-generation easier an editorial calendar can help. Also, revisit your key themes and search phrases from time to time. Using these will keep you on topic with your content.
Another tip, which I use often, is to keep a list of favorite places to visit—sites, blogs, magazine—when I want to know what’s new and what’s trending. I make it a habit to visit some of these places routinely just to make sure I’m staying on top of things, but I always turn to them when it’s time to refill the editorial calendar for the month or when I’m just stumped on what to write about.
Below are ten tools I use to get my brain thinking, and the ideas rolling in.
1. Customer feedback. I love to turn customer and prospect questions into blog posts and more. (You should be keeping track of those FAQs anyway, and answer every single one.) Don't know where to start? Search your “sent” e-mail box. Chances are good that there are some real gems in there posing as an answer to a question from a prospect or customer.
2. Bookmarking service. I use delicious, an old-school bookmarking site, to see what other folks are finding and saving. I also use it heavily to keep me organized when I’m researching topics for courses and e-books. I simply tag pages and then come back to them when it’s time to collect my thoughts.
3. Q&A site. The question-and-answer site, Quora, lets you group information by topics and industries, making it easy to find good information on a topic. Community members vote on the answers so the best usually rises to the top. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed for a topic and get it fed to your inbox.
4. My RSS reader. I use Google Reader to check in with some of the 100 blogs I subscribe to.
5. Blog content aggregator. Alltop is a site that collects the best blog content from leading bloggers in hundreds of categories and displays the recent posts on topic pages. It’s a great place to go and scan for topic ideas and industry updates.
6. Keyword phrases. Google’s free keyword search tools can give you keyword phrases that people are actually using to find your products and services, and offer some tips for what to call your blog posts.
7. Daily briefings. I subscribe to SmartBrief on a variety of topics and to see what some pretty smart editors are turning up for topics like social media, small business and marketing.
8. Social search engine. Topsy reveals the hottest, most shared, tweeted and talked about content across the Web. Simply put in a topic and see what’s hot. You can also subscribe to topics.
9. Random-yet-targeted searches. StumbleUpon, which is a search engine of sorts, allows you to create an account and pick topics of interest. You can then “stumble” and it will show you random Web pages related to your chosen topics. It's a great way to find unique stuff and is oddly addictive.
10. Hit the magazine pile. I subscribe to Wired, Inc, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Business Week, Success and Fast Company, and although I get behind on the pile sometimes, I love to go there for inspiration.
Read more insights from John Jantsch.