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The Ultimate Guide to Finding Inspiration for Content – Part 3 of 3

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013 by Dave Colgate tagged

Content MarketingWelcome back for the final part of the ultimate guide to getting inspiration for content! We’re up to number #21 and seeing through to number #32 which concludes our great guide. You can catch part 1 and part 2 if you happened to miss them.

Remember, content inspiration comes from everywhere and although there are only 32 here, there are many other ways in which you can find inspiration for content. So if you can think of even more ideas, then please add them to the comments below.

21. Email newsletters

Signing up for industry related newsletters can also be a useful reference point for inspiration. I’m not a fan of cluttering up my inbox, so I would recommend you create separate inbox rules for these emails and have them delivered into multiple folders within your inbox. That way you can separate them out and refer to them without having to wade through a sea of unrelated emails. I would also recommend you try to be a little pedantic about it. Try choosing email newsletters you know are going to deliver the most information each time. Otherwise you may find yourself flooded with more promotional content than useful.

22. Forums

As well as asking questions and crowd-sourcing to find inspiration, just a simple search for particular keywords in relevant forums can provide great inspiration for new blogs and articles. Being based on user generated content forums are ideal places to get thinking about potential problems and questions that could form the basis of a new blog.

23. Archived posts

If you and your company have been posting for some time you’ll have a nice healthy archive of previous content. This can be a gold mine for new content. Try going back or doing a search for some keywords on your own blog. You could rewrite a new version of an old blog; update a previous blog; extend a subject or discussion; reignite old discussions and topics and much more. Turning to your own archived stock of content can provide weeks if not months of excellent, usable new content without having to go through the pain of becoming ‘inspired’ to find new material.

24. Competitor’s archives

An interesting tactic is to go and take a look through your competitor’s blog. What do they have in their archive that you can use? Does their older content raise some interesting questions? Can you extend on some old subjects by offering the reader more by way of education, information and entertainment value? Try using their search functionality to perform a search for some keywords and see if your competitors have anything you can use or inspiration for new content. Remember not to copy anything or perform a straight re-write of anything. Always look to add value and increase quality. Copying and re-writing something does neither of things.

25. Mental lists

Like me you’ve probably got plenty of little nuggets locked away in your head that you’re not subconsciously aware of right now. Opinions or questions about competitors, articles you’ve read in the past, things colleagues have said perhaps? All these little thoughts can provide the catalyst you need to write a great piece of content because you’re more than likely to find other people are asking the same questions or want to discuss the same topic. Unlocking these thoughts is the challenge and how effective various methods are will depend entirely on you. However, I find a change of scenery and mind mapping often help.

26. Google Insights

Otherwise known as Google Trends is another tool from the search giant that can provide the inspiration you need to target up-and-coming subjects. Once on the site, type in a term and Google will return a myriad of data about the phrase and related phrases. In the bottom right hand corner is a box called “related terms”. Alongside this is “Top | Rising”. Click on “rising” and you’ll be presented with a list of related search terms that are currently breaking out or on the rise in terms of search demand. This is a great potential list of keywords to start thinking about new content.

27. Comments

While you’re on mission for writing inspiration, remember to always check through the comments. Often people will put their questions from reading the article into the comments and await a sometimes illusive author to respond. This can make awesome seeds for the growth of new content. If the author does reply, there may still be room to expand on their explanation or even argue a case against it. Sometimes controversy is a great growth hormone for thought leadership and authority.

28. Google Analytics

This is another one of my favourites. If you’ve got a site that’s been running for some time with GA collecting data throughout you’ll have access to massive amount of potential blog headlines, guest blog headlines and more. Go into your GA account and navigate to “traffic sources” > “Search” > “Organic”. Expand the timeline to at least 6 months depending on how much traffic you get currently and type in the following phrases: “how”, “why”, “what” and “when”. You should see search queries (that are likely very low volume) coming up with real questions, by real people that have stumbled onto your site to find the answer. This is content gold and you can use this search data to create oodles of new content addressing these specific, real questions your customers are looking for.

29. Flickr

Heard the phrase “a story tells a thousand words”? Well you can use Flickr to find stories to write about. Search for one of your key phrases and see what images appear. Look at the images with the question “what’s the story in this picture?” You may find that you’ll get inspiration just by looking through the images available.

30. Industry sites

No matter what industry you’re in there are likely blogs and sites out there that are either dedicated to them or write about them. Use Google and other search engines to hunt them out and find those industry related sites, read through the articles they have and think about what questions you have having read it. There you should find your inspiration for your next or series of next posts.

31. Read a story

I’m serious, read a story, fiction works for me, but any story will do. How much content do you think proliferated across the World Wide Web once the first wave of readers had concluded Fifty Shades of Grey? A lot, and not just related to the story – or the controversial context. Stories can hold a surprising amount of unrealised inspiration for new content. The reason for this is linked with our instinctive appeal for storytelling and listening to stories being told. Even if you own a company that works B2B  something in the story may just flick on a light in your mind that suddenly drives that eureka moment.

32. Bullet points

Complex ideas give way to complex writing. I find that reading an article and then going back on it and bullet pointing the main points is a great way to absorb and mentally digest a complex subject or concept. Additionally, I often find that each of those bullet points also offer their own inspiration for a content piece. Because they are ‘key points’ each one can be expanded out into a completely separate article or blog post. This is also an awesome way of creating supporting content if you have a primary piece of evergreen that you’re promoting too.

We got there – 32 great ideas for finding ideas for creating your content. Got more ideas? Think some of the ideas above can be expanded? Then please do share in the comments below. I’d love to hear them and I’m sure our other readers would find it useful to!

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About the author

Dave Colgate

Dave Colgate

Dave came on board with Vertical Leap in 2010 with a strong SEO and web development background, having worked on Content Management Systems and eCommerce websites. With a creative flare, Dave combines his knowledge of design, usability and SEO with advanced technical skills for a broader view of search that achieves great results. Follow me on Google+