How to come up with brilliant content ideas

It’s all well and good creating content, but if your content isn’t something your audience actually wants to consume, you’re wasting your time, energy, and resources.

That’s why coming up with great content ideas is crucial. But despite popular belief, ideas don’t just come to you in a lightning bolt of inspiration.

You have to work for them.

These are some of the things I do to help get my creative juices flowing whenever I’m struggling to think of new content ideas.

P.S. If you like this post, don’t forget to hit share!

1. Do a brain dump

Sometimes we put our most creative ideas under lock and key because we’re scared of what people will think of them. We don’t even let ourselves explore them, because if it’s not exceptional, we don’t want to hear it.

If that sounds familiar, you need to try the brain dump.

It’ll help you let go of your inhibitions, and it’ll free you from the fear of sounding stupid.

Sit down with your team and give yourself 60 seconds to brainstorm. In that time, jot down every content idea that comes into your head.

Don’t think.

Just write.

And don’t cross anything out.

Once those 60 seconds are up, go through your ideas and see if there’s anything worth keeping. I’m sure there’ll be a few.

It’s rare that great content ever starts out as great. In more cases than not, it’s something that has to evolve with lots of thought, tweaks and intention.

2. Ask your audience

It’s so simple it almost seems silly of me to say, but if you’re writing content for a certain audience, why not ask that audience what they want to read/watch?

Create a poll on Instagram or Facebook, or use Google forms or SurveyMonkey to create a form asking your audience what content they’d like to see.

Then: create that content.

3. Live life

Indie author Orna Ross says, ‘The creative process relies on work and play’.

I couldn’t agree more.

The daily grind of work can be excruciatingly dull. And if you’re not feeling inspired by the things you’re doing, the people you’re surrounded by, the literature you’re reading and the art you’re consuming, it’ll show in your work.

In order to stay creative, you need to let yourself relax and have fun sometimes.

Visit a museum, watch a film, read a book, go to a yoga class, listen to a podcast, or make something with your hands.

Do something that’ll spark your interest, then go back to work and see how much more creative you are.

4. Get ideas from FAQs and Quora

Frequently asked questions make great content.

If your customers are always asking the same questions, you need to consider turning those questions into content, so the answers are available to everyone. Because if one person is thinking it, it’s likely many more are too.

You can also use Quora – a question and answer website – to find out what people are talking about when it comes to your industry or field. Once you know what they’re asking, consider creating content based on some of their questions.

5. Analyse your analytics

Use your Google and social media analytics to see which of your past content has gone down well… then create more of that.

If your audience is sharing and engaging with videos, you’ll know to create more videos. If your audience is commenting on long-form blog posts, you’ll know to create more of them.

If your analytics say your content isn’t being read or shared, take that on board and try something completely new.

Instead of blog posts, why not try a podcast? Instead of photos, why not try an infographic? You could even hire a copywriter to create content for you.

6. Publish user generated content

User generated content is content that’s been created by your audience.

If you’re selling a product that people take photos of and post on Instagram, make the most of that content and publish it on your own social media.

If people are taking photos of your event, post them as your story on Instagram and Facebook.

If someone is doing a fundraising challenge for your charity, share their posts on social media, like Charity Right did above, or get them to write a post that you can publish on your blog.

These posts are social proof that your brand is trustworthy and reputable.

People trust people.

If they see others using your product, fundraising for your charity, or having fun at one of your events, they’re much more likely to get involved with your brand.

7. Ask Google

Find out what people are asking Google by typing your keyword into the search bar and checking the autocomplete results.

Autocomplete suggests relevant searches for you, based on what other people have been searching.

You can also check the related searches at the bottom of the page to see more search results.  

Both these tools give you great insight into the questions people are asking. You can use this information to create content that answers these questions.

Based on my search results for copywriting, I might create a blog post on copywriting rates or one that answers the question: what is copywriting?

Similar research tools that’ll show you what people are searching for include SEMrush, Buzzsumo, Answer the Public, and Keyword Keg.

8. Exercise

Going to the gym is my favourite way to jump start my brain and body. Sometimes, you just need to step away from work and let your mind be free of all things content-related.

If you can’t get to the gym, going for a walk is just as useful. Walking is a great way to let your mind wander, and I like it because it gives me time to listen to a podcast or think through ideas while I’m moving.

Kathleen Shannon from Being Boss advocates walking meetings. Instead of having your meeting around a table, take a walk around the block and hash out ideas.

It might be just what you need to come up with your next, big content idea.

Over to you

What do you do to make sure you’re coming up with the best content?

I didn’t talk about content idea generators like Hubspot’s because, personally, I’m not a big fan. Do you use them?

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