Content truly is king these days. If you aren’t actively putting out blog posts, videos, interviews and other content pieces that build your brand and establish your authority, there’s a good chance you’re falling behind to a competitor who’s taking advantage of these powerful tools.
But that said, becoming a round-the-clock content creation machine isn’t easy. Finding inspiration for all the different content pieces you should be producing can be challenging, which is why I’ve put together the following list of unexpected sources of content inspiration. Stop back and read through the list whenever you need help!
Interviews with other business owners
Some business owners are shy (or overly-protective) about sharing their successes, but most of us like to get out and share our thoughts with others. As a result, there are tons of these inspirational conversations on sites like Youtube or Mixergy. Check them out and get ready for the content ideas to flow!
Reading business books
As you already know from this blog, I’m a big fan of reading business books. No matter which one you choose to read, I believe you’ll find a wealth of powerful ideas from people who have experienced the type of success you aspire to. Take a look at my list of recommendations, pick the one that sounds most interesting and then try to turn the insights you’ve learned into at least three separate pieces of content.
Reading fiction books
I tend to spend most of my reading time on business books, but you can find just as much content inspiration in fiction books. If you’re smart about the fiction you choose (to be clear, I’m not talking about chick lit or other “lite” novels), you’ll find yourself challenged to think in new ways, which can easily lead to content inspiration. Head over to GoodReads to find the fiction book that’s right for you.
Magazine headlines are one of the last pure forms of copywriting out there; marketers know they have only a few seconds to capture your attention. Whenever possible, look at these ads with a critical eye and ask yourself what the advertisers are trying to get their audiences to think and feel. Then, turn around and use these revelations to power your own content creation strategy.
The same goes for billboard advertisements. This one has always surprised me, but I’ll be walking down the street, see a billboard and wind up inspired to create a particular piece of content, based on what the advertisement says about a product, service or audience. Give it a try yourself – you’ll be amazed at the results!
Television news broadcasters are the original clickbait artists. Think about all the dire headlines you’ve heard from these reports… “Could this new school policy put your child’s life in danger? More after the commercial break.” That’s some pretty compelling content! Instead of tuning out newscasters as being cheesy or unnecessarily fear-mongering, take some time to listen to the way they structure their pitches. Then, try to bring some of their persuasiveness into your own content creation efforts.
Convention-specific Twitter hashtags
Twitter hashtags aren’t much of a marketing tool these days, but there is one fun way you can use them when it comes to content building. Even if you can’t attend every conference in your industry, figure out which hashtags they’re using to unite attendees. You’ll find a ton of great inspiration from the people who are at the convention, discussing the things they’re learning – all from the comfort of your own office.
Twitter trending topics
Twitter’s trending topics can be another great source of content creation ideas – especially given Google’s preference for promoting timely, “fresh” content. To use this inspiration source, give the list of trending topics that displays to the left of your feed a quick scan before you start creating. Not all of the topics you see will be relevant, but from time to time, you’ll luck out and pick up a hot new trend or meme to post on before your competitors do.
Private Facebook groups
On a more granular level, private Facebook groups can become a never-ending source of content ideas – if you use them correctly. To start, either join existing groups in your industry or launch your own. Let conversation flow naturally, but consider every thread that’s started to represent a potential idea for a new content piece. As an example, suppose somebody in your private SEO group asks about best practices for constructing effective meta descriptions. If the group seems to have interest in the topic, why not create a “How to” post on the subject for your SEO website?
You can do the same thing on LinkedIn, but be aware that industry-specific LinkedIn groups tend to be more formal than private Facebook groups. Keep anything you post to these communities business-oriented in nature and don’t be too quick to spin every thread you see into a piece of content. LinkedIn users are usually sensitive enough that they’ll notice you stripping the forum for ideas – eventually decreasing the value of the things they choose to share.
Quora is totally underrated as a social network, which makes it a great source for content inspiration. According to Hubspot, “Quora started out as a Q&A site, but has recently evolved to include blogs and reviews. It’s a great place to mull over content that’s already there, but you can also ask questions on the site as well. Someone is likely already talking about your industry or topic on Quora.” Any of the conversations found there can help drive your content creation efforts, though the more professional nature of the network means you’ll want to be extra careful when it comes to providing proper attribution to your sources.
If you’re feeling truly stumped for content ideas, take a look at the questions your competitors are answering. After all, they wouldn’t have spent their time answering them if their customers weren’t interested in the first place! Find their answers to common questions, and then spin them off into your own unique content pieces.
Spending time with friends
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always tried to surround myself with great people who have interesting things to say. That’s why hanging out with them tends to leave me feeling inspired – and full of great ideas for new content pieces. Even if your friends operate in completely different industries than you do, hanging out and shooting the shit with them can turn up some powerful content creation ideas.
Drinking a few beers
Now, I’m not saying that you need to drink to be successful, but I’ve found it to be true that a few beers helps loosen up my mind and leads to more creative thinking patterns and thought associations. Not all the ideas you’ll come up with while drinking will be worth pursuing (depending especially on the number of beers you’ve consumed), so write your thoughts down in the moment and then revisit them the next morning when you’re ready to start creating.
I’ve written about my hobbies a few times on this blog, but I haven’t yet mentioned how powerful they are to me when it comes to content creation. Sometimes, an aspect of one of my hobbies will lead directly to a content piece. In other cases, just relaxing my mind to focus on the hobby – rather than on business – clears the way for creative thinking on content strategy. If you don’t already have a hobby you spend time on, find one. You may be surprised at the difference it’ll make in your business!
Travel forces you to look at the world in a different way, and that type of creative thinking is perfect for inspiring new content ideas. Even if you can’t afford to take a round-the-world trip, stopping one city over to try a new restaurant offers the same exposure to something new. Give it a try and watch your list of content ideas expand.
Sitting at a desk and staring at your computer all day every day is no way to get inspired! If you’re still feeling stuck, shut down your computer and get outside. Even 20 minutes spent walking, kicking a ball around or just sitting in a park can be enough to jolt your mind back into content creation mode.
These are just a few of my favorite sources for content inspiration, but I’m sure you’ve got others of your own. If you have a particular tip or trick for generating content creation ideas, share it below in the comments section!