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Out of Ideas? 10+ Tools to Spark Content Creation

At one point, my ideas didn’t do the trick to create new, engaging, and relevant content. I’m sure you can relate.

It dawned on me that I needed to change my strategy and fully embrace this sentiment from Kevin Roberts: “Ideas are the currency of the future.”

Great ideas are based on logic, data, and emotions. To hit those marks, I use different tools and surveys as well as logic-focused tricks. Here are some to help you find great content ideas to which your audience will respond.

Great content ideas are basic on logic, data, and emotions. Here are some tools to help create them, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

1. Follow your industry

Research and analyze websites to stay updated or learn more about your enterprise’s niche. Create a spreadsheet to track each of those sites.

When scrolling these websites, leverage the ideas, research tidbits, or data-supported points to infuse your own unique content.

2. Use an aggregator

Blog aggregators like AlltopBizSugar, and Blog Engage mine useful content and products.

For example, I select 10 great articles, extract interesting and useful data, and create phenomenal content from my point of view using the original source. Linking to the original source is essential, not only to credit the native source but to signal your readers that your content is trustworthy.

Although each aggregator operates differently, you usually can conduct one-off searches or register to monitor subjects on an ongoing basis.

3. Crowdsource ideas

People love being asked for their ideas or opinions. Surveys are the go-to starting point.

Collecting responses from your audience will give you insights into their challenges, needs, problem issues, and what motivates them. Sometimes people can offer the wildest ideas and get a little overboard.

For surveying your customers, partners, or industry experts, I recommend using Survey Anyplace to create simple and sophisticated surveys online.

Out of #content ideas? Try using @surveyanyplace to create simple and sophisticated surveys online, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. #Tools Click To Tweet

If you don’t have an existing database to target, you invest in securing qualified responses from your ideal custom audience through a service like Pollfish.

If you don’t have an existing database to target, invest in securing qualified responses through a service like @pollfish, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. #Tools Click To Tweet

You also can ask questions and run polls through your social media accounts. I’ve achieved great results from asking questions on Facebook groups to inform my content pieces.

Getting these responses will help you not only generate fresh content ideas but feed your content using unique data, research, or statistics as a linkable asset.

4. Go surfin’ for content ideas

Forums are an endless fountain of creative ideas. You may be surprised by how many great ideas and experiences people share. As a marketing industry writer, I love the Warrior Forum, as its members are responsive, open-minded, and share their tricks.

Use industry forums (such as @warriorforum) to glean ideas from the members’ conversations, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Quora is another valuable community where people ask questions and discuss issues they care about. This is a powerful way to find out the needs of your target audience. You first must create a profile (don’t forget to mention your brand and include your owned media links in it). Then you can:

  • Create topics for discussion.
  • Set up notifications to be alerted when your designated topics, blogs, or experts pop up in conversations.
  • Test your ideas – ask the question, pose your possible solution.
  • Check out the popularity of topic-related threads through the upvotes and conversations to find an angle to make a great blog post.
  • Review the headlines by typing your keywords and seeing what questions (headlines) people are asking about those topics. The most popular questions and upvotes indicate the interest in the topic.

Other useful communities for trend monitoring include:

Facebook and LinkedIn groups also can be great for content generation. Many of these groups are filled with self-promotion and spam, but the good ones provide valuable idea nuggets. Look for unique and private (closed) communities for your industry where members actively participate in discussions, share the most valuable insights, tell personal stories, get solutions to their problems, and describe their products or services.

For example, B2B Bloggers Boost Group is a real mine of information for content marketers. Every day members share details about content they are working on or promote their high-quality content.

If you are creating e-books, podcasts, and videos, you can also find inspiration from these online communities:

  • Research Amazon book listings.
  • Find popular podcasts on iTunes.
  • Watch popular videos on YouTube and TED talks.
  • Research relevant presentations on SlideShare.

5. Look at your competitors

Analyze your competitors’ content and user engagement to find angles where your brand could offer a different way of thinking or an alternative view. Your competitors’ content also allow you to identify sources and comment on their posts and mention your brand.

I use SE Ranking to monitor all the activities and content of competitors. It shows the content performing best based on keywords. You can easily track the most popular content of any domain and search for interesting trends.

Use @SERanking to monitor all the activities and #content of competitors, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

6. Gather together

I want to give you a priceless tip I discovered that always works well – roundup articles always fly off the shelf.

You can survey experts to share their opinions on a relevant news event, trend, or question. I’ve created this kind of content a few times, and the articles get shared like crazy. It also is a great chance to build good relationships with well-respected leaders in your niche.

You don’t need to know the experts to collect unique insights. I recommend MyBlogU to gather ideas and opinions from knowledgeable people. Its group-interview feature is the most exciting one on this platform – you ask, the experts answer.

I recommend @myblogu to gather ideas and opinions from knowledgeable people, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet


7. Grab a pen or whiteboard

Now that you have a volume of idea-generation resources at hand, the biggest challenge is not jumping into content creation. To be effective, tie together the ideas to ensure that they complement each other to produce an amazing and fresh perspective.

Don’t jump into content creation until you ensure your ideas complement each other, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

I know using a whiteboard or sticky notes sounds silly, but it’s a great way to get everything out and filter through all of your thoughts before moving on to a first draft.

I wonder if Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series starts with his original presentation or is adapted after each article is written. Either way, they illustrate how to connect a topic particularly well.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 4 Questions to Help Vet Your Content Ideas

8. Attend virtual conference talks

You can find great ideas at conference talks. You can use the hot topics and create your own content. Take notes on what other people ask and what answers the experts provide to their questions.

For example, I looked for content inspiration in SEO. I checked out the agendas for the brightonSEO conference, put all the in-demand topics to my Google Sheets file, and found four topics that could work really well for my content.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 7 Ideas To Get Your Creativity Unstuck

9. Dig deeper into your conversion results

To go further for content gold, use your site analytics to find out what your audience likes, explore user behavior from different sources, and detect weak points. Once you understand the whole journey of your converted customers, you can create persuasive content that converts.

Check out Finteza to easily understand the reason for dropout and optimize your content for conversions. The tool comes with a visual representation of the audience path from the first visit to the final stage. This data can help you find out more about user’s behavior on your site and generate fresh content ideas that will work for your audience.

If you are running out of top-of-funnel ideas, focus on sales collateral, product demos, and customer testimonials.

10. Get inspired by the external stimuli

Look at creative resources for content inspiration. My absolute favorite is Depositphotos that supports and inspires users to discover more content options and quickly find exactly what they are looking for.

@Depositphotos is my favorite creative resource for #content inspiration, says @irinaweber048 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Depositphotos includes over 210 million files, a huge selection of illustrations, videos, vectors, photos, and music for every category and budget. You can use its advanced search filters to search any content by images, location, season, orientation, people, keywords, and more.

In the long run

When is this writing battle over? Unfortunately, there are no specific and quick rules that discover how to make your content phenomenal. Only hard work and experience can help you continually improve the process.

All tools mentioned are identified by the author. To suggest your favorite tool, add it in the comments.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute