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How to Come Up With 1,000+ Content Ideas in One Evening

Content Marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation of and the sharing of online material that is used to stimulate interest in a brand and its products and services. Often, you will find the content being delivered in various forms including videos, blog posts, and social media posts.

The content you are distributing to people should be relevant and valuable to a clearly defined audience. The primary goal of creating high-quality content is to drive profitable consumer action. (You want to make a profit and generate more leads!)

Content marketing is simply storytelling, and it is this long-term strategy that allows us to build relationships with our target audience. Content marketing is not about shoving products and services into the faces of people. Rather, it is about showing them the value that can be found and then let them make their own decision.

However, coming up with relevant and attractive, high-quality content for readers is always one of the biggest challenges any content marketer or content creator will face. How do we come up with all these topic ideas and how do we rise above what the competition is doing?

Blog posts, user-generated content, evergreen content, and social media content are all ideas you can branch out on when coming up with topics and great content ideas to use to drive awareness and gain followers. The stories we tell and the type of content we provide are two of the biggest determinants when engaging with our target audience.

User-generated content and influencers are fast becoming a popular way in the content marketing industry because of how successful these types of content strategies can be. The information is more readily shared with the readers and content marketers begin to gain a wider audience and more followers.

You want to make sure that you are coming up with topic ideas that will promote engaging content for your readers and maybe even answer some questions they may have about certain things that can be in the niche you have selected.

Again, coming up with content ideas is not an easy job! It is a task I have had a hard time systematizing and outsourcing. Therefore, the step-by-step guide we shared below is a way to solve the content creation problem!

While I have worked on a few web projects in the past, Jon Gillham’s Six Figure Challenge was by far the largest scale project I had ever initiated. The biggest reason for this was the aggressive seven days a week posting schedule. Extrapolating out, that meant the team I built needed to come up with 365 posts a year or 1,000 blog posts over three years.

The first thought that came across my mind when doing the math was (a) what am I getting myself into, closely followed by (b) how the heck am I going to come up with 1,000 post ideas about my niche (personal finance for parents).

Here’s where I started:

site postsche dule - feb 2015

That said, I’m happy to say that a few weeks into the challenge, I’ve converted post idea and content creation from a big glaring pain point to a core competency with a well mapped out process and a list of resources that I will be able to use for this project and others.

Here, I’ll be sharing two of the main strategies and processes I used to come up with a bit over a thousand great blog post ideas in just one evening.

The Strategies

The 2 strategies I used to come up with post ideas were:

  1. Tangential (Related) Site Content
  1. Table of Contents and indexes from books and ebooks

Before I get started, I want to point out one thing. I’m not in any way advocating copying content here. What I do with these strategies is to focus on publicly available inspiration and analytics and use that data to come up with my own post ideas that then get created by myself and a team of writers.

Tangential Site Content

The main concept here is to use content ideas that have already been published on sites that are related (but not exactly the same) as yours.

For example, if you’re building a website about decorating offices, then you may want to find websites about home décor or interior design and then leverage the most popular headlines or articles from those for your content strategy.

It’s pretty easy to convert a headline like:

“10 Cheap Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive”

to

“10 Cheap Ways to Make Your Office Look Expensive”

Now that you get the idea, here’s the specific process I used to do this (you can get a virtual assistant to do this as well, but I suggest you give it a try once so that you get an idea of the how to train someone to do this).

1. Come up with a list of categories and niches that are similar to yours

If you’re doing an office design site, you’ll obviously want to check out other office design sites, but also list categories like kitchen design and office design. You could even reach a bit and list categories like architecture or landscaping.

2. Scrape site directories to come up with a set of seed sites

Search Google for the following search terms

  1. best [category from above] blog
  2. best [category from above] sites

What you’ll find is a list of blog directories that will give you a list of dozens (often hundreds) of sites in your target category.

top 10 interior design blog

3. Download the site links to a spreadsheet

I use a chrome plugin called linkclump that will let me hold shift while I scroll my mouse over all the links to copy the entire list as a set of URLs that I can then paste into a spreadsheet.

interior design blogs

4. Use BuzzSumo to find the most popular pieces of content on each of those sites

You can easily start with a list of 200+ blog posts with very little effort using this strategy. I would highly recommend using a virtual assistant for this part (as it can get a bit tedious). The next step is to find the most popular pieces of content on each site, a task that software like BuzzSumo makes ridiculously easy.

BuzzSumo is a content research and analysis tool and a great way to find the most shared pieces of content from any given website. Once you get your list, go to it and sign up for a trial (or full) membership. Then, log in and enter each domain on the list into BuzzSumo’s search bar and hit enter.

You’ll get a list of content sorted by the number of total shares it has gotten across various social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+).

You can export the entire list into a spreadsheet by clicking the export button, and it will give you up to 10,000 results. Plenty to get your gears spinning on great content ideas.
buzzumo export - apartmenttherapy

 

5. Use some wordsmithing and creativity to create your own content topics

Create your cutoff point for share count (for my project I only leveraged headlines that had 5,000+ total shares), but it completely depends on your niche and the amount of sites/content out there.

In this case, I found 135 content headlines from just one website that met my criteria. Read through the headlines and change around words, topics, or phrases to come up with your own content ideas.

There you go. One easy strategy for blog content ideas.

6. Strategy Two – Browsing Books On Your Topic

Another tactic I used to come up with blog content ideas centers around the structured data found in books – especially those found in indexes and tables of contents.

My main resource here is a neat new service from Amazon.com called Kindle Unlimited which offers you the ability to read (and more importantly browse) 700,000 books for just $10/mo.

Process:

  1. Find books in your niche or the tangential categories you created above
  2. Go straight to the table of contents and find items that could make good content topics

A good table of contents (for your purposes) will have a lot of detail like this one.

If the table of contents in your book looks more like the one below, you can still use it for inspiration, but you will be better off quickly paging through each chapter to come up with ideas based on section headings, capitalized phrases, etc.

table of contents

The right process you should use here fully depends on the way the book is structured.

With the interior design example above, your best bet is to go through each chapter and find the capitalized section dividers.

adding some pizzas to your home

With this specific strategy, I usually can come up with 40-50 content ideas by quickly skimming through a book – which takes me 5-10 minutes.

BONUS STRATEGY

Some good seed phrases you can use include:

  • Best [Niche Name]
  • How do I find [Something in Niche]
  • Free [Niche Name]
  • [Niche Name] + letters (a-z)

Well, that’s it for now.

Hope this was helpful and gives you a few strategies on how to come up with content topics.

See you next time:

Dev

About the Author Authority

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15 comments
Steve says January 22, 2015

Really interesting post, I like the buzz sumo idea – will be getting that one out for myself for sure!

Publishing so many articles is interesting, given each article has to be really top notch nowadays, I guess you have to be careful to not produce poor imitations of popular posts otherwise I guess you’ll just be wasting money

Reply
    Jon says January 23, 2015

    Steve, you bring up a good point. I think the idea in most cases for me is to identify the popular post and go a little bigger in one aspect…longer list, extra tool, better formatting etc. My plan is to make my “knock-off” post better in at least 1 aspect which I hope will help my post be separated from the rest.

    Reply
Philip Kleudgen says January 22, 2015

Hey Jon,

Nice tutorial on finding content ideas. I prefer to automate the headline part by using headline generators like I listed in my recent article.

Feel free to share the tools here for your readers if you like them 🙂

Reply
Bryan says January 22, 2015

Excellent post! Thanks Jon, found some awesome nuggets that I would have never have thought of. That linkclump resource is awesome as well.

Reply
    Jon says January 23, 2015

    Yah Dev dug up some pretty amazing stuff on this post!

    Reply
Carlo says January 22, 2015

Thank you very much for sharing this Jon. I’m going to use this for my website. I got stagnated because I ran out of ideas to pour into my website until now. Very helpful.

Reply
    Jon says January 23, 2015

    If you come up with 1,000 ideas now it will take awhile to get stagnant again!

    Reply
Michael says January 23, 2015

Nice post! Jon. I have saw your authority site challenge. that is a great idea and it gave me encouragement. I decide that I am going to build my own authority site in 2015. Come on, Jon

Reply
    Jon says January 23, 2015

    That is great Michael – Best of luck with growing your site in 2015!

    Be sure to join the like minded people here for encouragement – https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/115956096955083302194

    Reply
      Michael says January 23, 2015

      I have jorined this community. thanks Jon.

      Reply
Nate Tsang says January 24, 2015

Great post Jon, lots of creative ideas to generate content ideas using proven concepts.

Just a quick heads up for those SEOs that might not have a Buzzsumo account, Ahrefs recently setup a “Top Content” section which lets you see the most shared content on a site as well – though I don’t think their social index updates as quickly as Buzzsumo.

And of course, their “top pages” section can be another source of content ideas that have proven linkworthiness.

Reply
Harris Andrea says January 25, 2015

I have used the Buzz sumo website to find the most popular content on my own blog but the results were not correct. Anyway, for other websites maybe it will work better.
Nice article by the way.
Harris

Reply
bassey jimmy says January 21, 2016

Your site is awesome with useful information. All I need to setup a profitable website is here.

Reply
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