Take it from a writer: Coming up with content ideas is going to get old, fast. If you want to post an article everyday on your blog as well as offer content as guest articles, you're going to have to do a lot of writing. This might mean you have to do the writing yourself or you have to hire an expert or a team, but no matter which way you want spin it, you're going to need to be generating quite a few content ideas at a fast past.
The most difficult thing about writing is the overwhelming fact that there is so much advice out there telling you what to do to be successful: Make sure you have a headline that does this, make sure your subject matter sounds like that, make sure your bullet points dont have too much of this or too little of that, images should do this in order to be successful. The trick here, however, is to know that all of this comes second. Don't let this cloud your mind because you have to start at the first (and most difficult) step: Generating a content idea.
Top 10 Tools to Help You and Your Writers Generate Content Ideas
Once you generate a good list of ideas you can start deciding whether or not those ideas would be successful. It's about getting as many ideas out there first, and fortunately there are quite a few tools available to help you get there:
1. Trapit. This tool is all about content curation, or pulling different articles from across the web in order to make a round-up type post.
The cool thing about this tool is that it pulls articles for you when you tell the tool your industry. You can then browse through articles quickly so you're not spending a lot of time searching on the web. Once you find the articles you want to use in your post, the tool will analyze how each article does with your audience to help you choose wiser for the future.
The SearchCap is an excellent example of content curation. Remember, though, if you're publishing links to other websites you still need to have a majority of your own content on the page! It's definitely a quicker and easier way to write an article, but it does still take a little bit of work.
2. Sonar Solo. A newer tool that works with wordmaps.
Word mapping has always been a great way to generate content ideas, and this newer tool helps you connect different keyword terms that are trending. All you need to do is type in a word of something you might be considering writing about and then the tool will give you a map of all sorts of trending terms related to that keyword. I tried this tool for the first time recently and it actually helped me more than I expected. When you see words similar to something you might be thinking, you get inspiration for different topics. It's as simple as that!
3. Quora. Easily one of my favorite tools (for more than just content generation).
Quora is actually a social website where you can connect with others and ask questions and give answers. Therefore, you can use this tool for content generation in two ways:
- Ask a question about a topic that interests you and see what types of responses you get.
- Type the topic youre interested in into the search bar of Quora and see what discussions have been had on that topic.
The site is split up into categories and subtopics to make it easy to navigation. In my eyes, it's essentially an entire site full of ideas and potential.
4. Advanced Twitter Search. A lesser-known feature of Twitter.
Twitter is no doubt one of the places people go to ask questions and learn about subjects in any industry, so it's a great place to find content ideas that your audience really wants to see. When you click the link to use this tool, you'll see that you have lots of different options to narrow down your search on Twitter (that's why its advanced after all) including which words you want to include, which hashtags you want to not include, etc.
My favorite way to use this service is by marking that I want to see only questions. This makes it easy for me to see what people are asking out there in the Twitter world and gives me so many great content ideas.
5. Evernote. One of the more popular tools, this one is all about organization and helping you remember ideas you have while youre searching the web.
This tool will help you save content that you see online that you may want to remember for later as a potential idea for your own content. You can use what is called the web clipper tool to same an article or a piece of an article to look back at later. You can make notes each time you save something, and when you're actually writing your article you can go back and search for key terms to see these notes once again.
6. SocialMention. Technically a social monitoring tool, this is also a great place to get content ideas.
All you need to do here is search for a particular term and then you will get a list of related terms that could inspire some ideas. Just as with the Advanced Twitter Search tool discussed above, you can limit your responses to questions to see what people in your audience are asking. Another great feature is that you can subscribe by email to get updates on any term you wish, so hopefully the ideas will just keep coming!
7. Soovle. Offers a great view of long tail terms from many different sites (not just Google).
Part of coming up with unique content ideas is thinking outside the box in order to get ideas that arent overdone, which is why I like Soovle. This tool helps you see related keyword terms, particularly of long tail keywords, that are popular from all sorts of different websites aside from just Google including Bing, Yahoo, Answers.com, YouTube, Wikipedia, and even Amazon. It's a lot of data, but I often get a few good ideas quickly with this one, which makes it worth it in my eyes.
8. Google Keyword Planner. This is one of the more popular options that helps you research different keyword terms.
Once again, we have a tool that helps us find keyword terms that are related to whatever term you type into the tool. You simply type in whatever it is you think you want to write about and then look at your list of related terms to see if you can come up with a cool new idea. For example, if you know you want to write about infographics, considering typing in something like how to create an infographic. You should have a pretty solid and targeted list coming from that to help give you ideas.
9. Google Trends. Here you can see what is popular in real-time on Google.
The data you get with this tool is based on actual searches and what is likely to be clicked on right at that moment (along with how this differs based on where you are in the world). This tool is best to use if you really don't have much of an idea about what you want to write. You could come up with something out of the blue just by seeing what people are searching for at that moment. This works best if you visit the hot searches page first.
Of course, if you do have somewhat of a topic or an idea, you can also use the explore section of the tool to see related keywords that are ranked based upon how popular they are with searchers at that moment.
10. Google Webmaster Tools. Another outlet to find similar keyword terms.
This isn't the first tool I choose when I try to come up with content ideas, but if you're stuck or you're already using Webmaster Tools at the moment anyways, it's a good option. This tool will help you see which keywords are driving the most traffic to your particular website, so it's very targeted information. Seeing a keyword do well on your site could definitely give you an idea to write about that you maybe werent considering before.
I often find that getting as many ideas out on paper as you can is a good thing. A lot of times an idea comes out of that idea in a roundabout way, so it's best to write down as many things as you can and come back to them later if you couldnt make an article out of them right away.
Do you know of any more tools to help you generate content ideas? Which tools have you used that you liked or didnt like? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: thinkstockphotos.com; Photographer and Copyright: Ivelin Radkov
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility.com, one of the leading SEO companies in the United States.