Whether it’s for your own use or another’s, content writing is a fulfilling career, job, hobby or essential business marketing activity that you can make work for you. The key ingredient is a passion for writing about your subject, which should shine through in the finished copy. However, no matter how good a writer you are, how much content writing experience you have, or how much you love your subject, we all get stuck when it comes to thinking of content ideas.
When it comes to content idea generation, you need to know where to start. Whether you’re working to a brief or you’re producing content for either your personal blog or a company blog, it’s essential that you have a few strategies in your arsenal to get your ink flowing. It’s not always enough just to have a blank piece of paper or Word document open – it’s a myth that writers can simply write! So, where do you begin?
Top 4 tips to nail great content idea generation
The write space
All writers – be that a writer of prose, poetry or content – need room to write in, and not just physically, as DIY MFA points out. However, when it comes to generating content ideas, you need to think beyond what’s around you or your headspace. This is a challenge if you have been working remotely these past few months. After all, if a deadline’s involved, having writers’ block just won’t cut it!
Here are some easy steps to start busting out some great content ideas…
1. Look at the brief – and then look again!
If you do have a brief or topic you’re working to, then give it a read over and note down basic requirements, such as keywords and word count. If you’re writing content for a website, then keywords are essential – as you hopefully know! – to ensure your post’s (and therefore website’s) visibility on Google page rankings.
Once you have the basics down, give the brief another read. Has anything been written down that sparks your imagination, be that a keyword or the topic required? Do you have some knowledge on the topic where your own insight could be useful? Or perhaps you’re keen to do some research to learn more about the subject irrespective of any developing idea.
1a. Create your own brief!
Before we move on to step two, there’s every chance that you don’t have a brief, or you have a brief with very little information, perhaps nothing more than a suggestion of what you could write about. When this happens, don’t feel stalled; after all, it offers you more opportunity. Check out our earlier post on writing your own brief template and get cracking with filling it out. By having a template as one of your tools, you’ll know exactly what to do each time you start writing, regardless of whether a brief has been set for you or not.
You can also check out some great online content idea generators for topics, such as AnswerThePublic, BuzzSumo and Google Trends. And if you come up with more than one, why not keep a spreadsheet or notebook filled with ideas for different topics which you can easily refer to in future.Main
2. Give the topic a Google (but never plagiarise)
In advertising, it’s said that there are never new ideas; only old ideas recycled. This is also true for content writing. There’s every chance that almost everything that could be said about a certain topic has been, which is why it’s a good idea to give your writing subject a Google to start generating writing inspiration. This way, you’ll be able to see what has been written on excessively; what has been written on but could be added to; initial ideas for pathways you could follow and even the type of writing style, if you don’t have one in mind, that you could emulate.
It’s really important that you never directly copy existing content. Above being quickly called out thanks to software such as Copyscape, which automatically trawls the web to stop plagiarism in its tracks, the destination site will be heavily penalised (and even blacklisted) by Google, which is not what you want to achieve with your content marketing. There’s nothing wrong with quoting other posts of course, provided you use them sparingly, include quotation marks and reference accordingly.
3. Spider diagrams are your best friend
Now you’ve got some idea of where you’re headed – even if your inspiration has only arrived in tiny sparks – it’s a good idea to spitball ideas, even if only with yourself, by jotting the topic down in the centre of a page. Here, you can work outwards from this topic by writing down associated words and thinking of post types. Listicles, for example, are an easy way to write long-form content, as the nature of the post type helps divvy up specific tips, opinions or insights for you: for example, a gardening listicle might be titled something like “Top 5 hardest weeds to get rid of, and how to stop them coming back”.
What suits your writing style? There’s no point doing a playful bullet-point blog post if you like to have a more corporate tone. When it comes to generating ideas, bear this in mind. If the brief or topic demands the tone be playful, think about how an idea could reflect this. For example, especially in the context of recent times, your readers may enjoy content that is a little lighter than what they’d usually expect, particularly if your usual content is based around serious or topical issues. Nonetheless, always be conscious that whatever content writing you publish should reflect your brand or the brand of the end client.
4. Don’t overthink it
Once you’ve thought of a content writing idea, don’t worry too much about whether it’s “right” or not. Being right is hugely subjective and you’re bound to inspire someone who reads your post, whether it’s the most original piece of content in the world or just your perspective on something that’s already been widely written about. The real insight into a successful idea comes during the period after posting, where comments on the post and on social media where you’ve shared your content (which is always recommended!) will give you an idea of how engaging your idea was/is – and may well give you some direction for upcoming content too, if you’re lucky!
Next steps to top content idea generation
Producing engaging content writing is essential in modern digital marketing and also a fantastic way to reach your core audience. If you’re a content writer, working with Copify makes it even easier as you’ll be set briefs that help inspire you to generate your best content ideas yet. Or if you’re a business owner wondering how to come up with all those great ideas to reel your customers in, don’t worry. Our writers do the hard work for you; with our blog packages you can leave the ideas up to our writers, generate SEO targeted content ideas based on your keywords, or add your own.