Most blogs start with a lot of energy and potential. The niche is clear, there are multiple content ideas in the pipeline, and you likely have a general idea of where to promote it.
Starting is the easy part of blogging.
The challenge comes six to twelve months down the line when you’ve created articles or other pieces for obvious content ideas you had. At this point, it becomes more and more difficult to stick to a schedule and consistently make quality posts.
This guide will help with that. You’ll learn multiple strategies to find an endless supply of proven content ideas. The best part is that it only takes a few minutes to do this exercise and you can repeat it whenever you’re in a slump.
Understanding types of content
Each piece of content you create, whether you realize it or not, performs a specific task for your website. Broadly speaking, it’ll fall under one of the following categories:
Link magnet to grow authority
Generate social media shares and brand awareness
Rank in the search engines and produce traffic
Produce revenue or conversions
You shouldn’t rely on one piece of content to do all of those things because it’ll fall short in each area. You’re asking too much. For example, if you rank for well in the search engines for the term “fitness” you’ll get a lot of site visitors. Few of them will sign up for your mailing list or buy a product.
Why is that?
The people using that term want general information on fitness. You’ll get a lot of traffic and people may look around your website but most will consume the content and leave.
That’s OK. Instead of trying to make that post do too much, you can funnel people to a piece of content that’ll help you generate income or grow your email list.
If you were to rank for a term such as best fitness program for men, it would have much less search traffic but people would be more likely to buy a product. They’ve done their research, know they want a fitness program, and are looking for the best option.
If you wrote an article about “how I lost 60 pounds in 90 days.” It likely wouldn’t rank well in the search engines but it could go viral on social media and drive tens of thousands of visitors in a few days.
An article like “55 stats about fitness you need to know” wouldn’t get many visitors but would attract a large number of links. It’ll serve to boost the overall authority of your website and make it easier to rank high traffic or revenue-generating articles.
Each piece of content has a purpose. As you’re going through this guide, think about what kind of content it is and how you’ll use it as part of your overall strategy. Also, keep in mind that not all topics need to be an article. Some of them would be great as an infographic, video, webinar, etc.
Let’s dive in.
The first stop is Reddit. According to Similarweb, it gets 1.4 billion visitors every month and there are over 1,200,000 subreddits. Even if you have an obscure niche, there’s probably a subreddit that caters to it. Here, you’ll mostly find content with social media or link magnet potential.
Navigate to the homepage and use the search bar located in the top navigation bar. Type in a key phrase related to your website. In this example and subsequent examples, I’ll be using fitness.
When the page loads, there will be three options right above the search results labeled best results, posts, and communities and users. Click on communities and users to narrow the results you get.
What you’ll see are all the communities related to your search. You’ll find many options but you want to repeat the process with different search phrases as well to make sure you unearth as many subreddits as possible.
Open the subreddits one by one. Right above the list of posts, you’ll find four options. Click on the one labeled top.
Next to top, the option labeled today will appear. Click on it and change the settings to this year. It’ll order the most popular posts from January up until the current date.
If the year just started or you’re not seeing many good topic ideas, change the search to all time. This will give you tons of ideas about content but there’s a particular way to use what you find. Instead of just creating something with a similar title (which is a feasible strategy), look for patterns.
What kind of content is consistently getting upvoted? What are people saying in the comments? What do they think is lacking. Mining the comments on a popular post can yield dozens of more topic ideas.
Keep in mind that a lot of the content on Reddit isn’t evergreen. Just because something was popular when it was written doesn’t mean it’ll remain popular over time.
Once you’ve finished mining one subreddit, continue the process with the other ones you found. You’ll be able to find dozens of topics within a few minutes. A fringe benefit of this exercise is being able to get a deeper understanding of what people care about in your niche. Those insights can have a positive impact on your marketing strategy when you incorporate what you learn.
Quora popular questions
Quora is another huge social media platform but it’s a bit different from Reddit. It’s heavily moderated and tends to be a friendlier place. At 478 million visitors, it has far less traffic than Reddit but it’s still a great way to find content ideas.
The site is organized into tens of thousands of topics that are similar to subreddits. The difference is that people are asking questions about things they have a deep interest in. Unlike Reddit, you’ll have to sign up to use the platform before you can do anything meaningful.
Navigate to Quora and register an account if you don’t already have one. At the top of the screen, you’ll see a search bar. Type in a relevant search phrase there and allow the drop-down list to appear.
It’ll be populated with topics related to your search and Spaces (curated collections of links and Quora answers). Click on the first option that says “search: your keyword.”
When the page loads, you’ll see spaces, questions, and topics. Look to the left of the screen and filter the results by questions. You’re looking for questions that have a lot of followers.
The reason you want to focus on followers is because anyone that follows a question will get notified of subsequent answers via email. In other words, they’re open to getting multiple perspectives.
It’s hard to say how many followers a question has before it can be considered a good topic idea because each niche is different. Fitness is popular so I may make the cutoff mark 300+ followers or more. Quantum mechanics will appeal to a much smaller pool of people so the cutoff mark there may only be 75+ people.
Look at the number of followers questions around that keyword tend to have and decide on a cutoff point.
When a question looks promising, dig a little deeper by opening the page that displays all the answers people have submitted. If you glance to the right, you’ll see multiple related questions that may be worth exploring further.
While on the question’s dedicated page, look at the total number of answers and the comments on the most popular ones. This can be a goldmine of resources, content ideas, and understanding how people feel about the topic.
Go through this process with a number of different keywords. When you’re done, you should have dozens of potential topics to write about.
I like Quora for this exercise because you can find really targeted questions that people are interested in. Instead of turning it into a blog post, you could use it to create a video series or even use one of the inexpensive tools out there to set up a webinar where you go in-depth. If the webinar does well, you could even turn it into a product.
You could stop here and have enough topic ideas for years to come. If you still want more then keep reading.
In the example I’m going to show you I’ll be using a paid tool called Ahrefs. There are free or freemium tools you can use such as SemRush and Ubersuggest but Ahrefs is my preferred option.
This method will uncover topic ideas that have search potential or that can help you build links to your website and increase your site authority. Before you get started, compile a list of your top competitors. In this example, I’ll be using two websites in the fitness space.
Log in to Ahrefs and type in your domain in the search bar at the top of the screen. Scroll down and look to the left for the menu item labeled content gap.
When the page loads, type in the domain of one or more (up to three) competitors in your niche and click “show keywords.
This will show you all of the keywords that your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t. By default, it’s sorted by the search volume. If your website already has a lot of authority then you can leave it like that. If it’s a relatively new website then you’ll want to sort based on the metric called KD (keyword difficulty).
This will produce many long-tail keyword variations that you wouldn’t otherwise find and they could make great content ideas. Repeat this process for all the websites on your list.
Another way to use Ahrefs is by finding the top content of your competitors. Type in the domain of one of your competitors in the search bar then click on the menu option labeled “top content” to the left of the screen.
This page will show the best content on the website based on traffic, value, number of keywords, number of referring domains, etc. This can give you an idea of the pieces that will be able to attract links or generate traffic for your own website.
Once you have a complete list of topics, be sure to look at each one and decide on how it will support your goals.
This guide has gone through multiple ways to find an endless supply of content ideas for your blog. Not only written content but other formats as well.
Once you’ve compiled your list, tag each one based on what it can do for your brand. Will it generate links, be well-received on social media, or produce a lot of search traffic? Once you figure that out, create your editorial calendar and start producing great content.
Let me know how you come up with topic ideas in the comments and don’t forget to share.