How to Get Content Ideas for An Entire Year (in Just 30 Minutes!)
Here’s a common problem a lot of writers face: You open your writing program, look at the blank page, and have no idea what to do.
You might be stuck and unsure what your audience needs. Maybe you’re even thinking there’s nothing else you could deliver on your topic.
Maybe you’re even thinking there’s nothing else you could deliver on your topic.
We’re here to dispel your cynicism. Even if you’ve already created hundreds of posts, there are plenty more ideas just waiting to be found.
Below is a list of our favorite content creation strategies – but first – all strategies need to begin with a content calendar.
Content calendars help you determine how often you’ll deliver educational content and promotional content.
Many marketers follow the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of content should be educational, and 20% promotional. Without a calendar, or a strategy for the future, you could lose track of what type of content you’re delivering.
A content calendar will be the foundation on which you’ll base your content marketing strategy. With a clear overview of what you’re working on daily, you’ll be more organized and focused.
In this article, we're going to show you several ways you can multiply your content ideas using a content calendar - enough to fill up an entire year!
Getting Started With Content Calendars
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of things, let's take a good look at your content calendars.
Open it up, print it out (we recommend doing this!), and lay it out in front of you.
Take a good look at all the holidays, events, and anniversaries over the year, and:
Step 1: Write down dates that are important to your business – any anniversaries, industry-specific events, or even fun/funny celebrations (e.g. if your business is a vegan food restaurant, look up World Vegan Day… you get the idea) Step 2: Circle the dates that are relevant to your business and audience
Once you have all the dates down, ask yourself:
- Can I find themes in the calendar to tie-in my business to my audience in some shape or form?
- Can I break down my demographics to create content for different segments of my audience?
- Can I INVENT an opportunity to create a content series that will fill up my calendar like a machine?
Because THAT is the secret to creating automatic content to fill up an ENTIRE year:
Creating compounding content.
We’ll show you exactly how to do this a little bit later.
But first, when you’ve filled up your calendar to the brim, time to come up with topics and ideas for your content.
Don't worry - it's a lot faster than you think!
Finding Content Ideas and Topics in 15 Minutes!
Planning a whole year’s worth of content does not have to consume all of your time.
With some tricks and free tools online (don’t you just love free tools?), we’ve come up with a way to gather endless content ideas in just 15 minutes of your time.
Let’s get started with…
1. Good Ol’ Google for keywords
Want to find out what’s hot on your topic? Google is your new best friend. You can come up with a few ideas in seconds using what’s readily available on search engines.
Even the best content marketers use the “search” button for quick ideas because it’s fast, easy, free to use, and hey, they actually work!
To illustrate how we use Google to come with ideas, we searched for the topic “wedding” in Malaysia.
Before you can even finish typing, you’re presented with a list of Google’s suggestions (a function aptly called “autocomplete”).
There, you’ve already got your first set of ideas! (are you mindblown yet?)
It sounds ridiculously easy (and yet it is!) but Google’s autocomplete feature doesn’t just deliver a bunch of random suggestions – these are actual popular keywords people are searching for that's related to your search term – and they’re a fantastic place to start gathering ideas.
So take note of these suggestions and let’s gather more ideas.
Sometimes, when you scroll down the search page, Google will return something like this.
Again, these are actual questions people are asking online, and if you’re a wedding company or a bridal house, these are great questions to answer in the form of a hyper-informative content.
That's it! Now you’ve got your second set of ideas and note these down too.
Now, scroll down the page further and check out the suggested results at the bottom:
Now, you have your third set of ideas under "Searches related to...".
With just a quick search, you’ll have some nifty ideas on topics to write on.
2. Break down your demographics
Here’s an excellent example of compounding content for different segments of your demographics:
The good folks at CopyHackers debuted a little thing called Freelance Writer Month in November. Over the entire month, they published a series of contents specifically targeted to freelance writers – anywhere from a blog post on finding your niche, to revealing survey results on how much copywriters earn.
Here’s the thing:
Freelance Writer Month is not even a real thing. But it’s a great move that allows them to generate an incredible amount of content ideas on one niche subject, in much less time than it would be to plan single ideas over the year.
You get the drift.
Spend some time studying your calendar and fleshing it out.
Don’t worry if there are some empty gaps at the end – you can fill those dates out later with filler content that don’t fit anywhere else.
For the “wedding” search above, the target audience are newlyweds, so we thought it’d be useful to dedicate an entire month to content that specifically discusses topics that don’t get talked about very often – what are weddings like for the groom?
- How is he going to choose a ring?
- Where will he get proposal ideas?
- How to plan a great stag party?
- What about the honeymoon?
Paying attention to different segments of your demographic gives everyone a chance for some much-needed attention.
We already showed you how to build a “demographic tree” in our Head-Turning Headlines post, and this trick applies the same principle. Pick one fruit out of the demographic tree and dedicate a quiet month in the calendar to one (or several) smaller segment of your audience.
Trust us; your audiences will appreciate you taking some time to focus on them for once.
3. Google Trends for what’s popular
Another tactic to use is what is called “news jacking.” It involves finding a breaking story and weaving it into your topic, riding the trend.
You want to make sure that it’s relevant to your business in some way.
Google Trends is a wonderful tool to craft fresh, original content you might’ve never come up with through conventional means.
Surprise your audience by bringing up a topic that’s on everyone’s minds, one they usually don’t see mentioned in their industry.
Plug a keyword into Google Trends, and tell a story around favorite celebrities, business news, award shows, or even tech announcements, that will surprise your audience and keep them engaged.
You can include one-off or uncommon yet trending and buzzworthy events in your calendar like:
- Election dates (if any)
- Supermoon or lunar sightings
- Blockbuster movie releases
- Award shows
Take for example the Star Wars franchise. How does Star Wars relate to our broad audience of freelance content writers? Great storytelling.
It's a matter of getting into your readers' minds and showing them that you're on top of things - that you live, eat and breathe whatever the subject is.
4. BuzzSumo for what your competitors are publishing
A little spying here and there won't hurt.
BuzzSumo is a powerful tool to analyze viral content and top influencers in your industry. At a glance, you can see social media shares by article, broken down by platform.
Working between Southeast Asia and the US? It also has an advanced search where you can search by location, making it no problem to explore what is trending in your particular area.
It’s also an excellent way to learn more about the top influencers in your niche.
You can search by domain and receive backlinks pointing to each article. By studying the pros in your industry, it’ll help you understand what’s working and what’s not for those on top.
Also, BuzzSumo can work like Google Trends and give you info on what’s hot in the last 24 hours - or you can search as far back as the past year.
It’s developed with content creation in mind with its intuitive interface, with extra tools for setting alerts for specific keywords and domains.
BuzzSumo is a powerhouse when it comes to developing content ideas.
If you’re ever at a loss for ideas, dig around on BuzzSumo for a few minutes, and you’ll instantly begin to brainstorm new ways to reach your audience.
Once you get the hang of it, you could easily get a spark of inspiration for new topics in less than five minutes.
5. Quora for questions that need your answers
Quora is where your audience goes when they can’t find an answer to their question. It’s a great place to understand your customer’s problems, and then deliver a satisfying answer on your website.
Searching through Quora for topics should take under ten minutes, to get some basic ideas on what your audience is looking for.
For example, someone in the content marketing section asked, “What is inception marketing?”
That might be a good blog post to create.
Try asking yourself:
- Is there more than one person asking the question?
- Has it already been covered in detail by someone else?
- Did they give a satisfactory answer?
If someone went through the trouble of going to Quora for their question, they’re desperate for an answer.
Think of Quora as an easy way to find forums on just about any topic. The primary focus of Quora is to ask questions, and one of your primary goals should be to answer questions from your audience.
On a regular search day, you’ll probably get a handful of ideas that’ll last you at least a month.
Well, that’s not going to cut it. You need ideas for the whole YEAR, remember?
So in this next part, we’re going to show you to duplicate, multiply and create compounding ideas using topics you already have to fill up an entire year’s worth of content.
Go Forth and Multiply Ideas Using a Content Calendar
As per the Content Marketing Institute, top marketers document their content marketing strategy but only 37% have a documented strategy. That huge discrepancy shows huge room for improvement for content creators.
Using your calendar, you’ll write down on specific dates what type of content you’re delivering.
In the future, you can flip back to prior dates and analyze what’s working and what’s not.
It’s an easy tool that you can use as a reference. Think of it as the top of your organizational tree when it comes to content marketing.
Using the tools and methods above, list down your chosen keywords and content ideas.
For this example, we’re going to take our favorite ideas from our “wedding” search above.
- “wedding dresses”
- “wedding planner”
- “wedding rings”
- “wedding invitation”
Once you have your keywords, this is where you stop and figure out: How can I create a series of blog posts throughout the year with each keyword?
The secret here is to look for any recurring themes, special events, weekly or monthly “specials” that you can ride on.
Instead of producing single pieces of content for these ideas, find an opportunity to create a compounding, ‘series’ type of content you can schedule at strategic times of the year.
Here is where our calendar is going to come in handy. A quick look through the calendar gave us some ideas we can work with:
See where we’re getting at here?
This is just the START - there are so many ways you could do this. There is absolutely no end to how you can expand your topics into organized themes and events.
Now, time to get your math on:
If you plan to release 4 blog posts a week, that's 208 blog posts a year (over 52 weeks)!
Come up with a few initial topics and create compounding ideas for them to get an average.
The average total number of blog posts for all keywords (the number of keywords in "keyword/topic" column divided by total blog posts in "total" column) from the "wedding" table above is nine.
That means you'll need approximately 23 keywords or topics to expand on.
4 blog posts per week = 208 blog posts per year208 blog posts per year / 9 average total # of blog posts = 23 keywords and topics you need to make content for an entire year
Of course, this is only an estimation. The real numbers depend on how many pieces of content you intend to produce in a week.
If you're in need of more, check out these ideas you can take away from our content calendar:
• Ramadan (the fasting month) runs for 30 days every year – if you run a health food business, try publishing 30 healthy recipes daily that your Muslim followers can whip up every day for the breaking of fast.
Total: 30 blog posts
• Christmas is great time of the year to give – if you sell products online, try a “12 Days of Christmas”-inspired series of promotional content to produce for 12 days leading up to Christmas.
Total: 12 blog posts
Wait! Before you start searching for ideas, read this…
Do you have a content calendar? You might’ve been too busy to create one. Or you might’ve never heard of it until this post. If you’re still unsure whether you need one or not, see the massive benefits to having a documented content plan.
- Forces you to plan ahead and keep on schedule.
- Keeps your content fresh, per rules like the 80/20 rule.
- Organizes your ideas and promotes brainstorming.
- Allows you to analyze the effectiveness of prior content and optimize.
- Create a consistent schedule that resonates with your audience.
- Reduces stress by having a clear plan so that you won’t be overwhelmed.
Whether you're a content writer or a content marketer, having a content calendar is the difference between wildly flailing about in search of ideas, and having a structured, successful plan that your audience will love.