Content is the lifeblood of any blog and 9 out of 10 bloggers cite “generate content ideas” as their biggest problem.
You can only generate so much original content. Perhaps the one name that comes to mind as far as original content goes, is Seth Godin.
But unlike the average blogger, who strives for the 300+ word mark, per blog-post, Seth does not believe in such limitations.
For my blog on “leadership and self-development” I created more than 60 posts with original content. I have a self-imposed threshold of at least 500 words per post to appease the Search Engine Gods. Pretty soon I reached my limit and started to look for alternate ways to get content.
To generate content ideas, and to ensure I have solid content, I use the following five proven tactics. Proven, from my own blog perspective; solid, from the feedback I got from my readers.
Early on, I interviewed about ten of my friends who had experience leading projects and/or had some self-development activities accomplished. I came up with about 12-15 questions, and on average found that I could utilize responses from them on at least 8-10 questions, with at least one major insight. The insight then became the focus keyword of that post, and their responses along with my expert comments, became the content. One of those interviews has since become one of my highest-ranking posts.
While my blog is on leadership and self-development, the topic does not matter. You can talk to anyone you come across and keep such “interviews” on hand, which you can then package into a post and publish; especially when you don’t have a ready idea to publish.
This technique yields three great side-benefits:
(a) Backlinks. When you link to their profile, you almost always get some institution, club, or other site where they are profiles. Pay attention and build these “outlinks”.
(b) Marketing. Almost always your interviewee will share this post in their circles. This helps get more traffic to your site, and also subscribers.
(c) Image. It is likely that your interviewee will let you share her or his image, ticking one major on-page SEO box.
Use Google form or Survey Monkey to create surveys and send it out to your readership. A survey is a great way to stay in touch with your readers, ask for suggestions to make it better and seek other topics on which they would like you to read.
I sent out a survey in August 2013 and got sufficient material for my next few posts. I built my next post simply on “analyzing” the responses and publishing the results. You can look for “counter-intuitive” insights from the survey, or simply to validate any hypotheses you had as you sent out the survey. Either way, readers get interested in seeing analyses of real data.
Then surprisingly, I found I was able to easily build at least five posts. For three top strengths and two top weaknesses of leaders (as indicated by the survey) I was able to build posts, each of more than 700 words.
Depending on your topic, the frequency of using a survey may vary. For my readership, I have decided to stick with one survey a year.
Getting six posts with a survey is not a bad trade-off.
Very recently, I started a leadership “news” page. There is a lot going on around us and it is difficult to keep up with everything. As a blogger I face this issue. My readers also face similar issues. I am now making it easy for them to find “news of the week” related to leadership in one place.
Of course, this is a “page” and not a blog-post, on my site. And I simply update it once a week.
Your readers will love it because they get relevant news related to your blog topic in one place. Also, over a period of time they would trust your “filters” and will almost begin to rely on you to provide them new on your blog topic. This is a great way to condition the behavior of your readership.
I use CurationSoft, to quickly update this news page. CurationSoft tool helps me find highly relevant content, author the page and publish it directly to my site. This is a major time-saver.
Biggest advantage of a “news” page is that you can keep readers on your site, and they get access to popular, relevant, current and rich content, based on your filters and what you present to them.
4. Related readings
As I mentioned earlier, I strive to go over the 500 word mark in every post so as to give something meaningful, compact and complete, to my readers. 300-word mark is the accepted threshold from an SEO perspective.
Very often some of the topic ideas I want to write about need to be split into two or more posts. This reduces the word count.
So I have added a “related readings” section to my posts right at the bottom. Again, using CurationSoft, I am able to find a few posts, a video or two and even a picture or an info-graphic that embellishes my post.
I have also been going back to my older posts, and adding the “related readings” section.
My readership loves this, since they feel a change. As a blogger, it is my endeavor to not become boring and stereotype and to keep tweaking things.
I have also gotten thanks and tweets from the authors whose posts I have featured in this section. This not only boosts my post for SEO, but also enhances my blog marketing.
5. Focus this week (or month)
Bloggers are writers. But bloggers are also voracious readers. Keep an eye out for any piece of news where you take a person or event and make it the focus of your blog. For my leadership blog, this is something I am going to put in place from next week and I will feature the new Microsoft CEO. As a blogger, it is your opinion, your insights, your expertise and your style that your readers come to your site for.
You can take any aspect of the personality or event and give it your spin.
What are your ideas to consistently generate refreshing content?