Category Archives: Content Inspiration

The Evolution of Content Strategy

The Evolution of Content Strategy

Written by Rebecca Steurer, Content Academy® Co-Founder & Content Strategist

I originally wrote this blog post in 2013. Today is May 18, 2017. In four short years, we continue to see content and content strategy evolve into a key player in the digital world. Since writing The Evolution of Content Strategy in 2013/14, we’ve seen organizations rethink how they optimize their online presence with content thanks to the advancement of technology, and of course, because of Google algorithms. This continued growth is causing the content strategists role to be valued more than ever. Here is the original blog post with updated information about how content strategy continues to evolve. Let me know how content is affecting your world.

Original post starts here . . .

2013 – According to Forbes, the top marketing job of 2014 is Director of Content. How did that happen? Let’s look back in time to see how content strategy and content marketing became the “it” job.

IN THE BEGINNING

The year, roughly 1996

Companies started using the Internet, aka the information super highway or World Wide Web, to post annual reports as PDFs. Non-technical individuals started posting “HELLO” in blinking letters (yes, that was me). Why? Because it was fun. As technology advancements made it easy for just about anyone to create a website, more and more people did.

Soon, hundreds. . . . thousands . . . hundreds of thousands of websites with downloadable brochures popped up. With this rapid increase, the information got overwhelming and not easy to read.

The fun was fading.

AND SO, UX WAS BORN

The year, roughly 2000

Some very smart people got together and decided that websites needed to be easy to navigate. New terms were introduced – “information architecture,” “user experience,” “interaction,” “wireframes.” Now websites started becoming easier to use. We didn’t get lost in a sea of brochures. We could find our way “home.” It was time to celebrate!

But wait, thanks to content management systems, more people were able to post information faster. But faster meant posting without thinking about the content that was being added to the site. The actual information users needed wasn’t there. “Why, oh why are companies telling me about their history?” asked users. “I just want to know their hours of operation!” Not to mention every page was written in a different voice (we’ll save that topic for another blog post).

There had to be a way to develop a plan that made it easier to post information that is relevant, fresh and on message.

AND SO, CONTENT STRATEGY WAS BORN

The year, roughly 2003

The roles and responsibilities of content strategists are many. But who are they? Journalists? Copywriters? Marketers? What knowledge and skills do they need to wrangle the thousands of pages of content into well-organized groupings? Lets answer those questions once and for all. Content strategists are:

  • Archaeologists who like to inventory and assess content
  • Organizers who like to group content into relevant categories so the information is easy to scan
  • Audience advocates who strive to post the information their audiences want and need
  • Leaders who assign content owners to write, post and delete
  • Unifiers whose ultimate goal is to tear down the walls between marketing, public relations, communications and business units

As content strategists started to organize the information to be useful, meaningful and trusted, The CEOs and CMOs of the world asked, “Now, how do we let people know our website exists?”

AND SO, CONTENT MARKETING WAS BORN

The year, roughly 2010

Thanks to technology, sharing the message became “easy.” Hello social media tools – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram. Strategies were created to determine where, what, when, why and how to post messages. Suddenly, content strategy started to shine.

DIRECTOR OF CONTENT: TOP MARKETING JOB OF 2014

The year, 2014

With Forbes reporting that the top marketing job of 2014 is Director of Content, there is proof that companies see the value of well-organized, well-maintained and well-shared content. They are looking to content strategist and content marketers to develop and share the message of how their companies’ are unique and stand out in the crowd.

SEO BEGINS TO FOCUS ON QUALITY CONTENT

The year, 2015

Google announces a Panda algorithm that focuses on quality content on mobile optimization. This is an audience-first advancement to help searchers find the information they’re looking for on a first Google search pass. This change bridged the gap between SEO and content strategy. Now, content strategists need to provide recommendations on how to provide quality content. That means, more content development, less keyword stuffing. Ug, who is going to do this work? Hint: Content Strategists!

CORPORATE BLOGGING GAINS MOMENTUM

The year, 2016

On Rainmaker.FM, Unemployable PodcastBlogging is Back,” host, Brian Clark and ProBlogger founder, Darren Rowse, discuss how corporate blogging is stronger than ever. Content Strategists need to understand how corporate blogging can support the online experience and ensure the content is consistent and in-line with the user needs and business goals. This tactic is causing traditional marketers to start thinking like content strategists and content marketers.

RECRUITING FOR CONTENT STRATEGY INCREASES

The year, 2017

As more marketing budgets are allocated to digital marketing, corporations are finding they need content strategists to help them wrangle the content ecosystem. We’re starting to see more job listings looking for experienced professionals who can produce content, who understand SEO, who can manage the editorial calendar and who know how to post content online. We’re at a time where the demand out ways the supply, but not for long . . .

LEARN HOW TO BE A CONTENT STRATEGIST

The time is now!

Content is not going away. More content job opportunities are appearing. Now is the time to get the training you need to stay ahead of the competition. Learn how Content Academy®’s Applied Content Strategy 10-Week Career Training Course can help you on your career path to becoming a content strategist.

Is UX Content Strategist a Real Job Title?

Is UX Content Strategist a Real Job Title?

Within one week, two recruiters reached out to me to ask if UX Content Strategist is a real job title. After a brief pause, I said “of course.” The reason for my hesitation was three-fold:

  • One – I felt relief that the content strategy profession is finally getting recognized as part of the digital design team
  • Two – I realized that people still do not understand what a content strategist does (or should do)
  • Three – UX is a focus for everyone on a digital design team so you don’t really need UX in a Content Strategist’s title, it’s implied

As the digital design process continues to evolve, it has become clear that the digital design team is one entity who work together to design an exceptional experience for the reader (or user). Because the architect of the site is known as the User Experience Architect, there is a preconceived notion that he/she is the only one thinking about UX. Not true.

The Entire Digital Team Focuses on UX

Bottom line, everyone involved in designing a digital experience focuses on UX. The technical developer needs to design code that is clean and functional. The visual designer needs to use imagery and colors that is pleasing to the reader and keeps the brand voice alive. The UX Architect (UXA) needs to layout the content so it is intuitive and easy to use on every device. The content strategist needs to ensure the right information is available to the right audience. That means he/she needs to understand how content can be displayed in a digital experience.

Here are a few examples that demonstrate how content strategists focus on UX:

Plans How to Develop the Right Information for the Right Audience

  1. Defines the Content Vision
    Defining the content vision relies on understanding the audience needs and the business goals. If a business doesn’t provide information that their customers want, then they’ll fail. The content strategist’s role is to define the vision for how the content will satisfy and delight the audience while helping to achieve business goals.
  2. Develops the Governance Plan & Content Development Workflows
    An important step in making sure the right information is presented, there needs to be a plan for who is responsible for developing, approving and posting content. A Content Strategist develops that plan for how the information will be written, who is responsible to develop and how to keep the information updated so readers will receive accurate information.
  3. Ensures the Brand Voice is Maintained
    In many cases, several people are responsible for posting information on corporate and organization websites. This causes a challenge to maintain a constant voice for a seamless experience. A Content Strategist develops content guidelines and trains content developers how to write for the digital experience.

Ensures the Content is Presented in the Right Way

  1. Works Closely with UXAs
    Content strategists need UXA to make sure the content is structured and functions properly on the site. Without a UXA, content would not be useful to the reader.
  2. Works Closely with Visual Designers
    Brand voice is expressed via words, imagery and color. A Content Strategist works closely with visual designers to ensure the brand voice shines through visual experience.
  3. Works Closely with Technical Developers
    Technical developers are content strategists best friends. Without them, we wouldn’t have control over posting/removing content somewhat independent of the technical team. A Content Strategist works closely with the technical developer to make sure the content management system is easy-to-use for a content authors, and it displays the content in the right place at the right time.

The Difference Between Content Strategist & UXA

Here’s the simple explanation:

A content strategist defines what information needs to be presented. The UXA determines how the information needs to be presented. The UXA is only focused on the layout of the content. The content strategist also focuses on the operations of how the site will be populated with content. We’ll talk more about that in another blog post.

How does a Content Strategist & UXA Work Together

In my experience, the most successful and enjoyable website redesign projects was when I worked closely with the UXA. We respected each other, we listened to each other’s ideas and we saw our process as a team approach, including:

Sharing Information

The content strategists provides UXAs with a content brief that outlines:

  • Current content
  • Opportunities to improve
  • Content elements to include
  • Limitations from the organization’s perspective

The UXA shares ideas for how to display content

Brainstorm Ideas

Sitting in a room, coming up with ideas on how to design the right experience, new opportunities are more likely to come alive. Because the two professionals are looking at the experience with two different lenses, the overall experience design ends up being well rounded and usable – SUCCESS!

The Similarity Between Content Strategy & UX

Both the content strategist and the UXA want to make sure the audience will find the information they need quickly and with little frustration. Both the content strategists and UXA make sure:

  • All information is easy to find on the site, either through navigation or search
  • The right information is presented
  • The information is easy to understand
  • The information is presented at the right moment so the reader will be delighted that the information was where they expected it would be when they needed it

Why Content Strategists Need to Know UX

A Content Strategist needs to understand basic UX terminology and processes to know how to communicate and work together to design an exceptional and delightful experience. The conversation between the content strategist and UXA is a critical point to ensure the information will be presented the right way. A content strategist needs to understand the possibilities content can be displayed online. That means he/she needs to know:

  • Wireframe terminology
  • What a UXA needs to know to structure the content properly
  • Online behavior of the targeted audience

Why UX Architects Need to Know Content Strategy

The UXA needs to understand how much, how little, the level of importance and how the information is going to solve the reader’s problem so they structure the site properly. It’s important that a UXA understands:

  • Content hierarchy
  • Expectations of the organization’s content owners
  • Limitations to potential content to display
  • How much content is available so space can be accounted for

Ultimately, the digital team support each other, whether they’re going through a website redesign, developing a new app or managing the ongoing operations. Each team member needs to understand what their teammates do so they can improve communication and be more efficient and effective. Plus, it’s more enjoyable to be part of a cohesive team.

Applied Content Strategy Course Teaches More Than Content Strategy

In my content strategy career training course, Applied Content Strategy, I provide students with the foundations they need to be a content strategist as well as how to fit within a digital design team. We walk through want their role is to support the UXA, visual designer and technical developer and vice versa.

Want to learn more about the content strategist role? Contact Rebecca Steurer, Content Academy® Co-Founder, Instructor & Content Coach at [email protected].

Reasons your blog strategy didn’t take off

Reasons your blog strategy didn’t take off

Blogging Strategy Tips imageBlogging is a great way to get noticed on the internet and to grow your authority on a particular subject matter. The problem is, blogging can be very time-consuming and often under appreciated.

There’s nothing worse than spending several hours crafting a post for no one to read it.

For most, the minimum blogging tasks of collecting post ideas, writing a few hundred words, editing, and then publishing can equate to nearly a full-days work. Sad thing is, even with that level of dedication it is often not enough in today’s crowded content marketing space. Successful bloggers rise to the top by putting in the extra mile into every piece of content they publish. They have to in order to make it worth their time investment.

If you are reading this because you’re having troubles gaining reader traction, then I recommend auditing your basic content creation mechanics. I’ve outlined seven key blog post creation fundamentals to review before writing your next post.

Post Intent

Before typing a word, always ask yourself for whom am I writing this post and what will provide the most value to them? It is very critical to identify your ideal reader by first guessing what types content they will either need or be most receptive to. For example, how-to posts and personal stories can lend advice when in need and interviews can spark ideas and encouragement while driving attention from known names.

In order to potentially identify what “they” want, we must first identify their needs.

How to identify a target reader:

Target audience identification is often based off of assumptions. We assume someone who would read this post will care about or might be in the process of something. Assumptions are often based off of the following high-level examples:

  • Lifestyles
  • Gender
  • Age/Demographics
  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Recent product purchases

Audience identification is nothing new, the media has utilized identification tactics to measure and sell across all types of mass mediums. Extensive studies were performed on many different types of demographics from everything from the “2000’s Soccer Mom” to the “Boomer” and “Millennial Market”. If you are seeking to target one of these traditional demographics then review existing research within your space for ideas and direction.

Use your existing data

Great audience data is probably right under your nose. Review your existing website tracking data such as Google Analytics or Jetpack Stats. This data represents metrics such as time on site, what type of device is most used on your blog and what locations from around the world are most popular. Use this data as a general rule and guide to then learn about how you can best feed your audience’s needs and customs.

Quantcast is a powerful resource for audience identification and advertising. Their reports dial into website traffic by gender, age, income, education level, and ethnicity. These are great metrics for audience identification and useful not only for content strategy but for building blog media kits. If your blog is not yet listed in Quantcast’s network, then review blogs within your space that might have similar audience profiles.

Take a guess; you will probably find someone like yourself.

I think it is safe to say, we often write for ourselves. Think about recent experiences, things you are into, and what you would find value in. If you would read it, others will likely feel the same.

Originality

On the web, there is a lot of what I call follow-the-leader and idea swapping. Someone creates a blog post, then someone else takes the topic and makes it their own by re-posting it with a slightly different headline

Readers do not need the same information from a different source. They seek new information. Period. It’s ok to write on what is trending, but work towards injecting your own value proposition or perspective into the topic. Especially if you’re looking to acquire readers from search engines.

“What is really the future isn’t more Charlie Roses [Interviewers], because we don’t, what we need are more people who actually have a point and are worth following for themselves … The win is to become your own distinct voice.” Episode 15 – Distinct and Direct, Seth Godin’s Startup School Podcast

Leverage your ideas, personal strategies and experiences to create uniquely new content. Mix in other content as it makes sense but always strive for something original to you.

Frequency

Here’s the thing with posting frequency, I can’t say I’m an expert on this topic. In fact, I often write blog posts simply when I’m creatively able. I wish I had a solid content creation schedule because there are proven benefits to consistent blogging. Frequency builds traction and valuable learning experiences.

On the other hand, if you’re writing to simply meet deadlines then you might not be putting out the best content possible.

I spent one month blogging every day on my personal blog to test this strategy. I concluded that for now, that daily blogging was not for me. While I managed to create what I considered rather inspirational content, it was mostly in the form of “thin” content or stuff that was not search engine ready. I learned, the content I shared maybe made sense to me but didn’t build much traction. Therefore, it wasn’t providing my readers enough value and I didn’t have the time to promote it to new ones. I eventually burned out – especially with a lack of solid results.

I recommend putting yourself on a goal path for posting something of major substance at least a few times a month. Go the extra mile to make that one post awesome, not just a bunch of random thoughts. When planning your schedule, make sure to account for time to promote your content after posting it.

Distribution/Promoting

Successful bloggers are also community builders. They focus not only on creating content but on strategies for building a following surrounding their brand. Obtaining measurable results from social media and email marketing requires a commitment to learn how they work and the time investment to build your reach.

It’s a bit of a chicken vs. egg scenario because most social networking and email marketing strategies require content to build a following but on the flipside, your blogging will require a following to make it worth its time investment.

What drives me crazy are bloggers who come to me and say they stopped blogging because they would post content and no one would read. Most often, they didn’t have a distribution strategy. I would ask them about their email marketing strategy and I would get some sort of response equalling they didn’t have one.

Independent blogging is not news writing in the sense that you can simply post and article and walk away. Writers and journalists can do this because their employer likely has generations of brand credibility and reach. When you’re going it alone, every piece of new content needs to come paired with a promotion strategy.

Publish your content then post to social, send in a newsletter, and ask others to share your work if they like it.

Content Optimization for Search

I’m hesitant to bring this up because the world of search engine optimization is rapidly changing. I want to say, make sure your content is saturated in keyword rich terms but I’m afraid this is sort of a passing fancy. I’m going to stick with what I’ve always recommended, focus on creating great content with a purpose and with value.

My approach to search engine strategy is broad. I don’t think of it as one post or one page at a time. I try to imagine an entire web property surrounding a core topic. For me, this is the only way I have been able to obtain high-quality search ranking and maintain that placement. It’s a much more of a robust strategy with a lot of moving parts but it seems to work for now.

You have to think about how your users will search for content within the search engines, then create content surrounding those search queries. Make sure that whatever you post to your blog Google and the other search engines can crawl it. Always provide them with additional information such as Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions,  these will only help Google make a better decision on where your content should be categorized.

Readability and Flow

The web is a fragmented place where inconsistency is the norm. Why, because nothing on the web is uniform – by design. Every website and blog abides to its own design and style, equalling a virtually unlimited amount of possible font and color combinations. This is one reason why video content became so popular.

In the days of newsprint, if the reader couldn’t read the paper because of the vision difficulty, they would put on eyeglasses or use a magnifying glass. Today, if they can’t read your website, they will find what they are looking for elsewhere.

The website architecture term User Experience (Ux) refers to the overall quality design and user-centric experience when loading and viewing a site. Which, by the way, isn’t really an easy to benchmark and set a standard. While overall site design, mobile friendliness and site load time – or in lay terms putting yourself in your customer’s shoes – are paramount. The actual readability, clarity, and message of the content is often overlooked.

There so much talk about how important website content can be to an online marketing strategy yet when it comes to building a website I feel the following is almost always true:

  • Designers care about design.
  • Programmers care about code.
  • Marketers care about analytics.
  • Writers care about … getting paid.

No one is really focused on the writing, which in reality is the most important public-facing aspect of any website or blog. It’s often “good enough” because writing is one of the hardest skill sets of them all.

“The idea that anyone can do anything is true. But you have to make sure you really want to do it and then dedicate yourself to accomplishing what you want to do. Have to and want to are two different kinds of activity,” wrote Joan Margau, a professional copywriter, in her post Are you a Writer.

The web and blogging have really opened doors for anyone to create content. Which is amazing but that does not mean high-quality writing is not important. I encourage everyone to try their hand at it.  If they feel writing is their destiny, then like any trade, they should work towards continuously improving their skills. I try to practice what I preach.

Posting just anything was possible during the early stages of content marketing but it proves much harder today. Profound ideas and quality writing will always prevail.

Value

I can’t say it enough. Content that gets shared is content that provides a value to its reader. Of course, value has different meanings across different audiences but as a blogger one must work to provide content that will meet a need. If you think it is something that you would share, then others will hopefully feel the same.

The simple value test:

Ask yourself, would someone pay me for this information? If no, then don’t expect someone to share it with their following.

Blogging is a long-term strategy

If you are reading this, and you are only a few posts into your blogging strategy then keep it up! Blogging is not a quick fix to a marketing problem. It’s a long-term solution that will live well beyond any one post. Be prepared to stick it out for a few months or years, depending on how often you post.

Most importantly, every post is a learning experience. The more you post, the more you will learn. Take it one step at a time and start honing your blogging by testing ideas and strategies. You will be surprised, sometimes best-practices don’t work; silly mistakes become proven winners.

In the end, you will become a pro.

How to Find Your Blogging Niche

How to Find Your Blogging Niche

How to find your blogging niche

One of the most polarizing decisions before officially starting a blog is trying to determine how to find your blogging niche. There are so many possibilities that it can be hard to decide! But being too broad is the worst thing you can do.

In an effort to help you think through the options, we’ve created a list of questions to answer for yourself when trying to figure out how to find your blogging niche:

What are you passionate about?

At the end of the day, you’re never going to put effort into something you can’t get excited about. And for many people, a blog is a creative release. It may not be your job, but it should provide some sort of positive benefit.

The easiest way to figure out your niche is to take a critical look at the things you’re passionate about. Is there something you’re excited enough about that you could write about it day-in, day-out? Would you consider yourself an expert on the topic? You may just have figured out your niche!

But there’s a few more questions you have to answer before you can determine if you’ll be successful with it.

Do you understand your audience?

This question has just as much to do with understanding your niche as it has to do with relating to people.

It’s one thing to have a passion and be able to write about it. It’s another thing to be able to connect with your audience and get them to share in your excitement.

Do you understand what makes them tick and what they want to read?

Can you come up with 50 post ideas?

50 might seem like a big number, but you have to realize that once you start a blog, you’ll need to be constantly coming up with new content ideas.

So before you make any big commitments, buy that domain name, the whole thing – you need to sit down and spend some time brainstorming post ideas.

If you’re having trouble thinking of specific topics people would want to read about after 10 or so bullet points, you’re in trouble. But this is a great exercise to weed out a good idea.

Problogger is constantly sharing content to help brainstorm post ideas once you’ve established your niche. Sign up for their emails for inbox inspiration!

Who can you partner up with?

Do you already have some connections that may come in handy? Great. If not, don’t sweat it.

Start doing some research on other bloggers in your niche or complementary niches. Take note of how they’re creating content and see if there are opportunities to partner up.

It’s also a good time to see what brands their working with. They may be brands you want to work with in the future!

This step isn’t critical to answering the question of how to find your blogging niche, but it is something good to know when thinking about the future of your blog!

Will it limit you in the future?

I’m going to tell you something that’s going to sound really counter-intuitive, but usually ends up being true.

Just as in art, sometimes restrictions can create the best work. Picking a specific niche may seem like you’re limiting yourself for future opportunities, but oftentimes the opposite is true. By creating a resource that draws in a very specific community, you can create hyper-relevant content and attract sponsors looking to take advantage of that.

Remember that once you get sponsors involved, you have to be careful of what you promote and make sure that it fits into your niche. Your readers will not take well to content that’s 100% sponsored, 100% of the time – especially if it seems unrelated.

Now that you have the tools you need to determine how to find your blogging niche, we’d love to hear what you decided on. Tell us about your blogging niche in the comments below!

How far ahead should I plan blog content?

How far ahead should I plan blog content?

planning-blog-content-largeAre you proactive or reactive? Do you create content as you get ideas, or plan your content out days or weeks in advance? I asked a group of bloggers for their insight about how they plan and write content on their blogs.

I plan out 1-2 months in advance and I like to be 10 blog posts ahead.

I try to plan stories in advance, but lately these days I end up writing when both the mood strikes me and I have the time. Consulting makes up the overwhelming bulk of my income, so my clients have to come first. I do really enjoy sharing things that make me happy or am excited about, so I can’t bring myself to stop blogging completely.

I would love to say I plan far in advance  but I don’t. I have a running list of ideas and I pick a few each week to blog about. Since I write a lifestyle blog I try to balance my posts between interviews, event recaps, and style tips. Really the only method to my madness is be flexible. I don’t want to be so focused on what I want to write about and then forget to consider the feedback. Because it’s more important to me to deliver the kind of content my followers find most helpful.

I tend to organize my post ideas for the month then schedule out photo shoots and interviews. I try to plan at least a week in advance, and if I find I’m rushing or getting off track I give myself a break. People can tell when you’re half-assing your content and what’s the point of doing that? When it comes to my blog, I want to put out the very best I’m capable of doing. I’m active on social media every single day, so I’m always spreading the curd word – I just want to keep my blog the highest quality possible.

I have an editorial calendar and write my posts out the day before. I then schedule them for the next day at 5 am so that they are consistent and my readers know when to expect a new post. Sometimes I will have sponsored things due on certain dates, but mainly I choose topics from a running document of ideas that I have going on.

I generally plan my content calendar a quarter (three months) at a time. Not every detail is planned, but I know what topics I’ll be covering on which days for the next three months or so.

Details, such as who will contribute a guest post next month or who will be my guest on Better Freelancing (my video interview series), aren’t always finalized. But more often than not, I have my next 3-4 episodes of Better Freelancing pre-recorded.

When it comes down to actually writing the content, creating images, and getting everything scheduled, I do that the week before. The same goes for my email broadcasts and social media posts — I’ve prepared and scheduled them in AWeber and Hootsuite a week ahead of time.

It’s a good idea to have an end goal in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish. If not, and if we simply make up our content on the fly each week, what we end up publishing often ends up being a scatterbrained mess that serves no greater purpose. Our content should tell a story, and it should be part of a bigger picture… at least as often as possible.

Failing to plan means scrambling at the last minute to throw together a half-assed post that isn’t likely to benefit or speak to much of anyone.

– Brent Jones, brentjonesonline.com

I plan for the month or two depending on projects. I write about a week ahead!

We should prep further in advance but we tend to do 2 posts a week on Monday and Friday, with a tentative plan month by month. We write and photograph 2 days to 24 hours out.

I like to have things planned out a week or two in advance, but I’m typically tweaking and editing posts up until the night before I post them!

I mostly write the day before or at most the week of. Lol. I know some that write months in advance but I go by what strikes me.

I usually plan it a few weeks in advance but usually don’t write it until the night before. Some of it because my posts are very, “this is me today” and part of it is just not being able to eat food as fast as I need to be eating it!

On a recent ProBlogger podcast, Darren Rowse shared a useful strategy to answer the question, “How far ahead should I plan blog content?”

He recommended publishing content weeks before an event to ensure that your post gets indexed by Google and has time to show up on the search engine results page when people are actually searching for information about it. His example was a post about American Idol winner predictions that got a lot of heavy traffic on the last episode!

As for me? It’s a bit of a mix for both of my blogs: The Blogsmith and Chicago Cheap Ass.

I use this National Day Calendar to try and keep on top of social media holidays, and create content relating to them whenever possible. Doing this helps my content reach more people, by piggybacking on popular topics that generate a lot of buzz.

Besides that, I use the WordPress Editorial Calendar, a free plugin that allows you to place draft posts on a calendar to plan your content accordingly.

For the most part, I write content on a whim – there’s no rhyme or reason to how I plan it.

If you have problems with organization and planning, I highly recommend you check out the post I wrote about how to organize your blog workflow. Sometimes that’s half the battle of publishing content!

Time to turn the tables.

How far ahead do you plan blog content? We’d love to hear about your process in the comments!

How to Find Inspiration for Blog Post Content

How to Find Inspiration for Blog Post Content

blog-post-content-inspiration

Have you ever had writer’s block? It’s so hard to carve out time for blogging only to realize you have absolutely no idea what to write about.

Instead of wasting time sitting around, it’s helpful to have a repository of ideas before you sit down and get to work. Here’s how to find inspiration for blog post content easily and systematically.

Define your niche

Before going any further, it’s important to take a look at your niche and try to define it, even if it’s vague. This will set the tone for the rest of the suggestions on this list and will help you streamline inspiration for blog post content.

Podcasts

Podcasts are great for listening in the shower (with waterproof speakers), while walking your dog, on the train in the car – basically whenever you need to use your eyes but can still listen in. It’s a very passive way to get ideas and there are a lot of quality podcasts specifically for bloggers and also for specific niches and industries. Find one or many to add in to your daily routine.

Blog articles

What better place to find inspiration for blog articles than by reading other related blog articles? I keep a “swipe file” of good titles, content ideas, or imagery to inspire my own future posts on a secret Pinterest board.

Current events

Current events offer a great way to create blog post content that allows you to ride the shirttails of a trending news topic. The caveat – news gets old fast. Don’t try to follow current events unless you update your blog more than once a week.

Popular culture

Taking advantage of themes in popular culture is a great way to benefit from trends without the short lifespan. If Lady Gaga is big with your readers, and you’re a fashion blogger, write a post about 5 accessories that her stylist would recommend. Use your imagination combined with what you know about your followers.

Books

The organization of books into chapters and subtopics make them a natural source to find inspiration for blog post content. Again, be careful of trending topics unless it makes sense for how often you update your blog!

Conferences

Industry conferences are a wealth of ideas between the speakers, topics, and people you’ll meet and converse with. Topics at conferences tend to be on the cutting edge of an industry so use what you learn to establish thought leadership and expertise.

Conversations with similar bloggers

Join a blogger community online or in your area that you know bloggers in your niche are active in. Go out for coffee and drinks and brainstorm together – having a sounding board is invaluable. And having a blog squad is necessary.

Quora and Facebook/LinkedIn groups

Finally, if you’re all out of ideas, sit back and let them come to you. Visit websites and online forums like Quora and Facebook/LinkedIn groups in your industry to see what questions people are looking to answer. It’s really that easy.

Reader Feedback

Where do you find inspiration for blog post content? We’d love to hear your unique perspective in the comments!