Running out of content writing ideas? 5 ways to never run out of them

How to never run out of great content writing ideas

Coming up with quality content writing ideas is one of the biggest challenges faced by content marketers.

Content marketing in the contemporary world is unavoidable. Either publish quality content on your website or blog, or you make way for your competitors. There is no other way.

Whether you are writing content on your own or you have hired a content writer (or a team of content writers), you have to come up with exciting and engaging and most importantly, useful content writing ideas.

There is no use publishing content regularly if your target audience doesn’t find the content useful and engaging.

Every piece of content must be useful. It must solve some purpose.

Different Google ranking algorithms have made sure that if you simply focus on algorithms, you don’t get much headway if you want to improve your search engine rankings.

Your search engine rankings can only improve if actual human beings respond to your content, and they respond only if they find your content interesting and useful.

So, it is very important that there is a steady stream of content writing ideas.

But where do interesting content writing ideas come from?

Topics for content writing and come up from anywhere, yes, anywhere.

How to find all those elusive content writing ideas non-stop?

Finding great content writing ideas

In the beginning, usually everything is very easy and hunky-dory. You are bubbling with ideas and you feel as if you’re going to conquer the content marketing world and become its King or Queen.

Then, after having published 10-15 blog posts or articles, you suddenly begin to panic. You can no longer come up with great content writing ideas.

Even if you have hired a content writer, he or she cannot, on his own come up with great content writing ideas. There has to be a mechanism for a continuous supply.

What do other content marketers do? How come other publishers never run out of content writing ideas? How come they are always coming up with great ideas? Are they a bunch of exceptional geniuses?

Not necessarily.

They have a system in place that gives them a never-ending supply of great content writing ideas.

And the beauty of this system is, everyone has access to it, everyone can develop it.

Listed below are 5 ways you never run out of great content writing ideas.

1. Read and enhance your expertise

Writing about your topic on an ongoing basis means you need to develop some sort of expertise. If you have noticed, people who develop expertise in their field, write often.

Blog post after blog post, article after article, book after book, lecture after lecture, nothing seems to stop them.

A big reason why they never run out of interesting ideas is because they’re constantly acquiring in-depth knowledge about their field.

Even small topics and subtopics can be converted into highly engaging articles and blog posts.

There can be umpteen topics in every subject matter.

Even if you are a plumber you can write exciting series of blog posts on your experiences handling various plumbing jobs.

Reading is an essential part of writing. It is like, what goes in comes out. If you don’t feed your intellect with information and ideas, your intellect won’t be able to process new ideas.

Reading is like the seeds that you scatter over the productive land of your mind.

There is nothing wrong in first acquiring knowledge from the others and then creating your own take on what you have understood.

As Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

You can build new knowledge only when you have acquired existing knowledge.

Invest in books on your field. Read blogs dedicated to your profession. Follow people on Twitter and Facebook who constantly write about your field of expertise.

This can be time consuming.

But content marketing isn’t a week-long, or a month-long activity.

It is an ongoing process.

2. Be open to taking risks

People who always play it safe rarely succeed. In business very often you have to take risks.

How do you take risks trying to write interesting content for your business?

Swim against the tide – not for the heck of it, but because you really have something contrary to say.

Suppose there is a popular belief in your profession and it is considered a gospel truth. Maybe you think differently but you don’t want to annoy people and hence you keep quiet.

Make a thorough assessment of your opinion. Gather as much information as possible. Spend ample amount of time presenting your case. And then write a “controversial” post.

Even a single controversial post can present you with many blog writing opportunities with at least 10 more topics.

3. Constantly communicate with influencers in your field

If you continuously interact with influencers in your field you constantly get new content writing ideas.

This is because you are constantly exchanging opinions and ideas with like-minded people. There might be many issues you could have missed that can be brought up in various discussions.

Some people may have more experience than you. Some people may have different opinions. Some may come from different backgrounds serving different audience though the same business as yours.

A good way of keeping in touch with influencers in your profession is by remaining active on social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. For your specific domain you will have to find out on your own which is the best platform.

If you feel you are not the talking types you can just track the ongoing conversations. Even reading through various threads will give you many content writing ideas.

4. Maintain a list of ideas

This is an oft-repeated suggestion. Content writing ideas can come to you anytime. They can even come to you when you are not ready to write.

So that you don’t lose great ideas, maintain a list of them. You can maintain a Google Keep note.

You can use a web clipper browser extension from Evernote or OneNote.

You can use a simple Word file or text file.

You can use a voice recording app.

You can simply send yourself an email whenever you get a new idea.

You can use an Excel sheet.

You can use an editorial calendar plug-in if you prefer WordPress for maintaining ideas.

I use Trello these days.

The point is, you must have a place where you can store the ideas and then you can quickly refer to it when you need a new idea.

5. Repurpose your existing content

You may not realize it, but there might be a cornucopia of great content writing ideas within your existing content.

You should anyway keep on updating your existing content to keep it relevant, fresh and topical.

While updating your existing content you can draw many content writing ideas from it.

Sometimes even a headline or a subheadline or a bullet point can trigger a complete blog post or a complete article.

For example, I could write a complete blog post on how to repurpose your existing content. In fact, you can go ahead and read How to repurpose old content.

Sometimes, while reviewing my existing content I come across an expression or a phrase that needs further explanation.

In the context of this blog post, you may wonder, what exactly is “an interesting content writing idea”? In a completely different blog post I can discuss what might be interesting and not interesting depending on a particular business.

Continuously coming up with content writing ideas is very critical for the success of not just your search engine rankings but your entire content marketing exercise. If you think you are all set, good for you.

If you think you may run out of quality content writing ideas in near future, or even after a few months, you should better start preparing a mechanism that allows you to save and track great ideas.

What is the importance of keywords in SEO content writing?

Importance of keywords in SEO content writing

What is SEO content writing and how critical it is that you know how to incorporate your primary, secondary and long tail keywords into your overall writing process?

SEO content writing means writing in such a manner that it’s very easy for search engine crawlers to access your content and make sense of it.

Why is it important that the search engine algorithms should be able to make sense of your content writing?

It is because if they cannot make sense of your content, they won’t be able to rank it for the appropriate keywords.

When you are writing SEO content you keep in mind the phrases, the search terms and the keywords people may use, to be able to find your website or one of its links, and then you create content using those phrases, search terms and keywords.

SEO content writing in no way means mindlessly using your keywords. These days, the quality and the relevance of your content is as important, and sometimes even more important, than your ability to use your keywords.

The importance of keywords in SEO content writing

Ever since the advent of search engines and it became important to get good search engine rankings, the importance of keywords to improve your SEO always invites heated discussions.

Content marketing and SEO have been combined. SEO content marketing has evolved into a branch in itself.

There was a time when keywords were important. Okay, they are still important, but there are also a zillion of other factors that are important for your SEO.

Keywords importance

Those factors are beyond the scope of this post because here I’m just focusing on the importance of keywords in SEO content writing.

Read 10 fundamental qualities of effective SEO content writing.

With so many changes occurring in Google’s ranking algorithms, do keywords still matter?

To understand this, you need to understand what are keywords.

Keywords may sound important and even intimidating when you feel that they can have a big impact on your search engine rankings and then these search engine rankings can have a big impact on your business, but they are not as intimidating as they seem.

Keywords are basically the search terms people use so that they can find your business (not particularly your business but something of that sort).

These keywords can have just a single word, a couple of words, a small phrase, a complete sentence, or a question.

Would you like to get better rankings for “where can I find handmade table napkins” or “handmade table napkins”?

The person using the first search term actually wants to find handmade table napkins.

The person using the second search term may be looking for handmade table napkins, but he or she may also be looking for just some sort of information on handmade table napkins.

You may target both the search terms but for you, if you are selling handmade table napkins, the first search term is more important.

So, how do you target the search term, or the keyword or, the longtail keyword “where can I find handmade table napkins”?

This is called optimization.

This is where the importance of keywords in SEO content writing arises.

To get targeted traffic you have to use the right language. In the above example, “where can I find” and “handmade table napkins” are very important parts of your main keyword if you are selling handmade table napkins.

Your text must suggest that your web page will tell the search engine user that yours is the place where he or she can find handmade table napkins.

Your keywords are like the building blocks. They help you stay focused when you are writing content, especially content that needs to rank higher on search engines.

Consider the above example again. You know what keyword to be found for.

So, when you are writing SEO content for this particular search term you know that you don’t want to write about the technique of making handmade table napkins or what are the benefits of using handmade table napkins.

Although you can touch upon these issues, your primary concern is telling the search engine users that they can find handmade table napkins on your website when they want to know where they can find them.

Should you over-obsess over your keywords?

Keywords are important but let them not dominate the way you write your content.

Focus on providing the right answers to the right questions.

When you provide the right answers, you are automatically using the keywords or the search terms being used by your prospective customers and clients.

I want to draw people to my website who are looking for a content writer or a content writing service.

So, if I write and publish content about “need a content writer”, or “looking for a content writer” there is a small chance that I will be focusing on “how to become a better content writer”.

This is because I’m not selling educational material on how to become a better content writer; I’m selling my content writing services.

Even such small changes can make a big difference.

How can you avoid such costly mistakes?

You can avoid such costly mistakes, again, by focusing on the questions and search terms people may use when searching for your services, rather than obsessing over your keywords.

Remember that your prospective customers and clients may use a totally different language for your business than what you use.

Yes, it is important to prepare a list of your target keywords and search terms, but once you have created the list, focus more on solving problems rather than covering all the keywords.

I always suggest my clients that when they focus on solving problems they automatically cover their important keywords.

How to use keywords when doing SEO content writing

keywords and SEO content writing

Keywords are important in SEO content writing. The search engine algorithms look for your keywords at certain locations of your web page or blog post.

Although these laws are not written in stone, SEO experts and experienced content marketers suggest that you use your keywords

  • In the beginning of your web page or blog post title
  • Within the first 100 words of the body text
  • Once every 200 words
  • Within H1, H2 and H3 tags at least once
  • In the last paragraph

As I have written above, your rankings may depend on many external factors, so you don’t necessarily need to adhere to these guidelines regarding where to put your keywords while doing SEO content writing, these are better practices to follow.

If you are targeting a longer phrase, it isn’t necessary that you always have to use the complete phrase. Use the complete phrase, if it is possible, within the title and then a couple of times within the body text.

After that, you can use the various parts of the phrase, creatively, in different ways.

For example, if I want to optimize for “SEO content writing services” I can use the exact phrase in the title and a few times within the body text and then at various places I can use individual words “SEO”, “content writing” and “services”.

There is always a danger of over-optimizing so always be careful of overusing your keywords.

Overusing your keywords can be more damaging than not using them at all.

The importance of keywords in SEO content writing is going to prevail for many more years not because there is no other way but to rely on this, the so-called “outdated strategy”, it’s just that, using them makes perfect sense. This is how you speak. The keywords are a part of your language. They are always going to be important.

How content marketing actually improves your SEO

content marketing improves SEO

Content marketing and SEO are intertwined these days.

Ever since Google released the Panda and Penguin updates people have come to understand that SEO doesn’t just mean using the right keywords while writing content.

Although keywords are important, they are not the sole factors in determining your search engine rankings, the way they used to be 10 odd years ago.

Somewhere along, Google realized that it had to crowdsource its ranking algorithms. Merely depending on the machines was open to exploitation.

Hence, social validation and acceptance of your content became as important as the way you used the keywords.

These days, your search engine rankings depend on

  • The overall quality of your content
  • The ease of reading
  • The number of people sharing your content on social media and social networking websites
  • The number of people linking to your website or individual links
  • The relevance of your content
  • The bounce rate on your website or blog
  • The number of times you update and refresh your content

Although Google (and other major search engines) don’t let people know how actually the search engine ranking algorithms work, the above-mentioned attributes of your content can ensure an improved SEO.

As you can see, a big part of your search engine rankings depends on how people perceive your content.

Google has incorporated these attributes because even if you can use black hat SEO tactics to trick the machines, it is practically impossible to trick humans.

Therefore, SEO these days depends a lot on content marketing.

Why SEO and content marketing are interconnected

The basic nature of content marketing is, publishing high-quality content and then making sure that people who need to access that content, can easily access it.

Read Can content marketing improve your SEO?

Once you have published high-quality content and made it easy for people to access it, since people these days love to share content on social media and social networking websites, they start sharing your content too.

The beauty of this is, they won’t share your content if they don’t find it useful.

If they don’t like your content, your content will not earn social validation.

You may find it nagging that you always have to publish and then distribute high-quality content for better SEO, but look at it logically…very few business owners can publish content that can earn social validation.

If you can improve your SEO with better content marketing, it creates a level-playing field for everyone.

People cannot force their way into better search engine rankings simply because they can spend more money.

SEO these days is not about quantity.

It’s about quality.

And quality comes with knowledge, wisdom, experience, and a strong desire to keep your prospective customers informed and educated.

Well-executed content marketing automatically improves your search engine rankings.

As mentioned above, content marketing can succeed only when you publish valuable content, content that people appreciate.

When you focus on your core topic, you are naturally creating content around your keywords.

Content marketing means providing compelling content on an ongoing basis.

The more you refine your content marketing the better focused you are when publishing useful content.

Being better focused means, focusing on the right questions and the right answers.

Content marketing also means making your content available on all possible distribution channels, which means more people can access your content.

When people can access your content there is a greater possibility of them sharing your content and linking to it from their own websites and blogs.

So, all the steps that you follow to execute a good content marketing strategy, are also the steps needed to improve your SEO.

Better SEO means publishing relevant content in as friendly a manner as possible.

Better SEO also means a greater number of people responding to your content and linking to it.

Consequently, better content marketing means improved SEO.

Should you always be writing optimized content to improve SEO?

dont-let-you-need-to-always-optimize-stop-you-from-writing

You publish content on your website or blog for a reason, right?

Out of scores of reasons, one of the biggest reasons why people want to publish content regularly on their websites and blogs is to improve their SEO.

Many SEO experts and content marketers suggest that never publish a piece of content without optimizing it for search engines.

Here, I’m assuming that when they say “optimizing” they don’t mean needlessly stuffing your blog posts and web pages with keywords.

What they mean to say is, make sure that you publish something, you target your effort in such a manner, that it helps to improve your SEO.

There are some great tools available that can help you search-engine-optimize your content.

For example, if you manage your website and blog with WordPress, you may be using one of the SEO plug-ins. I use SEOPressor. People also use Yoast SEO and All-In-One-SEO.

They are great tools to help you publish posts that are optimized for your chosen keywords.

A great thing that I like about SEOPressor is that it helps you see if you are over-optimizing your content.

Since I don’t intentionally overuse my keywords, when I use them, it is unintentional.

Sometimes, just in the flow, I tend to use the same expression again and again, mostly to sound lyrical.

This optimizes my content and consequently, my SEO suffers.

SEOPressor tells me when I have used the keywords more times than necessary.

But this small post is not about optimizing or over-optimizing for better SEO; this post is about not getting bogged down by the fact that you have to optimize every web page and blog post just because you have got tools with you that help you optimize.

For example, the SEOPressor tells you whether the web page on the blog post you are working on is well-optimized or not. If it is well optimized, you see this nice green response:

SEOPressor screenshot

The problem here is (it has nothing to do with SEOPressor) that sometimes one tends to get psychologically bogged down by the fact that, that icon has to turn green. The entire focus is shifted on optimizing the web page instead of delivering the message.

Optimization is needed.

If you want to draw targeted traffic from search engines, there is no other option but to optimize your individual web pages and blog posts.

But you don’t need to obsess. You shouldn’t let your need to optimize every possible web page and blog post stop you from expressing yourself.

Optimize when you really want to, need to, optimize, but otherwise, let yourself be free.

Don’t dilute your content by writing about everything under the sun – stick to your core competency (in my case it is content writing and content marketing) – but sometimes if you don’t want to pay attention to the optimization aspect, don’t.

You don’t always have to write more than 1500 words.

You don’t always have to use your keywords within the first 100 words in the last paragraph.

No need to always worry about keyword density.

No need to worry about an optimized title.

Just write and publish.

This is very important for you as a professional and a professional who promotes himself or herself through his or her writing.

Your writing begins to get stunted when you focus more on optimization and less on your core message.

Again, yes, optimization is necessary and unavoidable but keep it a mix of free flow and optimized content.

Let it be like, in every 10 web pages and blog posts, don’t bother for optimization for 2-3.

Remember that what is important is that you publish regularly.

Don’t feel discouraged that right now you cannot come up with a completely optimized web page or blog post.

Publishing something is always better than publishing nothing.

Use curated or aggregated content to improve your SEO

SEO with curated content

You need high-quality content to improve your SEO.

You need high-quality content on an ongoing basis to improve your SEO.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to come up with great content ideas.

Then, curated or aggregated content can come to your rescue.

Sometimes, even if the ideas are there, it is very difficult to write full-fledged blog posts and articles around those ideas.

Such situations can be stumbling blocks. They can stunt your content marketing efforts and they can even discourage you from publishing quality content on your website or blog.

How do you overcome such stumbling blocks?

By publishing curated or aggregated content.

I am not suggesting that you carry out your entire content marketing strategy on the strength of curated or aggregated content, but when it has become difficult to publish full blog posts, it is better to publish curated content rather than posting nothing.

When you stop posting for a long time, it begins to have a negative impact on your existing search engine rankings.

Even the search engine crawlers begin to visit your website less often when they observe that you are not publishing as regularly as you used to, a few months or a few weeks ago.

Yes, it is important to publish original content for long-term branding and even for better SEO, publishing aggregated content is far better than publishing no content at all.

What is curated or aggregated content?

Read Difference between content writing and content curation

We often complain that there is lots of junk content on the Internet. This is true.

But a great thing about the Internet is, there is also lots of great content.

There are many blogs, websites, and even social networking accounts, that are constantly publishing awesome content.

Since you might already be tracking scores of such websites and blogs, it might be easier for you to keep track of the various blog posts and articles they publish.

But your visitors and your social networking followers may not have access to a big repository of updates.

They will really appreciate if you can find excellent content on other sources and then mention them on your own website or blog with a little bit of your input.

There are two ways of curating and aggregating content from other sources: you either link to an individual blog post or article along with your view, or you can create a list of, something like, 10 best articles of the month on a particular subject.

How to find quality content to aggregate?

As I have written above, if you are routinely publishing content around your subject, you might be tracking many blogs, websites and social networking profiles to keep track of what the others are writing.

If you are not, you can track your favourite experts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

You can use Flipboard, Medium, Pocket and Feedly to track your favourite subjects.

Even while doing day-to-day research you come across lots of valuable content that you may not use immediately, but sometime in the future. You can create a repository of such links using the notetaking app like Google Keep, Evernote or OneNote (both Evernote and OneNote have web clipper add-ons that allow you to save information immediately).

Then, later on, you can come back to the links that you have saved, and then use them to create curated or aggregated content.

How curated or aggregated content helps you improve your SEO

A big part of SEO is publishing high-quality content regularly.

Regularity is very important because search engines, especially Google, are constantly looking for new content to index and rank.

Your competitors are constantly pumping new content into the search engine indexes to stay ahead of you.

So, it is very essential for your SEO that you publish content regularly.

But constantly coming up with new content writing ideas can be a Herculean task.

You may require a dedicated person just to come up with great content writing ideas.

If you don’t have a dedicated person, the second-best thing is to curate or aggregate the best content from the web.

Curating content not only helps you publish content regularly, it also gives you new content writing ideas.

When you are constantly curating or aggregating content on a specific topic, you become a repository of knowledge about the topic.

Google begins to consider you as the go-to destination for the subject.

For example, if I start aggregating lots of content on content writing and content marketing, Google begins to think that I am managing some sort of an online directory or forum with lots of information on content writing and content marketing, and hence, starts giving me preference over other websites.

Can you completely depend on curated or aggregated content for SEO and marketing?

Read Can you use content curation as a viable content marketing tool?

It depends.

If you want to create your own brand, you need to publish original content. You need to come up with  original thoughts and ideas.

Sure, you can curate lots of focused content, but then you will be known as a curator or an aggregator rather than a thought leader.

Ideally, people should be curating your content.

So, what I suggest is, use curation and aggregation as a break from your routine publishing original content.

When you feel stuck, but you still want to publish content, resort to curating and aggregating.

Otherwise, there is nothing like publishing original content.


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