How to Find Article Ideas

Creating fresh and engaging content consistently can be a daunting task for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Yet the value of content creation for cultivating your brand cannot be overstated. This blog post aims to guide you through the strategies that will help you generate an reservoir of ideas for your content calendar.
Written by
Jennifer Chu
Published on
March 20, 2024

Creating a steady stream of engaging and original content is a significant challenge for all solopreneurs, independent contractors and small business owners. Your content needs to resonate with and engage your audience, attract new visitors, showcase your expertise and brand, and maintain relevance in the fast-paced digital landscape.

This blog post aims to equip you with practical strategies for content ideation tailored to your unique brand or business. We'll also examine how to tune into your audience's needs, leverage industry trends, repurpose existing content, and encourage direct engagement for a vibrant, content-rich presence.

Understanding Your Audience

Before you begin brainstorming content ideas, it's vital to have a clear understanding of who your audience is. What are their pain points, interests, questions, and needs? The more niche the definition of your audience is, the easier it is to identify relevant topics to write about and the more you’ll be able to engage them. If you’re trying to hit a broad audience right off the bat, you’re going to have trouble focusing. Your content will inevitably be all over the place, and it will be difficult for you to attract readers that stay on your site and stay with you.

A person who is on the path to becoming an independent consultant might discover one of our articles on how to determine their rates, but if the next content piece they find from us is about becoming a social media influencer, that person will probably leave our site.

It’s not to say that you can’t target more than one niche, but it’s easier and more efficient if you have a focused target.

With that in mind, here are some ways to identify topics relevant to the audience you’ve defined.

7 Ways to Identify Topics to Write About

1. Use personal experience and expertise

This may seem obvious, but your unique experiences are fertile ground for original content. It’s also easy content, because you know it inside-out. Help your audience develop the skills you have or see things from your own perspective. Do deep-dives into projects you’ve worked on, learnings you’ve gained, products you’ve built.

Here’s an example from the Financial Samurai on choosing adjustable rate mortgages in the face of rising interest rates:

Financial Samurai on adjustable rate mortgages

Writing from first-hand experience helps establish you as a thought leader and go-to resource on a specific topic.

2. Write what you’re passionate about

Marc Maron your passion is right in front of you

Writing from a place of passion is potent. If you're passionate about a topic—like Kim's infatuation with the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement—it's infectious. Speaking with entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get swept up in their excitement. Most believe so strongly in what they are building, that it makes you believe in it too. They are able to sell their vision without even selling.

When you’re passionate about something, the work is also easy. It doesn’t feel like work, and so you can do it all day long.

Marc Maron, a long-time, passionate writer and podcaster, wrote this article (right) about passion:

Be honest with yourself about what you’re passionate it about, and then go write or create something about that.

3. Write for your customers

An untapped source for content ideas is your audience itself. Initiate discussion by asking questions through group or one-on-one settings or setting up surveys on social media or to your client list. You can also look through existing feedback — read through responses or comments to other articles you’ve written, comb through customer service queries, and check in on any forum conversations relevant to your business. Reading through the responses can reveal common themes or concerns that can translate into valuable content topics.

4. Crowdsource ideas

Your professional network is an untapped wellspring of ideas. Learn the value of engagement by throwing questions out to LinkedIn, Facebook groups, or alumni networks.

Below is an a email snippet from Alina Adams who helps NYC parents navigate the private and public education systems. She also a frequently leverages her customer questions as guidance for article content that she writes for other publications.

Alina Adams crowdsources her article ideas and content from her audience and clients

5. Use Search Data

Make use of tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush to keep your finger on the pulse of what people are actually searching on, aka what they want to read. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the keywords you come across in your research. They key is to use filters to narrow down the dataset into a more digestible set that you can action on.

Here are a couple of ways to use SEO tools to help you with keyword research:

Search on a domain or sub-folder of a competitor

Use SEMRush or other SEO tool to see what keywords are driving the most traffic that site. Use filters to narrow down the keywords to an actionable set. Below, I excluded the website brand name and included keywords that have more than 3 words (long-tail, less competitive).

keywords driving traffic to Financialsamurai.com

You could also try filtering for question type keywords to build out content to answer specific questions, for example for an FAQ page if applicable.

Questions type keywords driving traffic to financialsamurai.com

Find related, trending keywords

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify keywords related to a general topic you might have in mind. In the below example, I used the starting keyword “mortgage calculator” and then filtered for Search Volume > 100. I sorted by highest 3-month change to see which keywords have recently been experiencing the fastest search volume growth.

Finding relevant, trending keywords through Google Keyword Planner

I also really like Khe Hy’s approach. He calls himself an artist: he writes about what excites him rather than solely using keywords to inform strategy. He believes SEO optimization is a must, and he the keywords that have less competition and are related to what he wants to write about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HpTt0i2OaA&t=342s

6. Remix content, for your audience

The digital world is filled with so much content, it can seem hard to come up with something completely new or innovative. But, content doesn’t update itself. Much of the content out there is stale, superficial, inaccurate or waiting for a fresh take for a different audience.

You might think most articles about backlinks have a lot of useful information, but most are too technical and overkill for an independent finance consultant’s needs. Or, you notice that the majority of articles on calculating consulting wages get the adjustment for self-employment tax wrong, as Kim did and corrected here:

Half of self-employment tax rate should be added back to your consulting fees

These are all opportunities for you to give your own take on a topic to make your content better (for your audience) than what’s already out there.

7. Experiment with Different Content Types

Finding a fresh angle can also be shifting the format of your content. From how-to guides, listicles, and case studies to webinars, podcasts, and interviews, each form of content can offer a unique perspective and appeal to different audiences. By repurposing content, you can give content multiple lives across various platforms and formats.

Tristan the Realtor uses Instagram reels (see right image) to show his audience how accelerating mortgage payments can save you on interest payments.

8. Use Jasper AI to ideate

Using AI is no replacement for leveraging your own experience and doing your own diligence, but it can give you a good starting place from where you can delve deeper. Once you have that initial list, you can then ask Jasper to further break down each list bullet into their own, more detailed lists for further content.

Here's an example that was returned to my by Jasper AI when I asked for a list of topics to write about for starting a business:

Listicle of topics to write about for starting a business

And here's what Jasper returned when I asked it to break down bullet #2 further:

Conclusion

Consistent and engaging content is pivotal for growth, and tuning into your audience's needs will always lead to inspiration. There’s no single right way to do things. Experiment and see what works with your workflow and style and what yields the best results according to your goals. Keep pushing the boundaries of your creativity, and your business or personal brand will thrive.

Happy content creating!

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