Creative block, where you run out of ideas or topics for your online content can be a big problem if you’re a content creator. You might be getting up each day thinking about “what should I create today…”, “What topic should I be talking about for my video or podcast episode?”
To address this, in this post and podcast episode I want to share with you a few things that I’ve learned along my journey.
You can watch the video, listen to the audio, or continue reading below.
So far I’ve created around 50 episodes of my podcast, and I’ve created many online videos as well.
As a result, I’ve found different ways that work for me to come up with topics, and hopefully, I can share with you some ideas that you can take away to help you with your content creation.
Now, there are a number of reasons why people run into the issue where they struggle with coming up with content topics and it can be super, super frustrating.
It causes a lot of problems because your content strategy can end up derailed as a result.
To address this, the first thing that I want you to think about is why are you creating content in the first place?
Is this something that you’re doing to stroke your own ego so that you can have something to show off to others where you can say “Hey, look at me, look at what I’m creating?”
Or, is it something that’s actually there to serve a specific audience?
This is something that is going to be a key factor for you to come up with new content ideas, because I’m going to tell you now, if you’re trying to serve yourself, you’ll always be thinking internally when it comes to your topics.
You may then end up doing content that maybe you like, or you think makes you look good, but this doesn’t necessarily deliver value to your audience.
If it’s coming from a place of helpfulness where there’s a specific set of people you focus on, you can then have a different approach.
The best way is for you to focus on a specific audience that has a certain need or a certain outcome that they’re looking for.
And, obviously, it’s it needs to be centred around your business. So whatever service you provide, or if you sell products as well, whatever that solution is that you have as the ultimate thing, needs to be connected with your content.
Now understanding the basic principle of serving a specific audience is going to make things way easier when it comes to creating online content and coming up with topics because now the pressure is not going to be completely on you to come up with ideas because you will have your audience as a resource that you can tap into.
So how do we tap into our audience for content ideas?
What we really need are insights into the minds of those people that we’re trying to serve. So we need to understand what their pain points are.
We need to figure out, what are the things they’re struggling with, we need to understand what their big objective is or what the journey is for them.
Then we need to note down what it takes to bridge the gap between where things are now and where things need to be for them. Alson the way there are going to be milestones or things that they need to solve as smaller problems that are taking them closer to that bigger goal. So understanding what those are is going to open up your eyes to the content ideas because these smaller obstacles that they need to overcome is what you need to be addressing within your content.
Those pieces will become your core content. All you need to do now is to help them bridge the gap.
The question now becomes, how do we find out what these struggles are and what questions they have?
Right now, there are a number of ways that you can do this, and a lot of it is online. It’s very straightforward to do.
These are some of the ways that I use to actually figure out what people are struggling with.
Niche Facebook Groups
First of all, you can use niche Facebook groups.
Facebook has a number of groups that are specific to certain topics, certain subjects or certain types of people.
All you need to do is find out what Facebook groups are within your niche and join them.
So for example, for me, I do content strategy or content marketing, and I’m a part of a number of different groups that people are talking about “how to create online content” or “how to plan a strategy”, or just in general, “content marketing”.
Me being part of these groups allows me to get insights from being a fly on the wall so I don’t necessarily have to interact or say anything—that’s one strategy. You could just be there listening, looking at what people are posting what questions they have and so on. Then, you can start making notes and come up with ideas on how you can actually address these issues.
The next place to research ideas is on YouTube, specifically in the YouTube comments.
Now YouTube is great because it’s a search engine.
It’s the second largest search engine behind Google, which is the parent company, so people are always looking for solutions to their problems there.
All you have to do is search for videos that are relevant to the audience and see what videos are there. Now, look in the comments section to see what people are saying, what they are asking and make a note of this. You should typically be able to get at least 3 or four topic ideas from the ongoing comments.
You’ll also be able to identify content gaps in the videos that you watch and go and make better versions of those videos.
Another place is to look at forums like Quora and Reddit. They’re always people posting topics on various things on these forums and you should be able to find posts related to your niche.
All you need to do is search for those subjects that you are aligned with your audience. Within those forum threads, there are going to be various comments and questions being asked and answers as well. So that’s another great resource that you can actually use for content topic research.
Answer The Public
A great tool that I’ve come across a few years ago is answerthepublic.com
It’s a free online research tool that you can use to see what questions people are asking across the internet based on a certain search term or phrase. It will spit out lots of relevant results that will give you a lot of topic ideas that are related to your original phrase.
What I like about it is that it displays the results in a very interesting way by categorising the results based on possible search intent or other factors.
You can also download the results as a CSV file so that you can view them in a spreadsheet offline.
As I said, it is a free tool, however, they also have a premium version that provides some additional features. I do just fine with the free version so I suspect you may not need this too.
Talk To Your Existing Audience
One of the best ways to find out what people want is just to ask them directly. If you have clients or customers, or if you have an email list, you can interview them, run a poll or a survey to find out what they’re struggling with.
Because they’ve already built up some level of trust with you, they are likely to be more open to giving you really good feedback that can translate to you making even better content.
One of the things that you can do is as soon as someone signs up to your email list, send an email to ask them what they’re like to learn or what they’re mainly struggling with. You can set this automatically in your email marketing software and just watch out for the responses coming in.
So there you have it.
Here are some links to additional resources:
Mailerlite – this is an email marketing service that you can start using for free.
My Toolkit – see a list of the tools that I use to run my online systems and content