How to Find More Content Ideas than You’ll Ever be Able to Create

How to Find More Content Ideas than You’ll Ever be Able to Create

Reader Comments (78)

  1. If you want to be controversial that’s totally fine, just be prepared for a backlash. If you can stand your ground and keep your cool you might earn the respect of your audience and your peers. But you want to make sure you’re not just stirring the pot to cause trouble for no reason.

      • I once wrote a series of blog posts on a controversial topic of Biblical healing, and promoted the posts on LinkedIn groups. One of the posts invited bitter comments from a man who had lost his young child and kept coming up with his feelings of frustration which was understandable. Many chimed-in – most with me and some with him. Nevertheless, that post became my most popular one and had over a 100 comments on LinkedIn! Unfortunately, hardly any on my blog though!!

        I empathized with him but held my ground about God being the one who heals rather than the one who sends or allows sickness. Eventually, I left that group as my then boss asked me to start using LinkedIn for business. But it just goes to show the power of writing controversial material!

        It’s important to always empathize with your critics and not make enemies out of them – even if they make an enemy out of you! Your mature handling of criticism will make you stand apart from the rest and earn you the respect of your readers.

      • Peter,

        this was an amazing read! Controversial topics, however, can often work out as a double-edged sword. That’s true even when one has the ability to keep cool.

        Once I had a friend who was making a podcast for an audience that consisted mainly of gay and gay-friendly listeners and he calmly and politely declared that he is against gay marriage.

        That generated a lot of traffic, but, in the end, everyone demanded his head on a plate. Controversy is a weapon better used with great care. The topic needs to motivate a reaction in people, but it must be picked carefully to avoid hurting the audience’s feelings or provoking anger within your following. It’s not worth alienating leads and forcing them to leave just to get one final angry response from them.

        Do you have any specific tips on how to pick a topic and use controversy to one’s advantage?



  2. Hey Peter,

    Great points.

    I think a major reason why many bloggers, specially the new ones, run out of ideas is the “quality syndrome”. They are over obsessed with writing absolutely unique and high quality articles on topics that no one else has ever touched upon

    The right approach, in my opinion, is to present your unique perspective on already discussed topics. Otherwise you’ll alwasy find yourself struggling for ideas.

  3. Love the thoughts and kick in the pants here. Timing is great for me as I am preparing to relaunch and focus more on my blog rather than having a mostly static web page. This is a piece of the writing puzzle and nudge towards a new direction that will be very valuable to me. Amazing how a slight shift of perspective brings real clarity. Thank you for this post!

  4. Sounds like taking the opposing view and being an outsider might help you find ideas.


    Not very good advice. Instead, it’s great advice – as usual.

    Thanks Peter!

  5. Thanks for the tips! You’ve definitely given me some ideas for articles I can write on my blog.

    As for the suggestion that even “good writers” suffer from writers block, I’m not so sure about that. I think writer’s block is a complex beast, but the biggest culprits are fear, lack of confidence and fueling your body (and brain) with junk (junk food, junk TV, junk news, etc). When you take the time to really nourish the core source of your creativity—yourself—you’ll find that writers block becomes a thing of the past.

    I haven’t had a single bout of “writers block” since I started went gluten-free and started eating clean three years ago. I now truly believe that what we eat changes everything. That’s what I try to teach other writers.

    • Hey Jennifer,

      I’ve had two NYTimes best selling authors on my client roster and had privileged insight into the lives of many others. I can confirm, even great writers struggle with writers block at some point in their lives.

      Everything you listed helps, for sure. But it doesn’t cure the problem.

      • They key is clarity right?

        Whatever gives you a sharp, clear brain – go for that.

        Healthy diet, hyper stimulated brain (Also known as Sex, Drugs, and Rock’n’Roll), exercise , yoga, hiking, classical music…

        There’s no one cure-all. Every writer brain is different.

  6. Of the elements that go into figuring out what to write that you listed, carrying a notebook with me everywhere is the most effective practice I’ve learned. Even with today’s super lightweight laptops and tablets, my best piece of equipment is my little black leather notebook with it’s own pen that fits snugly in my trouser pocket. It’s unobtrusive and allows me to capture impressions and thoughts right then and there when they occur. Any writer or creative individual in any field must be ready for the muse when she arrives. For writers, a notebook is essential.

  7. Hi Peter,

    I really like your tips, but I’m particularly interested in learning more about your first one. What’s the best way to figure out what these questions are that nobody will answer? Is this someone that anyone can do, or do you really have to be an expert in your niche first to be able to know this?

    • Being an expert helps, but theoretically you could identify the questions and then go FIND the answers – telling the story of what you discovered.

      This is a really great question though, because I’m not entirely sure how you find those questions no one is willing to answer. In my field, I just know them – years of experience I guess. Same deal for the swimming pool guy.

      If you’re not an expert in your field but you’re trying to create content about it, I would maybe try to interview people who are experts? Pick their brains, or even just pretend to be a customer and find out what people aren’t willing to tell you.

  8. Great suggestions. I remember another one; it might have been on Copyblogger:

    Blog the news. It is relevant and of interest to a great many people. You can anyone of the twists above and talk about news items.

    Hope this helps.

    • This is a good one too Mike – it’s tough in some industries (like mine) where there aren’t constant new technology breakthroughs driving news announcements… but if your industry has a habit of breaking news, then there is lots of low hanging fruit for sure!

  9. Peter,

    Yes, we all grow tired of the cliche techniques for discovering content ideas. They are all tricks or games to help you wander into creativity, but because they are cliche the yield tired content.

    Your strategies go beyond tricks and games to serious mental engagement, not trivial surface exercises. They also push you to be innovative and creative within your own niche. Along with that comes authority and credibility within your industry. Or, if not that, they at least get people heated up, engaged, and talking about you. Being disruptive is sometimes the best way to attract and maintain attention, placing you in the position of an independent content thinker.

    Thank you for the tools, and I’m already putting them to use. I also did a write-up on your article to promote it to my followers (
    I’m going now to explore your blog.

    Darin L. Hammond

  10. Hi Peter,

    I agree with you that being boring and always right does not always work, one have to dare to being bold and express their own opinion about various unanswered questions that no one dare to answer. Such controversial write-ups invites more attention and opinions and that with again give the writer new ideas to keep creating contents with new topics in the industry.

  11. Thank you for this amazing post.

    I especially like the third one – the “futuristic” prediction. It really works like magic.

    Brian Clark’s “2013: The Year Of The Online Writer” is a classical example of this.

    As a freelance writer, when I read that article I felt energized. It’s already on my desktop, and I read it often just to recharge my career. 🙂

    Brilliant post. Thank you.

  12. These are great ideas Peter, I’ll definitely use them to blog.

    Which method do you feel is the best to come up with great post ideas?

  13. Great post!

    Clichéd ideas do get old; however, some of them are oldies but goodies.

    I agree that it’s a good idea to ask questions that no one in your industry is asking. I also agree that ‘pushing the envelope’ can boost the virality of your posts.

    The bottom line is to know what your audience wants. Pay attention to keywords and trends.

    Lurk in forums and gather as much data as possible.

    Listen to the conversations around you. What is keeping people up at night? What problems do they have? Carry a notebook and write your ideas down, or open a Word and/or Text file (iPad, phone, laptop) and start typing. You could carry a recorder and speak your ideas.

  14. Excellent post Peter.

    For someone like myself who often has a tough time narrowing down ideas and getting them down on paper, this is very helpful, and I will definitely be referring back to this as I sit down to brainstorm my next chunk of posts.

    Keep up the great work.

    Jake Johnson

  15. Controversial writing is an old journalism trick that still serves us well online. Controversial editorials, for example, are considered a good thing because they get a huge response. Even if receives a storm of negative feedback, it’s considered a success because it gained a passionate response.

    Another idea tip: If there’s one thing that’s easy to find, it’s topics that aren’t covered properly. You don’t have to the first or only person covering a topic, you just have to be the best. 🙂 If you find a post that grabbed your attention on social media but then it disappointed you with a lack of detail, take the idea, research it properly, and do it better. You can also beef it up with extras, like video or an infographic.

    • A great opportunity here is finding popular topics that are discussed, then doing the actual research to find what academic studies or case studies support the opinions of whoever penned the original material. In a lot of cases you can reach out to that person and get link-love – it’s a win-win because you’re proving the validity of their opinion piece, giving them an opportunity to link to you as a citation.

  16. #3 all the way Peter! Although I love each tip and your post in general.

    When most people say “No”, go. Move in that direction. Most think I am crazy for posting so many times to my blogs each day; I think of me not running a blog, but a news resource.

    So….if posted once a day, people would be up in arms about the lack of news. I see my blog as an online business version of rather than your vanilla, plain-Jane, post once a day variety blog.

    Impossible? Not so far lol 😉

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Loved that these suggestions are different to the normal stuff you hear like reading other blogs and keeping on top of your niche.

    Making predictions is a great thing to do on your site, it shows creativity and flare and will definitely ensure that you are creating unique content that you will be remembered for.

    Beth 🙂

  18. The muse is wanton and wants to play poker without observing the rules.
    The muse comes a-calling without advance notification. The muse comes and goes according to her moods and will not wait for you at all.

    Once the muse arrives at your doorstep, she expects nothing but prompt attention from you. You have to wait on her or she will quickly lose interest in you. The muse is temperamental and needy and throws temper tantrums.

    I have lost many ideas due to lack of preparation. I did not honour the wishes of the muse and I paid a price for it. I was young and naive and unaware of the power of the muse. That is why I always keep a note-pad and a pen in my pocket. I need that tool in order to record my ideas. I want to capture ideas whenever and wherever the muse decides to visit me. That is the aim of any writer. Thanks for the timely reminder. Great post.

    • I think that this whole anthropomorphic personification of the “Muse” – a la Elizabeth Gilbert – is actually kinda wrong.

      When we, as humans (or writers!), take a concept like creativity and turn it into this concrete noun that can come and go as it pleases, we lose power of it. The fantasy of personification gives us a convenient and poetic excuse for not having our sh*t together.

      This is okay for novelists who want to spend months moodily sketching in their moleskines waiting for The Muse to find them, but for those of us who write for business reasons … well, personifying inspiration is a luxury we can’t afford.

      Copywriters (and Copy-bloggers) just get the job done, for better or for worse. I write 500 words a day regardless if The Muse has “found” me or not. You should too, if you want to succeed at this.

  19. Wow, I am always trying to find copy ideas. It can be really hard to innovate in this area when you have been doing for years for the same client. I find that looking at news and industry trends really helps. This is a great post though. I like that point about answering questions no one else wants to. You need a little gusto but a post like that can get some shares.

  20. To get content ideas I often use Forums, Comments (on my blog or other blogs) or look at the latest products. I like your 1st tip because I find a lot of questions that people don’t want to answer in Forums and just blog about. But I only send a private message to the person who asked the question I don’t post it on the thread. I don’t want to look like a spammer.

    This is really a great post. Many Thnx!!

  21. This article is awesome. #3 what others consider impossible that you see happening in the future. That one is huge for products as well as blog posts. So good.

  22. Hey Peter,

    Thoroughly enjoyed whatever you shared. I completely second you in saying that being bold and wrong occasionally is, in fact, way more effective than going boring and as-per-the-norm, always. It actually helps! Being a little controversial helps you earn a lot publicity, which, in turn helps you purpose in the long run!
    Loved the way you put it, thanks for sharing.

  23. Great points Peter. Personally, Evernote saves my life when coming up with content ideas. As you alluded to, ideas can strike at any moment, and I find they often come in droves. Having a tool to collect and organize ideas with me 24/7 is invaluable.

    Thanks for the great post.


    • It’s surprising me to read so many comments here about the whole “record-your-ideas” concept, which I actually describe as tired and well known (mandatory, basically) piece of advice. It’s true, we all need a system for that, but that’s not the point of this article even a little bit.

      Makes me wonder if you and others read much below the first 4 paragraphs!

  24. This came at a perfect time! I appreciate the advice on how to handle someone that “vehemently contradicts you.” I had to make fun of them a little, but I did end up thanking them for contributing 😉 Plus, I never thought they would stop attacking me, but they eventually calmed down and it’s all good!

    • Hey Jamie, so glad you got this as a good take-away. The “dialogue makes us all smarter” is a golden line. For total trolls, you can always append: “… even if your contribution serves only to provide contrast between what’s smart and what isn’t.”


  25. Hi Peter

    Some great ideas here for content generation at its best. Having trained in journalism initially, carrying a notepad around is definitely the key – it was what we were told from day 1 and has stuck. Ideas and inspiration can reach you at the strangest of times.

    Another suggestion I would make additionally is to take a look at your competitors – by no means copy them, as this would do you no favours, but instead consider writing a piece that looks at the subject of your competitors’ content from a different angle.

    Finally, for businesses I think it’s important to ensure that they are branding their content to their business principles so that it stands out in the ever growing crowd. I recently wrote a blog post on ways to improve the branding of your content, if anyone wants to take a look

  26. Great article Peter. I particularly liked point 1 about answering something that no one else is prepared to answer in your industry, makes a lot of sense. Hmmm… I’m going to rack my brains on that one this afternoon and see if I can come up with something for my blog!

    I tend to find my content ideas and creativity come in waves (probably like most people). I’ll have days when I could write from dawn till dusk and never run out of ideas and others when I just can’t get started. I’ve started keeping a spreadsheet of all the ideas I have on the creative days and it has definitely helped.

    Another thing I do when I have a block is just force myself to write something, anything, even if I think it is terrible and then all of a sudden a spin off idea comes out of it and I’m back on track.

    You’re right though, there’s so much to write about and the next great idea is always just around the corner. In fact, I think I’m going to now write an article about how I deal with writers block. As a songwriter as well as a blogger, I suffer more than my fair share of it 🙂

    • David, I’m really pleased to hear that you’re using the strategy of making yourself write – even when you’re not feeling it. This is essential.

      I called out another commenter on this post for saying that The Muse comes and goes as she pleases – this is a BS view not shared by professionals who write for business. It’s great to hear from someone who knows that doing the work yields results.

  27. Aha! I was struggling with “out of writing ideas/topics” since last two weeks, it becomes really hard to write when you’re out of ideas, and now your article answers to all my issues. Thanks for sharing!

    Yeah, now all I need to do is pick up the un-answered questions in my niche!

  28. Hi Peter,

    You hit the nails on the head. I found ideas are sometimes a main problem of content marketers life – if you are answering the questions that no one wants to answer or has never answered will make your posts viral, bring you top on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and recognize you as a thought leader in the community.

    Also, having a notepad while travelling may save your precious ideas. I usually outline the ideas on my smartphone and save it for the future blog posts.

    I had also written a post on if you would like to take a look 🙂

    Thanks for writing the post, Peter!

  29. These are all good ideas. In a former life, I once wrote over 1,000 articles all on foreclosure, and by the end of the experience, I felt I had said all I ever could say about it. Just the thought of adding more foreclosure/real estate content to a site now makes me want to crawl into bed and die. Thankfully, all that work did pay off for the company I wrote it for, which was gratifying, but coming up with new ideas day by day and week by week became an almost insurmountable challenge. Keeping up a consistent work habit was essential to make it through the project.

  30. Your article made me think and gave a lot ideas to work on. You are so right about the fact that we all have great ideas in the back of our minds, we just need to extract them and make them interesting, compelling, controversial for our readers, so they want to read our articles and come back for more.

  31. Wow Peter, thanks a lot for sharing your wisdom!!! Will definitely help me weight creating engaging contant that will hopefully attract more visitors!!!

  32. Great article. Simply plumbing the depths of these three common-sense questions generates a wealth of excellent ideas for exploration.

  33. This is a great article! This will be a great tool when I’m writing, I feel I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately, hopefully this helps, Thanks!

  34. Peter-

    Great article. You’re dead on about what Marcus Sheridan did. In my past life I was a painting contractor…we talked about price constantly on our blog…we shot up in rankings and sold a lot more work. I think service businesses can kill it online if they address price. It’s low-hanging fruit.


    • Tom, that’s terrific – so glad someone chimed in here who’s actually been there and done that. It’s incredible how well it works.

      You and Marcus were the pioneers – it’s easy for schmuck’s like me to look back with 20/20 hindsight and say how smart you all were to use that tactic. The real challenge is spotting those opportunities that no one else has yet figured out, in the industries where simply talking about price isn’t such a hot topic…. there are other just as obvious breakthroughs that we haven’t yet spotted.

  35. Inspiring article, I am dreaming to be a good writer and to make my blog a success. This article is very useful as I usually ran out of ideas when writing.

  36. Really useful post, Peter. I certainly have this problem, but it’s more to do with finding the time, rather than the ideas. As a copywriter myself I’m writing for clients all day, every day. I then somehow have to find the time to write blog posts and articles in order to promote my own business! There are never enough hours in the day, as they say!

  37. Some great tips, thanks! In my medical marketing blog, I try sometimes to mildly disrupt the status quo. I think that it is time to rock the boat a little more aggressively and see what happens….

  38. Marcus is awesome. Remember while back he wrote a post that still sticks with me on coming up with ideas when stuck. Cost/price articles; Problem articles; Vs./comparison articles; review articles and Best of. I have them posted up on a board in front of me to think about all the time.

    Love point 2. I heard Dino Dogan discuss this a few weeks ago at a Meetup. He wrote a book Engagement from Scratch with Guy Kawasaki and Mitch Joel; real good.

    Great thoughts as always ~ Mike

  39. Thank for your good advice

    Content is always one of my problem and I often spend so much time to find the ideas.

  40. Great Stuff! Content is one of the most difficult things to come up with, but with the right strategies and useful hints given in the article, it can be achieved.

  41. These are great tips 🙂 I also often look at my previous posts, especially the earliest ones and realize what I didn’t include. I then do followup blogs which helps to promote the older posts and gives me something new to write about. 🙂

  42. Thanks for this great advice ! Content is always a problem for every blogger.Content problems are faced from newbie bloggers to even pro bloggers.I am now at stage of content saturation! I don’t know what to write next.I hope this article will help me ! 🙂

  43. Great tips on creating content! It is so difficult for some businesses to think of anything to write about. If they ask themselves a few simple questions they realize how much they have to share.
    I appreciated how you focused on topics that were a little controversial that may get a discussion going. It’s not enough to get people reading if they aren’t engaging.

  44. Thank you Peter for this very useful information. I always seem to run into that problem of what to write about and where to come up with ideas. I also would wonder how some folk just have that knack for creating the most interesting content consistently. You have given me some helpful ideas that I’m sure will help me as well as others tap into content ideas we didn’t know were there. Thanks for the information. It’s really worth sharing.

  45. Just stumbled on this site, and I must say, really enjoying reading some of the posts. In particular, this one.

    I especially like the first idea regarding content that no one in your industry is willing to write about. It never really crossed my mind, however, it certainly got my brain working.


  46. Just looking at yahoo answers or quora you can get tons of topics to write about. Sometimes the exact question can be the title of your blog post.

  47. Content that gets people talking is the way to go. Controversial, thought provoking, adding an angle or point of view that is not shown is how you get readers to click to see what you are talking about.. Too many people talk about the same thing with no new ideas so if you have new ideas that can shed light and expand upon existing ideas your content will be king.

  48. We need to visit general news sites and navigate to your interest area’s section. Every general news site (i.e. CNN, USAToday) have sub-sections devoted to specific interests such as finance, health, careers etc. Visit the section that is a close match to our niche and scan the latest articles.

  49. I often find ideas by going to Amazon and looking at book reviews on my niche. A lot of people write about what they personally wanted to get out of reading that book, and any failings or missing pieces of the book. That’s sometimes great for getting ideas for posts, as it tells you exactly what people want. It’s also great material for writing sales pages. Some of my sales pages have written themselves just from Amazon reviews of one product. Also use the “look inside” feature to see what subject matter is included in the book. It all helps.

  50. Hi Peter, I love the tips and idea you have shared in this article. I think yahoo answers or quora are great resource of topics. Some other options are goog but seems like a tough task but I am going to give it a try and see if I can get some good result. Looking forward to see more tips from you.

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