Welcome to 2019. Here’s your no-bullshit guide to developing a constant stream of content ideas that doesn’t suck.

Imagine a mythical world where you’re not breaking the bank on ads and customers just naturally come to you and buy from you like gazelles at a watering hole.

Now slap yourself silly, because this is the real world, where it takes spamming the living hell out of every unwitting visitor to convert your business.

Enter: not crappy content marketing.

We’ve polled our best writers and customers on how they go about whipping up ideating for their blogs and other mediums. After pouring through about 350 Typeform submissions (including 4 highly inappropriate ones), here’s our guide.

1. Your inspiration should be your customers

Ever heard the story of the shrink who turned the stories of their patients as fiction novels?

(There’s a slight chance that was actually just a movie I watched)

What challenges are your customers facing, and what obstacles do they need to overcome? Who are you trying to sell to and what’re their challenges you can help solve?

We polled a few of our customers earlier this month with a simple question: “What’s on your mind?”

We turned those into a few blog topics:

  • How do I come up with topics to write about?
  • What’s the ROI of written content vs video content?
  • How do I properly measure ROI on the content I create?
  • Am I blogging enough? How long does it take to work?

That’s right. My first suggestion is to be lazy as all hell and steal ideas from your customers. This must be what the cool kids call “growth hacking”, amirite?

2. For the love of god, read

It sounds like stupid advice, but how many articles have you actually read in your field in the last week? If you’re like 90% of the people we talk to, the answer is probably 5x lower than it should be.

Where are people flocking to when they need to learn the latest on Content Marketing? Is it Hubspot? Neil Patel? <Newest annoying influencer on LinkedIn>?

Once you’ve found an article you like, shamelessly steal it: https://contentfly.co/blog/hiring-a-freelance-copywriter-the-ultimate-step-by-step-guide/

You can’t say we don’t drink our own moonshine.

However, remember to add some originality. That’s right folks, we are in fact not advocating for blatant plagiarism.

Challenge yourself on whether it’s gospel or if you think there’s a better way. This is the ‘value add’ that most content books preach about, throw in your own perspective and don’t be afraid.

Right or wrong, your readers will value the alternative point of view.

3. Keep things simple

Next is dumb it down and keep it simple. Even if you’ve got an overarching idea or topic, don’t complicate it with a ton of sub-points that bore the reader or worse, confuse them.

Simply tell a short, succinct story. If you can’t explain the topic and content of your blog post to your colleague next to you in five minutes. Then you’re explaining too much.

Our sweet rule of thumb is for every topic we write about, hit on three or four key elements.

For example, need a guide on how to come up with content ideas?

  • Simply answer questions your target customer has;
  • Take inspiration from what people love reading elsewhere;
  • Keep it short and sweet;

And if you’re still struggling, automate the whole thing.

4. Automate idea generation

That brings us to our last point: what if you still can’t nail it and you’re spinning on what to write.

Well lucky for you, it’s not the year 1657, and there is some nifty tech out that might help. We’ve tried each of these and though they aren’t perfect it’s a great starting point to get your content going for 2019.

Have a look at ContentFly’s Genie if you’d like a human added into the mix, or Hubspot’s Idea Generator and AnswerThePublic that are purely automated topic generators.

Or, ask your mom for help. We’ve done it at least 3 times and…. well it’s weirdly effective. How the heck do you know what a heat map is, mom?

Coming up with blog ideas is always the hardest part, and although it isn’t rocket science there’s a lot of folks out there that have turned it into precisely that.

However, if you’re just looking to get things going before diving into the world of SEO etc. and truly boosting what you put out there, what we’ve outlined before should be enough.

Remember, simply getting content out there is the first obstacle to overcome in the long, arduous marathon of content marketing.