For the fourth night in a row, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to the sound of a bird outside my window squawking in a unique, almost understated, way that echoed through my apartment as a clicking noise.
On this particular night, I was accompanied by a pounding headache — but neither Squawking-Clicking Bird nor the headache was my issue.
Upon waking, I had a few content ideas in my mind, and as I uncomfortably tossed and turned while trying to go back to sleep, I debated if the idea seedlings were worth pursuing.
When selecting your next content topic, the challenge is rarely finding an idea; it’s narrowing down which ideas you should develop and which you should discard.
You blog to find the answer
Let’s begin with a basic law of building a noteworthy blog:
You have to start.
The same insights won’t be available to you if you keep ideas in your head or delay publishing posts because you’re waiting until they’re “perfect.”
For someone as
uptight conscientious about blog post quality as me, you might be surprised to hear that I often say, “It’s just a blog post.”
You should still push yourself creatively and refine your content into the best presentation possible — just don’t get too hung up on one blog post.
A blog post is not an encyclopedia entry, nor should it be.
A regular blogging practice holds the answers to many content marketing questions you’re wondering about:
- What does my target audience need help with?
- Why would they read/listen to/watch my content?
- What can I provide that you can’t find elsewhere?
- How much should I charge for my products and services?
- Where should I promote my content?
When you build relationships with your audience members, they guide you to your next steps.
Your content topics evolve naturally as you:
Write and publish … and write and publish … and write and publish …
Your competitors can’t duplicate this work
So, when you have a content idea, start with these three steps:
- Review your blog to see if you’ve covered a similar topic before.
- Did it resonate with your audience? If so, it should be a great topic to explore more. If not, is there room for improvement in a new post?
If you’ve never written about the topic before, try it out. There’s no substitute for that practice, and at the very least, you’ll have new content on your site.
You might even post about a topic 10 times before you decide you don’t want to write about it anymore.
None of those content experiments are a waste; it’s all part of the process of uncovering the winners.
Plus, a piece of content you might initially view as “unsuccessful” could be the exact post that attracts a new group of readers months down the line.
You’ll never know unless the content is on your site.
Ultimately, your competitors don’t have access to:
- The relationships you have with your audience members
- The experience you gain from publishing
Monitor how your audience responds to your written content, and then you can repurpose your best work to reach more people through podcast episodes or videos.
More chances to introduce new people to your content
You’re so familiar with your blog posts that it’s easy to get into the habit of saying, “I’ve already written about that topic,” and move on to search for new ideas.
After all, you don’t want to be repetitive.
But a topic is not off limits after the first time you’ve covered it. You can make it a category you write about regularly to make your blog a resource on the topic. Any one of those articles could be the one that introduces new readers to your site.
For example, you may have five bullet points in a post you wrote last week. Could each of those bullet points become an individual blog post?
New readers then have a chance of discovering your original article with the five bullet points, or any of the five more in-depth articles.
Search engines have more content to serve up that lead people to your website and you also have more content for readers to share on social media.
5 content types that help fill your editorial calendar
Now that we know how blogging regularly can help shape your upcoming content, let’s look at five specific ways you can fill up your editorial calendar.
If you don’t have a lot of content on your website yet, the first three types will be particularly useful.
1. Schedule “recurring sketches”
When a particular set of characters resonate with viewers on a comedy series such as Saturday Night Live, the writers bring them back in future skits.
Think of Hans and Franz or The Californians.
Since they were hits in the past, no one tunes out and thinks, “We’ve seen these characters before.” They tune in and think, “We get to see these funny characters in different situations.”
We have a few “recurring sketches” on Copyblogger:
What types of series would work on your blog?
2. Reveal the next part of your story
Every blog post is a piece in your content marketing strategy puzzle.
That’s why each one you write doesn’t have to be as comprehensive as an encyclopedia entry.
You have opportunities to both experiment with your own new ideas and give your audience any expert guidance they request.
Go wider or deeper:
- What haven’t you revealed yet?
- What do readers ask you?
- What have you learned since your last post?
3. Rotate through set topics
If you write one blog post a week, you can decide on a topic for each week of a month and then repeat them to build up the content on your website.
For example, if you run a bakery, you can set topics that you repeat every four weeks:
Week 1: Muffin topics
Week 2: Croissant topics
Week 3: Jam topics
Week 4: Cookie topics
You’ll likely change these initial categories as your blog evolves and you find out what readers want to hear about the most, but setting these go-to topics gives you direction when you’re wondering how to start writing and publishing regularly.
4. Promote older content to your current audience
Once your audience has grown, you can also promote your older, evergreen content on social media or through curated posts on your blog.
An article you wrote five years ago is “new” to the person who reads it for the first time today. If you discover it connects with your current audience, address the topic in a new post.
Remember, don’t be afraid of being repetitive. Your new post will provide updated information, and even if you mention pointers you’ve given before, we all need reminders.
Advice you previously shared could easily touch a reader in a more profound way when they hear it again later.
5. Optimize your headlines
The more you write about topics from different angles, the better chance you have of attracting a variety of people who are all part of your target audience.
A new headline might engage someone who has skipped over your content in the past.
For example, three months ago, Rachel Reader may have seen one of your headlines on Twitter. It didn’t interest her, so she didn’t check it out. That was a shame, because the article contained the exact information she wanted …
When you publish a new post on the topic today, with a damn good headline that piques Rachel’s interest, she’ll click on the article and discover your website.
If you don’t have anything new to say on the topic yet, consider optimizing headlines you’ve already published and re-promoting them to see if they hook new readers.
So, where’s the best place to consistently find winning content ideas?
Your own website, of course. 😀