Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jeff Foster. Please read more about Jeff and WebBizIdeas in the bio footer.
Developing good content ideas can be difficult, especially if you’re writing on a regular basis or for a consistent deadline. Whether you’re writing for your business or your own personal enjoyment, it’s important to know where to look for interesting, relevant and timely topics.
The many question-and-answer sites now available online are great resources for both current and future content ideas. If you know what information people are asking for, your blog or publication can become a go-to source for the answers.
Four Great Sites
Among the best of these sites are Yahoo Answers, Answers.com, LinkedIn Answers, and Quora.
To create compelling content on current information, Yahoo Answers is a fantastic resource that’s very easy to use. Start by typing in a keyword or topic in the “Browse Categories” tab to see the questions folks are asking about this subject.
You can check general answers but can also click on the “Most Answers” tab to narrow down the results and organize them by popularity or by specific answers. It’s helpful to create a spreadsheet where you can copy and paste questions that you want to answer so you can organize your content ideas.
This particular site categorizes answers by popularity. Type in a keyword, or go to the bottom of the site to browse through the questions and answers related to that topic.
You’ll also find questions and answers grouped by specific categories, so you don’t have to comb through lots information that’s not related to your topic of interest.
If you’re writing blogs or articles to promote your business brand, LinkedIn Answers is a particularly good resource because it’s where businesses go to answer specific questions from their current and potential customers.
The information you find here can help you broaden your content ideas. Other industries or even similar businesses in your industry may approach topics in ways that will also work to expand your company’s exposure–if you’re willing to try them. Even unrelated content can help get your own thought processes flowing.
For example, a massage therapist might use the information she finds to develop a health survey for chiropractors or other holistic practitioners. This could get her exposure on other websites and potentially draw in new customers.
Much like Yahoo Answers, Quora’s information is very organized and informative. The beauty of this site is that it generally focuses on providing the one best answer to each question, so the answers here can be better than those provided by the other sites.
After you type in a question, category or keyword and run your search, you can find more detailed information by clicking on any of the answers that are provided. Or you can attack it the opposite way by selecting a category and drilling down to find specific questions and answers related to your topic.
Using What You Find
Now that you have all these content ideas, it’s time to create! While you can’t plagiarize, you can re-purpose the content and publish it in different ways and make it even better than the original.
Perhaps there could be more details or examples in your content. Maybe you’d draw more attention by using a different format.
For example, if you find great written content, you can turn that into an infographic, a poll, or a survey. Why not contact someone and re-create the information as an interview? Perhaps a case study or an e-book would be the best way to present a particular topic.
The point here is that content doesn’t just have to be a blog or an article. Expand your writing into other formats that will get your readers’ attention and make them want to follow you, comment on you, and recommend you to others.
Once you know how to find solid, on-going topic ideas, you’ll always be able to produce great content that puts you or your business above all the rest.