20 Sources of Inspiration to Create Awesome Content

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Creating awesome content doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, once you know what you’re trying to say and whom you want to say it to, coming up with topics is the easy part — especially if you use the tools that are right at your fingertips.

From topic and title generators to news aggregators, there are plenty of places to find inspiration that will breathe life into your content. Whether you’re trying to find a new angle on an idea that’s been covered to death, or you’re at a loss for a clever title that all but guarantees readers will click on your article, try these tools for inspiration without the perspiration.

Content Title and Idea Generators

When you are stumped for content ideas, a title or idea generator can be your best friend. Simply enter your keywords or topic into the box, hit Enter, and — presto! — you have a list of ideas to choose from. Sometimes, the ideas are usable as is. But most of the time, they need some tweaking. Try looking at the suggested title from the opposite perspective or a different point of view; for example, if the suggestion is “5 Reasons You Should Herd Your Cats,” you might write “5 Reasons Herding Cats Is a Bad Idea” instead. Approach title generators as a means to jumpstart your own creativity.

There are several idea generators to choose from, so try using a few different ones to see which works best for you.

1. BlogAbout. This is a simple, no-frills tool. Choose from a variety of topics, or enter a keyword to see an array of fill-in-the-blank titles. You can save your favorites and have them emailed to you, giving you a ready-made list of ideas to draw from.
2. Tweak Your Biz title generator. Another easy tool, Tweak Your Biz provides dozens of potential blog topics with just a few clicks. Enter your keyword, indicate whether it’s a noun or a verb, and click “submit.” You’ll instantly have a list of titles (some more compelling than others). This tool uses the same title types repeatedly; no matter which word you enter you’ll get the same list of titles with your keyword as the only variation. Still, it’s useful for coming up with ideas when you’re truly stymied.
3. Content Row link bait title generator. The major distinction between this title generator and others is the option to choose whether you want your results to be “lists,” “fun,” “controversial,” or “shocking” (although there is little difference between the last two.) Otherwise, it works the same way as other generators. It’s most useful when you’re trying to turn a “boring” subject into something juicy.
4. ContentIdeator. This tool provides a list of existing blog post titles based on the keyword you enter. You won’t want to copy these titles exactly, but they might serve as inspiration for a follow-up, a rebuttal, or a companion piece.
5. Quandary Content Idea Generator. You’ll have to sign up to use this free tool, but once you do, you’ll have access to a wealth of ideas for all types of content. Simply answer a few questions about your business, and the tool does the rest.
6. Übersuggest. Übersuggest doesn’t provide actual blog titles, but it does offer a wealth of ideas. Simply enter your keyword or phrase, and the tool will return a long list of related topics. This tool is especially useful when trying to identify new audiences for your content or ways to put a fresh twist on your existing posts.

News and Curation Sites

Title and idea generators will help you generate ideas in seconds, but for content that truly resonates with your audience, it helps to know what they are talking about and what they are saying. You can find out what’s most buzz-worthy by looking to sites that aggregate other content. The content that’s trending or getting attention on other sites shows you what people care about and what they may want to know more about. Turn to news aggregators to determine what your audience sees as the most important issues in your industry — and to see what’s getting buzz, either positive or negative. Don’t just report the news, though — offer interpretation and insight to help your audience make sense of what’s happening around them.

To do that, check out some of these sites.

7. Alltop. Want to see the top stories from across the Web? Visit this site, which links to the top five stories on some of the biggest online news sources, including CNN.com, The New York Times, Mashable, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch, as well as popular bloggers like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan. Want to customize your content? Add your own favorite sites, or choose from custom-curated lists from leaders in a variety of industries.
8. LinkedIn Pulse. The publishing arm of the social media powerhouse, LinkedIn Pulse collects the trending posts contributed by LinkedIn users. Search by topic, or create your own stream by choosing the topics and thought leaders you’re most interested in.
9. BuzzSumo. Want to see what topics related to your keywords are trending? Try entering your terms into BuzzSumo’s search engine. You’ll get a list of recent blog posts, news articles, and other content ranked in terms of how often it’s been shared on social media.
10. Google Trends. You can find just about anything you want to know about trending searches using Google Trends. From which terms are generating buzz where, to which terms are trending in response to news and events, you can find it here. Subscribe to alerts, so when the topics you’re interested in are trending, you’ll be among the first to know.
11. Industry/trade associations. Almost every industry has an association to provide networking, advocacy, and education — and most keep members updated on news and trends through their content, which can inspire your own ideas.
12. Quora. One of the best ways to give your audience what they want is to answer their questions — and Quora will tell you exactly what those questions are. Sign up for a free account, choose the categories you want to learn more about, and you’ll see questions and answers from other users. As a member, you can answer questions directly, or use others’ queries to spur ideas for content.

Social Listening

Your mother might have told you that eavesdropping is rude, but when it comes to social media, all bets are off. Listening to what others are saying online — about you, about others, about your industry, about anything, really — is one of the best sources of content inspiration there is.

In the simplest terms, social listening is market research. Using defined search terms — your company name, keywords, industry terminology — you can determine what people are saying (and where) to gain insights. Some companies use social listening for customer service, staying alert to customer complaints on Twitter or Facebook to address issues proactively. Other companies use it to measure brand performance and engagement.

In terms of content, social listening is the perfect way to determine what your audience is talking about. What questions do they have? What do they love — and hate? What are they sharing? By watching what your audience is saying on social media, you can identify the gaps in their experience and fill them with your content.

And the good news is that you have a wide array of tools at your fingertips to help you listen in on social conversations.

13. Hootsuite. Hootsuite is an easy way to manage all of your social media profiles, but it also offers tools to streamline your social listening on Twitter and Google+. Define your search terms (you can have up to 50) and save them as streams that allow you to see all conversations on those topics happening in real time, and identify patterns and topics.
14. Pinterest. Pinterest is more than a place to find new chicken recipes and ways to use duct tape: It provides insight into your customers as well. Sign up for Pinterest Analytics, which will tell you not only which of your posts are resonating with your followers but also what other topics your followers are interested in.
15. Twitter. Twitter makes it easy for you to see what people are talking about: Just look at the “trending topics” tab, and you’ll see the hashtags and topics that are generating buzz. Drill down to see which topics are trending locally, or click on a trending tag to see what people are tweeting about.
16. Facebook. Like Twitter, Facebook lets users know what’s hot with a rundown of trending topics. Click on a topic and you’ll see some of the top posts about it.
17. Icerocket. A relatively new player on the social listening scene, Icerocket works like a search engine, only it returns strictly social media and blog posts on your search topics. It’s a useful tool for seeing what other bloggers are writing about, which might spur your own stroke of genius.
18. Social Mention. Quick and easy, Social Mention aggregates results from multiple social media platforms with some basic analytics to gauge overall online sentiment. You’ll also see links to the most recent posts on that particular keyword as well as top users.
29. Instagram. Want to see which images are resonating with your audience? Check out which photos are trending on the popular photo-sharing site. Follow influencers in your industry to see what they are sharing, or search by hashtag or keyword. You’ll find a wealth of ideas for your own images as well as keep your finger on the pulse of what people are liking and sharing.
20. Topsy. Focused mostly on Twitter, Topsy analyzes every tweet related to your keyword, showing you not only what’s being tweeted, but also who is tweeting, how many times it’s been tweeted, the overall sentiment, and trends related to that keyword. Use it to see what people are talking about in real time — and to find new angles for your own content.

The most successful content strategies use a combination of methods to develop topics that speak to the intended audiences. Set aside some time to explore these tools and brainstorm ideas for several weeks’ worth of content; the most successful marketers develop content calendars that map out a strategy for posting regular content for several weeks or months at a time. You can always add in late-breaking news or a one-off post when brilliance strikes.

Even if you think your topic is too “boring” to inspire great content, or you feel like you’re out of fresh ideas, there’s always something new to write about. With all of these tools, you might even find you have more ideas than you could ever possibly use — an enviable position for any marketer.

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