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Old 01-18-2005   #1
Jenstar
 
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How to come up with ideas for new quality content

I am often asked how I come up with so many different ideas for quality content articles (I have written 1000+ original articles just for one site, not to mention many other sites I own as well). But coming up with fresh content ideas really isn't that hard once you start brainstorming to get those creative juices flowing. And yes, I am first and foremost a content writer, but even if you aren't the best writer in the word, you can still use these ideas to come up with your titles and hire out the content writing to someone who does write for a living. And if you are feeling really adventurous, write them yourself then hire a copywriter to polish them up when you’re done.

Don’t get too overwhelmed. You don’t have to write a 3,000 word article, because someone has to be extremely interested in the topic to sit and read all 3,000 words. So unless you are well known in that particular market, stick with 250 - 500 word articles. And if you insist on 3,000 word articles, at least split it up into multiple pages.

First, go back and think of all those pesky questions you get from visitors. Yes, even the annoying ones. If you have customer support for your company, ask them for ideas on what gets asked frequently. Then think of how you can turn it into content (and save yourself the trouble of replying to the same questions over and over again). Are you repeatedly asked why a certain widget only comes in blue when red would make more sense? Write an article about why that is. Do people want to know what the differences are between two brand names of the same item? Write an article comparing the features of each. Do your widgets come in different sizes or colors? Write an article about why some people prefer purple widgets while others prefer blue.

Even those "how can these people be soooo dumb" questions can be useful to add as articles - never underestimate what people search for. That next "dumb" person who ends up on your site because they searched for "what is a googlebot", just might decide to become a customer or client now that they have their answer. And the best part of these kinds of articles is that you can most likely write them without having to do any additional research at all, and might be able to whip many of them off in a single day.

Next, start thinking on the basic level. If your site is all about Widgets, think about the kind of questions someone brand new to the area of widgets would ask. Are there different kinds of widgets? How do you use these widgets? How can you tell the quality of said widgets? Where does the name come from? Does the widget go by other names? Some will probably seem like pretty dumb questions, but think of all the times you search for a product or idea you just heard of - people looking for your widgets will do the same thing.

Now, on to other content generating ideas. Think of the current articles you have on your site. Can some of them be expanded or spun off into a new article? Can you get ideas for related articles from your current articles?

If you have a message board, think of the same threads that seem to pop up repeatedly. Take the theme of each of these frequent threads and write it into its own article. And then when the subject comes up again, you can link to that article, getting further page views and encouraging others to head over to the article part of your site.

Top ten lists and quizzes can be useful as well as entertaining. Think of things such as "Top ten reasons why link exchanges are so much fun" or "Are you addicted to Halo 2 on XBox?" and write them for your own industry. Turn them into an online quiz with image results, and bloggers might pick it up.

Create titles that are entertaining or ask questions that people might then click on just so they can get their answer. If you sell coffee, write an article on "is Sumatra actually a place or just a coffee name?" (For the record, it is in SouthEast Asia ). If you are selling services to SEOs, an article on "is Googlebot a girl or a boy?" might pique interest for the potential client to read further.

Articles that cause people to DO can not only encourage people to read, but to act, hopefully with your products/services. "How to get your best buddy hooked on Dunkin' Donuts" or "Great show-off products for when you meet your buddies in the bar". If you deal in pet care products - "Bath Time! How to get more water on your dog than on you!" or "Etiquette to dogs and frisbees at the park" (ever wonder what you do when another dog catches then steals your dog's frisbee or ball?)

And articles that sell are great for encouraging sales, although try not to make them too promotional. "It's flea season again! A quick look at our flea prevention products" or "Turkey time! Stocking your kitchen with the best cookware/seasonings/etc of the holiday season." You could turn people off if the title is too promotional like "You need to buy these latest products from XYZ". Unless they are a die-hard XYZ fan, that kind of title isn't very click-worthy, but if the products are tied into a reason (such as flea season, or Thanksgiving) it can encourage people to click out of interest, without them realizing they are being sold to.

These are some of the ways that I have managed to get ideas for all the articles I write on my own sites, as well as helping others brainstorm who have hit that “I can’t think of anymore articles to write” brick wall. Once you put your brain to it, there is an endless supply of ideas for any market, no matter how niche it may be, if you think every possible article has already been written or how over-saturated with articles you think it is.

Happy writing
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Old 01-19-2005   #2
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Excellent ideas. I personally depend on these types of forums to come up with topics to write on. I also have over a 1,000 unique "articles" at one site, actually - all on SEM topics, go figure...
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Old 01-19-2005   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenstar
First, go back and think of all those pesky questions you get from visitors. Yes, even the annoying ones.
Also note that the best answers [at least for the web] are ones that induce 'more questions'... for you to answer!
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Old 01-19-2005   #4
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I tend to gather content ideas from my own experiences --not the jaded, modestly knowledgeable webmaster experiences, but the 'first instinct' or 'I need to know about this' thoughts. I'm a focus group of ONE, but it turns out I'm a fairly accurate focus group if/when I can make myself view the web as a consumer.

>email

Yeah. Save ALL emails and your replies by rough category. Most of the time I've simply had to rearrange the text and maybe add a graphic.
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Old 01-20-2005   #5
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There's also the proper implementation of a Directory.

Adding a proper directory we already know is a way to become a 'hub', to add value for visitors, to increase the likelihood of being a bookmarked resource, etc. But if done right it also adds content.

Decent reviews and summaries of each and every resource listed in the directory creates plenty of content. It is keyword-rich, discusses several 'main selling points' several times, and can also naturally help you to come up in searches for other businesses and trademarks, including main competitors, all legitimately as 'fair use'.

The point to remember is to build it honestly, to serve the visitor with honest assessments and descriptions of the broad range of resources under the topic. Not a link farm or link exchange.
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Old 01-20-2005   #6
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Great outline jenstar.

To add to the info you wrote above, sometimes people don't want to spend a lot of time reading articles; they're looking for the quick fix. Consider adding detailed Q&A and "how to" sections as a means of expanding content. Makes it easy for a person to zero in on what they want to know.

Here’s another tactic to consider if you have a site that is more an ecommerce type. I recently created a section of what I call “how we did it" material for a client that satisfied both adding content to a content starved site and building inbound links.

My guy sold a type of equipment that others bought to use or re-sell. I wrote to all his customers and asked them to share stories on the unique ways they used the equipment in their line of work.

I needed a way to get people to respond, so I encouraged them to include some info about their company in the product write-up. Must have worked, we ended up with a lot of really great stories that highlighted my client’s equipment and provided interesting/useful info for potential buyers. (Or to put it another way, we got some really useful keyword rich content!)

I took the replies, matched them with the equipment pages and posted the comments. Then I wrote the customer a personalized email and told them where his/her comments were and offered a link to the page. Bingo! I got relevant incoming links and trust building sales generating content.

Content created, one-way links generated...very cool!
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Old 01-21-2005   #7
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Q: "How to get your best buddy hooked on Dunkin' Donuts"
A: Make them hang out after hours at SES with Danny Sullivan.

Seriously tho - great post Jenstar. Personally, I hate writing but I might give it another shot now
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Old 01-21-2005   #8
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I have a site with over 1,000 unique content pages... they all start with:
Dear Penthouse Fourm.....
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Old 01-21-2005   #9
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You should read the copy at trafficturbocharger it creates endless RSS feeds to make the content.
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Old 01-23-2005   #10
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thanks for the great advice.
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Old 01-23-2005   #11
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I use atmoz as a site search on one of my sites, once a week they send me an email of the searches that took place.

If I see anything that has been searched on alot and I know there are no pages for it I put one up quick, or even if there is a page then I may go in and add to it, either way I find it a great way of updating the site... give the user what they are looking for.
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Old 01-23-2005   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativecraig
I use atmoz as a site search on one of my sites, once a week they send me an email of the searches that took place.

If I see anything that has been searched on alot and I know there are no pages for it I put one up quick, or even if there is a page then I may go in and add to it, either way I find it a great way of updating the site... give the user what they are looking for.
This is one we use as well... if people are using specific terms alot to find your site dedicate a few pages to that if they are not already there and if they are make sure you try and update the info on a regular basis.
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Old 01-28-2005   #13
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multiple voices

If you have a community site assuming different nicks can be very helpful. Each nick could have his/her unique voice and special interest. In community settings, like shared blog space, your articles will have more mileage than if they are written from only the site administrators perspective.

It makes the site look busier than it actually is, and humans, being herd animals, need to feel like they are part of a bigger picture.
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