Multiple sources for content
Looking for content ideas? You are not going to find enough content from a single source to maintain a blog . Yes, it will be okay at the start, but soon enough the ideas will dry up (at least the ones that are interesting to clients) and the pace will inevitably diminish.
The exception might be if you are a business analyst who assiduously reads the business pages of the newspapers nationally and in your city. In that case you are in luck, because the business sections of newspapers appear to be one of their few growth areas, and of course you can read many more online (I subscribe to the New York Times and read it daily).
A curation strategy
I have previously written about my preferred Reader, Feedly, which has a useful interface and is easy to understand. I subscribe (at the time of writing) to thirty or so blogs that I follow, which means I get around twenty articles directed to my account every day. It doesn’t take long to go through them (all readers skim on the internet), you can usually know whether the article is useful within the first minute. If there are, let’s say, ten articles that might be useful, I will direct them to a file and sort them into appropriate headings.
For instance, if I know I am looking to write a series of posts on changes to SEO and Google, I will wait until I have enough articles collected under that heading and then dedicate a segment of time to plan out the series.
This should be a seamless operation. Don’t waste time by reading every article as research as it comes into the Reader, wait until you have grouped a number of articles under a common heading, it will be far more efficient. An even better way to do this is to annotate each link as you place it in your file. So if I have, for example, found a useful article about developing a content strategy for accountants, I might place the URL in the file under a general heading “Accountants” but use the “Ctrl + K” shortcut to create a hyperlink and rename the entry “Good article that lists 10 ways for accountants to repurpose content”.
Twitter is also a useful source for articles to feed your content ideas bank. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, then please take some free advice and set up Twitter. Even if you don’t tweet you can use it to aggregate content from experts. To do this you create a List in your account, and every time you find a blog that might be useful, add the writer’s Twitter handle (the “@XXX”) to your List. That way you always have ideas in your content bank, accessible any time you have internet access.
Paying attention to questions
How many questions do you get asked a day? Not just from clients, but from colleagues? If you are a mature professional, the answer is likely “plenty”. Can you remember those question two weeks later? Likely not, you have moved on. Instead learn how to mine that database of collected wisdom.
When asked something, take just a moment to place the question in a file, perhaps labeled “Questions for Content Ideas Bank” or whatever. And believe me, because the source is part of a back and forth discussion, the resulting article will follow quickly.
On the other hand don’t rely on representative industry magazines or blogs, some are better than others. Many professional journals are written for fellow professionals and drafted in quite a stilted (believed to be “professional”) style. They also tend to focus on technical detail. Your aim should be to explain technical issues in a discursive manner, ideally by telling a compelling story.
In coming posts we’ll look at other ways to find inspiration for your content creation.
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