1. Find posts that are already performing well on other sites.
Browse through popular sites in your niche and identify their top-performing posts. This will give you a good idea of which topics and themes your audience is actually interested in.
2. Identify weaknesses in those posts and then write a better one.
Once you’ve identified a topic that has already proven to be popular, read through the related posts to see how strong they are. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Can I add my own voice or opinion to this topic to take the conversation to the next level?
- Can I cover this topic in more depth and detail than the original author(s)?
- Can I add elements of interest like infographics, videos or quizzes?
- Can I update it to make it more timely and relevant? (You can do this through referencing the latest research or statistics.)
- How is the on-page SEO of these posts? Are there things I can do to rank higher? A tool like the MozBar SEO plugin can help with this.
Keep in mind you’re not copying these posts, or even using the same structure for your new content. What you are doing is using them, or an idea you get while reading the post as a jumping off point to create your own, original take on the same topic.
3. Find popular headlines and turn them into your own “headline template”
An amazing post with a crappy headline is doomed to failure. Your titles don’t have to be earth-shattering, but it never hurts to base them off of headlines that have already proven popular. Keep in mind, if people don’t click on your title, they will never see the amazing content you posted. Your title should be your main focus.
For instance, if I want to write about something in the tech field, I might reword that title into “How Hackers Are Killing Our Sense of Security Online.” The key here isn’t to use the actual topic of the headline, only its structure. And the best part is that because you’re changing up the title to suit your topic, you can often use this same ‘template’ to come up with titles for multiple future posts.
4. Write 2 titles for your post, and let someone else choose.
Up to this point, you’ll have come up with a great topic and post, with a killer headline; or at least you hope it’s a killer headline. While you’ve based your headline on one that’s already proven popular, it never hurts to get a second opinion.
So here’s what you do: For each post you write, come up with at least one alternate title. Now consult with a friend or colleague, giving them the two headline options and asking them which one works best.
Ask them to choose the headline that immediately catches their attention – not the post they think others will prefer. Of course, you have the final word on which headline gets used, but sometimes it helps to get a fresh perspective before you decide.
Coming up with new content ideas is no joke. Anything you can do to streamline the process of finding popular topics and headlines can help. I hope this post has given you a framework for finding your own killer content ideas!