If you asked me to name one skill I have that has led to multiple 7 figure exits, it’s, without question, my ability to find and surface great content every day. In this article, I’m opening my entire playbook.
I’m assuming you already built a website, and you already know what makes content great. But how do you find it? More importantly, how do you find ideas that will actually perform well?
75% of an article’s success is in the idea itself. Execution is easy when the content idea is killer.
Fortunately, you can take the guesswork out of the process and consistently publish winning articles that make you money. You just need to use the freely available methods in the right way.
The key is to use ideas that are already proven – and then make them your own.
Here are 11 failproof strategies to always have plenty of killer content ideas.
Table of Contents
- YouTube Filters
- Join Online Communities
- Your Own Content
- A Twitter Account Exclusively For Ideas
- Repurpose Book Content
- Google Search
- Search YouTube In Foreign Languages
- Subscribe To BuzzSumo
- Ask Your Followers And Friends
- Read Competitor Websites
- Write Freely Once A Week
YouTube is the most impressive library of video content in the world. Most people don’t know how to use it effectively for almost infinite content ideas. Here are two easy ways. The second one has made me a fortune.
Order By Most Popular
Go to any big channel in your niche, order their videos by Most Popular, and you’ll instantly get all of their ideas that worked the best.
Let’s say I have a website focused on how you can live full time in an RV. I will simply search “RV living” on YouTube, and pick one of the biggest channels I can find. In this example, one called HappilyEverHanks came up.
On the far right, I Sorted by Most Popular. Now look at the top videos:
- Mistakes Every RV Owner Should Avoid
- 11 RV Overnighters That Surpass Walmart
- The Most Asked RV Questions
- 5 Things To Know About Full Time RV Living (Brutally Honest!)
I’m not exactly looking to live the RV life myself, but I can imagine if I were, I’d want to know all of the pitfalls and what to watch out for. You can instantly see what these are their most popular videos.
I don’t even need to click into the video at this point. I have great ideas that I can write about with my own experiences. In fact, unless it’s a topic with actual facts you need to research, I recommend just using their proven idea and making it your own. We aren’t trying to plagiarize here.
Now do the same thing for all the other big channels in your niche. You’ll have hundreds of ideas to cover.
Filter Your Searches
I built a business I sold for $4.2 million almost exclusively using this method. It’s powerful.
Search pretty much any phrase related to your niche. For the sake of diversifying our examples in this article, let’s say you have a recipe site that focuses on easy, but delicious desserts. So I’ll search “dessert recipes easy at home:”
This is where most content creators would see a handful of successful ideas and then go write their own article about it. That’s fine and not a bad idea, but look at the view counts. Every cooking company, amateur chef, and restaurant in the world has created content about these same ideas.
So let’s go to the Filter tab below the Search bar and make the following choices.
Now we only care about new videos (this week) with the highest view count. What you’ve done is surfaced the latest and greatest ideas, which means two important things:
- They’re proven, of course.
- They’re new, so they’ve proven themselves recently.
Using ideas from the highest views of all time means you’re competing with a whole lot more people. Let’s look at the top result with my filters in. And by the way, I’m literally doing these screenshots on the fly. I’m not handpicking just when it works… because it almost always works.
I don’t know what language that is or who ijaz Ansari is, but, as a person who certainly isn’t a baker, I wouldn’t have ever thought a dessert with just milk and bread is possible. I’m intrigued and want to learn more. If I had a website about baking, I’d tackle this angle myself.
Repeat this with dozens of search phrases (even the same ones) around once a week, and you’ll always find content ideas.
Join Online Communities
One of the most powerful ways to generate nearly unlimited ideas is to surround yourself with people talking about your topic. For this example, assume I have a website all about vintage/classic cars. I need article ideas, so how do I use online communities?
First, go to the sometimes annoying but very helpful site, Quora. Their mission is to “connect the people who have knowledge to the people who need it.” I have a website about vintage cars, and other people have information about vintage cars. Awesome.
One quick search and I have so many ideas that I could lock myself in a basement and write about classic cars for a month. Just a handful of conversations that could easily be articles:
- The evolution of the steering wheel
- A breakdown of the Model T’s original factory motor
- Classic police cars of the 70s
- Which cars today will be considered classics in 50 years?
I don’t care about classic cars and I spent 30 seconds on this. But you get the point and how easily you can get content ideas.
My second – and oftentimes best – community source of content ideas is Facebook Groups. Sticking with classic/vintage cars, click Groups on the left and search the term.
How can this not excite you? Again, I don’t even like classic cars, but these groups have hundreds of thousands of followers and dozens of daily posts. Another goldmine. Let’s check out the third group, Classic Old Cars.
It’s literally thousands of posts like this:
If I’m writing about classic cars, there’s a good chance I’d like to write about a 1958 Impala. Guess who probably knows every single thing about 1958 Impalas and never stops talking about them? Frank! Contact Frank and interview him.
Ask questions that people might search in Google, and let Frank essentially create your content for you. This can be repeated with dozens of groups, and you’ll be sitting on a treasure chest of nearly exclusive classic car information and photos.
Another community source is Reddit. Simply search for a sub-reddit in your niche.
Bingo. Now use the filters at the top however you’d like. Usually, I’ll change it from Hot to Top, and then choose All Time.
Additionally, you can do the same thing for any search phrase. So instead of just using the r/vintagecars, just search for anything related to vintage cars and order it by the most popular of all time.
It can be a goldmine of content ideas because these are just normal people who want to talk about vintage cars. They’re not trying to make money from it.
Find A Forum
And finally, there are still plenty of dedicated forums out there to any topic. Some nice guy named Brett has a site called FindAForum.net where you can…. find a forum.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of forums related to classic cars. Granted, some of Brett’s results here aren’t exactly correct, but it works. You can also just search Google for your niche + forum (i.e., classic car forums).
Become a member and use discussions as inspiration for your content. Not only do these platforms generate endless content ideas, you become even more passionate and more knowledgeable about your niche.
I literally have developed a small interest in classic cars just by doing this example. Not kidding, might start a site.
Bonus tip: read comments on popular articles. Much like online communities, article comments spur discussion and discussion spurs content ideas.
Your Own Content
Perhaps the best way to know exactly what will work for your audience is… what worked for your audience already. Mind blowing, I know, but some people don’t truly capitalize on this opportunity.
Study Your Metrics
Look at all the following:
- Which posts get the most engagement on Facebook?
- Which articles get the most traffic according to Google Analytics?
- What’s getting pinned the most?
- Which articles have the most comments?
- Which ones have the most backlinks?
All of these metrics are clear indications that you should double down.
Adapt For New Ideas
It’s not a good idea to write essentially the same idea twice. But you can look at a topic that’s performing well and then adapt it in a variety of ways.
For example, if I’m getting a lot of traffic to my 22 niche website ideas article, I can easily create another one with more ideas. Even better, I could focus the topic and go in-depth on each nice idea. That would be 22 more articles that would probably do well.
A Twitter Account Exclusively For Ideas
A large part of Twitter is a disgusting cesspool of trolls making the world a worse place. But there’s a really valuable part if you’re a content creator: entire threads of content ideas are written every day. Here’s how I use Twitter effectively.
Create A New Account
Create a new Twitter account that you’re never going to use for personal reasons, engagement, or anything other than strictly creating a daily stream of ideas. You aren’t trying to build your followers; you’ll be following value.
Do An Advanced Search
First, use Twitter’s advanced search feature and pick a key phrase relevant to your niche + thread. As an example, I have a website dedicated to urban farming – small gardens, having your own chickens, and so on. So I go to Advanced Search and look for urban chickens thread under “All of these words.”
This will ensure we get full threads (multiple tweets) of content related to our search phrase. Here’s the top result:
I went through his thread, and it’s excellent. It’s essentially a valuable article, but it just lives on Twitter. It’s a unique take, it has some pretty solid engagement, and it’s ripe to be turned into an article on a website about urban farming.
The second part of this strategy is to go to the person’s account. In the example above, NaijaFarmer (I don’t want any comments about his @….) is clearly an expert who is consistently tweeting valuable information about farming.
Note: be selective when you follow. Only follow accounts that authorities with unique perspectives on the information you want for your website.
Repeat The Process
Now repeat steps 1 and 2 with a plethora of keywords. Eventually, you’ll be following dozens of accounts that are giving you exactly what you want every single day without any additional work.
You would never run out of ideas with just this strategy alone, but we’re not even close to done here.
Repurpose Book Content
Okay, before you demand I be crucified, I’m not suggesting you plagiarize anybody’s work. But taking relevant ideas from parts of books can set you apart because most other people are just regurgitating what everyone on the Internet is writing.
Turn A Snippet Into An Article
For example, I wrote an article about the 20 second rule a few days ago. The 20 second rule is a concept created by Shawn Achor in his book, The Happiness Advantage. I used that simple rule and applied it to building a business. This is me taking another creator’s valuable thoughts and applying them to my audience.
Steal Like An Artist
There’s an absolutely fantastic book (only took me 2 hours to read) on this strategy called Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. In a nutshell, nothing is original, so continuously borrow content ideas from people you admire until it ultimately becomes your own unique work. Austin points out that this is exactly how all the greatest artists and creators in history worked before becoming legends.
So don’t be afraid to buy a book and scour it for ideas. Especially old books.
Using Google to find what you want is a daily occurence for most. But you can use it to surface what others want as well, and that’s very valuable to you for finding new ideas. Not only new ideas, but exactly what others are searching.
Assume I have a website all about retiring in Mexico. Start typing the obvious, and you’ll get some of the most popular searches related to retiring in Mexico.
Not only should each one of these be a killer piece of content on my site, but I can see exactly which articles I have to beat in the search results by completing the search.
People Also Ask
Second, once you search one of the phrases, Google gives you a free list of more content ideas.
Look at that screenshot. Google basically just told you, as a website owner, “here’s the article you have to beat… and here’s what you need to cover to beat it.”
Seriously, use this strategy for your site. It’s telling you what other people want, served on a silver platter.
Search YouTube In Foreign Languages
Here’s a secret weapon that led to my first big success in 2006. I have consistently outperformed competitors when it comes to surfacing great content by using this strategy.
Translate Keywords In Your Niche
Simply use Google Translate and translate 20 of your most relevant phrases into several other languages. If you have a website all about tiny homes, figure out how people say these in other languages:
- How to build a tiny home
- Tiny home kitchen ideas
- Tiny home kits
And on and on. Choose the languages spoken in the countries where your niche thrives the most. In my tiny home example, a simple Google search says Germany and the Netherlands have many tiny home enthusiasts. In this case, I’d translate my words into German and Dutch.
Search The Translated Words
To no one’s surprise, the next step is to search Google and especially YouTube for them. Anything with a large view count that’s not in English is a great idea for you to bring to the English-speaking world.
Also, use the Filter method in this article to consistently surface proven ideas.
A Real Example
Here’s an example that made me hundreds of thousands of dollars. A long time ago, I had a video website that would host extreme videos: fights, accidents, and otherwise anything crazy that was caught on camera. I was a young guy in his 20s, so the content unfortunately spoke to me.
My site consistently had “exclusive” content because I would scour YouTube in other languages, particularly ones that were dominant in cultures that were more likely to post this type of content. I had a list of words I’d search in Portuguese and Russian because there were always insane videos being posted by people there.
That site earned as high as $55,000 per month and I ultimately sold it for $500,000.
English-speaking people generally don’t think outside the box, so they only look at what other English-speaking people are writing about to get ideas. Tap into the billions of people who speak other languages, and turn their ideas into your own.
Subscribe To BuzzSumo
Of course, there’s a service completely dedicated to “endless content ideas at your fingertips.” And that’s BuzzSumo.
What Does BuzzSumo Do?
In their words, “use our content insights to generate ideas, create high-performing content, monitor your performance, and identify influencers.” That basically means let us do everything that’s being described in this article you’re reading.
Problems With BuzzSumo
But, like most automated services, there are a couple of problems. Let’s say I have a site about drones: the best drones, how to fly a drone, where you can legally fly drones, and so on.
The first problem is that, by its very nature, BuzzSumo seems to surface a lot of news sources. You can filter down your results pretty thoroughly, but I still can’t seem to get any good ideas for my fake drone site.
When I search something like “how to fly a drone,” there’s a solid result. But what’s the point if I already have my idea?
The other problem is that results are based on social engagement, so bigger followings will naturally lead to more engagement. That doesn’t necessarily give you the best ideas at all.
Still A Good Tool
All that said, I’m not really hating and BuzzSumo is probably worth the $99 per month. I’m just a strong believer that using the same automation everyone else uses won’t set you apart. Give it a try and judge for yourself.
Ask Your Followers And Friends
Who better to give you content ideas than people who actively want to consume your content?
Where To Ask
You can ask anywhere you want, but here are a few places that make sense:
- Social media: twitter, facebook, etc are obvious places to ask.
- At the end of your articles: end each piece with a specific question that entices discussion on further topics.
- On your contact page: make it easy to find and specifically ask for ideas.
- In your comments: see what others are talking about, and chime in.
My site, at this point, gets almost no traffc but I’ve had a handful of content suggestions without even asking.
Talk To People
If you don’t have a following, ask friends and family that you won’t annoy. It’s likely you share some interests with them, so ask them what they’d want to learn. Or, even better, just talk to them about this interest and make mental notes for content ideas.
My brother is currently restoring a 1989 (I think) Ford Bronco. He loves it and would love talking about it. I could call him and basically have a full rough draft for an article.
Read Competitor Websites
I actually spent a large part of my entrepreneur journey avoiding competitor sites like the plague. When they would borrow one of my ideas, or cover something before me, I would get extremely frustrated, even angry.
But I had that backwards.
Embrace Your Competitors
Bookmark and read your competitors’ content every single day. The Internet is enormous with billions of people. If someone wrote about how to cut your grocery bill in half by growing your own food, do you think they magically get every single reader? No way. Write your own version, and do it better.
And Then Defeat Them
When you’re inspired by a competitor’s article, you’re literally given exactly what you need to beat. You have no excuse to not create a better piece of content, which means you’ll ultimately perform better.
We can look to the famous 4 minute mile example. For decades, nobody could run a mile in under 4 minutes. After Roger Bannister did it in 1954 in a time of 3:59.4, other runners started breaking 4 minutes all the time. Roger’s record was even broken in the same year, and 1,663 people have done it since then.
Once Roger’s competitors had tangible proof that running a mile in under 4 minutes was possible, they did it. Similarly, when a competitor of yours is crushing it and outperforming you, you know exactly what is possible – and what to do.
Here’s Roger for inspiration. Hi Roger.
Write Freely Once A Week
Sometimes you have to take the “business” out of your website and write for yourself. Once a week or even month, just sit down and write an article from your heart on exactly what you want to write about.
Don’t worry about whether it’s a proven idea. Just freely write on your topic. If you have a gardening website, write all about what gardening means to you. If your site is about endangered species, write about why you care and what you wish the world would do.
You might be surprised that you end up with a great piece of content. It might not be focused on ranking in Google or going viral on Facebook, but your personality will shine through and you’ll remind yourself why your grind is worth it.
By using all of these strategies and keeping an ongoing list of ideas, you’ll always have content to write. Nothing thwarts the creative process like staring at your screen with no idea what to do.
To recap my content idea strategies, you should:
- Use filters to drill down the best, proven content.
- Always look inward at what you’re already doing correctly.
- Immerse yourself in online communities in your niche.
- Make time to have fun with your content.
Endless ideas leads to endless content which results in (almost) endless traffic and revenue. Feed the system and watch it work.