Many times on this blog we have touted the benefits of creating great, relevant blog posts and other content as a means of driving traffic to your website and improving your search engine optimization. And because you’ve bookmarked and savored those articles (right??) I know that you’re already sold on this concept of content marketing. But knowing WHAT to do is not the same as knowing HOW to do it.

Starting a blog and creating content sounds like a great idea. But sometimes when you’re faced with that blank screen, the task can suddenly seem daunting. As someone who has written literally hundreds of blog posts, I can tell you that I’ve often faced the same challenge. But I can also tell you that not every topic you write about has to spring forth from your own brain – there are tools and resources at your disposal that can help you come up with things to write about when you sit down at that computer. Here are 5 of the resources I use to find inspiration for the blog posts I write every day:

1. Email Newsletters + RSS Feeds
Regardless of your industry, it’s almost a guarantee that there is some sort of email newsletter out there that relates to it. Remember, your goal is to write about things that your potential customers are out there searching for. For example, if you are a baker, you are not looking for newsletters about baking. Instead, look for a great newsletter about wedding trends and planning. When that content arrives in your inbox, it will likely spark an idea for a trend you could write about and relate back to your business. Visit relevant websites and look for any kind of Subscribe, News, or Updates field. RSS Feeds are a very similar concept that is specific to the blogs of website you might visit. You should also have one for the blog you’re currently trying to write! You can subscribe to the RSS feed of a blog and you’ll receive an email in your inbox when a new blog post goes up, rather than having to return to the site over and over again. (You know, the Webs blog offers both!)

My favorite email news: Mashable

2. Aggregators + Discovery Sites
There are websites out there (bless them) whose entire purpose is to aggregate content from around the web and organize it for you all in one place. This can be useful for learning pretty much anything you need to know for your business, and for giving you ideas about things other people might be writing about. With that information, you can either write off-shoots or opinion pieces about what they’re writing, or just get an idea about a trend you might not have known about. A quick Google search can reveal sites in your area of interest. Discovery websites are similar in that they can serve up content on a certain topic. StumbleUpon and ScoopIt are good examples.

My favorite site: Alltop

3. Google Alerts
Here’s a fun little reconnaissance tool that everyone should be using. One great application of Google Alerts is that it can let you know when anyone anywhere on the internet mentions your company. For content inspiration purposes, it can also let you know when anyone anywhere on the internet mentions a topic you like to write about. Just set up the alert with your preferences, and you’ll start getting emails at your chosen interval when things pop up out on the web.

My favorite alert: Small Business Marketing

4. Social Media
Following thought leaders and experts in your industry is one of the best ways to stay informed and get a constant flow of topics to engage on and create off-shoots from. From following people on Twitter, to brands on Facebook, to groups on LinkedIn, there is a ton of content out there to be found.

My favorite follow: @Hubspot

5. Other Humans
One of the most effective ways that we generate ideas for content here at Webs is by devoting 30 minutes of our marketing meeting each month to filling out our editorial calendar. At the beginning of each year, we come up with umbrella topics that we want to address each month, and then when that month is coming up, we talk about the specific topics I will write about. Even if you are a ‘solopreneur’ running a microbusiness, you can reach out to your network or friends, colleagues, or even clients for ideas. Clients would be a great resource, since you can find out what most interests them, and get a good idea of what would interest other people who might become clients.

My favorite network: Webs’ Marketing Crew

Do you have any great content resources to recommend? Share them below!

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Webs. Loves branding, marketing, whales. Get more from Sarah on Webs’ Blog and Google+.


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