How To Come Up With Interesting Content
You just put up a new blog. You’ve defined the subject matter coverage clearly and even paid a designer to build a layout that complements the material. You’re ready. Now, all you have to do is come up with content that people will actually want to read.
The process of coming up with content is always tricky. Too often, it’s hit or miss — you can get as many of one as the other. Even pros can struggle when coming up with material that actually makes for compelling reading, especially if they need to put out stuff with the same consistency that maintaining an active blog requires.
Sometimes, inspiration strikes and a really compelling concept just pops up in your head. If you rely on those moments to get you by, however, you’re not likely to be updating the blog with any consistency. Inspiration is cool, but it’s always happenstance — you need to develop ways to deliberately come up with interesting content.
Fortunately, there are many ways to do just that. And regularly coming up with interesting material is what usually separates blogs that make it to those that fade in obscurity. Here are some of them:
- Get inspired by other people’s material. Your content need not always be a clever and original piece. Most of the time, your most reliable recourse for finding material are other people’s content. No, we don’t mean copying them outright. However, there are plenty of ways to spin off other people’s work, such as offering an alternate point of view, narrating examples that can help clarify some finer points and discussing related issues.
- Curate content. Ever seen one of those blog posts that round up a collection of related materials? They’re a great way to point your readers towards content that aren’t yours, but they might find particularly useful and interesting. The narrower the subjects of round-up posts are, the better the collection post usually turns out.
- Check your comments. What issues are people discussing in your comments section? Chances are, most of those will be interesting to cover for the rest of your audience, so be watchful for things in the comments section that you can research, discuss and expand on. This is a very organic way of coming up with new topics to discuss, as you’re picking up from actual discussions among people genuinely interested in the subject matter.
- Check forums. If your comment section isn’t quite as busy as you would like yet, you can check out the discussions in forums and blogs with a bigger audience than yours, taking the issues brought up there and building new content around them. Twitter and Yahoo Answers have proven very effective for this purpose as well, provided you know what keywords to search for.
- Product reviews. No matter what subject you’re writing about, there will be products targeted towards that audience. And reviewing them can make for interesting content that your readers will find helpful. The value of review content, especially for niche products that don’t get much attention from mainstream media, is huge — don’t ever underestimate it. Regardless of whether you’re giving positive or negative feedback, your audience should find it interesting to read.
- Movies. Everyone, regardless of what their interests are, watches movies. As such, it’s an excellent general theme to discuss issues under, especially if you can relate it with the subject matter of your blog. For a blog about gadgets, for instance, posts like “Top 10 James Bond Gadgets Of All Time,” “Gadgets To Bring When Fighting Predators In The Jungle” and “What Kind Of Smartphones Will Each Member Of The Avengers Buy?” could prove fun and interesting topics.
- Other popular culture elements. Just like movies, things like music, TV shows and books can make for interesting discussion because most everybody dips into them every once in a while. Just find an angle that allows you to tie it in with your topic and you’re golden. For a blog about architecture, you could make posts like “If Lady Gaga Designed Houses, They’ll Look Like These,” “Funniest Architecture Jokes In TV In The Last Five Years” and “Awesome Architecture In Music Videos.”
- Case studies. Producing case studies isn’t just for businesses. You can, pretty much, write a case study for any organization, product or website that your audience could have an interest in. Don’t forget that case studies can go both ways: you can highlight the things a subject is doing right or you can zoom in on the things they’re doing wrong. Both are equally valid discussions for the subject matter.
- Success stories. Talk about some of your success with regards to the topic of the blog. If you’re maintaining a blog about vintage cars, for instance, you can discuss how you managed to find, purchase and restore a rare 60s-era vehicle, allowing your audience to both live vicariously through the experience and learn information at the same time. Make a point of sharing lessons you’ve learned throughout the process.
- Failure stories. Just as stories of triumph make for good reading, so will stories about failure (e.g. “Why I Will Never Hunt Without My Favorite Rifle Again”), particularly if the audience can learn something from them. Share the biggest challenges you faced and what you learned from them, if any.
- Do something for the first time. Trying something out for the first time always makes for a good story. The freshness of the experience and the emotions it conjures up usually gives you plenty to talk about. Do try to find an angle for relevancy, though, discussing how the experience changed some of your views regarding the blog’s subject matter.
- Interview personalities. Movie stars, athletes and other celebrities aren’t the only ones worth interviewing. In fact, interviews with people involved in your subject matter (for gadget blogs, you can interview people who develop software for gadgets or interesting startup companies trying to break into the market) can actually make for fun reading among your readers. You can even expand them into profiles if you have access to the person you’re interviewing.