Here’s The Secret To Coming Up With The Best Content Ideas Of Your Career
DG: Hey, everybody, it's DG, and on this episode of The Swipe File, I'm going to show you how to start coming up with the best content ideas of your career. So today, I'm going to talk about how to come up with better content ideas. And I think when I say," Content ideas," I'm not just talking about blog posts, although I think that's where a lot of people default to, but I'm talking about podcast episodes, sure, blog posts, LinkedIn videos, LinkedIn articles, tweets, anything you want to write, any type of content. To me, content is marketing, right? You can't have marketing without great content. And so I think the things you're going to get out of this episode today will help you create better content. And so many people, I see this every day, so many people struggle with coming up with ideas for content, right? They want to create stuff, but then they get there, and they just get stuck. But I think this is one thing that I'm good at, and so I want to give you my secrets. I want to break into my playbook, and I actually have notes for this. So usually I just kind of go off the top here, but I do have notes, because there's a couple important things. So the first thing is you have to go and reverse engineer. This is the number one thing. If you only get one thing out of this podcast, you need to go and reverse engineer, good content, or reverse engineer where your audience is going to be. You have to go and figure out," Who am I making this for? And where do those people hang out online?" So I'm just going to give you a really basic example. I had a podcast that I did a couple of years ago called Tech in Boston, which is all about Boston startups. And my whole marketing strategy for the podcast was to distribute it and be in all the places where people who work at Boston startups go. So there was a newsletter in town. There was a news publication. There was a couple of blogs. There was events. There was all the companies. There was hiring boards, job boards, LinkedIn networking, right, twitter, locally looking for people that are in Boston at Boston events. And so I was able to go there, and then you find out," Hey, this is where these people hang out online." And so the same thing for any great piece of content, it was probably some thought about where those people hang out online, and to some people this comes naturally. And so maybe it's not always an intentional thing, but just comes naturally to the person that's creating the content. So that's number one, but I'm going to share you how many ideas I have here. One, two, three, four, five. This should not be free, but I'm going to give you six different things. Okay? But overall, here's the number one thing that I learned, you got to read more. If you want to come up with better content ideas, you have to read more. This is something that's happened to me over the last two, three years. I never read. I hated reading. High school, boring, college, it was boring. I never read. But then when I got into business, actually when it took me all the way to get to Drift to really appreciate reading. And I've noticed that I've all of a sudden I can come up with ideas, and this is not me bragging or being cocky, I'm just telling you, this is a fact. I can come up with more ideas than I have time to actually go out and create. And I really credit it to the fact that I've been reading a lot, because you're reading and you're just filling your brain with all this knowledge and ideas, and then all of a sudden, you're just walking down the street, you're in the shower one day, or you're at the gym, and you get idea. And I love it. There's actually a quote in one of my favorite books, which is Ogilvy on Advertising. Go get it, shout out. We actually have a bunch of copies in the lobby here at Drift if you ever happen to come by. But in Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy talks about, he's a great ad man, copywriter, creative guy. And he said that the key to coming up with better ideas is you have to stuff your mind with all of this content, and then unhook your subconsciousness. I think he says," unhook," or," unlock." I don't know. But he said, that's why... So he would take a bath, take a long bath. He would have a whiskey. That's not really my cup of tea, but I've noticed this, it's why I noticed that sometimes if I'm out in the golf course, which isn't that much these days, but it used to be, that's when an idea would hit me on the golf course, or that's why ideas hit you in the shower. And that's why ideas hit you in the gym, because you're not thinking about work. You're not actively thinking about it, and so your mind subconsciously is able to pull out those great ideas. So if you want to come up with better ideas, start reading more, and I would pick out what you're reading about, right? So if you want to get better at marketing, go and find the best marketing books. It's so easy. There's so many list posts out there that companies write, or whoever write. Just going to Amazon and go to business books, or listen to Seeking Wisdom, our podcasts, right? You're going to get so many book recommendations. I guarantee you that when you start reading, you will start coming up with better ideas. Number two, these are kind of like the overarching things, and I'm going to give you tools in a second, is see what's popular. Okay? Go out and see what's popular. I see so many marketers that are starting off earlier in their careers, and they don't do this. And even people who have been in the marketing game for a while, they don't do this. Right? But this is why I spend a lot of time on Twitter. And it's not because Twitter is a distraction, it is a distraction, but I actually think you can get a lot from it because Twitter gives you a very quick sense of what is popular. Not only do I see what articles are being shared a lot, but you also see what's being retweeted. And I guarantee you, that maybe if you've never even thought about this before, you can probably think right now," Yeah." If I said," Hey, make a list of five topics that always come up in your Twitter feed." Right. You'd probably be able to list them off the top of your head, even though you've never thought about it. And that's because you're always seeing them. And so the world has already done the hard work for you. They've already identified what topics are popular, you just have to pay attention a little bit more. So I always look at Twitter. I always try to see what content is out there being shared. And just because it's already been written, doesn't mean you can't go and create it. Right? I do that all the time. None of my ideas are original. This post was actually sparked by seeing somebody else's posts about coming up with more content ideas. And I said," Hey, I have a take on this. Let me share mine." So on Twitter is a great barometer for seeing what's popular, but you can also do something else. You can share your own update. This is applicable, I think, if you're in the B2B marketing world, or even just in all marketing on Twitter, on your Facebook account, on your Instagram account, on your LinkedIn account, you can post an idea, right? Or post a potential title of something, or post a thought, and you don't have to even have committed to going out and creating that piece of content yet. But you can post that thought, which costs nothing. It took literally two seconds, and you'll see," Did a lot of people like it? Did a lot of people retweet it? Did a lot of people comment on it?" I do this all the time, and it's a great way to gauge whether or not something is going to be successful. And so then when I go and create the actual piece of content, I kind of have a good sense," Oh, this is going to be popular." Right? I tweeted something. Let me actually see, I tweeted something the other day. Oh, Becky. We're good. Just come in and say," Hi." We have a new studio. Becky just came in. So I wrote something the other day, actually just before this, I tweeted it out. Let me see what it was. I just tweeted, this is a random thought that I had in the elevator. I said," Most problems that come up in a business can be solved with this one simple hack. Talk to people directly." And it's already got a bunch of retweets and a bunch of likes. And I know right now, I already know within 20 minutes, I know that that is something that if I wrote a blog post, or made a video about, or made a podcast about that, that it would be popular. Right? So use social networks as a way to go out and test ideas for content. And you don't even have to say," I'm thinking about writing a post on X. What do you think?" Just share what the headline might be in 140, 280 characters, right? Or write it on a LinkedIn post. And you're going to know quickly, very quickly, based on the engagement if people are interested in that topic, and you've basically kind of full- proof your own content right there. You can go out and create it, and I guarantee you that it's going to be successful. So for me, read more, right? Follow whatever is happening on social, even test your own content out on social, just pull a headline out. Right? But the biggest thing is figuring out what is already popular. And this is the hardest one, because there's a bunch of different tools I'm going to give you. I'm going to give you all the secrets right now. Okay? So the reason why this is hard is because as marketers we all want to go out and create something that's brand new. That is the biggest mistake that I see people make over, and over, and over again. This is one that DC here at Drift has pounded into my head is that the biggest mistake you can make is trying to reinvent something as opposed to innovate on top of it. And so just because somebody has already made that content, like I said before, doesn't mean you can't go make it. And so I'm always looking for what is popular. So I'll go on YouTube, and I'll sort through the views there. I'll go on Amazon and look through comments there, right? I'll go look at Twitter, and look at what content is popular. Same thing. The reason why I do that is because I'm trying to go and innovate on top of something that I already know is popular. There's so much noise out there. I don't know why you wouldn't do this, because it's one way to game the system a little bit. So you can guarantee that what you're creating is going to have a better chance of succeeding because you already know that it's something that people are interested in. So marketing to me is it's all about understanding people, and especially the timeless lessons. People don't change. Read any business book from a hundred years ago, it's still applicable today. So I would go back and start by figuring out what's already done. So this is part one, right? For part two out there, which I'm going to get into now, this is where I would pull over on the side of the road and write stuff down. Right? Or just pause and get it later when you can actually go and write this down, because I'm going to give you some secrets on how to actually go do this, other than my thoughts. So number one is a Google Search, right? Sounds obvious. Sounds so obvious." Of course, Dave, I Google stuff all the time," but let me ask you, when have you intentionally Googled a topic that you're trying to write for? Right? Probably not that often. It's obvious, but you got to do it. But it's not just a Google Search, I'm looking for... I always Google Search everything before I go out and write it or create it, because I want to see what other stuff is popular. If it's on page one, it's probably popular, but also you get great content ideas from the related searches at the bottom. It says... I forget what it says," People also search for," at the way bottom of the search page, you often get four or five other kind of longer tail keywords out of that. And so it seems super obvious, but you got to do it. Plug it into Google, right? And see what else is already popular. Number two, going off of Google is Google Keyword Planner. So even if you're not running AdWords campaigns, Google Keyword Planner can be amazing. I forget where I got this tip from. It was either Brian Dean or Dan Shore. Shout out to both of you. I hope you're listening to this podcast, because I just gave you free exposure, but Google Keyword Planner. Okay? If you go into your AdWords account or go create a free one, it's 100% free, both of these tools, Google Search, obviously, and Keyword Planner are free. But go in there, and plug in your competitors landing pages. Okay? Think about that. Take two seconds right now, think about a competitor in your industry. Go to Google Keyword Planner, and plug in a landing page. So find a piece of their content, plug it into Keyword Planner, and you will get keyword ideas. And so you're going to get a bunch of ideas of content you can go out and create by literally drafting off of what they wrote, and figuring out Google is going to tell you what content they think is related to this. And so you're going to be able to go in and steal traffic from them, and you're going to get a bunch of keyword ideas. So plug in the URL into Google Keyword Planner, could be one of your pieces of content, but I love doing it with a competitor's landing page because you get a bunch of keyword ideas out of there. Number three, another content idea. My numbers have been all over the place in this episode, so I'm sorry. Number three, number four, number seven. I'm just giving you stuff right now. Okay? Here's another one, BuzzSumo, buzzsumo. com. This is not a paid plug, obviously, because I do marketing at Drift, not for them, but it's a tool that I love. I think we probably pay, I don't know,$ 200 bucks a month for it. And I love it because you can go to BuzzSumo, and you plug in any site. So I could go to... What does this say? I'm wearing Nikes right now. I could go to nike. com and BuzzSumo would show me the most popular pages, the most popular pieces of content on nike. com by shares. That's why I love this one. It's not based on traffic, it's about social shares. I always have hard time saying that. Social shares. Social shares. Okay? So plug in a URL into BuzzSumo, and they're going to spit back how many times it's been shared, and then you can sort. I always sort by shares, so that gives me a good sense of what content is already popular. On top of that, you can also do specific landing pages or blog posts. So this is something I do all the time. I do a Google Search for a piece of content, I get the top five or six most popular pieces there, I plug them into BuzzSumo, and I see what has been most popular. You can also just do this across a domain. So I can see all the content across a whole domain. So I love doing this. This is actually something that I do. It's more like this one I don't use to come up with new ideas. It's more to kind of just convince me that the idea that I had was good. So for this podcast episode, for example, which is all about coming up with better content ideas, I might actually Google that, find a post on Google that ranks on page one, then go and plug that URL into BuzzSumo, and see how many times it's been shared. If it's been shared 48 times, probably won't do it. But if I go see it's been shared 1000, 2000, plus, like a legitimate number of shares, then that's a good indication that I could go out and create that, and it's going to be popular. Okay. Another one for you is Product Hunt. Most people out there know Product Hunt, but they only use it to launch products. But for me, I always go back and look through Product Hunt to see which products are popular. And this can be a really good way for you to figure out what copy to write, what content is helpful. So I use the Product Hunt search bar almost as a Google Search. So I go and type in, let's just say, I don't know, what's a product that would be launch? Music apps, right? And so they're going to give you a whole list of music apps, and you can go there, and you'll get all the pages, all the posts, all the products on Product Hunt that have been posted there. And I love this because you're going to get people's real words. And so you go to their page, all the people who got the new version of Spotify or whatever, you'll see what they're writing in the comments, and you're going to get a ton of gold. We call this... This isn't a formal thing, but we say it all the time. We say," Use their words. Use their words." Their words are the best marketing thing that you have, and" their words" means the customers, the users of these products. Right? And so if you can go and use their words, they're going to write copy better than you can, because you're going to try too hard to be a marketer. And so I'm always looking at what people have said. And so this applies to Product Hunt. I also do this on Amazon. So book reviews on Amazon can be money for copywriting and content ideas. Go to... If you're writing a book about marketing, or if you're writing a blog post about hiring, and marketing, and sales, right? I would then go to Amazon and try to find books on hiring, and marketing, and sales and look at the descriptions, look at the reviews, and look at the comments on Amazon. And you're going to get a ton of good ideas out of that. Another one is Quora. You know Quora, Q- U- O- R- A, Quora. Quora. I love Quora because I don't think Quora drives that much traffic, actually. We've done a bunch of tests there, it's they put you in their newsletter, and you get a bunch of upvotes inaudible, but I haven't been able to drive a ton of referral traffic, but their results rank high in Google, and so you can try to answer a question there, but that's a different topic. I love Quora because it is literally a question and answer site. And so if you want ideas for content, there's no better place to go than Quora, because people are searching, " Hey, what is the best live chat product out there?" Okay? Then you can go to that, and boom. There's a hundred comments on there. Okay. This is a great article I could probably write. Hey, here are the best live chat products. So I love Quora because it's literally people telling you what questions they have, and it's basically a way of crowdsourcing content ideas. So if I had no ideas in the world, I would go to Quora, and there's individual threads. So you could go in marketing, you could go B2B, you could go sports, you could go Nikes, you could go whatever, and you're going to get all of these ideas for content from Quora. I love that. My last one in my notes here was Amazon reviews or book reviews, but I already told you about them. So anyway, that was 15 minutes on content ideas. To me, whatever, take all the tools, use the tools, don't use them. Number one thing for me is just really going out and reverse engineering stuff that is already popular. That's the biggest mistake. If you're a marketer, put your ego aside. We all want to create the brand new thing out there, but go out and reverse engineer what is already popular, and I promise you that you're going to create better content. And if you read more, if you start filling that brain yours with podcasts, with blog posts, with books. I would focus on books, right? You're going to get a ton of great content ideas. So that's how to reverse engineer content. That's how to come up with content ideas. I hope you get something out of this. If you do, make sure you tweet at me. I'm @ davegerhardt. Also though, tweet at @ dcancel, and let him know," Man, I'm really getting a lot of value out of a DG's marketing podcast." Thanks for listening to this episode of The Swipe File. If you like the podcast, make sure to subscribe, leave a review, text your friends, tell your mother, do whatever you want to do. It'd be awesome if you helped spread the word about the show, but I have a little special for you because you're listening to my podcast. If you go to drift. ly/ steve, you will see a six minute video that I made that is about Steve Jobs's storytelling secrets, and you can get it all for free. Plus if you sign up there, you will unlock this crazy new thing that we're building behind the scenes called Drift Insider, where we're going to give you some of our best content exclusively. So go and check it out. The way, the secret way to get on this list right now is to go to drift. ly/ steve. You have to watch the first video, and you'll be able to get the rest when they all come out. Check it out, if not, check it out soon, and I'll see you in the next episode.