5 free tools to generate content ideas

Those first weeks and months of coming up with content ideas is the sweet honeymoon period of inspiration. You’ll jump from one light bulb moment to another and look forward to putting all of those thoughts down on paper.

Sooner or later, though, even the most creative marketing jedis will get stuck in a content rut and need a helping hand.

The internet is awash with free and useful tools to help you generate fresh ideas for your blog. Here are five of the best.

1. Alltop

Keeping an eye on what the competition is up to is always a good idea, and taking it a step further by actively monitoring the top posts in your field can be a goldmine of content inspiration.

Alltop is a nifty tool that retrieves the current top posts from the best blogs all over the web. Simply pick your topic and take a peek at what’s hot for a little inspiration of your own.

2. Answer the Public

Pick any keyword in the world, type it in, pick a country, and hit ‘get questions’ to be drowned in a sea of queries that could virtually cover an entire year’s worth of content.

Answer the Public takes a simple word or phrase and tells you the most popular searches about that topic, separating them into prepositions and laying them out in a beautiful single-page display for your perusal. As question-based content is some of the most successful for SEO and engagement, this tool is an absolute must for content planners.

3. Reddit

It’s known as the front page of the internet, and if you start using it for work, it probably won’t be long before you’re hooked in your personal time, too. This platform is a modern-day chat room, with thousands of ‘subreddits’ that offer forums for people to talk about practically any subject on the planet.

Naturally, it’s an Aladdin’s Cave when it comes to content treasures just waiting to be plucked. Start on the Reddit homepage, then type in your keyword. This search will bring up any related subreddits (themed discussion boards) and you’ll be able to browse through the posts, filtering by new, rising, top, and hot comments.

For example, if you know most of your audience is located in the Sydney metro area, then paying regular visits to the subreddit for the city of Sydney will help you monitor what conversations are rising to the top of the heap each and every day. For B2B marketers, the entrepreneur subreddit is a great place to find inspiration.

This route can be a little slower as you click around the site, but you’ll quickly get the hang of this platform and it can offer hugely valuable insights into what people really want to know.

4. Quora

Consider Quora as the thinking man’s Ask Jeeves. This site is a question-and-answer platform where anyone can ask anything, and anyone can answer. Try not to get distracted by the questions and answers on the front page, and head straight for the search bar to type in keywords related to your business.

You can type in a keyword as abstract as ‘Vegemite’ and still come up with questions, and you’ll be surprised by the quality of the responses.

As well as inspiration for your questions, you can also use Quora to boost your own profile by skillfully answering one of these queries on the site. When you post an answer, you get a space to enter your name and a ‘reason’ why you’re an expert – such as your job title, experience in the field, or something else. Provided you answer well, you should get some free visibility from people who are genuinely interested in the field.

5. Google Suggest

Perhaps you didn’t know it by name, but you almost certainly have seen this tool in action hundreds of times. Google Suggest is what finishes your sentences for you when you type something into the search box on Google’s homepage.

Suggestions are often confounding, hilarious, and ridiculously obvious, but there are also plenty that would make for excellent content ideas.

The trick is to type in a keyword, then add words such as ‘for’, ‘with’, ‘vs’, or ‘and’. For example, ‘professional painter vs’ comes up with ‘professional painter vs DIY’, ‘quinoa salad and’ suggests ‘quinoa salad and chicken’, and ‘business cards for’ results in ‘business cards for artists’.

It doesn’t take much to run through a list of keywords and prepositions, and it will almost always result in a bevvy of useful and inspiring ideas. Just don’t forget to do your research in incognito mode so that your own personal searches don’t muddy the results!

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