By Blair Williams, founder of MemberPress, an all-in-one membership website software for WordPress.
When you’re running short of ideas, an “oldie but goodie” approach is to go back to the classic topics you know will always be a winner with any audience. Here are my favorite types of content ideas that will always engage users.
Leverage ‘how-tos’ and ‘X tips’ headlines.
People dislike spending more time than is necessary reading an article. If they have a clear goal in mind, such as solving a problem, they’ll want clear and simple steps they can glance over. To give readers what they want, use the following headline formulas to craft useful posts.
• How-tos: As the name suggests, how-to posts give readers step-by-step instructions for solving a specific problem. These posts are often short and get straight to the point. It’s helpful when they are accompanied by images.
• X tips: Although this isn’t instructional like a how-to is, it’s similar because the goal is to help users accomplish their goal with short and actionable tips. Unlike how-tos, the points don’t have to follow a sequence, but they do have to be interesting and practical. Note that this post follows the “X tips” format.
The internet loves posts that start with a “how to,” “X best,” “X easy” or “X great,” followed by a problem that people want to be solved. Creating a post like this helps people and also makes your content rank well on search engines.
Demystify an industry myth.
Another favorite content type is the demystification of common tropes in any industry. There are a few main ways that this can manifest. One is to counter commonly accepted best practices or a golden rule in your area of expertise. Another is to breakdown a difficult subject into a simple post that anyone can understand. And you can also address common negative perceptions about a topic that people generally associate with fear and suspicion.
For example, SEO techniques are often a black box for people who are new to digital marketing. You can create posts to criticize commonly accepted ideas on search engine optimization. You can simplify the concept for new learners. Or you can address the negative perception that SEO is unethical and gives poor content higher rankings.
Simplify a complex technical subject.
There are topics that many people struggle with because existing content about them are highly technical and use jargon. Or these posts assume that readers have prerequisite knowledge about the subject.
Remember that there’s always a chance that someone who doesn’t have expertise in the area, will want to know about the topic in a simplified way. Making a complex topic easy to understand is a good way to help people and position yourself as an industry authority.
Share a real story.
People love stories as they evoke emotions and enable them to picture events. You can share personal leadership stories or real stories (case studies) about how your business or product helped another brand.
Create a post talking about something that happened to you or some significant event that happened in your business and then talk about the lessons learned. Your audience will appreciate the honesty and will relate to you and your brand more.
Leverage visual formats.
One way to create engaging content and to also repurpose your existing work is to create videos. Video is extremely popular today due to the widespread use of mobile phones. It’s a lot easier to watch a video than to squint at a blog post on a small screen.
This type of content does very well on social media and can improve your followership.
Address trends in your industry.
Another type of content that is always interesting to people is when you express your thoughts on a major industry trend. Usually, there’s already a great deal of conversation taking place around major events, and adding your two cents to it can help you stand out.
Although this is not an evergreen topic, it will still engage people and help them by offering an interesting perspective. Make sure that you present a unique viewpoint or explain any misconceptions surrounding the trend and your content should do well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Create a post or dedicate an entire page on your website just for FAQs. You’ll be able to explain solutions to common issues relating to your product in detail.
You can also create live videos where your audience can ask you questions and you address them live. This allows you to engage with your audience directly and show them that you’re invested in helping solve their problems.
We just covered some content types that will always be helpful to your audience. These formats can help you develop topic ideas when you can’t think of anything.
You can also use the topic ideas suggested here to plan your content calendar and set up posts, videos, live webinars and more for the weeks and months ahead.