1. General Forums (Quora, Yahoo!, etc.)
One of the first places I go to find inspiration for titles is Quora. It’s a huge forum where people ask questions about everything under the sun. Simply type in the topic your readers are interested in or the name of your industry, and you will start finding questions that you can turn into content.
2. Online Groups (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
Social media groups are like niche forums. People discuss industries, interests, and topics. Look for the groups that don’t allow lots of article sharing. Those are mostly spam. Look for groups in your industry that have a lot of questions and answers.
3. Industry Publications: Popular Titles and Topics
Find the sites in your industry that publish all the latest news, trends, tips, and everything else your readers love. Look for the articles with the most engagement: comments, shares, views, etc.
You’ll get a feel for what’s popular and what the hot topics are. Create content on those topics, and try to either bring a different viewpoint or expand on what’s already been discussed.
4. Industry Publications: Comment Sections
On industry publication sites, you’ll see comments. The people leaving the comments are your target readers, so notice what they’re saying. Since writers do not, and cannot, share everything on a topic in a single article, sometimes readers will ask questions. Look for those questions, and provide answers with your own content.
5. Social Media: People You Follow
Create a list of your ideal readers. Usually, that’s a list of your best customers or ideal customers. Follow them, and take note of the content they engage with. See what they share, reply to, etc. Those are topics you can cover with your content.
6. Social Media: People Who Follow You
A basic social media strategy is to share the content you create (and the best content you can find) that your target audience will find interesting and useful. If you do a good job of this, you’ll attract a following.
SlideShare kind of falls into its own category of online content. It’s a hugely popular site, and there are slide decks for just about every industry out there. Search for your industry, and find the most popular decks. From there, create content that builds on the popular topics or that presents your unique commentary.
8. YouTube: Industry Videos
There are a few ways you could get inspiration from YouTube. The one that works the best is to find the most popular videos from your industry, which could be how-to videos, trend videos, news videos, or whatever. Then look for those with views, comments, and other engagement, and you’ll have the topics you should be focusing on with your content.
Talk to interesting people. I like to think that everyone has a unique perspective to offer on something. Even if they’re just telling their own stories about experiences they’ve had, it can lead to inspiration for a post. So interview someone. Talk to them in person, on the phone, or over email. Ask them a few questions.
Use the discussion as inspiration. You also could use the interview as a piece of content, but always get permission before you do that.
Are you unsure about what your customers need to know? Ask them what they’re struggling with. Ask them for three challenges they’re facing in the industry. Ask them what topics they would like to know more about. Don’t overdo it with surveys. Directing even one question to a few customers can lead to great content inspiration and ideas.
11. Your Website: Comment Sections
In the same way you can get ideas from the comment sections of other websites, you can get great ideas from your own comment sections. If readers are asking questions or telling you what you should have included, you can use that to create new content.
12. Popular Posts on Your Site
Look at the popular posts on your site, even going back a few years. You can create new content on the same topics or repurpose content into other forms like videos, podcasts, and more.
What does your company have coming up? Big announcements can make for content that your customers would find interesting.
14. Google Search Box Suggestions
Notice the suggestions that appear when you start typing a search into the Google search box. Some of the suggestions can be ridiculous, but others can give you clues about what people are searching for.
15. Popular Content Types from Other Industry Publications
Use popular content types, such as the Top Ten list from David Letterman. People love that format.
Maybe a popular site presents annual awards. You can create awards for your industry, its influencers, and best products and tools.
16. Content Topic Generators
There are a few content topic generators available. They use popular title formulas, and you fill in the blanks with your industry terms and keywords.