Author Maria Perez is director of news operations at ProfNet, a free service that helps journalists find sources.
Earlier this month, I attended BlogWorld & New Media Expo, a three-day conference and tradeshow for bloggers, podcasters, Web content creators and social media innovators. I was able to listen in on several of the content creation and blogging sessions, and will share highlights from a few of my favorites.
1. Google AdWorlds: Keyword Tool: Type in keywords (e.g., “gluten-free”) and you get a lot of content ideas in the keyword report.
2. Google Alerts: Set up a Google Alert for keywords in the area you cover.
3. Google Insights: Shows you top searches and rising searches (i.e., emerging trends). “When you’re first out of the gate to write about something, you’re the one who gets cited and gets the traffic,” explained Brooks.
4. Google-related searches: See the bottom of any Google search.
5. Google Analytics: Shows you what keywords are most important.
6. Content Strategy Generator: A publicly available Google document that lets you input a keyword and pulls up articles, blog posts, etc., related to your keyword.
7. Social Mention: It’s like Google Alerts, but for social media.
8. Wikipedia: Look up any topic and scroll down to the Table of Contents, References and See Also sections to generate ideas.
9. Review an industry book.
10. Do a product review.
Unanswered Questions, aka “The Sweet Spot”
11. Questions from customers: Create a Dear Abby-style column and answer the question there.
12. Quora: People pose questions regarding topics in your industry every day. You can use those questions as story ideas.
13. Yahoo! Answers: If you have a gardening blog, for example, check out the garden section of Yahoo! Answers to get story ideas.
14. LinkedIn Answers: “If you’re in business-to-business, you should be there,” said Brooks.
15. LinkedIn Groups: “This is where the best conversations take place,” said Brooks. Join the groups and see the conversations happening there.
16. Competitors’ FAQs: Go through the FAQs, take the questions there, and answer them with your own perspective.
17. Google suggested search: When you type in a phrase, you’ll get suggestions from Google on other searches that were done using the same words you type in.
18. YouTube suggested search: Same as with Google suggested search, but on YouTube.
19. Keyword + “discussion forums”: Type in any topic and add “discussion forums” at the end to see what people are talking about.
20. Keyword Questions: A “freemium” service via which you put in a keyword and get a list/report of the questions people are asking in your market. Tip: “Go broad, rather than narrow, with this one,” said Brooks.
21. Ask.com’s Q&A section.
22: Focus.com’s business-oriented Q&As.
23. Blog comments – both from your blog and others’.
25. Get seasonal: Create content relevant to the season, e.g., “What the NBA finals can teach us about…”
26. Prismatic: Looks at what you talk about in social media and sends you a feed of content it thinks you might be interested in.
27: Twitter search: Put in keyword phrases and see what people are talking about.
28: WeFollow: Look at the categories you cover and it will tell you who are the most influential people in that category. See what they’re writing about.
29. AllTop: All the top headlines from popular topics around the Web.
30: Google Trends: Enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. Hot Searches lets you see a snapshot of what’s on the public’s collective mind by viewing a stream of the fastest-rising search queries in the U.S.
31: OpenBook: Lets you do a live-search of Facebook member status updates in real-time.
32: Paper.li: See what people are writing about on the topics you cover.
33: EzineArticles: Search by keyword to see what people are writing about.
34: Amazon “See Inside/Table of Contents”: View the table of contents in any book in your industry to get ideas.
35: Digg: The latest news headlines, videos and images.
36: SlideShare: “It’s like YouTube for PowerPoint,” said Brooks.
37: Your tweets, retweeted: what you said that people retweeted.
38. eBay: Type in keyword phrases and see what comes up.
40: Know Your Meme, a website dedicated to memes.
42. StumbleUpon: discover new and interesting Web pages, photos and videos across the Web.
43. Delicious: a social bookmarking service.
44: Life – as in real life. Go for a walk. If you get an idea, make sure you write it down right away.
45. Invite a guest blogger – it’s good for you and for them.
46. Interview an expert.
If all those still don’t help you come up with ideas:
47. On Google, type in “blog ideas for…” (e.g., “blog ideas for lawyers”).
48: Fiverr.com: Hire someone to write a blog post for you for $5.
You can read more from Maria Perez at her blog on ProfNet Connect.