Anyone who’s been responsible for creating their own content can tell you that after a while—once the initial project enthusiasm runs dry—it’s difficult to come up with new topic ideas for posts and articles. But without consistent new content and articles, your agency or firm’s marketing footprint can get lost in the noise of everyone else’s, and your website might start ranking lower in Google search results (see Google Freshness for more information).
One of the services I provide to my clients is the creation of a monthly editorial calendar for their site. This is a document that I generally present in Excel that has article titles for every due date we have for the month, although some clients prefer them as lists of topics that they can then choose from and assign back to me. I send these calendars in advance so my clients have time to review the topics I propose and substitute any of their own that they want covered during the following month.
If you think that it’s difficult to come up with roughly 30 topics per month, per client for those I write for multiple times per week, you’d be almost correct. It would be difficult if I didn’t have some tricks up my sleeve—tricks that I’m about to share with you so break out your pen, pencil or quill:
- Keep an idea notebook. I have a notebook that is with me at all times. Inside I write down every idea or fragment of an idea that I have. Sometimes, I just write down a word or phrase. These fragments can often turn into the inspiration for a long article and a series of spin-off blog posts.
- Read. A lot. I have several newspaper, magazine and online newsletter subscriptions. I spend hours every Sunday morning reading through these items and thinking about how I can spin off the topics discussed and create article ideas for clients. Even those articles that I read that are not finance or insurance related can inspire ideas for my clients.
- Become your target reader. When you think about topics, think as your target reader does. An article idea that may seem like common sense to you may be a totally foreign concept to your ideal reader.
- Put your spin on it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being directly inspired by another article you’ve read, and writing your own article that uses the original article as a reference—but plagiarism is bad. It’s bad for you, bad for your business and could get your website shut down at least temporarily—not to mention the moral implications. When using other articles as inspiration, credit them and put your own spin on the content.
- Have a loose theme. I try to create loosely themed weeks for clients. Not only does that make it easier to come up with ideas but it also gives readers more bang for the buck as they get a well-rounded, well-designed pseudo course in finance, investing, taxes or insurance.
- Choose topics that help you send your message. Every client has his or her own message. Some have a product or service they want to sell, others want simply to communicate their value through education, and some want to inspire readers to think, question and make a change. As I develop topics for my editorial calendars, I keep my client’s message in mind and create topics that will best deliver that message.
- Mix evergreen content with current events. This should be handled differently for every situation—but generally speaking, websites should have evergreen content—content that stays relevant through the years—and content that mixes evergreen lessons with current event references.
These may not be all my secrets (hey—I gotta keep something proprietary, right?) but this should be enough to help you out for a long while.