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If you’re running an online business, content is the heart and soul of it all. This is how you connect with new people, and how you can show up and serve your audience on the regular.

But, it also is one of the most time-consuming parts of running an online business. It takes A LOT of time to produce quality content that will serve your audience well. 

Are you sometimes unsure of what content your audience wants? About what will work to pull in new people?

I’ve got you. Last week we talked about how much time you save when you plan, so let’s talk about planning content.

In episode 5 – How to Create Your Own Content Calendar – I went through how to put all your content ideas together into a calendar to save you some time and keep you focused as you’re creating content.  Go back and give that one a listen after this if you haven’t already.


What I’m going to cover today is a way to brainstorm ideas for filling in your content calendar. You can do this 2-4 times each year. And keeping a running list of ideas helps speed up this process over time.

Some ways to keep track of your ideas are:

  • Using the notes on your phone
  • Using an app like Evernote or Google Doc
  • Using a project management tool so you can move ideas to projects

Alright, let’s dig in.

I want to let you in on how to find what’s popular that others are talking. One important thing to mention here is that I’m not saying you copy anyone else.  But that you find popular topics relevant to your product or service, and then put your own unique spin on it. Make it your own.

I’m going to go through four different ways to easily look at what content is popular. 

I would not use just one of these to get ideas and move on. It’s important to get a well-rounded picture so I definitely make the time to go through each of these. It’s most helpful if you go through it all at once, so it’s easier to compare and spot common trends. If you can make time for an hour or two to do this, you’ll definitely be glad you did!  If you are really crunched for time, be sure to use at least 2 or 3.

Before you start, get organized on how you want to track your ideas. I like to create a different list for each content pillar, or content category (something I covered back in Episode 5 – How to Create a Content Calendar).  This way when I’m dropping content onto my calendar, I can ensure I have content across all pillars for a given quarter that I’m planning for.

Alright, once you’ve organized yourself a bit the first place to go is Google

When you start typing in Google it gives auto drop down options of popular phrases, so if you pay attention to what phrases pop up that can be a good indicator of popular topics and a good indicator of what words to use within your content for search engine optimization (SEO).

For topics that are a good fit for you, write down the exact Google suggested phrase so you know what it is for SEO.

You can also run searches for topics that are a good fit. Look at the top ranking pages. Is there something they missed that you could go deeper on?  Is there a way to make it more focused to your specific ideal customer? Is there a way you could put a spin on it to make yourself stand out?

Next, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Google has a “what others are searching for” section that often gives either other angles that people are searching for on that same topic, or complimentary topics which could expand your list of ideas.

After you’ve searched a bit in Google, the next tool to use is Pinterest

Like Google, Pinterest has automatic drop down options when you start to search. You can do the same searches in Pinterest as Google to see how it compares.

When you hit the search button, Pinterest has keywords along the top of the search results. These are helpful for understanding how Pinterest is looking at content. These are great words to track and use in your pin descriptions if you’re pinning your content here.  When you search, check out the pins that pop up. Click through to see the number of times it’s been pinned to get a sense of what’s popular.

Next is a cool tool called Answer the Public.

It’s a tool that helps you dig into specific keywords in a different way.  So grab your most popular keywords from your Google and Pinterest searches, and head over to Answer the Public.

You only get so many free searches each day, so start with your most popular keywords. The results are going to break into three categories: Questions, Prepositions and Comparisons. 

For questions, it displays phrases for your keyword into 10 different questions:

  1. which
  2. why
  3. when
  4. will
  5. how
  6. who
  7. what
  8. can
  9. where
  10. are

For example, if I type in “marketing” as a keyword, it pops up with:

  • ARE marketing and advertising the same thing
  • CAN marketing influence consumer’s decisions
  • WHAT marketing means

There’s a little green indicator of strength to help you determine what are the more popular questions. As you can see from my example, having a specific keyword will give you better, more focused results.

The propositions section breaks down 7 ways:

  1. for
  2. without
  3. with
  4. to
  5. near
  6. can
  7. is

Sticking with my marketing search, it shows results such as:

  • marketing WITHOUT social media
  • marketing FOR small businesses
  • marketing TO millennials. 

The last section is comparisons, which breaks down 5 ways:

  1. vs
  2. versus
  3. and
  4. like
  5. or

Sticking with the marketing example, results show:

  • marketing VS advertising
  • marketing AND sales
  • market LIKE a pro

Since Answer the Public is taking phrases into the most popularly searched ways, this is a really great way to find SEO-friendly phrases and content ideas.

And I’ve saved the best for last.

This is my favorite way to find content, but it can also be more time consuming than Google, Pinterest or Answer the Public.  And that’s using frequently asked questions for content topics.

You can find FAQs within your own customers or clients. It’s a great way to have content to point them to when they do have a question. 

You can also look to Facebook groups where your ideal customer hangs out. Searching for your keyword terms in a Facebook group will give you previously asked questions or discussions on that topic. You’ll want to look for how much pops up when you hit that search, and how much engagement there is on those posts as a sign of a topic of higher interest.

So, go ahead, run some search and drop content ideas into your calendar that you’re confident will be winners!