How To Create Content Ideas For An Entire Year

I’m not a huge fan of the question, “What’s your best tip?”

Usually things worth doing in life aren’t achievable with one tip.

Little things here and there can help change your life for the better I guess. And I guess I really do have one favorite tip when it comes to content marketing.

Several years ago I started blogging and every night I would sit down to write, but first I would have to think of something to write about.

A lot of the time I would have an idea or maybe even a handful of ideas. Those times were easy, but other times I would have nothing and I’d sit there with writers block for hours sometimes and not get the post done until really late.

Then I had a revelation.

I’m not the first with this idea. I can’t remember exactly where I learned the idea, but I think it was from where I was working at the time.

I was a brand manager for a footwear company. One of the things we used was a calendar for our email program. We would meet once a month, the designer, the email marketing manager, the merchandiser and me and discuss ideas for emails for the next month.

We’d get the whole month’s calendar filled out and even save some ideas for the future.

Simple.

Genius.

It really worked. So somewhere along the way I started doing that with my own blogging and eventually with the clients we work with at Ghost Blog Writers.

If you’re reading this post right after it’s published then now is a great time to get all your content ideas ready for the next year. And even if you’re partway through the year you can still work on ideas for the rest of the year.

Here’s how to do it…

Identify Idea Sources First

 Before you get ready for a meeting take some time to create a list of all the places where you’ve gotten content ideas in the past.

They might be:

  • Past content efforts
  • Customer comments
  • Industry forums
  • Social media
  • Industry blogs and publications
  • And more…

You’re looking for places where your target audience is asking questions. And in the case of publications you’re looking for popular pieces of content. What’s popular gives you an indication of what your target audience is looking for. And even on those blogs you could look at the comment section to see if readers are asking questions that aren’t being answered.

This works well for a blog and for other types of content marketing, but let’s say you’re creating a promotional email calendar.

It’s still good to identify sources of ideas. Your list might include insight from the merchandiser who picked up some upcoming trends at a conference.

Set A Meeting With All Stakeholders

Next, set the meeting with all the stakeholders. That might just include you. In this case, set aside a couple hours for yourself to get to work doing nothing but brainstorming and what we’ll talk about next.

But your meeting might need a few different people like the manager, merchandiser and a few others. Get everyone that can help with ideas in the room.

Afterward you might need to run the calendar by the CMO or CEO. They probably don’t need to be in the meeting.

Make sure the team knows that this is just a one time thing for the year. Make sure everyone can get together for a couple hours. You could even set it up so that people come to the meeting with ideas already planned even if that is just to help get things rolling.

Look At Categories

You could jump right in with ideas. That’s not a bad way to go next, but it’s good at this point to take a few minutes to look at your categories. They might be categories for blog posts, video series, podcasts or whatever.

Look back on the analytics and see what categories and types of content have been the best in the past. I should have mentioned that earlier. It’s good to have the analytics ready for the meeting.

You can see what content has done well and that can help drive ideas, but it can also help with categories.

You might want to add new categories, remove categories or create more a balance between the categories.

Create A List (Without Dates)

Now you can dive into the list of ideas. You can brainstorm where any idea is listed. I actually like this approach. Create a huge list. Everybody can look at forums, questions that customer service has been getting and all the sources of ideas.

Then just keeping adding ideas until you have way more than you need and when the ideas start to slow down.

Let’s say you write two blog posts a week or produce two videos a week. That’s about 100 pieces of content that need 100 ideas.

Create a list with twice that. You’ll usually find duplicates and ideas that aren’t really that good, but you’ll be doing pretty well by keeping the best 100 out of the 200 or 300 that you brainstorm.

And you can always do some extra content or save ideas for next year.

Prioritize & Organize The List (With Dates)

This part will take some time too.

You’ll be going through the big list. You’ll be putting duplicates or similar ideas together. You’ll be looking at the analytics from the past and finding out what ideas maybe will have a higher likelihood of succeeding. You’ll be seeing what questions are being asked the most by your audience and so on.

You might also find that certain ideas will work better during certain times of the year.

This is the time to really finalize the schedule and get it ready. Go back and forth with the stakeholders and really make sure that everyone can agree that you’ve created a great schedule.

Conclusion

Now that your schedule is created for the entire year you’ll find that it’s much easier to create the content. Whoever is in charge of the research and writing or whatever doesn’t have to brainstorm. They can get to work with the idea.

One thing I just remembered is that it can help to also add some notes to the ideas in the calendar. Say one idea is for 5 Tips… You might want to include a couple tips that you or the team want to make sure are included. The writer or creator can work from there.

Still leave some room for flexibility. A schedule or calendar can be pretty well set it stone, but obviously something might come up in the next year where you have a really good idea to squeeze in. Go ahead and leave some room for flexibility.

This is really one of the best tips I can give for content marketing. I certainly didn’t come up with the idea. I’m not the only one to use it, but I certainly love using it. I don’t know how you could really do content marketing without it.

Dayne Shuda

Dayne Shuda

Owner of Ghost Blog Writers.

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