I have a writer friend who is like an overly full cup of water being carried down a hill. She is full of content ideas and they just spill out, seemingly effortlessly. Prolific, doesn’t even begin to cover it. I will never experience that in this lifetime! So I have to really work at coming up with decent ideas to write about. When I need something to get my creative mind flowing, one thing I like to do is read blog comments. I will go to the various blogs I read regularly, find a post that is interesting, read the post, then read all the comments, scouting for ideas. You could call it blog comment prospecting.
So, let’s go ahead and go find some blog comments. The first one I went to was a Whiteboard Friday on the Moz blog. This one was about cleaning up your site “cruft” before it becomes a ranking problem. You can find it here. After reading the transcript I started scanning the blog posts and 14 seconds later, an idea!
Here we have a real user asking about how to use Screaming Frog in the way Rand mentioned in the WBF. I didn’t see that anyone answered his query, so I could go write up a quick “how to” post or do a quick screencast on how to do this. Then, among other ways to promote my new content, If the post is relatively new, I could go to these same blog comments and give Lee a heads up about my new post. I wouldn’t worry about that if the post is an older one, because chances are by then he would have already found his answer elsewhere.
So then I cruised on over to Search Engine Land, to see what I could find. I found an article titled “4 Reasons Organic Search is Better.” Sounds promising. 10 seconds in and BAM there it was.
Luis used a phrase that has caught my attention lately. He says “First of all because organic traffic is free.” People use the word “free” quite a bit when discussing the reasons to focus on your organic search efforts. Organic traffic is not free. I could do a very detailed and compelling post on why it isn’t actually free. The author of the post actually doesn’t talk about it being free. She talks about it in terms of lower investment to maintain it, although one could even argue that. Anyway, this could be a good post, as long as we do a thorough job of talking about it.
One other thing. I usually go do a quick search on my idea and make sure it hasn’t been done a dozen times. If it has been done and there really isn’t an angle I can take that offers unique value, I will probably move on. There are endless ideas out there.
So far my prospecting has taken me all of a couple minutes total.
Let’s do one more. I took a quick look at my Feedly news feed (BTW, if you haven’t set up something similar you have got to do this soon!). Hey another post idea. How to set up a Feedly news feed! Anyway, in my feed I decided to go check out the latest at Stone Temple Consulting. Eric Enge and Mats Tolander, had a quick discussion about Structured Data and Schema. At the time of this writing there is only one lonely blog comment. But would you look at that! Miraj Gazi came through for us!
There is it. We could do a post or preferably a screencast on how to use the Data Highlighter. If you’ve never used the data highlighter, then you’ll have a bit more work to do on this one, but hey it will be worth it. One thing to consider on this idea. There are a fair amount of posts and a few videos out there on this topic, including the main one from Google. I’d read and watch those to see if there is an angle you can take that will offer something unique. Maybe the other posts and videos are missing something or aren’t entirely clear. Even the Google video doesn’t and the Data Highlighter page doesn’t answer all the questions. So that is your quest, see if you can answer all the questions someone might have when trying to use this tool and do something more than has already been done.
Well, it didn’t take long and we had some pretty good ideas to put in our idea notebook. We have barely scratched the surface here and there are tons of other types of conversations happening in social media, on forums, or in places like Quora. This same principle can be used in all those places. Before long you’ll have so many ideas, they’ll be spilling over. Those prolific bloggers will have nothing on you and you’ll be able to fill out your editorial calendar for the entire year!