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Source Quality Content … Continuously

What does every blogger need more of? Quality content!

This is the first of a series of six posts that tackle key content questions. Today, we’re looking specifically at content sources: places where you can get ideas and information that, with a little work, you can turn into quality blog posts.

Your posts may be text, images or video; they could deal with any topic. But every blogger needs post ideas, and all of us hit uninspired patches through which we still need to produce compelling content to a regular schedule.

Thinking strategically about the content sources you use can deliver several benefits:

  • It provides its own inspiration: can’t think of a personal story to share today? No problem — use one of the many other content sources at your disposal.
  • It can make your life easier: instead of scrounging around one or two sources of ideas, you can find and track great sources through which you’ll gain access to a constant flow of post ideas.
  • It helps ensure you don’t omit important information: if your blog covers a growing market space, there are probably news items and events that you’ll want to make sure you cover. Monitoring key content sources will help you deliver the essential stories to your readers at the right time.
  • It can help you to think intelligently about how you pitch each post: a greater choice of content sources offers you more opportunities to creatively reach specific reader segments in ways that resonate specifically with them.
  • It can give you a wider range of tools with which to achieve your blogging objectives: try different content sources, and over time you may well find that different types of information produce posts that serve particular objectives. We all know, for example, that a review post can provide affiliate opportunities that can translate directly into revenue. Work out which post types help achieve specific audience, promotion or revenue goals, and identify content sources for those posts, and you’ll be able to focus on making the content resonate with your audience, rather than spending your time searching for basic post ideas.

I usually see content sources as falling into two categories: internal and external sources.

Internal Content Sources

Internal content sources are those that exist within my operation, myself, and my audience. They include:

  1. feedback and audience discussion around past posts
  2. the audience itself
  3. my experiences, perspective, and opinion
  4. my network of colleagues and contacts

It’s essential that you stay abreast of what’s happening on your site. Existing discussions can help you identify topics that unite your audience in sharing, learning, or debate — all of which helps build community.

It’ll also provide one means for engaging with your audience (along with social media and other sources of direct audience contact). Sure, your site stats are helpful as a frame of reference, but nothing beats actual user engagement for getting ideas about what your blog’s readers want to know, what makes them laugh, and what motivates them.

Thinking objectively about your own experiences in the field, as well as those of your contacts, can unearth some intriguing ideas and information that can immediately help you to develop posts. But beyond that, your passion for your field should see you investigating ideas with colleagues, and forming your own opinions about industry developments. Those unique perspectives can provide a wealth of post ideas — from interviews and news-style reports to the kinds of opinion and analysis posts that stick in  readers’ minds, and keep them coming back to check the comments long after they’ve read your post.

External Content Sources

External content sources lie beyond my immediate sphere of operation. They include:

  • other media focused on the same topic, including offline media, such as interest magazines and industry publications, forums, user groups, social network trends and discussions, and more.
  • other people focused on the same topic, including thought leaders, commentators, reviewers, passionate hobbyists, and organisational heads.

I like to subscribe to media that focus on the same topic as my blog, so I’m constantly fed content ideas through story alerts, media releases, and news updates. The same goes for tracking people who lead opinion or have expertise in my area — by subscribing to their blogs, regularly visiting their sites, and following them on social networks, I can keep a grip not just on the news, but on the discussions and thinking that occur in the broader arena in which I operate.

The posts that arise from these sources might be as pragmatic as a product or service review, daily reports from an industry conference, or ongoing commentary on a major development in your area of interest. Or they can be as theoretical as an essay taking in various industry-leading opinions, advice, and responses on a particular topic. The posts may be yours, or those of a guest blogger you’ve sourced through your offsite research. In any case, your blog won’t be short of content.

Continuous Content

Sourcing regular, quality content is every blogger’s challenge. But with that challenge comes the hurdles of variety, insight, exclusivity and personality. At the heart of it all, you’ll need a continuous content sourcing approach.

To source content continually, you’ll need to build content sourcing into your schedule, and into your brain. Yes, you’ll need to dedicate time to content-sourcing tasks, like flicking through RSS feeds, reading, researching, interviewing, networking, and so on. But all that becomes easy if you treat everything you do around your blog topic as a potential content sourcing opportunity.

Soon, you’ll no longer sit down to write a blog post and start by wracking your brains for ideas. Instead, you’ll find content ideas pop up everywhere. You’ll stop asking yourself, “What will I write about?” and find yourself picking and choosing from a plethora of ideas that “just come to you”.

What’s your favourite source of quality content ideas?

Continue reading this series of articles on questions surrounding blog content.

About the Author: Georgina has more than ten years’ experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. She now blogs for WebWorkerDaily and SitePoint, and consults on content to a range of other clients.

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Hey Georgina,

    Awesome Post girl. You’ve made Some Brilliant points.
    I get my content idea from social media sites, forums, discussions, comments..!!

    Thanks for sharing this great Post. Really awesome Post.

    ~Dev

  2. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Georgina,

    This is a great post! This is an issue most bloggers have at one point in their blogging life. I like to use a combination of both External and Internal.

    Sometimes I’ll throw a survey to my readers so I can know what it is that they are looking for.

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  3. Renee says:

    Wow, this was a really good article. It really did resonate with me because lately I’ve been stalling for content a bit. I know there’s plenty to write about, but the problem also is categorizing the content and organizing it.

    In my short time blogging, I’ve learned that the truth is that nobody deserves to be regarded highly as a blogger if they cannot come up with quality content continually, at least for a few years.

    It’s every bloggers job to continuously be growing, expanding and searching. Becoming more. That way, you really do become a teacher and an authority. You cannot be one without having the ability to come up with great content.

    Anyway, all this talk – I better start doing. Coming up with content really is challenging at times.

    Thanks Georgina!

    Best regards,

    Renee.

  4. Great information!

    You have neatly categorized external and internal content sources.

    How about information under public domain? What would you say about that?

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

  5. Boycott says:

    This post does indeed highlight one important aspect of blogging and that is, blogging is a continues learning curve.

    There are some blogs out there which portray a imagine that once the basics of blogging are understood your sorted for life. Problogger is not one of these blog. However this post just highlight the importance of being open all the time, be able to identify changes in technologies and specifically changes that effect the Internet and adopt to them.

    Its a revolution in its own way.

  6. TODHD says:

    It is all about providing quality content on a continual basis

  7. Some excellent ideas. Spending time thinking about how to pitch a post is something I need to work on.
    Thanks

  8. I see most SEO bloggers posts move around providing tips and guidance on SEO,SMO, SMM, everything related to Internet Marketing and they have large scope in providing such information as most businesses are dealing via online. Sometimes the sources of writing a content can be identified by the way you think on a particular topic either by questioning or by sharing experiences on that. Whatever, you have the zeal to explore things online, you will find lot of sources!

  9. jason says:

    Quality content is the key, and though sometimes taking the time to produce great articles is hard to do, it is necessary if you want your blog to be successful.

  10. Patty d says:

    Jumping on the bandwagon…but this is a brilliant post, really!

    The content that inspires me and, I hate to sound glib, is just life. Nothing beats it for the best source of inspiration.

    Highly recommend, y’all.

  11. Frank Adams says:

    Every blogger wants to write factual content, which is why mostly they write based on their experience or within their own perspective. But there are lots of quality content you can source in the net but the problem is verifying the veracity of the content.

  12. The hardest part about blogging for me is coming up with great content, that people want to read all the time. Ever so often I get a post just right and get alot more hits on it. It’s just these posts are few and far between and generally require hours of work, preparation and research and don’t always seem to be worth it.

    One avenue I’d love to use more is feedback from my readers, but first I have to get more of them commenting

  13. mary says:

    i never really looked at content sources this way before. i usually just start writing from my head. but it takes work to come up with your own great content that is engaging and also accurate. thank you for the post, i think i’ll start paying a bit more attention to sourcing

  14. Hi !
    Yeah I totally agree with you ,you’ve got some good points to that.Writing for a good content is really hard to do.That’s why thanks for this inspirational source ..
    Keep on posting !

  15. This is one of the biggest challenges to any writer, and I think even more so for bloggers who are writing daily or almost daily. Setting up as many “listening posts” as possible helps, and then, of course, we have to get creative!

  16. make money says:

    This post does indeed highlight one important aspect of walking a weblog & that is, walking a weblog is a continues learning curve.
    There is some blogs out there which report a imagine that one time the basics of walking a weblog are understood your sorted for life. Problogger is not one of these weblog. However this post highlight the importance of being open on a regular basis, be able to identify changes in technologies & specifically changes that effect the Web & adopt to them.
    Its a revolution in its own way.

  17. Faith says:

    It’s important to read widely and often because you never know when something will click. It’s like keeping a giant file cabinet in your mind as you continue to acquire information. Reading widely also helps one become familiar with topics, thus making it easier to translate for an audience from different backgrounds.
    It’s also important to get exposed to “how to” knowledge related to your topic. People enjoy blogs that offer concrete information that they can use.

  18. Erickson says:

    IF you really want to be successful online, you need to make sure that you go for the quality of your content. It would be very hard for you if you stay out of focus with that important factor. It’s what your reader are after of in the first place.

  19. Hi,

    Got to agree with Jason. Quality content is a must whether external or internal post.

    Even it’s hard to come out with quality content, it is important to stick to this principal if you’re going to blog for the long run.

  20. Krystle says:

    Wow. I’ve been having a hard time in differentiating technical writing from blogging, and I always end up writing rather boring blog posts. This is very helpful tip. Thank you! :)

  21. Gin says:

    I can usually come up with ideas watching tv, listening to the news, a documentary, etc. It’s mostly just being able to look at it in different perspectives l find. One time I came across one article idea which was interesting but sharing such information proved for me a dilemma since it could be used for wrong reasons against others therefore…chose not to write about it. Healthy vs unhealthy. l prefer to writing about that which can help others. Great post! :)

  22. You can use any blogs as your sources, as long as you keep your authority.

  23. Ideas come from many sources as you suggest, but it’s also important to consider a wider thesis for your entire blog output. What makes your ideas different? What’s the common thesis on which they rest? The more consistent your commentary, the more likely it will becoming compelling and support your overall branding and differentiation.

  24. Brice Islas says:

    Awesome! Cannot think of anything that is any more greater than a garage cabinet. We have various sets for different items like paints, solvents, and recreational gear.