Ever feel like you’re in a content rut? Feel like you finally have a great content marketing strategy, but you need some inspiration to kick-start your creativity? Trust us, we’ve been there before. Some days we can’t wait to jump into the content calendar and pour our ideas onto the pages. Other days … not so much.
For days that look a little more like the latter than the former, check out our handy list of 101 content ideas to add to your editorial calendar. For each idea, we try to include some insight, guidance, how-tos, or even links to additional resources we hope will help you along the way.
Lists are a tried-and-true content marketing favorite. You love them. We love them. But, most importantly, readers love them. In fact, some of the most popular content on the Convince & Convert blog is in the form of lists. Just take a look at “25 Best University Websites for 2019” as an example.
How-to content offers step-by-step, process-driven information to help your audience do something better. It’s specific and to the point. As a bonus, how-to content is naturally Youtility-based content, meaning that it helps instead of hypes, so it’s going to do a great job of building affinity. Really, it’s win-win for both your audiences and you brand.
And just like list articles, there is a ton of how-to content on Convince & Convert’s blog, like “How to Build a Content Calendar (Plus a Free Template)” or “How to Manage a Social Media Crisis.”
3. Questions and Answers (Q&As)
Q&As are fantastic because they’re genuinely helpful. We can take the questions our audiences are already asking us and turn out great content just by answering them. Oh, and Q&As can be incredibly entertaining. Just look at how WIRED does their Autocomplete Interviews, which is where celebrities and other public figures answer questions in the form of Google’s Autocomplete feature.
“Why” content explains in detail how something came into existence, or more generally, why things are the way they are. It can be extremely powerful when combined with fact-driven information, or even a controversial flare.
Just take a look at Co-Schedule’s “Why People Share” post, which was based on research and has received a ton of shares and comments since its original publish date.
5. Topic Archaeology/Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO has changed so much over the years. While focusing on target keywords was a hugely successful tactic in the past, Google’s all about semantic search today. Instead of prioritizing content around keywords, focus on uncovering hidden content opportunities instead with our Topic Archaeology process, which focuses on assessing opportunity by looking at a variety of channels, not just keyword volume.
6. Case Studies
You don’t have to tell your story all by yourself. Case studies tell the story of how you’ve helped your customers solve their problems—and they can be extremely influential in helping prospects make a purchase decision.
Testimonials are very similar to case studies, except that a specific customer of yours tells the story directly from their perspective. These are their own words—a form of word of mouth—that you use to inspire interest in your company, products, or services.
Think of quotes as short-form testimonials. Alternatively, you can use quotes from influencers to complement your content—which works particularly well in shareable graphics embedded in your content.
Jill Paider gave a great quote as a guest on Social Pros, so we turned her quote into a graphic quote card.
While interviews may be an avenue to gather testimonials and quotes, you may also use them for gathering insight from industry influencers you may have never met before. Late night shows are famous for their interview content, and an easy way to incorporate that into your content marketing is through podcasts.
Demos are a virtual show-and-tell for your product or service. While some demos can take up to an hour, and many users just don’t have that kind of time or attention span, you can always break demos down into shorter snippets, kind of like chapters in a book.
11. Product Review
Have a product you love that you think your audience will really dig? Do a review of it, telling your audience how it’s helped you solve your challenges, and how you think it’ll help them out, too.
12. Comparisons and “Versus” Content
You may see this a lot for product reviews, comparing one product to another. However, you can apply this storytelling tactic in many different ways to compare or contrast topics to help your audience learn the better option to pursue.
13. Company News
Just like the news in 2020, your company is ever-changing, too. Share your latest adventures with your audience to show your business is made of humans who are dedicated to making their lives even better every single day. Even silly, simple news can help your customers feel a connection with your company.
14. Industry News
Monitor your or your customers’s industry and report on the biggest news that may likely make an impact. Your audience will notice when you are the first to market with great news consistently. Just take a look at the growth of blogs like The Next Web.
Roundups: the content of choice for marketers who may not have a ton of time on their hands. Simply take a look at the most popular and impactful content in your industry, and compile a comprehensive list for your audience to save them from doing the research themselves.
16. Book Reviews
If your continuing education is anything like mine, you’re reading new material constantly to stay ahead of the curve. When you read something amazing that your customers will love, share it with your audience.
Convince & Convert’s own Jay Baer actually does this quite a bit:
17. Opinions and Rants
Controversy is one of the ways to publish viral content. Now, that shouldn’t be your goal, but rants have the potential to be super-interesting. Take a stance on a popular belief, and turn it on its head.
For example, CoSchedule’s post about the best blog post length generated quite a bit of buzz and comments from readers, as seen above.
Try writing content that begins with an unrelated story and includes a unique angle as the foundation of the content. There is too much “How To Write A Blog Post” out there but not enough “What My Stubborn, Opinionated Grandma Could Teach You About Writing An Awesome Blog Post”.
19. Personal Stories
When Greg Digneo laid out his life story on Copyblogger, the audience responded. He told the story of why quitting was the most profitable thing he’s ever done, and it was super-inspiring for tons of other readers. Connect the dots between your personal story and what your readers really care about, and they’ll eat it up.
Greg Digneo laid out exactly how he quit his job to pursue his passion in this successful post on Copyblogger’s blog.
Joe Pulizzi is notorious for making content marketing predictions. They’re always interesting, and he jokes about them when they don’t come to fruition. So he gets to become a thought leader while also showing his humanity—creating a personal and somewhat humorous connection with his readers—all at once.
You’ seen these awesome headlines from folks like Neil Patel and Brian Dean: Tell your audience how either you or someone you know was successful using the tactics you recommend.
Neil Patel is awesome at writing list posts that focus on successes to help his audience learn how to do something better like this post.
22. Failures and What Not to Do
Just as successes are fun for your audience to read, outlining techniques that don’tt work well is also interesting because there is an element of controversy to this type of content that people crave. Turn a generally-accepted-as-true idea into a lie, and people will read. This is also one content area that I am fortunately and unfortunately very familiar with, as evidenced by my COO article, Failure: The Ultimate Content F-Word.
23. Company Goals
Groove has caught the attention of our friends at CoSchedule, because they’ve laid out exactly how they want to grow their business and give reports on their progress. The best part is that their blog reflects it, too.
Groove lays out their goals out and tells the story of their progress.
Every post seems like a story on their blog that helps you understand how they’re reaching their goals all while drawing you in to become a customer. It’s a brilliant, bold, and super-unique type of content.
Similar to Groove’s blatant outlining of its goals, transparency in the form of open information on your business’ financials and growth in general can build trust with your audience. Buffer does this well with its “Open” blog, telling their story as a startup while building a connection with their audience.
Buffer’s Open blog is an example of transparency.
Your customers and audience are a perfect source for your own research. Become the source for industry research and studies. Speaking from our own experience at Convince & Convert (see our Instagram for Tourism report), research helps you understand your audience better than ever while helping you become a credible and respected source in your industry.
26. Facts and Stats
Similar to research, this is when you heavily research a topic with existing studies and present the findings to your audience. This can save you a bit of time from doing the research yourself, while also helping you become the go-to source that has compiled all of the information available on a specific topic.
Guides dive deep into detail on a topic to help your audience do something better than ever before. Some awesome guides use the skyscraper technique to provide more robust information than any other source.
Worksheets are perfect for turning the actionable advice from guides into printable materials for note-taking, brainstorming, and ideation. Think about elementary school and your teacher’s handouts for homework—it’s the same thing, just helping your audience work through the material you’re helping them learn.
Checklists are a type of worksheet that helps your audience follow a step-by-step process to achieve a desired outcome. Think about using checklists to complement list posts, for example.
Templates may combine information from guides, worksheets, and checklists all into one type of content to walk your audience through a step-by-step process, blatantly telling your users how to do something.
Our own Content Calendar Template is one of the most popular pieces of content on our website and helps support our lead generation goals. Check it out.
31. Tear Sheets
One of the most-downloaded pieces of content at CoSchedule is a tear sheet compiling a massive list of emotional words that help people using their headline analyzer get even better scores for their content. Think of this as a quick-glance document to help your audience do something better, faster.
Ebooks are a perfect way to round up individual posts as chapters in a larger content format. Make ebooks to provide long-form content that tells a bigger, more comprehensive story.
33. Audio Books
Now that you’ve written your ebook, complement it with an audio version for your auditory learners. Adding an audio element to your content increases engagement and time spent interacting with content. See how adding audio articles (not quite audio books, but similar) to our own site increased time on site.
34. White Papers
Used to provide robust technical information, white papers are perfect for telling complex stories in a concise format, often appearing as PDFs. They are also a perfect format to complement case studies to show the problem, solution, and outcome of how you help your customers overcome their challenges.
Some of your audience’s learning styles lean heavily toward visual content. Infographics help tell a story by showing key statistics, facts, and short-form text in a visual format.
Infographics are awesome for showing data in a visual way to take a relatively dry topic (text-wise) and add some vibrance to it, like this infographic example of the best times to post on social media.
36. Data Visuals
Bring research-intensive content to life with data visuals, like pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, and more to prove the points you’re making throughout your content.
37. Listicle Infographic Summaries
Infographics are a great way to visually surface big points in content. These visuals work extremely well to draw attention on pretty much any channel you can think of. Here’s an example of an infographic we created for the release of Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin’s book, Talk Triggers.
Sometimes, a complex pattern is best told in a visual way as a symbolic representation of information. Diagrams are awesome for demonstrating relationships and organizational flows.
Did you know that posters date back to the mid-nineteenth century? Even in our digital age, posters can still work. Offer them as digital downloads, or consider printing them off for in-person events or conferences.
This poster example actually combines a diagram right into the poster to demonstrate how to repurpose old content into new blog posts.
Thankfully, stock photography has gotten much, much better over the years, but custom photography is alway the first choice for the best results. Also, be sure your photography shows the faces and places where you work and the humans behind the scenes at your company.
Sure, sometimes these have no business value at all. However, humor and entertainment is one of the main reasons people share content on social media. When you want to show a little personality in content like a blog post, memes get the point across with a little flare.
42. Comics and Cartoons
Humor gets your point across in a memorable way. But not all comics or cartoons need to be funny, necessarily. Hand-drawn or even computer-generated cartoons can tell a step-by-step story, too.
Ah, screenshots—one of the best ways to show examples of digital content to prove your point. Social Media Examiner almost exclusively relies on screenshots to complement their blog posts, including one in at least every five paragraphs to break the monotony of text.
Posts like this one from Social Media Examiner rely heavily on screenshots to demonstrate the how-to, step-by-step nature of the content.
44. Animated GIFs
Animated GIFs take screenshots to the next level. These work super well for complementing demo content to show how something works or how to use a new feature on your website, blog, or in your software.
The CoSchedule content marketing blog uses tons of illustrations to highlight the main points of their articles. An illustrated post of theirs even turned humorous by featuring a unicorn with the headline, 5 Unicorns Of Refreshingly Unique Marketing That Will Make You Stand Out. Illustrations create visual interest in your content and make for some very shareable graphics.
46. Hand-Written Notes, Sketches, and Brainstorms
Some solo marketers may not have the luxury of a designer on hand. There are times when images of sketches, written notes, and brainstorms work well to illustrate your concepts.
47. Texts, Short Message Service (SMS), Web Push, and Push Notifications
Texts work for some businesses to share content, while others may opt for mobile push notifications from tools like Pushbullet. Or maybe your audiences could benefit from website push notifications from tools like PushPros.com?
Sometimes, it’ best to just go back to basics. Emails work, and they work incredibly well, especially when content fits the medium. In fact, according to a recent report, email generates $38 for every $1 spent, making it one of the most effective channels and types of content available.
Courses are a great way to create content dedicated to education. We would even add workshops to this category, too. Convince & Convert is no stranger to offering content marketing courses, and we know first hand how valuable they are for growing your email list and building a community around your brand.
50. Certification Programs
When you find courses work well for your business, certification programs take them to the next level. Imagine even more robust courses that provide your students with homework, tests, and certificates of completion. Make your students feel special with exclusive membership in a special network.
51. Marketing Automation
Courses often run on marketing automation, but there are even more ways to use it. Marketing automation, at its core, involves sending emails to your audience after they complete a specific action. It works extremely well when coupled with new signups (whether it’s email subscribers or customer conversions) to onboard them and keep them engaged.
Most newsletters work well through email, though now printed newsletters may be a way to stand out from the crowd, since only .5% of bloggers include printed newsletters in their content strategy.
53. Websites and Web Pages
We’re pretty sure we don’t have to go into too much detail on this one. Just make sure to tailor your messages to answer the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) for your customers, and you’re set.
Images of our team appear on our About Us page to show the real people behind the scenes at Convince & Convert.
54. Landing Pages
Like websites, we’re pretty sure you’re all up to speed on landing pages. We like to use landing pages a lot for specific content campaigns.
55. Feature Pages
Some people talk about feature pages interchangeably with landing pages, but we like to think of feature pages as deep-dives into the details. Target these more toward the benefits of how your offering solves your customers’ challenges.
When AT&T addressed a huge social problem with texting and driving accidents, they launched a microsite to complement the social media campaign #itcanwait. The site is a great outlet for information on the campaign, only more targeted than if they included the information on AT&T’s own website.
Pro Tip: Supporting social causes is a fantastic way to create shareable content.
57. News Releases and Pitches
While news and press releases themselves are targeted more at journalists and editors who write publications your audience loves to read, the idea here is to get coverage in influential publications to reach your audience.
58. Pitch Packets
Pitch packets are sort of like public relations gift baskets that are specifically themed around what you’re pitching. For example, when I worked at philosophy (the skincare and cosmetic company), they were launching a brand-new perfume that had slightly effervescent, champagne quality to it. Their pitch packet to each targeted media outlet contained a full-sized bottle of the yet-to-be-released perfume, a marketing piece about the perfume, and a mini bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
59. Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
Yes, seriously. PSAs are great, and you can actually have some fun with them. Make them animated, get special guests, deliver important information in lighthearted ways—the opportunities are endless.
Whether it’s awards for your customers, suppliers, or even your industry in general, these are a powerful way to show you’re listening and supportive. And the folks who receive your recognition? You can bet they’ll share it with their networks, too.
Ever have that feeling when you just want to know your audience’s opinion on something? Polls are great for a quick, one-question dialogue to get you the information you need. Ask a question to get information on upcoming content ideas to create even better content based on your audience’s advice.
Surveys are perfect for gathering data you can use in research-based content. They’re also great for getting to know your audience’s needs, so you can create even better content. Use surveys when your readers and customers sign up and unsubscribe to understand areas where you can improve.
SurveyMonkey has great options for getting to know your audiences’ needs.
Quizzes complement courses super well and are a fantastic way to teach your audience something and measure what they’ve learned. You can use them for data points, but these are best used simply for engagement.
64. Games and Gamification
If your content marketing includes education, entertainment, or social causes, how can you turn your content into a game? Games are terrific for engagement with an interactive element.
65. Web Apps and Tools
When CoSchedule found out that nearly 800 bloggers and marketers searched for the term “headline analyzer,” and that there wasn’t a great solution for them, they decided to research 1 million headlines in their database to build a tool that would help them write better headlines. It’s their #1 driver for new email subscribers.
The headline analyzer from CoSchedule is an awesome way to improve your headlines to increase your click-throughs.
66. Voice-Activated Content
From Alexa to Google and more, voice-activated content and apps literally surround us, yet it’s so often overlooked when we think of creating content. Instead of optimizing like we would for search engines, we need to optimize for conversation, because we don’t say, “Hey, Google. Time now.” Instead, we say, “Hey, Google. What time is it?” It’s a whole different way of thinking about how users engage with our content, and how we answer their questions in return.
When CoSchedule launched a Click To Tweet WordPress plugin, they found an opportunity to help their audience enable their readers to share content directly inline in blog posts. It was also a terrific way to add “Powered By CoSchedule” to more than 10,000 blogs.
This is an example of what CoSchedule’s Click To Tweet plugin looks like when embedded in a blog post.
By now, everyone is familiar with the Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest, which used social interactions as votes to choose a new flavor of potato chip that would be created. Your contests can be as simple as replies or likes on social media, or as elaborate as the Lay’s contest. If you go the Lay’s route, be prepared for some … interesting submissions.
Thankfully, Today.com reviewed Lay’s cappuccino-flavored chips.
Challenges are like contests, except that it’s up to each individual reader to compete with themselves to improve. Think about 30-day challenges where you can provide your readers one thing to do every day to build a new skill.
Video is one of those content types that every brand should be investing in and creating, but they’re not. If there’s one thing social media platforms have been telling us over and over again, it’s that video consistently generates more engagement, and they prioritize video content in our audiences’ newsfeeds. To be honest, video is really not a nice-to-have content type any more. It’s a must-have. See the video marketing statistics you need to know for more proof.
71. Paid Social Media
There are so many ways to better reach your audiences on social media, thanks to paid advertising. From sponsored posts, to dark social, to paid ad placement, social media has just given old-school advertising a new place to spend. Remarketing is also a great option for targeting those who have visited your website or even certain posts.
Sponsorships are on the rise for content marketers to fund events, podcasts, webinars, and more to reach new audiences. Some larger brands even sponsor sports leagues and teams to connect with their audiences.
73. Native Advertising
Native advertising is content that appears in a publication of some kind—blog posts, magazine articles—that a brand pays for. Sometimes, brands even write the content themselves instead of the publication’s own journalists. Native ads look just like normal content and may contain disclaimers to inform readers they’re looking at messaging a brand pays for.
Like native advertising, advertorials are content that appear in publications as ads. These are common in newspapers and magazines—more print types of content. These ads often include more text that is similar to an article, but is clearly not mixed in with traditional content.
While they might be a rare sight these days, printed magazines can be a terrific format to reach audiences who don’t constantly stare at a screen (plus, they’re easy to repurpose as digital publications).
Content Marketing Institute publishes Chief Content Officer magazine to reach their audience.
This is a perfect format for sharing your custom data. Reports often include graphs, charts, and text you can repurpose into other content formats, too.
77. Digital Brochures
A classic: The digital brochure offers specific information on your business or specific services or features you offer.
Fliers are perfect for quick take-along content, usually well-suited for physical promotion for events. However, if you design them correctly, you can easily repurpose them for online posts and publishing.
2020 has turned into the year of the webinar, but that’s because it’s a great format to deliver content. Training and demos are well-suited for webinars, and they’re also a terrific way to build your email list with subscribers.
80. Virtual Events
On second thought, maybe 2020 has actually turned into the year of the virtual event? A lot of traditionally in-person events have had to move online this year, but that doesn’t mean that the content has suffered at all. Just make sure to download our free 11 Ways to Win with Virtual Events guide first!
81. Event Replays
Record your webinars and virtual events to provide videos of the content after the events are over. This is a great way to repurpose the hard work you put into a form of content that exists only momentarily to get the most bang for your buck.
82. Conferences and Workshops
While online events may be easier to coordinate (since anyone from around the world has the opportunity to present and attend), physical conferences and workshops are an excellent avenue of training and networking. We have a feeling that 2021 and beyond will see a fierce and enthusiastic return to in-person events.
Less formal than traditional conferences, Meetups provide an opportunity to connect with others in your industry, often localized to specific cities or communities. This is a perfect way to meet your local audience, and several have even moved online.
84. Live-Streaming Video
For any event, live streaming helps marketers bring in-person events to online audiences in real-time.
SlideShare is still a good place to plant all those decks you create for your webinars and events, although it’s not the only place you should be posting them. Don’t forget you can also write a blog post and embed the presentation into the post as supporting content.
Podcasts have taken a slight dip, now that commute times are way down, but they’re still a great option and content format. They work well for interviews and, as Joe Pulizzi mentioned once in his “This Old Marketing” podcast, they are likely to attract an audience of near-customers when you post them regularly. (If you haven’t already, check out our own podcast, Social Pros social media podcast.)
87. Live Chats
Whether you invest in a chat bot or you have a real, live person proving real-time customer service to website visitors, live chat is a great opportunity for you to connect with your audience and answer their questions. It’s also a terrific way to gather content ideas directly from your audience.
88. Blog Posts
Well, this one was bound to come up sooner or later! Just make sure you’re not creating random acts of content, and your blog addresses both your audiences’ needs and your business objectives.
89. Vlog Posts
I always love a good portmanteau and some great videos. Vlogs check both of those boxes. Vlogs are also great ways to complement normal blog posts.
If the written word isn’t for your audience, maybe the audio-visual nature of vlogging will connect with them like it does for Casey Neistat.
90. Audio Articles
We actually just recently started adding audio articles — audio versions of every post on the Convince & Convert website. Like podcasts, this is a terrific way to connect with an audience who is constantly on-the-go or would rather just listen to the audio version of an article.
91. Photo Galleries
Especially useful for showing portfolios and company culture, photo galleries are a hub designed to help you share visual content. Other uses could include infographics.
92. Content Libraries
CoSchedule includes a guide, template, e-book, infographic, or worksheet of some kind in all of their posts. So they decided to build a content resource hub to share all of the bonus materials they create in exchange for an email address. It’s another great list-building technique that their audience also find incredibly helpful.
CoSchedule’s Marketing Resource Hub is the perfect place to share lots of free guides, templates, infographics, and more.
93. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Like Q&As, FAQs are great for answering your audience’s questions. Those questions typically concern your product or service and may be technical in nature, though you could expand this to your industry in general to target highly searched terms and provide the answers.
Pro tip: Check out our formula for content marketing success, which uses your customers’ most frequently asked questions.
94. Content Hubs for Curated Content
You can complement your own content with the best content from other experts in your industry with curated content hubs. Tools like Uberflip are great ways to share awesome content with your audience that you may not have published yourself
95. Guest Posts, Podcasts, Webinars, and Videos
Publishing all of this content on your own platforms? Why not share your knowledge to introduce your brand to new audiences by writing or recording content for other awesome resources in your industry? Guesting for others with content types like blog posts, podcasts, webinars, and videos is a great way to expand your existing audience..
96. Content Syndication and Republishing
If you just published some awesome content on your blog, there’s a good chance other blogs in your industry will gladly accept and republish your content on their blogs, too. It’s called content syndication or republishing—a great way to maximize the work you’re currently doing to help you reach a larger audience.
97. Twitter Chats
Content Marketing Institute holds a weekly Twitter chat, to help connect with their followers. And it’s a simple social media event you can do, too. Just let your audience know you’ll be asking some questions at a specific time, and invite them to participate in the conversation. All they have to do is use the specific hashtag you define for your chat.
98. User-Generated Content
Why user-generated content? Well, for starters, Hootsuite notes that “Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands.” Also, creating strong content partnerships can open your brand up to an entirely new audience that otherwise would have taken a ton of time and a lot of resources to reach. Just remember that when asking for UGC, be specific with your content request, always ask for permission, and always give credit back to the creator.
99. Blog and Social Comments
Blog and social media comments are an awesome way to connect with others in your industry, provide your business’ insight, and even link back to your content (when done well). Just remember that no one likes a salesperson at a party, so make sure you’re jumping in on the right conversations, in the right ways
100. Influencer Programs
According to Tomoson, 51% of marketers believe they get better customers and build stronger audiences from influencer marketing. That’s because the relationship begins with trust in the influencer. But don’t make the mistake in thinking that the bigger the influencer, the better the results. Instead, look for micro-influencers who have a dedicated yet active and loyal following.
101. Ask Me Anything (AMAs)
This type of content combines forums, up-vote communities, and FAQs into a social event where you help your audience ask questions which you then answer. Popular marketing communities like Inbound.org are well-known for examples of this type of content.
When you’re ready to calendar all those great new ideas…
Ok. So now that you have all of these great, new, amazing content ideas, now what? Head on over to one of our other favorite blog posts, How to Build a Content Calendar, and take a deep dive into how you can easily build a more successful editorial calendar and score with completely free content calendar template while you’re there.
This post was originally written by Nathan Ellering in 2015, and extensively updated by Anna Hrach, Digital Strategist here at Convince & Convert, in 2020.
The post 101 Content Ideas to Add to Your Editorial Calendar appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.