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Content Goals: Here’s How to Come Up With Profitable Content Marketing Ideas Using My 3-Bucket Topic Strategy

As a content marketer, part of your job probably includes constantly and consistently coming up with content topics.

And not just any topics — you need ones that will resonate with your audience and earn ROI for your brand or your clients.

But, if you’re like most marketers, you are not a never-ending idea machine.

We’re all human. We can’t rely only on our finite brains for infinite content marketing ideas — although we should absolutely be pulling from our own creative geniuses within. But how do we jumpstart these ideas in an effective, productive manner?

There ARE data-backed, key ways to come up with high-ROI content marketing ideas.

And the way to do it is to map your content to content goals.

You don’t have to brainstorm until you feel like you’re brain-dead. You can and should rely on proven tools, workflows, and strategies for truly never-ending and always-profitable topic ideation.

That’s right: Never-ending. Always profitable.

really gif

Don’t believe me? You will soon. Let me prove it to you.

content marketing ideas guide

7 Steps to Map Your Content to Goals

  1. Use The 3-Bucket Topic Strategy for Topic Ideas Connected to Goals
  2. Find Broad Seed Keywords to Begin
  3. SEO Content Goals: 6 Ways to Use Long Tail Keywords to Generate Unique Content Marketing Ideas
  4. Four Ways to Use What Works for Others (Repurpose, Don’t Rehash)
  5. Content Goals Get Tangible When You Poll the People (6 Easy Ways)
  6. Run All Topic Ideas Past Your Topic/Goal Buckets
  7. Content Goals Will Get Clearer As You Repeat the Process

These are the seven steps we’re going to cover in today’s blog. Ready?

Content Goals: Your Detailed 7 Steps For Never-Ending Profitable Content Marketing Ideas

These are fail-safe strategies for coming up with endless, steady streams of content topics, ones that will never dry up. You’ll be able to clearly see your content goals come to life if you get this strategic, each time.

Ready to find out what they are?

Learn data-backed, key ways to come up with high-ROI content marketing ideas via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

1. Use The 3-Bucket Topic Strategy for Topic Ideas Connected to Goals

Before you do anything else, make sure the topics you choose are related to your overarching content goals.

This way, you always know for sure that the content you create will lead to ROI.

For my content marketing, I came up with something I call “three-bucket topic strategy.” (I also teach this, step-by-step with hands-on video training and exercise worksheets, in my comprehensive Content Strategy & Marketing Course.)

These are the “goal buckets” I rely on to guide all initial topic ideation:Three-bucket topic strategy

Every single piece of content I create should serve one of three purposes:

  • Build SEO rankings
  • Build sales & connections
  • Build brand awareness

Each topic bucket calls for a different content type. For example, to build my SEO rankings, I should create blogs and web pages around profitable long tail keywords.

Three-bucket topic strategy

Note that I don’t just throw out random ideas in a panic-ridden brainstorm session. (“Ohmygosh I’m running out of content topics – Aaaaah!”)

panic

I never panic–anymore. (I used to. Learn more about my story in my free masterclass.)

I always, always, ALWAYS refer to my topic buckets to guide content topic ideation.

I call this a “three-bucket strategy mapped to goal areas.”

Here’s a chart of how that looks:

Three bucket topic strategy mapped to goals

If a topic has no potential to hit one of my goal buckets, I trash it and move on. That topic will not bring in any ROI or help me meet my goals. Next!

Your own goals for your content might look different from mine. Think hard about what’s most important to achieve with content marketing for you/your client. Narrow these desired achievements down to three or four core goal buckets.

Also, remember that no idea should be too sacred to scrap. It doesn’t matter how much you like it or how trendy it seems, or even how much engagement others are getting from posting content about it.

If it doesn’t fit into YOUR goal buckets, it’s not a profitable content topic for you.

If your topic idea doesn’t fit into YOUR goal buckets, it’s not a profitable content topic for you. Trash it and move on. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Find Broad Seed Keywords to Begin

To complete any of the research steps for finding content marketing topics, first, you must have a broad stem topic in hand (also called a “seed keyword”).

This is simply a place to start. Usually, you’ll have no trouble coming up with a broad term (like “content marketing,” “SEO,” or “content writing”).

If your mind goes completely blank, however, use these techniques to find your starting point:

A. Use Google’s autocomplete feature. Just go to the Google search bar and type in the broadest industry term possible to find more options.

google-autocompleteB. Try KeywordTool.io. You can search a broad term and the tool will spit out a long list of hundreds of related terms for free.

keywordtool-ideas

3. SEO Content Goals: 6 Ways to Use Long Tail Keywords to Generate Unique Content Marketing Ideas

Again, if you throw out random topic ideas for content, you can’t be sure that they’ll lead to ROI.

You need to start from a research angle to come up with topics. Base your topics on quantifiable data, and you’ll almost always be able to map them to your goals and bottom-line.

The first research angle is keyword research. From one long tail keyword, you potentially can create dozens of topics.

This is the general workflow:

A. Open your favorite keyword research tool. For this example, I’m using Mangools’ KWFinder.

B. Enter the content topic stem you want to explore. I’m going to search for “SEO writing.”

C. Look for high search volume/low competition alternatives, synonyms, and related keywords. Make a list of at least 20. (With help from KWFinder, I see that some of my options include “SEO writing,” “SEO content writing,” “SEO copywriting,” and “SEO article writing.”)

kw-research1

D. Keep an ongoing list of all the keywords you find. Group them by the initial term you searched. Include their difficulty score and search volume.

E. Choose one keyword from the list. Generate 5-10 content topics from that one term. Write them all down, and don’t leave any out. Even if your ideas don’t seem very good, record them. You can tweak them later/scrap them if they don’t fit into one of your content goal buckets.

F. If brain fog is rampant (or you haven’t had enough caffeine), use a blog topic generator to get the flow started. HubSpot’s tool is excellent for this. Just enter a few keywords and hit “Give me blog ideas!”

hubspot-blog-topic-generator1

The tool will help you come up with lots of topics. To keep adding to the list, riff on the ones the generator suggests.

hubspot-blog-topic-generator2

4. Four Ways to Use What Works for Others (Repurpose, Don’t Rehash)

This topic ideation technique puts inspiration into action. Use it to find website content ideas that are already working well with readers.

The basic gist: Look at top sites in your industry to see what they’re producing. Then pull from top posts and create content on a similar topic. The key is to make the topics you discover this way your own, using fresh insights and research.

This is how:

A. Look at top industry websites for their most recent content posts. What are they writing about? Which posts/topics are getting the most engagement?

Look at the actual website (most big blogs have a “top posts” toggle view), or search BuzzSumo for a specific website’s top-shared posts.

buzzsumo-content-analyzer

B. Search BuzzSumo for topics that get a lot of love from readers. Enter a broad industry category in the search bar, then read the most-shared posts for inspiration.

These are the top results for “SEO writing” – what trends do you see happening here, just from skimming the headlines? Write those down.

buzzsumo-topic-search

C. From what you’ve read, determine how you can put your own spin on the topic(s) you find. Think about these things:

Do you have anything new to add to the discussion?

  • Is there any new research on the topic you can highlight?
  • Do you have a different opinion about the topic from ones you’re seeing?
  • Is there an angle of the topic that remains largely forgotten or ignored?
  • Can you write a better, more comprehensive post about the topic?

D. Write down your topic ideas from the above prompts. Add them to your ongoing topic ideas list.

5. Content Goals Get Tangible When You Poll the People (6 Easy Ways)

Your audience/social media followers/blog commenters are a fantastic source of content marketing ideas for use in a campaign.

Essentially, you’re going directly to the source to find out what they want to see in your content. It’s fail-safe.

There are many ways to pick the brains of your audience members for ideas:

A. Flat-out ask them their main concerns/problems/questions in a social media post. Invite responses and see what people say. Record the subjects and topics they mention.

B. Create a social media poll to get more specific answers. You can easily create these types of informal polls on all the big platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Stories.

For instance, ask your audience to choose between two or three potential topics. Ask which one interests them the most.

create-twitter-poll

It’s super fast and easy, and people love engaging with these posts and sharing their opinion.

C. Search for industry hashtags on social media. Write down the subtopics people are chatting about.

D. Check question-and-answer sites like Quora, Reddit, or Answer the Public. Dig into the data you find at these places and jot down all possible content topics.

For example, when I search Reddit for the seed topic “SEO writing,” the list of results includes communities talking about the topic, question-and-answer threads, and posts on the topic.

reddit-topic-research

On Answer the Public, I get even more great data, including visualization charts of related topics and terms:

answer-the-public-seo-writingE. Engage with people on social. Comment on others’ posts and have conversations. Dig into your community and see what insights you can glean. Plus, the more you build relationships, the more you’ll create a web of people who will be willing to answer your calls for ideas.

You never know what you’ll learn from simply talking to people, so don’t be afraid to jump in.

F. Chat one-on-one. If you’re engaging with a certain person quite a bit on social media, whether it’s a peer or a customer, ask if you can email/chat one-on-one. Pick their brain, exchange ideas, and add any topics that come up to your ongoing list.

6. Run All Topic Ideas Past Your Topic/Goal Buckets

By now, you should have quite an impressive list of potential content marketing ideas.

Before you take any one of them for a spin, run them past your topic/goal buckets. See if they fit.

If you can’t make the topic fit into any of them, toss it. Cross it out and move on to the next.

Once you hit a topic that does fit into one of your goal buckets, you can move on to additional research/content creation, including outlining, drafting, choosing sources, and editing. Here’s my three-bucket topic strategy mapping chart again.

Three bucket topic strategy mapped to goals

7. Content Goals Will Get Clearer As You Repeat the Process

It’s your lucky day.

This content marketing idea process can be repeated over and over. Just plug in various seed topics to get the ball rolling. As you go, you’ll find new angles and subtopics you would never have discovered on your own.

Pretty soon, you’ll have a list of hundreds of B2B content marketing ideas just from this handful of research tactics.

The key is to write them all down (even the seemingly crappy ideas – hey, they’re a start) and keep that running list in a safe place. This list will become an integral tool for your content creation process.

And, because you’re vetting each topic against your goal buckets, you have a proven method to whittle down your content to ONLY what will be profitable for your brand.

(Yessssss!)

yesss

Revolutionize the Way You Generate Content Marketing Ideas in 2018 and Beyond

It’s time to stop hoping, wishing, and praying for content marketing examples and ideas to fall out of the sky and into your lap.

Instead, use a strategy that depends on real data and research to ideate topics.

This method will lead to ROI far more often than scratching your head and attempting to come up with something from nothing.

Start somewhere to get somewhere.

Then, rinse and repeat.

You’ll never run out of content marketing ideas again.

julia mccoy masterclass

The Content Marketer's Café with Julia McCoy Episode 4 content creation workflow

The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 4: How to Set Up a Content Creation Workflow & Process You Actually Enjoy

[clickToTweet tweet=”Catch the fourth episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, all about #content creation workflow hacks!” quote=”Catch the fourth episode of The Content Marketer’s Café with @JuliaEMcCoy, all about #content creation workflow hacks!”]

The Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy, Episode 4: How to Set Up a Content Creation Workflow & Process You Actually Enjoy

This is for the content creator that has sometimes felt stumped at the creation phase.

Here’s a few questions that might have ran through your head:

  • Where do I begin?
  • Do I just jot down an idea and start writing?
  • I have a keyword. Now what?

I’m here today to give you a few quick hacks on how to approach the content creation process in a few key workflow steps that will make it easier, less challenging, and natural, every time you sit down to write.

Ready?

Even if you’re an experienced content creator, it’s normal to feel like you’re right at Square 1 again when it comes to creating content.

How do you get past that and get into a comfortable swing with content creation?

3 Phases in Content Creation

Approach it in three phases:

Ideation, Creation, Preparation

workflow stages

FYI: These stages will differ if you’re writing for a client: example, clients usually have topics and keywords prepared, so you might be able to skip stage 1.

Why Stages? My Wake-up Call to Stop Rushing

But here’s why you need to think of creating content in stages.

When I started out in my agency, I was the sole staff member at my agency, and I was scared of growth and investing in what I needed to have, to grow. So, I did all my content, and rushed when it came to getting it out. I barely double checked what I published.

A year later, my husband who is our CTO actually asked me why I was rushing through my content creation process, when I did it so carefully for clients. That was a turning point. Now, I invest hours if not weeks into one piece of content and following a process.

Here’s how rushing harmed my content:

  • When the content I’d thrown together started ranking 2-3 years later, in super high organic places on Google – example, #2 for the long tail phrase hire an SEO content writer – I got zero conversions.
  • Only when I rewrote that crappy but high ranking content did I start to get conversions from it. (I ended up investing and paying double to fix the crappy content.)

The perils of “rushing content creation” happens for many business owners.

But if you start right and devote time and care to this process, and in the long run, your maintenance and “fixing” costs will be much less.

So let’s discuss these three stages.

1. First, IDEATION.

This is where you come up with a topic that is worthwhile. Think of content ideation like a crosspaths. You need to choose one road for every content idea you (or your client / team member) have, to make sure that idea is worth investing the time of creation into.

Once you have an idea:

  • Map it to a goal early in the idea phase. That way you stop low ROI from even happening.
  • Then, research and finalize your topic idea. Write it down.

It’s easy to know what you should be creating, when you know how your content idea aligns to your goals.

EXAMPLE: If you have a new site, skew towards looking for keywords that are relevant to your searchers so you can get some rankable content ideas going. Use a keyword tool to find that data. OR If you have an existing site, map your ideas in a sales/brand awareness direction and think of trending topics that you can add your authoritative voice to, in your industry. Use Quora to research trending questions being asked in your topic area.

#WordFromTheSponsor: I go really deep into each areas of this process and much more, in my new industry course. Get off the fence and invest in yourself, if you’re looking to grow your skillsets! Go here: www.contentstrategycourse.com

2. CREATION.

This is where you write down the topic, put it in your editorial calendar, and get started on writing. This stage includes drafting, writing, and optimizing the content, or having writer/writers creating it for you.

Time here should really depend on the piece, AND your creative flow.

Finding your flow in the creation step is KEY.

For example, I write best at morning and late in the day. I know that, so those are the only times I write. You MUST block off times around your creative flow.

Don’t create when you’re tired. Eat lunch if you haven’t. Simple stuff.

If you schedule your content around your creative flow and when you’re most charged up and refilled, you’ll create GREAT content.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend weeks writing – once I know and have researched my topic, I can write a 2000w blog from start to finish in one day if I match the writing to my creative flow.

3. PREPARATION: This is where you fine tune your piece and if it’s for your site, decide when to publish.

ALWAYS get a second pair of eyes on your content. That could be an editor, a creator you work with if you run a company and have a team, or an editor if you’re an agency writer. I don’t ever publish my content without a second pair of eyes on it.

When it comes to publishing, think of dates you can publish that will especially appeal to the topic – if it’s seasonal and applies to a holiday, publish and tie to that holiday week or date. Even Google’s birthday can mean you write an SEO topic and tie it to that day.

Final Tips:

If you’re doing the writing, there are also easy ways to “hack” and simplify that process.

Examples:

  • You can invest in a transcription service and speak your content into a recorder, then have the transcription service write it out for you. You can finalize it from there.
  • Draft your content ideas, then hire an editor to clean up and finalize your rough drafts.
  • Hire an expert copywriter!
  • Ask your assistant to interview you about a topic and write you up a recap—it can be much easier to edit spoken thoughts than start from scratch.
  • Mix up types and formats to change up how you present content to your reader. Remember your content cores.

Today’s Episode of the Content Marketer’s Café with Julia McCoy brought to you by… Julia McCoy!

I hope you enjoyed my fourth episode!

Please leave a comment on the video and tell me how I’m doing! This means so much to me! 🙂

And, come back every other Saturday for a new, short video where I teach one content marketing hack you can start using today.

Subscribe on YouTube: @JuliaMcCoy.

Also… In case you didn’t know, right now you can grab a FREE copy of the SEO expert checklist I use when publishing content that gets ranked by Google, when you join my Facebook group! Join the group at: http://bit.ly/contentstrategyfacebook

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