Are you starting out on your Content Marketing journey and already fretting about how you are going to find inspiration and content marketing ideas week-after-week, month-after-month?

Surely you’re going to run out of content ideas any day now and will be left with a depressingly empty feed and in a deep creative hole of despair?

You’re not alone in this concern.

Luckily, the creative process involved in generating content ideas does not need to be such a mysterious black box. In fact, the entire process can be surprisingly systematised.

Get this part sorted and you can spend your energy on the actual creation and promotion of your content instead!


“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.” H. Jackson Brown Jr.


Create a solid foundation

Before we start to look at some of the tools and tactics available to generate content ideas, it is essential to create a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the processes.

Your Content Marketing idea generation system requires the following 4 foundational pillars.

Pillar 1: Understand the creative process

Understanding the creative process helps to demystify it so it doesn’t appear so intimidating and elusive.

There are considered to be distinct steps in the creative process. This theory was introduced by James Webb Young in 1939 in his book ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’:

  1. Gather your raw materials – Be curious! Consume all kinds of content on different topics, from different sources and in different mediums. Read, read, read.
  2. Digest the raw materials – Synthesise the raw material in unique ways. This basically means spending time thinking about what you have learned, maybe writing notes, doodling a bit and considering how it could potentially connect it with other ideas floating around in your head.
  3. Process – Have a break and do something else entirely to take your conscious mind of the process – go for a walk or watch a movie.
  4. Eureka moment – An idea will pop into your head when you are least expecting it. Don’t forget to write it down right away.

Pillar 2: Know your audience WELL!

Get inside your audience’s head. Your target audiences are real people and they are consuming content all the time – what can you offer them? Understand their motivations, pain points, schedules, habits and preferred platforms.

Understanding your audience starts with thorough research – however, this can be as simple as listening to them and asking for feedback.

Once you have a clear idea of your audience be sure to create some persona profiles. You could try using Xtensio’s User Persona Template.  

Pillar 3: Know your competitors

Have a clear understanding of who your competitors are and how they compare to you. This will help you later to find content marketing ideas via competitor research.

Pillar 4: Set up a swipe file

A swipe file is a collection of ideas/articles/inspiration/random thoughts and can be in any format. Set up your swipe file now so everytime you find something of interest you have a central (and organised) place to store it away.

Evernote is excellent for the purpose. You can clip any content from your browser in a single click, add photos you’ve taken on your phone, create written notes and tag and organise all this inspiration for super easy retrieval when you need it. 


Where to go for Content Marketing ideas and topic inspiration

Now that you have a solid foundation in place, you will find a lot more structure and sense in using the topic idea resources at your disposal.

There is no shortage of these. Let’s start with just 5.


Quora is a community of people asking and answering questions. Within Quora, you can subscribe to different categories and find loads of questions and answers around that topic, making it easy to see patterns.

The community can ‘upvote’ or ‘downvote’ questions, so if you see a high number of upvotes, you’ll know you’ve come across questions that many people share.

“Quora is the one tool that is so perfect for market research that it’s almost as if the target market’s problems are being served to you on a platter, begging to be solved.”

– Unsettle

Try it now

  1. Visit Quora and sign up/log in
  2. Search for a term related to your business
  3. Review the top results to see the types of questions that are being asked about the topic
  4. Click on the ‘past week’ filter (on the left-hand side) to find potential recent/trending topics
  5. Click on one of these questions and read the content, also note the ‘related questions’ on the right-hand side
  6. Jot down some ideas for topics and content in your swipe file

Google Suggest and Related Search

When searching on Google, you would have no doubt noticed that Google ‘autocompletes’ your search with suggestions. This can help you determine popular queries and topics for your Content Marketing.

Try it now

  1. Read the article from Curatti
  2. Try out Google Suggest and Answer the Public
  3. Jot down some ideas for topics and content in your swipe file.


Reddit is a social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.

Try it now

  1. Visit Reddit
  2. Read this article
  3. In the article, scroll down to ‘5 steps to mine Reddit for content idea inspiration’ and follow instructions 1 to 3
  4. Jot down some ideas for topics and content in your swipe file


Buzzsumo is an online research tool that allows you to discover what content is popular by topic or on any website.

Try it now

  1. Visit Buzzsumo
  2. Search for a term related to your business
  3. Browse through popular related content (note: a paid account is required for more in-depth research)
  4. Jot down some ideas for topics and content in your swipe file

Competitor’s EDMs

Subscribe to your competitor’s email newsletter (EDMs) to keep up to date on what they are doing (and get some content ideas!)

If you want to streamline the process of keeping track of EDMs, you can choose to use a paid service such as MailCharts. MailCharts aggregates emails from competing campaigns to help influence your own.

Try it now

  1. Go to at least 3 competitor’s websites and sign up for their email newsletter AND/OR
  2. Sign up for a MailCharts trial and add at least competitor’s emails (or brands in a similar industry to you). (NB: MailCharts includes mostly larger US brands so you may not find smaller or local businesses)
  3. Jot down some ideas for topics and content in your swipe file

You will probably find you have enough topics and content ideas to last you for while however, Neil Patel lists 101 resources when you are ready to explore further!

If you are ever stuck or overwhelmed for content marketing ideas, take a breath and revisit your foundation:

  • Pillar 1: Understand the creative process
  • Pillar 2: Know your audience WELL!
  • Pillar 3: Know your competitors
  • Pillar 4: Use your swipe file

We hope this helps you in your journey to becoming a human perpetual Content Marketing ideas generator.