The best blogs and feeds are those that contain unique, fresh, compelling, content. So where do these prolific posters get their ideas? I talked to a handful of bloggers to determine where their inspiration originated for their content.
Not surprisingly, ideas for blog posts or RSS feed items originate or are influenced by other web content. The following are venues for finding your online muse:
Monitor Google News for keywords related to your industry. If you find a story you disagree with or wholeheartedly agree with write about it. Add your thoughts, and editorialize the content. This does not mean you should just repost Google news summaries. The value is not only in the news aggregation, but in the commentary that you provide. Tie news items to specific events, conditions, or the impact of specific news on the industry. Adding a view point or reference to a news article adds genuine value.
2. Web Logs
Look at your websites "long tail", and examine your web logs. Find phrases that are relevant to your website and write in-depth information about those subjects. This is particularly helpful if the blog or RSS feed is used as a marketing tool for the website. By focusing on obscure or less popular search terms and phrases that are found in your web logs, you will not only find that you provide content of interest to your readers, but you will attract additional web traffic.
Many bloggers have established themselves as "experts" by simply amassing and organizing a large collection of information that relates to a specific field. Use the blog or feed to announce and organize information, new products or services in an unbiased way within a specific industry.
Most people assume that there is information on every subject on the Internet, but that is not necessarily the case. If you stumble on an area where there is minimal content, consider it an opportunity. Continue developing content. Chances are if you were searching for the content someone else is as well, develop a blog post or RSS feed for information that find inaccessible.
5. Untouchable Content
Consider tackling all of the content that many other publishers find difficult or uncomfortable. Controversial or content that is difficult to write about is often overlooked, look at challenging content as an opportunity.
6. Monitor Authority Blogs
Watch authority blogs for developing industry news. Comment on any breaking news or editorials that you either agree or disagree with. This may attract the attention of an authority blog and could result in a link to your commentary. Be sure to credit the source of any blog posts that you comment on or quote.
If you are an expert? Consider developing an advice column. Let readers send you questions and post the questions and answers in your blog or RSS feed. This allows your readers to direct your content.
Many bloggers and publishers discover topic ideas from conversations. Create dialogue with both individuals familiar and unfamiliar with your blog topic, the questions that come up could be good fodder for posts.
9. Forums/ Newsgroups / Usenet
Forums are great places to find topic ideas. Read topic specific forum posts then editorialize and summarize the posts.
10. Look Outside the Box
Do not constrain your thinking to parameters found online. The best RSS feeds and blogs are targeted, clear, consistent, and unique. It is okay to occasionally step outside your comfort zone to find appealing content.
While breaking news has obvious value, so to does timeless content and "how to" posts. Don't be afraid to mix it up and provide readers a combination of the two.
About the author: Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll, software for creating, editing and publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition, Sharon manages marketing for NotePage, a wireless text messaging software company.