Want More Email Subscribers? Implement These Two Ridiculously Simple Tips

Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash

I’ve been doing loads of web copy & messaging strategy sessions this week, and here’s something I’ve noticed:

Pretty much everyone I talked to KNOWS that building a healthy, robust email list is non-negotiable if you want to build your business and get clients and customers online (without having to do the constant client-getting hustle).

Yet, most of the fine folks I had calls with had their email opt-in forms buried in a hard to find spot on their website, and/or the copy asking people to sign up for the list was the standard, “Sign up for updates here,” or “Join My Newsletter,” or similar.

And in most cases, there was also no dedicated landing page for the email opt-in opportunity.

That situation will not convert very many web visitors to email subscribers, if it converts any at all.

This wasn’t news to most of those I spoke to – they get it.

But keep in mind, every day your website isn’t optimized for email opt-ins is a day you’re not building your audience; therefore, you’re “leaving money on the table,” to use a terribly cliché phrase. (Cliché, yes, but TRUE? Also, yes.)

During every consult where the above was the case, I shared the following advice.

Two tips anyone can implement simply and quickly to increase email opt-ins

Tip #1: Create persuasive opt-in copy

What you want to do is create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling reason to sign up for your list. Make it about the benefits of signing up, and tell them how often they can expect to hear from you, if you can fit that info in.

So, not this:

Or this:


No, no, no no no. That will not do. No one wants to enter their email address into a mystery form like the ones above with no information about … anything.

Instead, give your opt-in copy some personality, and share those benefits! For example, the copy on my Home page opt-in says:

“Enter your email below to get instant access to the FREE Creative Rebel Guide to Writing an Ideal Client-Attracting About Page (so you never have to accept work from someone simply because they have a checkbook and a pulse, ever again.)”

The pop-up opt-in on my website says:

“Get Actionable Copywriting Tips to Grow Your Creative Business: Weekly copywriting & web marketing advice for creatives, solopreneurs & other non-marketing types. Sense of humor and Southern twang included at no extra charge.”

And check out the copy on Ashley Ambirge’s opt-in form for her “25 Days to $100K Freelancer Challenge”

Notice how much more enticing the idea of handing over your email address in exchange for valuable, interesting content becomes when the copy conveys benefits AND personality.

Tip #2: Create a dedicated landing page for email opt-ins

Create a dedicated landing page for your email list, and have access to that page it in the main navigation menu at the top of your website.

This link is what you’ll use in your social media bios. Because, again, you want to build the email list, and this will help you do it.

Here’s the power of a dedicated landing page for your opt-in:

The small opt-in form on my website Home page converts about 1.9% of website visitors. My email opt-in landing page converts around 48% of website traffic.

HUGE difference.

If all you have on your site is a tiny email opt-in form, especially if it’s hard to find AND the copy on it is not that compelling, you’re missing out on potential subscribers every single day.

And if you’re doing things to drive traffic to your site so you can GET more subscribers, that effort will be wasted.

So, what should you write on your email opt-in landing page?

You can go into a little more detail about the kind of information people can expect to receive once they sign up, and how often they’ll hear from you. You can share more about the benefits of signing up.

For example, on my email opt-in landing page, I say:

Enter your email below to get instant access to the CREATIVE REBEL GUIDE TO WRITING A CLIENT-ATTRACTING ABOUT PAGE …

You’ll also receive free weekly updates: tips and advice on how to use personality-driven web copy and bespoke web marketing strategy in your creative business to:

  • Instantly captivate clients who are perfect for what you have to offer . . . and subtly shoo away those who aren’t
  • Get client inquiries rolling in consistently so you can get off the feast-or-famine roller coaster for good
  • Book more projects & make more folding money

All while keeping your creative integrity intact.

Enter your email below and click “Give Me the Guide!”


To recap, if you want to get more email subscribers:

#1: Create opt-in copy that gives people a compelling & benefit-driven reason to sign up for your list

#2: Create a dedicated landing page for your email list



I’ll admit, I wasn’t always about sending offers to my list when I first got online. 

Sure, I started an email list from Day Freakin’ One, but even as an experienced marketer and copywriter, I was hesitant to send anything other than high value free content.

“What if people get upset?” I wondered. “What if people unsubscribe?” I whined, to no one in particular.

Now I realize none of that matters. If someone unsubs because you sent out an offer, they aren’t your people, and were never going to buy from you anyway.

Or maybe they unsub because you’re just not their jam. That’s cool. You don’t want those people on your list. Let them go.


Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like sending an offer to your subscribers, and getting people raising their hand, eagerly saying, “Yes, I want that!,” in return.

A few years ago, when I sent my very first true sales email to my list, I was pretty nervous, because up to that point, I’d ever only sent “value bomb” / educational emails.

But I got over my fear and hit “send.” The email announced a small $500 offer, and 5 people replied yes within 24 hours.

And no one died!! AND I generated $2500 in revenue!

I’d always believed in the power of email marketing, even if I was too afraid to make an ask at first, but after that first experience, I was well and truly sold.

Sold, I tell you!

$2500 in 24 hours from sending one email?

I’ll take it.

And I’m small potatoes. My list is TINY. Embarrassingly tiny.

There are folks out there sending one or two emails and making 5 or 10 times that. They’re more well-known, have pricier offerings and bigger email lists, but I’m living proof there’s still much you can do with a small, dedicated list of email subscribers.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have something valuable people actually want and are willing to pay for.

But you can start building your email list now, before you have all your products and services worked out; that’s what I did.


I hope by now you’re sold on optimizing your website for email opt-ins.

It’s one of the very best things you can do for your business, especially if, like me, you’re an introvert, and love the idea of doing most of your marketing online.


Want me to write your persuasive opt-in form + email sign-up landing page copy so you can start getting more subscribers sooner rather than later, and build your audience of raving fans?

Email me at: Kimberly [at] kimberlydhouston [dot] com with “Email opt-in copy” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you ASAP with details of how we can work together.

If building your email list is important to you, then let’s connect!

How High-Quality Content Drives Sales: A 3-Point Primer

Creating High Quality Content

I talk a lot on the blog about creating regular high-value content each week so your business gets noticed online and you get more clients, customers and sales.

Actionable content geared toward helping your audience solve their problems will drive targeted traffic to your site, help you get seen as the go-to person in your niche, get more people on your email list, and get more warm bodies in your bricks-and-mortar business.

How does this happen?


In a nutshell:

1.  When you offer unbiased and valuable information on your topic through your blog or website, your newsletter, and your social media outlets, you earn trust with those who interact with your content. Increasing the trustworthiness of your brand helps increase business.

2.  In terms of SEO and search traffic, the more content you create, the more search engine traffic you’ll accumulate because you’ll be increasing your longtail search visibility. Plus, well written content gets linked to, and backlinks are key to better search engine rankings.

3.  Consistently creating compelling content gives people a reason to return to your site again and again to sample your expertise. Which gives you multiple opportunities to potentially sell to them. The more often potential customers engage with your carefully crafted and high-quality content, the more open they will be to a sales message from you at the right time.

Creating amazing content for your site and your newsletter, posting it on a reliable and consistent schedule, and following a strategic plan for sharing it on social media will get more people interested in your products and/or services and increase the number of client and customer inquiries you get.


And that’s the down-and-dirty Cliff Notes version of how excellent content, consistently posted, can help you in your small business.

Since I know one of the biggest challenges is coming up with ideas for blog posts and newsletters on a consistent basis, I’ve linked up 3 articles below that outline some dead-simple and effective strategies for coming up with loads of killer ideas.

Check out this post for 3 Killer Resources for Sparking Dozens of Content Ideas.

Go here for 3 More Resources for Easy Idea-Gathering.

And check out this simple but highly effective strategy for creating EXACTLY the kind of content your audience wants to read.

Content Creation Case Study: Blog Topics for an Interior Design Business

This is the second in a series of Content Creation Case Studies, where we explore a few dozen blog topic and newsletter ideas for small business bloggers in the creative space.

(Marketing online with killer free content is one of the most effective ways to up your business visibility, increase your search engine traffic, and establish yourself as the go-to person in your niche. All of which, if done correctly, will result in more sales. To do that well, you need to add fresh new content to your blog at least weekly, if possible. And to do that, you need topic ideas. That’s why I’m adding these content creation case studies to the blog on a regular basis, to get you, my creative friend, to start creating your own killer content. Check back frequently for your creative biz type – I’m sure to be covering it in a case study sometime soon.)

Last case study I laid out my system for easily and consistently coming up with dozens of content ideas, and put a clothing and accessories boutique through a brainstorming session, generating 34 potential topics this business could blog about.

Today we’re going to apply the same brainstorming & content creation system to an interior design business.

(Check out the links at the end of this blog post for more information about the system I use. Also note, the topic ideas here are slightly generic; you would obviously trick these ideas up to gear them to your specific audience.)

Amazon is a great place to start the brainstorming, so let’s begin there. What you want to do is search for books in your topic area, then look at book chapter titles. Next take a look at magazines on Amazon in your topic area, and note article headlines.

From these two resources I noted 28 blog topic ideas someone in the interior design business could write about.

From Amazon Book Chapter Titles, these ideas surfaced:

How to Decorate Like a Pro, Even If You’re Design-Challenged

How to Define Your Interior Design Style

How to Set a Decorating Budget

3 Investment Pieces Everyone Should Own: Which Pieces to Spend the Big Bucks On

Design Basics: What You Need to Know Before You Get Started on Your Next Project

Guide to the Best Decorating Resources Online

How to Build a Room Around a Signature Piece

How to Tie a Room Together with Color

A series of Home Design 101 and How-To Shop posts would make a great category for a weekly blog post (again, using Amazon book chapter titles):

Using Color 101

Lighting 101

Rugs 101

Room Layout 101

How to Shop for Furniture Online

How to Shop: Dept. Stores

How to Shop: Vintage and Second-Hand and/or Consignment

How to Shop: Catalogues

How to Shop: Yard Sales and Flea Markets

Ideas Generated from Magazine Headlines:

How to Create the Perfect Beach House Décor on a Budget

How To Do Rustic

50 Best Kitchen Ideas

50 Best Bathroom Ideas

Little Changes for Big Impact

How to Perk Up Your Rooms with Color

How to Create the Perfect Outdoor Retreat

Transform Your Home with Details

10 Picture-Hanging Tips

How to Create Big Style in a Small Space

Best Buys for Every Budget

The 28 ideas above came from 20-30 minutes of brainstorming on Amazon, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there were over 33,000 books listed in Amazon in the interior design category alone. **I don’t suggest using the headlines you find on Amazon verbatim; instead, use them as writing prompts — you’ll want to tweak them for your specific business and target audience.

After signing out of Amazon, I came up with a few ideas of my own:

* How to Hire an Interior Designer: 5 Must-Know Tips (other variations on this idea: When to Hire an Interior Designer, Why Hire an Interior Designer, etc.)

* Essential Design Principles Every DIY’er Needs to Know

* How This Home Got Style: A Before & After Story (turn this into a weekly or monthly series on your blog and use it to show off your kick-butt design skills)

* One Couple, Two Very Different Design Aesthetics: How to Combine Your Styles for Maximum Impact (and Happiness!)

* From Ho-Hum to W-O-W: How to Use Luxe Accessories to Spice Up a Boring Room


And there you have it – 33 blog topic ideas from 30 minutes of brainstorming.

Now it’s time for you to give this brainstorming technique a try and let your creative freak flag fly, baby!

**The Amazon generated ideas are somewhat generic; if this were a real client of mine, I would suggest much more specific blog topics based on their particular brand personality and target audience.**

For blog content brainstorming and content creation, I use the process I outlined in “3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time,” and “How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2.”

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

Content Marketing for Small Business: 3 Articles You Need to Read Now

flickr photo by Rennett Stowe

Today on the blog, an OPC (Other People’s Content) Round-up of killer content marketing & strategy articles.

You’ll find thousands of articles about content marketing out there on the vast interwebz, but if you read these three now, you’ll be able to create your own content marketing plan (at least the 101 version) and start implementing it tomorrow.

Check ’em out:

Small business owners, get your content strategy ducks in a row for killer results. This article will give an excellent overview of how to make it happen:

Next, use these 10 content marketing templates to get everything organized. Templates for content planning, keyword tracking, sales communication, and more:

And finally, 3 things your content must do — be entertaining, strategic and shareable. Get the details here:

So there you have it, enough information to get you started on your own content marketing plan.

Leave your questions or insights on content marketing in the comments section below!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

Content Creation Case Study: Blog Topics for a Clothing and Accessories Boutique

Fashion - Clothing and Accessories Boutique

If you’re dipping your toe in the content marketing water, then you know that marketing online with killer free content is one of the most effective ways to up your business visibility, increase your search engine traffic, and establish yourself as the go-to person in your niche.

All of which, if done correctly, will result in more sales. And who doesn’t want that?

To make content marketing work for you, however, you have to commit to creating original content on a regular basis. Yet I see so many blogs and websites out there that I know must have started with the best of intentions, but at some point ran out of steam.

You know the ones – blogs that were posted to twice a week for a few months, then once every other week, then, oh, about once every other month, until the sad day when you visit the blog and you can see the blogger just gave up. Because all that’s left is the ghostly shadow of a blog that hasn’t been posted to in months.

Ahem . . . is that you?

Of course when you’re trying to run a business, creating killer content on a weekly basis can seem overwhelming. The complaint I hear most often is, “but I don’t have enough ideas to write about every week.”

Today I’m going to take you through the exact process I use when working with a client to brainstorm blog topic ideas and create a content plan, using a fictional Clothing and Accessories Boutique as an example.

**The examples below are somewhat generic; if this were a real client of mine, I would suggest much more specific blog topics based on their particular brand personality and target audience.**

For blog content brainstorming, I use the process I outlined in “3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time,” and “How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2.”

Essentially the steps are:

1. Keep an “Ideas” file and set aside an hour or two each week to brainstorm topic ideas

2. During that time, go through the resources below and “idea gather,” adding the best ideas to your ideas file

3. At the beginning of each week/month/quarter or whatever time increment works best for you, review the ideas in your file and plan out your content for the week/month/quarter, etc. How you plan out your content will depend on your goals, products or services you’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks and months, and any sales, events, promos and so on you have planned.

The resources from which you will gather ideas are: magazine headlines, Alltop, Amazon, Google Alerts, blogs in your niche, and HARO queries, to start. (For more information on these resources and how to use them to generate blog topic ideas, read the blog posts linked up above.)

Let’s take this fictional Clothing and Accessories Boutique through the paces, using just two of the resources above:

From Magazine Headlines in the fashion industry, I noted these ideas for blog posts:

The Best _________ for Every Body Type (swimsuit, dress, etc.)

How to Look Like You Hired a Stylist (Even When You Didn’t)

Best Colors to Wear Now

Hot Trends and Amazing Accessories for Every Budget

5 Minute Styling Tricks

The One Accessory Every Woman Needs Right Now

How to Dress for Your Body Type/to Flatter Your Body Type

From Amazon Book Chapter Titles, these ideas surfaced:

How to Shop Like a Stylist

Top 5 Fashion Misconceptions

10 Glamour Essentials Under $100

How to Shop for Vintage/How to Wear Vintage

How to Go from Demure to Daring with a Signature Wow Piece

15 Must-Own Accessories

3/5/7 or 2/4/6: Guide to Understanding Clothing Sizes

How to Personalize Your Look with Vintage

How to Camouflage with Color

The One Must-Own Item That Complements Every Body Type

10 Wardrobe Staples Every Woman Should Own

(That’s 18 blog topic ideas, and that bit of brainstorming took me less than an hour to do. Once I used the magazine headlines and book chapter titles shortcuts, the ideas below also came to me. )

A series of Fashion 101 Posts would make a great category for a weekly blog post:

Why You Should Spend More on the Basics

5 Investment Pieces Every Woman Should Own

Steps to Developing Your Personal Style

How to Shop: Dept. Stores

How to Shop: Sample Sales

How to Shop: Vintage and Second-Hand and/or Consignment

How to Shop: The Internet

How to Shop: Catalogues

How to Decide if a Trend Works for You

A series of Definition Posts would also work well:

Haute Couture


Sample Sale

And how about a “Style Icons” category for this fashion blog?

The Grace Kelly Guide to Looking Sexy in Pearls

The Jackie O Guide to Finding the Perfect Pair of Sunglasses

The Marilyn Monroe Guide to Dressing Like a Bombshell

The Betsey Johnson Guide to Creating Your Own Signature Style

That’s 34 total ideas for blog posts; if our fashion blogger posts twice a week, that’s over 4 months worth of material. And I only used the Magazine Headlines and Book Chapter Titles shortcuts to come up with these 34 ideas — if I finished out the exercise using the 4 other resources mentioned above, I could come up with enough ideas for an entire year.

The same will happen for you: once you get into this process and let it flow, you are going to come up with many of your own killer ideas for blog posts, whatever your topic happens to be.

**I don’t suggest using the headlines you find on Amazon verbatim; instead, use them as writing prompts — you’ll want to tweak them for your specific business and target audience.

Now you try it. Go ahead, let your creative freak flag fly, baby!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Write the Perfect Blog Post

I love to share a good resource when I find one, because hey, sharing is caring.  Check out the uber-useful cheat sheet below before writing your next blog post, from Derek Halpern at Social Triggers (link to his info below, under graphic).

Like this? Get more marketing tips from Social Triggers.

What is an Editorial Calendar and Why Do I Need One?

Editorial Calendar

Simple Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar, or “ed cal,” is nothing more than a publishing schedule.  If you decide you’re going post to your blog twice a week and send out your newsletter once a week, and you plan out that content in advance, say by keeping an ideas file or similar, then you have yourself an editorial calendar.  It doesn’t need to be formal or fancy, just so you have some kind of system for planning and scheduling regular content.


Why do I need an editorial calendar?

To be successful online, whether your business lives strictly online, or you use online marketing as part of the marketing mix for your offline business, you need a content marketing plan.

If that sounds too oppressive, think of it as your communication plan (or your content planning system, as I do). This communication plan will consist of posting free high-value content to your blog, newsletter, and social media profiles regularly, content  that “inspires and instructs” your audience, as our good friend and mentor Marie Forleo says.

Great free content is the cornerstone of your online success, so you want to have a system in place for making it happen.  Using an editorial calendar is part of that system.

I can tell you from vast experience (World’s Biggest Procrastinator here), that it’s much less stressful to look at a calendar with several working blog post ideas jotted down and start writing, than it is to sit down in front of a blank computer screen with a blog post looming and the feeling you got nothin.’  In which case every sentence feels like torture.  This is bad for your creative juju.

Establishing an editorial calendar is the fastest, easiest and best way to establish consistency with your content marketing and get your audience coming back for more on a regular basis.


My Content Planning System

My system is simple, and has just two steps:

#1:  I keep a Notepad document open on my desktop, and anytime I think of an idea for a blog post or weekly newsletter, I add it to my running list in Notepad.  I’ve got more ideas there now than I can write about for the rest of the year, and that’s where Step Two comes in.

#2:  I go through the Notepad doc at the beginning of each month, and plan out by week precisely what I’ll post to the blog and send out in the newsletter for that month.  Note, I don’t plan more than a month in advance because, A., it feels completely doable this way and doesn’t cause undue stress, and B., I might come across some great thing I want to respond to or write about right away, and I want to leave room for random inspiration.

So think of an editorial calendar as the foundation of your communication plan.  This bit of planning will keep you consistent and help you get the most audience reach from your free high-quality content.

Your system can be whatever you want it to be – but do have a plan. Because it’s consistency that separates the amateurs from the pros online, and an editorial calendar will keep you consistent.  Just a little tip from me to you.  ; )

What’s your system for planning and scheduling content?  Please share it in the comments section!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Generate Blog Post Ideas, Part 2

Last blog post I talked about my system for consistently generating dozens of ideas for blog posts and weekly newsletter content, and shared three resources you can use to find kick-butt ideas of your own.

This time I want to talk about three other good resources for idea-gathering:

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts will allow you to monitor any topic or search term you choose; when results are found for that search term, Google sends them to you in an email.

You choose result type:  “Everything,” or, news, blogs, videos, discussions, books, etc., frequency:  once a day, as they happen or once a week, and how many: “only the best results” or “all results.”

This is a great tool for generating content ideas, but you can also use it to gather market and competitor intelligence, and who doesn’t want that?

Go here to set up your own Google Alerts.

2. Blogs in your niche

I love this as an idea generator, because it’s essentially killing two birds with one stone – you’re likely reading the blogs in your niche anyway, so why not gather some ideas while you’re there? Just pop over to a few of your favorites and note what’s being written about.

But don’t stop there – you’ll also want to pay attention to which blog posts get the most interaction in the way of comments and social shares.  This will give you an idea of some of the hot topics in your niche.

You’re not going to copy these ideas verbatim, of course, but use the material to spark your own ideas, and add these to your Ideas File.  You can then write about these topics from the opposite viewpoint, or go deeper into them for a more nuanced view, etc.

3. HARO Queries

HARO is an email list you sign up for to receive daily queries from reporters who need sources for their stories; it stands for “Help A Reporter Out.”

There’s a whole other blog post waiting to be written about how to mine HARO for sharing your expertise and getting publicity for your business, but today I simply want point out what a great tool it is for generating blog post ideas.

Why is this a such a great short cut for getting content ideas?  Because each HARO email alert will have several queries in multiple categories, and since journalists are looking for sources for these stories on a deadline, you already know they are super hot, timely topics.  Just a little tip from me to you.  ; )

Sign up for your own HARO email alerts here.


There you have it, 3 more excellent resources to add to your blog post idea generating toolkit.  And for still more idea gathering, you might want to check out forums in your niche, Tweetmeme for trending Twitter topics, Google Trends, or simply address questions your customers frequently ask .

So tell me, what are your go-to tips for coming up with blog post and newsletter topic ideas?  Please share in the comments, I’d love to know your tricks!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

3 Content Creation Hacks That Work Every Time

If you have a blog, a newsletter, social media accounts you post to daily, or any other venue that requires fresh new content on a regular basis, you’re familiar with the never-ending hunger of the content beast.

The content beast is devoted to gobbling up the very best and meatiest content you can provide, but come next week, or next day, or next hour, that content eater wants to be fed again.

And creating this content on a regular basis is what prevents a lot of harried, overworked small business owners from engaging in content marketing at all, despite its many benefits.

I get it. It seems overwhelming.

But you’re smart – you know that for marketing and SEO purposes, positioning yourself as an expert in your niche online by providing juicy new content on a regular basis is a critical piece of your marketing pie.

What you need is a system.

Because here’s the thing:  great blog post or newsletter ideas don’t materialize out of the blue, like an inspirational lightning bolt from a Greek god/goddess — well, sometimes they do, but you can’t count on this bit of serendipity on a weekly basis – you need a system for coming up with ideas.

So I’m a gonna tell you what I do, then I’m going to give you the no-fail techniques I use that work like a charm, every single time, to generate fresh content ideas daily, weekly and monthly.

My personal system for consistently generating ideas for blog posts, newsletter content, guest posts, social media status updates, and so on, which can be adapted to any niche you happen to do business in, is this:

1. I keep an “Ideas File” – a Notepad doc is open on my computer at all times while I’m on the interwebs.  Anytime I see anything that sparks an idea – blog post, newsletter, newspaper headline, social media status update, video, etc. —  I paste the link to that resource into my Notepad doc and add a few notes about it.

2. I set aside at least one hour each week to get really quiet and do some serious brainstorming for content ideas.  Early in the morning at my desk with a strong cup of coffee, a legal pad, and the patio door open seems to work best for me.  (The key is to treat this hour each week like a firm it’s-written-in-ink-in-your-day-planner appointment with yourself.  )

3. I commit an hour each week to go through the resources below and “idea-gather;” again, making a note in my Notepad doc of every idea that comes to me while doing so. These content creation “hacks” have served me well, and I bet they’ll do the same for you.

That’s it — that’s my current “system,” which I constantly tweak, but which works extremely well for me.

Tried-and-True Methods for Generating Heaps of Compelling Content Ideas

I’m going to take the broad topic of “small business marketing” through the paces of the content creation hacks below to show you how I do it.

1.  Magazine Headlines

One of the best ways to spark ideas for blog posts your audience wants to read is to grab a bunch of magazines in your niche and read through the headlines, a handy little shortcut I wrote about in more detail in How to Create Blog Posts Your Target Audience Wants to Read.

Publishers spend thousands of dollars and do exhaustive research to figure out which stories will generate the strongest response among their readers, so why not piggyback on that research to gather some ideas for your own business/blog/newsletter niche?

Want some examples?  I thought you might.

From Entrepreneur (online), I spied these headlines:

• Need Ideas for Your Business Blog?  Here Are 50

• How to Create a Social Media Marketing Schedule

• How to Adopt a Sales Mindset

• In Amish Country, A Lesson in Niche Marketing

My creative juices are already flowing with ideas for a blog post and a couple of social media status updates I can do, using just the headlines here.

2. Alltop

Alltop bills itself as “an online magazine rack for your favorite topics.”   Essentially, Alltop aggregates the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover a particular topic.  They then group these collections, or “aggregations,” into individual web pages, and display the five most recent headlines of the information sources as well as their first paragraph.

From the “small business” topic page on Alltop, I found these interesting stories (among hundreds):

• How to Grow a Business with Little Cash

• Don’t Confuse Passion with Competence

• Do Your Services Pass the Sniff Test?

• The 5 Biggest Email Marketing Mistakes

• 7 Low-Budget Small Business Marketing Ideas

• How to Write A Business Story Pitch

3.  Amazon

There are hundreds of ideas hiding in plain sight inside Amazon you can riff off of for your own content ideas.  Here’s what you want to do here:  search on your topic in the books category, then pick a few books in your niche from the returned results.  Once you get there, click on the “Look Inside!” option on the book cover image.  Once there you can cruise through the Table of Contents of said book, and let the idea sparking begin!

I searched the Books category on “small business marketing,” which returned 5193 results.  Gold mine!  : )

From the book “Duct Tape Marketing” by John Jantsch I see these chapters in the Table of Contents:

• Identify Your Ideal Client

• Discover Your Core Marketing Message

• Get Found Online in Your Town

From the book “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port, these:

• Why People Buy What You’re Selling

• Develop a Personal Brand

• The Book Yourself Solid Web Strategy

I’ve already written about getting found online in your town a little and I know it’s a topic I want to produce more content on, so that’s going into the “Ideas File,” ditto “Why People Buy What You’re Selling,” because I find the psychology of business and sales so fascinating, and it would make for a great blog article.  So there ya go, I just got at least two ideas for blog posts from spending just 10 minutes on this exercise.

Now don’t you know that if I spent an hour going through the chapter titles of a few more of those 5193 books on small business marketing, I’d come up with dozens more ideas? You betcha, and you can do exactly the same thing.

There are several other resources I use regularly to generate ideas for content, which I’ll talk about next time on the blog.  Until then, why don’t you give these three methods a try and see what you come up with?

What are your tried-and-true methods for coming up with great content?  Share them in the Comments!


[Don’t have time to do this yourself, but want an editorial calendar of solid content ideas for your blog and newsletter for the next 60-90 days?  Check out the Content Coaching/Strategy Session option on the Work With Me page!]

How to Get Juicy Content Ideas

Staring at your computer screen, stumped for great blog post ideas?

It’s a frustrating place to be, because hey, you’re a smart cookie, you know that content marketing is one of the savviest things you can do to grow your small business.  But to market with content, you gots to have ideas, inspiration, vision of what that content should be — or at least a few good blog topics up your sleeve.

If you want to get your creative sparks a flyin’, then check out this handy-dandy infographic from the fine folks at Copyblogger, and get your inner content marketing genius on.

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.