How To Generate Content Ideas When Your Brain Says No

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Phil Norris
on 25/1/14

There are days when the old noggin is not up to the test of generating content ideas – or, at least, content ideas that are actually any good. On such days it is a good idea to look at what other brands have been doing. For example, Colin Skinner’s recent behemoth of a blog post, Content Marketing: 132 Links for Essential Reading, provided us with several excellent examples of content marketing, ranging from interactive demos and whitepapers, to case studies and guides. But, you know, that’s a lot of reading! Thankfully, I have come across a few useful resources for generating content ideas, and today I’m going to share them with you:


Alltop can give you a helping hand no matter what industry you are trying to generate content ideas for. The site brings the headlines of the latest stories from a range of sites and blogs into one place, giving you instant access to current hot topics. If you are working on different clients from one day to the next, this is a simple way to see what’s happening within a particular industry through an easy to use “online magazine rack”. Topics range from photography and zoology, to ecommerce and cycling, so they’ve got most things covered.

Alltop logo

This is a useful site for gaining an insight into the latest stories and happenings within a particular industry, thus giving you a foundation for original content ideas that have the potential to reverberate with your target audience.


Quora proudly declares on its homepage that it’s “Your best source for knowledge”. In many respects, it’s difficult to argue with this. The site provides a platform for people to ask questions and get answers from people with first-hand experience. There is also the option for people to create blog posts. The site was made live in June 2010 and has grown exponentially thanks to the community ethos.

Quora logo

I primarily use the question and answer section of the site and search for topics based around relevant keywords. Sometimes it’s the question that gets you thinking, while at other times the answers can give you a basis to generate content ideas.


Topsy is another platform through which you are given a glimpse of what is currently happening “out there” in the social web. Topsy Pro is particularly good for social listening within a particular industry, providing insights into what is being shared, who the influencers are, and different sentiments around a topic. There’s more, of course, but the free version is also a good way for investigating what links are being shared and by whom.

Topsy logo

This is an extremely useful resource for seeing what kind of content works within a particular industry, no matter if you are researching online hosting or product development. As we all know, there’s no point formulating content ideas that are not going to be sharable, so this is a valuable resource for seeing what works well.

Buzzsomo App

Buzzsomo App is a resource I have recently come across thanks to a recommendation from our very own Head of Social Media, Laura Thomas. The premise is simple: You enter a topic, keyword or domain that you wish to search for and the site will find “amazing content”. You can filter the results of your search at any time, with groups including infographics, guest posts and interviews, and you can also filter by date. The results include the number of shares across various social networks and links to the content.

Buzzsomo App logo

This resource is so simple to use and presents results in such an easy to understand manner, that it is an ideal place to come and see what people are talking about and sharing within a particular industry. So, once again, it is about finding a foundation from which you can generate your own content ideas.


Übersuggest is one that many of you will already know when using it as an Alternative to the Google Keyword Planner. The tagline of “Suggest on Steroids” tells you pretty much all you need to know about the site – but I’ll fill you in a bit more anyway. Simply write a term in the box, choose a language and source, and then off you go. What you get back are suggestions based around your keyword and what people search for on the web.

Ubersuggest logo

This is extremely useful for seeing the kind of searches people do and generating relevant content ideas. For example, I recently needed to do a blog post on moving unusual items for a removal company. By doing the search “How to move a” I was given a total of 379 suggestions, including “How to move a grand piano” and “How to move a Jacuzzi”. Übersuggest is particularly useful for generating content ideas for blog posts.

That’s the five resources you’re getting – no behemoth list today I’m afraid. However, if you have any other resources that you feel deserve inclusion – and I know there are many other awesome resources out there – please do tell in the comments below.