Generating content ideas is tough.
Whether you’ve just started on your content marketing journey, and aren’t sure where to draw inspiration from, or you’re a seasoned content professional, who’s suffering brainstorm fatigue, it’s not easy to keep coming up with new content ideas.
While content repurposing can help with this, without a process to guide you through the ideas stage, the repurposing (or even initial creation) may never happen.
Enter Melanie Deziel’s content framework.
Melanie is an experienced content marketer who’s developed an idea generation framework to empower everyone to share their stories. And, she’s sharing it in her bestselling book, The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Unlimited Story Ideas.
Melanie joined me on The Content 10x Podcast to discuss the key points of her framework, and how it can help your content go further.
Watch a video trailer for this episode:
Hit play to listen to the podcast episode:
Or, you can read on for Melanie’s advice on how to generate better content ideas for your business.
Content idea generation: where focus meets format
Melanie’s framework is all about finding the sweet spot between two things. One, what your story is, and two, how to tell it.
First, think about what message or story you want to tell, then what angle you’re going to tell it from. For example, if I wanted to tell the story of how I grew my avocado plant, I might use my experience to craft a piece of content about ‘how to grow an avocado plant’.
Secondly, you need to consider which format is best to get your story’s message across. Using my avocado plant example, I could write a blog post with step by step instructions on how to grow an avocado seed into a plant.
When you’ve decided your focus and format, then can you begin to create content.
Which focus is best for generating content ideas?
The focus, or the perspective, is your way of telling the story. It’s the vehicle for your message. There are many, many different angles that you can create content from, but here are some of Melanie’s top choices.
People: the most popular content focus
Undoubtedly, the most popular is people-focused content.
Seeing ourselves or someone like us in content makes it relatable, and if we can relate to something, we’re more likely to want to invest in that content or brand. This is why diversity is so important! The more people who see aspects of themselves reflected in your content, the more they’re going to want to build a relationship with you and your brand.
No matter what type of content you’re making, remember that the consumer is a person. People-focused content is compelling because it’s the most personal.
Process: the best value content focus
Process-based content has the best long-term value and has great potential for search discovery.
Processes inform and help your audience achieve something. Instructions, ‘how-tos’, and recipes are all examples of a process focus.
This type of content is frequently searched, and links can rank highly on search engines when they provide value to lots of users – even if the links are older.
Not only can it stand the test of time, but, when it’s done well, process-based content is fantastic for building brand trust.
If you’ve made a recipe from a food blog and it tasted delicious, it’s likely that you’ll return to that site to find more recipes or recommend the site to a friend. However, if you’ve made a recipe and it tasted disgusting, you’ll probably never go on that website again…
Data: the most unique content focus
A captivating way to tell stories is through the numbers, but data is often forgotten about when it comes to content creation.
Sure, infographics and Instagram carousels love to use quick bites of data to illustrate a point, but how about using data to craft the bigger picture?
Think about an event recap. The story might include what topics were discussed, who the speakers were, and a thank you to sponsors. But wouldn’t it be more entertaining and impactful to see this story through numbers? Imagine having the data to present the story as, 1 event, 3 conference halls, 189 attendees, 351 handshakes, 918 PowerPoint Slides, and 1,300 cups of coffee.
Even if the story has been told many times before, data could help you find a brand new way to make it engaging again.
Curation: the quickest content focus
If you’re tight on time or budget, curating existing content can show your audience that you’re willing to put their content needs ahead of your own.
I’m a firm believer that it’s better to share someone else’s valuable content, rather than create content that’s sub-standard.
By sharing content that you didn’t make yourself, you’re showing that you’re self-aware, informed and collaborative. If you’re sharing resources you learn from and find value in, your audience will appreciate you more as a thought leader.
Don’t forget to curate your own content too. Re-sharing a previous piece of your content that’s still topical or curating a collection like ‘Top Articles of 2020’ or ‘My Favorite Fall Recipes’ is a great time-saver.
History: the most overlooked content focus
When we’re always looking towards the future, are we missing out on the potential value of looking back?
Think about what challenges you’ve faced, things you’ve learned or obstacles you’ve overcome. How have these experiences helped shape yourself or your business? What’s the story behind each one? How is that informing your narrative for the future?
Looking back lends itself to storytelling as our brains naturally turn past experiences into stories so, if you focus on tracing your steps, you might find your next piece of content behind you.
Which content format is best for my ideas?
Once your focus is decided, the next key step in Melanie’s content generation framework is to decide its format.
Ask yourself, what is the best way to bring my content to life?
In theory, it’s possible to make any focus work in any format, but there are some that just make sense. For example, a timeline is a great format for presenting a historical-focused piece, but if your story is told better through a visual medium, then you could choose video as your format.
Think about where your audience will get the most value from your content. Consider stories that need visual illustration. These are going to struggle to make an impact on an audience if you’re putting them into a podcast episode, and would perform better in a more visual medium, like video.
There is no one best format. The most successful ideas will be those using a format suited to their content focus.
How do I choose the best content format for my audience?
While you might have chosen the best format for your content, is it the best format for your audience? Remember, different audiences prefer consuming content in different ways.
If I go back to my process-focused example of how to grow an avocado seed into a plant blog post, I could consider that some people are visual learners and so probably aren’t engaging with it very well. By repurposing it into a video, I could reach that audience and help them find value in my content.
Your core content should always be created in its best possible storytelling format, but never be afraid to repurpose into other formats to reach more people.
How can I generate more content ideas?
Melanie’s secret weapon for content generation is something she calls the Content Multiplier.
Using two themes, you can scale almost any idea to create unlimited content.
Those themes are time and resources.
People who have specific needs aren’t searching for general terms online, often they’re looking for niche content to help them. So instead of creating my ‘how to grow an avocado plant’ post, I might make it more niche by adding a timeframe, ‘how to grow an avocado plant from a seed in 10 days’, or change the resources, ‘how to grow an avocado plant indoors’.
By niching down, you can become more relevant and you’ll probably see a rise in engagement.
But think about the possibilities for content generation!
Time-based content idea generation could be converting your content to include minutes, hours, years, seasons – any timeframe you can think of.
For resources-based generation, think about flavors, styles, colors – content requirements that people could be searching for, and that you could be creating.
How do I start generating content?
Melanie’s final tip is this: start small.
When you’re starting out on your content generation journey, the last thing you want to do is not execute your ideas because you’ve burned out trying to do too much too soon.
Her advice for anyone producing content is simple. Create one thing, create it well, and create it consistently.
Once you’ve managed to sustain that for a period of time, you can begin to diversify your content strategy. And soon, you’ll be bringing your brilliant content to an even bigger audience. I couldn’t agree more, in fact this is something that you’ve heard me say A LOT. It’s one of my main mantras and there’s an entire chapter dedicated to this in my book.
Are you ready to generate some content ideas?
This has given me so much inspiration for content creation, I can’t wait to start putting Melanie’s advice into practice!
Eager to hear more about Melanie’s content creation framework? Scroll to the top of this post to hear our conversation in full or find it on any podcast app of your choice!
This post is only the tip of Melanie’s content idea generation iceberg so, if you want more idea generation help, I really recommend buying Melanie’s book, The Content Fuel Framework