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21 Utterly Random Ideas for Content

Suddenly, content’s important again! Woo hooooo!

Actually, it’s always been important. Marketing = content. It always has. It always will. We just went through an 8-year period of insanity where folks thought Google was the new Shortcut Around Content. So maybe a better first sentence is:

Suddenly, everyone’s figured out that content’s important! Congratulations! Geniuses!

shocking headines, great content

“˜Content’ doesn’t mean crappy 250-word drivels that you buy for $15 off eLance. It means actual, useful stuff that I’ll appreciate. Real content’s a lot harder to produce than the junky stuff, though.

What to do?

Here are 21 totally random content ideas, all designed to minimize work and maximize juicy content goodness. Before you start shaking your head and saying it’s too much work, do them all, once. People spend more time complaining about content creation than they do creating it. Just try these ideas, OK?:

    1. Narrate slides, then record. You create slide decks for all sorts of presentations. After you’re done, record a screencast of the slides with you narrating. Upload the video to YouTube or Vimeo or another video hosting site, and then embed it in your site.
    2. Transcribe the recording. Send the video you created in #1 out for transcription. It costs about $60 for a 1-hour video. Then, either upload the transcript with the video, or edit it into a more polished blog post. Transcription is easy content. Do it!
    3. Hire someone to turn the slides into a comic book. Or, use a tool like Comic Life to do it yourself. Not recommended if you’re as artistically impaired as I am.
    4. Write an ebook, or hire someone to write one. Make it available in PDF behind a registration form. Then, each week, make one chapter available as a blog post.
    5. List your 5 favorite bookmarks. Write why you like each one. Make that a blog post.
    6. Ask your readers/staff/employees/friends/bosses to each submit their favorite bookmark with one sentence explaining why it’s their favorite. Turn that into a blog post, with a downloadable list.

insane headline,insane story...

    1. Take one section of a report you wrote for a client. Make it anonymous, removing all mentions of the client or their data. Then publish it as a blog post.
    2. If you’ve ever created an Excel or other template for reporting or other purposes, remove any passwords or other incriminating information, then publish it for your community. Folks will love you for it, and they’ll link to you.
    3. Find something funny about other people’s crappy sites: For example, I’m considering downloading the meta description tags from 25 sites, then finding the really awful ones and publishing them as a “˜bottom 10′ list. A little mean? Maybe. But harmless, and a great teaching tool if you do it right.
    4. Take a blog post you’ve already written, and rewrite it for one niche or profession. If you sell bicycles and wrote a post called “Become a better climber,” then you could also do a post called “Better climbing for 40+ year old recreational cyclists.” Tune the recommendations for that crowd (me). I’ll come read it.
    5. Go to’s data marketplace. Grab a free or paid datasource that looks interesting & relevant (or not). Write about it. For example, I might grab the Science Fiction Writer dataset, create a list of every writer in the set, and then run a survey to find the favorites. Or, I might download the Consumer Price Index and compare it to Google Adwords bid inflation. Be creative. The important thing is that you’ve already got the data. All you have to do is analyze it.
    6. Take a useful dataset on InfoChimps and, if you’re allowed, turn it into an easy-to-explore set of web pages, or a spreadsheet, or another kind of report on your own site.
    7. Analyze your company’s 10 best-selling products. Write what you learned from that, and how your company’s going to use the knowledge to better serve the customers.
    8. Find the top issue in your company’s customer support database. Write a blog post answering the question.
    9. Take your company’s training videos. Get them transcribed. Upload the videos and transcriptions as a customer resource, but make them publicly available. Great spider food!

chimp story

  1. Convert your product manuals into HTML. Add them to your web site.
  2. Take your company’s annual report, and publish the executive summary as a blog post.
  3. Look at your web analytics data. Find the 10 weirdest keywords driving traffic to your site (my best rated G phrase is “˜kitten jedi’). List “˜em in a blog post.
  4. Take a photo outside your office once a week. Post it. Not much writing needed.
  5. Photograph one object in your office each week. Post it. Not much writing needed.
  6. List the top 10 stories from your industry each week or month. No matter how many folks do this, it’s still always a winner.

Ian, what about keywords?

If I have to choose between genuinely unique, useful content that may not mention my top keyword 11 times, and crappy content that does, I’ll go with the former. Every time.

Google’s recent updates require it: Stop sweating keyword mentions. Start sweating content quality and variety. You can always optimize after you write. But you gotta write, first.

So start writing.

Why are you still here?



  1. Rebekah M. August 28, 2012

    Great post Ian! After reading this there is no excuse not to go create something 🙂

  2. Darren Moloney August 28, 2012

    Top post! Loved it 🙂

    It surprises me so many SME’s help with charity events and tactively participate and then fail to blog about it. I’ve recommend to clients they start blogging about their training, the day of the event (how it went) and then the aftermath of collecting the sponsorship and tell everyone how much they’ve raised (one client did this and got a link from a Virgin site)…

    This type of content is imho really popular with blog readers and gives great PR without the usual tripe that’s pumped out…


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