Are you constantly on the prowl for new content ideas? I am and I’ve set up a system using my RSS feeds to help me pinpoint possible trends and new topics to write about. Here are a couple of ways I use my RSS feeds to come up with new content and promotion ideas.
Finding Good Content Sources for Inspiration
I don’t believe in recreating the wheel, I like to draw my content inspiration from current news and trending advice. To find what’s hot and on the move I set up RSS feeds from:
- At least three general news sites and
- One entertainment/gossip site.
Our goal is to create provocative content using the articles we find as inspiration and reference material. That means looking at what is being written in basic and topical news outlets as well as social and entertainment. Look for articles you think are a little edgy, controversial or geographically specific, you want to take advantage of the mood and trend around these issues.
For news sites I look for two types of publications:
- Geo news sites or those focused on a geographic region (Washington Post, NY Times, etc)
- Industry specific news sites (Eater.com, Stars and Stripes, Financial Times, etc.)
Entertainment sites vary depending on the industry but most of the time I can use sources like People, TMZ and Variety to for trendspotting.
Set your feeds to capture keywords, names and brands so stories using your target list are returned to your reader from each site.
Tip: If you need help finding industry specific news sites, take a look at this site. It lists keyword phrases you can use to find a newspaper on almost any topic.
As you begin to accumulate articles in your RSS reader, separate them into two types:
- Stories using your keywords (they sit on sites known to post content on your topic, contact for outsourcing
- Articles you can tie your keywords to (use as future topics or rebuttal content)
Using the term “kitchen cabinets”, let’s look at a couple examples of each type of content and what you can create from them.
Stories using your keyword
If this story had been added to my RSS reader, it would be something I could use. It is from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and talks about the problems homes with open floor plans have with noise and acoustics. Using the WSJ article as a reference and for inspiration I could create:
Article one: a list of problem solving solutions such as quiet closing kitchen cabinets. My article would include testimonials from homeowners using quiet closing cabinets.
Article two: A white paper on the technology behind quiet cabinets.
Both articles I’ve listed will be at least 2000 words long and include images. They can be turned into podcasts, video tutorials and slide show presentations as well as chopped into smaller, more topically focused articles. All in all you should be able to pull at least 12 pieces of content from the two main articles you’ve written, just take care to rework your content so it can stand alone.
Articles you can tie your keywords to
The WSJ article uses the terms “kitchen cabinets” in the body of the content which is why it came back in my RSS reader but what if it didn’t? Maybe the writer grew up calling them “kitchen cupboards” instead of “cabinets”, I would be out of luck if I didn’t have “kitchen cupboards” included as a keyword phrase.
Almost every term you have in your keyword arsenal has a synonym. Include them all in your RSS filters, and not just the primary or long-tail terms you’ve optimized for. Using my “kitchen cabinet” example, I could also add “canteen”, “galley”, “mess hall” and “scullery”.
Here’s a synonym in action: I set my RSS to pull published articles from the website Eater.com using the term “canteen” in the body copy. What came back was this article which is all about food trucks. I’ve heard of food trucks but never equated them to kitchen cabinets so this came as a little surprise. Silly me, food trucks, also known as canteens and kitchens on wheels, are ALL the rage right now and all of them have… cabinets in them. Not only do I have two new terms to follow closely (food trucks, canteens) I also have a new keyword niche of blogs, sites, forums, and people to tap into for content, traffic, social media mentions and most importantly, links! Huge win here all for using a synonym.
The idea here is generally the same but instead of looking for current topics in general news sites, you are looking for trends and gossip to exploit. My favorite sites for this are TMZ and The Daily Mail, between the two you will find the most unusual and trendy information on just about anything.
For example if I came across this article using the term “kitchen cabinets” in my RSS, I’d be all over it. It is a story about a celebrity putting an ATM machine in his kitchen. I don’t care about the celebrity but an ATM machine in the kitchen? Ding ding! If installing home ATM machines is a possible trend then I want to capitalize on the concept and write about it.
I can do a lot with the phrase “ATM in the kitchen“, in addition to numerous articles I can use the concept and images associated with it to make:
- Content visualizations
- A Flickr stream
- Pinterest board
- Guest blog posts
- Media bait
If I really wanted to cash out I could pursue sponsorship and endorsements opportunities with an ATM manufacturer and work my link building from the corporate side as well. Thank you TMZ. 🙂
I’m a big believer in using what’s out there and not recreating the wheel. Developing content from researched and published stories fits this bill, helps you find bright new ideas and saves time finding credible resources.
But best of all it keeps you current with what’s going on so you can be an early adopter and provider of new and interesting industry content. People only share, Like, tweet, G+, pin and most importantly, link to content they like so get creative and find the trends.
Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, a link building company in business since 2001 focused on providing relevant lists of sources and media outlets to content developers.When she's not working for Alliance-Link, Debra can be found refinishing furniture or working in her garden.