Scratching your head as to what to blog, vlog, or podcast about this week?
Why not let your audience pick!?
Read on for my best tips for sourcing killer content ideas straight from your target audience!
Ok, so granted this one takes the most “getting outside your comfort zone” and…brace yourselves… actually talking *face-to-face* with another human!
But once you get over the initial feeling of “omg, I’m such an imposter and hopping on a zoom call is only going to highlight that fact,” the reward can be pretty !
So what is a subscriber chat?
It’s setting aside a day or two in your calendar where people can book a call and just hang out with you on zoom for 30 mins.
This can look like sending a scheduling link to your email list and booking calls first-come-first-serve style, or looking back through your inbox and DM’s and hand-picking a few people that you feel closely fit your ideal client description.
Who (besides your mom) is liking every post on Instagram? Who – based on your email marketing software’s reporting features – are opening every newsletter you send?
And those are the exact people you want to hear from when sourcing content topic ideas.
P.S. I love subscriber chats not for just short-term content creation ideas, but also for planning which products and services to create and focus on next!
Because half the time, the reason people get stuck when trying to research a topic is that they don’t actually know what questions to be asking!
They just don’t know what they don’t know!
So instead, ask them about their struggles, their dreams, where they are at now vs. their goals for 3, 6, or 12 months from now! What are their biggest fears and roadblocks? What mindset issues are they facing? What are their longterm goals?
Ask them what a day in the life looks like for them, who they love to follow online, any favorite bits of content they’ve consumed lately, and projects they are currently excited about!
Really get to know them, like you would a new friend over coffee! ☕️ ♀️
Let your ideas be in response to what you learned about them, and pretty soon your audience will begin to see themselves in every bit of content you create!
Having a little list of questions prepared in advance will really help with any stage fright you might be experiencing on the call, but the more you can just talk and listen like a normal, relatable human being, the more candid and valuable their responses will be!
There’s nothing wrong with taking direct requests when planning future content, you just don’t want to limit the info you are gathering by making that your only focus!
I’m allll about batch-working, so I tend to host my host my subscriber chats just once a year, usually at the beginning of the year when people are most fired-up and motivated about their business.
Your ideal clients may not be business owners, so try to think of a time when they are most likely to be excited about their goals and schedule them then!
Maybe you actually schedule them one-by-one at a certain milestone in each subscriber or client’s journey!
Pro-tip: Don’t forget to record the call so you can revisit it later! It also frees you up to be present with that person because you aren’t scrambling to take notes!
Offer up a little trade! You get to ask them about their journey, and they get to pick your brain about your niche topic! Your most engaged subscribers will not be able to pass that up!
And really, opening the floor up for questions from them only gives you more content ideas! So, win-win.
Don’t have time to set aside 30 minutes to chat with your top 5-10 ideal client look-alikes?
Or maybe the thought of hopping on a face-to-face call makes you want to crawl back in bed and pull the blankets over your head…
Why not create a subscriber survey instead!?
Now, you could do a time-bound survey, meaning you send out a link to your survey, promote it heavily for a short time, and there’s a deadline for when responses need to be submitted by…
But with this method, I find that bribing is pretty much mandatory, and depending on what you are offering as incentive, you may get super irrelevant people answering your survey just for a chance to win that Starbs’ gift card.
You’ll still see me doing this on an annual basis, at the same time I send out that link for my first-come-first-serve subscriber chats from above. ☝️
This way I still get to hear from a massive chunk of my audience, even if they miss out on snagging one of my 1:1 call times! Plus, it’s a great way to get a ton of ideas right now, when you really need them!
But there’s an even easier way to get answers! (And to keep those content ideas coming in all year long!)
The automated survey!
I share my favorite way to set this up in this post, plus all the pros and cons of each type of survey.
Heads up! That post I just linked is an oldie but a goodie! So even though my ideal audience has since changed from 1:1 web design client > aspiring web designer wanting to build a profitable design business, the same tips and principles apply!
Other posts you might love:
I talk about 3 common surveying mistakes further down in the post
K, so most Facebook Groups will have some sort of rule that keeps you from self-promoting your business (and for good reason…nobody trusts a Spammy Pammy.)
BUT if a Facebook Group is plum full of people you are dying to work with, then I can’t think of an easier way to source content topic ideas than to comb through the questions people are asking in real life!
You may not be able to go back and share your bit of content with those exact people (see self-promotion rule #1) but if they truly are your ideal client, then chances are there are thousands of other people out there feeling the same sort of way! And facing the same pain points and fears your ideal person inside the group was.
Plus, you’ll be able to quickly spot trends, and topics your target audience is most likely to be searching or interested in!
A word of caution: make sure the answers you are giving are your own!
When you read a question posted in the group, it’s best to avoid reading the comments and risk getting other people’s advice stuck in your head…it can be pretty hard to ‘unsee’ and becomes a recipe for copying.
If someone’s comment does spark an idea, make sure to give credit where credit is due! ie. I read the best bit of advice from so-and-so (link to their business page/website here) and wanted to share it with you, as well as a few thoughts I had on the matter!”
Kinda like a subscriber chat, but everyone’s invited! ♀️
It’s best to give a little bit of direction for the live call to get your audience’s gears turning about the kind of questions to bring to the call.
The reason I love this format is that your attendees will sort of feed off each other’s questions, coming up with follow up questions that otherwise might not have occurred to them!
The call itself might take you an hour tops, but now you have a whole bunch of questions you know that your target audience are actually asking and would be interested to know more about.
You might have only had 2 minutes to respond to that question live, but now that you have more time to think about it, you can really do a deep dive, and you might even think up new tips that didn’t come to you while you were on the spot.
And each one of those questions can be turned into some sort of long-form, SEO-able content, like a blog post, video, or podcast episode.
P.S. SEO = Search Engine Optimization…which basically means you are taking steps to make your content more discoverable online by people who don’t already follow you.
Hosting a live Q&A is a great way to show your audience you are truly listening, and to follow up with even more value to keep them engaging with your content while they wait to make a purchasing decision.
Ok, so this idea is where legit probably 95% of my content ideas come from.
Rather than answer the same questions on repeat in your inbox, why not kill all the birds with one stone and create an in-depth piece of free public content on that topic!
Your subscriber will love that you didn’t just give some rushed, 2 sentence non-answer to make them go away…
And your entire audience – future and present – can benefit from your answer!
So if you are currently staring at a blank page, wondering what to blog, vlog, or podcast about…take a quick scroll through your most recent DM’s, emails, and social media comments for what your audience is clearly dying to know!
The best part is that you often don’t even need to come up with a super creative title, because you can literally just take the question they asked, condense it a bit, and make it more SEO-keyword-friendly!
Bonus tip: why not ask the original author of that question if you can shout them out in that post to give them credit! (ie. This question came from @ashley.design from Ontario, Canada!)
It’s a fun way to engage with your audience members, and encourages other subscribers to send their burning Q’s your way too!
This idea is mostly for those who have already been consistently creating content for a while, and therefore have data to compare to, but it’s also sort of a heads up for those that want to start creating today!
So basically, you want to make sure you have some way to measure how well a piece of content is performing in relation to other content you’ve posted.
This can look like keeping a simple spreadsheet to see how many views/clicks that piece of content got in its first week, or looking at which posts/videos/episodes have brought in the most organic (unpaid) traffic to your site over time.
This tells you exactly which topics people would love to see more of on your site, and which topics don’t seem to be worth the effort to create more content around.
I love to use Google Analytics to track and measure how my blog posts are performing, or if you host your content on a platform other than your site, then be sure to take advantage of that software’s built-in reporting features.
An example of this is a recent YouTube video I did called: Building a membership site? (Squarespace Member Areas vs. Teachable)
People seem to love direct comparisons of popular solutions, so when I saw how well that video did, I got to work brainstorming all the possible things in my industry I could compare!
Just 2 minutes of digging into my stats lead to literally endless future topic ideas.
But if you want solid data to compare, you need to commit to tracking these things faithfully starting today!