5 Sources to Inspire Unlimited Content Ideas

5 Sources to Inspire Unlimited Content Ideas

Most of the time we must find them. The number of brides spending $25,000 or more on weddings is double what it was last year. Events Sometimes content ideas schedule themselves. You can treat more routine meetings and business processes as events too. Access to your organization’s clients. (Here, I call them all associates to make my IDEAS acronym work, but what I really mean is people.) Predictions for new year (or next season): What is likely to happen this year for your customer base, inside your industry, etc., and why does it matter? State of your industry or core business: Pick a time of year – perhaps just before a peak business time – that makes sense for publishing. 3 questions to ask before investing in a content idea No matter where you uncover ideas, be it in bed as a tired new parent or at an event like Content Marketing World, run them through my chicken test. If you find a content idea or one finds you and it’s not relevant to your audiences, it’s not timely, and it doesn’t have a so-what, move on.

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It was probably 4 in the morning, following a wake-up call from our infant son, when the thought occurred to me: The 10-year anniversary of the start of the Great Recession loomed.

As many creatives can commiserate, sometimes content ideas strike at inconvenient and unexpected times. This light bulb turned on when the neighborhood’s lights were off. I pitched the idea the next business day to my employer, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Interviews with six in-house experts and four outside experts would follow and, months later, we published a recession retrospective with four chapters, a 22-event timeline, audio interviews, and more.

Of course, not all ideas worthy of becoming content find us. Most of the time we must find them. Here are five sources that can inspire ideas during any given year. (You can remember this list by using the acronym IDEAS.)

Industry goings-on

Broadening the perspective of your content with industry context can lend your experts’ words more credibility and expand the audience for your content. Thus, industry sources are a surefire place to find and expand content ideas:

  • Start with a truth your colleagues are witnessing. Then call your industry trade group or other pros in your industry to ask if they see it. Remember, it can make sense to include external voices in your content because an ally in creating a piece is an ally in promoting it.
  • Look at something the industry says is happening. You can find these ideas in an industry publication, LinkedIn group, a report from an industry regulator or trade group, etc. Reveal through your content whether your experts see the trend, challenge, or opportunity, too.


Not every organization produces research like the Federal Reserve, but you can dig up data-based ideas using these three options:

  • Conduct a survey and report its findings in infographics, articles, etc. Tell the story its data reveal: Thirty percent of business owners say x. The number of brides spending $25,000 or more on weddings is double what it was last year. Get the gist?
  • Use others’ data to drum up ideas and round out those ideas with what your experts are seeing. If real estate data from a third-party source show more people are building homes, for example, cite that and then incorporate what your construction experts see customers demanding today that they didn’t a year or five years ago.
  • Use informal numbers to reveal early trends. Don’t discount the importance of informal numbers your company alone observes: increased requests for some service, decreased spending on a product, and so on. These can be the genesis of pieces exploring how widespread the changes are and what the changes mean for your industry and its customers.


Sometimes content ideas schedule themselves. If your organization takes tours or hosts events, cover them.

For example, a multimedia story by the Cleveland Fed reveals the details, meetings, and overarching reasons for a tour of eastern Kentucky taken by Federal Reserve officials.

You can treat more routine meetings and business processes as events too. Develop content around your experts demonstrating a process…