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Where do you come up with content ideas for your sites?

I can type, but WHAT to type..?



7:45 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've got a couple of websites that I pull in a small amount of AdSense from (around $250 a month). I need to get some more content for them, but I can't think of anything else to type up for the life of me.

My goal is $1000 per month. I figure I'll need to make at least a couple more sites to get to that, as well as add more content to my current ones.

My question is this: where do you come up with ideas for articles and all that? Content is king, but at the moment an elusive one.

Also, what is my quickest way to $1000 per month? I'd be super duper happy if I could pull that off.


8:09 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well, I would try to think it's just $33 a day rather than $1000. If you are starting out small, $1000 is like an impossible goal... in my opinion that is.

It really comes down to what you know about the subject. If you have decent knowledge of your topic, it shouldn't be too hard to come up with 40-50 unique content pages, each of which should contain about 250 words. That is assuming your site is too confined to just one narrow topic.


8:17 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I tend to write articles in response to questions from visitors - either on the forum or via email.

Very occasionally I find a good keyword and write an article around that, but sometimes the articles I write without any keyword research at all bring in more visitors.


8:30 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I run a creative writing website and try and write regular original features. I pick a subject, such as "creating fantasy worlds", and then search the web for articles and info about this subject. I use various search terms and try and go way beyond the first page of Google's results (I also try and use less popular search engines), just to try and get to the undiscovered gems of content out there.

I then write an article, basically outlining the content of the sites that I've found. They all tend to fall into little sub-categories of sites (for the example above, I found sites about drawing maps, creating languages, how climates work etc.) so the feature then has some structure. The "filler" content surrounding the links is written based upon what I've learnt from the sites I've found.

I find this approach very easy, although the resulting content may not be what you'd want on your own site - basically, I'm sending people off around the web, away from my site. However, on another part of my site, I have a writers' directory of links and this section has the highest CTR on my site. I'm guessing that people who are on a page that sends people off to other sites, are more likely to click on the ads. So, as far as "stickyness" is concerned, the lack of stickeyness on these pages is a benefit as far as Adsense revenue is concerned.

Finally, each of these features that I write has a link to an area on my forums for people to discuss the feature and suggest more links. (I'm also trying to syndicate this content out to other websites, with the link back to my forums intact.) Almost all of my repeat visitors are forum users, and yes, I have Adsense on my forums too.


8:34 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've just read Sullen's post and have a comment...

I haven't yet tried to target specific Adsense keywords with the content although I've been tempted to write an article about hard drive backup and recovery as this is important to writers, as they could lose years of work in a single hard drive crash. Terms such as "hard drive recovery" etc. tend to have high-paying keywords from what I've heard. I would never write an article that wasn't relevent to my readers though - my site must retain their respect otherwise I'll lose visitors. This could be seen as creating content specifically for Adsense revenue though, although it would be a very relevent topic for my readers!


8:37 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If it is relevant to your readers, then write it! Who cares if it is about a high paying keyword. Smart pricing will take care of that anyway.


8:40 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Good point. I suppose it would be a different matter if I chose to write about some prescription drugs (I understand that these are high paying keywords too)!

I shouldn't start thinking that relevent articles are a no-go area just because they keyword revenue is high. As long as I don't mention anything like "see the ads on this for companies who deal with hard drive recovery" I should be fine as far as Adsense TOCs are concerned.


8:58 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Another thing you can do is to take a popular discussion from your forums (if you have one) and do a write up of the issue, including any conflicting points of view. You can then structure this into a Google friendly article. In other words, you have some control over the keywords that your content targets. And, because you're writing about a forum topic, you can link to the forum post and get new readers involved in it (which may provide enough discussion for a follow-up article!)


9:16 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

think it's just $33 a day rather than $1000.

You said it ... :)
Your suggestion rocks! Somehow we all tend to see larger picture and miss out in small steps.

COncentrate on a good daily average ... and u wil hit the jackpot soon


11:00 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

You really need to search the web for "creativity" :-)


11:06 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you don't know what to write, don't write at all.

It seems like you're trying to write about something you really don't have the knowledge or that you've no special interest in.


12:42 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Users create content for my website :)


1:07 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"users create content for my website :)"

Nearly of the articles on my site are written by users of my site - but my site is a site for writers who may be more willing to put pen to paper (or pixel to screen as it were). Plus, like I mentioned earlier, forums are a good source of content.

Sootah - what area of interest are your sites in? What's the topic of them?


1:38 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Recently I have been receiving a lot of emails from strangers with articles that encourage me to either put them on my website or newsletter. Sometimes, these articles are quite relevant to my site topic. Is it advisable to use them? Will there be any implications because I believe the same article has also been sent to others.


11:13 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you don't know what to write, don't write at all.
It seems like you're trying to write about something you really don't have the knowledge or that you've no special interest in.

Not even close. I do computer repair for a living and all my articles relate to that, as do all of my sites. I've just run out of ideas for stuff to write on, even though there's a ton more out there that I could do.

The problem is thinking like an average joe. I've been doing this for so long that I can't think of the questions they might have. What's shockingly simple to me may be impossible to them.


11:40 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I hear you Sootah. Writer's block. I feel that I've been writing on my topic for so long that I sometimes feel I don't have anything more to say. I feel that everything's already on the website, and there's nothing more I can add. But of course, there's more.

And with Adsense mixed into the equation of what type of content to write, you have to balance writing on topics that your users want and read with content that can get you good rankings in the SE and content that will give you good Adsense income. It's hard to deny that Adsense can never be thrown into the equation. It's easy if you achieve congruence in terms of what users want and what Adsense wants. But harder if not.

In our case, I look hard at our web stats to find out the stuff that our visitors want to read, then compare them to my best performing channels in Adsense. Thankfully they match.

So where do I come up with content ideas:

- I read trade publications related to my field. Not only do I get ideas for articles, but I get ideas of people I need to feature and interview.
- I study the questions that come in from our users. The more questions on a particular topic, the more urgent it is for us to write an article about that.
- I compare the current content of the website with our content goal, and where we are now: what topics need to be beefed up and what topics can we say we have really sufficiently covered
- I read forums (but not our competing websites - just don't want to be influenced by what they have)

But yes, it happens. I am just coming out of a writer's funk right now. I have not written anything for the last couple of months or so. So if you yourself can't write, hire others who can write for you :o)


12:14 am on Jul 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google up something like goarticles, or "free article submission", and you will find many.


11:59 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I own an ISP business and I get calls all the time from customers about computer problems because when they have problems they can't get online.

So... What where your last 10 calls or repairs about. What caused the problem. How can it be prevented. Write about it.

Still blank? Search for other websites like yours, judge your site by theirs. You will quickly find sites that do it better then yours. You will say Hay! this site is cool and I have not covered this topic.

You have covered every single part in a computer very thoroughly? Really? Every nut bolt screw processor ram new verses old, Intel verses AMD. Fans, hard drive problems, spyware, virus, worms, stupid user tricks, de-fragging your friggin drives. Linux verses windows for you mother! Raid systems, ide, sata, scsi cables... cd, dvd, you got everything already on your website? I would like to see it.

Think of it this way, if you where to write a book about what you do how would it be organized?

There you go. I often use books as inspiration for web sites. Books are a hidden treasure for building websites. big books small books magazines etc. unlimited ideas.


12:09 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Somebody asked Harlan Ellison that. He's a prominent science fiction writer. His answer? "Schenectady".

Here's my recommendation for you. Depending on your preference, buy either a spiral bound notebook or a large-size hardbound journal. Each morning, after breakfast but before anything else, write three pages by hand. It makes writing feel more real that way. I got this from Julia Cameron's book below, and found that it helped a great deal.

The way to learn to write is to write every day. But don't try to write stuff for your site. Your morning papers are just for you, to make sure you write something every single day. Like the Roman advice to artists: "Never a day without a line".

Here is some recommended reading. They have helped me a great deal. Aside from these, if you want to write, then you need to read. Don't just read web pages. Read books. That way you get to read in more depth:

On Writing by Stephen King

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

I don't recall the editor but there is a good collection of essays by professional writers called The Writer's Home Companion.

Start The Elements of Style by reading E.B. White's essay on writing style towards the middle of the book. It is I feel the best piece of writing I have ever read. E.B. White wrote many other fine books, I particularly enjoyed One Man's Meat.

As for me, my website promises articles on a particular topic, but I write whatever comes to mind. I feel it's more important to have new content as frequently as possible, and I have much wider-ranging interests now than when I first started my site.


12:38 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sootah, why not use the Overture suggestion tool or WordTracker to plug in some keywords related to the subjects you are proficient in and see what questions people are asking the search engines?

You could also visit forums on the subjects and find commonly asked questions and subjects to get started.


2:46 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I write new content for my 9 sites all the time. You want to give your readers useful, original info, but it doesn't have to be Pulitzer Prize stuff. A good way to go about it is to think about what tips you'd have liked to have when you were a beginner in whatever topic you're writing about. Dumb things down and don't shoot over anyone's head. You'll find that having to take the time to really explain what you think of as basic ideas will fill up a page quickly.

Also, unless a topic requires it, don't be too long winded. I keep my articles to 300 words or so, which is plenty of words to get a point across. Find that balance between imparting good info (quality) and getting more pages posted (quantity).


3:16 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Dumb things down and don't shoot over anyone's head.

By contrast, some of my most popular articles are quite technical and in-depth. I own the #1 spot for some very arcane concepts, yet ones which are important to enough people that they get me a lot of traffic.

I have one article on a topic for which misinformation and propaganda abounds, but my article works very hard to set a lot of misconceptions straight to help out people who would otherwise be misinformed.

What helps is not so much to dumb things down but to write clearly.

Also, unless a topic requires it, don't be too long winded.

My three most popular articles are 20, 30 and 50 pages when printed in hardcopy, respectively. I think maybe that in itself is why I'm able to get such prominent positioning, the fact that it's otherwise very difficult to find much in-depth writing on the web, certainly not much that's approachable to the layman. One of them is in the top ten for two VERY competitive keywords, and is what brings in most of my adsense revenue.

An advantage of long articles is that they match on more keywords, bringing in traffic from many keywords I never intended to target. Now, having lots of words is a common tactic of SEO spammers. The key is to really have well-written, meaningful text.


5:29 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

My three most popular articles are 20, 30 and 50 pages when printed in hardcopy, respectively.

Well, then you've actually got 20, 30, and 50 separate pages, even if each page is just a continuation of the previous one. That's not opposed to my idea of keeping each page relatively short. You said yourself that each long article brings in traffic for lots of keywords. That's the same principle behind writing a lot of 300-word articles. The only difference here, really, is that your 50 "articles" have a common theme, whereas mine will all be on different topics, but within the same subject matter (like an article on dog training, another on dog toys, and another on dog health issues - different topics, same theme).


5:46 am on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I posted an "Oddly Enough" story to my mainly political blog. The picture associated with the story was quite funny. I noticed I was getting several searches for the generic theme of the picture.

So, I started a brand new blog just about that generic theme. The theme appears to be pretty low traffic and it's not something people will buy.

However, this is a funny/strange topic that will appeal to hobbyists in a certain field, and I think when I put AS there it will show ads for that hobby. I also think those hobbyists will pass the link around to show to their friends, link to it, etc.


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