Ways to Invent Endless Content Ideas
This is my collection of strategies for coming up with an unlimited number of content ideas. You can use them for your posts, youtube videos, podcast episodes, and so on.
Work on interesting projects, pursue challenging goals, and overcome obstacles that come up on your path. Solving interesting challenges inevitably leads to original insights and epiphanies you can share with people.
Create how-to's and step-by-step tutorials, guide people through building a similar project (or a feature of the project you've built), give them the steps for achieving the same goal.
Learn by teaching
You don't have to be an expert to teach - you can study a subject you're interested in, try to develop a skill, keep notes, and share everything you're learning. If the ideas you're learning are useful to you, they will be useful to other people.
Many people even prefer to learn from the beginners, because as a beginner you will find it easier to relate to other beginners - you will be able to notice the most relevant problems and explain things in a more accessible way.
Organize your notes
You can simply organize your old notes. I keep a file where I write down all the interesting ideas I learn, insightful thoughts that occur to me, anything I want to be able to remember later.
This is very helpful, because when I want to write - I don't have to invent anything on the spot, I can just organize my old notes. If I found an idea insightful enough to write down, it is probably worth sharing with people.
Ideas based on reading
Get used to consuming high quality content - read books, watch video courses, watch interviews with smart people, listen to podcasts.
Write down the most interesting ideas in your own words, organize them by subject, and turn them into Evergreen Atomic Notes.
Then you can curate the most useful takeaways from multiple sources, distill the best ideas, assemble them into posts.
You can also look at the book titles and the chapter titles for inspiration, most of them make for an excellent topic.
When you're consuming good content, you're doing it passively, going wherever your curiosity leads you.
But you can also pick a topic you're interested in, and deliberately research it - read wiki articles, blog posts, forum threads, and watch youtube videos. Write down the most insightful ideas, summarize them, and share them.
Explain complicated subjects
Look for ideas that are complex, difficult to understand, or explained in a very dry and boring way. If you go through the work of understanding them - you can make them accessible, concise, engaging, and fun. This will be very valuable, it saves people a lot of time and effort.
Develop expertise in different areas that aren't usually connected, and find ways to value arbitrage between them - make interesting associations, apply useful ideas from one field to another.
This often leads to original insights and interesting inventions. Every time you learn a new idea, ask yourself - how does it apply to the fields I already know, does it solve any problems that I'm aware of?
Copy what already works
If you're looking to create popular content, you can just find what already works well, and copy it.
Find the most popular blogs, subreddits, and youtube channels in your niche.
Browse their most popular posts and videos.
- Use the Moz Link Explorer tool to find the most popular pages on a website.
site:thewebsite.cominto Reddit's search function and sort by top to find the most popular posts submitted to Reddit (and the communities where you can submit your own posts later on).
- Sort youtube channel's videos (or the search results) by the number of views.
- Use twitter's advanced search features to view the most retweeted tweets from a popular account.
Then - see if you can put your own spin on these posts, add some insights they're missing, create a better version, or correct some mistakes and misconceptions they have.
Extract the most useful insights and turns of phrase from multiple popular sources, combine them into your own post that is better than everything else you have found.
Teach what you're learning from sources not easily accessible to others.
- Invest in high-quality courses, and then teach what you've learned from them.
- Attend real-life courses and live events, take notes, and report what happened there.
- Teach what you're learning from your school, bootcamp, or a university.
- If you're bilingual - teach what you've learned from the resources available only in a different language.
- Find interesting gems of information in unpopular, obscure, old, forgotten, boring, or controversial sources. Make them popular, accessible, easy to discover.
Read through large amounts of content and summarize, distill the most useful ideas.
For example - Paul Graham 101. The author of this post has read all of the PG's essays and summarized them.
Answer Community Questions
Help people in online communities.
Find the popular communities in your niche. Go to Discord servers, subreddits, forums in your niche, StackExchange sites, and see what problems people are struggling with, look for frequently asked questions.
Answer their questions using your own expertise or research, and share your answers with your audience.
As a side benefit, this will help you to promote your content - you can always write down your answer as a blog post or create a video tutorial, and share it as a reply to the question.
You can also do an AMA. If you're doing something interesting - create "Ask me Anything" threads on subreddits or twitter, or encourage people to email you their questions. Share your best answers.
Answer Your Own Questions
Keep the list of your own questions you're confused about, things you would like to learn, concepts you don't understand, and the problems you're facing.
Make posts in communities, and ask people for help. Every time you find a solution - summarize the most useful replies, or explain what you figured out on your own.
Target the general audience
What aspects of the topic you're an expert in could you make interesting and accessible to a layman?
Share what you find interesting about those things, educate people, explain why these topics are important, get other people excited about them.
Once they're interested in your subject, you can explain to them how to get started with it:
Create content for beginners
Think about the difference between you now, and the version of yourself from 10 years ago. What are the most important things you'd like to tell yourself?
- How would you help yourself to learn what you know now?
- What are some things you wish you'd learn sooner?
- What are some common mistakes and pitfalls you wish you could avoid?
Educate a different niche
Find a group of people who would benefit from the ideas in your field, who aren't already in your field. Make posts like "UI Design for Developers", "Sales for Developers", or "Math for Digital Artists", or "Social Skills for Engineers".
Build in public, devlogs
Work on something cool and share your progress. Game developers create devlogs about the projects they're working on, see if you can apply something like that to your own niche.
Behind the scenes
Do postmortems, retrospectives, share success stories.
- Once you have finished a big project you're proud of - share what you've learned from it.
- If your project has failed - share your mistakes.
- Explain how you've managed to achieve some unusual result (made money with a simple project, grew your project quickly, found a life hack that improved your life, etc.)
- Share any interesting or unexpected details that went into building your project.
Go on forums and offer people to give them feedback on their projects, articles, landing pages, portfolios, etc.
Create posts where you combine multiple case studies and show common patterns - what did these people do well, what kind of mistakes do they make.
Create "I did x for a month and here's what happened." type posts.
New, small, or rapidly evolving niches
Be on the cutting edge of rapidly evolving fields like webdev, gamedev, VR, AI, crypto, digital art, etc.
These fields change rapidly, new ideas, frameworks, and tools appear every month. You can research them, discover better ways to use them, or just help other people to stay up to date.
The new subjects often don't have a lot of content written about them (not much competition), and have a lot of interest and hype around them - perfect combination for creating popular content.
They also often have a lot of low-hanging-fruit ideas - ways you can contribute to the development of the field with your own original ideas and research (which you can also share).
All of the above also applies to novel or niche interests and weird hobbies, like sharing clever strategies for a new video game that just came out. Look for new cool things to be interested in, get excited about them, participate in small but passionate communities, share what you've discovered.
Keep the Snippets file
If you're a programmer or a technical writer - keep the file where you collect the useful code snippets.
Notice when you're googling the same subject multiple times, or finding yourself copy-pasting similar code over and over again. Organize the related snippets into a post.
List all the cool tricks and little hacks that may not be obvious to other people.
Artifacts and Assets
Share the things you've developed as a side effect of working on your projects. Share Figma design systems, models you've made for your game, pitch deck for your startup. Maybe even open source your code entirely.
Find people who are more experienced or successful than you, send them cold emails or tweets, ask if they would like to do an interview and answer some questions.
This will be easier to do when your blog/channel/podcast becomes somewhat popular, because then you are offering people to share their ideas with a larger audience, which is more appealing.
While your audience is small - you can talk to your peers, bloggers, people you met on social media, anyone on your level who's worth learning from. Normal people often appreciate if you invite them to an interview and ask them questions about their area of expertise.
Analyze successful products (and people)
Take an already existing and successful product and explain how it's been made. Find people who are succeeding at some challenging task, and try to figure out how they're doing it, explain what makes them successful.
For example, Every Frame a Painting makes video essays analyzing movies, Game Maker's Toolkit analyzes the mechanics of popular games, Charisma on Command explains what makes popular characters and celebrities charismatic.
Do you have any useful insights about what will happen in several months or years? Register your predictions of things to come by writing about it, analyze the data, make an argument for your case.
As a side benefit this will help you to sharpen your prediction and decision making skills - you will be motivated to try to figure out in advance what will happen, and will be easily able to see and analyze your mistakes, improving your world model.
Do a summary of the most important things that happened in your niche during the last week or month. New cool features in your game engine, new cool startups that have been launched, new research papers that have been published.
Useful Lists and Resources
Compile the lists of the best tools, books, courses, youtube channels, links, places to promote your startup, etc. Describe them briefly, make recommendations, explain why people should check them out. For example, my top godot youtube channels project.
Use SEO keyword research tools or the auto-suggestions you get when you type something into a youtube search bar.
They will help you to understand what people are actively looking for, and help you to create content you know will be in demand.
Review popular books, courses, products, tools. Create "X vs Y" posts where you compare two alternatives and share pros and cons of each.
Keep an eye for things that are popular but incorrect, common mistakes, misconceptions, false beliefs.
Look for articles, books, or videos that you disagree with. Explain why they are wrong, make a good argument.
As a side benefit, this will encourage you to challenge your beliefs and look for good counterarguments. If they change your opinion - even better, explain why you used to have a false belief and share what you've learned.
Share strong opinions. Even if you invent an opinion for the sole sake of argument, boldly sharing a strong opinion is very useful to others. Those who were undecided or ambivalent can just adopt your stance, but those who disagree can solidify their stance by arguing against yours.
Thinking on Paper
When you have some question that confuses you or inspires your curiosity - write an essay about it. Try to organize your thoughts and come up with an answer as you go, use the process of writing to help you organize and clarify your thoughts.
Share more ideas
Did I miss anything? Share your approaches and strategies in the comments!