Seeking Wisdom: How to Come Up With and Create the Best Content of Your Career

Seeking wisdom

Want to know the single biggest mistake that content marketers make?

It’s not forgetting to analyze content.

And it’s not failing to find the best distribution channels.

The biggest mistake is creating content that isn’t engaging or thought-provoking. But it’s something almost every content marketer struggles with. In fact, nearly 60% of B2B marketers say that producing engaging content is one of their top challenges.

But here’s the thing: great marketing and great content go hand in hand — you can’t have one without the other.

On this episode of Seeking Wisdom, Dave gives away the three vital secrets you need for creating the best content of your career, and the six tools to use to help you get there — all in under 20 minutes.

Whether you create blog posts, podcasts, videos, social posts, this podcast will help you level up your content — and marketing — game.

-Amanda

Time Stamped Show Notes:

02:02 – How to reverse engineer good content and DG’s thoughts on how he grew his original podcast, Tech in Boston.

03:26 – The power of reading and why it’s an idea powerhouse.

04:10 – “Ogilvy on Advertising”: the key to coming up with better ideas… you need to stuff your mind with great content.

05:30 – Use social networks as a way to test ideas and gauge what content you can produce that will yield results.

08:35 – Figure out what’s already popular. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to reinvent something as opposed to trying to innovate on top of it.

10:00 – The innate power of Google search. Check out what’s already popular and find long-tail keywords that matter for your brand.

11:00 – How to use Google keyword planner to analyze your competitors landing pages and steal back traffic.

12:06 – An introduction to Buzzsumo and how to use it to find the most popular pages for a brand based on social shares.

14:02 – Two unexpected tools: Product Hunt and Amazon book reviews. Use both to identify the lingo that your customers use by finding posts, pages, and reviews that are related to your business.

15:33 – How to use Quora to crowdsource content ideas.

3 Key Points:

  1. Reverse engineer good content (or audience location). You have to figure out who you’re making content for and where those people like to hang out online. Determine what elements make for great content (or what channel your prospects frequent), and then use that as guidance.

    An easy three step process: 1.) Identify your competitors by conducting a search of your brand’s primary keywords, 2.) Look at the backlinks they use to find the top competitors in your industry, and 3.) Find their 10x, anchor content using Buzzsumo, and determine what elements make it successful. Then, replicate it — or better yet — improve on it. 
  2. Read more. To get better at writing and creating content you need to look up, zoom out, check out what others around you are creating, and use it as inspirational fuel. David Ogilvy said it best, “Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you. 
  3. Don’t reinvent, innovate. Go out and find what’s already popular and innovate off of it. Spend some time on Twitter checking out what’s trending and the top articles in your industry that are being shared and retweeted, and then ask yourself what you can add to it. The world has already done the hard work for you, they’ve already identified what topics are popular, you just have to pay attention.

Tools Mentioned On This Episode:

  1. Google Search: It might sound obvious, but a standard Google search can yield a wealth of knowledge. Use it to find what other content is already popular in the industry, see related searches, and identify long tail keywords — all critical things to understand before embarking on creating content.
  2. Google Keyword Planner: A keyword research tool, Google Keyword Planner lets you see what keywords your competitors are using so that you can cater your content and steal back traffic.
  3. Buzzsumo: A social listening tool, Buzzsumo allows you to analyze what content performs best for any topic or industry by finding what’s already popular based on social shares.
  4. Product Hunt: While you might be familiar with using Product Hunt to launch new products, you can also use it to find what products have been popular after they’ve launched. Find products and pages that are related to your industry and see what people are saying about them. Then use your customer’s words to generate content ideas.
  5. Amazon Book Reviews: Simple but powerful, book reviews on Amazon can bring you closer to your customer and give you unfiltered access into the words and lingo that they use. Find books related to your industry and read the reviews and descriptions.
  6. Quora: A question-and-answer site, Quora lets you see what questions people are asking and is a way to crowdsource content ideas.

Connect With Us

Follow David and Dave on Twitter.

Come follow the podcast at seekingwisdomio.

Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.

Episode Transcript

Dave: All right, what’s up everybody? Man, I am in the brand new Drift office. We just moved in today. I have no idea when you’re gonna listen to this, but today is the day that we moved into this new office. It is insane. I posted a bunch of pictures on Instagram, @davegerhardt on Instagram. And Twitter, I tweeted out a bunch of stuff. It’s incredible. I’m in what will be the new studio. There is so much gear in here right now. We haven’t unpacked it yet, but I needed to record this episode because I wanted … I have so many marketing topics that I want to talk about, but I need to record this one because this is one that keeps coming up. I wanted to do it, and I wanted to just get in here, and break into the new studio, even though there’s not even a studio yet. It’s basically just a room with 15 light stands, and a bunch of boxes, but DC told me he has a vision for this. It’s gonna be ridiculous. He told me what it was today. It is gonna be ridiculous, if he delivers on it, we gotta see. We gotta see if he’ll deliver.


Anyway, I wanted to talk about … Today, I’m gonna talk about how to come up with better content ideas, and I think, when I say content ideas, I’m not just talking about blog posts. Although, I think that’s where a lot of people default to, but I’m talking about podcast episodes. Sure, blog posts. LinkedIn videos, LinkedIn articles, tweets, anything you want to write, any type of content. To me content is marketing, right? You can’t have marketing without great content. And so I think the things you’re gonna get out of this episode today will help you create better content. And so, so many people, I see this every day, so many people struggle with coming up with ideas for content, right? They want to create stuff, but then they get there, and they just stuck. But I think this is one thing that I’m good at, and so I want to give you my secrets. I want to break into my playbook, and I actually have notes for this. Usually, I just kind of go off the top here, but I have do notes ’cause there’s a couple important things.

The first thing is like, you have to go and reverse engineer. This is the number one thing, if you only get one thing out of this podcast. You need to go and reverse engineer good content. Or reverse engineer where your audience is going to be. You have to go and figure out, who am I making this for? And where do those people hang out online? I’m just gonna give you a really basic example. I had a podcast, that I did a couple years ago, called Tech in Boston, which is all about Boston startups, and my whole marketing strategy for the podcast was to distribute it, and be in all the places where people who work at Boston startups go. There was a newsletter in town. There was a news publication. There were a couple blogs. There were events. There were all the companies. There were hiring boards, job boards. LinkedIn networking, right? Twitter. Locally looking for people that are in Boston, at Boston events. And so I was able to go there, and then you find out, hey, that’s where these people hang out online. And so the same thing for any great piece of content, it was probably some thought about where those people hangout online. And to some people this comes naturally. And so maybe it’s not always an intentional thing, but it just comes naturally to the person who is creating the content. That’s number one.


But I’m gonna show you, how many ideas do I have here? One, two, three, four, five. This should not be free, but I’m gonna give you six. I’m gonna give you six different things, okay? But overall here’s the number one thing that I learned.

You got to read more. If you want to come up with better content ideas, you have to read more. This is something that’s happened to me over the last two, three years. I never read. I hated reading. High school, boring. College, it was boring. I never read. But then when I got into business, actually … It took me all the way to get to Drift, to really appreciate reading. And I’ve noticed that, I’ve all of a sudden, I can come up with ideas, and this is not me bragging, or being cocky. I’m just telling you this is a fact. I can come up with more ideas than I have time to actually go out and create, and I really credit it to the fact that I’ve been reading a lot, because you’re reading and you’re just filling your brain with all this knowledge and ideas, and then all of a sudden you’re walking down the street, you’re in the shower one day, or you’re at the gym and you get an idea, and I love it.


There’s actually a quote in one of my favorite books, which is Ogilvy on Advertising. Go get it. Shout out. We actually have a bunch of copies in the lobby here at Drift, if you ever happen to come by. But in Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy talks about it. He’s a great ad man, copywriter, creative guy, and he said that the key to coming up with better ideas, is you have to stuff your mind with all of this content, and then unhook your subconsciousness. I think he says unhook, or unlock. I don’t know. But he said that’s why, so he would take a bath, take a long bath, he would have a whiskey. It’s not really my cup of tea, but I’ve noticed this. It’s why, I notice that sometimes if I’m on the golf course, which isn’t that much these days, but it used to be. That’s when an idea would hit me on the golf course, or that’s why ideas hit you in the shower, and that’s why ideas hit you in the gym. Because you’re not thinking about work. You’re not actively thinking about it, so your mind subconsciously is able to pull out those great ideas.


If you want to come up with better ideas, start reading more. And I would pick out what you’re reading about, right? If you want to get better at marketing, go and find the best marketing books. It’s so easy. There’s so many list posts out there that companies write, or whoever, right? Or just go to Amazon, go to business books. Or listen to Seeking Wisdom, our podcast, right? You’re gonna get so many book recommendations. I guarantee that when you start reading, you will start coming up with better ideas.


Number two, these are kind of like the overarching things, and I’m gonna give you tools in a second, is see what’s popular, okay? Go out and see what’s popular. I see so many marketers that are starting off earlier in their careers, and they don’t do this, and even people who have been in the marketing game for a while, they don’t do this, right? But this is why I spend a lot of time on Twitter, and it’s not because Twitter is a distraction. It is a distraction, but I actually think you can get a lot from it because Twitter gives you a very quick sense of what is popular. Not only do I see what articles are being shared a lot, but you also see what’s being retweeted, and I guarantee you that you’ve never … Maybe if you’ve never even thought about this before, you can probably think right now, yeah, if I said, hey, make a list of five topics that always come up in your Twitter feed, right? You’d probably be able to list them off the top of your head, even though you’ve never thought about it, and that’s because you’re always seeing them. And so the world has already done the hard work for you. They’ve already identified what topics are popular. You just have to pay attention a little bit more.

I always look at Twitter. I always try to see what content is out there being shared, and just because it’s already been written, doesn’t mean you can’t go and create it, right? I do that all the time. None of my ideas are original. This post is actually sparked by seeing somebody else’s post about coming up with more content ideas, and I said, hey, I have a take on this, let me share mine. On Twitter is a great barometer for seeing what’s popular, but you can also do something else. You can share your own update. This is applicable I think if you’re in the B2B marketing world, or even just in all marketing. On Twitter, on your Facebook account, on your Instagram account, on your LinkedIn account. You can post an idea, right? Or post a potential title of something, or post a thought. And you don’t have to even have committed to going out and creating that piece of content yet, but you can post that thought, which costs nothing, and took literally two seconds. And you’ll see, did a lot of people like it? Did a lot of people retweet it? Did a lot of people comment on it? I do this all the time, and it’s a great way to gauge whether or not something is going to be successful.


And so then when I go and create the actual piece of content, I kind of have a good sense, oh, this is gonna be popular, right? I tweeted something. Let me actually see … I tweeted something the other day. Oh, Becky. We’re good. Just come in, and say hi. We have a new studio, Becky just came in.
I wrote something the other day. Actually, just before this, I tweeted it out. Let me see what it was. I said, most problems … I just tweeted, this is a random thought that I had in the elevator. I said most problems that come up in a business can be solved with this one simple hack, talk to people directly. And it’s already got a bunch of retweets, and a bunch of likes. And I know right now, I already know within 20 minutes. I know that, that is something, that if I wrote a blog post, or made a video about, or made a podcast about, that it would be popular, right? Use social networks as a way to go out and test ideas for content. And you don’t even have to say I’m thinking about writing a post on X, what do you think? Just share what the headline might be in 140, 280 characters, right? Or write it on a LinkedIn post, and you’re gonna know quickly, very quickly based on the engagement if people are interested in that topic. And you’ve basically kind of fool proofed your own content right there. You can go out, and create it, and I guarantee you that it’s going to be successful. For me read more, right? Follow whatever is happening on social, even test your own content on social. Just pull a headline out, right?


But the biggest thing is figuring out what is already popular. And this is the hardest one ’cause there is a bunch of tools I’m gonna give you. I’m gonna give you all the secrets right now, okay? The reason why this is hard is because as marketers we all want to go out, and create something that’s brand new. That is the biggest mistake that I see people make over, and over, and over again. This is one that DC, here at Drift, has pounded into my head, is that the biggest mistake you can make is trying to reinvent something, as opposed to innovate on top of it. And so just because somebody has already made that content, like I said before doesn’t mean you can’t go make it. And so I’m always looking for what is popular. I’ll go on YouTube and I’ll sort through the views there. I’ll go on Amazon, and look through comments there, right? I’ll go look at Twitter, and look at what content is popular. Same thing. The reason why I do that is because I’m trying to go, and innovate on top of something that I already know is popular.


There is so much noise out there. I don’t know why you wouldn’t do this because it’s one way to game the system a little bit, so you can guarantee that what you’re creating is going to have a better chance of succeeding, because you already know that it’s something that people are interested in. Marketing to me, is it’s all about understanding people, and especially the timeless lessons. People don’t change. Read any business book from 100 years ago, it’s still applicable today. I would go back and start by figuring out what’s already done. This is part one, right?


For part two out there, which I’m gonna get into now. This is where I would pull over on the side of the road, and write stuff down, right? Or just pause and get it later, when you can actually go and write this down. ‘Cause I’m gonna give you some secrets on how to actually go do this, other than my thoughts. Number one, is a Google search, right? Sounds obvious. Sounds so obvious, of course Dave, I Google stuff all the time. But let me ask you, when you have actually intentionally Googled a topic that you’re trying to write for, right? Probably not that often. It’s obvious, but you got to to do it. But it’s not just a Google search. I’m looking for, I’m looking for … 
I always Google search everything before I go out and write it or create it, because I want to see what other stuff is popular. If it’s on page one, it’s probably popular. But also you get great content ideas from the related searches at the bottom. You know, it says like, I forget what it says … People also searched for, at the way bottom of the search page. You often get four, or five other kind of longer tail keywords out of that. And so seems super obvious. Excuse me. I just had a bag of chips. Seems super obvious, but you got to do it, right? Plug it into Google, right? And see what else is already popular.


Number two, going off of Google, is Google Keyword Planner. Even if you’re not running AdWords campaigns, Google Keyword Planner can be amazing. I forget where I got this tip from. It was either Brian Dean, or Dan Shore. Shout out to both of you. I hope you’re listening to this podcast because I just gave you free exposure. But Google Keyword Planner, okay. If you go into your AdWords account, or go create a free one. It’s 100% free. Both of these tools, Google search obviously, and Keyword Planner are free. But go in there, and plug in your competitors landing pages, okay? Think about that, take two seconds right now, think about a competitor in your industry. Go to Google Keyword Planner, and plugin a landing page. Find a piece of their content, plug it into Keyword Planner, and you will get keyword ideas. And so you’re gonna get a bunch of ideas of content you can go out and create, by literally drafting off what they wrote, and figuring out Google is gonna tell you what content they think is related to this. And so you’re gonna be able to go in and steal traffic from them, and you’re gonna get a bunch of keyword ideas. Plug in a URL into Google Keyword Planner. It could be one of your pieces of content, but I love doing it with a competitor’s landing page because you get a bunch of keyword ideas out of there.


Number three, another content idea. I’m just … My numbers have been all over the place in this episode, so I’m sorry. Number three, number four, number seven. I’m just giving you stuff right now, okay? Here’s another one BuzzSumo, BuzzSumo.com. This is not a paid plug, obviously ’cause, just I do marketing at Drift, not for them. But it’s a tool that I love. I think we probably pay, I don’t know, two hundred bucks a month for it. And I love it because you can go to BuzzSumo, and you plug in any site. I could go to, I don’t know, what does this say? I’m wearing Nikes right now. I could go to Nike.com, and BuzzSumo would show me the most popular pages. The most popular pieces of content on Nike.com by shares. That’s why I love this one. It’s not based on traffic. It’s about social shares. I always have a hard time saying that. Social shares. Social. Social Shares, okay? Plug in a URL into BuzzSumo, and they’re gonna spit back how many times it’s been shared, and then you can sort. And so I always short by shares, so that gives me a good sense of what content is already popular.
On top of that you can also do specific landing pages, or blog posts. This is something I do all the time. I do a Google search for a piece of content. I get the top five or six most popular pieces there. I plug them into BuzzSumo, and I see what has been most popular. You can also just do this across a domain. I can see all the content across a whole domain. I love doing this, and this is actually something that I do. It’s more like, this one I don’t use to come up with new ideas. It’s more to kind of just convince me that the idea that I had was good. For this podcast episode for example, which is all about coming up with better content ideas. I might actually Google that. Find a post on Google that ranks on page one. Then go and plug that URL into BuzzSumo, and see how many times it’s been shared. If it’s been shared like 48 times, probably won’t do it. But if I go see it’s been shared 1,000, 2,000 plus, like a legitimate number of shares. Then that’s a good indication that I could go out and create that, and it’s gonna be popular.


Okay. Another one for you is Product Hunt. Most people out there know Product Hunt, but they only use it to launch products. But for me, I always go back and look through Product Hunt, to see which products are popular. And this can be a really good way for you to figure out what copy to write. What content is helpful. Almost, I use the Product Hunt search bar almost as a Google Search. I go and type in, let’s just say, I don’t know, what’s a product that would be launched? Music apps, right? And so they’re gonna give you a whole list of music apps. And you can go there, and you’ll get all the pages. All the posts, all the products on Product Hunt that have been posted there. And I love this because you’re gonna get people’s real words. And so you go to their page. All the people who got the new version of Spotify, or whatever. You’ll see what they’re writing in the comments, and you’re gonna get a ton of gold. We call this like, this isn’t a formal thing, but we say it all the time. We say use their words. Use their words. Their words are the best marketing thing that you have. And their words means, the customers. The users of these products, right?


And so if you can go and use their words, they’re gonna write copy better than you can because you’re gonna try too hard to be a marketer. And so I’m always looking at what people have said. And so this applies to Product Hunt. I also do this on Amazon. Book reviews on Amazon can be money for copywriting, and content ideas. Go to, if you’re writing a book about marketing. Or if you’re writing a blog post about hiring, and marketing, and sales, right? I would then go to Amazon, and then try to find books on hiring, and marketing, and sales. And look at the descriptions. Look at the reviews, and look at the comments on Amazon. And you’re gonna get a ton of good ideas out of that.


Another one is Quora, you know Quora? Q U O R A. Quora, Quora. I love Quora because … I don’t think Quora drives that much traffic. We’ve done a bunch of tests there. They put you in their newsletter, and you get a bunch of upvotes. I haven’t been able to drive a ton of referral traffic, but their results rank high in Google. And so you can try to answer a question there, but that’s a different topic. I love Quora because it is literally a question and answer site. If you want ideas for content, there’s no better place to go then Quora because are people searching, hey, what is the best live chat product out there? Okay. And you go to that, and boom, there’s 100 comments on there. Okay, this is a great article I could probably write, hey, here are the best live chat products. I love Quora because it’s literally people telling you what questions they have, and you can basically … It’s basically a way of crowdsourcing content ideas. If I had no ideas in the world, I would go to Quora, and there’s individual threads. You could go to marketing. You could go B2B. You could go sports. You could go Nikes. You could go whatever. And you’re gonna get all of these ideas for content from Quora. I love that.


My last one in my notes here was Amazon reviews, or book reviews, but I already told you about them. Anyway, that was fifteen minutes on content ideas. To me, whatever, take all the tools. Use the tools. Don’t use them. Number one thing for me is just really going out, and reverse engineering stuff that is already popular. That’s the biggest mistake. If you’re a marketer, put your ego aside. We all want to create the brand new thing out there, but go out and reverse engineer what is already popular, and I promise you that you’re gonna create better content. And if you read more. If you start filling that brain of yours with podcasts, with blog posts, with books. I would focus on books, right? You’re gonna get a ton of great content ideas.


That’s how to reverse engineer content. That’s how to come up with content ideas. I hope you get something out of this. If you do, make sure you tweet at me. I’m @DaveGerhardt. Also though, tweet @DCancel, and let him know, man, I’m really getting a lot of value of DG’s marketing podcasts. That’s the deal. Make sure you go and leave a six star review only, so I can keep my job here at Drift. And I better see you at HyperGrowth. HyperGrowth.Drift.com’s coming to you in September. We have a crazy promo code up on HyperGrowth.director. I can’t speak today. HyperGrowth.Drift.com. It is only available for Seeking Wisdom listeners. It’s like a $600 discount. It’s crazy. And the lineup that we just got is getting more ridiculous by the day. I wish I could tell you all of them, but I can’t spoil all of marketing fun that we have this summer.
That’s the deal. I love doing this podcast. I love talking about marketing. Hit me up @DaveGerhardt on Twitter. Just email me directly, DG@Drift.com. Good luck. Go and make some better content. All right?
.

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