We’ve pounded it into your head: generating content and promoting it is a powerful way to attract prospects and generate sales. One of the biggest challenges in maintaining a content library is figuring out what to write about. That blank computer screen isn’t going to fill itself. Where do you start?

The first step is to recognize that you have a built-in mechanism for generating ideas: your customer.

Last week, I met up with a realtor who wanted advice on how to make her business stand out. I recommended that she establish a channel to educate her customers – it could be a blog, a podcast, a column in the local paper, or some other ongoing opportunity to reach her audience.

“Great idea,” she said. “Except I don’t know what to write about.”

I asked her to get into her customer’s head. Yes, she wanted customers to come to her so she could show them properties or list their house for sale, but what about everything else that comes with buying or selling a house? Buyer’s need to get a mortgage, figure out how to evaluate a school district, and find a contractor to make their new house perfect. Sellers need to decide whether it makes sense to renovate or sell their house as is, figure out the top three things that buyers really love, and how to negotiate the best contract. And on and on.

By getting into her customers’ heads, she has a ready-made list of ideas on what to write about. She can even reach out to a variety of experts and interview them for her blog or podcast. This has the added bonus of making a connection with experts who may be willing to share the content with their audiences, vastly expanding your reach.

As social media influencer Neal Schaffer says in a recent blog post, “There is no company that cannot benefit from tapping into the power of influencers in their particular industry.”

When you are searching for ideas on what to write about, focus on what your customer wants to learn.

Here are a few more tips on what to write about:

  • Mine your FAQs – If your customer is asking something over and over again, make it a blog post or a video or a podcast. Give them what they want! I teach a class for small business owners, and one jewelry maker struggled to think of a content idea. I asked her if her customers had a common question. “My jewelry requires a specific measurement, and everyone asks how to do it,” she said. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I suggested that she make a short, low-budget video showing people how to measure, and putting it someplace prominent on her website. It was like the heavens opened up for her.
  • Conduct a Google search – You know how when you start to type something into the Google search bar, and you get a list of autofills suggesting ideas? Those are all high search topics. Go for one of them.
  • Another fun tool is something called Answer the Public. Go online and give it a try to see how it works.
  • Finally, don’t forget about your own news and events you plan– those are all worthy subjects that you should cover and share.
  • Research Google Trends to measure two or three ideas against each other, and even see when they peak in interest. Plan content around the time frame when interest is high.

I can’t stress enough the need to save ideas once you have them. They tend to come in bursts – save a few for a rainy day. That’s why we have an Idea Bank in PlanITPDQ – you can simply click on the + sign to create an idea; once you want to put it on your calendar, just drag and drop it onto the right date.

Go ahead and see how many ideas you can generate. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice healthy list to tackle.

And don’t forget to store them all in your PlanITPDQ editorial calendar – you’ve got this!