PT’s 8 Tips for Creating Killer Content

Philip Taylor, FinCon organizer and blogger extraordinaire, has written and run since 2007. He recently shared some of his secrets for consistently coming up with great ideas for content that will keep readers coming back for more. If you’re stuck in a blogging rut, try some of Phil’s ideas:

1. Always Be Ready for an Idea

I make a note of any ideas that pop into my head. Make it a habit to jot down those ideas that come to you during the day. I use a notepad app on my iPhone. I also use my “drafts” section in admin portion of my site.

2. A Content Calendar with Categories is Your Friend

I’ve created categories (i.e. channels) on my site, and I build a content calendar around these channels. This helps me to ensure I cover each category equally. For instance, for an upcoming week I know that I need to write something on the topic of Making Money. This helps me to narrow my focus and have a starting point.

In addition, my content calendar also includes holidays, seasonal ideas, and “national day/week/month of” items. So, for instance, during the week of Independence Day, my Make Money post could have an independence theme or talk about selling fireworks or some other 4th of July related business. It’s the combination of category and seasonal ideas that help pull together topics.

You can check out how my content calendar is set up here.

3. Get Your Readers Involved

I invite my readers to ask a question in my sidebar. I generally get two to three emails per week, and these often turn into post ideas.

4. Embrace Your Creativity

Remember that not much is off limits. As long as it’s somewhat related to money and finances and it’s helpful to my readers, I don’t shy away from tackling any topic in a post. Giving myself permission to write about anything under the sun helps me to pull from a much larger variety of topics.

5. Vary Your Content Style

Coming up with different styles of content can really help you get more mileage out of your ideas. For instance, focuses on news, funny/shareable information, deals, podcasts, and features. Having all of these different styles allows me to create more content on the same subject.

A few weeks ago, we wrote about “staycations,” which I decided to follow up with a funny/shareable post highlighting great staycation photographs. I could have also created a news post with a new survey about how people are taking staycations, or a followed with a podcast with someone who makes money while on staycation. I call this kind of extension of ideas across content styles “riffing.”

6. Read Other Finance Blogs

I read a lot of other blogs and often take an idea from another blogger to a different level or from a different angle. For instance, I might take a bullet point from a post I read elsewhere and do a deep dive into the subject. Or I might argue a different approach from one that another blogger has written about.

It should go without saying that you should always give credit when you get an idea this way.

7. But Don’t Confine Your Reading to Finance

I also like to read headlines from magazines like Men’s Health, and then try to make a personal finance headline out of them. I might turn “Ten Trails Every Man Must Hike” into “Ten Financial Moves Everyone Should Make.” This gives me a new way of looking at a subject, which can be hard to do if all I’m reading is finance-related.

8. Mine Your Own Life Experiences

I try to pull from my own experiences, as that can not only give me a treasure trove of ideas, but it also can help me to write about the topic in a relateable way. Don’t forget that you don’t just have to write about current experiences, but you can also dig into your past to share things you’ve gone through at various points in your life.

While every blogger will at some point feel stuck for an idea, using some or all of Phil’s techniques for creating great content can help you get over writer’s block.

What other methods do you use to generate great content ideas?

Image courtesy of LaurMG

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  • Thanks for the editorial spreadsheet, PT!

    Frankly, writer\’s block is a self-imposed problem. After your eight steps, more solutions are in \”Getting Things Done\” and \”The Power of Habit\”. The key is to set up a writing-friendly environment and to not feel pressured to produce a Plutus-winning post.

    Writers write, so that\’s the first job of my day. I wake up, start a cup of tea, and… write for 20 minutes. I don\’t check e-mail, I don\’t scan Twitter, I don\’t read the headlines. I just write. I might set a timer, but I pick a topic and start writing. Usually the 20 minutes fly by, I\’m getting into it, and I\’ll work another half-hour. The next day I\’ll clean up the text and format the post.

    \”20 minutes a day\” means that I\’m free to relax and enjoy the rest of the day, knowing that I\’ve written my share and don\’t have to worry about it until tomorrow. I\’ve set a routine, I have a plan, and it gets done.

  • Hi Emily,

    After searching for more information about creating content I came upon this post. I am always struggling to find a good series of steps etc to find things to write about on my blog and have enjoyed your list of 8. Your tip about the content calendar is fantastic and I am implementing this today as I know I need to be more structured in some regards.



  • Phil, you broke the cardinal rule of blogging. You never mentioned following your passions 20 times!

    I agree that you always have to be ready for an idea. Keep a file on your smart phone that allows you to make notes. Write every single idea down.

    One day, when you\’re bored or stuck on ideas. Open up this file and see what ti has.