I’ve always had more ideas than time. As a professional journalist, I pitched multiple stories for every deadline. As a professor, I consistently tweak classes or change assignments because of some big idea. As a writer, I never lack content topics.
For me, ideas just come easily. I’m naturally curious and read a ton, both of which help keep the fresh content topics flowing. But I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I mean, there’s a reason that my 12 Tips for Finding Story Ideas post is consistently one of the most viewed on this site. Y’all need idea help! And content buckets just may be the solution you’re looking for.
What is a Content Bucket?
No, a content bucket isn’t a five-gallon bucket you pull story ideas from when you’re not using it to gather vegetables from your garden. At least it’s not literally that. Content buckets are collections or groups of related content. They’re themes that you choose to write about.
Content buckets help you organize and plan your content to ensure it’s focused and consistent.
In other words, content buckets mean you always have a topical theme to write on any given publication day. That way, you don’t get distracted by shiny objects. You narrow the focus to organize your ideas.
Examples of Content Buckets
I will never suggest you do something I haven’t done (or am not currently doing) myself. I use content buckets on this blog.
This blog’s content buckets are:
- Mental health
I chose these four buckets because they are the areas I know most about. Therefore, I feel most qualified to help you by writing in these areas.
I’m a writer and writing professor. I currently work full-time as a content director (editor), running a writing team for a content marketing agency. I have run newsrooms and multiple teams of professional writers. I was a professional journalist and still work as a freelance writer. So, I have some writing, editing, and leadership knowledge that I can lend to others.
Along with my professional experience, I have a Ph.D. in journalism (writing again). My research is in journalism and trauma, so I have an expert-level understanding of these topics and coursework in mental health and organizational behavior (which includes leadership). My terminal degree makes me feel confident in sharing advice (or even lots of experiments I perform on myself) on topics like trauma, self-care, productivity, burnout, and even time management.
Reading is the easiest bucket. You can’t be a good writer, editor, or leader without being well-read. They go hand-in-hand. I read more than 100 books a year and have for a decade. I love sharing what I learn from reading and helping others find books they love. I don’t think it matters what you read as long as you read, and I truly believe you can learn something from any text, so there’s always something worthwhile to share.
You’ll notice that I organize this blog’s categories based on the content buckets. If a topic doesn’t fit in one of the buckets, it’s probably not a good fit for me to write about here. If it’s something I’m super passionate about, I’ll try to find a place to guest post.
Identifying Your Content Buckets
So now that you understand what content buckets are, how can you decide what content buckets to use on your site?
Reflect on Your Expertise
What area or areas do you know enough about to feel qualified to write on? Blogs aren’t online journals anymore, they’re business opportunities. You don’t want to just add to the noise or be someone who spreads misinformation, so think about where your expertise lies.
Ponder Your Goals
Why are you starting or writing a blog? What do you want from it? This blog started as a way to share what I was teaching my students about writing beyond the walls of my private school classroom. While I’m no longer a full-time educator, helping other people improve their writing is still the primary purpose of this site.
Consider Your Audience
Now it’s time to think about whether your expertise and goals align with an audience. In other words, is anyone going to read your blog?
Let’s say you’re in the construction industry. You do residential and commercial remodeling work for a local contractor. That’s your expertise. You want to start a blog because you’re tired of seeing shoddy work. Too often, you’re seeing people get ripped off by other contractors who are charging them too much and half-assing the work. You want to inform people of what to look for when hiring a contractor to work in their homes. And you hope to use the blog to help build your own residential contracting business.
Yes! Launch it now! You know there’s an audience because you see that this is happening to people. You also know that people are likely to go online when they’re looking to hire someone to work in their homes, so people are searching for the topics you’ll be writing about.
Identify Your Content Buckets
Now it’s time to think about the main topics you’ll write about. You probably have a pretty good idea of some of them already. Think about how to create general themes that you can use to index the content on your site.
For example, using the contractor example above, your content buckets could be: hiring, project management/quality control, post project. Using the same example, you could break it down by contractor type instead. Think: HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc.
The key is to create categories that people will look for while being general enough to encompass many post ideas.
Analyze the Competition
Once you decide on your blog’s main themes, look at others writing on the same topics. What do you love and want to emulate? Where are the gaps in content or expertise? How can you help fill those gaps?
Once you have your set content buckets, you can implement them.
Using Content Buckets
Remember how we talked about ideas at the beginning of this post? Now you’re about to see how to use content buckets for seemingly endless content ideas. Once you identify your content buckets, here’s how to use them.
Brainstorm Content Ideas
Brainstorm a list of ideas for each content bucket. Be sure to list potential topics or angles that you want to explore in the blog post. These first ideas will help get you started. As you Google them to see what’s out there, look at People Also Ask to get even more ideas. Keep a list that’s organized around your buckets. If your idea doesn’t fit in a bucket, put it on a parking lot list to reconsider later.
Consider Your Publication Schedule
I publish twice a week on this blog, on Mondays and Wednesdays. I have four content buckets. So, I rotate what I write based on the buckets. It looks like this:
- Post 1 – Reading
- Post 2 – Writing/Editing
- Post 3 – Mental Health
- Post 4 – Leadership
- Post 5 – Reading
And so on for eight posts a month.
Perform Keyword Research
Take a look at your favorite post ideas. For me, I would look at eight or nine of them, since I like to plan posts a month in advance. Then I would do keyword research to determine what topics are most sought-after or how to finesse the focus based on the subjects so that it’s likely to rank.
Plan Your Content Calendar
Once you’ve got your eight or nine topics and their keyword strategy, it’s time to plan your content calendar. I map it out on a spreadsheet to know what I will write for which deadlines.
Don’t forget to include rewrites in your content calendar. If you’re building on an existing site, you probably have posts that could be rewritten or refreshed that fit your content buckets. There’s no need to create new content all month. Instead, make sure you’re getting the most from existing content by updating it and posting a couple of rewrites each month.
A Final Bit of Advice on Content Buckets
Content buckets are the best way to build a content calendar. They help you organize your ideas and ensure you serve your audience with consistent content they want and need. To make sure you never run out of ideas, keep adding to your running list. Any time you see, read, or come up with something you want to write about, add it to your master content list immediately under the content bucket it falls into. Then you just repeat your planning process using the master list. You’ll never sit down and wonder what to write about again!
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