Writer’s block is the rocky shoal upon which many a promising blog founders. Coming up with new and interesting ways to tackle important subjects is a constant struggle, and sometimes you just plain run out of ideas. That’s okay: don’t give up and check Facebook just yet. Whether your niche is tiny hats for kittens, home improvement and design or aluminum manufacture, Content Runner’s Idea Engine is here to help.

Start Big

Having trouble narrowing down your topic? The Idea Engine can do the hard part for you. Enter in a broad search term to get started and see what results come back. The results the Idea Engine generates come in two parts: popular search queries and relevant tweets pulled from Twitter. If you refresh the page or re-search your term, both lists will repopulate based on more recent data. These results will help you get a bird’s eye view on what real people are saying and asking about your topic, which will help you narrow your focus and start writing.

Kittens will never not be relevant.

Here were my Idea Engine results. Pressing the Suggest Ideas button again refreshes the search, so you’ll have the most up-to-date data available.

This intrepid reporter queried “kittens,” because they are soft and warm and relevant to everyone’s interests, but any search term relevant to your topic will do. For example, many of the tweets I saw in my search for “kittens” had to do with how small and warm and soft and delightful they are, while most of the search terms had to do with caring for and raising kittens—how much do they eat, when do they open their eyes, how many kittens to a litter, etc.

These results tell me two invaluable things: what people want to talk about and, more importantly, what they really need to know. Thus armed with such precious knowledge, you can tailor your content to meet your readers’ demands. For example, searching for “kitten food” yielded a surprisingly low number of search queries, but switching to “kittens eat” yielded many more, as more people are searching for what and how much kittens eat than for food specifically for kittens. Try varying your search terms to see all the relevant results for neighboring searches.

Do You Hear the People Sing?

Once you’ve found what people are already saying, it’s time to strap on your thinking hat and start writing. Respond to the data you gathered through the Idea Engine. Do you have answers to the questions people are asking? A unique perspective on a relevant issue? Is there simply a poverty of helpful information available that you could provide, or a wealth of misinformation you could help dispel? Your spin on the topic should help guide potential readers to your content through the terms you already know they’re searching for.


This kitten’s eyeliner game is on point. Photo by: Flickr user James Wragg.

Most of my searches related to kittens revealed that a) they are the cutest and fluffiest animals and can easily chase away your Monday afternoon blues, and b) that lots of interested people want to know how best to care for their feline friends. If I were writing a blog post about kittens, I would have several options. I could target the demographic of people interested in adopting their own little purr factory and compile a list of local shelters to check out. If I were interested in a different corner of the kitty market I might a fun but helpful guide about what to expect during your first 6 months with a new kitten, from the first time their wee little eyes open to when it’s safe to separate them from their mother and even when it’s time to switch from kitten chow to adult cat food. The variation on the theme I choose will help determine who reads my content, so it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of your target demographic and be able to respond to their needs.

Two Great Tastes that Taste Great Together

Still drawing a blank? Double down on your search terms: try searching more than one term and seeing if there are any popular search queries or tweets that could be relevant for both. For example, when I search “pet insurance” I find results about the cost of insuring different kind of pets, how pet insurance works, and where to get it. If I were to combine these results with my results for “kittens,” I’d have a decent knowledge base from which to start writing content that will speak to its audience. By searching for a second (and probably more business-like) term, I was able to find a cozy niche full of consumers who’d be all too happy to read what I have to say about insuring tiny, loveable kittens.

Chances are that your business doesn’t involve any actual kittens. Luckily, Content Runner’s Idea Engine works wonders, even for the least fluffy of search terms. Give the Idea Engine a spin next time you’re stumped for what to write and kiss your writer’s block goodbye.

Have an idea for how we could improve the Idea Engine? Suggestions for the site? Questions? Give us a shout and let us know, either in an email or in the comments. (And if your business does involve kittens, please leave a comment letting me know where to send my résumé and cover letter.)