Posted 24 July, 2018 by in SEO

66 Sources of Content Inspiration, Straight from the Experts

A few months ago I posted an article that outlined some of the tools & techniques we use at Screaming Frog for coming up with content ideas. Within that post I touched upon several websites that are worth visiting when you’re in need of inspiration, and I wanted to expand on that aspect of ideation by hearing from several experts in the content marketing field.

If you work in content, it’s a good idea to build up a bank of sites, newsletters and Twitter accounts that you find insightful and check them on a daily basis. Not only does it help inspire you, it highlights topics and forms of content that are currently working well, which you can then use to inform your strategy.

A full list of all the sources mentioned below can be found at the bottom of the post.

Hannah Smith


Head of Outreach – Verve Search | @hannah_bo_banna

I recommend BrainPickings.org to just about everyone I meet. It’s run by Maria Popova, who writes extensively about the creative process. It’s an absolute delight, plus as she’s been writing since 2006 there’s an extensive archive to explore, plus she sends out a weekly newsletter.

Austin Kleon is a writer who draws. He authored Steal Like an Artist, the book which finally helped me figure out my own creative process. He also sends out a weekly newsletter which I’d recommend subscribing to.

Matt Muir is an excellent human who shares a bunch of interesting stuff on twitter, plus he curates the wonderful Imperica newsletter, Web Curios which you should subscribe to – it’ll brighten up your Friday, I promise.

Newsletters aside, there are a few sites I like to browse for inspiration:

Some of our favourite examples from Hannah’s list are:


Danny Ashton


Founder and CEO – NeoMam Studios | @dannyashton

I have also been checking out Data USA to what data might be around the topic we are looking at.

Right now I am really loving using both Ahrefs and Buzzsumo to pull out relevant high performing content to get the creative juices flowing.

The evergreen score on Buzzsumo is great for filtering out time-sensitive news stories.

I also like to do keyword searches on the AskReddit subreddit, it’s great at identifying the top questions for a niche.

Some of our favourite examples from Danny’s list are:


Mark Johnstone


Creative Content Consultant – MarkJohnstone.co | @epicgraphic

NYTimes Graphics on Twitter plus they do an annual roundup of their best visual storytelling.

Washington Post do the same (Twitter and roundup).

BloomBerg are also doing great stuff these days.

My absolute favourite is VisualisingData’s roundups. I also like to keep an eye on Pudding.cool, and /internetisbeautiful and /dataisbeautiful.

The IIB Awards is probably the best curation at the moment.

Plus I always pay attention to what David McCandless is doing on his own site, Information is Beautiful.

In truth, a lot of things cross my path from following Volodymyr Kupriyanov. VK (as he’s known) was my colleague at Distilled, data analyst/journalist/visualisation expert, and an awesome resource if anyone needs any research or data wizardry on their projects. He’s freelance these days :)

I used to follow ChartPorn & iLoveCharts back in the day, but they seem a little less active these days. Still worth checking out the back catalogue if you haven’t already (might take you a while!).

If anyone wants to learn more about visualising data, they should read Tufte’s book and all of the Fell in Love with Data blog (I’ve read it page to page 3 times!). And follow VisualisingData (again!).

And FlowingData is also a good place for inspiring content.

I also tend to see what other agencies are doing – at awards ceremonies or in conference presentations.

The Webby’s also show lots of very cool content – maybe something to aim for one day! :)

Some of our favourite examples from Mark’s list are:


Stacey MacNaught


Freelance SEO Consultant – StaceyMacNaught.co.uk | @staceycav

I’m a big fan of data driven content, so I like to keep an eye on Gov.uk Statistics for newly released data sets. I also like the Yougov blog as they publish regular data findings there and it’s always interesting to see what stories are then picked up further and to unpick what makes them interesting and newsworthy. You can also learn tonnes from following people who regularly create content you love. The guys at Verve Search spring to mind as immediately obvious ones. Follow them all!

But some of the very best inspiration for me comes from sitting in a room with a couple of other freelancers talking about what we’re seeing in the press and throwing ideas around over a coffee. You can’t beat people to sound off.

Some of our favourite examples from Stacey’s list are:


Ryan Sammy


Creative Strategy – Frac.tl | @ryansammy
Finding endless inspiration for high-quality content ideas can be challenging. Most people assume ideation (“idea generation”) is a well that can dry up — especially when you’re stuck brainstorming campaign ideas for a boring vertical. At Fractl, we collectively curate a database of inspiration that our Creative Strategists (“project managers”) use to discover new visualization tactics and generate engaging ideas. If you’re feeling stuck, here’s a quick list of our favorite sites for content inspiration:

Kaggle – a goldmine of free datasets waiting to be turned into campaigns! I use Kaggle to get an idea of how people are taking and manipulating existing datasets. Oftentimes, Kaggle helps inspire an correlating idea, or it gives you a new way to examine a dataset you didn’t even consider.I also pay attention to the forks in projects and the competitions.

Data.world – a social media community that is a cross of Github and Kaggle, where users and organizations share their data and projects. Here, you can search keywords related to your client, or follow a specific topics like technology. I personally set up alerts on new projects and popular shares for the vertical(s) we work with the most frequently.

Tableau Gallery – get inspiration from a community of data analysts and content creators! Discover new ways to visualize data based on what catches your eye, and check out what projects people are already creating in your vertical.

Flowing Data – a site dedicated to curating the cutting edge of data visualization. Pro tip: Bookmark tags from specific publishers you’re hoping to land press from (ex. New York Times) to explore the types of data stories and visualizations that these writers are interested in covering.

Curated Content Emails – There are dozens of email lists you can subscribe to for content inspiration. Two of my favorites are Data Is Plural (archives) and Numlock news (archives), both of which curate popular stories that focus on data analysis. These email blasts are a great way to see how a wide variety of publishers are covering data stories.

Github – Saved Github searches like “visualizations” or “scrapers” are an easy way to get inspired by scrapes other data analysts are doing, and they can expose you to new data scraping techniques others are using.
The most important aspect of successful content creation is your ability to distill complex data into a format that will quickly resonate with a broad range of readers. These tools will get you started on your mission to create shareable content for your business!

Some of our favourite examples from Ryan’s list are:


Shannon McGuirk


Head of PR & Content – Aira | @shannonmcguirk_

Here’s a few sites that the team and I regularly visit:

A few Reddit threads:

And Twitter profiles:

Some of our favourite examples from Shannon’s list are:


Rebecca Brown


Head of Content – Builtvisible | @rebeccagraceb

Our team find inspiration in a number of places, and like to take in information in a number of ways.

One of our senior consultants told me she listens to the Stuff You Should Know podcast from howstuffworks.com. That podcast is really interesting because it just covers so much, and you get loads of niche information you wouldn’t find anywhere else!

Our design team obviously look for more visual sources of inspiration, and regularly look at look at Muzli, Dribbble and Behance for design. When it comes to web design, one of our visual designers recommends Awwwards.

We also all share news stories and interesting campaigns constantly, which helps give us loads of relevant inspiration for reactive ideas. In every niche we work on we share weekly news updates, but aside from that we have a huge culture of sharing which really helps inspire everyone. We use a tool called raindrop to collate visual inspiration for all teams.

Some of our favourite examples from Rebecca’s list are:


Sources of Inspiration Mentioned

Subreddits

Data Driven

Datasets

News

Awards & Galleries

Twitter Accounts

Blogs

Podcasts

Newsletters

Tools

Books

Misc