How to Expose Opportunities for “Big Content”

Content marketers love to espouse the benefits of content, and while I’m on board with it, they get glorified.

Most notably, content doesn’t get links the way we’re often told. When you see a marketer showing off a piece of content that got links, it’s always an expensive, month-long team project.

Riiiight, normal old content getting links.

The truth is, content gets shared, but only exceptional content gets links and significant social sharing.

We’re going to look at how to come up with ideas for “Big Content” in this post, so we can get all the links and glory the web has to offer. If you’re not following, go read this post about “Big Content” and checkout some past examples.

Now let’s generate some ideas.

Spotting Opportunity for Big Content

Think of each piece of “Big Content” as a product. You’re going to put a lot of time into it and it is going to be extremely valuable to the community. 

A successful piece of “Big Content” needs to be original. You’re not going to kill it with another WordPress SEO Ultimate Guide – there are already too many of those. There’s no potential for yours.

Beyond originality, it needs to have one or more of these additional properties:

  • Useful
  • Data-driven
  • Visually appealing
  • Comprehensive

Personally, I find the word “useful” leads me to successful content most often.

Find a Gap

A gap is a place of originality, no matter how slight. It’s an idea that has been closely circled, but never stared in the face and recognized. Like a door you walk by every day, but never stop to open.

A weird example: Duck Dynasty.

DD quickly became the most popular show on cable because it is a reality show (been done) about rednecks (been done) where they’re portrayed as good people (gap). Rednecks are usually negatively stereotyped, so there should be no surprise that a reality show that presents them in a positive light and appeals to the millions who never get a fair representation on TV became popular.

An open mind, and a slight twist is all you need.


How to Get a Winning Idea

I’m not going to cover how to create the content because there’s too much variation and it’s not the hard part.

The hard part of big content is coming up with the idea. Luckily, I’ve got a killer strategy laid out for you in three simple steps.

1. List Types of Content

Big Content can be an epic guide, but usually needs to be more than just a written post. Here’s a list of every type of content I can think of:

  • infographic/instructographic
  • research
  • code snippets
  • images/cinemagraphs
  • curation
  • interview
  • dynamic/self-updating
  • contest/giveaway
  • video
  • quiz
  • web app
  • WP plugin
  • theme/template
    • WordPress
    • Drupal
    • Magento
    • Ghost
  • jquery plugin
  • cheat sheet
  • icons
  • device mockups
  • ebook
  • browser extension
  • game

Copy them to a spreadsheet, and cross off any that you can’t make yourself or aren’t willing to outsource production of.

2. List Things the Niche Does

This will force you to create useful content.

Make a list, as comprehensive as you want (could be massive), of all the things members of your niche do. Create it in a list format with a hierarchy.

Here’s part of what this would look like for bloggers:

  • what bloggers do
    • write blog posts
      • create ideas
      • write
      • edit
      • schedule
      • publish
    • use social media
      • tweet
      • share on facebook
      • share other people’s content

That’s a small piece of how much you could add. You should make this is as comprehensive as you can.

3. Cross-Reference the Lists

Now you simply cross-reference until something excites you. Just from that small sample there are tons of great ideas:

  • WP plugin & editing
    • a WP plugin that checks for weak works like “scared” and suggests words like “terrified”
  • Infographic & sharing other people’s content
    • Infographic with data and insights about the optimal amount to share others’ content VS your own
  • Cheat Sheet & scheduling
    • A downloadable cheat sheet with the best days and time of day to publish your content

Those are all awesome, useful ideas, and it’s just a tiny piece of the pie.

A Limitless Source

This approach is so fruitful because it forces utility and it’s never-ending. If you run out of things your niche does, just go deeper.


  • edit posts
    • follow an editing process
      • create an editing process
    • collaborate with a team
      • share content with team
        • find editors for team

I don’t know about you, but those few bullet points are sparking tons of questions and content ideas for me.

Specificity generates originality.

As you dig into your list, you’ll get to more specific insights and activities carried out by your niche, and inevitably come across new questions and ideas for content. The ideas I shared above are admittedly, not totally original – the deeper you go the more original the ideas tend to get.

The trick is to only include actions i.e. start with a verb. Otherwise, you’ll slip into topics about things instead of topics about doing things. Content about things isn’t useful, content about doing things is.

Go Make Big Content

There’s no finishing your list, and that’s the fun part. I like to update mine often. I pick one section, or sometimes just one already deeply indented bullet point and try to get even more specific.

If you’ve got some additional content types I missed or have an idea to share, tell us about it in the comments!

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