How to Find Content for Your Website: 5 Tips for Finding Buried Treasure

Andy Crestodina

One instant after realizing how effective content marketing can be, the dread sets in. Where am I going to get this content? I’ve seen it a hundred times: the flash of insight, followed by the clouds of doubt.

I have good news for you today! You already have content. A lot of it. And with minimal editing, you can put it right into your blog or website. Here are five places to look for treasure troves of free, original content.

So grab your shovel and follow this map!

Unlock Your Outbox – Lets start with the mother lode. If you’re in a larger organization, look in lots of inboxes. Talk to other departments and see what emails they write about most often. What questions are they answering with the most expertise? Customer service emails, sales emails…it’s all great web content.
Extranet Island: Internal Content – There may be a pile of gold in these internal docs. If you keep checklists for procedures, training tools, your own best practices, etc., then copy and paste! It shows openness and experience.
Dig Up Old Blog Comments – If you read blogs, hopefully you’re commenting on a few. (If you’re really good, you’re commenting on comments and starting conversations). Think back to the comments you left that were long, thoughtful, and relevant. Go back and find them, polish them up a bit, and post. Let the host of the original blog know they inspired you.
Pan For Gold in Your Social Media Streams – Ever write a post on Facebook that you really believed in? Why leave it there? Your tone in these posts may be well suited for a blog post. With a bit of editing, it may make a nice opinion piece. You’ll know it’s good if a lot of people “liked” it. Pre-qualified.
Hidden Gems: The Pictures on Your Phone – Next time you’re looking for a photo, step away from your keyboard, and take out your phone. There’s a camera in your pocket, and there are probably a few great pictures on it. Why use a stock photo when you’ve already got something original and personal?


The 2012 B2B Marketing Survey showed that the biggest challenge is producing enough engaging content. If you look inside your company,  you’ll find plenty of content in a nice authentic tone. If it sounds better than some of your other stuff, it might be because you were subconsciously trying to do marketing when you wrote it.

The content is right there, inside your company. Go dig it up!

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Comments (16)
  • Thanks Andy. So useful. The challenge now is to put it all into action.

  • Getting old emails into new folder right now!!!

  • Andy ,

    We come from different generations. You coming from one who grew up with computers and myself growing up biefore computers and it is interesting, to me, how different we view the world. One being, social/media/email – computer-generated – “virtual” = content, and the other social/media /work – “physical” = content, when living in the world and their on the world. Different keygen or should I say, “from a different “perspective” (one being neither better than the other, just different), I was struck with your picture you paint the readers head of a whole subculture vithin a aub-culture of a culture. It brought to my attention another way of thinking. Very refreshing.

  • Thanks for the wonderful tips.

  • I’ve used my social streams to seed topic ideas many times. That’s a good one, for sure!

    • @jasonkonopinski Absolutely. I’ve seen people write 1000 word comments on blogs that would be great posts in their own right! But my favorite source of hidden content is in the repurposing. Or as Ann Handley would say, “re-imagining”

  • Yahoo answers can be great resource as well.

    • @For Him Yes! Yahoo answers can be great resource as well.

  • Great tips, Andy, as usual.

  • Gathering old emails now!

  • I really love your last item. Stock photos are getting so tired. Using photos from your phone are so much more interesting! Get out there and shoot some.

    • @blfarris It makes sense, doesn’t it? Sometimes, the photo is the inspiration for the article!
      But email is the real goldmine. I bet you have a ton of content in your outbox, Brad. Here’s a trick that I’ve been using. Anytime someone emails you a question, BCC yourself on the answer. Then throw all of those emails into a new folder called “answers.” Once you’ve collected a bunch (or a small set on a specific topic) copy and paste your new blog post together. Simple, right?

      • Great ideas Andy. The key to success at this is having processes in place to capture the knowledge as part of every day operations. In my experience consulting with small NPOs, this is the same challenge the development office might face in putting together effective targeted grant proposals. The information you are able to collect for grant proposals in an Npo and fir business proposals in a firm can be sliced and diced in different ways to create blog posts and all kind if communications online and off.

        • @saduros Great idea! I never thought about using content from proposals. You just gave me another idea: find content in RFPs. I bet if I went back through recent RFPs, I could write something like “Top 10 Website Features Requested in 2012” That might be fun…
          Thanks for the input, Sally!

        • @crestodina  @saduros In my experience, it is a lot of work to extract information from an organization. The smaller ones are challenged because they lack the capacity to train folks to collect anything but the minimum amount of data required for reports  and they lack the staff to organize data after it is collected. Larger organizations are challenged by byzantine hierarchies and turf wars among department heads.  These mini chieftains see their power and job security resident in the data they control. In this case the silo data is abundant and less useful because it lacks the context necessary for writing a “story” that is meaningful and actionable that will benefit the entire organization. In both cases, putting a process in place that understand the power of using “data” for story telling through all the online and on the ground distribution channels is the key for starting an effective communication strategy.  It helps build your business!

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