Selecting a topic for building content, based on 4 criteria

I've come up with an approach for selecting a good topic to build content around based on 4 criteria or "petals" on a flower diagram I sketched out
Last Updated:
January 29, 2020
First Published:
January 12, 2020
VIDEO: Video stream of Colton trying to define self marketing, why it matters, and who it can benefit
Video Text Transcript Controls: SHOW HIDE
Audio Only Version of Content: SHOW HIDE
Hey there, it's Colton James Townsend again, coming at you with self marketing knowledge for the day. One topic that just occurred to me is that it's very difficult to select topics in your self marketing promotion content. So, I kind of drew this flower out the other day when I was sketching the core concept of "selecting a topic for content is so hard". And there are five petals on that flower, which I found pretty key in selecting a good piece of content to discuss. First, and the biggest petal on the flower, is that it must be interesting to me. Because it's useful, it's relevant, or it's just fun, just fun! And that's good enough to make me interested in it. So, it definitely need to be interesting for you, the Creator. I have experience with it, is another petal because if I have experience, at least somewhat, even just toying around, I have something insightful that no one else might have privy insight into. I have experience. So that's another important piece to selecting a good topic. Self-improvement. I think I want, and this is just maybe for me, you insert your own on this one. This is your jealous pedal. Not your jealous, your selfish pedal. Let it be anything you want. For me, it's self improvement. I think that I need to pick a topic that is somehow helping me understand foundations of self improvement that make me happier and just a more fulfilled individual. So self-improvement is a big one. Next one, marketing. So this is maybe instead of my selfish petal let's just call this one your professional petal or the one that helps you develop a livelihood. It helps you be of service to the world. This is my professional petal which is marketing, storytelling, promotion. If I can select a content topic that's now going around all those pedals: interesting to me, I have some experience with it, it serves my kind of selfish nature of exploring self-improvement topics and trying to implement them, and then my professional pedal of it is in the realm of marketing and storytelling/promotion, which is in line with services that I offer professionally. So that's it for me that's worked in terms of selecting good topics for content to generate and create for other people to find me when they search. And because I'm a practitioner of self marketing, my goal is that these things, these topics, eventually reach the people that I'm connecting with in the real world or because they saw my name somewhere and we're interested enough to Google. That's it. We'll be once again coming at you with more of these brief topics in the world of self marketing. But until then, I got to go before I start fumbling more words. So, next time!


I've found there are FOUR “petals” or criteria for selecting the best content to produce:

  1. It’s interesting to you
  2. You have SOME experience or exposure to it
  3. It somehow aligns with your personal aspirations
  4. It somehow aligns with your professional or career aspirations
A diagram sketched of a flower to detail what areas a good content idea includes
IMAGE: A diagram sketched of a flower to detail what areas a good content idea includes

It shouldn’t be so difficult to come up with ideas for personal content

Too often, I found myself thinking that, "selecting a topic for content is so hard". Instead of thinking about all of the possible topics I could write about, or even worse, what I "should" write about, I decided to break the process down to the brass tacks. As a result, there are four dimensions of selection criteria I use when decided whether or not to run with a topic idea for some content I can produce.

1) I'm Interested in This

Generally, any idea I label as "good" is also one that I'm interested in exploring, so this marker may seem implicit. However, I find it important to recognize why a particular topic interests me, if it does at all, before I invest more time into its development.

A topic interests us if it can be personally useful, is relevant to our lives, or that when it just feels like true fun to create around! Find what strikes as interesting for you, the Creator. 

2) Im' Familiar With it Somewhat

You don't need to be advanced in the subject, but at least be able to offer some perspective that isn't completely scraped from another source.

Even generalized or analogous experience,  just toying around even, can offer you something insightful to share with others. Your audience might not have had such an observation as you did and would benefit greatly from your contribution.

3) In some alignment with personal goals

My never-ending personal goal is Self-improvement. With this focus, I can slant nearly any content production efforts into the self-improvement domain. This is an area you get to be absolutely selfish in defining. Let it be anything you want and gently work it in to your deliverables.

You might not be able to address this area directly or overtly within the content topic you settle on. However, your being a (fill in the blank here) Mom or Chef or Motorhead or whatever, does impact how you identify yourself. How you identify yourself comes through in everything you present. Don't shy away form finding a means to tie in your personal goals to what look like more career-oriented topic ideas. It's okay to remix!

4) In some alignment with professional goals

For me, this is marketing. I don't pursue mastery in marketing for entirely personal reasons: This is my profession. I seek to thrive off of the value my services provide.

Finding the point at which passion and profession intersect is THE compelling offer for entrepreneurs and adventurous individuals. It's an awesome ideal, but is not easily realized.

Consider the industry you know or the industry you want to know. What does a professional in this field need? How does this professional broadcast their know-how and wisdom? Think of presenting a relevant bit of news or advice with colleagues.

Putting it all together by evaluating the 4 areas

Landing on a content topic across all four areas of quality consideration is an impressing feat.

If a topic is of interest to you, familiar, and in alignment with you personal and professional goals, get to producing it. You've tapped into a source of continued rewards if you can balance these four areas.

Your next step is to focus on outlining content around this topic to generate and provide for other people so they can find you when they search. As a practitioner of self marketing, your goal is to publish and support these topics, associating them closer to your name.

Remember, it may diminish your efforts to vary your content topics too widely. If your topics range from alternator repair to literature review to coding lessons, you won't reach maximum authority in the subjects most relevant to you and your business. Try to keep the total scope of your publications within sensible ranges.

colton james townsend smiles for the camera with the seattle port in the background

Colton James Townsend

I live, work, and write in the fine city of Walla Walla, in South-Eastern Washington. I help creatives and business owners publish content for the web so they can rank better in Google Search Results. You're an expert in your field and I help you broadcast your knowledge to your customers effectively.