Digital Magazine Publishing

5 Easy Evergreen Content Sources for a Magazine Portal When You’re Fresh Out of Ideas

What most publishers of niche magazines don’t realize is that coming up with an editorial calendar is just as much work as producing the evergreen content itself.

Ideas for the online managing editor who struggles to produce daily evergreen content

What most publishers of niche magazines don’t realize is that coming up with an editorial calendar is just as much work as producing the evergreen content itself. If you’re the online managing editor or audience development editor of a niche publication where you’re not only the one who plans the content, but also writes a majority of the free Portal content, you know what I’m talking about. And if your editorial calendar isn’t, let’s say, totally done in advance, then the struggle to find a topic on any given day could take as long as it does to write the article. (This, is, by the way, a very good reason to plan your editorial calendar quarterly like we do at Mequoda).

That’s because if you’re a niche content expert who’s been running your Portal for a while, you may feel like you’ve covered everything. If someone new came in, they’d be clueless about the history of every article you’ve published, so they’d happily hop in and start coming up with new versions of what you’ve already written. But if you’re deep in the trenches, you might be thinking, “What can I possibly write about now? I’ve already written 65 ways to plant roses, and there aren’t even 65 ways to do it!”

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Well, regardless of whether you’re the online managing editor, or the after-work buddy who’s consoling the brain of a tired managing editor, here are some ideas to save the day when you feel like your last big idea was the last drop of water in the bottom of a well.

1. Your magazine. This is the only consistently easy place to find new evergreen content. In some cases you may be working with a limited pool though, because you may have to abide by the byline on your article as it was published and can’t break the article into pieces. So, one good way to re-use magazine content in other ways is to quote excerpts from your magazine. For example, a brilliant opener and an engaging closer can have this sandwiched in between: “Gilda Berry shared her seven best tips for planting herbs above ground in our May 2016 article, How to Plant Herbs Above Ground:” followed by the tips.

2. Google trends. There’s nothing evergreen about news that you’ll find in Google trends, but it sure does help lend to themes you may not have touched on before. Plus, you can look up phrases and get ideas for similar topics, much like Google Keyword Planner. So for example, here I am so tired about writing about rose gardening, so I search for it and see phrases like “rose gloves” and “gardening zones.” Suddenly I have two new topics I can write about that I never even thought of before. Google Keyword Planner is our #1 way to find content ideas, which we document in our Google Visibility Report, but for the sake of broadness – assuming you might not be a Mequoda Gold Member – you should know both options are available to you.

3. Old Portal archives. So you’ve written 65 articles about how to plant roses, have you? For Pete’s sake, put together at least a top 20 list on how to plant roses and link to some of those articles. Also, feel free to recycle content from your old articles into your new articles. As long as it’s mixed with new content, you won’t run into any dupe content issues with Google, and you’ll have loads of new articles to re-publish. This is especially gratifying when you feel like you wrote an article at one point that didn’t see enough eyeballs.

4. Conduct an interview. An interview is only a copout if you publish it exactly as a question followed by an answer. That’s no fun (but, hey, by all means do that, too.) Or, make a list of interesting people in your niche to interview, then turn it into an editorial piece. People love to read other people’s voices and opinions, and it takes the stress of being the expert off of your shoulders for a day.

5. Transcribe an event session. If your company records live events and webinars, have them transcribed. Then, see what you can do with the content. If you need permission to publish the content, then get it, and publish it under their byline or quote them. If not, because it’s by someone on your team, then turn it into as many articles as you can.

Now it’s your turn. If you’re the online managing editor of a niche magazine, I’d love to hear all the ways you come up with evergreen content ideas.


By Don Nicholas

Chief Executive Officer

During his decades long career, Don has worked with colleagues, clients and partners to design digital publishing and marketing systems for more than 300 magazines, newsletters, memberships, clubs, and events. Don currently serves as executive publisher for Cabot Wealth Network, Food Gardening Network, Financial Freedom Federation, I Like Crochet Network, I Like Knitting Network, and Recipe Lion Clubs. His team's Haven WordPress CXMS offers publishers the industry’s most flexible and robust online publishing and marketing platform. Don and his strategy team have served as management advisors for virtually every major niche publishing company in North America including Meredith, Hearst, Trusted Media Brands, and hundreds of independent for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He has managed and led educational events for MPA, SIPA, FIPP and Harvard University. He has authored numerous books and hundreds of articles on journalism, publishing, technology and marketing. Before founding Mequoda in 2004, he served as founder and chief executive officer for Blue Dolphin Magazines and Lighthouse Communications Group. He started his media career as a journalist and producer working for the Armed Forces Network aboard the USS Enterprise. Don holds degrees and certifications in organizational management, journalism and electrical engineering from Capella University, Sacramento State University, and the United States Navy.

One reply on “5 Easy Evergreen Content Sources for a Magazine Portal When You’re Fresh Out of Ideas”

Perspective pieces on issues important to the audience within the bounds of the editorial philosophy gets my vote. Offering forward thinking about best practices, individual experience, benefits, or concerns during times of evolution, has an “evergreen” appeal. That is, I find issue based pieces return more consistently over time than content with a bounded timeline. Additionally, issue based content is easy to recycle, update, or repurpose. On a content plan, I’d revisit these pieces periodically, or when national news breaks. The addition of a fresh, dynamic personal story from someone affected by change, or a feature element with pull quotes from 4-5 persons who represent the audience and its concerns, are options. Charts showing the aspects and affects of change are also within the range of updates I’d consider.

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