If you’re creating new content on a regular basis, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually run into a case of writer’s block. There are lots of articles and resources designed to spoon-feed you some topics or angles that you can use as a starting point (I’ve developed one myself), but rather than giving you a fish, I’m going to teach you how to fish.
Fishing for content ideas (excuse the pun) may seem like a long process, representing additional hours of research on an already time-crunched project, but it’s possible to generate new content ideas in 15 minutes or less. Even better, there are multiple approaches that can help you do it.
Option 1: The Web
You might see “the web” and think of the internet, and don’t worry, we’ll get there, but this web is literal and, if you use pen and paper like I do, tangible.
The web is a brainstorming technique you might have used in your education to come up with essay ideas or connect different topics together. Its concept is simple; you’ll start with one or two main ideas and circle them, then draw branches (lines) connecting those ideas to related sub-ideas, which you’ll generate via free association. Then, you’ll branch out from those sub-ideas, and continue the process, following whatever interests you the most until you find a specific, relevant topic you can turn into a full-length post.
For example, you might start with topics like “content marketing” and branch out into “SEO,” “voice and tone,” and “calls-to-action,” and from “calls-to-action,” you might draw lines to topics like “pop-up,” “free offer,” or “mid-post conversion.” From there, you might come up with topics like “How to Pitch a Free Offer in a Blog Post That Really Sells.” Consider timing yourself to add pressure and limit your hesitation.
Option 2: The Competition
If the web isn’t really your style, or if you keep hitting dead ends, take a look at your competition. You should have a list of competitors on social media (or at least in the back of your mind), so check out their blogs and social accounts and see what they’ve been posting. You can track them down in less than five minutes.
If you want to get in-depth, you can cross-reference their topics with yours. Are there any popular topics they’ve covered that you’ve missed on your own blog? You can use a tool like Buzzsumo to find and sort a competitor’s posts in terms of popularity (calculated by how many social media shares each post got).
What about posts you feel you could cover more in-depth? Remember, the idea here isn’t necessarily to copy or one-up your competition, but rather to take inspiration from what they’ve done. If you’re on friendly terms, you might even consider having a mutual brainstorming discussion, or collaborating on a piece together.
Option 3: Renovation
Recycling cuts down on our reliance on natural resources. In a similar way, recycling your old blog posts is a good way to spare yourself the difficulty of generating new ideas from scratch.
Comb through your blog archives to see what you can find. Obviously, you can’t simply re-post an old article, but there are many ways you can create new content from your previous material:
· Update an old post. If you’ve written something like “social media marketing trends that will dominate 2020,” consider writing a new version of that post for 2021 (when the time comes).
· Write a sequel. If you’ve only covered part of a topic, consider writing the next logical piece; for example, if you wrote about on-site SEO, extend your coverage to off-site SEO.
· Add a new perspective. Did you write an article for one target audience? Could you apply it to another?
· Check in. If you’ve made predictions or an announcement about your company, write a follow-up to evaluate how things are going (or how right or wrong you were).
You may even come up with some reinvention techniques of your own!
Option 4: The News (and trending stuff)
Next, check out the news and trending topics. If you already have a list of go-to sources, you can start browsing in less than a minute. If you don’t, you’ll need to make a one-time investment; create lists on social media, or by using a content discovery app like Feedly to organize sources of industry news, national and international news, and any sources of content that could provide valuable inspiration to your content creation process.
Then, wade through the topics and see what’s new. Is there a post you can newsjack? Can you create an opinion piece about a current event relevant to your business?
Option 5: Coworkers
Last but not least, you can rely on the creative power of your coworkers. If you work in the marketing department, you’ll naturally only see a fraction of your company in action on any given day. What about the rest of those fractions? Talking to your other coworkers will give you a broader perspective of how your company works, how your customers think, and how you could potentially develop.
If you want to avoid a drawn-out conversation, ask your coworkers point-blank if they have any ideas for blog posts you could write — you’d be surprised how many responses you can get!
Some of these options will work better for you than others. Some may not work at all, depending on your industry and your personal disposition. But I can guarantee if you try all these tactics, faithfully, for a full 15 minutes, you’ll walk away with at least one solid new idea to pursue.
Nobody can be an endless fountain of new ideas and inspiration, but if you know where to look, you’ll always have the opportunity to find a new spark.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!