I’m definitely in the camp that “writer’s” block, or rather, content marketer’s block is not a thing. You just need to keep digging and the ideas will reveal themselves from different places. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to come up with new ideas for blog posts and articles.
If You’re Just Starting Out, Look at Your Competitors Content
Just because you don’t have any information from your audience on what your best content is, doesn’t mean you can’t understand what they want. Use the insights from your competitor’s content to begin to see what’s popular and interesting. Buzzsumo will allow you to browse the most shared content on specific topics, and for specific companies – easy access to understanding what resonates with a similar audience to the one you’re creating.
Another option, a little more time consuming, is to browse your competitors content for posts with the most comments. These might not necessarily be the most popular content – but it has engagement, so depending on your goal could be a great target.
Comments and Questions on Other Posts/Forums/Social Media
Not only can you look at comments on blog posts to see the popularity of topics, but they can give you even more insightful questions to answer in other blog posts. Get ideas from comments on your own blog, but also look at competitor blogs, forums, and questions on social media.
Look at Quora Questions
Quora is a treasure trove of ideas from real people with real questions. Search for your keywords, and also find related questions to the ones you’re looking at.
You know by now that stories connect people with their emotions, and the brain processes and learns much better from that kind of connection. Dig deep to find the stories of your journey, your business successes and failures, and your customers journeys. Even if you’re written about a topic before, a new fresh story is always worth a new piece of content.
Ask Your Teams
If you work in an organization, it’s always important to ask your other teams, specifically sales and customer service departments. Because they are customer facing, they get questions all the time that can be turned into articles. This also benefits them because they won’t receive as many repeated questions if your content can solve some of your customer problems before they call in, and it can shorten your sales cycle.
And don’t forget to ask your product teams as well. They might have great insights on technical articles you can write around the “processes” or technical aspect of products.
Ask You Audience
Speaking of directly asking people, ask you audience! This can be done in the form of a survey, interviews, and asking co-workers (your sales) to ask questions for you. Tools like Survey Monkey or Google Forms, or even the embedded “polling feature” of Mailchimp can get you lots of ideas.
Relook at Your Audience Personas
While you’re asking your audience questions, it will help to go back and reassess your audience personas. This re-evaluation allows you to look at the nitty-gritty details of who your customers are, revealing new angles for your content creation.
Yes, these exist. Are they effective? Do they know what your audience is actually interested in? No. But it can give you some generic directions that can get your brain flowing on certain topics. Take the suggestions with a grain of salt, but if you’re really stuck go ahead a give these 2 options a try: Hubspot Blog Topic Generator and Portent Title Maker.
Ideas Within Other Ideas
In the same vein of repurposing content, you can find gems of ideas within the content that you or your competitors have already created.
You know those list posts everyone is so in love with? What happens if you take one those topics and expand on it with an entire post.
For example I’ve written a post about 16 Headline Writing Tips to Finally Get Your Articles Read, I could take point number 7:Use Emotionally Driven Words – and turn that into a post called 3 Tools to Help You Add Emotion To Your Headlines.
Look for New Research & Statistics
Adding “real research” to your content builds trust in what you do, but it can also reveal insights you, and no one else, had thought of before. You’ll also receive the benefit of linking to academic or professional studies, increasing your SEO trust. To do this you can use Google Scholar Search to find new research articles and papers around your topic.
Browse News Outlets
Let’s get topical! I don’t mean you have to go newsjacking the web (If you’re not sure what this is check out these 5 brand newsjacking examples from Britt Klontz on the Content Marketing Institute) – but if there are important events that affect your industry or audience you should talk about it! Look to Press Release distribution sites, Google News, and media sites for your industry.
Expand your mind. Consuming more, and DIFFERENT content from other niches or industries can help reveal connections and ideas that everyone will appreciate – a fresh take on an old topic can go a long way.
To be more specific, reading books is a good way to dive into a topic for an extended period of time and get intimately acquainted with the ins and outs. It might even seem like a waste of time, but you could go and read a book like Harry Potter – just to get some creative juices flowing. Just don’t write an article on “5 Things Hermione Would Have Done If She Was A Content Marketer”
Have you exhausted this list and are still stuck? Maybe writing and content creation isn’t for you!
I joke, but there really is some truth to “doing what you’re good at” and outsourcing the rest.
How do you come up with ideas? Anything that isn’t on this list?