Running out of ideas for content . . . it can happen to anyone! It’s the strategy you take to kick aside that writer’s block, and embrace the challenge of drawing a blank, that will really help you and your content stand out.
It’s difficult enough to produce idea after idea that will rise to the top of the Google search, so it’s good to keep some handy tricks in your back pocket to help you summon topics from the depths when needed.
Read on for some of our most reliable ways to create content ideas, and be sure to listen to our video below for even more advice.
Gain Valuable Content Insights from New Clients
In an ideal world, marketers would be given a large handbook from a new client, at the start of their work relationship, that detailed every topic and keyword related to their business.
It was difficult writing that sentence because of how hard I was LOL’ing to myself as I did. Because such a scenario doesn’t exist. 9 times out of 10, any background you get on a client comes from thorough research and digging, on the marketing team’s behalf.
So my first piece of advice is to take advantage of the opening days with your new client and record everything they have to say about their business. Have forms ready for them that ask questions about their industry, their customers and buyer persona, the way they conduct business, and anything else that will paint a clear picture of who they are.
This early prep work will pay off incredibly in months to come, because it offers you something extremely valuable to turn to when content ideas are slim. You’d be amazed at how much work a handful of words from the client’s CTO will do for you - especially if it’s laced with industry-specific keywords that you can build off of.
Keywords Should Be Your BFF
Speaking of keywords, let’s take a second to define them and understand their worth. The actual definition of a keyword is, after all, “a word or concept of great significance”, and that couldn’t be more true.
In terms of marketing, a keyword also increases your search engine optimization (SEO), so if your blog article is plump with keywords, Google will naturally (or should I say ‘algorithmically’?) pick up on it. Then when someone searches for an industry-relevant phrase that contains your strategically placed keyword, your article is going to pop to the top. It’s a beautiful thing.
We like to keep track of keywords for our various clients with such tools as Moz, and Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, because both break down how hard it will be to gain traction on the internet with each word. They also provide analysis from similar websites, pertinent to your industry, and you can gauge how well your site is doing in comparison with them.
Keywords are terrific for content ideas because you can build story outlines around them, and if you ever get stuck, throw a couple of them together into long-tail keywords, which increases your chances of being found on Google! That’s right, long-tail keywords, otherwise known as “three or four words or phrases that are very specific to your industry”, tend to have a higher conversion value, help you get more traffic, and enable your content to be found by new audiences.
Long-tail keywords are also great idea-generators - when stuck trying to think up something new, stopping to consider what they mean can get your brain pumping with great, new ideas.
Other Ways to Find Great Content Ideas
Here are a few more solutions I like to turn to when I’m desperate for a content topic, and we delve into them a bit more in the following video.
RSS feeds. One of our favorites is Feedly, which helps you find the publications most prominent to your industry, then collects every article that’s specific to a topic you’ve selected. This provides you a wealth of information from competitors and can inspire you with lots of different ideas.
Competitors. In the same vein as RSS feeds, competitors can offer your content creation plenty. Don’t be prideful and allow yourself to only write content based on something you thought of yourself. Turn to your competition and see what they’ve been doing well, and what they’ve failed to make work. Don’t copy their work, of course, but take inspiration on how you can make it better.
Work with your client’s leadership team. The people who know the most about a company are the ones who built and lead it. Often they have their own ideas on things that should be talked about in their blog, but their expertise is in their role at the company, and it’s often not writing. So reach out and pick their brains - they’ll be complimented by the request and are sure to spill out much more once they get going. As mentioned before, record every minute of that conversation! You’ll be rich with potential story ideas if you do.
Turn back to old content. And this can mean yours, or content already published by your client. There tends to be a ton of possible story ideas in old articles, especially when you break them down. Find a couple of pieces that performed well for your company and dissect their main topics into new stories. Then you can link back to those older articles and pick up traction on them. It’s a win-win!
Give Your Brain a Break
Providing blog articles for numerous clients that are in distinctly separate industries can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it keeps your mind active as you bounce back and forth between topics of interest. And it never hurts to revamp that great article you did for one client in a way that works just as well for another.
But on the other hand, all of that seesawing can definitely drain your brain of quality ideas. Whenever you feel like you’re simply stripped of anything cohesive, make sure and extricate yourself from the situation. This is possibly my best advice to anyone having trouble with content creation - remove yourself from the issue at hand and go do something to keep your mind off of the problem. This will clear your brain and give it a good refresh so that once you return to the task new ideas are guaranteed to start bubbling up out of your subconscious.
Did we miss anything, though? Let us know how you come up with new ideas in a pinch!