You’ve got to have a steady stream of content for your website or blog. You know that. But sometimes the proverbial wellspring of ideas goes dry. If you’re a small business that relies on a content marketing strategy, these dry spells can be tough on your overall efforts. Some businesses never recover from these dry spells, and it results in outdated blog posts, sporadic newsletters, and dead zones on their websites.
Don’t let yourself get there. Writer’s block, or maybe more aptly, creator’s block, is a normal part of the greatest artist’s journey. When it hits, you just need a little nudge to get your ideation sessions (that’s a fancy word for the act of coming up with good ideas) back on track.
We’ve pulled together 10 really fantastic ideas that can boost your brainstorms to get you developing new content fast:
1. Give tips or answer common questions with your content. You live this stuff. You’ve heard the questions a million times, and you’ve been around the block enough to know the best way to get it done in your industry. Why not share that information? Don’t worry, you’re not giving away the candy store: you’re the expert, and you know what? Once your audience hears you break it down, they’ll realize that they need an expert to help them through the complexity.
Hint: Remember that reader comments on your blog, or social media channels can be a great place to search for ideas on this. Oh, and you can look at the comments your competitors are getting, too. There’s nothing wrong with that.
2. Put your own spin on a news story or industry trend. Show the world that you’re always up on top of the state of the union. You know just what’s up, and you’re the source that your audience can follow to stay on top, too. Make sure you provide a little input from your perspective as to how the news is relevant or impacts your industry.
3. Interview an expert in your field. Want to show the world that you’re in the champions’ club? Talk shop with experts. This is great both for video and text content. A video interview shares well, but it might be easier to ask a few questions of an expert via email. Phone interview? Record it and post the audio (just make sure you disclose to the interviewee that you’re recording the session).
4. Celebrate the success of a customer in a profile. Call it a case study, call it a profile, either way, you can highlight your product’s awesomeness by profiling your successful customers. Case studies are a bit formal, so frame it as a profile story to soften the edges a bit and make the success more palatable to a general audience.
Cool tip: Long form content is all the rage. Customer success stories as long-form magazine articles can bring out the adventure and drama of their story. Infusionsoft took on this content form via our Medium channel.
5. Curate content from other sources [i.e. Roundup]. Not everything you generate has to be original. Curation is kind of like those collages you did in grade school when you cut out photos from a dozen magazines and glued them together onto a single page to get an original piece of art. So it is with curation. Gather cool stuff from around the web, add a little commentary, and boom! New content for your blog. Tie the content together with a theme, maybe content on industry trends, maybe news relative to the work you’re doing, or just neat topics of interest. This may be a really simple way to get content on your site, but if you overuse it, you could lose credibility for original content. Try a curated roundup once a week, like we do at Infusionsoft.
6. Product reviews. Compare new products, review new tech, talk about how the latest software out there can help the people in your industry be more successful. Do you outfit the outdoorsy types for their big three-day adventures? Maybe you want to compare the top five best backpacks for hiking? How about best software applications to support the kind of work you do?
7. Book reviews. One of the best questions to ask of your hero, should you get a chance to meet her or him, is, “What are you reading?” Want to know what makes a person great? Read what they’re reading. Likewise, you can give a quick review of the industry-related, leadership, motivational, or other relevant book you just read and show your audience that you’re top of the class.
8. Be a reporter at an industry event.
Conferences and other industry events can be a fantastic opportunity to generate multiple pieces of content:
- With numerous heavy hitters gathered in one space, all you need is a simple video camera and a little gumption to get quick, 30-second interviews that you can compile into a killer highlight video of the event.
- Did you bump into any happy customers? Take that opportunity to interview them about their experience with your product.
- You can have a separate blog post recapping your company’s experience at the event.
- Take still photos that you can use on your blog, and post on your company’s social media channels.
9. Make a list. Top 5; 44 Best; 101 Greatest. You’ve seen them all over the web, and there’s a reason for that: they’re popular. Everyone seems to love them. Lists make ideas more manageable. Sometimes, people are looking for eight simple ways to approach a problem or six of the best tech things. Whatever your industry, you can find a way to create a list for it.
Keep in mind: The longer the list, the shorter each item should be. Also, think about how the number rings with the idea for the list. Top five is everywhere, but top seventeen might have a little more panache.
10. 10x your message with an infographic. Cue cliché: Pictures are worth a thousand words. Now put words and pictures together, and your message becomes a tasty morsel of shareable content. Of course, quality is critical. Beautiful, interesting infographics grab the viewer’s attention and can even go viral. It’s well worth it to work with a graphic designer.
11. Offer your take on a controversial subject. Few things are juicer than controversy. Find an issue in your niche or industry that people are talking about. If you take a side, you can assert yourself as a thought leader who has the fortitude necessary to a stand. To be valuable, you need to carefully craft a solid argument for your case and avoid disparaging the opposing view.
WARNING: The controversy that we’re talking about here is strictly non-political. Don’t go down that dark road of picking a Presidential candidate, or turning your business blog into a news commentary. Instead, be controversial about subjects that matter to your business. For example: The Samsung Galaxy is better than the iPhone, and here’s why. Controversial, yes. Political, no.
12. The Crystal Ball approach. Everyone wants to know the future, and they turn to industry experts to interpret the trends. This always makes for a good post in December, when people are looking toward the coming new year. But you could also surprise your followers with a midyear prediction for how the year will end.
13. Make a quiz. People love interactive content. For some reason, quizzes are particularly irresistible, especially ones that tell them something about themselves in comparison with other respondents. You can use tools like qzzr.com or dilogr.com to build the quiz and then embed it on your site.
14. Guest post. You’ve been making connections in your field, and no doubt many of them have blogs of their own. You can reach out to them and ask them to write a guest post. Chances are good that they’d love the exposure and the ability to link to back to their own site. They may even ask to do a swap and have you write for their site.
15. Always be ready to repurpose. Repurposing content is essentially a matter of recycling for content. Content ideas can often be expressed in numerous ways, why not try them all? Keep the recycling mantra in mind when you develop any piece of content:
- Reduce. Reduce your effort by making fresh use of your existing ideas and content. The work involved in repurposing content is much less intense than developing new ideas from scratch, and you can reach a broader audience by diversifying your content ideas.
- Reuse. Take a good idea and reuse it in a new platform. For example, your blog post could be a column in your monthly newsletter. And vice versa, your newsletter column might make a great blog post.
- Recycle. Sift through your content archives and look at some of your successful content. Could it be reworked for a new platform? For example, a great white paper could be a reworked to become a great blog post or a webinar that included a slideshow can become a great SlideShare presentation.
One last tip before we go: If you want to keep the ideas flowing, think content all the time. Adopt the mantra, “Could this be content?” You’re launching a new product—could that be content? You just won an industry award—could that be content? You have a happy customer on the phone—could that be content?