At some point, you or your content specialist will complain that there are no great ideas left—or the good ones are already published somewhere.
If you churn out content daily, finding resources for educational, entertaining, and witty information to share with readers may become a challenge. Such "content block" is akin to writer's block, except that the former is a broader concept in that "content" can refer to anything useful to your prospects or customers online—articles, whitepapers, case studies, infographics, videos, podcasts...
Often, great ideas come to us when we least expect them to, but it's annoying when we can't generate content when on a deadline. But don't worry; after all, this is the 21st century... We have technology and experience on our side.
If you're having trouble coming up with content ideas that are bound to engage your audience, try these six tried-and-true tactics.
1. Clear your mind
Inspiration comes when you least expect it, so why force it when it won't? However, you can't exactly go on a vacation during your lunch hour. Instead, use what little time you have to clear your mind. Do what works for you: Walk to a nearby park, buy ice cream, look out your window, etc.
When your brain starts to relax, you can feel more focused on what lies ahead.
No time for a stroll? Try this: Look away from your computer or laptop. Breathe in deeply, hold for several seconds, and then exhale slowly. It's also effective when done while listening to your favorite music (just make sure you have your headphones on so you don't bother anybody).
2. Check what's trending
It's certainly not productive to mindlessly scroll social media feeds—unless you have a tool to make the process quicker. Try Klout or Flipboard to get started. Similar to bookmarking sites, they gather the best content on the Web and personalize it for you. If you have an account, you can just create a category of things you like, and these tools will collect content based on your preferences.
Every morning, simply spend about 10-15 minutes to check what's new. This method is also great for finding industry influencers whom you can then follow.
3. Fill information gaps
Information gaps are missing pieces of information in content. Perhaps the author missed it, or simply chose not to discuss the matter in detail. For instance, you find an awesome article about dog care; it contains useful tips on pet grooming, adoption, pregnancy, and pet food... but it doesn't delve into caring for pets in their senior year.
Use that information gap to your advantage by drafting content around that idea, using that article as a resource. You will be not only developing cool content but also helping out the author by linking back. You can find information gaps from the most popular content on the Web by using Buzzsumo.
4. Visit forums
Forums are perhaps one of the most underrated sources of great content ideas. Did you know that most of the amazing stuff you see from Buzzfeed and Upworthy had roots in forums, such as Reddit?
Online marketers can check out Growth Hackers for digital marketing secrets discussed by experts in the industry. See what they are talking about and what ideas you can generate from those conversations. Better yet, why not join them and contribute your two cents' worth?
5. Do a brain dump
If you have scoured cyberspace only to come home empty-handed, perhaps it's time to do a brain dump. This is typically what writers do to clear their head, without losing some of their important thoughts. Get a pen and paper, relax, and just write about anything and everything you can think of. For those who are more comfortable with doodling, you can do that, too.
The point of a brain dump is to get your creativity flowing without rules' getting in the way. The annual writing competition NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), held every November, has the same premise. So far, it has given birth to best-sellers, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough.
6. Share your voice
People enjoy reading or hearing about others' opinions on pretty much anything under the sun—whether a commentary on current world news or a review of a new restaurant. You are bound to get audiences simply by sharing your voice.
And there are tons of opportunities to be heard. If you're pressed for content, why not review a new app? Did your company recently purchase software? Ask your team if they would be willing to test it with you.
When writing an opinion, do your best to remain objective. Point out pros and cons, special features, tips and suggestions, etc.—but never devalue a product or service merely because you didn't like it. Be professional.
* * *
It's relatively easy to create content—but another thing altogether to encourage, inspire, and persuade. Once you remove issues that block you from developing something awesome, make sure you have a process for execution. A good idea is nothing without action.
In the meantime, keep looking around for new and exciting sources of information. Your next content may just be lurking underneath all that Internet spam.
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