Struggling to generate content ideas?
It can be hard, especially if you’re new to it or it’s been a while.
(Yes, it even happens to me. Take the gaps in this blog’s schedule as an example…)
But you need a regular schedule. People are relying on you. You can’t let them down!
So how do you generate enough content ideas that you never get stuck again? How do you maintain that momentum?
Read other people’s work (of the same type)
The more of a particular type of writing you read, the easier you’ll find it to write. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been blogging or publishing for, if I stop reading blogs for a bit, I find it harder to come up with blog post ideas. If I stop reading books for a bit, I find it harder to choose the right words for my story. If I stop listening to music or reading poetry, I find it harder to write poetry.
If you’re not reading blogs by industry experts—and even your competitors—regularly, you’re going to find it much harder to come up with your own content.
If you’re looking for a screen break, consider subscribing to an industry magazine. You’ll get some of the same benefits while worrying less about staring at a screen.
Look for industry trends
Over the last few months, I’ve been watching more and more YouTube tutorials. And I’ve noticed a pattern. When one big influencer covers something, the others flock to the same idea. It’s like a triangle. The biggest influencer covers it, then the next biggest, then the smaller ones piggy back off that to get coverage.
One of the recent trends that stands out to me is using the Denman hairbrush on wave/curly hair. I’m trying to train my hair to embrace its natural waves, so this was perfect for me.
Until every hair influencer covered it at the expense of other content ideas. It didn’t take long for an original idea to feel repetitive and overdone.
You have to jump on trends at the right time, before they become old news.
Or put your own spin on it. Make it personal by talking about your own experience instead of rehashing what other people have said or done. Bring it examples from your customers or employees if it’s relevant.
Have an opinion
The internet is one of those weird places where everyone has an opinion, and nobody does.
Do you remember when there was a big movement for people to be ‘authentic’? But then they were being ‘authentic’ by sounding like everyone else? That isn’t authenticity.
Being authentic is all about embracing your voice and experience. Then sharing the relevant parts of that with your audience.
There’s no point in sharing things they won’t care about, but if you can share what they will care about in a real, genuine, helpful way, you’re going to create deeper connections with your audience much faster than your average ‘authentic’ brand.
Being genuinely authentic with your audience can be scary. It means being open about the things that aren’t working in your life or business.
But, when you do that, you’ll come across as more relatable and your audience will form a deeper connection with you because of that.
Ask your prospects
Prospects can be great sources of content ideas because there are certain things they need to know before giving you their money. If you can tap into what those questions are before they raise them, they’re much more likely to convert.
Of course, you need to know what those questions are first.
So why not ask them?
You could email your list, do a Twitter poll, or ask for opinions in a Facebook group. All this data can be a goldmine.
If you’ve got a particularly good relationship with any of your prospects, you could drop them a personal email or invite them on to a call to have a chat.
Use your network
Your network is the perfect place to ask for help when you’re stuck. I really like asking in ATOMIC*. The last time I did this, I had so many responses within a couple of hours.
When you find the right community, they’ll lift you up and inspire you.
Try a tool
Tools like Answer the Public are great for when you’re feeling stuck. You can type in a topic, then it will suggest the most common search terms related to that topic. You can download the reports, too, so you always have them to refer back to.
Write it all down
Sometimes the reason we don’t have enough ideas isn’t because we can’t think of anything, it’s because we judge them before we’ve properly considered them. This is a common trend for anyone who’s uncomfortable with writing, sales, or marketing.
(You could try outsourcing your content marketing to help with this!)
That way, you have someone external, with expertise, who can give you an honest opinion on what’s a viable topic for you to write about.
Your other option is to set yourself a timer, then write down every idea you have. Don’t scribble out—or judge—any of your ideas. Once your timer is up, put your list somewhere safe, and walk away.
When you come back to it a few hours or days later (ideally days), you’ll be able to judge it much more objectively.
If you’re still not sure, you can always ask your prospects if it’s a topic they’d like to see you cover. This is a great way to generate email and social media content. People love sharing their opinions. I’ve often found these kinds of posts are the most popular ones I create. And you never know until you ask!
Much like most things in life, idea generation is a skill. The more you do it, the easier you’ll find it. If you stop for a little while, you may find it harder to get back into.
It’s like driving again after a long break—it might be juttery at first, but you’ll soon get back into the flow of it and enjoy the feeling of the window down and the wind through your hair.
What are your idea generation tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments!