It might seem like the most simple bit of the creative process, but content ideas generation can be the trickiest and most frustrating part.
A strong content marketing strategy strikes the perfect balance of quantity and quality. The right amount of the right-sized content posted in the right place at the right time. And it’s got to be good. This puts a whole lot of pressure on you and your content team. How can you guarantee a steady stream of great content? And what happens if you catch a dreadful case of writer’s block?
Some might argue that the best way to come up with a fresh idea is to let it come naturally. Go for a walk, call a friend, eat a sandwich, make a start on a different piece of work… While taking a step back might deliver good results in time (or quite quickly, if it’s a particularly inspiring sandwich), I’ve found that proactive ideas generation techniques reap much better rewards, especially if you’re working to a tight deadline. As such, over the last few years I’ve developed a system that ensures I’m never short of content ideas for both myself and my clients. Here are my ten failsafe tips for finding ‘inspo’…
1. Check out the competition
One of the best ways to build new content ideas is by looking at what your key competitors are doing. Check out their blogs, scour their social media channels and look out for coverage in industry hubs or news sites. You should also keep track of sponsored posts and advertorials if they undertake that sort of activity. Even if you consider your competitor’s content a little bit rubbish, now is your chance to visit the same or a similar topic and execute something that’s a whole lot better!
2. Casual and creative brainstorms
Multiple heads are better than one, so arrange an informal brainstorm session with your team (and if you don’t have a team as such, rope in your friends and family). Make it clear that there are no rules, no boundaries and certainly no shoot-downs during these sessions. Rather than countering someone’s idea with ‘Hmm, I’m not sure that’ll work’, focus on ideas development and exploring new directions. Your brainstorming sessions should be relaxed and fun in order to generate as much creativity as possible.
3. Be a content sponge
All great writers spend time reading and all great artists look at the work of others. The same goes for content creation. If you want to come up with new ideas and develop brilliant stuff, you need to absorb as much content as possible. Subscribe to blogs, follow the right people on social media and keep up to date with industry publications. Spend half an hour at the beginning or end of the day searching for new content. This doesn’t necessarily mean blog posts or text-based content, but infographics, fliers, videos, magazines and more.
4. Build a folder of inspiration
Now that you’re regularly discovering new content, it’s time to put it in storage. Every time you come across a piece that inspires you, save it in a dedicated folder. It’s important to mention that you should be undertaking this activity even if you’ve got an abundance of ideas already – this source of content ideas will come in super handy when you do hit a dry patch. And if you’re spending that half an hour each day searching for other people’s content, you will build up a brilliant folder of inspiration in no time.
5. Collaborative project tools
Project management tools like Trello are a great place to share ideas. Even if you’re just jotting down a few keywords, others can be invited to develop on the idea. Be sure to include everyone in the company and not just your content or marketing teams. You’d be surprised at how many great ideas can be generated by customer services or the finance department! These tools will also allow you to plan your projects in more detail and keep track of progress, coming in very useful for the extent of the content creation process.
6. Ask questions
Consider your new content ideas as answers. In order to get these, you need to ask questions. There are numerous ways to do this, including sending emailers, running a poll on social media or simply picking up the phone. You could also launch a survey for your customers, clients or partners, focusing around a topic that’s relevant to your business. Do you run a web shop? Maybe you could find out more about your target audience’s online shopping habits? Not only will you gain some fresh ideas for content, but you’ll gather plenty of statistics and data to solidify your points (and benefit your business in other ways).
7. Use Keyword Planner
If you’ve already got a general topic in mind, Google’s Keyword Planner is the perfect place to research more granular ideas that are connected to it. You’ll also gain valuable insight into search volumes and keyword competition, so you can get a good idea of how well your content may perform. It’s always worth focusing on long-tail keywords rather than top terms. Not only will this help to streamline your content, but it’ll put it in a better position to rank and reach a more targeted audience.
8. Consider current trends
While evergreen content is a vital part of your content marketing strategy, time-sensitive or ‘trendy’ pieces should also be included. Keep an eye on the current buzz by subscribing to popular industry sites and using Google Trends (you can select categories that are relevant to you and your business, as well as stuff that’s going on in your region). Remember, with trend-focused content you need to be getting involved as quickly as possible, offering your contributions while the topic is still hot.
9. Be bold
If you want to really up the ante in your content creation, consider the topics that aren’t often explored. No matter how technical or bland your industry may be, there’s always opportunity for debate. These subjects may be a little controversial or complicated, but they also provide the perfect opportunity for you to explore the facts, answer questions and offer your own view. Is there a matter in your industry that everyone disagrees on? Is there a subject you’ve always been reluctant to approach? Now is the time to be bold and get those ideas down on paper!
10. Go back to what you know
Of course, there will still be times that you struggle for content ideas. So if all else fails, go back to what you know. There’s nothing wrong with revisiting a topic you’ve already explored, as long as you make sure your new content is 100% unique. If you wrote a blog post on a particular topic three years ago, you’ll have much more knowledge to share now. If there are new findings, new technology has launched or your opinions have changed, it’s certainly time for an update.
Ideas generation may seem like a daunting task, especially if you regularly find yourself scratching your head. But by making use of helpful tools, hosting relaxed brainstorm sessions and being a content sponge, you’re sure to discover and develop new ideas for your next batch of content. Want to know more? Get in touch today – I’d love to chat! You can also find out more about the copywriting and content service at Naturally Content.