The Search for Inspiration: How to Generate Content Ideas
You’ve got bigger problems than your next piece of content if you’re trying to come up with a topic idea on the spot
- It’s possible that you’ll need more than 150 pieces of content over the next year.
- Blog posts that provide the most effective boost to inbound marketing are generated by a process.
- Your readers aren’t expecting you to be Hemingway, but they want you to write like him.
Writer’s block used to be different back when writers wrangled words into books. Today, most writers are otherwise known as content creators. They don’t have a publisher who’s expecting a finished 100,000-word manuscript 12 months from now. They’ve got an editorial calendar administrator waiting for the blog post.
Snap out of it. You don’t have writer’s block. You’re not Ernest Hemingway searching for the “one true sentence.” He was on a quest to write the Great American Novel. You’re tasked with creating education, perspective, and validation – around the length of a short-short story. You need help with content ideation. Here are ways to plug into inspiration.
Publish with purpose
If you build it, they will come. Blogs generate attention and attract prospects. This is why marketers who focus on this are up to 13 times more likely to see a positive return on the investment. To achieve this benefit, publish new or updated blog posts 3-5 times a week for organic traffic, and 1-4 times a week for brand awareness.
These recommendations depend on the size of your blog and staff. It’s unlikely that you will over-publish. Let’s say that you want to grow both brand awareness and drive organic traffic with 3 weekly blog posts. That means you’ll need 156 of them over the next year.
This exercise isn’t meant to make your head explode, wondering how you’re supposed to come up with that many topics. The goal is to help you put your task into perspective.
It’s easier to manage what you measure. Invest in the implementation of an editorial content calendar before you amp up your search for ideas.
Topic ideas: the birds and the bees
Where do blog topic ideas come from? Some of them really do just pop into your head, but blog posts that provide the most effective boost to inbound marketing are created by a process.
Creativity is a loose, rambling process. Lead generation, conversion, and other marketing tactics are not.
Before you start thinking about topics, you need to know what your blog posts will accomplish. Start with the why.
The goal of this blog post is to demonstrate that we understand the our prospect’s pain points.
What to write about, and how to present it, often easily present themselves when you first concentrate on why.
We’ve already decided that we’ll need at least 156 blog posts to cover the next 12 months. It’s time to start a repository for future posts.
You already know why: it’s a constant experience. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when you research a topic. And that’s not a bad thing. Make sure to save any inspiration you find during your research because it could plant the seed for new topics. Back before we consumed most things digitally, writers kept swipe files.
This is where the contents of those open browser tabs belong. Good ideas have a life cycle, so saving them is a way to have a repository of future topics, and a way to spark creativity.
Technology makes it easy to create digital swipe files. Some options even allow you to quickly search and retrieve based on keywords.
Check on the competition
You’re not the only game in town. The best way to succeed is by knowing what your competitors are up to. It’s why you sign up to receive emails from them, and follow their social media feeds, right? It’s a smart foundational move, but you need to dig deeper.
Competitive research not only tells you what others in your space are doing, but it rewards you with what’s working for them, as well. Competitive research can help you quickly fill up spaces on your editorial calendar. It validates your own SEO efforts by:
- Going beyond keywords and showing you what topics are trending.
- Going beyond links and showing you what prospects want to know next.
- Going beyond traffic and building personas by discovering who follows whom and what they’re sharing.
- Going beyond performance and providing insight into the type of content that’s resonating with prospects.
Remember what your mother said about jumping off a cliff just because everybody else did. You’ve got a value proposition, so compare that with what is working for competitors. Duplicating what works for them positions you as a follower.
Root for your readers
Both Shakespeare and the Bible agree: There is nothing new under the sun. People coming to your website are hoping that you’ll reward them with something new perspective. They’ve arrived with the hope and expectation that your content will do one or more of three things:
- Give them a new way to look at a problem.
- Educate them about something they haven’t yet considered.
- Offer them a way to think about a solution.
Millions of blogs are posted daily. What will make your content stand out? You’ll hit a home run if it’s unique.
Going up against your competitors shouldn’t discourage you. The idea might not be unique, but your content can still stand out by being relevant and helpful.
Your readers are looking for clear, concise information. Regardless of your idea, deliver it using Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory approach to writing. Simple. Direct. Unadorned.
You can’t be an advocate for your readers unless you ask them what they want you to share with them. Communicating with your audience regularly is the best source of inspiration.
Understand the barrier
There’s a difference between writer’s block and failing to deliver content because you didn’t prepare. Don’t expect to create never-before-considered content ideas on demand.
Sure, you’ll have some diamonds along the way, but your objective is to build a consistent body of content that has specific objectives. It’s a marathon, and your efforts must be carefully spread.
Worry less about what to write about. Double down on why you’re writing it.
Your barrier isn’t a lack of ideas. You don’t have writer’s block. There’s no time for ideation if you’re trying to decide what to write about because you’re on deadline.
How's your current content plan?
We're offering a no strings attached content assessment. Have our experts provide you a free evaluation of your content plan and we'll provide you some free strategy on how to optimize. On the house (really).