As Kurt Vonnegut put it, when you have writer’s block, “you feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” But you don’t have to stay stuck in the mud with a blank page in front of you forever. Here are some tips to get your rusty content machine humming again.
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Pluck Good Ideas From Data
I list this first because I think it’s one of the coolest–and most often overlooked–ways to come up with content ideas. Just spending 10 minutes in Google Analytics can reward you with content ideas targeted to your customers. Here are some examples:
- Use Google Webmaster Tools to find out which keywords are driving traffic to your site the most – then create content related to those keywords.
- Use Site Search. This is one of my favorites, but it assumes that you have the site search function installed on your website. It’s fascinating to find specific topics that people are searching for on your site. It’s a glimpse into the mind of your website visitors. Use this to generate content ideas.
- Review your most visited pages. Make note of the top 10 pages that people spent time on in the last 6 months, and create content related to those topics. There must be a reason people are spending so much time on those pages.
- Spend time looking at the ‘audience’ section of analytics data. For example, is there another country where your website visitors often hail from? Maybe it’s time to create content geared specifically to that audience.
Use Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planning Tool can help you find keywords that are most relevant to your industry. You can find search volume, related keywords and tailor it to specific geography. Do a quick search and start writing blog posts related to those keywords.
Another tip: Use Google Suggest to find related keyword and content ideas. Here’s an example of the magic of Google Suggest:
Notice the list of related search queries that come up, the rich answer box, and the related questions. With a quick search, I’ve now come up with an array of possible blog posts about writer’s block and solutions for that problem!
Ask Your Customers To Help
This doesn’t mean that you’re going to ask customers to write for you, but it does mean that you can leverage their input. Survey your team: What are the top 5 questions that customers repeatedly ask? Good content addresses a problem and provides a solution. So, take a close look at those 5 questions and write a piece of content that addresses each one.
Check Out Google Trends
Google Trends is a useful tool that allows you to track trends and data from Google. You can view top search trends throughout the country. As I was writing this post, trending topics included Healthcare in the US, the Trump Administration, and the G20 Summit. Not only can you see trending topics, but you can gain valuable insights about trends by geography and find a list of top trending questions. You can also use the search function within Google Trends to find content related to your industry or organization.
Find Out What They Say About Your Industry
In the same vein as having customers help you generate content ideas, you can find out what people are saying about your industry. Here are some ways to do this:
- Review blog and social media comments. What common questions are people asking in blog comments? Or, are they launching complaints in the comments section of your Facebook page? A great piece of content may address these concerns and complaints with a solution.
- Look at forums. Good places to look might be industry forums or places like Quora or Reddit where people tend to ask questions or discuss topics of interest. Google News is another great way to find trending news articles.
- Do it the old-fashioned way. Pick up a newspaper or magazine, hit the library or read on your Kindle. Either way, reading interesting stuff about your industry can spark new and creative ideas. Watercooler talk is another way to come up with content ideas related to your business—simply ask the people around you.
Shop The Competition
One of my favorite ways to come up with content ideas is to check out what the competition is writing about. No, you’re not going to steal someone else’s ideas, but reading as a competitor may give you insight into an original angle. Review their blogs, social media feeds and even look to see if they’ve written content for other websites by checking their backlinks. You’ll be amazed at the ideas you can derive by filling in gaps where competitor content falls short.
What Can You Repurpose
If all else fails, look at some of your older content and see if you can repurpose it into something new. Have a dusty old marketing slideshow? Maybe you can turn the slideshow into a relevant blog post. Got an infographic with no landing page? Why not create a landing page that goes into greater detail about the subject? Even older blog posts can be refreshed, updated and retargeted to fit current events.
With a little creativity and research, you’ll fill up your editorial calendar with great ideas. Start with one strategy and go from there. Get your content machine up and running again!
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