This blog was originally published in 2017 but was updated with new information.
It happens to the best of us: We sit down to hash out some content strategy and we end up staring at a blank screen, empty Trello board or blank piece of paper. Even though I find it pretty easy to come up with tons of content ideas, there are times I don’t know where to even start brainstorming new content.
Don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t feel compelled to create a fluff piece, just for the sake of making sure a blog post goes out next Tuesday. It’s not worth it.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t write a fluff piece, just for a blog post to go out next Tuesday. It’s not worth it.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
First of all, you hopefully have a contingency plan. As in, you’ve planned ahead, so your next content idea doesn’t have to be tomorrow’s (or today’s) blog post. Yes, your first step is always to be planned a bit in advance.
But aside from that, it’s important to know what to do to get your idea-generating, content-creating mojo back. Here’s how:
Take a Break
Easier said than done, especially if you’re Type A and want to have your content library filled to the brim, with no holes. But there’s nothing wrong with taking a week off from time to time. You may find that after a week or so off the content-creation train, you’re more creative and prepped for creating content in bulk.
I like to create content for myself at certain times of the month, while reserving other days of the month for my client work. It helps me to hyper-focus on my own stuff while giving clients my full attention the rest of the time. It’s easier to me to get in the right frame of mind for myself and my clients, making me more productive all the way around.
Talk to Your Audience
If you’re not sure what content to create for your audience, try asking the very people who will be consuming it. Your audience is your absolute best resource for coming up with content ideas. They know what they want, and they can tell you how they want it too–whether it’s a blog post, a video, a webinar or through another medium.
Here’s an important thing to remember: It’s not necessary to ask everyone in your audience what kind of content they want. And posting blanket questions on social media (whether it’s on your Facebook page or in a Facebook group) isn’t an effective strategy for finding out what your audience wants. Because not everyone who interacts with you online is your ideal audience. Read more about surveying your audience in my recent blog post on the topic.
[bctt tweet=”Your audience is one of your most powerful sources for content ideas. Have you tapped into them yet?” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
Scour Social Media
I admit I’m on social a bit more than I should be, but I never fail to get a killer content idea (for myself or my clients) when I’m interacting there. Facebook groups are where people go to post questions, ask for help and complain about some of the more mundane (or technical) parts of business. It’s a great, free resource to find everything people are talking about relating to business.
Visit your favorite Facebook group (you know, the one that’s filled with your ideal audience) and click on the “Search this group” on the left side of the discussion page. Type in a few keywords and you’ll see every post that mentions those words. Use this information to help guide your brainstorming process.
[bctt tweet=”Need #blog ideas? Pay attention to what others are asking and make note.” username=””]
Check Your Competition
I’m not suggesting that you copy whatever your competition is creating. Far from it. Rather, see what kind of content others in your industry are putting out there and take it on a new spin. Find out what the big names are up to and dive deeper into a particular topic.
This is a great “state of the industry” task that can get you more insight into new trends and ideas. Just be sure that you’re using these ideas to develop your own unique ideas and thoughts, rather than taking what you find strictly at face value.
[bctt tweet=”Use your competition for inspiration, but generate your own ideas and opinions.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
Revisit Business Goals
I base all my content around what’s coming down the line in my business, which is based on what my audience is asking for. I have a big long-term goal and I’m working backward from there to drip out content around a certain event coming up (more on this next year!). Doing this helps me to create relevant content that starts preparing my audience for things well in advance. So when you have big and long-term goals, it’s easier to develop content ideas because you know where you want that content to take your audience.
Make a List
I keep an ongoing list of possible content ideas, with all the facets of my business in mind. Think about everything your prospective (and current) clients should know about when they work with you. For example, if you’re a graphic designer you’ll want clients to have some knowledge about branding, website design, etc.—even if it’s not a service that you offer. You can blog about anything that complements your business or recruit guest bloggers to help with the content.
Now that you have some larger, overarching topic ideas, think about the smaller, more focused topics that relate. For branding, you could blog about colors, brand voice, consistency, social media, messaging, images, etc. For website design, you’ll want your audience to know how important consistency is, how to find a website designer and more. The idea isn’t that you only blog about your own business but that you provide value that sets you up as an industry leader.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t just blog about your business—provide value and set yourself up as an industry leader.” username=””]
No, we’re not writing romance blogs here (unless you’re so inclined). But you can write about topics that fire you up or get you excited about what you do. Those tend to be the most well-received blog posts, even if they have nothing to do with your business. They help your audience learn more about you as a person, allowing them to connect with you on a deeper level. I don’t know about you, but when I have a deeper connection with a client, I always end up enjoying the work that much more!
If you’re still struggling with what to write about, I have a list of 25 blog ideas for any business that I invite you to use and reuse! Or check out how I came up with 150 content marketing ideas one year. Even better? Repurpose your content in new ways, which I explain in the video below.
Need help tapping into your audience? Grab my templated audience survey, which includes a sample email to send to some select audience members.