As seasoned content marketers, we’d like to believe that we can magically teleport ideas to the screen, ready to publish. We want to be as prolific as George R. R. Martin and produce volumes of engaging content, with readers hanging on our every word. But sometimes, with our favorite font at the ready, and a perfectly calibrated Retina display, we sit down to create, and… nothing. Just a blinking cursor reminding us that time is passing by. No matter how well-intentioned we are, there are times when the inspiration well runs dry, and everything grinds to a halt. If this has happened to you, you know how frustrating it can be.
Whether you are a veteran content strategist, or just starting out, this article will help break through the obstacles, with 13 quick ideas for when you’re out of content ideas. Some of these methods tend to be universally recommended by experienced digital marketers, and others are from our own tool chest.
From Neil Patel comes Ubersuggest, a free keyword tool that provides hundreds of suggestions based around your starting keyword. Simply enter a search term, and Ubersuggest will display a stream of associated keywords and long-tail variations. You can also add negative keywords, so the output is more specific and relevant to you. With metrics such as search volume, competition, and cost-per-click, and unlimited use without a subscription, Ubersuggest will be a powerful resource in your content production, and will help to identify high search volume topics that are worth covering.
2. Google Autofill
Another quick way to find variations on your primary topic is Google’s search box. As soon as you start typing your search phrase, Google will begin returning a list of related search results, which are often ignored. But these suggestions will actually give you insight into high-volume search topics, which will help you produce content that is relevant to your target audience. Essentially, these content topics are being handed to you – you just need to create the content around them.
3. Google Analytics
Study your analytics to see current trends in your own traffic flow. If there is a particular page or existing post that is connecting with high engagement, this will point the way to the kind of content that resonates with your audience, and where your efforts should be directed.
4. Ask a Kid
Sometimes, kid logic is the best way to stop overthinking. If you sell dental software, ask a kid what they would want to know about your product, with a little background about the challenges you are trying to solve. Because kids aren’t constrained by the same logic as adults, they may be able to answer with surprising clarity, and open the door to a completely new direction. Kids have boundless energy and creativity, and are a great source of ongoing inspiration.
5. Switch Formats
If you find you can't effectively communicate what you are trying to say with words, make a quick video or infographic. This will give your content longevity because it can be spread across social media, and may resonate with your audience in new ways.
6. Check Out Your Competitors
It never hurts to look around and take stock of the content your competitors are producing. Perhaps a particular topic is well covered, but there are multiple sub-topics that have not been properly addressed, and are high in search volume. This discovery will help inform your editorial calendar, and prioritize which content will likely resonate most.
7. Talk to Experts
Sometimes, you just want to see what others are buzzing about, and get ideas from them. But instead of rushing to social media, which can be distracting, there are well-curated websites like Quora where questions are posed, and then answered by a community of users. Based on your topic of interest, you can post your own questions, and subscribe to customizable feeds and daily digest emails. Because the answers are upvoted by quality, the top responses tend to be by industry experts, which means you’ll likely get more usable content from it than from that angry guy on Reddit who swears he’s right about everything.
8. Go Deeper with Keywords
In addition to Ubersuggest (above), there are many SEO tools that will help you identify high-search keywords, which can be used to create search-friendly content. If you are looking for keyword-specific ideas, websites such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Google Adwords Keywords Planner will be your best resources.
9. Change the Station
Finding the right soundtrack to channel your inner creativity can unleash the flow of ideas. If you are lucky enough to lock into the right music, you can condition your mind to get into the zone whenever you return to it:
Or, if your trusted Spotify station has run its course, switch it up completely and see if it changes your mindset. If your default is Debussy, try Danzig. It may work wonders.
10. Sleep on It
Creativity and sleep go hand in hand. Divergent thinking - thinking outside the box, in new and imaginative ways – is often the first thing that goes when sleep deprivation sets in. If you are struggling, do yourself a solid and put it off until the morning. A 5 a.m. session with a wicked strong cup of coffee may get you back on track.
As part of your social media strategy, lean on your existing audience with ongoing posts on Twitter, Instagram, or wherever they prefer to engage most. Ask which topics your audience would like to see covered next, and what questions they currently have. Each question received is a new piece of content waiting to be written. Don’t get lost in the social media vacuum though – remember, you are on a mission.
12. Connect With Customers
Besides you, it’s your customers who know your company better than anyone else. To help prompt new ideas, call or email your recent customers, and ask about the customer experience from their perspective. If you sell dental software, as in our example, your questions could include things like:
- How did you first hear about our dental software?
- Which dental software were you using before?
- What specific challenges were you trying to solve with our dental software?
- Were you considering other dental software companies besides ours?
- How has our dental software benefitted your practice?
From these responses, you can generate an abundance of content. For example, if your customers frequently name a specific competitor they were considering, this indicates that a head-to-head comparison guide would be beneficial. If you hear a particularly compelling success story, this would make for an ideal case study to share with others. You will delight your customers by making them collaborators, rather than just purchasers.
13. Start With The Title
Sometimes, it can be daunting to envision the content you want to produce, and how it will look in finished form. So instead of jumping straight in, start by creating a list of eight to 10 titles that sound intriguing, and would make for compelling articles. Then, with the list in front of you, circle the titles that would interest you most as a reader, or ask a colleague for their opinion. Once you hit on a strong title, it will help guide the content production process.
If you get stuck, there are tools to help produce title ideas, such as Portent’s Content Idea Generator. Starting with a keyword or search phrase, the website returns a title suggestion that could be used for an upcoming article. The results can be highly entertaining, but also remarkably effective.