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20 Ways to Break Through Writer's Block for Killer Content

When blogging for business, it’s not enough to throw out whatever comes to mind; rewrites and rehashings may get you a post for the day, but merely filling up your blog with content isn’t enough. 

On days when that writer's block gets in the way and writing good, strategic content seems like a climbing Mount Everest, all you have to do is pull up this post for some ideas.

Try any or all of these 20 approaches to break through writer's block, spark a good idea for a blog topic start writing some killer content:

1) Survey clients

Doing a survey of your clients and using the information you collect to create your content calendar can work wonders. It engages your readers in a way most content can’t, gives you insights you can leverage for future content, and gives plenty of good hooks to hang your writing on even if you have nothing in the tank. The key to writing for your audience is knowing what they want to know about. Ask them questions like, "What do you struggle with most? What are you interested in learning more about? Why do you use our services?," etc. to find key topics to write against. 

{Psst... A content calendar is a great way to plan ahead so writer's block doesn't matter. Download a free blog editorial calendar template here}

2) Use a tool

Search tools like Buzzsumo can help you look at your target keywords and find out what topics have done well in the past. When you’re publishing for a company, sometimes it’s a good idea to stick with a simple concept: what works. By using tools like Buzzsumo to investigate relevant keywords and see what’s thrived on the internet before, you’ll find it far easier to develop a killer article of your own.


3) Talk to your salespeople

One of the greatest sources of inspiration for useful content can come from inside your company. Talk to your sales team and find out what questions come up most often during the buying process. What objections do people usually have? Why are they buying our products or services? These can serve as the basis of your articles -- plus, it's content that salespeople can pull up and send to prospective clients as a resource. This makes life easier for both you and your sales team!

4) Turn to your blog data

If you’re collecting plenty of data on your blog, as you should be, you should be able to get quite a bit of insight into your readers and what’s making them tick.

Take a look at the articles that are receiving the most traffic: Are there keywords you can target to increase your organic search traffic? Can you spot interesting segments to target with content? Does a certain subject get a lot of interest, or a certain format encourage more sharing?

These questions can help you narrow in on what works well for your audience and what you can continue to write about. You can always do a post about the data, if you’d like, too. But mainly, to write killer content you need to know what your readers want. The data can help you understand that.

5) Review your personas

When you started blogging, you created a persona for your ideal customer and looked into their motivations for working with your company.

We often get caught on a few pain points that really interest us and forget the others exist—or fail to look deep enough into our personas and spot their unique interests and problems. Be especially alert to segmentation considerations here. If you have unique segments with unique concerns, developing content that’s appealing to their interests will be far more effective than content with a broader, shallower appeal.

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6) Timely articles

Asking “What's going on in my clients' industry that affects how they work?” is a great way to develop a top notch piece of content. For example, if you're a financial advisor, you'll likely want to write at least once a quarter on trends in the market and how they're affecting the industry and your clients. If you're a real estate company and you know most people start looking for houses in the summer, publish some articles in the spring about getting the buying process started.

The idea is capturing people when they are most likely thinking about your services or products.

Make sure you’re offering value with what you have to say, however; simply rehashing a description of the event or trend can get some attention and clicks, but you want killer content, not filler content. 

7) Repurpose content

Can you write a similar article to a past piece that did well, but for a different segment? The same idea expounded upon for two different demographics or lifestyles can be wildly different pieces.

For example, we primarily work with two different job roles: a CEO or founder and the marketing manager. These two groups of professionals have vastly different motivations, concerns and responsibilities. We recently wrote an article, "The Smart Marketer's Guide to Blogging for Business," which goes through step-by-step how it's done. Perfect for someone who'd be doing it, right?

Well, what if we re-wrote that article to be "The CEO's Guide to Blogging for Business." It wouldn't be the same exact article; we'd focus more on the results of blogging, why blogging is good for business and steps to begin a blogging program within your company. 

We can reuse some of the same concepts, ideas and research to repurpose an already written content for a new audience. 

8) Look at competitors

What is your competition writing about? Is it anything interesting? If not, what makes it bland? You can learn from others’ failures and successes. If you see something you thought would be great to write on, and no one liked it, that saves you some time. Of course, you might be able to do it better, as well. 

10x content is a concept in the content marketing world in which you take an article written by someone else and you try to improve upon it -- essentially you write that same article but 10 times better. Think about how you can do that with your competitors' content. 

9) Social media data

Just as you look at your blog post data, what articles have gotten the most clicks during your social media promotion? Is it different from what succeeds in your blog data? This is an especially great way to develop new content if you’re looking to expand your social media reach. 

If you're curating content on social media (publishing content that is not your own) then you can look at what other content has been doing well. If it's something you could write about, take a stab at recreating (and 10x-ing) that article.


10) Topics in industry publications 

When an industry article is published and makes a splash, that’s an opportunity for the savvy marketer. Jump in quickly, and offer your opinion while everyone’s talking about the bigger article. You might not like the idea of riding a bigger content creator’s coattails, but hey, you have writer’s block—and your readers will be quite glad to hear your opinion, especially if you hop in before they’ve formed their own.

11) Deep-dives on past topics

Don’t always try to come up with ‘new topics’. The most interesting articles go deeper and discuss topics more specifically. If every piece of content on your site is a layman’s overview of the subject, you’re not offering anything special over anyone else writing on the subject—or Wikipedia, for that matter.

Look at broader articles that you've written and pick out a couple topics that you can discuss in more depth. Dive deep, dig up numbers, discuss out interesting theories and hypotheticals, and explain the why of everything, then the why of those whys. 

12) Turn to your premium offers

What topic can you focus on that hold relevance to your premium offers? Make sure you’re thinking laterally here; this isn’t saying you should go write a bunch of shallow articles to try to sell products. You should write really interesting articles that just happen to link to your offers as a value-add. Driving business through your blog is not about just pushing your products or services constantly. You want to make sure you're offering new information to your readers. 

But, writing article topics around your offers will give your offers greater value and encourage more click-throughs. 

13) Update past content

Are there older articles you can update with new information? If you have reason to reverse an old opinion, that can be quite potent. Audiences understand that you’re not going to be correct 100% of the time, so issuing corrections or changing your position on an issue or idea actually improves your credibility as an expert. It proves you’re actively improving, and value accuracy. 

However, updating past content doesn't necessarily mean changing your stance. You may be able to offer newer, more relevant research or case studies to add to the conversation.

HubSpot calls this "optimizing the past." Using a keyword-based conversion optimization methodology, they increased the conversion rate of the post by 240%. They looked at posts with high organic search traffic and focuses on writing for a specific keyword that people were using to find these posts. 


14) Try a new format

Take a blog post and turn it into an infographic or video, or vice versa. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

This can generate a crazy amount of new content, but make sure you’re not throwing a bunch of resources into formats that don’t work for your audience or goals. As much fun as turning your favorite series of blog posts into video lectures, you ought to test the waters a bit first.

Choose your best article and test it out in a video graphic. Before spending thousands on an infographic, make a small-scale, shareable and put it in your blog post to see how it does. 

15) Write the negative and positive

Take a "Things you should do" article and invert it to create "Things you should not do" content. You can play this completely straight and let the obvious tongue-in-cheek of what you’re saying explain the joke (for example,  Buzzfeed loves to do this with articles like "Reasons Why You Should Never Have a Pit Bull as a Pet," which actually proves the opposite).  

Also, make sure that if there’s an implicit criticism in what you’re writing, it’s not going to come across as insulting to your readers. Saying ‘this is what a complete idiot would do in this situation’ is only amusing if the reader hasn’t themselves done that thing. But that goes without saying, right?


16) Play devil’s advocate

A good position stands up to criticism, and comes out stronger for it—and you’ll get a lot of attention when you do it right. Taking something you normally advocate or argue against, then reversing your position for an article or two, can produce some really fun results. Be earnest and make the best arguments you can—you can refute yourself in another follow-up, for even more fun.

Just make sure you don’t set off something you can’t handle: self-immolation’s fun as a controlled stunt, but it can get out of hand quickly if you’re not careful. 

17) Try a metaphor

Extended metaphors may not be great ways to argue, but they can produce great content, especially with the right segments. Note that last part again: with the right segments.

That means you need to make sure the metaphor you’re working with is relevant to your audience, or at least a subsection of who you’re targeting with this content. If you’re writing for an audience of older Americans, a soccer metaphor might not be the best direction to go -- but football might!  

18) Delve deep into a relevant example

Taking a good example of the concepts, products, ideas you talk about in the wild, then delving deep into it, produces incredibly relevant content. This can lead to content such as multi-post case studies on a particular business, analyses of how particular companies went wrong by failing to apply certain ideas, or presentations of existing real-world problems in the news which could be alleviated with a particular product or service.

19) Build around another piece of media

A good chart, video, or article can quite easily generate more content analyzing it. So can a bad one, but you’ll likely have less interesting things to say about a genuinely terrible piece of media; criticism is easier than praise, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to produce anything anyone wants to read, watch. Criticism can also be riskier.

That’s why a positive deep dive into a single image or clip is a great way to develop something unique and interesting -- especially if it has interesting and relevant data or tells a compelling story that your audience can connect with.

20) Pick a fight

While you should always keep your cool when blogging, some of the best content in history has been written as a "hot shot." You’re going to want to start with a good enemy to get good content; there’s no real point to waging a war on a living strawman, even if doing so does make it really, really easy to win.

Think about common issues that your clients face or others in your industry face. Is it a tool or theory that you have a bone to pick with? Is there a certain method of thinking or business philosophy that you want to call out and change the perception of?

Go Get 'Em, Tiger.

There’s one final thing you should understand when blogging for business: if you can come up with an interesting idea and execute on it, even though you don’t feel like it, your skills will carry you and produce killer content—whether your muse shows her head or not.

Some other posts that will help you: 

About the Author: Samantha Anderson

Samantha Anderson

Samantha is the COO and co-founder of 41 Orange, inc, a marketing agency. She is also currently a member of the Board of Directors for San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Balboa Park’s resident classical ballet school since 1945. Hailing from the agency world, Sam has worked with Fortune 500 tech, financial, and consumer brands, including Intel, Petco and LPL Financial, to shape their online presence and reach their target audiences more effectively through social media and beyond. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, emphasis in public relations from San Diego State University.