Every blogger has faced this situation. You’re staring into your computer screen waiting, wondering — what do I write about today?
Content marketing is a massive marketing force. Every day in the life of the internet, two million blog posts are published. According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, marketers have no intent to loosen up their massive content output. Most marketers plan to either maintain or increase the amount of content that they publish.
With all this producing, you might reach a point at which you run out of good ideas. Either you’ve already written it, someone else has already written about it, or you lack the mental energy to come up with something original. What do you do now?
You’re in good company. The second-biggest challenge for marketing professionals is the “lack of content creation.” (The first challenge is “lack of an effective strategy.”) In other words, a lot of other marketers are having a hard time drumming up good topics.
Even if you let your blog lapse for a few days, you’re not going to completely ruin your marketing strategy. It’s true that blogging six to eight times a month usually earns more leads than less frequent blogging (three to five times a month). But if you skip a few times, it’s going to be okay.
Don’t write. Read.
The best way to keep your mind in constant topic-generation mode is to maintain a steady diet of reading. It really doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you’re reading.
Reading, even in genres and topics far afield of your niche, is great mental exercise. Reading fires up the mind, putting it in creative mode, and inspiring ideas.
Write down every idea.
Note-taking has immense value for capturing blog ideas. When you’re exercising, reading, walking, eating, or even napping, you may suddenly get the inspiration for a killer blog post. You think to yourself, “I’ll write it down later.”
Later never comes. Instead, the mind promptly discards your killer idea, and you’re left with a hollow spot in your memory. Force yourself to write these ideas down as soon as you’re struck with them. Your phone’s notes app, or even the proverbial back of the napkin are the perfect place to sketch out your next viral blog idea.
Unless you’ve been dwelling under a rock or other hermitage, you’ve probably heard of Buzzsumo.
Buzzsumo is the ultimate trending tool for popular blog articles. If you want to find out what’s being shared on social, simply plug the topic into Buzzsumo, and presto! Out comes a list of the most-shared content. You can specify which website you want to analyze. For example, if you want to find out the most popular article on Forbes, you can enter http://www.forbes.com/, and quickly discover which articles are most shared on social media.
Obviously, your goal isn’t to steal content. Your goal is to understand what’s hot, why it’s hot and use this information to inspire your own content.
Make a list of problems.
Some of the most popular blog articles are solution-focused. How many times have you clicked on a “how-to” article? Excellent blog articles help readers overcome a problem.
The best method for creating such an article is to come up with a list of problems. What is the biggest challenge in your industry? What daily hurdles are you trying to overcome in your niche? What unique problems do you deal with?
There’s blog fodder in these conundrums. Don’t just talk about the problem; solve it! Everyone wants to overcome pain points. If you can successfully propose a solution, then you’re way ahead of the game.
What if you’re written on the topic before? Do it again. A fresh take on the topic won’t hurt anyone.
When all else fails, use a formula.
For all your love of originality and uniqueness, sometimes you just have to use a formula. Desperate times call for desperate idea generation measures.
The Internet is full of fill-in-the-blank blog title suggestions, like these, courtesy of CrazyEgg.
- How To [Accomplish Something] In [Short Amount of Time]
- How To [Receive Benefit] Without [Undesired Expenditure]
- The Unbelievably Easy Way To [Accomplish Something]
Scoff though you may, give it a try. At the very least, you’ll get inspired. You don’t have to use the formulas to create a headline, but you can use the formulas to inspire a set of titles and topics.
Tell a story about yourself.
There is value in writing about yourself. Maybe it sounds a bit narcissistic, but hear me out. Everyone has a personal experience that they can share. Plus, people love to read about other’s lives.
Writing about your personal experience is the quickest way to get into writing mode, and to come up with some unexpectedly popular ideas. Here’s a starter list:
- What are you doing right now? Write about it, and coach other industry professionals through your experience.
- What is on your schedule today? Explain a day in the life of someone in your niche.
- What is your morning work routine? Turn it into an article about how “[Your Job] Prepares for the Day.”
- What advice can you share to those who are just getting started in your industry?
- What do you do differently from others in your industry?
- What skills do you have that help you succeed in your industry?
- How did you get into your industry? What interested you?
Start writing, and you’ll be surprised at what happens next. A few minutes later, you may have a half-written blog post or a handful of topics to carry you through the next several months.
Running out of topic ideas is a paralyzing event. When you glance ahead to an empty list of drafts or realize that your editorial calendar is blank, it can create a pang of panic.
Don’t let that happen. You don’t need more creative chutzpah. You just need to work smart, come up with engaging ideas, and turn it into meaningful content.
This article was written by Neil Patel from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Originally published on Jul 21, 2015 9:58 AM, updated Sep 2, 2016