Creating exciting content on a regular basis to keep your readers engaged and coming back for more is tough, and something we creatives face daily. How do you keep creating fresh ideas?
Don’t lose readers by churning out half-baked ideas, let them percolate in your mind and brainstorming zones; this will help you add wild spice and unique creativity, giving your readers content that’s useful and of value to them.
With an organised system, and some practice, you will start creating some great content pieces. So without further delay, here are 10 methods to help you create new content.
1. Tap into your best resource – your customers
Customer comments, feedback, and pain points are a great source of inspiration. Someone’s question will likely be another person’s, and if you address that question with a quality piece of content to the public, it’s a win-win.
On top of having fresh content ideas, by taking the time to answer these consumer questions with articles, you are actually giving something of value to customers. This will help to grow brand loyalty, and brand awareness. On top of this, people are more likely to share your content if they have found it useful and engaging.
2. Ask your sales team for their most frequently asked questions
Your role as a marketer is to drive sales, but what better way to drive sales than by combining forces with your sales team? Help them sell your products more efficiently by answering questions they frequently receive in your articles.
Don’t explicitly sell your product in the article, but find ways of sharing content that your product addresses directly.
This will enable your sales reps to get down to business when out in the market, referring people to the blog whilst answering any questions.
3. Get personal in your posts
There is no better way to build a connection with your audience than by showing them that you too are human, opening up and being honest with your audience. Share an experience you, or your business has been through, be it a positive or negative one.
Perhaps it’s something trivial, such as how your team managed to be incredibly productive that day there was a power outage, how one of your team members loves to grow sunflowers, or something more challenging, such as that one super huge issue you had where a client couldn’t decide on a final design 20 minutes before it needed to go to print.
Whatever it is, be specific and honest – your readers will pick up on fake news.
The result is that your readers will learn something new, and you’re building a better relationship with your audience. Getting personal in your posts is your chance to tell your own story, just think back to the past and write about something that happened.
4. Read a bit, then some more, and then some more
Reading books and blog posts is more than a time filler whilst you chow down at your desk; it still is one of the greatest sources for inspiration and education. Oh, and stick to paper books for a more authentic experience.
By opening yourself up to new sources, you are allowing yourself to get inspired by another author’s thoughts, points and musings. Allow yourself to be consumed in this world, and soon enough, light bulbs will be going off in your head with your next killer content idea.
A great read (or view) on this is Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday on creating 10X Content. The premise is that everything you create needs to be 10 times better than what everyone else is doing in the same field. It’s easy to dismiss this idea, but if your content is not actually 10 times better than the next best article, why create it in the first place?
Here’s a challenge for you: Read about one new thing every day, commit to learning one previously unexplored idea for the next month, keep doing it and you’ll soon discover how easily ideas come to you.
5. Keep a notebook and a pen handy
Now, this may seem like a slightly odd practice for content ideas, but trust us on this one. Carry a notebook and a pen wherever you go.
Every opportunity you have, whether its planning a new project with your clients, weekly check-in meetings with the team, or simply a walk to the kitchen, these are all goldmines for new content ideas. The best ideas pop in your head when you’re idle or doing something else, so allow that time to happen and note it down when it does.
In meetings, if the room gets excited by someone’s idea or point, take lots of notes; these will make for great starting points or titles. The topic already has your boss or clients interested, now imagine how good it would be if you added your creativity and talent?
A small handful of these notes might be useless, but you can be sure to find a golden nugget or two to work with, and turn into a blog post that will receive bountiful attention! Don’t underestimate the little details that we keep forgetting, smart people take notes!
6. Open the taps
There are only so many ideas you can generate on your own before you hit a wall. Convince your colleagues to stick around for an extra half hour at the end of the day, and crack open a few beers. The relaxed environment will help you bounce ideas off one another, fuelling the creative process and coming up with some killer content ideas.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with working on your content strategy alone, it’s always a great idea to get a second, or third set of eyes on the project. Who knows, Jim from accounts may have some out of this world ideas for your company’s blog.
By changing your environment and mixing up the atmosphere between you and your colleagues, you are inviting new ideas and new thought processes into your work. Not to mention, these informal meetings are a great way to bond as a team.
7. Ask colleagues about something they have used
People love to read reviews and opinions, especially from their favourite company, blog, or author. Leverage the fact that humans love to complain, and read peoples complaints. It helps make people feel more normal, and if you take a look at social media, a lot of popular content is negative and involves a complaint.
No matter what industry you are in, you can leverage this content style to work for you. To get started with the ideation process, simply ask a colleague how their journey to work was, or ask them what they thought about that new game they just bought. This will give you great first hand experiences people have had with certain items, or processes.
This information can help you in one of 2 ways:
- Way 1 is that you see a process is a little misunderstood and that clarification, or perhaps a guide, would make it so much simpler. This will help you attract all sorts of readers from different walks of life than usual and will help you expand your reach!
- Way 2 is a review. People are trusting online reviews more than ever before. Even if a consumer has the choice between a well-known restaurant that is tried and tested, versus the number 1 rated restaurant on trip advisor, they will go for the trip advisor restaurant 90% of the time.
In fact, a reporter from Vice faked a restaurant in London and created a handful of reviews to see if it is possible to get it to the #1 spot for restaurants in London. After 6 months of hard work, their fake restaurant was the highest ranked restaurant in London.
8. Collaborate with competition
This may seem like a very scary idea, letting the outside world, including your competitors, see what goes on inside your business; knowing your thoughts and plans.
A lot of companies shy away from this, but those who don’t really benefit from it. One such company is Distilled, a marketing agency based in London, who hold a number of yearly conferences called SearchLove.
They are all about collaboration, it’s not just people from Distilled who are presenting their ideas and opening windows into their companies and methodologies at these events. Experts and competitors from all over the world join in what has now become a staple digital marketing conference.
Collaboration is a breeding group for content ideas – sharing experience can be beneficial to learn more from the experiences of others, and to establish yourself as a thought leader when you open up.
9. Make use of current events and be present
To create exciting content you need to be current, so open your twitter feed daily and see whether any trending topics fit your content strategy. Pick the best from the bunch, don’t overuse exhausted memes, and create content that your readers will instantly recognise and relate to.
You can try titles such as “X Things we learnt from (event X)” or “How (event X) changed the way we do X”. These allow you to play on the size of the event and show that your business fully understands the impacts, and causes of the events you have chosen; placing you as an authoritative figure in your industry, no matter how niche or broad.
10. Expand a short list post
Everyone has read a “15 (more!) Ways to…” headline whilst scrolling through their favourite blog section. Whilst it sounds like the most half-baked list idea, and you probably find yourself sat there thinking something along the lines of, “must be a slow day at the office”, it’s actually a brilliant content idea.
For starters, it shows that you are truly an authoritative figure within your industry as you can expand upon your list even further with a lot of fresh new ideas and approaches. Not only this, but it helps your readers try alternative methods, especially if they didn’t get on with one from your previous list post.
Alternatively, don’t stop at 15 in your list post! There is no reason to stop there, if you truly are the master of your industry, and relating back to point number 4, what’s the point if it’s not the best article out there?
Pick a number and write enough content to fill it, do not number the points before you’ve written an article. If you commit to writing ‘X’ amount then there is a good chance you will coast through it. If you don’t limit yourself, you will think deeper and chances are, you’ll go beyond the obvious points and more into specific details that are harder to think of – but more points pay off.
A great example that we love, plus it makes for a fun Friday recipe book, is Country Living’s 93 of the Most Delicious Things You Can Do With Chicken for Dinner. This list is fairly in-exhaustive, and if you make it through all 93 dishes we want to hear about it! (Seriously, drop us a comment below, you deserve a special shout-out)
This extended list style post gives readers real added value and highlights you as an authoritative figure within your industry. It’s a great way to stand out and show that you are the master of knowledge. You spent so long learning and practicing, spend a little time and show it off to the world, we promise you your readers will love it! (And google too! Don’t forget bonus SEO points for long form content)
BONUS 11. Hire a creative agency
If you are still struggling to generate new content ideas, you can always turn to a creative agency to handle that aspect of your marketing strategy.
Creative agencies come in all shapes, sizes, and flavours, so you can be sure to find the perfect partner for you.
We can’t promise that you will never get writers block again, but these ideas should help set you back on track.
Go out there and try applying these new methods of creating content ideas to your content strategy. Before you know it, you will have more titles than you can physically write for.
If you prefer to use a different method, let us know below in the comments!