Tips and Techniques To Prevent Writer’s Block
At one point or another, many content creators and writers suffer from a lack of ideas (aka writer’s block). They show up at the blank computer screen and don’t know what to write. It’s not their ability to write that’s the issue but rather finding the germ of an idea to develop into a complete article. (Here’s tips to ensure writing inspiration always strikes.)
Chris Brogan’s three tips for endless content topics
At BlogWorld Expo, prolific blogger, Chris Brogan talked about the challenge of coming up with ideas about which to develop content. Brogan mentioned three points that help him keep feeding the content engine.
- Jot ideas when you have them. Sometimes you have to stop focusing on getting good ideas and get away from your desk. Notice how you get your best ideas in the shower or before you fall asleep? Your brain may need to relax. Make sure to write them down or you’re likely to forget them. Writing them down allows your mind to work without thinking about it.
- Have an established framework. Use an editorial calendar or other form of scheduling system for your posts. This provides the start for your articles. In addition to developing content around a set of topics, have a special hook that you use on a regular basis. It can be a round up of the best posts or an interview. For example, Gini Dietrich does a Follow Friday profile.
- Show your passion. In terms of social media and content marketing, passion trumps talent. Use your passion to fuel your writing. (My advice is to skip what your third grade teacher said about writing!)
To ensure that you’re never at a loss for words, here’s a list of twenty-nine, sure-fire topic generators that any marketer can use to create quality content marketing.
Check the news.
- Cover the “hot” topics. Use trending topics on Google Trends or Twitter to develop an angle related to your content’s focus. The goal is to show a perspective on the topic that may not be obvious.
- Analyze current events and their impact on your niche. How does what’s happening in the world effect your audience? Don’t recycle the news. Instead enlighten your readers with new insights.
- Curate the news in your category. Collect the best articles on topics affecting your area along with a brief overview, your commentary on why the piece is worth reading, and a link to the original source. The benefit of this type of article is that it provides a structure. It doesn’t mean editing someone else’s content and adding your name to it.
- Assess recent research. Develop your own research or assess third party research. The aim is to offer new insights into the data that haven’t been discussed.
- Offer your perspective on current events. Think editorial on important trends in your field, breaking news with implications for your audience, or a discussion on a social media platform.
Look within your organization.
- Share your organization’s stories. People remember stories because they have a beginning, middle and end. Look within your firm to discover stories that will resonate with an audience. (Here are 29 corporate story types to get you started.)
- Recount your business’ past. Provide a context for your company and products. Tell how it was started and the people who helped build your firm. Highlight the human elements to add to the drama.
- Answer customers’ top questions. Think FAQs (aka, Frequently Asked Questions). Get input from your customer service and sales reps to know what the hot questions are. You can also ask your readers what their questions are.
- Provide executive insights. Depending your organization, it can be useful to have senior executives offer their perspective on current events or other issues.
- Let employees offer their perspective. This can be particularly useful if your organization has internal specialists. Be creative in the stories you choose to relate. Think about Dan Zarella of Hubspot and Matt Cutts of Google.
- Give the public a company tour. Provide an insider’s view of your organization. Let employees talk about the challenges they face and express their point of view. Use photos and video to enhance the post.
- Spotlight your customers. Ask customers for their point-of-view. Interview them about their experience with your product how they use it.
Give your audience an education.
- Train your audience. Think fun learning, not must attend classes. Include step-by-step tutorials with a mix of photos and text. Consider using videos to show your products in action and sway purchase decisions.
- Offer recipes and patterns. Explain to your audience how to do something related to your topic. Break tips into discrete steps. Examples include cooking recipes and knitting patterns.
- Use holidays as a special content hook. Grab people’s attention with targeted content. For example, write a post such as 15 Halloween Costumes to Make in Under 1 Hour, which is relevant every October. Go beyond ordinary celebrations. For example, feature Day of the Dead (November 1st ).
Get help from the experts.
- Interview experts of note in your area. This is helpful for writers who can’t think of what to write since you don’t need to think up the ideas yourself. Pose a set of questions to one guru and let him/her respond.
- Collect input from a variety of experts. Ask a group of experts in your area for their input on a single question or topic of interest.
- Round up a set of resources. Offer your readers a list of the best resources in your topic area. Put them in a meaningful order and include a comment about each one. Do your research and provide quality, useful links. Such lists not only bring readers to you but also establish you as a resource for useful information.
Leave your office to get inspired.
- Provide insights into cultural and/or political events. Of course, this depends on your content focus and where you’re located.
- Review new books and other openings. Give readers the main points and insights. Also cover movies, television and video games related to your market.
- Source content ideas at live events, panel discussions and conferences. Offer your perspective on the topic. If there are exhibits, gather input or other type of review. Also, gather insights from panelists, experts, attendees and sponsors.
- Be a reporter. Live blog events. The great part is that limited planning is required beyond being present at the conference or talk. Do straight reporting or incorporate your insights.
- Convert presentations. Adapt live presentations and webinars into an article. Tailor the piece to your audience. Remember the information must be able to be shared publicly.
Go beyond the text.
- Put pictures at the heart of your content. Use photographs and other visual content to attract reader interest.
- Speak into the camera. Skip the writing — just talk to your audience via video.
- Use an infographic. Compile your facts and combine them with graphics into a user-friendly infographic to attract readers with limited writing.
Compile a backup list of article topics.
- Maintain an inventory of article titles and topics you’d like to develop. There’s nothing like having to write about something you don’t want to cover to get your mind cranking out ideas for other columns. Keep a file of articles in development where you add ideas and additional text until you’re ready to compose the piece. It’s like the work’s half done before you start.
- Collect content ideas in a swipe file. Read widely across a variety of different media and emailings. This helps you see how your peers present different topics and what’s popular. Keep the articles that inspire you. Understand this doesn’t mean copying someone else’s ideas or content.
- Use another title as the starting point for a column. The objective is to use the same topic but to take another perspective. Again don’t copy another person’s article or idea structure. Just see what inspiration you get from the title.
When you’re facing a blank screen, the hardest act is jumping into your content development. Just start writing to get your fingers moving. Once you’re warmed up, take time to collect your thoughts and structure them into an article.
What other sure-fire content creation tips do you have to share?
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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/korosirego/4334120075/