When you start off a content strategy (or any kind of marketing strategy, really), it’s fun, it’s new, it’s exciting. And then suddenly, after a few months, it’s not anymore. With limited run campaigns, this is less of an issue since by the time the campaign is ending, your enthusiasm is likely drawing to a similar close. With a recurring outreach strategy though, it’s much more important to keep that momentum going.
But inevitably, at some point creative blocks set in, topics become hard to come by, and writing becomes more of a chore than a fun way to interact with your audience. And when that happens, you need to find a way to generate new ideas and get excited about content again. Here’s 7 creative ways to find interesting and relevant topics to write about – regardless of your industry.
1. Use Google’s keyword tool to find topics. Type in a keyword or question that you’ve created content for already, and Google will populate the results with similar queries that you can use as a starting point for new content ideas. This is always the first place I turn when I’m looking for new editorial topics because it’s the quickest and easiest way of generating some good ideas. Plus, you can easily see how many people are searching for those terms. Built-in keyword optimization! Woo!
2. Chat up the sales team. Your sales team is a pro at preempting common questions and concerns that are a barrier to a sale. Pick their brain and find out what makes potential customers take pause before buying or signing up. Then, figure out how to make that into a piece of content. This type of content is great because it can help speed up the sales process. You get useful content that your company leads already want, and your sales team gets to focus on closing sales, not answering the same question fifty times a day.
3. Hit up customer service. Guess who has the low down on the most common problems that your customers have? Yup, customer service. Take the sales team approach, and find out what issues your current clients face and use that to create useful content. Oftentimes, these can be stretched out into a multi-part series – especially if they tackle a complex or highly technical problem.
4. Do some enemy recon. Take a look at your competitors. What are they writing about? Did they find an angle on a topic that’s really interesting? Find an interesting topic that you haven’t covered and use it as a launching off point for new content. Be sure to find a unique angle or add your own perspective, and don’t just copy their opinions. Cause you know, that shit’s wrong.
5. Find a popular opinion in your field, and debate it. A lot of companies are loathe to ruffle a few feathers online, instead opting for the “let’s piss off the least amount of people possible” approach. Unfortunately, this usually means watered down opinions and manifests itself as bland, uninspired copy. Are you an expert in your field? Is your company an industry leader? Then for f*ck’s sake – act like it. What’s the point of having an opinion if you never share it? So what if some people get upset by it. If you know what you’re talking about and can make a strong argument, your customers, leads, and peers should hear it.
Don’t think this approach works? We did this to one of the top SEO companies in the US. A lot of people said we were disrespectful. Except the CEO of the company we blasted. He thought it was great and shared it with thousands of people. (In an act of thanks, we sent him a package of Kit Kat bars. No feelings were hurt, and some excellent Twitter banter followed suit, providing hours of entertainment. We think we made a friend that day.)
6. Search the news. Unless you’re writing about dental equipment for dogs, or another incredibly narrow industry, there are generally news stories that can be used as fodder for an article here and there. The key to this is making sure your content isn’t just filler and is actually relevant to your audience. Think legislation that directly or indirectly affect customers; economy-based news that affects your industry – you see where I’m going with this. In fact, if you’re not getting regular Google alerts for company and/or industry news and trends, shame on you. This is so easy, it’s almost painful. So, go do that now.
7. Dig into the community. What’s your community? Where do thought leaders, customers, and movers and shakers in your industry congregate online? Maybe they’re hanging out in LinkedIn discussion groups. Maybe they’re chatting on city-data forums. Maybe they’re on social media. Wherever they are, find them, lurk around, and see who’s talking about what. If you work in a tech-related field, this is a great way to find content ideas, since tech forums are constantly filled with technical questions that you can answer in a blog post, or an ebook, or a white paper.
Find topic ideas isn’t terribly hard if you put a little work into it. Generally, the biggest barrier to creative content block is yourself. Take an hour or two, pull up your web browser, and give yourself some research time to find out what’s going on in your industry and how you can leverage that information to create some kickass content for your readers.
Have any amazing content creation strategies that I failed to cover? Think my content is bland and uninspired and that I’m full of crap? Let me know in the comments!
Love the bit about putting the SEO company on blast. A lot of people are scared to be controversial for fear of putting off their readers, but these are often the most viral and engaging pieces.
It’s true! Those are generally the posts that go viral and get the most engagement. Thanks for the comment!
+1 for customer help desk and sales team. Create content for real people and solve real problems!
Totally agree! The sales and customer service teams are one of the best (and most overlooked) sources of content. And this is the stuff that will get lots of views from current and potential customers.