What To Do When You've Run Out Of Content Ideas
9th August 2013
You know you have to make content - every day if possible, and it's got to be quality. It's got to go viral, and have a catchy title. Oh, and it's got to inform so people are linking to it for years to come - you can't be an authority with just click-bait.
Sometimes this crushing sense of a never-ending content stream can end up with a burnt out content writer. You can feel like you're running on empty when you're churning out the words and even worse: you're running out of ideas.
And the idea is the hard part. The words seem to fall out of you once you have a title in mind. Not to worry however, we're here with a few little tricks you can apply to get idea generation going again.
1. The Grid
This is for those times when you just need something done. You can set it up on a spreadsheet or just scribble it on paper - it doesn't matter! First on the X axis, write all the themes used on your blog, and along the Y axis you can write all the different types of people you're writing for. pick one, find a crossing and you have a scenario - for example, for a gardening blog you might put, amongst other themes, "fighting weeds" and on the other axis you might have "beginners" (alongside "older gardeners", "professionals" and "gardening for children") - so now you have "fighting weeds for beginners". Add a standard structure (like a list or guide) and you get a title like "How To Avoid Weeding Mistakes All Beginners Make" or "5 Easy Ways To Stop Weeds Spreading For Beginners".
Why this is good: structure improves clarity and speed of writing - when you have a structure there's less chance of ambling between the laterally connected ideas in your head: the tighter the first draft the less editing you need to do, which is always a bonus in time constrained situations.
2. Reach Out
When you're out of good ideas, but you have a little more time, one great way of getting content started is to reach out to others for help. This doesn't mean outsourcing to China but that you should send a few emails, or tweets if you have enough social presence. Find industry experts on your subject and ask them a few questions - or even better do an interview with them over email. If this doesn't seem to garner too much of a response then talk to commercial interests on the subject - there's few things a press team like more than someone asking them for news on a product. You're likely to be able to gather a ton of ideas from either source (whether it's from the expert or the commercial interest!) and in some cases you'll have a collaborator writing half the content!
Why this is good: the information will be fresh from an expert source giving you a high quality article full of useful stuff and the burden of being interesting on your part ends at asking the right questions.
3. Dig Into Data
Are you leveraging all your tools for generating ideas? You should be. Webmaster Tools is your friend here, looking at the "Search Queries" report will give you insight into the kind of things people are searching for when they come to your site or when it appears in the SERPs. While at the top there will be obvious searches for your brand or your main product areas (I hope so anyway) there's plenty of much more interesting searches which turn up at the lower-click-but-reasonable-impressions area. Firstly, a warning: people search for weird things, however innocuous you think your subject matter is there's going to be some odd search queries. You should be able to dig down to the longer tail queries and find the areas your site isn't quite covering - yet!
Sometimes you'll have to work out the situation from the search term. On your gardening blog you might find someone looking for "long lead hedge trimmers", and this person is likely looking for a long lead because they have a large garden - so rather than writing directly about "long lead hedge trimmers" you could write about "Tips For Buying Gardening Tools For Large Gardens" or similar.
Why this is good: you're working over your subject matter and find the areas which you're weak or haven't covered properly - and as a bonus you can measure how effective it is with very little effort!
Hopefully there's enough here to get your brain back in gear when it comes to writing content for your site. If none of this works for you, or you want to spend more time running your business instead of writing about it, SilverDisc's content services can provide professional, quality content with your brand in mind.