What to write when you just can’t brainstorm another thing

Your best content might be planned over time. Maybe it’s a content map to follow or a product launch to support. When you don’t have anything lined up, that doesn’t have to keep you from connecting with your audience.

I’m going to list steps to come up with a new idea and write about it this week.

Before you start, kick your self-doubt to the curb. That’s usually the biggest obstacle when you’re trying to create. It won’t be good enough. I’m not prepared.

Maybe. But consider this. It’s going to be good because it’s going to lead to better. It might spur new ideas or let you practice your writing. Even more, it could light up a connection with a reader that never would have been there.

Now you need a topic. The toughest part, right? Theses are some of our favorite tips you might not have tried yet.

1. Reach out to your sales people and customer service reps

The front-line to your customers will have the most candid, valuable insight about what your audience wants to know.

Ask them about the pain points:

What questions do customers ask most?

What don’t they understand?

Not only do their comments point out holes in your existing content, but they’re focused on the exact people you want to reach. They know what your audience craves.

Your sales team can also tell you about the obstacles they have to overcome with leads. Create content inspired by the things that leads are most curious about. Ask them how they handle a tough question–or maybe there’s one they don’t have an answer for. Honestly acknowledging the gap might do more to ease people’s minds better than nothing at all.

2. Share an insider’s point of view.

There’s something alluring about getting info that you wouldn’t usually know. It connects with readers at a gut level. They want to know. Think about insights that you can share that come from a unique insider’s point of view.

A professional photographer offers the worst things to wear for your family pics

Why bad grammar isn’t so bad — an English major’s confession

5 things (that aren’t flossing) your dentist wishes you’d do

I cleaned houses for 3 years. Here are the household products you’re wasting money on.

Be careful of the click baity nature of these titles. Many audiences have grown so weary of them that they’re conditioned to ignore it (or beg someone to save them a click.) The key is to deliver on your promise.

The insider POV not only kick starts some ideas, but those ideas are likely to get some traction in your open rates or readership.

Nancy Harhut, a behavioral science and marketing expert, says that behind-the-scenes looks, insider tips, and confessions create “content that people crave.”

3. Look to Google to find gaps in your content.

There could be dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of things that people search on Google that bring up your competitors as a suggested result with your business nowhere in sight. Here’s your idea-starter: close the gaps where your competitors are ranking for searches where you’re not.

SpyFu can help you find what people are searching when your competitor’s content shows up in Google results. Even more helpful, you can see the actual content.

Use SEO gaps to come up with more content ideas

Enter your own domain into the search bar on SpyFu.com and click enter. Scroll down the results page to the “Competitor Shared Keywords” section (AKA Kombat). That “weakness” section will show you places where your competitors have a good hold on a corner of the internet where you could use some presence.

Here’s a more detailed step-by-step guide of how to find those missing keywords.

Further, this video expands on how to weigh those pieces of content so that you can build on the strongest ideas

4. Rethink (and update) your value proposition for the better.

You know that point when you tell a friend about a movie you really like and when you describe the plot out loud, it just lands with a thud? If that happened with your marketing, you’re not alone.

That movie was amazing, and so is your product. It’s just that sometimes we miss the mark when the way we describe is is caught somewhere between a vague benefit or a feature leaving people wondering “so what?”

We’ve got a favorite method that solves the issue. Follow this exercise to help someone finally connect with the best parts of your product or services. Then, pour it into new content.

The nature of this method nearly guarantees that you will create a compelling article, and odds are you’ll end up with even more ideas with a refreshed point of view. Which leads to the next tip…

5. Try other formats

To be fair, the article is about brainstorming ideas to write, but content comes in all shapes and types. We like the idea of breaking an existing article into another format.

  • Make a video from what you wrote
  • Turn one section of an article into an infographic
  • Break the article into tweets. Summarize sections only-don’t shoot for a summary of the overall article. More is more!
  • Holding a webinar? The Q&A section at the end is high-value content. Turn that on its own into a blog post.

6. Multiply your ideas.

Right back before step 1 you were searching for new avenues for content. Here’s where you make a gift to yourself. Now that you have at least one new idea from any of steps 1 through 5, you’re going to turn it into more.

Cut it up.

Cheese pizza cut into slices

 

It increases the quality of what you deliver

The more specific you are, the more room you have to serve up helpful details that resonate with an audience. Imagine those “how to” videos that get the comments “This was exactly what I needed.” or “It solved my problem perfectly.” It’s hard to nail that kind of value when you are trying to cover too much territory.

Limits breed creativity.

There are thousands of articles like “How to decorate your apartment on a budget” because it’s enticing content. However, if you limit yourself to specific angles like “How to decorate your rental on a budget when you can’t paint or “How to decorate your living room without buying new furniture” then you have a challenge that forces you to be more creative with your solutions.

Those limits lead to content that stands apart from the same repeated tips. Its unique take makes it more shareable and more devourable.

Allows you to be an expert.

Combine these benefits: multiple types of content + quality details + creative take , and you have the makings of an expert.

The more specific you get, the better your chances of owning the space. Specialize! You can write about leather care, or you could write about caring for leather saddles (or leather purses). Either way, keep them separate. Both have different circumstances that call for attention. (The dust of the saddle vs. purses having been set down on a dirty floor. )

It’s likely that few others have walked in this exact space.

Your authority makes you more compelling to your audience, and it drives your confidence to keep creating more.

 

Now let’s get to it. Write away!