13 ways to drum up new content ideas

A lot of writer’s block stems from not having a topic to discuss. Here are some ways to kick-start the process and keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

If you want to blog regularly but can never think of what to say, you’re not alone. Every writer knows there’s nothing worse than writer’s block. In the realm of blogging, it’s all too common to find yourself asking, “What should I write about today?” or “Will my readers care about this?”

If these questions sound familiar, take heart-there’s hope. Below are 13 ideas for drumming up new topic ideas, so the next time you’re stumped, you’ll know what to do!

Popular search trends: When you’re not sure what to write about, ask yourself what your readers are looking for. Go to Google Trends and type in keywords related to your industry. What comes up will not only be a chart of search trends for those keywords over time but also, in the bottom right-hand column, related queries ranked in popularity. Those related queries give you great fodder for content that speaks right to your audience’s interests.

Brainstorm: By sitting down to drum up content ideas for a few hours, you generate a body of topic ideas from which to draw later. It takes a little upfront investment of energy and time, but the payoff is not needing to face the same “What should I write about?” every day after.

Customer questions: Another great way to write relevant content is to respond to common customer questions. Ask your sales reps or customer service personnel what they’re hearing a lot of questions about, and write content that addresses those issues. If your customers are always asking your sales reps about shipping concerns or how certain products work, other people will probably want that information, too.

Customer problems: When you want to reach someone, speak to his or her problems. Figure out what your target audience’s biggest concerns are, and craft content—be that blog posts or videos or something else—to meet it.

Industry publications: If you’re working for a restaurant, read food magazines. If you’re a marketing company, keep up with marketing blogs. Find the top publications, from white papers to podcasts, in your industry, and read them to stay inspired.

Social media: Follow influencers in your industry and pay attention to what they’re sharing and talking about online. Many times, this can inspire content ideas when you aren’t even looking for them.

Someone else’s content: When you can’t come up with your own content, respond to someone else’s. As you’re skimming industry publications, you might find an idea that resonates with you or, on the flip side, one that you disagree with. In either case, share your thoughts in an editorial-style article or blog post to draw readers’ attention.

Lists: Lists are interesting to readers and simple for you. Think about “Top 10s” or “Best Of” pieces, for example.

Roundups: Use old content to create new content by curating it in a roundup form. Pull together related content—either from various resources or from your own site—and post it in a roundup form. This could be “10 great articles about [industry topic]” or “Our Top 10 Posts This [Month or Year].”

Reviews: Read an industry book or watch an industry documentary, and write a review to share on your company website or blog.

How-to articles: The ever popular “how to” content is a great way to share your expertise while generating new content. Whether you make an instructional video, a how-to blog post, or an informative e-book, by showing people how to do something, you get their attention.

Interviews: Draw from influencers in your topic area and ask them to weigh in on a hot topic. Line up a few high-profile authors or bloggers to interview. Do a Q&A podcast with an expert in your field.

Tell a story: Human beings love a good story, and any way you can work narratives into your content, you play upon that basic desire. From the story of how your company began to a small story about how you overcome a struggle this season, personal company stories make great content.

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm providing specialized SEO, Web development, and other online marketing services. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook.

A version of this article first appeared on the Straight North blog.

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