In the quest to generate business growth, most marketers and business owners realize the importance of an effective content marketing strategy. Such a strategy will usually include:
- Defining your business goals – what do you really want to achieve?
- Defining your existing audience and your ideal audience – are you reaching the right people? Who should you be reaching?
- Understanding what has worked best in the past – look at past content and see how it has performed.
- Assessing your previous content marketing tactic – what type(s) of content should you be producing moving forward and how should you be reaching out? Time to try new things?
- Consideration of time and resources – what will you need and how long will it take to produce the content that you think will work best. Will your plan be cost effective?
- Adapting your plan to fit available hours – your plan needs to be achievable.
- Mapping out the plan – what progress are you expecting day-by-day over the next three months?
These steps will go a long way to helping you plan your content. However, producing high quality content may become increasingly difficult over time without fresh ideas. What do you do if you feel as though your source of ideas is drying up? How do you deal with content block and, more specifically, blogger’s block?
Don’t have an answer to those questions? We’re here to help. Here are 10 prompts to overcome blogger’s block so you never feel like you’ve hit the creative wall again.
1. Recycle an old blog – repurposing
Writers are often so focused on generating new ideas that they neglect much of the great stuff they have produced before. Don’t forget that your audience will expand as you reach new people. Also, those that have read your previous great content are not going to remember every gem that you wrote for them. SmartBlogger identifies 7 superb ways to repurpose your blogs.
Many bloggers are used to including links to other articles for further reading anyway. Why not go back and explore those avenues that were only referred to?
Celebrate your best material
We have all produced articles that we are particularly proud of and that have performed well in terms of engagement. If you have carried out a content audit, you will know the blogs that stood out. Take the best ones, showcase them and make it easy for your audience to find them. Link them to a specific page that you can freshly promote. You can present your best work in segments, explaining why that content was special and encouraging the reader to find out more.
Change the format
OK, this is not so much lifting blogger’s block as deciding to present ideas in a different way instead. But it’s useful so it’s here. Take a previous blog and present the same ideas as a podcast or a vlog. Not everyone wants to read. Some may prefer a funky video or something more interactive.
Publish your blog again on other sites
I know what you’re thinking. This sounds naughty. Isn’t this duplicate content? Fear not. Unless the content is particularly spammy or keyword-stuffed, you will not receive a penalty for duplicate content. Here’s what Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts had to say about it:
While this video was published in 2013, the principles still stand today, so go ahead and find suitable sites with bigger audiences than yours and post your blogs in there. There are many sites that allow replenished content. One excellent example is Medium.
Other sites that won’t mind publishing your already published content include Business Insider, Entrepreneur and LifeHacker, for example.
Are you sitting on a book?
The purpose of this article is not to tell you how to go about publishing a book. That said, do take note that it only takes around 10,000 words for a decent eBook that you can publish on Kindle. What does that amount to? It could be as little as five or six decent, meaty blog posts. You may need to do some editing to join them up with a strong introduction and ending but the ingredients are already there in your archive. Fill your boots.
Mailshot your old content
If you have a subscriber list of people who are reading your content on a regular basis, there is nothing to stop you sending them a regular email with links to older material from your archive. The beauty of this is that even if you take a break from creating new content, you will still be touching base with your audience and reminding them of some great work they may have forgotten about.
2. Let your content calendar inspire you
A strong content strategy will mean understanding the opportunities for creating content that arise from events taking place throughout the year. A content calendar is a two-way street for creativity. On the one hand, there will be ideas that you already know about that you will insert into the calendar. On the other hand, events that are relevant to your audience – remember the importance of defining your audience and your business goals – will prompt blog ideas that had not initially sprung to mind.
Take a look at the Forbes 2017 content calendar below. If you look closely, you will also notice excellent opportunities for spin-off blog ideas.
3. Revisit your business goals
This sounds so simple, but it needs to be considered. When was the last time you checked the material that you were covering with your blogs and compared this to the business goals you want to achieve?
- Have your business goals changed over time? If so, did your content change as well?
- Are there any blind spots? Make sure you are addressing all your goals.
- Are the goals that you are trying to address effectively being covered with the content you have produced so far?
These are just a few questions to provoke thought. It gets too easy to get carried away with content and to lose focus on what really counts – the business goals. Uncovering blind spots, for example, will open up entirely new avenues for creating blog content.
4. Revisit your existing and ideal audience
You have to ask yourself if your blogs are matching the needs and requirements of your audience. A content audit will show which blogs have been successful and that is fine in itself but it is not the complete story.
When you take a closer look at the blogs that have performed well, ask yourself –were they gaining traction from the right audience? That is question number one. There’s no point in creating similar content or repurposing content that is reaching the wrong people. Secondly, the content that has attracted strong engagement from the right people does not give the full picture. Three questions arise:
- Are you reaching the full spectrum that you should?
- Is your content right for your ideal audience?
- What is the ideal content for your audience?
5. Use deadlines to push you further
There is nothing like a little pressure to perform better. Deadlines act as prompts and reminders that something needs to be done.
How often can you blog? That’s a different article. However, whatever you decide, ensure there is a deadline to be met. If an article must go out every Wednesday, you may create a weekly deadline on Tuesday for which the article must be complete and ready for uploading. From there, you may decide that Monday is planning day for deciding what subject matter is going to be covered.
What you are doing here by planning and putting deadlines in place is preventing the risk of floating aimlessly, waiting for inspiration that may or may not be forthcoming.
This article in The Balance identifies eight reasons why entrepreneurs need deadlines. These include things like holding us accountable for our own goals and keeping momentum moving in a positive direction. Anything that makes us mindful of our marketing goals will make us more effective at identifying ideas for blog content.
6. Stay updated with Google Alerts
Creating content is all about aiming to achieve marketing goals by reaching a clearly defined audience. If you have defined your audience, you know what subject matter they are interested in. Therefore, it makes sense to stay up to date with the latest news and opinion on that subject matter. That’s where Google Alerts can come in very useful.
Creating an Alert is really easy and you are given loads of options. How often do you want to be alerted? What language? You can also decide whether to have the alerts appear in an RSS feed or sent to your email address.
7. Don’t stop learning
If you are not learning something new, perhaps you are resting too much on your laurels. Having a thirst for knowledge should come naturally to you. Indulge yourself. Enroll on a webinar, read other material, keep an eye out for industry changes – just don’t stand still.
By exploring other avenues, you may also be provoked to write other articles about the activity of learning. By presenting well-thought-out, authoritative opinions on what is out there, you create the possibility of being seen as a thought leader.
8. Stay in the discussion
Staying connected with the right communities on platforms such as LinkedIn will ensure that you are aware of what others are talking about in your industry. You may want to give a commentary on a trend that you are observing. Perhaps you have good reason to want to buck that trend. Do you have something to add that nobody else is acknowledging?
LinkedIn, in most cases, is also a great place to share the content that you produce.
9. Follow the right people
Remember that there are already thought leaders out there who are sharing great ideas that you can use. Whether on Twitter, LinkedIn or any other platform, there are people who are determined to discuss an issue before anybody else does, be the odd one out, and push an idea that is provocative.
These people are golden, because, in theory at least, they will be doing the research for you – although it is much more rewarding to do it yourself. There is nothing wrong with sharing their articles, but isn’t it much better to let the ideas bounce around in your head, add a few of your own, and then create original content?
10. Talk about Infographics (or other content)
Yes, you heard me. Use an infographic as the springboard for an article. Expand on the information provided, critique the assumptions made by others on the basis of the infographic. There are loads of options. You can describe, challenge, or build on the information. The infographic itself will also make a part of the blog itself. Here’s one of my favorites from Bloomberg:
It will be a while before my face appears in this particular infographic, but I hope this blog article has taken us both a step closer. Now there is nothing to hold you back from writing as much content as you want. The inspiration is out there. All you need are the right tools, the right approach and the right mindset.
Got any more ideas to help your fellow marketers overcome blogger’s block? Let us know in the comments below.