Be Gone, Writer’s Block! Here Are 7 Ways to Come Up with Great Content Ideas

IdeasAre you one of those people for whom a blank piece of paper is the most terrifying thing?

Do you freak out at the prospect of writing blog posts, posting to social media, or sending email campaigns to your customers?

If yes, then you should know you’re not alone. Even the most prolific of writers sometimes get that uneasy feeling when it comes to putting finger to keyboard. What am I going to write about now? (Been there, said that.)

One thing I like to do to avoid writer’s block is keep a running list of ideas at my desk, so I’m never at a loss when it comes time to write another blog post. The second I think of an idea, I write it down. That way, I won’t forget it later. (Sometimes, I’ll even write the first paragraph or two while it’s fresh in my mind.)

For a busy small-business person who needs to fill an email newsletter, blog, or social media profile on a regular basis, coming up with ideas can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 7 ways to come up with content ideas.

1. Keep a running list of customer questions

Grab a notebook and keep it by the cash register, by the phone, the computer, or somewhere else where you come in contact with customers. (Don’t forget online places like social media!) Every time a customer asks you a question, write it down. Chances are good that if one person has a question, others do too. For your next newsletter, or blog post, pick one or two questions from the collection and answer them.

2. Conduct a survey

Ask your customers what it is they want to learn more about and hear from you. You can suggest all kinds of content: tips for using your products, general/related advice and info, employee profiles, fun distractions, coupons and discounts, etc. Be sure to also ask how people want this information: videos, articles, etc.

3. Look at your reporting data

What content is already popular with your email subscribers? Look at your email reporting data for this information, specifically the link performance. You’ll see what people are clicking on. Include more of that in future issues of your email newsletter.

4. Take a cue from your competitors

What are your other businesses in your area and industry sharing? Do you know? No, we’re not saying copy them. But knowing what they share can help inspire you to come up with your own unique ideas.

5. Monitor social media

Are you on Twitter? If yes, then your Twitter stream should be a font of ideas. What topics are people buzzing about? What articles and content are being shared? What questions are people asking? Let social media be your inspiration. After all, if you tap into an already relevant topic, you have a better chance of your content being shared beyond your recipients’ inboxes.

6. Look at the calendar

What holidays or special events are coming up? Tying your content into something timely usually makes it more interesting and relevant. Think about how your business might relate to Mother’s/Father’s Day (gift ideas?), graduation (things you wish you learned in school?), or the start of summer (lawn care or entertaining tips?), for example. You could also simply ask your subscribers, fans, followers, or readers a timely question, such as: “Baseball season just started. Who do you think will win the World Series?”

7. Think differently

One of my favorite kinds of blog posts to write is one where you take a known topic and twist it for your own purposes. For example, “Everything I Know About Small Business Marketing I Learned from Watching Baseball,” or, to borrow a concept from Jay Baer, “Why Email Is Like Madonna and Facebook Is Lady Gaga.”

Ideas can come from anywhere

These are just 7 ways to come up with content ideas. The truth is that inspiration can come from anywhere — you just have to be on the lookout for it!

Where do you get your content ideas from? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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