Occasionally running short on ideas for engaging content is more or less inevitable. The more regularly you publish, the easier it becomes to hit a creative brick wall.
At times like these, it pays to stand back from the whole thing, take a deep breath and adopt a back-to-basic approach. Sadly, the tendency is to panic, and to throw out whatever comes to mind first to avoid a gap in your publishing schedule.
More often than not, publishing low-grade filler is worse than publishing nothing at all. A gap is a gap, but uninteresting and/or irrelevant filler could take a toll on your credibility. Not to mention, your authority in your niche.
All well and good, but what to do when you find yourself completely out of topics to write about?
The answer almost always lies in asking yourself a few choice questions, and looking at things from the perspective of your customer.
Begin With Brainstorming
Whether alone or with the rest of your team, a good place to start is with a spot of brainstorming; think of all the questions your customers ask on a regular basis, and write them all down. At a later stage, you’ll be going through this list to filter out the questions of least importance to your customers, in order to focus on those of greatest relevance.
Consider the Questions Your Customers Don’t Ask
This can be slightly trickier, but nonetheless paves the way for genuinely engaging content. The goal is to come up with a list of questions your customers don’t realise they should be asking, given their importance to whatever it is you do or sell. Think of how you can communicate the USPs of your products/services through informative posts that correlate with your customers’ wants, needs and expectations.
Question When, Where, How and Why Your Products Are Useful
Quality content ideas can always stem from the practical applications of the products and/or services you provide. Do they have a genuinely useful purpose your target audience may not know about? Could you provide instructional content or tutorials to teach them how to do something new? Or perhaps, help them get the most out of their purchase, should they go ahead and make one?
Generally speaking, content that answers important questions tends to be more engaging than more generic content. Consider your publishing strategy as something of an expanded/extended FAW and you are unlikely to run out of ideas anytime soon.
Additional Tips for Creative Content Ideas
Creativity when creating and publishing content can mean one of two things:
- Coming up with your own creative ideas for future posts
- Taking a creative approach to the curation of post ideas
With the first option, the three activities above coupled with plenty of supplementary research can work wonders. But if you are still coming up with nothing, the alternative is to take inspiration from elsewhere.
Not in the mind of stealing ideas wholesale, but to simply see what is being talked about and what is getting people talking.
Competitor Research and Monitoring
For example, keeping a close eye on your competitors and their output is never a bad idea. Watch how they handle their publishing strategy on their website, their blog and via their social channels. Note the types of content they publish (Instagram Stories, YouTube Videos, tutorials etc.) and see what kind of reaction they are getting from their/your audience.
Doing so will give you a good idea as to the topics and content types that are hitting the right notes with their recipients. You can use their own strategy as something of a framework for your own, though again, without straying into outright imitation.
A spot of social listening can also be fantastic for coming up with ideas for quality content. Social media is where the entire world heads to talk, ask questions and conduct research on potential purchases.
It can therefore be the perfect place to head to find out what kinds of questions people are asking, and what kind of information is being shared. There could be myths, misunderstandings, misconceptions or major knowledge gaps in a topic of relevance that you could fill.
Social media is also the place people head to voice their concerns, complaints and criticisms, giving you a great idea of what they like, dislike and demand from a service provider.
Revisit Past Posts
There is absolutely nothing wrong with poaching the occasional idea from yourself as the most popular and successful past posts can be an absolute goldmine of inspiration.
If there is a topic you covered in the past that really hit home with your target audience, revisit it. Talk about how things have changed since it was published, discuss the topic from a different angle, request questions/comments on the subject from your target audience and so on.
Just as long as you are not basically publishing the same item twice, past-post revisits can be remarkably effective. If they took a major interest in what you had to say then, chances are the same will prove true now.