It happens to the best of us from time to time – writer’s block for blog content. Even if you’re on top of your strategy and you have an editorial calendar planned out month’s in advance, you’ll eventually reach a point where you’re lost for what to write about – where you feel like you’ve covered everything there is to cover, and you just can’t write one. more. word. The longer you’ve been writing on your blog, the harder you may find it to come up with fresh content for your readers, but the good news is – there’s plenty you can do to break through the plateau and keep the good stuff coming for your audience.
1. Look at Your Website Analytics
Open your Google Analytics account and look at your content. What is the most popular blog content? Are there any partners in topics? For instance, are your posts about cats more popular than your posts about dogs? Are there any angles you haven’t covered, that would allow you to expand on your most popular posts?
2. Browse Quora for Blog Content
This Q&A website can be a great way to bust through writer’s block. The content license says you can reuse all the content on the site, as long as you link back to the original post on Quora.
Simply search your topic on the website, and you’ll get a list with common topics. If we search social media, common topics include:
- Social media marketing
- Social media management
- Social media monitoring and support
- Social media club
- Social media week
Choose one of the topics, and you’ll get a page with popular and open questions. The open questions are the ones without answers, and they can help you find the topics you can blog about. Chances are if it’s there – and it’s not answered, there are a lot of people who also have that question… so create blog content that provides the answer. Then go back to the question on Quora – answer it, and include a link to your blog post.
Or – answer the question on Quora first, then take your answer and expand upon it to create blog content.
3. Talk to Customers/Look Through Feedback
Ask your customers/readers what they want to see more of. Look through feedback and watch the questions they’re asking. If you notice a particular question, or group of questions that pop up frequently, dedicate a post (or series of posts) to answering those questions, in-depth. Then reach back out to those customers and let them know you’ve provided a detailed answer, with a link to the post.
4. Conduct More Keyword Research
Keyword research can get kind of boring, I know. I’m not talking about using the standard tools like Google AdWords Keyword Tool or KeywordTool.io. Not that that those aren’t okay, but this one goes a bit deeper, and is an excellent option if you’re a visual learner like me.
Answer The Public is hands-down one of the most awesome tools I’ve ever seen to get those creative juices flowing. You can see from the screenshot below that a simple search for “social media” produces a ton results to work with… and that’s just a portion of what it rendered.
Source: Answer the Public
Some of the questions on the chart:
- Where should social media icons be placed?
- When is social media used for good?
- Why social media is so important
- How social media is used in the workplace
You can use any keyword, and you can search for results based on country, including UK, US, AU, and more. Looking at the questions and prepositions generated can help you come up with ideas for things to cover in your blog – and some of them can be standalone topics on their own.
Plug in all the categories and general topics you cover on your blog into the tool. The website makes it easy to export all the data, so you can keep it and go back to it whenever you need new ideas, and the tool is completely free.
5. Read, Read, and Read Some More
Anything that’s related to your industry – books, magazines, blogs, scholarly and scientific journals – whatever you can get your hands on. Search for podcasts you can listen to on your way to and from work every day. You never know when something you read will spark an idea for a post. Keep a notebook on hand, or make notes on your phone so you can remember your ideas later.
If you need help finding new publications to read – take a look at Feedly. You can search for keywords or niches and get a massive list of blogs and websites to look through – and you can add the RSS feeds to a list. Then, whenever you have a few minutes to spare, you can read through the material to see what it sparks.
Set up a Google alert for industry keywords, so when something new pops up you can see what it is. Check Google News on a regular basis. When you see what others are writing about, you can get inspiration. It’s totally okay to cover the same news and topics, as long as you’re offering value to your readers – and sometimes all it takes to do that is your perspective.
6. Watch Videos – Yes, Really!
If you’re someone who hates reading – that doesn’t mean you can’t find content to help you keep learning about what’s going on in your industry. Sit in front of YouTube for a while and watch videos related to your industry – following the channels of your favorite websites, much like you would do in Feedly. Keep notes as you go along, if that’s your thing, or bookmark the videos so you can reference them again when it’s time to start planning your content for the next phase of your editorial calendar. Thanks to the autoplay feature, you can start with one video and come out hours later wondering how you went from SEO and analytics to swimming with dolphins… so if you’re worried about going down the rabbit hole and emerging a few days later, set a timer and agree to move onto another task when time is up.
7. Create a Roundup Post
If you’ve got a basic topic idea, but you just don’t feel like writing something new, or you don’t really feel like you’ve got a lot of value to add to the topic yourself, then it’s the perfect time to pull on some egobait strings, and create a roundup of posts from other blogs and resources that are related to that single topic.
The more extensive you make it, the better – because it can easily become a permanent resource for other people looking for information on the subject. And, when you reach out to everyone you’ve mentioned on the post to let them know you’ve linked to them – you’ll likely get some publicity from it, simply because they want to share the mention with their audience.
Some killer roundup posts you can mimic include:
- Thanksgiving Recipe Round Up
- Favorite Dog Articles & Videos of the Week
- Twitter Link Roundup #242: Small Business, Startups, Innovation, Social Media, Design, Marketing and More (This is a bit old, but still effective at proving the point.)
(Nothing’s wrong with copying what’s working for others – just don’t steal stuff word for word. Give credit where credit is due. Make sure there’s new perspective or thoughts for your audience – because if not, what’s the point?)
Or – create an expert roundup post, by reaching out to people and asking for tips/tricks/quotes related to a topic in your niche… like these:
- 75 Relationship Specialists Teach You How to Get Back Your Sexual Desire for Your Partner
- 22 Nutrition Experts Reveal Top 3 Natural Weight Loss Tips
- How to Start a Successful Blog – 82 Experts Share Their Best Blog Tips
Another approach is to use the “Best Of” list. Not only will it help you get backlinks and promotion from the people you link to, but it can give you a piece of content to refresh every year, so it stays evergreen, and has a better shot at earning (and keeping) high rankings.
But, the catch is, you can’t just pick the best 5 or 10. For it to be truly valuable, go deep and find 100+ resources, like these:
- 100 Best, Most Interesting Websites of 2016
- Top 100 Healthcare Blogs: 2016 Edition
- Top 100 Personal Development Blogs 2016
What makes the way I write about any topic different from the way you’d write about the same topic? My experience. If you and I go on vacation to Disneyland together, and do the exact same things, eat the same food, even go to sleep and wake up at the same time, but how I feel about it, and what I get from the experience will be different from what you feel and what you get. Thus – the same event can produce two entirely different pieces of content, each valuable to your audience.
Just because you’ve written about something once doesn’t mean you can’t do it again. As long as you have something fresh and new to add to it, or have a different format to put it in, you’re good to go. It’s important to remember that not everyone digests content the same way – some people love reading content on the screen – some people prefer visuals, some people prefer audio…you can turn a blog post into a video, an infographic, a podcast… and you can even create e-books that compile all your blog content about a certain topic into one cohesive piece.
10. Hold a Group Brainstorming Session
Sometimes all it takes is having another person or group of people to bounce ideas around with. Even if you can’t meet face-to-face, you can chat via Skype, Google Hangouts, or even over the phone. Take notes, and keep them for reference later. You may be able to get several ideas out of a single session, and when you get stuck again, you can go back to it for more inspiration, or a refresher on what some of your ideas were.
11. Analyze Blog Comments on Previous Posts
This is similar to looking at customer feedback. Sometimes, even if a comment isn’t asking a question, their thoughts and opinions can spark ideas for future content. Maybe they’ve given you a perspective you’ve never considered before. Maybe it’s a chance to tackle a topic from the other side, or to play devil’s advocate.
12. Expand on a Short List
If you have a list of 10 tips… see if you can think of 10 more. It’s a tried-and-true tactic to drive more traffic to your website, and gives you content ideas. It also helps keep things fresh and updated, especially if a significant amount of time has passed since the original post.
13. Do a Google Search – Autocomplete is Your Friend
Start with a broad keyword, and see what Google suggests. This gives you an indication of the most popular searches around a phrase, and can give you ideas for a number of blog posts. For example, if you search “social media marketing” autocomplete returns:
- Social media marketing strategy
- Social media marketing jobs
- Social media marketing certification
14. Do a Competitive Analysis
Look at what your competition is doing. What’s working well for them? How can you make the same thing work well for you? Look at what they’re not doing. Is there a void you can fill? Is there something they’re not doing that you’ve done, but you can improve upon it?
Whether you’ve been blogging for six weeks, six months, or six years, running out of things to blog about is going to happen – or so you think. You’ll feel like you’ve exhausted all your options – and though you may spend hours trying to figure out something new… I can promise you, there’s always something else you can write about.
What are some of your favorite ways to come up with ideas for new blog content? Tell me in the comments – and you never know – your comment just may become a future blog post here. If so, I’ll be sure to give you proper credit.
Photo credit: StockSnap.io