There are 1,025,109.8 words in the English language (not sure what qualifies as .8 of a word, but let’s go with it). That’s 1,025,109.8 different ways to start a sentence and 1,025,109.8 different ways to continue a sentence and 1,025,109.8 different ways to end a sentence.
So why, then, does every content marketer, at one point or another, head straight into the proverbial wall? You know the feeling: It’s that moment when you stare at your blank Word doc and wonder how you’ve ever written anything or will ever write anything again.
Like it or not, we’re all writers in the online marketing space. You don’t have to be a “writer” by profession to publish a blog post or tweet out an article. In fact, as my colleague Casie notes in a recent post, writing is one of the best ways to grow your SEO career.
All of that aside, writing can be hard.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. The trick to keeping the writing momentum going is to keep a steady stream of ideas flowing. Really! It’s that simple.
Don’t believe me?
Here’s a look at 100+ quick ways to find blog post inspiration every day:
- Use Google Keyword Planner to find keyword ideas and estimate how they may perform.
- Don’t hit “Enter” in Google (you’d be surprised (and potentially terrified) to discover the types of questions that readers are asking).
- Take long tail keywords and sort them in different ways to give different search queries using Merge Words.
- Consider SEMrush for competitive research and analysis.
- Use Google Trends to find out what’s trending on Google right now.
- Leverage the “Questions Only” tab in SerpStat to uncover a list of questions related to a keyword.
- Use Ubersuggest for keyword suggestions (and further suggestions based on the original term).
- Use FAQ Fox to uncover a list of questions readers are asking based on a particular keyword.
- Use Buzzsumo to figure out the highest shared blog posts for a particular topic or keyword set.
- Follow key influencers on social media.
- Build out a post that highlights key influencers on social media.
- Check out what questions people are asking on Quora (again, you might be terrified by what you discover (i.e., “Why do astronauts need to shower in space?” or “How can I trick a person into signing a document that will give me control of his shares in a startup?”))
- Ask a question on Quora.
- Keep tabs on trending topics on Twitter.
- Use Hashtagify to search on the best hashtags to reach your audience.
- Participate in forums (or, at the very least, read about what types of questions other people are asking).
- Create a round-up post of the most shared posts socially.
- Take a look through Pinterest to get ideas for a visual post.
- Participate in LinkedIn Groups to build connections and relationships with industry experts.
- Pencil in time with clients to get their spin on topics you’ve identified to write about.
- Curate content based on interviews with clients or other subject matter experts.
- Think about your recent content marketing successes (or failures) and write about the lessons or best practices you’ve learned as a result.
- Get inspiration from friends, family, or colleagues – you never know if your 90 year-old grandma could spark an idea for your next greatest post!
- Collaborate with internal (SEO, social, etc.) and external teams (PR, etc.) and bounce ideas off one another.
- Consider customer pain points and build out content that addresses/offers solutions to those problems.
- Read a classic novel and think about the story arc (i.e., write like a storyteller).
- Do a mind map to find connected thoughts you didn’t know were related (shout out to all the other word nerds who loved diagramming sentences in grade school!).
- Think of how seasonality could relate to content (i.e., “X Spooktactular Examples of Content Marketing This Fall”).
- Draw parallels between current events and content.
- Consider an image-based post to drive social shares to your site.
- Share a blog draft with your colleagues and ask for their feedback.
- Talk to your boss or writing mentor about your writing – and what it may be missing.
- Hold a company-wide brainstorm on a particular topic or client struggle.
- Have a team training and write a recap post of what was covered (and why your readers need to know about it).
- Read – a lot.
- Pick up the phone (remember those?) and conduct an informational interview with a respected expert in your (or your clients’) industry.
- Read the Table of Contents in industry books.
- Create a list of your favorite blogs and make it a point to read what they post on a regular basis.
- Compile a list of research reports relevant to your readers and link to each one of them in a post that highlights why they’re important.
- Write a guest post on a well-known industry blog or publication – it will force you to look for sources, fact check information, and identify supporting articles, which can lead to additional content opportunities.
- Research buyer personas to understand your readers.
- Go beyond buyer personas to really, really understand your readers.
- Set up Google Alerts to monitor the web for interesting new content.
- Use Soovle to search suggestions from the top providers on the Internet.
- Stay current on hundreds of topics with Alltop.
- Get up to speed in one newsfeed with Pulse.
- Highlight client testimonials so that readers can see how others like them have benefitted from your company’s products or services.
- Compile a list of statistics relevant to your readers and write a post around them.
- Regularly review top-performing posts for your site and base blog structure, format, content, etc. off those assets.
- Stay current on competitor blogs and make sure you know what they’re writing about.
- Take a deep dive into Google Analytics to uncover the most popular keywords that bring people to your site.
- Set up an editorial calendar to keep ideas organized and blog posts on a schedule.
- Use Google Keep to save your thoughts on your phone, tablet, or computer.
- Write a blog abstract and come up with 3–4 different titles based on what you’ve written.
Outside the Office
- Talk a walk to clear your head.
- Eavesdrop at a coffee shop, in a restaurant, on the train, etc. (just don’t be creepy!).
- Take a vacation – you need one.
- Hit an industry networking event and find out what your peers are writing about (or like to read about).
- Connect with industry partners, clients, key publications, etc. at tradeshows or conferences.
- Keep your readers in the loop by providing rolling coverage of an ongoing event or conference.
- Write an event recap post.
- Stay in touch with former colleagues or clients to get their perspective on the industry.
- Write for fun!
- Do something else creative (painting, cooking, yoga, etc.) to get out of your headspace for a while.
- Turn off your computer – really.
- Remember that life happens – and it’s easier to write about life when you’re out living it!
- Be ready whenever inspiration strikes (during a meeting, on a walk, etc.) and jot down ideas in a journal.
- Learn something new – and then write about it.
Various & Sundry
- Newsjack – it’s an opportunity to inject your ideas into a breaking news story and get maximum exposure on your content.
- Keep your eye out for a good “spin” on a topic (even if it’s completely unrelated, chances are it can be parlayed into something relevant for your audience).
- Look to popular culture (TV, movies, music, etc.) and find a way to weave it into whatever topic you’re writing about.
- Write down your dreams – there’s some crazy stuff that happens in there.
- Explain what you do to someone outside the industry to get a fresh perspective.
- Tackle a controversy/offer a contrarian point of view (just make sure you avoid being offensive!).
- Write the opposing viewpoint of a blog you’ve already written (i.e., “How to Get Started in Content Marketing” vs. “How NOT to Get Started in Content Marketing”).
- Don’t be afraid to be funny!
- In the words of Ann Handley, find interesting ways to say boring stuff (FIWTSBS)!
- Remember that readers aren’t always ready to buy – sometimes they just want to be entertained!
- Read (and respond to) comments on your blogs.
- Check out comments on competitor blogs.
- Pick one tip from a list post and turn it into its own post.
- Update an old post with new information.
- Turn a single post into a series.
- Write a recap of a webinar you attended that you found noteworthy.
- Find something within online marketing you’re passionate about and write about it!
- Write about something that’s been written about before but put your own spin on it.
- Debunk industry-wide myths (e.g., content and social are separate initiatives).
- Write a “Best of” post.
- Think about what advice would be most helpful to you if you’re just starting out in content marketing.
- Write a post highlighting lessons learned in content marketing if you’ve been at it for a while.
- Draw parallels between seemingly unconnected topics (my colleague Ryan, for example, recently wrote a post about content marketing and Monopoly).
- Give your readers a “behind the scenes” look at what happens at your company (team events, outings, processes, etc.).
- Write a quiz you think your readers would like to take.
- Compile a list of predictions about how the online marketing landscape will shift within the next year, six months, etc.
- Put together an “Ask the Experts” post highlighting opinions of key thought leaders on a particular topic.
- Write a rough draft and then ask a friend or family member to read it and tell you what they thought were your main points – tweak the draft accordingly (assuming they were, in fact, your main points).
- Read through existing collateral (whitepapers, case studies, etc.) and see what can be repurposed into a blog post with a fresh angle.
- Free write for a set period of time.
- Read over your free writing and filter out the ideas that might make for a good post (even if they seem pretty out there).
- When all else fails, write the same word or phrase over and over again until inspiration strikes (kidding!).
Writer’s block: the struggle is real. Or is it?
I’d argue that it isn’t – not with the vast amount of material you can potentially cover and the various ways in which to cover it.
What’s your foolproof approach to coming up with unique content marketing angles? Are there tips or suggestions you’d offer for keeping the creative juices flowing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
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