Writer’s block. The nemesis of content creators everywhere. Sooner or later, the blank white screen and blinking cursor will taunt you. It happens to the best of us.
The easiest way to avoid this is to have a stable of ideas, topics, thoughts, and musings always on hand, be it in the form of an editorial calendar or a simple list. That way, you need only refer to this document, and you’ll be up and writing in no time.
In case you’re not able to follow a calendar, or just haven’t been able to update your topic list recently, we’ve compiled a list of 6 of our favorite ways to generate great content ideas for your blog, no matter the industry you’re in.
Who knows your blog, subject, industry, and what topics you’ve already covered better than you? Brainstorming sessions are still a fantastic way to generate new ideas, and that extends to content just as readily as anything else.
Ready, Set, GO!
Write for 2 minutes, non-stop, just listing general topics. Don’t worry if you add something you’ve already written about, the fact that it came up again could mean there’s more there to explore. Unsure where to begin? Start with the titles of your last 3 pieces and go from there.
Bonus points if you have a team, circle of friends, or even a writer’s group that you can draw inspiration from and ask to join you.
Even more bonus points if you have one of those awesome huge tablet-on-an-easel things.
2) Ask your people.
Presumably your existing audience likes your content. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be your audience. So how about asking them for input? Use your social media presence to ask for ideas of what they want to see you write about. Scroll through your comments section. Are people asking questions that you haven’t addressed yet?
Both of these are great sources of ideas, and you’ll get bonus points from the people whose ideas you end up using. Showing that you're listening and engaged with your audience may even prompt others to write in with yet more ideas. So you can kill two birds with one stone—end your current writer’s block, and fill in your upcoming editorial calendar with reader suggested topics!
3) Do your research, keyword research that is.
There are two versions of this one. First is the old standby of using Google analytics, Ahrefs, and other tools to dig into the keywords you rank for, as well as to find some that you might want to rank for in the future. Nothing new here, just do the leg work and you’ll end up with a list of keywords and some topic ideas you gleaned from the results.
The second version is the same process, with a half-twist—do keyword research on your competitors.
Using the same tools, dig into your closest competitor’s blog. See what keywords they rank for, and get a feel for their top 10 posts. Can you riff on the same topic, addressing it from your perspective? Or maybe there’s a glaring omission from one of their posts that you can use to generate your own fresh take on the subject? Whatever specifics you find, you’re bound to come away with a decent list of keywords and post topic ideas at the very least.
4) Go on a mining expedition, looking for topic gold.
Quora, Reddit and other similar question and answer or forum sites are topical gold mines. People are likely asking questions that relate to your subject expertise, so find them and use these questions to build your topic list. Quora is a straightforward Q&A site, with questions divided into multiple sub-topics. Dig around and use the search function to look for your keywords. Then, use the filter to sort by top questions.
This will bring up the most asked questions, as well as the “best” answers. Both of these are ripe areas for you to glean ideas for your posts. But not only that. You can also reverse the sort to see the questions that haven’t been answered. This is a prime source of topic ideas since people apparently want to know and yet have not found the answer. You can fill that void with your posts.
5) Reuse or Remix your existing content.
Check your analytics for the pieces that continue to garner hits weeks, months, or even years after their initial post date. From these stats, compile a list of your top 10 pieces. Now, reread them all with an eye toward what you can reuse, or remix into new content. Maybe there’s a section of one post that resonates with you right now. Pull that out and make it a new topic. Or maybe there’s a comment (yes, reread the comments, too) that you realize is particularly timely. There’s another topic.
What about a podcast? Can you turn the transcript of an episode into a post of it’s own? Or maybe a guest asked a great, probing question that you really didn’t have time to dive into during the show. There’s another post, or two.
Using these sources, see if you can go meta/granular with a topic you’ve already covered. Look at that top 10 list of posts again. Can you go up a level? How about down a level on one particular section?
6) Write about your life.
When in doubt, know that people love a good story. They also love transparency. So if you can combine quality storytelling with letting your audience in on a little secret about what makes you tick, you’ll hook them. One thing to keep in mind with this one, if you don’t write stories regularly, it can pay big time to refresh yourself on good storytelling technique if you want to make it sticky.
Using these tips as a starting point, you can get past your writer’s block. Even if you’re not currently suffering from watching that dang cursor, you can use these tricks when it’s time to build your next editorial calendar and eliminate suffering that torment all together. Now, go get writing!