Publishing valuable content consistently to attract prospects and customers is no longer a fad.
Content marketing is here to stay, and the businesses that reap the benefits are the ones that consistently turn up to the page and hit publish on their blogs, their newsletters and their social media content.
Which is all well and good, but if you’re having to write your 27th article about your business subject, perhaps you’ve hit a plateau: Articles 1-5: “Oh my gosh, I’ve got so much to say about fishing / knitting / SaaS I can’t wait to get these articles written!” Articles 6-15: “Hrmmm, I kind of covered this subject before, maybe I’ll do some top 10 tips posts…” Articles 16-27: “What. Do. I. Write. About?!”
If you’re finding your well of inspiration is more of a trickle than a spring, don’t worry. I have 9 great ways (and I use them all) to help you keep your content fresh and fun to write. Because readers can smell stale content a mile away…
1) Give people your 5 minutes tips
Imagine you’ve met your ideal customer for the first time, and they have a quick question about how you can help them.
But, you only have 5 minutes to impart your wisdom. How can you give your readers a complete tip – something they can use to get results that can be explained quickly and succinctly?
This is a great exercise if you’re not a fan of writing long blog posts. In addition to making it easier for you to write, it’s also easier for your customer to read and digest.
So if you write about fishing it might be a quick tip on choosing bait, or if you’re a fitness instructor a quick morning exercise people can do to raise the heart rate.
Action plan: Jot down 5-10 very quick tips you could write about in less than 500 words.
2) Use customer questions
Answering common customer questions is a killer technique for writing content that is:
- Relevant to your customer’s interests
- Great for SEO
I’ve run this exercise in a number of content training workshops for companies struggling to think of blog post ideas and in just 20 minutes we’ve come up with enough varied topics to fill 6 months of their editorial calendar!
It’s also great for SEO because you’re answering the very question your customer might be typing into the search engines. For example if your business sells pet food, your customer might be searching for:
- Should I give my dog dry or wet food?
- What pet food is best for Greyhounds?
- What do I feed a puppy?
Action plan: Write down some common customer questions and think about:
- Questions they ask when researching a problem (e.g. what to do if a brake light goes out?)
- Questions they ask when thinking about the solution (e.g. where can you buy brake lights?)
- Questions they ask when choosing a company to work with (e.g. should I go to my local garage or motoring store to fix a brake light)
3) Have an editorial meeting (yes even if it’s just with yourself)
Every week I sit down, open up a new document and plan the content for the week. I think about what I will write in my blog, my newsletter, social media posts and any guest posts I’m writing.
This habit is invaluable and you don’t need to be part of a big team to have an editorial meeting. Planning your content in advance saves time so that you’re not staring at a blank screen and it makes sure the content your writing is relevant.
Action plan: Look at your calendar, pick a day and time in the week to have your own editorial meeting, and stick to it! It’s much easier to plan topics in advance, and what’s more, you’ll find that your brain gets to work on those topics before you even start writing. Which is why it’s also important to…
4) Have a notebook handy for unplanned ideas
You never know when an idea is going to hit you. On your morning walk, over breakfast, watching TV.
If you’ve had an editorial meeting that week and planned out a couple of topics you want to write about, you might just find that things leap out at you as inspiration between your topic idea and the time to write.
For example, you may have decided to write about the importance of stretching before doing any sporting activities. That week you go and see your son perform in a school play.
All week you’ve helped him learn his lines so that when he’s on stage he’s calm, confident and can give his best. You jot down this idea and decide to write about how stretching doesn’t just prevent injury, it also increases your personal confidence because you know your muscles are warmed up and ready to do their best.
Action plan: Get a small notebook for catching unplanned ideas and review it both before writing and at your editorial meetings.
5) Publish like a magazine
Magazine editors are the experts at publishing fresh content on the same topics week in, week out. So how do they do it? Well one way is to have a variety of themes they publish each week. The topic stays the same, but they may do:
- Tips for beginners
- Feature articles
- In-depth how-to articles
- Reviews of relevant products
- Taking polls
- Reader stories
It’s another technique I’ve used in content workshops. From just 5 different magazines I found 98 different ways in which you could present the same topic.
Action plan: Grab a popular weekly or monthly magazine. What are the regular features? Can you use similar formats to shake up your content creation style? Perhaps doing a how-to piece one week and an interview the following week? Which brings me to the next tip…
6) Use experts
Don’t feel like the burden is all on you to create the content. Pick some experts and interview them! You can then post a video, audio or a transcript of the interview and share a fresh perspective and insight with your audience.
Action plan: List 5 experts within your industry you could interview and contact them this week.
7) Shake up the medium
One of the great parts of creating online content is the different mediums you can use to communicate your message. Audio and video is now easier to do than ever, and, like the magazine tip is a great way of writing about the same content, but keeping it fresh.
Action plan: Write a 10 top tips post as a blog article. Then:
- Create an audio of you reading through it
- Create a short video of you discussing each tip
- Consider making an infographic out of 10 tips
You now have 4 pieces of content on the same subject but in different forms. And remember, people like consuming content in different ways so if you only ever write and attract people who like to read, you might attract new audiences by throwing video into the mix.
8) Read the news
I went through a period of avoiding the news as I found it depressing, but now it’s one of the first things I do in the morning. Why? Because it helps me create content fresh:
- You can spot current trends. Seeing a lot of confusion about ‘healthy’ foods being loaded with sugar in the supermarkets? Address it on your fitness blog.
- You can keep up with topical news. If it’s coming up to exam results and you’re a career coach it’s a perfect time to write a ‘surviving your results and getting a job you love’ post.
Action plan: Spend 10-15 minutes a day scanning the daily news. Pop any ideas into your notebook to be looked at during your editorial meeting.
Okay, first of all do not steal someone else’s content. But do steal ideas and inspiration. Look at your competitors, what are they writing about day to day?
You might find something that ignites a fresh idea or approach. There’s nothing wrong with looking at people in your industry to see what’s happening, just make sure that you turn those ideas into original content!
Action plan: Spend 10-15 minutes a week checking out your competitor’s content and jotting down possible ideas in your notebook. Keeping content fresh is a challenge, but not impossible. Follow these tips, and you’ll save your time and sanity in the long run!