Even the best content marketing plans can fall victim to writer’s block.
Need some inspiration? Here are 20 awesome writing prompts to get your creative brainwaves flowing.
(Just make sure to use them within the context of your bigger strategy!)
#1: Define your sweet spot. The best content comes from a very specific, clearly delineated sphere of expertise. This is the zone where you have the most authority. It’s where no one has a better claim on expertise than you do. – Velocity Partners
#2: Read up. Subscribe to the top industry blogs in your market, both company blogs and personal blogs for ideas. – Jeff Bullas.com
#3: Explain how-to. There are a lot of how-to articles out there and some topics are worn-out. Find the topics that are still relevant and you’ll score lots of links and social mentions. Do some research, find good evidence to back up your instructions. Figure out how to solve the problems of your target audience. – Michael Evans via Social Media Today
#4: Create lists. People like to read lists, which are easily generated. They are also unique content that Google will love. All you need to do is express your thoughts on any sort of “top 10”. – Jeff Foster via MarketingProfs
#5: Focus on positives, negatives or trends. Positives describe topics that help your market solve problems or succeed, including habits, resources, shortcuts and tips. Negatives describe topics your market should avoid or watch out for, including challenges, mistakes, obstacles and symptoms. Topics can also include descriptions, like attributes, characteristics, traits and trends. – Roger C. Parker via Content Marketing Institute
#6: Expand your content team. Sit down with every salesperson and ask them what their customers’ biggest pain points are. Get at least five employees who are not part of marketing involved in your weekly content plan. – Joe Pulizzi via Marketo
#7: Engage influencers. Make a list of the top successful people in your industry and put in place a weekly schedule to interview them and you will then have a weekly highlight video blog post that will inspire your readers. And guess what? The leaders you interview will promote that blog post to their social network. – Jeff Bullas.com
#8: Use your analytics. Viewing top-performing pages gives you insight into more specific topics of interest on a per-post basis. Sort your blog pages by page view. Take note of the topics, including related category and tag pages, and pay particular attention to combinations of topics. – Rick Allen via Content Marketing Institute
#9: Get social. Follow what topics and things people are asking you about via your social media account. There’s a good chance that these concerns could be explored in another venue, and would be of interest to a broader audience. Short questions or trends can lead to entire blog posts. – Jayson DeMers via Search Engine Journal
#10: Answer the search. Use Twitter search and Google Trends to find out what people are searching for. This is a great, real-time feedback loop that helps you stay attuned with what’s hot and what topics you can easily link to your content creation efforts. – Jayson DeMers via Search Engine Journal
#11: Talk to people. Network in person, or use social media, and Google+ in particular. To facilitate this, you should be making an effort every day to connect with new people with whom you might want to have interesting discussions. Whether they’re peers or potential clients or just personal relationships, be deliberate and selective about whom you follow. – Mike Allton via The Social Media Hat
#12: Answer customer questions. Your customers come to you with questions because they see you as a knowledgeable resource. It’s very likely there are others out there who have the same questions. The questions you receive (in person, and via phone and email) are a great starting point for a blog post. – Andrew K. Kirk via Social Media Examiner
#13: Curate content. Find your 10 favorite websites, and then find your favorite post on each of them. Publish a post listing these top ten posts, and explain why you like them. You don’t even have to think about being creative, and everyone you feature there will appreciate it. – Danny Iny via Copyblogger
#15: Review tools or applications. Everyone is looking for better ways, tools and apps that make life easier in what is sometimes seen as a complicated web world. Make it easy for your readers to find and download the software. – JeffBullas.com
#16: Explain your failure. If there’s anything that people love reading about more than a great success, it’s an epic business failure. A post about your most challenging experiences is likely to be powerful just by virtue of how intense the original experience was for you, and you don’t have to make up anything original or creative — just tell it like it is (or, was), and explain what you learned from the process. – Danny Iny via Copyblogger
#17: Identify patterns. People find value in reading content that helps explain what they already see but can’t necessarily articulate. They will see you as a sage if you can take seemingly random events and make sense of them. The familiarity of what they see coupled with a new perspective and understanding gives them an AHA! moment that excites them. If you can tie it directly to your product or service, you can move them closer to the sale. – Kevin Daum via Inc.
#18: Write freeform. If you’re absolutely stuck and can’t think of anything else to write, just write whatever comes to mind. Write what you want for dinner tonight. Write “I can’t think of what to write.” The point is to get yourself in a writerly flow. Maybe write about why you don’t why to write, and you could see that your problem isn’t with the writing itself; it may be the topic. – Angela Suico via Business2Community
#19: Explore new cultures. You don’t have to fly halfway around the world — why not start with an authentic restaurant? Go somewhere that you aren’t familiar with, and really pay attention to the experience. All of this is fodder for analogies that can get your creative juices flowing. – Danny Iny via Copyblogger
#20: Include the obscure. If your content has the same information as everyone else in your space then why would anyone make the effort to follow you? Find interesting and unusual angles and facts to put in your blogs and white papers so that people get excited while reading your material. You need to give your readers the awesome experience, which meets their need, is entertaining and has the unexpected. Anything less is pure mediocrity and is a waste of time. – Kevin Daum via Inc.
BONUS: For some great visual inspiration, check out Sunni Brown’s content visualization of Robert McKee’s “STORY” seminar. It’s pretty rad.
Any to add? What are your go-to tactics for inspiration? Add them below, or share them with me on Google+!
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