This wasn’t in the movies, but the only thing that scares content creators more than a flexing Thanos is a blinking cursor on the computer screen. (These content creators in question may or may not moonlight as Avengers.)
Writer’s block isn’t new. It’s probably been around for as long as there have been writers. From papyrus to Papyrus. But for today’s marketing teams, writer’s block has major business ramifications.
Serious slowdowns in content production are often death knells for limping content marketing engines. Slowdowns affect how teams plan, produce, distribute, and optimize their content. If you struggle with writer’s block from time to time, you’re not alone: 60% of marketers admit they struggle to produce content consistently.
So, how do you beat writer’s block? How do you stay ahead of the curve?
Look in the least obvious places.
More than one way to skin an SEO tool
Keywords are as buzzy a marketing term as ROI and disruption. Keywords are why content marketers typically carve out barrelfuls of their budgets on SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush. These high-powered platforms allow marketers to research (or optimize for) terms users are searching for online. They also have a bunch of tricks up their sleeves if you feel like getting a little creative.
Ahrefs, for example, has a content idea generator built right into its platform. Their Content Explorer looks like this:
If you’re a brand that provides financial planning services, finding content marketing ideas in your wheelhouse is as simple as looking up the terms you care about. Filtering further shows you the popularity of the topic over time (i.e., how often brands are writing about the topic) and a rundown of all the pages that cover the topic. Use these results directionally. Are there angles that aren’t being discussed? Are there popular pieces you can outperform with more data or points? By using these pages as inspiration, you’ll have a hard time not finding things to write about.
Ahrefs also comes with a nifty content cap feature, which allows marketers to see what keywords other sites rank for that yours doesn’t. By dropping in a handful of competitors’ domains or pages, you can see right away if you need to queue up content that addresses topics others are ranking for. If your competitors are ranking for “financial planning” and you’re not, there’s an obvious opportunity to create a new piece of content—or update something that isn’t performing as well as you might like.
Don’t use SEO tools just for SEO reporting. Find creative ways to slice up the large swaths of data they provide, and you’ll always have topics queued up.
See what people are asking (without being a creep)
Like death, taxes, and Honeymooners marathons on New Year’s Day, people asking questions is a mathematical certainty. And not just when they reach a search engine.
The best way for marketers to get out in front of audience-generated topics? Explore the right forums:
- Reddit and Quora are Q&A warehouses. From content-marketing-related queries and questions about looking directly into the sun, use these threads to find new ideas or a new angle on something your audience may already be familiar with.
- Facebook Groups are for ardent supporters. Often requiring either an application or invitation to even become a member, Facebook Groups are typically where dedicated product users or the most enthusiastic brand supporters live. They’re asking questions that will inspire things like new product features or feature walkthroughs—the kinds of things your audience indirectly tells you they want more content on.
- Clubhouse is for authentic conversation. Without getting into the weeds here, there’s soon going to be a new sheriff in town. And that sheriff is Clubhouse, the fascinating new audio-only social platform that’s taken the world by storm. Once you’re in, Clubhouse gives users the opportunity to join other live conversations or start their own—about anything they want. Thought leaders use it like a never-ending conference covering random topics. All you need to do is show up and start listening.
Tapping into the pulse of what your audience is already asking online might sound a little creepy, but the proof is in the pudding. For example, social listening helps brands increase their activity rate (i.e., the time it takes to react to customer conversations online) by about 25%.
There’s magic in what your audience is already talking about. Just make sure you’re listening.
Find a new way to tell an old story
If Homer were around today, the Iliad would be a hit podcast series that he’d eventually get turned into a Netflix miniseries. (Not sure if we’d want to see Brad Pitt in the starring role again, though.)
One of the most powerful weapons in any content marketer’s arsenal is a simple fact: Every piece of content can be repurposed. From a webinar to a podcast episode to a white paper to an infographic, brands creating content have a head start to ideation. There are two ways to make content repurposing a part of the content marketing process:
- Make a repurposing checklist. For every piece of content you generate, have a checklist ready to queue up iterations for different channels. Take a webinar, for example. Before it gets pushed live, go through your list and have your content team start thinking about blog posts, video clips, e-books, social graphics, and social stories from it. That one webinar should turn into several items on your inventory in no time.
- Refresh old content. Take your successful content and double down on it. If there’s a blog post on your website that’s driving traffic months or years after it first published, find ways to spin it off into graphics, videos, or larger lead magnets. It gives you an opportunity to do more with something that’s already driving real wins.
For brands looking to scale content marketing efforts, repurposing content is critical to moving the needle. And because the bulk of marketers—close to two-thirds of them—don’t really have a plan around repurposing their content, brands that do think smart about it have an immediate advantage.
And the best part is …
When it comes to content ideation, you can start now. Whether you haven’t been very good at it before or you haven’t prioritized it for the quarter, getting better about ideation can start whenever you want to. The key is to look in the places you least expect.
Those SEO tools you spend an arm and a leg for? Stretch them so they’re content ideation tools, too. Use them to discover themes, trends, and topics worth fleshing out for your own audiences.
Digital forums and social media? Don’t just exist in those spaces to build your brand. Marketers should be listening for the questions and topics audiences are talking about online. That’s audience-inspired content marketing at its finest.
Already have content? Do more with it through smart, strategic content repurposing.
From ideation and planning all the way to optimization and measurement, sometimes brands need a fresh set of eyes to fine-tune their content marketing machines. To break out of the inimitable rut of writer’s block. That’s where we come in. At T3, we help brands take control of their content marketing universe—including all of the not-so-obvious things that can help move the needle.
Content ideation got you stuck? Learn more about how we help brands like yours come up with the tricks and triggers to be great at it.