An ‘idea’ famine can be a scary situation. But, don’t panic. Running out of ideas is a very common occurrence for people involved in the business of writing. So, what can marketing professionals and content creators do when they hit writer’s block, especially when deadlines hang over them like the Sword of Damocles? Here’s what you can do about it.
1. Personal and work stories
As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Everybody has a story.” Dig into your personal stories and experiences. Dwell on past partners, clients, and projects. Every chapter in our lives has some lessons that can stimulate our thought processes. Case studies, testimonials, and experiences are probably the most lucrative content providers. Focus on what you have learned and what you would like to share with the world. Knowledge shared is knowledge gained.
2. Study FAQs
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be a source of inspiration. What kind of questions do people ask? What are the topics people are most interested in? When your sales team goes for client meetings, what kind of queries do they face? Make a list of various questions. Turn these into an FAQ document. Another place to look at is the FAQs that Google throws up!
If you find many unanswered questions on a specific topic, it could be a good idea to do a piece on ‘getting to know X better’. Answering questions and providing solutions in your content will also assure better footfall for your blogs or articles.
3. ‘Save to favorites’ from social media
We spend hours scanning social media content aimlessly. It’s time to create a “swipe file”. This includes things that made you stop scrolling and look deeper – what type of content you enjoyed reading, what drew your attention, and what posts you wanted to ‘save’. We often take screenshots of interesting quotes or news items, but they only get dumped in folders not to be looked back into for months. Whether the topics were inspirational, debatable, sticky, or engaging, put them in the swipe file. Anything that piqued your interest once is bound to generate ideas in retrospect. Go back to this file to find topics.
Review graphic advertisements and social videos that may be relevant to your business. Channel your vague thoughts into inspirational and researched content.
4. Follow the trends
Check profiles of people who follow you on social media and see the hot topics in their lives – what they are discussing, what they are posting, and whom or what they are following. Read tweets, scan photos, observe what they repost, study the brands they use, and endorse. Brainstorm on these ideas with your friends, colleagues, and family and get real-life inputs. The content you generate from this will be real and hardcore.
Pick content topics that will resonate with the general public, even if they do not resonate with you.
Your social media followers can be a vast source of ideas. You can chat with them, asking them to help you out with their thoughts on a particular topic or even help you ideate for a pitch or a theme. Post questions on Instagram or Facebook and ask for views, ideas, and judgments. Followers are more than happy to help. Advice is free, and it gives them a sense of pride and involvement in the journey of content development.
For example, if you are working on a brand-related to fitness, ask your followers:
- What do they do to stay fit?
- What do they eat or don’t?
- How important is exercising for them?
- What other factors do they think help in keeping the body fit? Any unconventional workout methods?
- How important is mental health (and that can take you to a whole new topic altogether)?
All answers to such questions are bound to generate new content ideas.
5. Scan the calendar for recent events
When you are running out of ideas, look at the calendar and look for recent events. A marketing campaign always works if connected to occasions, festivals, centenaries, world days, etc. The content in this regard doesn’t have to have breaking news, but something from the near past or even immediate future can provide an exemplary plot. Holidays, cultural activities, sports events, or world or national occurrences will help you engage with your audience with fresh topics.
Create an artificial moment for people with common interests. The day you commemorate doesn’t need to be directly related to your product or service. It can be personal or tangential. For example, if you are marketing plants and other gardening products, it makes sense to post about a scene of Earth Day or World Green Day.
Time the content and tie them smoothly with events, even if they are not directly related.
6. Go ahead and rebut
Sometimes we read articles, blogs and posts we disagree with. Is there something you would not like to validate or some topic that you do not want to justify or support? Channelize the anger, frustration, and irritation and write a rebuttal. Put your point of view out there and be heard. You will have many who won’t agree, but others will surely nod in agreement.
7. Read between the lines
Never skip your competitor’s content. To be fair, one must appreciate what is good. But one should also look for loopholes, missed points and flaws, and make the most of those. Check their websites and social media handles. Stay away from copying or plagiarism, but use their content to agree or disagree and write about what they might have missed. Improve on their research and fill in the gaps to produce better content.
8. Google search or YouTube suggestions
If you are suffering from severe writer’s block and nothing seems to be helping, pick a general topic and Google search. YouTube and Google have suggestions for ideas once you look up a general issue in the search engines. Use this on your cheat days. Related topics, related and suggested videos, and hyperlinks will keep you delving deeper into a topic, and maybe help you find newer subjects.
9. Topic generator platforms
If you’re still blank, absolutely stuck, and can’t think of anything to write about, use online sources and portals that help you generate topics. One such platform is Peppertype.ai. All you have to do is write down a short description of the service or product and the tool generates unlimited ideas for you instantly. Bookmark your favorites and get started.
10. Make a list and revisit ideas
It is also wise to keep a list of ideas; after all, creative people can think even in their sleep! Jot down any interesting ideas and facts you come across in everyday life or even in your dreams and save them. Revisit these when nothing new seems to be coming to mind.
Also, keep a list of previously published content and reuse those ideas to upgrade your post. Rework titles and take different angles. Add newer features, latest developments, and effective keywords, and boost the article’s ranking.
All in all, when you struggle to ideate, be resourceful and wise. Use this guide to dodge an ‘idea’ famine.