I'm a big proponent of content marketing, not just for the sake of SEO, but more so as a way to start conversations, and to share knowledge. Most people I meet love this - right up until the moment they sit down and start typing.
It’s at this point they realize that their minds have gone blank and they don’t know where to start.
Writer's block can be a real struggle, especially when you aren’t used to creating content on a regular basis. To help you get past this all-to-common obstacle, in this post, I'll explore some easy and proven ways to help you get over that initial stumbling block, and get on with creating great, insightful, valuable content.
1. Keep Ideas and Topics in a Notebook
It’s never easy to come up with a topic or theme when you need one most, and we all have times when we feel more or less creative.
Realizing this, it’s a good idea to keep a list of topics or subjects you’d like to address on your blog and in the future. Get into the habit of carrying around a small notebook, and recording your ideas when they come to mind. Then it will be there, ready to use, when it’s time to create your new content.
2. Look at the Calendar
Sometimes the inspiration you need is right in front of you. What would you want your customers or readers to know during the holidays, at the start of a new year, or during the slow summer months (as examples)?
Are there certain times in your business or industry when distinct economic or regulatory issues come up again and again?
Any of these can make for great content topics. If the timing affects you as well, you'll likely have some first-hand insights to share.
3. Listen to Your Clients, Customers, or Partners
You don’t have to be creative to be a fantastic writer or content marketer. Instead, you just have to keep your ear to the ground and see what the people around you are talking about.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re hearing about something more than once or twice a week, then it’s probably worth addressing in a content piece. You might be amazed at the level of viewership and engagement you can achieve just by hitting on current topics.
4. Highlight a Recent Victory (or Defeat)
Experience is a great teacher. If something has gone really well for you or one of your clients, why not highlight it in your content? You might be able to show off a new feature or idea, for example, while providing a simplified case study that others can learn from.
Conversely, if you've had a big setback, you can share what went wrong, what was learned, and how you’ll do things differently in the future. That’s a level of honesty that most marketers never achieve.
What’s more, it can show customers that you’re honest while giving you an opportunity to examine your own business practices.
5. Look for What’s Changing
If things are changing all around you, or your industry is going through major transitions, those are themes you might want to address again and again in your content.
Doing so will show your customers and clients that you're paying attention, and perhaps even leading. It also helps to prepare them for shifts that might arrive in the near future.
The better you get at looking forward, the more of an authority you'll become to be to the people you inform.
6. Focus on Themes in Your Content
One small detail that separates the best blogs or social feeds from the rest is that they are consistently on-topic.
While some marketers meander from one idea or inspiration to the next, those who are more committed are able to establish which subjects they're true experts on, and which ones excite their readers.
By having certain themes you return to, you make it easier to stay on track and create new content, and you make it easier for potential customers or clients to grasp your line of thinking.
7. Talk About Things Your Competition Won’t
There are a lot of things that your competitors probably won’t talk about. Maybe they prefer not to highlight differences in price and service, or perhaps they shy away from explaining the fine print that's common in your industry. If that’s the case, you certainly don’t have to follow their lead.
Do what they won’t. It's a chance to be completely transparent. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but once people realize that you're willing to tell them literally all they need to know – the good and the bad – you’ll begin to stand out.
This can be a great way to make your content more authentic and valuable, and to break through writer’s block.
8. Put Yourself in Your Reader’s Shoes
We have all of our clients create detailed buyer and influencer personas. In creating these, we want them to think about who it is they most need to appeal to with their content.
If you've followed through with that exercise, then imagine your ideal customer is sitting right in front of you.
What would you really want that person to know right now? What piece of information or insight could be helpful to them in their journey to find solutions?
Answer those questions and you’ll have the basis for many different pieces of content.
9. Make Writing a Habit
Writing is exponentially easier when you make it a habit.
For one thing, your brain is like a muscle that gets better with repeated use. The more you put your writing skills into action, the sharper they become. Additionally, when you develop a writing habit, you’ll be able to break huge content creation projects down into small, achievable parts.
This, in itself, will make the job of writing posts seem ten times easier.
10. The Reality of Writer’s Block
When you get down to it, struggling with writer’s block is usually more about inspiration than it is information. By that, I mean that we fight it because we feel tired, burnt out, or unenthusiastic about the topics in front of us, not because we simply don’t know what to write.
Let's flip that script. Is something making you mad or exciting the heck out of you? Write about then, in the moment, or simply jot it out any way you can. By capturing that emotion while it's raw, you have something very powerful in your toolkit.
Once you understand that distinction, it gets easier to find a better way forward - instead of simply looking for words to put on a page or screen, you can search for the ideas that mean something to you and the real-life people you want to reach.
Bonus tip: Don't worry about being perfect. Draft it out and ask someone else to be the editor. Copyeditors exist for a reason. They can take our scribbles and turn them into coherent messaging. As I look back, only about 5% of my written work has been done without running it past an editor.
It's just smart - plus, they're more likely than us to spot the typos.