The Content Complex
As I was writing my last post, I was intrigued by the love/hate relationship everyone seems to have with Content. I’ve authored countless client blog posts, white papers, websites, guides, ad copy, brochures; you name it, I’ve had my head buried in it. But when I look back a mere week ago to when I was writing my own inaugural blog post, I’m plagued with unsettling memories of racking my brain for the perfect topic, staring at a blank computer screen, writing and re-writing intros, and going off on unrelated tangents. Basically doing everything but actually writing. So it got me thinking; in a time where content is saturating the market, why is it so hard to come up with content ideas and, ultimately, create said content?
So I did a little soul searching and a bit of research, to come up with the best tips I could find for getting your creative juices flowing.
1. Stay Informed
We all know that if you want to be a thought leader in your industry, being on top of trends and happenings is a no brainer. But your daily dose of know-how can also help trigger ideas. Subscribe to newsletters and RSS feeds, set Google notifications, check popular websites while you’re having your morning coffee – do any and everything that can keep you in the know. Don’t forget to monitor your client’s industries, too, and keep an eye out for improvements and ideas in your world that can help them in theirs.
This may sound counterproductive based on step one, or, depending on who you are, an impossible feat. But the truth is, technology and our ability to always be connected has compromised our attention span and limited our focus. It may be unreasonable to expect you to disconnect for too long, but even setting aside an hour of distraction-free time (including no cell phones!) can help clear your head and get you focused on the task at hand. Bonus: if you have no self control, there are apps out there (both paid and free) that help block out distractions and keep you on track.
3. Think Beyond Articles
I’ve been guilty of this too. The normal train of thought is typically content = blog post = a 250-500 word article, but it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Content in general can be much more than words on a page; try exploring different kinds of outlets and channels to creatively express your point of view. Take a cue from Buzzfeed, who changed the way we consume content with simple lists, headlines and an image or animated gif. Think like Tasty (ironically, another brainchild of Buzzfeed), who made our stomachs growl and our eyes widen. Videos, infographics and podcasts are all great ways to communicate your position and keep your readers coming back for more.
4. Practice Stream-of-Consciousness Writing
Often used by great novelists and creative writers, this method of uninhibited writing helps clear your mind of useless junk that may be blocking great ideas. The idea is to do nothing but write for an extended period of time, jotting down whatever comes to mind. The rules are simple, and the results can be astonishing. Try building at least 20 minutes into your morning routine and see what buried treasures you unearth.
5. Capture Everything
Don’t keep your thoughts locked away. Any idea, keyword, topic, headline, sentence, quote – whatever it may be, write it down somewhere. Your method is completely dependent on your style; some people prefer to use apps, some like good ‘ole sticky notes, some dedicate an area in the office, preferably around a whiteboard or bulletin board, where they can share ideas and thoughts with colleagues. Perhaps one idea will spark another, and before you know it, you have all you need to create a phenomenal piece of content.
The thought of creating intriguing content, week after week, can drive a person mad. But hopefully with the help of these habits, a solid content strategy and little patience, you will become a content marketing expert in no time!