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7 Unique Ways to Find Content Ideas for the Most Boring Topics

This is a guest contribution from Ellis McGrath, digital marketing strategist at VITEB.

A blank sheet of paper (oops writers don’t use it a lot anymore) well in that case a blank computer screen is the most frightening thing a writer could ever possibly encounter.

Sitting in front of a computer screen, rolling up sleeves, and ready to write. But nothing happens other than going in circles.

For many of us, the most difficult part in writing is to get the ball rolling. The life of a content writer could be challenging who often stumbles upon a creative roadblock when ideas for content just don’t come. Churning out blog post ideas for clients from diverse (and boring) industries could turn out to be a daunting task. But as professional writers, we have to find out various ways to overcome the challenge of turning out empty screen to an informative and unique article almost consistently.

I am going to share with you innovative ways to overcome the problem of creating content for boring topics, so you too can always come up with blog post ideas at your own sweet will.

#1 Knock the Door of Social Media

Knock the door of social media

You have knocked Google’s door and gleaned through all search results. What next?

You follow the standard operating procedure of checking your competitor’s website/blog but still no success. Well, ever thought of social media? Social media tools are information gold mine. And what better way to get ideas from real people.

Here is how you should go about it:

Twitter

Twitter logo

The blue bird can come to the rescue of writer going through a dry spell of ideation. With 400,000+ million tweets from Twitterati each day, Twitter contains dynamic ideas for any writer out there. There is something in it for every industry.

However, you have to know where to look for information, instead of just browsing through thousands and thousands of random tweets.

But you are idea starved writer  not sure what you are looking for. In such case how do you search information?

Twitter Search

Twitter allows user to search tweets by hashtags and keywords. Of course, you will not get results like Google as results might not appear in a specific order. You can add hashtag and eliminate spaces for more targeted search of your keywords.

Twitter search results

Trending Topics

One of the best way to create engaging content is writing about topics that are trending and popular. Twitter trending topics allows you to do just that. It is a fab way to keep your content fresh.

Once you find right hashtag on your relevant industry/event you will be able to instantly connect with everyone tuned to the event and know what they are talking about. This will definitely spark new ideas.

Twitter trending topics

StumbleUpon

Just like Twitter, you can look for at StumbleUpon tags for most popular and unique topics. It is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet which recommends websites, photos as well as videos of your interest. You can also check out Stumblers following topics of particular interest by looking under the Discover tab.

YouTube

You Tube logo

But how? YouTube is not just about watching movies or funny home videos.

YouTube is second largest search engine with more than 800 million monthly unique visitors. There are loads of tutorials or videos of subject matter experts from all industries. Just watch YouTube videos related to your niche and you have tons of topics ready.

Facebook

How can we forget the mighty Facebook!

There are tons of groups covering each and every industry/specialty imaginable on Facebook, as well as several guest blogging groups where you will find some unique ideas for your content. Select topics that suitable for your audience and go ahead.

LinkedIn Groups

You can become member of relevant LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn allows you to questions fellow members. Discussion thread in LinkedIn is one of the best sources to find topics for your content. You can also get to know views of thought leaders of your industry.

#2 Play around with keyword tools

Übersuggest.com: With this free keyword tool you can instantly get thousands of keyword ideas from real user queries.

Übersuggest get suggestions from web search and search verticals like shopping, news or video. This amazing keyword tool takes your base term, adds a letter and/or a digit next to it, and extracts suggestions. You would be surprised to see the long list of keywords instantly triggering ideas for content and acting as a source of inspiration.

#3  Don’t shy from asking your audience

 

Content is king. Cliched it may sound but very true.

While there is lot of buzz about unique content, let’s not forget that content has to be informative. Is there any better way of finding out what is useful to your audience other than directly asking your audience.

Trust me you will get best ideas from your audience. Go ahead and write articles on topics requested by your audience and see the results. You can also use your Facebook fan page to ask your fans on which topic they would like you to cover on your blog.

#4 Stay inspired, from anything and everything

As a writer, you need to take inspiration from nature and people you meet. You need to be a observer and start getting inspired from your environment.

I know it is not as easy as it sounds, but you need to work on it. You need to think beyond your office walls or cubicles and take the time to see the world around you. The more inspiration you take from life the better. It will reflect in your writing, trust me. This will give a new dimension towards life in general and add a different perspective to your writing.

#5 Look for answers

Start religiously browsing Q&A sites like Quora to find out what people want to know about your industry.

Don’t simply dismiss this list as ordinary or boring questions for amateurs, keep in mind, people are asking these question on public forum. It means that these topics are important to them. So why not provide answers to the questions on your own site? There is no better way to create engaging content. Still not clear how it works.

We searched the term BYOD on Quora and these are the questions people are asking:

  • Should startups go BYOD?
  • What are the key mobile security policies for your BYOD program?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing organizations in the midst of the BYOD trend?
  • What are some best practices for managing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)corporate IT ecosystem?

#6 Newsjacking

The more you let your creative juices flow and think out of the box; the more likely you are to come up with a new angel in your writing. If some interesting news is creating buzz, it’s because it has  generated interest among people. So look for a way to relate with the news and weave a story to capitalise on the popularity of the news story.

For instance, you own a blog for music lovers. It is the time for you to capitalise on the news of Apple’s iOS 7 release. But how? iTunes radio. Sounds interesting? Go ahead and try to connect.

#7 Interview industry stalwarts

Interview a particular subject matter expert and you’ll have more eyeballs rolling. We have used this tactic with much success. It is mainly due to the fact that audience likes to hear from people who know things that we don’t. So, does your industry have a star who could help you add a touch of panache to your content?

I would like to hear from you that if you find these methods effective. Now it’s your turn. Do you have any innovative ideas for spicing up content? Share with us. We would love to hear from you.

Ellis is a digital marketing strategist at VITEB. He is passionate about online marketing & web usability. He is associated with leading web & development company having experts web developers in India. Follow us on Twitter @viteb.

7 Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out

burn outWhat do you do to avoid blogger burnout? How do you stay inspired?

Monique Frausto asked the above question on Twitter late last week and because it was a bit too big of a topic to tackle in 140 characters, I thought I’d jot a few random thoughts down here.

1. Know Your Limits and Set Realistic Goals

We all have a limited amount of time and energy to put into blogging regardless – whether we’re blogging while juggling full time work or our blog is our full time work.

The reality is we always want to do than we can fit into the time we have. So I think it is important to be realistic and know how much time we can actually put into blogging and adjust our goals and expectations accordingly.

For example, my wife – V – recently started blogging (please be gentle – she’s in her first month). While she’d love to dedicate more time to it one day, right now she’s juggling work, kids and a crazy blogger husband (and a lot more) and the time she has available to blog is limited.

As a result she’s starting out with a 3 post per week goal. I know she has ideas to generate 1-2 posts a day – I think starting out slower is going to help her to sustain it longer over the long haul and will hopefully keep blogger burn out at bay.

Keep in mind: while some argue that posting every single day is the only way to go – there are no rules. There are pros and cons of higher frequencies of posting. You’ve got to choose a frequency you can sustain.

2. Find your Groove with a Routine that Works for You

I find that blogging is more effortless (it is never completely effortless) when I am in a ‘groove’ and have a bit of a rhythm in place. It helps me know what to do, when.

I set aside different times of the day for different activities. For example – for me mornings is for writing, afternoons is for editing and scheduling posts and evenings is for admin and social media.

In the early days, I would do the same but not on a daily basis because I was working part time jobs and studying. I would set aside days for different activities instead. Monday mornings would be writing time and I’d try to write a few posts to use during the week, most nights I would moderate comments and read other blogs.

3. Identify the Sticking Points

Usually, when you get ‘stuck’ and burn out it centres around a specific issue. It might be a lack of ideas, inability to get into the writing groove, lack of inspiration to interact with other bloggers… (the list can go on).

When you’re stuck, try to narrow down on the area that’s holding you back. I wrote about this recently in a post about the bloggers block I’ve had over the years. In each case the issue was different and by identifying the exact problem I was able to dedicate time to fixing it.

4. Taking Breaks

When it comes out to burning out I think the key is to not only work out how you’ll blog, developing rhythms and systems to help you do that, it is also important to work out how you’ll ‘rest’ and have a break from blogging.

In my early years I became quite obsessed with blogging – to the point where I was always thinking about it or doing it. Even when I was doing other activities I was still thinking about posts, how to grow traffic and how to monetize.

Build time off into your daily and weekly rhythms. Time off to have a normal life. This sounds like a no brainer but it really is so important.

For me – I don’t blog on the weekends until Sunday night. I also set aside regular times for vacations with the family during which I try not to blog. These offline and times of rest keep me going.

5. Socialize

One of the challenges many bloggers face is that we easily get distracted by social media. You get onto Twitter to share a post and connect with your readers and you see an interesting link… and then you see another… and then someone starts a funny hashtag… and before you know it you’ve spent 4 hours Tweeting funny things on the #ThingsIdSayToBillClinton.

Social media is full of distractions but it can be used for good to help you get inspired…. if you use it the right way.

I semi-regularly participate in hashtag chats that relate to my niches and almost always get ideas to write about from them.

For example, #BlogChat chat happens once a week and I often come away with a golden nugget of an idea that I go away and write about.

Similarly, I love webinars (both running them and participating in other people’s) because I often get a moment of clarity or inspiration that sparks a whole new direction for my blogs.

I also participate in a couple of good Facebook groups that are for bloggers in my niches and find that they often give me great ideas.

The other place I go for socialisation is conferences and meetups. It isn’t a super regular thing for me but definitely good to punctuate the year with some real life interactions with people who get you as a blogger.

The key is to find social interactions that are actually focused enough to add value to what you do – rather than distract you!

6. Charge Your Day with Inspirational Moments

Most days I like to pepper my day with inspiration bombs. Usually for me this takes the form of listening to a TED talk or reading one of my favourite blogs.

It doesn’t even matter if the topic of the inspiration has nothing at all to do with my blogs. I find that just putting myself in a place to be inspired or to see something that evokes some kind of emotional reaction is often enough to fire me up enough to go and do something worthwhile on my own blogs.

7. Do Something that Matters

Probably the number one thing I’ve found that keeps me fresh and inspired with my blogging is to blog about things that matter – to me and to others.

When you’re doing something that you have a genuine interest in and passion for, you’ll find that 99% of the time you can keep momentum going. I’ve had 30 or so blogs over the years and the two that I run today are on topics that I just really like and gain a lot of personal satisfaction from.

The other part of this point is to create something that matters to others. When you’re making other people’s lives better you’ll find that you get a lot of energy and inspiration. I know that while there have been tough times in building up ProBlogger over the last 9 years, the comments or emails from readers letting me know that something I’ve done has had a tangible impact upon them have helped me through those tough times.

So put your time into creating something real, something that makes your life and others lives better, and you’ll find that feeds you constant energy to help you through the tough times.