How to Write Content When You’ve (Supposedly) Run Out of Content

Posted on July 23, 2014 by in Blog | How-to

Out of Ideas

Let me guess: You’re staring at a blank document and transfixed by that vile blinking cursor. In a way, it’s even taunting you. “I can keep going forever and ever,” it says, “while you can’t even start!”

Don’t worry, you are definitely not alone. As a content marketer, my whole job is to come up with new content time and time again. If I had a dime for every time I’ve found myself in the above scenario, I could probably just solve my problem by outsourcing my work to someone else! Alright, that’s definitely an over-exaggeration but you get the point.

While there is no magical way to get over the ‘content slump,’ there are a number of tricks to help you create new content when your brain is seemingly empty. Below are just a few of the ways for you to get the creative juices flowing and get over the dreaded blinking cursor syndrome. If you’ve got any other tips then please share them below – I’m always looking for more!

Update Older Content

Over the course of a year, it’s natural to post content that pertains to that particular moment in time. Maybe you’ve made predictions about a (then) new product being offered, published a Top 10 list of products/services that were available at the time, or released stats about your industry for that month/year. While this type of content is great, after a while it will become irrelevant.

You don’t have to write these pieces off just because they’re now outdated. If people were interested in them when they first came out, chances are they’d love to see an updated version with new information. Bring your stats up-to-date for the current time period. Revisit lists with new products that have come out. Ultimately, this will give your audience a great reason to keep coming back to your website in order to get topical information that’s continuously updated.

Involve Your Community

Part of what makes the Internet so great is that it provides a level playing ground for everyone to instantly communicate with each other. Chances are you’re connecting with your audience already on Twitter or other social networks, so why not go one step further and involve them in your content creation?

A great way to come up with new content while also better engaging your audience is by asking them to participate in your content creation. Jimmy Fallon does a great job of this on the Tonight Show by tweeting out a unique hashtag on Twitter every Wednesday and then showing the highlights on the and the following night’s show. Plus, people will want to keep coming back to your website in order to see if they made the cut. If they were lucky enough to get featured, then it’s a safe bet that they’ll want to share the content with others, bringing it to even more people!

See What Others Are Up To

As the Buddhists say, nothing exists in isolation; everything is interconnected in some way or another. You don’t need to get philosophical, though, to realize that you are a part of various communities. Your content contributes to an overall discussion about your product, service, industry, interests, or pretty much any other aspect of what makes you you.

Pay attention to what others are saying about things that you write about. Personally, I love using Flipboard to discover new content relating to topics that matter most to me. I also follow key influencers and peers on Twitter to keep up-to-date with what conversations are happening (as long as we’re on the topic, connect with me @MichaelKeshen!). When you pay attention to what everyone else is talking about, you’ll be surprised how your own views can begin to take form as new pieces of content in order to add your voice to the conversation. Also, try and see what gaps there are in the content that’s out there and use these as prime opportunities to jump in.

As long as you’re doing all this research, put it to good use. I guarantee there are others that would like to know more about a topic but do not want to spend the time digging for content. Do the work for them by posting all of the great content that you’ve found in a round-up. This is another tactic to keep people coming back to your site, and it’ll also make the people you’re featuring want to share your content as well.

Repurpose What You Already Have

OK, this isn’t technically coming up with new content – and that’s OK! If you’ve got a lot of content already, revisit what you’ve done so far. Content comes in many different forms, and sometimes it can benefit from being transformed from one type to another. Some ways that I’ve personally used this strategy include:

  • Reworking a data-heavy blog post into an infographic.
  • Compiling multiple blog posts into an eBook.
  • Further exploring a blog post in a webinar.
  • Turning a webinar into a SlideShare presentation.

Breathing new life into existing content can help give it the chance for success it may have missed the first time around. Just make sure that it makes sense to repurpose a piece of content and that it will truly benefit from its new form; otherwise, you might get called out on repurposing without purpose.

Keep a List of Ideas

This is more of a long-term strategy that won’t help you come up with a content idea right now but, eventually, will be invaluable. Ideas are always popping into my head at random moments, whether I’m walking my dog, riding my bike or drifting off to sleep. It’s tempting to think “oh, I’ll remember that for later” but, believe me, most of the time you won’t. Whenever an idea comes to mind, please, I’m begging you, write it down! Be sure to use a solution like Google Keep, or another program that will sync across your devices.

Even if you think the idea might be total crap, write it down anyway. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve jotted down an idea that I thought might be dumb and my coworkers have praised as a stroke of genius. Plus, ideas can morph over time. Even if the initial idea isn’t great, there might be an aspect to it that inspires another piece of content.

Have any other tips for coming up with content ideas? If so, I’d really love to hear them – let me know in the comments below!