This article is about strategies you can use when you know you need to write content, but you are not sure what you’re going to write about.
These strategies can be used to generate content at any time. But they can be especially helpful when you’re facing the blank page and your article bank is depleted.
Strategy 1 – The Expanded List Post
List posts are very popular forms of content. They generally rank well in search engine results, people like to read them, and they often get shared around on Twitter, Facebook and the look.
We can take advantage of all that – and at the same time use the concept of a list posts to generate some new content and ideas.
Here’s how it works.
First you need a topic. Let’s say your chosen topic was going to be about the benefits of outlining articles. Decide how many points you are going to have on your List Post article – so for this example let’s say it’s seven.
Brainstorm your list of points – obviously if you struggle with seven then change the headline! When you have your list, turn it into an article by adding an introduction and a summary and by adding two or three lines of content to each item on your list.
Now, here is where the magic happens.
Each of those items you placed in your list will become a separate, new article that you link to from the original list post. So out of this one piece of content -remember entitled something like The Seven Benefits Of Outlining Articles- you will generate eight pieces of content.
Those eight pieces of content are:
- the original List Post;
- seven individual articles that are all cross-linked from the original list post.
The obvious benefits of this are that you’ve generated eight pieces of content from one content idea
The less obvious benefits come when potential clients encounter your list post, and then click through to one of the linked articles in this post itself. This depth of content helps position you as an authority. The cliché a yard wide and a mile deep starts to apply here. The expanded list post allows you to get website visitors deeper into your website and expose them further to your content.
That’s win-win in my book.
Strategy 2 – Answering Questions
Using questions to generate content ideas might seem really obvious. Judiciously used though, questions can help generate content that your target audience really enjoys and will potentially really help that target audience with their problems.
This kind of content helps position you as an expert and helps the perception of people who don’t know you to view you as an authority.
There are three ways you can generate content by answering questions.
The first way is to go to forums in your market area. Find questions that are being asked repeatedly. You can even answer them in the forum, which may help draw people back to your website from the forum.
Try and answer the question at length- or in depth. Then take that answer and convert into a separate, stand-alone article by adding an introduction, a summary and a call to action.
The second way is to answer either common customer/client questions. Or if you don’t have a bunch of customers yet, then find a target profile and interview them. Ask them what problems they are facing in your market area – get them to come up with a list.
Particularly look out for “newbie questions.” One of the problems a lot of experts suffer from is what the Heath Brothers called ‘the curse of knowledge.’ Often these experts are so far removed in ability level from beginners that they forget what the beginner doesn’t know. So answering beginner questions in depth is a great way of generating content that both shows the depth and breadth of your knowledge, but also really helps attracting those kind of readers to your website (and hopefully to your mailing list!).
If answering questions appeals to you, I recommend you check out Marcus Sheridan at http://www.thesaleslion.com.
He used exactly this kind of content to turn around his swimming pool company from near bankruptcy at the height of the recession to market leaders now. One of Marcus’s biggest recommendations is to answer the questions that people in your industry don’t talk about. (Usually those questions concern price.)
The third way to generate content with questions is to persuade a friend to sit down with you, ask that friend to imagine they are a newbie in your area of expertise, and fire away with as many questions as they can think of.
Strategy 3 – The Book Or Product Review
Now this might sound a trite way of generating content. Every man and his dog writes book or product reviews (usually with affiliate links). But I’ve found book reviews in the bass guitar field to be a goldmine of potential content ideas.
That’s because I use a specific formula for my reviews. The formula goes like this:
- So what’s the book/product about?
- So what’s good about the book/product?
- How could the book or product be better?
The really important section of the book or product review is question 3 – how could the book or product be better? If you can list a number of ways that the book or product can indeed be better, then you are making a list of either potential products of your own (all of which can be chunked down into article sized content) or a list of potential articles that you can write.
If you’re struggling with ideas you may find a strategy in this article that helps you generate a bunch of ideas.
We looked at three different ways to generate content ideas:
- The Expanded List Post
- Answering Questions
- The Book or Product Review
These aren’t the only ways of generating content ideas of course! If you have a favorite, please feel free to share in the comments below.