One of the biggest hurdles to maintaining a consistent content marketing programme is coming up with the ideas for what to write! Knowing that you need to produce a couple of blog posts when the creative juices simply aren’t flowing can become very stressful when you have a newsletter deadline approaching. Regularly driving and writing new content is at the heart of BSA – both for ourselves and our clients so maybe we see the issues more than many. This said, we have developed a number of tips and techniques to help keep the content flowing. Here are some of our favourites…
1. Maintain a “Content Calendar”
Pretty much everyone talks about the value of planning in business and content is no different. Time flies so quickly and deadlines seem to appear out of nowhere. Having just a couple of hours to come up with content ideas is never a good thing. This pressure can impact on the quality of what you produce. A Content Calendar can help you plan ahead. It needs to be no more than a spreadsheet outlining your ideas for articles along with a date when you are planning to publish them on your website, or elsewhere. I suggest you try to look 3-6 months ahead and then review your calendar every month adding new ideas each time. Remember to keep a historic record of if your calendar too. You will find that you can reuse and adapt ideas you have had in the past. This can be especially helpful if there is a seasonal nature to your business. …and another thing… By planning ahead with your content, not only is there more time to produce it, you can structure things so your ‘story telling’ becomes more fluid:
- Give a theme to a newsletter with articles focussing on a particular aspect of your business.
- Develop a series where you build a message through a collection of articles across 3 or 4 e-newsletters.
2. Nurture your “Content Radar”
Content can come from anywhere.
- Your own ideas drawn from your experience
- Something you read or see
- Collaborative discussion
- Comments from customers or suppliers
You never know where the next idea might be lurking! Developing your content radar’ means that whatever you are doing, the possibility of a content opportunity should be constantly at the back of your mind. If you can nurture and develop your own content radar it’s amazing how often something in your day to day business will make you think
"There's a blog post in that".
Make a note, and build it in to your content calendar.
There can be nothing worse than being faced with a blank piece of paper (or screen) and being expected to fill it yourself. Thinking up ideas for marketing content can be a challenge, particularly if you are trying to do it on your own. In my experience, a brainstorming” session with colleagues in the business can be a great way of developing ideas. Even better, you can share them out. If several people have a go at producing content which you can then discuss and refine is normally a much less stressful route to content. Even better, if it is easier, it is more likely to continue.
4. Look out for guest blog opportunities.
We all have suppliers, customers and other people we engage with as part of our business. Maybe they might be up for writing something that would be of interest to your readers? Don’t be afraid of offering them space on your blog to write a guest article. It can also be a great way of developing relationships with business partners. Even better, if they do their own newsletter of other content marketing, perhaps you could offer some of your own carefully crafted content for them to use.
5. Don’t feel you have to come up with all your ideas in-house
Whatever your business, other companies operating in your field (not necessarily competitors) will be writing content on similar subjects to you. By keeping your ear to the ground, you can find articles written by others that trigger ideas of your own. There are a few useful tools in this area including:
- Google Alerts – alters you wen pages including a given keyword are added to the Google index
- Content Gems – Another tool which scans a range of content sources for items containing a given keywords, and emails you a periodic summary of articles that it finds.
- Sector newsletters – Sign up to receive newsletters relevant to your business. They have some great and relevant content
- LinkedIn Groups – If you can find an active LinkedIn Group that fits with your business you can draw from (and join in with) relevant discussions
Ideas are half the battle
Keeping up a stream of content ideas is half the battle. In practice, if you put your mind to it and develop a structured approach to your content it doesn’t need to be the challenge you might at first think.Hopefully the ideas above will help keep those ideas flowing. Hopefully the ideas above will help keep those ideas flowing.