Writing a blog for a small business is quite a commitment, particularly on top of everything else you need to do. If you’ve got into a blogging rhythm and are putting out high-quality content that gets great engagement and converts to sales, then you are really right up there. I see businesses start and stop their blogs all the time.
And two key things come back all the time: running out of time and running out of ideas.
The two things are a bit related. As I’ve written about before, the myth of writing posts in 30 minutes only comes true with some preparation. Having a list of ideas is definitely part of that preparation. But what if you’ve worked through your list and are now out of ideas?
Honestly, I don’t think there’s ever really no ideas left to write about. Sometimes you just need a bit of a jump start for your imagination. Here’s some key things to think about:
What’s your best performing post?
From your analytics, you’ll know which has been your best performing post. It could be best performing for traffic, for comments, for sharing, for sales…whatever your metric of success.
How can you revisit this post? Is there an update to it? Or is there something similar to write about? Maybe there’s a story to follow up the original post with. Did something happen after the last post that makes a good story? Not all good stories are success stories, so don’t be afraid to be honest, human, funny…be real.
What are you all about?
What are the keywords to describe what you do? Try doing it in less than six words. And now find another 6. And if at all possible another 6.
If you put those six words into Google, then you should get two sets of ideas. Here’s an example. I put “organic skincare for older skin” into the search bar. Before I’d pressed enter then it had already given me these alternatives:
Scrolling down to the bottom and it gave me some more options:
There’s definitely some starting points in there. You could then take any one of those phrases and repeat the exercise again. Keep a list of all the ones that resonate with you; they can be something to come back to in the future as well.
What do people want to know about what you do?
Think about all the times people ask you about what you do or your product? Look at all your channels, so things like what questions do you get on Facebook? Or, if you do live events, what conversations do you have with people? Think about those things, and write a post answering one of those questions. On the flip side, what are the objections people have to your product or service? Can you answer those things?
What are your competitors writing about successfully?
Let’s be clear upfront: this is not about copying. But looking at what your competitors are up to, and what’s working for them, is smart. Use it as a jumping off point, an inspiration. And Buzz Sumo is a great place to start from.
For example, I have a strong interest in British charcuterie at the moment, so had a look at Cannon & Cannon (sadly no longer in business) on Buzz Sumo. Here’s the results:
You can see what’s worked for them. The first one is not a live link anymore but is obviously about a specific Christmas gift. The next biggest (and the fourth that’s out of this clip) were about events, and the third is a recipe. So if I were another brand in charcuterie, then I might be looking at what we could do in similar areas.
You may not be about to go on Sunday Brunch, but then it might not be talking about events that works for your business. It’s just a pointer. And you’ll have more than one competitor, so take a view from a few of them, and then see what ideas are best for you and your customer.
Give your right brain a boost
Maybe if you’ve done all those things, stop thinking about it. Ok, I know that’s not the usual advice when you read these kind of posts, but then I’m not a usual content writer.
But think about where do you have your best ideas? Sat at your desk staring at your laptop? Or when you’re doing something else? I have my best ideas around water: in the shower, in the pool, walking on the beach. Or, given I’m living in the Midlands at the moment, just walking.
You engage a different part of your brain, and that might just help unlock different ideas. Just remember to write the ideas down as you have them.
What do you think? What works for you when you get stuck for ideas?