The white screen. The flashing cursor. The looming deadline.
The complete and utter lack of inspiration.
We’ve all been there. Sometimes you are just completely out of good ideas, or you’ve left it to the last minute, and your brain has frozen. You just don’t know what to write.
Bad content is worse than no content
A bit like when I wrote about the perils of an out of date blog, just rushing something out for the sake of it is never good news. You’ll disappoint the people who read your work regularly. People who turn up for the first time might think that’s your usual standard and skip off the page really quickly, never to return.
And we know Google doesn’t like it when you fail to convince people to linger on your page or explore your site further. It’s a mark of poor quality content, and the algorithm has possibly got a point if it’s something slapdash you’ve thrown together for the sake of it.
So, what’s the alternative?
It’s going to happen to all of us at some point, particularly if you’re a small business owner, the Chief Everything Officer, as David Hieatt puts it.
Here’s my suggestions to get you through the blank screen feeling of doom.
Start with the simplest one. Just don’t do a post this week, this month, whatever your schedule is.
Just move onto coming up with something amazing for the next one. A small break is better than a poorly thought out post.
You could write a post to say there is no post. Let’s face it, the BBC once put a news bulletin that said there was no news, so why not just say nothing is coming this week? That you’ve hit a bit of a lull.
If there’s been something going on that’s contributed to your lack of inspiration, then you could share that. I once wrote a post to say I’d been ill and wasn’t posting that got the most traffic of anything I posted that month. People who read your content regularly might have some empathy for what you’re going through.
Post something different
You could post an image, a GIF, a video. You may or may not put any text with it. But the old saying about pictures saying a thousand words could be true and work in your favour.
Share what you’ve been reading
A round-up type post could be quicker to put together and give your readers some different fuel for thought. Share five or six things you’ve read that have been thought-provoking, irritating, laugh out loud funny or just good old-fashioned useful.
I love an edited list and discovering things that are new to me. Let’s face it, we can’t discover all of the internet (and probably don’t want to), but it’s always good to get some ideas of new places to go from someone you trust.
Highlight what someone else is up to
A bit like sharing what you’ve been reading, you could share news from your network. It doesn’t have to all be about you.
Shine a light on people you work with or other local businesses. You might even talk about what your “competitors” are up to. I think the past year has seen a lot more collaboration, the building of links across communities and industries. Share the love around.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Everyone has off days. Or days where the rest of life intervenes in our plans. We’re not publishing the New York Times. We can give ourselves a break and then pick it back up again when we’ve got your mojo back.
Always write your ideas down
Sometimes you forget that you’ve had a good idea for a post. When you’re trying to scrabble around for an idea, it’s likely to be really well hidden in the recesses of your brain.
My advice is to have one place you keep a running log of ideas, even if they are just titles. It can be in a notebook, a stack of post-it notes, on a chalkboard. I quite often open up a new post and just stick the title on it and any bullet points.
It doesn’t have to be fully formed and don’t judge whether it’s any good. When the moment’s right, you’ll make it good. When I’m looking for something to write, I go back to those titles and hope that one or two of those green shoots are ready for their moment to spring into life.
Trust me. You will write again. Or you’ll decide that it’s time to start looking at some alternatives.