If you’re a content marketer, chances are you’ve had your fair share of slow news days or idea fatigue. This is normal and understandable. After all, if you’re constantly writing about a given topic, you’re bound to run out of things to say for time to time.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to get out of this dilemma. Here are five tips you can put into action during those days when you feel like you have nothing new to say:
When it comes to dealing with a shortage of ideas, it doesn’t help to stress or pressure yourself to come up with insights. Think of it as falling into quicksand: The more you struggle, the faster you sink.
That’s why it’s best to just relax—at least for the time being. Resist the urge to run around or worry about the fact that you don’t know what to write about. Instead, take a deep breath and engage in a relaxing activity (preferably away from the computer) for a few minutes.
Take a walk. Listen to some feel-good tunes. Talk to a loved one. Engage in anything that puts your mind in a positive place. Doing so helps “unclench” your brain and makes it more open and conducive to brainstorming.
Let Content Ideas Come to You
While proactively searching for ideas is certainly a good strategy, letting ideas come to you is just as effective. Here are a few tactics to ensure you always have a steady stream of relevant news and insights flowing through your inbox and social channels:
Subscribe to Industry Newsletters
If you haven’t done so yet, subscribe to industry newsletters via email so you always have an ear on what’s going on in your field.
You can also check out SmartBrief, a service that curates articles from numerous sources and delivers regular digests straight to your inbox. SmartBrief caters to professionals from various industries including tech, retail, finance, and more — so no matter what your niche is, you’re bound to find a “brief” for you.
Utilize LinkedIn Pulse
LinkedIn Pulse is also a great source of new ideas. Check out the app by hovering over the “Interests” link on the LinkedIn navigation bar and clicking “Pulse”. You’ll then be taken to a page containing posts that LinkedIn thinks you’ll like.
To customize the content, start following influencers and topics in your industry by heading to the “Discover” tab and hitting the plus signs on the subjects or people who interest you.
Follow Thought Leaders
Following thought leaders is also a good way to keep tabs on the hot topics in your industry. Create a Twitter list of the most influential people in your industry—they could be authors, founders, or experts—then refer to it whenever you feel the idea well running dry. Go through their latest tweets and posts and see if any new ideas come up.
It also helps to actually talk to these individuals. Don’t just silently read their content; make it a point to leave a comment or tweet your thoughts. Doing so can start meaningful discussions that could result in fresh insights.
Take it to the Crowd
Tapping into your network of peers and customers can bring up some interesting stories, questions, and comments—all of which could make for great content. If you’re tired of racking your brain for new ideas, talk to other people and see if they can come up with something for you.
Ask open-ended questions and mine people’s answers for topics. If you’re dealing with a large audience, consider conducting a survey; tally the results and present them as graphs for your next post.
Where and how should you conduct your crowdsourcing efforts? Here are few ideas:
Colleagues and Customers
Start with good old-fashioned conversations and generate discussions with real people. Consider your co-workers. Is there anything in particular that they’d like to read about on the company blog? Did they talk to any interesting customers lately?
Send out a department or company-wide email and tell your colleagues that you’re open to ideas. You might be surprised at what others could come up with.
You can also draw insights from your customers. Talk to them and ask if there are topics that they’d like to see on your website. Do they need help understanding a particular issue? Is there a skill that they’d like to learn? Write a blog post about it.
Q&A Sites, Forums, and Groups
Forums, LinkedIn Groups, and Q&A sites like Quora are also worth exploring. Start threads and ask questions like “What’s the biggest challenge in your business at the moment?” or “What keeps you up at night?” These types of questions can spark discussions and give you insights into what your target audience actually wants to read about.
Also note that sometimes you don’t even have to ask. Simply exploring these sites and reading what people are talking about can generate a ton of ideas.
Recognize There’s Nothing Wrong With Re-Using Old Ideas
It’s not a crime to write about something you’ve covered in the past. As Marie Forleo puts it:
Retreading old ground is not a sin. When it comes to content creation, you got to remember:
- Not everybody saw that blog post you did back in 2011
- If they did, they probably don’t remember it as well as you do
- People like to revisit the same topics again and again
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should simply copy and paste previous posts then pass them off as new content. What you can do, however, is re-read your previous articles and come up with fresh angle about the same topics.
For example, let’s say you wrote about Facebook best practices back in 2010. Obviously, the social network has changed quite a bit since then, so consider coming up with a 2014 edition. Or, let’s say you produced an article entitled 25 Things You Can Do to Jump Start Your Career. Why not zero in on just one tip out of that list and expand it?
Go Out There and Experience Things for Yourself
Too many people are comfortable staying in front of the computer while living vicariously through articles and social media posts Don’t be one of them. If you want to write something new, go out there and experience something new.
Attend live events instead of depending on tweets and updates. Meet people face-to-face rather than relying on chat or email. Experiment with products and ideas. Heck, make mistakes—then write about the lessons you learned.
The Bottom Line
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have nothing new to say. There’s always something to talk about. You just have to know how to find those ideas and how to let them find you.
Do you have any other tips for dealing with idea fatigue? Share your thoughts in the comments.