Everybody, even the most experienced content creators, get burnt out. When your livelihood depends on creating that content, or at the very least you have a website you need to keep updated, this can be a serious problem.
You might not know where to turn when your brain refuses to spark any new ideas. This is the proverbial problem of the writer’s block, and yet it doesn’t just affect writers. It impacts all creative professionals.
Creating a Powerful Content Brainstorming Dashboard
Below are two tools to begin using to store your ideas and spur your inspiration in case you get stuck:
Trello (free) boards are awesome for organizing your thoughts. They can be used for mind-mapping, idea storing, link bookmarking, etc.
Cyfe (freemium) is another way to automate idea flowing. Cyfe allows you to create multiple dashboards with multiple widgets in each to store and quickly access any information you may need. You can have a separate dashboard for content brainstorming to import results from:
- Several Twitter search queries (which are useful for brainstorming, e.g. #qa, #expertinterview).
- Several Google Plus search queries.
- Several Google Alerts results.
So whenever you are looking for an idea, just click through to that dashboard and scroll until you are enlightened:
Ways to Develop Content Ideas
There are ways to force your mind into behaving, so try these ten ways of developing content ideas when you are stuck.
Get Away From The Problem
You might just need a break. For some of us (maybe even all of us), there is only so much that can be taken on before we have to take a couple of days to ourselves. Trying to force yourself to work on a project will just lead to frustration and further stress which then saps you of the energy to form ideas.
It is a vicious circle. So step away, take a couple of hours or a couple of days. If you really need to have an update, get someone to cover for you. Plenty of your followers may be happy to contribute an article. It might even give you some fresh concepts to work with when you get back.
Take Some Time To Daydream
Daydreaming is a great way to come up with ideas, and expand on them. It is also an activity we don’t tend to engage in nearly enough as adults. It should be a regular part of our lives, especially when related to the process of coming up with content.
How can we create anything if we aren’t taking the time to stretch our imaginations?
Check Out Blogs You Read
Other people’s content is a gold mine for ideas. You don’t want to copy them, obviously. But maybe they spoke about something you have your own ideas about and you would like to add your own take. Or you know a related topic that would be interesting to expand on.
Whatever the case, it can be a great starting point. You can even link to the original article and use it to start a dialogue with the other writer.
Look At Old Posts
Old posts are fantastic, as they give you a framework for what your audience is looking for from you. Not sure what will interest your readers? Just look back and see what they commented on or shared the most. Then use those to come up with other topics in the same vein that might catch their interest.
Update Former Content
Maybe a topic you have covered was good, but it could use some sprucing up. Updating old content is a great way to milk more out of still relevant, but changing, topics. Anything that might have occurred differently in the industry is a launching point for a new article. Or just give more examples and expand upon an old article, linking back to it. It has the additional benefit of directing people to an article they may not have read.
Conduct An Expert Interview
Interviews (and group interviews) have become ridiculously popular lately. Find someone interesting in your industry and approach them about perhaps having an interview, or even just answering a couple of questions. Use a tool like HARO to create a simple group interview quickly.
Repackage Your Content
Take an old post and turn it into an infographic or a series or slideshow. Repackaging content can both give you a new post, and also attract a new audience through another media form. Some people will even turn blog posts into podcasts or mini videos, so they can use a completely different platform.
Ask for help
You cannot do anything yourself. Sometimes you need help. Some of the best ideas can come thanks to friends’ and follower feedback. Asking for help is also one of the best ways to discover your Twitter supporters and connectors… and maybe even hear back from your listeners.
Tell A Personal Story
Anecdotes are always appreciated and well received. Having worked your way to where you are now, you are sure to have more under your belt than you realize.
For example, did you ever do something that was really embarrassingly dumb in your professional life? How about a positive story where something worked out better than you had expected? Or an anecdote about someone you know, and their experience? These are all potential articles just waiting to happen.
Let Loose A Rant
Face it, you have some rage in you somewhere. Or at least some nagging annoyance you would love to be able to release. Your content is a good place for it. Rather than wasting your time trying to hold it back and work around it, let it out.
Consider writing a rant (though in a professional manner) that gets tongues wagging. Your readers will love a bit of gossip, and a chance to commiserate with you. After all, they could have faced the same thing, and hated it just as much.
Coming up with content ideas can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Get around that burn out with these ten tips, and share your own methods below.
Ideas Photo via Shutterstock
Sometimes, my version of stepping away from the problem is switching the computer off and taking a nap. Does my mind the world of good and makes me see the problem differently.
Thanks, Ebele! I must say I have hard time sleeping when I am stuck and need inspiration… Running usually helps here
Yes, I can see how and why a form of exercise would help, Ann. Glad it works for you.
Such great ideas. As for me, ideas come in the most unexpected events. Usually, I go out if I am experiencing writer’s block. With this, I am able to get some ideas.
Thanks for reading, Aira! Going out absolutely helps: I wish I had more time to do that more 🙂
Ann, I LOVE this article. Sometimes we all have really great weeks where the titles just keep coming. Then: the block! Your tips are wonderful – I have been looking forward to trying Trello.
Yeah, I hate it when it happens… Really stressful! Thanks for the comment, Claire!
Having been a communicator for my entire professional life, I find my best writing comes when I’m at peace and have cleared my head. Taking a brisk walk outside, doing the “Wonder Woman stance,” or placing a call to an inspiring friend all get my creative and writing juices going quickly.
I also love your idea for repurposing older content – especially that content that was killer!
Thanks for the comment, Erin! Taking a walk or (better) a run always helps! 🙂
Thanks for the suggestions on the tools. I’m constantly looking for ways to find and organize content.
I hope those help, Martin!
You should also check out Brightpod.com’s editorial calendar and task flow view to gather ideas – http://www.brightpod.com/editorial-blogging-calendar.html
Thanks for sharing, Sahil! I’ll definitely take a look!
Well I appreciate the suggestion given to help content writers but honestly what I found that works great for me is not even mentioned, I believe going through some really complex, rich content would give you couple of ideas in 30 minutes or so, I always do it, It works for me, so reading some great case studies, lengthy but rich articles from some credible journals will always help. 😉
Very true! Do you have any resources to recommend here?
There is nothing worse than getting stuck for ideas. It can easily slow down my progress to a slow crawl. My problem is (and always has been) that I’m not organized enough. Checked them both out, and I definitely like Cyfe better – never heard of it before, so thanks.