Where do you get your inspiration when writing articles for your newsletter, your blog or for publication on websites? Here are a few of my favourite content creation strategies you can use when you run out of ideas.
- Have you ever read an article and though to yourself "my clients/blog readers would love to know about this". It happens to me all the time. While copying and pasting someone else's article verbatim is bad form not to mention illegal, notice what was important to you in their article and write about it from your own perspective. You can always refer to their article as in the next strategy.
- Make a list of topics as you think of them. Note them in a notebook or record your thoughts right away using your smartphone (hey, it's handy). Add to your list of inspirational ideas as soon as they come to you. When the well runs dry, just get out your notepad or smartphone and write about the idea that moves you the most.
- Did you just come out of a meeting with a (potential) client? What were their biggest concerns? What questions did they have? Make a list of the 3, 5, 10 or 18 (any number really) concerns on the minds of your clients and address them. Naturally you'll want to generalize in order to keep your clients details confidential but, if this information seems to be important even to just one or two of your clients, it will probably be of interest to others. You will be perceived by your followers as truly understanding their issues.
- There is something to be learned from just about every conversation you have and everything you read. What did you learn this week? There are questions I've had for decades to which I have only recently come across the answer. When one person has a question, chances are many other people do too. Share your lessons learned. The cool thing about this is, the older you get, the more of them you'll have!... if you've been paying attention.
- Got an opinion about something? Have a story to share? Who doesn’t? Just be sure to let the readers know that you are sharing your opinion and not factual information.
- What's your burning question? A blog entry or article doesn't always have to come with an answer. Sometimes asking a great question can prompt creativity in others and get you interacting with your readers... unless you are still using a printing press of course. Ask them "What would you like me to write about?" or "What have you heard about ...?"
- Don't have time to write an article? If you've got a video camera in your smartphone and some basic public speaking skills, you may be a candidate to do video blogging. Share your thoughts! Recent statistics show that people are more likely to have 5 minutes to watch a video than 5 minutes to read an article.
- Did you recently score a big contract for your firm? With the permission of your client, announce this great news to the world. Success very often attracts more success.
- Have an upcoming event? Heard about an exciting event that someone else is organizing that and might also be of interest to your clients? Share the news! The other person might be interested in shaing information about your event with their audience.
- Do you have years of great responses to existing or potential clients questions which might be of interest to others? Create new articles by repurposing the fruit of your past efforts. Ensure that information is current, relevant and that you own the copyright or at least have permission to use it. While you may need to update the information to make it current, this can be less work than re-writing it from scratch. For new topics that come up, take it one step further by writing responses to quations as an article right away. Then follow up with your client by sending them an email which includes both link to the article along with any additional client-specific details. While this can work very well, be sure to write in terms that could be applicable to anyone. WARNING: Always remove personal or identifiable information that could link your aticle back to the client as they could see this as a breach of trust. Otherwise, not only could you end up losing a great client, you could end up gaining a law suit.
It's every man/woman for themselves. NOT! There is a great misconception out there that you need to keep what you know to yourself so that you don't become dispensable. While becoming replaceable can feel risky, the bigger risk is actually in keeping everything to yourself. Think about this, if people actually knew your potential, imagine how in-demand you would become.
Playing small never serves you or the world. The moment you know something that someone else doesn't, share it with others. Just as there will always be information you want to learn from others, there will always be people who will want to learn what you know. You'll always have a lifetime of knowledge and experience (i.e. wisdom) to share.
Social networking sites and blogs are about two way communication. Take the time to get to know your customers and your target audience. If you listen carefully enough, they will share with you exactly what you what they want to learn more about and what you need to do in order to do business with them.