Where do you get your inspiration when writing articles for your newsletter, your blog or even for publication on websites? Here are a few of my favourite content creation strategies I use when the proverbial idea well runs dry.
- 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 perspective. You can always refer to their article as in the next strategy.
- In her article Simple Content Creation Strategies, Lisa Larter suggests making a list of topics as you think of them. Note them or even record your thoughts verbally using your phone (hey, it's handy). Add to this list of inspirational ideas as soon as you think of new ones. When the well runs dry, just get out your smartphone and pick 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 is important to just 1-2 of your clients, it will probably be important to others. Besides, you will be perceived by your readers as really understanding the issues they need to deal with.
- 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 coll 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/article doesn't always have to come with an answer. Sometimes asking a 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, you may be a candidate for 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, share the news.
- Have an upcoming event? Heard about an upcoming event that sounds exciting and might also be of interest to your clients? Share the news!
- Have you spent years responding to existing or potential client questions which might be of interest to others? Repurpose your efforts by reusing the information in an article but be sure to remove any personal or identifyable information which could be interpreted as a breach of trust by your client. For new topics, take it one step further by writing the answer as an article right away and then follow up with an email to your client which includes a link to the article along with any additional client-specific details. WARNING: While this can work very well, be sure to write in terms that could be applicable to anyone. Otherwise not only could you loose a good 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 the 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 exatly what you what they want to learn more about and what you need to do in order to do business with them.