Marketing Bootcamp

3 Sources for Great Content When You're Short of Ideas

The clock ticks. You look at the blank Word document on your computer screen. Your stomach clenches up in knots. You pray for inspiration. You dig deep into your ideas bank for the umpteenth time and are still unable to come up with something you know will work. You trawl Google search, you sift through Google Alerts and do everything to zero in on an idea that will lead to some amazing content. No luck.

Meanwhile, the clock ticks.

Related: 5 Content Pieces You Can Create in 5 Minutes Or Less

Sounds familiar?  All inbound marketers, and especially those in charge of content production, have faced this situation. Unhappily, this isn’t a one off thing. There will always be a content piece waiting to be written in very little time.

If you are wishing for a magical solution, there isn’t any but you can come up with great content when you’re short of time. But there are three smart solutions that can answer your problem.

1. Old Blog Posts

Perhaps you’re thinking “old wine in a new bottle” but not exactly.

It is this excellent post on BufferApp that helped me come up with this particular idea. If you haven’t read this post, it’s time you did. It talks about how you can use existing content to come up with new exciting content.

Let me give you an example. I have a post on Entrepreneur about the Elements of an Irresistible Blog. The first point I have discussed is ‘Give Your Blog a Personality’, which gives me the idea for a new post on:

5 Great Ways of Giving Your Blog Some Personality

I already have some understanding of the topic. I also have some ready-made research to fall back on. The framework of the post is ready, I just have to flesh it out.

Easy? Yes, it is. Give it a try.

2. Studies and surveys

Believe me, there are countless free surveys, research reports and studies available on the World Wide Web waiting to be converted into highly-researched articles.

Take the case of 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner. This comprehensive, 50-page report can act as a trigger for some great content. For example, a section talking about the ‘most important content for marketers’, wherein 58 percent of marketers said original content was their most important content. That can be the basis of your content piece titled:

Why is Original Content the Best Content?”

You now have a reference point for your research, which means your content can be written quicker and with more focus. What’s more, you could even cite some of the other ‘figures’ mentioned in the article. You won’t have to make much of an effort to make your point and back it up with rock-solid facts and figures.

Related: How to Create Great Content for Your Website

3. News stories

Pick a ‘hot’ news story doing the rounds in your niche and run with it. A simple Who, What, Where, When, Why approach to writing this content will suffice. Remember, it is a news story, so the reporter might already have tackled the 5 Ws. Your job is to dig deeper.

If Facebook’s bought a new company, why not give your take on the ‘Why’? The news story in this case forms the center of your content. Readers don't want a rehash but they are looking for ‘your take’ on the news story. All you need to do is look for reasons behind this “story.” If you can justify these reasons with facts and figures that support them, all the better.

So how does this idea help you write quick content? Simple! When you’ve got ready-made material in your hands, all you need to do is provide new insights on the news story. Remember, if a  news story is fresh out of the oven, there are no ‘right or wrong’ insights. Everybody will be giving their take on it, and so will you.

These tips will definitely make your life easier, but don’t think of them as substitutes for writing effective content. Focused effort will still be needed to come up with content your readers will value. That is not debatable. Lack of time shouldn’t mean lack of effort. If you’ve got this part sorted out in your head, you will be home and dry, always.

Related: All Content Isn't Created Equal: Tips For Making Yours Top-Notch