"Make sure you're regularly posting fresh content.
"Oh yeah, and of course it has to be unique and useful and relevant and share-worthy and..."
Sound familiar? The SEO industry is awash with advice like this and it's true - it is important to be regularly creating fresh content that is going to be of benefit to your readers/potential customers. There's one key element missing though - how the heck do we manage to do that on a regular basis without running our ideas reservoir well and truly dry?
Fortunately there are various techniques you can employ to get that creativity flowing in the right direction again.
Scour Social Media
The key to a great idea is that it is something that is going to interest your target audience - but how do you know if something is going to really resonate with them?
Fortunately, social media allows for insights into what your industry and target market are talking about, what questions they're asking and what they're sharing with their friends and family.
Twitter is a great place to start. Start searching for some phrases or topics and see what people are saying about them. Perhaps there is a question being asked regularly that has not yet been answered comprehensively, or there is a current news story that can be built on.
It can also be worth creating content around an idea that ISN'T being talked about on social media, as it presents an opportunity to create something fresh and new, though of course it is important that the reason no one is talking about it isn't because it isn't of any interest.
Who says that all of your research for fresh content ideas has to be conducted online?
Scour the pages of trade magazines for what's newsworthy in your industry and try and base content around these ideas. Try and provide a fresh angle on something or put forward a new argument, though avoid being controversial for controversy's sake as this could alienate some of your audience depending on how you execute it.
Portent's Content Idea Generator is a great little tool for helping you to think outside of the box when you're brainstorming new ideas. Simply enter your subject and cycle through an unending series of weird and whacky article title ideas.
A lot of them will be too out there to put into practice, but it can be useful just to get you thinking in a slightly different way and facilitate a bit of creativity.
Can't think of any ideas yourself? Look at what your competitors are doing!
Now I don't mean simply steal other people's ideas, but instead simply use them as a starting point for creating your own ideas in the same way as with social media. Here's an example:
Say you find an article on a competitor's website explaining why they agree with a new piece of legislation that effects your industry that you in fact DON'T agree with. Why not write a post in direct response to your competitor and start an online debate, sharing it with the rest of your industry.
Like with producing 'controversial' content however, you need to tread carefully if you're going to publicly disagree with a competitor, and make sure that you are putting forward a strong argument without criticising or belittling the other company.
A content calendar's primary use is for scheduling the creation, publishing and sharing of content, but having in mind key dates in the calendar can also help when it comes to idea generation.
For example, is it nearly Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day? Is there anything that you can produce around those holidays? National awareness days can also be great for tying in content with something current, so take a look at what's coming up either nationally or internationally.
Creating fresh content that people are going to want to read is not easy, and it takes a lot of careful thought, research and hard work to pull off effectively. However by actioning the above techniques you may begin to find getting into that creative mind set a little bit easier.
John Rooney is a Content Marketing and PR Executive for UK-based legal services provider. In this role, John is responsible for conceiving and executing content marketing campaigns as well as supporting with PR initiatives. He also blogs about movies and films over at Think Outside the Box