As any experienced content marketer knows all too well, at some point the well of creativity runs dry.
Unfortunately, however, this also seems to always happen when you need your creativity the most. One of the most frustrating things to experience as a content marketer is the threat of a deadline looming when you are unable to generate a decent idea or blog title for love nor money.
Although you might have clicked on this blog title today hoping for an easy fix to this solution or a way to avoid ever running out of creative juice, this is unfortunately not the case.
The simple fact of the matter is that at some point, you will hit a creative wall and you will inevitably find it frustrating. When you are getting paid to be creative, inspiring and an endless source of ideas, at some point you are going to have an off day.
The good news, however, is that there are some simple tips, tactics and strategies you can employ to drag yourself out of a creative rut. If you have ever experienced one of those horrific Monday mornings where it seems like no matter how much caffeine you consume, the word count on whatever article you are writing never seems any closer to its target, this could be just the article you need! In fact, according to recent research, caffeine might actually hamper creativity rather than increase it, so there is all the more reason to find new approaches!
When you are a content marketer or a content writer, you are, essentially, getting paid for the quality of your ideas. An ability to turn a loose set of ideas into a coherent article that meets your client’s goals is what keeps you in business. With that said, here are five strategies you can use to get the creative juices flowing when nothing else is working.
Tip 1: Harness the power of audio-visual stimulation
Although it might seem like an obvious tip, one great way of replenishing your creative stores is simply to stimulate your brain with audio, video or images.
The internet is filled with creative resources you can use to trigger content inspiration. This is particularly useful for people who are visual learners.
There are a number of ways that you can do this. One approach is to do a Google Image search of a topic or term you are trying to create content around and to then scroll through the results until something strikes your fancy. Alternatively, you can use dedicated image sharing and inspiration platforms, such as Pinterest, which are great for this kind of research.
Although this method won’t work for everyone, if you are a visual learner who needs external stimuli to keep their creative spark alive, this could be the right approach.
Tip 2: Know your industry
One strategy that will help you to avoid completing draining your well of creativity is to keep up to date with the latest industry news from whatever sector, industry or business area you need to create content about.
Being aware of the latest news and industry trends is a particularly effective way of ensuring that you always have fresh ideas to hand, as no matter what sector you are writing about, change is constant.
We would recommend dedicating time each day or week to do this and to keep track of any interesting ideas you come across. This might involve, for example, setting up a dedicated folder on your computer with saved copies of interesting articles you have read. Additionally, you should create a list of any websites that post regular updates that you can return to regularly. This means that you will have a dedicated database of information sources you can use in the future to conduct any blogging research you might need to do.
The added benefit of this approach is that it allows you to deepen your industry and sector expertise, which you can leverage to win new clients.
Tip 3: Crowdsource your idea generation
It is quite common for people to be more creative in a collaborative or group setting. This is particularly true of more outgoing or extroverted people, who rely on the energy and enthusiasm of others to keep up their creative energies.
With that said, there is a lot to be learned from the extrovert when it comes to staying creative. There is power in numbers. And this is certainly true of content generation, where collaborating with others gives you the opportunity to riff off each other’s ideas.
This approach works particularly well in person, where you can use whiteboards or other material to have brainstorming sessions, though online tools such as Zoom, Slack or Google Docs work equally well.
Tip 4: Brainstorm and mind map your way out of a creative rut
One technique you can use to quickly generate ideas is to harness the power of mind maps and brainstorming.
Start by choosing a number of keywords, phrases or search terms related to whatever topic you need to write about.
Once these have been selected, write them in the middle of a page or on the whiteboard. From there, think of other keywords, topics or phrases related to the initial term and work from there. Continually try to generate more and more related ideas until your whiteboard is full.
The key to this approach is to not overthink things and to just get the first thought that comes into your head down on paper. While some of what you come up with will be completely random or not really workable, you will also eventually generate some usable ideas.
This approach works particularly well in a group setting where you can riff off the energy and ideas of others. And if you really want to quicken things up, make it a competition between yourself and your teammates to see who can generate the most ideas the quickest. You can even set a time limit to make things that little bit more competitive!
Tip 5: Harness the power of data and analytics
If you are experiencing a creative slump and your brain feels like it is lacking the brainpower necessary to claw your way out of it, this might be the time to let the data decide your next move.
As a website owner or SEO marketer, you are blessed with a plethora of data you can draw on to inform your content marketing strategy.
When you are running out of fresh ideas, you can harness these insights to guide your topic research. Use your website analytics to get a sense of what your audience likes and what they are responding to. Additionally, you can use these insights to figure out what your audience doesn’t like, which is equally valuable information.
Once you can distil this information, idea generation should get a whole lot easier given that you already have a sense of what your audience is responding to.
Combine these data-driven insights with some of the idea-generation insights we have just set out for maximum effect.