High-quality content is a vital part of any online marketer's toolbox. However, from time to time even the most creative content marketer can find it hard to come up with fresh ideas for material.
And if you're not excited by the content you're trying create, you can guarantee it won't impress your customers either. Here are nine ways of finding a spark of inspiration when your creative well is running dry.
Social media can be a deadly time sink, but it also offers a wealth of inspiration for content marketers. Use the search function on your favorite platforms to see what's popular in your business niche, and also check out how other marketers are approaching your topics.
One of the huge benefits of this method is that the different platforms tend to offer different types of content. Facebook is good for longer-form consumer content, while LinkedIn is for professional and business topics. Instagram is great for visual inspiration, while Pinterest offers millions of checklists and hint sheets covering any topic you can imagine.
With only a few searches, you'll find the same subject approached from so many directions it's almost impossible not to be inspired.
Social media also lets you keep up with hot topics, by monitoring trending keywords and popular conversations. You do this manually with the tools the platforms provide, or subscribe to a listening service, which will package the data into a more accessible format.
Either way, looking for a bridge between popular mainstream topics and your own niche often sparks content ideas with huge traffic potential.
Search out quality blogs related to your business niche and sign up to their newsletters. You'll soon be receiving dozens of content ideas in your inbox every day. Most messages can be quickly scanned and deleted, but most days you'll come across a real gem that sets your own creative juices flowing.
Does your industry have any notable figures who are happy to be interviewed? This is a quick and easy way to generate new content. Devise some interesting, open-ended questions, edit the answers into publishable shape, and your work is done.
Obviously, you won't want to give a direct competitor a platform to promote themselves at your expense, but in any industry there are opportunities for cooperative promotion that benefit both parties.
In a similar mutually beneficial vein, why not open up your website to guest writers? You'll need to check the content for quality before publishing, but a new voice and approach to your niche adds freshness to your content library.
What's more, a little third-party input can also provoke new ideas for your own content when you feel you've hit a dead end.
If your content is published somewhere readers where can comment on it, make sure you monitor the activity and engage where appropriate.
This helps build your reputation as a responsive brand. But just as important, entering into a conversation with motivated readers is a great way to glean new ideas.
Pay close attention to any criticisms you receive, and use them to improve your output in the future.
Can you take some successful older content and bring it back to life? You could either update the original piece with new information, repurpose it into another format, or simply use it as a jumping-off point for an entirely new creation.
Or, if you have an extensive back catalog of evergreen content, why not write a short round-up bringing related pieces together? Recapping a topic in this way not only provides a useful new resource for your readers, but it gives a useful promotional nudge to established content as well.
Lastly, there's more to content than the digital world. Try leaving your desk behind and talking a walk around town. Check out billboards, magazine racks, public libraries, or anywhere else you might stumble across stimulating content that's outside of your usual digital bubble.
A change of scene can leave your mind open to unexpected inspiration. It also relieves any frustration that's been building while you searched fruitlessly for ideas.
It goes without saying that all of these methods should be launchpads for your own creativity. Outright plagiarism of other marketers is not only unethical, it's also ineffective. For your content to shine it needs to offer unique value, and not just be a rehash of someone else's work.
But sometimes, all you need is a flash of inspiration, which leads to something great. And the more places you look, the better your chances of finding it.