Writing block can hinder the creative process for bloggers. Even experienced bloggers would admit that they’ve had days where writing content seemed impossible because they couldn’t put together ideas that were intriguing enough. I’ve always wondered if writing content was done through a sequence of steps if it would help eliminate writers block.
I’ve decided to put a quick case study together written as a step-by-step guide to conquer writers block.
It’s important that you follow each step in the sequence exactly so that in the end you’ll have a blueprint of idea’s that’ll keep you busy for several months at a time.
Conquer Writers Block #1 – The Foundation
Whenever I provide insight into a topic I layout the ground work for you (the reader) so my content is very easy to follow and builds a solid foundation. Before jumping into the “simple” steps that’ll help you overcome writers block, it’s important to understand your style. I’m not referring to your blog design or what you wear, but more how you write content.
Let’s talk about your writing style and later you’ll understand how knowing it will help you take the first step into conquering writers block.
Here are a few things that you need to consider:
Length of Your Blog Posts:
First, remember that “content is king” so writing high quality content is the way to achieve incredible success blogging. Next, don’t ever set a word maximum before writing your content because this will eventually become the focus which will hinder the creativity and quality of your content. I always tell myself to write content until everything has been covered and my content is the “ONLY” one the reader should review to find a solution to their problem. The length of your content should be “as long as it has to be to get your point across”. Writing longer than normal blog posts allows you to do something special with your content which is called the “split principal”
If your content is anywhere from 4,000-5,000 words which is not difficult when you are truly passionate about the topic, than split it into two-parts. Splitting your content into two can create two awesome posts which otherwise would have been one. Later I’ll show you how you can effectively split up your ideas, and create shorter posts with more value.
What Do You Want To Accomplish
Here’s a little assignment: It’s time for you to write down what you’re trying to accomplish from writing. For example, are you trying to be an expert on your topic or just be known as teacher relaying information from one source to another putting a twist on it?
Knowing your audience is very important because this will help you determine what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re an expert on “link building” than you know that you’re writing content for “web developers” or “content marketing” targeted people. Either way, you will have a focus when writing your content which is very important when suffering from writers block since much of the time it’s not the content you lack but the focus to write for someone.
Time Restrictions & Limits
Your probably wondering how setting restrictions or none for that matter help conquer writers block and I’ll tell you how. Remember the 20/80 principle from this post: 24 Tips to Increase Blog Traffic in 30 Days.
The principle focuses on the idea that you can achieve 80% results by putting 20% effort. This applies to content as well since many people have a hard time writing content because they are focusing on the wrong things. I’m pretty sure all of us have suffered from information overload…right? It’s when you get too much information on a question that you don’t know where to start and what to do. Brainstorming can cause this to happen because when you think too long and add restrictions you tend to find yourself against the wall. That’s why the best content is FREE flowing content which is natural. I will be discussing this in more detail as well!
Conquer Writers Block #2 – Starting with Core Idea’s
Writers block is sometimes caused by a narrow scope which is reducing how far you could spread your wings. To produce the best content you need to think broad then narrow down making connections where possible. From my own experience, I always try and put “relevant” things together which will create an immediately buzz.
What is a core idea? It’s a core concept that represents your blog. If you are writing about the Apple iPhone then your core idea would be technology. If you are writing about “top hockey skates” than core idea would be “hockey”. I think by now, you get the point!
The secret is to make your core idea broad so that it can be broken down into categories. When I started my blog my core idea was “blogging”. Then I proceeded into the next step of narrowing down my core idea into micro-ideas.
Conquer Writers Block #3 – Core Idea into Micro-Idea’s
Let me ask you guys a question, if I was to say the word “blogging” to you what would pop into your mind? After everything I’ve read and learned from my mentors I’ll tell you what I thought of…
- Making money online
- Writing content
- How can I get started?
- Thought about my mentors
- Marketing my blog
- Selling advertising space
- Full-time income & not working 9-5
- Providing help to beginners
This complete list can be awesome topics for my next blog content. I can even take one step further and split these micro-ideas into smaller more targeted topics. What we did was very simple, we took a core idea and threw it up in the air and listed the things that popped into our mind.
Here’s a quick example of how easy it is to generate topics when you follow a sequence of steps…
Let’s not get confused I’m referring to writing content (sometimes) but otherwise always “Think Big” and “Sky’s the Limit” when you want to be successful. When writing content sometimes taking the topic narrowing it down making it smaller will give you a handful of ideas. For example, let’s use “Social Networking”…
Content marketing>Social Networking> Topic: How to Market my Content on Twitter?
Content marketing>Social Networking> Topic: How to Market my Content on Facebook?
Content marketing>Social Networking> Topic: How to Market my Content on Digg.com?
What’s important is that you provide a high quality post on each and every topic. For each topic don’t just write 1000 words and publish. Stop and think about what you can do to make this post even better. You’ll be surprised how many ideas you could come up with when you look to improve content. Add images, videos and even infographics, however to create a real “buzz” do some research online and beat the number 1 ranked content within Google for the search phrase. Skim through their content and make notes on what’s missing then add it to your content.
This leads me into my next Conquering Tip…
Conquer Writers Block #4 – Learn from your Competitors
I’ve always loved my competitors and would shake their hands if I ever meet them. They have been able to indirectly provide me with countless topics and ways to improve my content. The key is to NOT copy their content but find inspiration from it and build on it. I skim through it finding things I wish were included which would have helped me out and take those points and include them in the content I write making it better.
Here is the exact technique I use when writing content based on idea’s from my competitors.
I can promise that if you follow these step’s you’d write some of the best content you’ve ever written…
Start by thinking of problems you’ve faced as a blogger and wish you had the resources available to you. If you don’t have any than it’s time you do some research. Here are some ways you can find awesome content idea’s…
An amazing tool used to provide social analytics and shows the highest shared content for the word or phrase you’ve just typed in. Let’s do a quick test…
Type in any word or phrase…in this example, we’ll use “marketing content on twitter”
On the left filter the results to “All Time” and “Everything”
Focus on the top 3 results and visit the pages to see what is so special about the content. Write down notes on the content like use of images, videos or anything else that stands out. Write down ways you would improve the content if you were to reproduce it.
Your focus should be to get as many ideas possible from that piece of content which you can than create something special for your readers.
You can use Google to refine your search a little further:
Head over to Google.com and type in: “marketing content on twitter”
Here are results that are returned…
Now skim through the results NOT stealing the idea’s but finding ways to improve the content and creating a better piece of content.
Here are some other great tips…
- Skim through the titles creating ways to put a twist on them to make them more appealing
- Browse through the post writing down ways to improve the content maybe adding images and videos. Read through the comments on the bottom looking for questions that readers posted and have yet to be answered. Gather all the questions incorporating the answers into your content.
- You can browse through each page filtering by “popularity” (if that option is available) or searching for content which has high shared counts on social networks. Any content which has been shared many times you know resonates with people and can be an awesome content idea to start with. Find ways to improve that content.
Conquer Writers Block #5 – Q&A Websites are Awesome!
Skimming through other online sources can give you hundreds of fresh new ideas. For example, forums have provided people with a place to share ideas for several years. I remember at one point forums were the only REAL resource for people looking for answers to their problems. They grew in popularity because they were very simple to use and everything was real-time. Sometimes you’d post a question and have an answer within seconds. How can you use forums to generate content ideas?
First, they are great to find trends with people talking about the newest and awesome things online. Next, they are niche targeted so you’ll find a forum targeted to your blog. Many people on these targeted forums you know will be interested in your blog which makes it a great place for you to leave your answers. Forums are FREE which makes them a great start for people who have very little investment.
Here’s an example on how you can use forums to find ideas…
In this example, let’s visit a technology forum: Tech-Forums.net
Then, visited the Laptop & Notebook section to see if I could find some content ideas…
When I entered the category I noticed a few topics that would be great for my content….here are a few…
- What are the Top 5 Laptops to Purchase? (Labelled 1)
- How to Fix Laptop or Desktop Screens That Shake? (Labelled 2)
- Common HDMI Problems on Laptops? (Labelled 3)
- Common Reasons Why Laptop Won’t Start? (Labelled 4)
You can visit each similar question writing down the solutions (answers) in your word presser. Group everything together adding images, videos and other visual aids when writing content. Create “1” awesome piece of content which covers all common laptop errors and how to solve them. This is what I call going the extra mile creating content which is better than any other available online.
It’s even easier when you are targeting niche specific forums so find a few popular ones before starting your research.
Yahoo Answers and Ask.com are two of my favorite resources for generating future content ideas. These sites are as simple as they get allowing users to ask questions and get immediate answers. I will find trends in what people are asking and understand what the major issues of “today” are.
It’s important to do a targeted search, for example, if your blog provides resources for people who are facing common laptop problems then be very specific searching those questions. You’ll see in our next two examples how you can use answer sites to generate hundreds of awesome content topics.
For Yahoo Answers, we’ll use the keyword “laptop overheating”
WOW…let’s look at the results! You’ll notice that there are 5 pages full of these questions which shows that it’s a common problem that many people are having a would make a great topic.
The next example, we’ll visit Ask.com and type this phrase “Fix Dell Laptop Batteries”
You’ll get a bunch of content ideas from the results like…
- What to do When Battery Won’t Hold Charge?
- Why is my Battery Not Charging?
- How to Fix Dell Low Battery Problem?
Social sites are very powerful at generating ideas but you need to know how to perform a search correctly. I’ve been using Twitter for years searching through “Tweets” picking up trends then creating content. I’m going to share one awesome method if used correctly can generate hundreds of popular topics for you within a few minutes.
Let’s head over to Twitter Advanced Search.
In the exact search, type in your keyword… in this example I’ll use “how to + seo”
Next, towards the bottom, check “Question?”
Start your search…
The results return will give you people who “Tweeted” questions about “SEO” and it’s your job to skim through the results visiting the links to find common questions which you can use as topics. You are generating ideas from questions that people need answered. Remember, the best content is always going to solve a problem.
Conquer Writers Block #6 – Videos to Text Method!
YouTube has become huge over the years so why not convert videos into text content which resonates with your readers. Even though videos are slowly gaining traction, keyword based content will always dominate because that’s the foundation of the World Wide Web…It’s an online source of information.
Blogging is changing with content becoming more visual and audible in recent years with podcasts, video tutorials and infographics but nothing will replace old fashion text content when trying to generate momentum to your blog. Just check out Neil Patel’s post:
This does not mean that you can’t use video tutorials to your advantage when creating content for your blog. As a matter of fact, one very successful method to create content is to just create “transcripts” of videos which sometimes would be better as text or PDF. When searching online you’ll definitely find tutorials on almost every niche you can think of, for example when I did a quick “link building” search within YouTube, here’s what I found on the first page:
- What are some effective techniques for building links? (7:52)
- Link Building Workshop – Life after Penguin and Panda (43:41)
- SEO Link Building Tutorial: How to Get Links Where Competitors Have Them (13:58)
- Building link – The basics of link building (7:38)
- SEO Link Building Strategy to Claim TOP Rankings for Multiple Keywords (6:27)
Any of these combined or separately will make great content on your blog. The idea here is to combine the shorter relevant posts and write out the tutorials in your own words in text format. I’ve heard many beginners use this strategy when getting started to generate content for their blogs. They would watch relevant videos and make notes while combining the notes together with images to create an “ultimate guide to post”. This technique can be very successful in creating content especially translated video’s that experts have created within a certain niche. That content is unique and tends to be shared a lot on social networks.
The key is to always provide more value then what is offered so your content stands out and creates a buzz online.
This technique is NOT only limited to YouTube but can be used on other media alternatives like…
Podcasts: Start with searching “podcasts” + “your blog niche” and you’ll find tons of interviews that you can create into awesome posts for your blog.
Webinars: They provide the best content because they are usually very long and people ask tons of questions which in most cases are left unanswered. Hosts will usually publish them on their blogs or you can do a quick Google search to find relevant ones in your niche. Another trick is to subscribe to webinars in your niche and attend each of them making extensive notes and writing down questions. Create content outlining the webinar and answering all the questions.
PowerPoint: Presentation slides are awesome because these are usually in point form so all you need to do is a little research extending what is on the slides. Find relevant presentations and extend each point on the slide to make it detailed. You might have to do some research but that’s what creating high quality content is all about. It’s about pushing the limits to provide your readers with something special.
Conquer Writers Block #7 – If You Ask…The Ideas Will Flow!
I’ve seen a recent trend with many writers adding a form on their blog asking visitors to submit questions they want answered. Its great searching blogs and forums for questions that people are asking, however why not have your targeted visitors ask you directly. Using this method you’ll get content ideas that otherwise you would not have thought of and you’ve gained a direct reader once their questions get answered. This visitor will be happy you helped them out and continue to promote it with their circle of followers. It’s not uncommon for bloggers starting out to ask experienced bloggers a question then sending them the URL of the completed content hoping they would share it on their social profiles. Many experienced bloggers will be more than happy to share it with 100K followers on Twitter creating an instant buzz.
If you don’t have traffic to your blog then here are some other ways that you can get moving forward:
Email: Think about how many emails you send out a day to friends & families which are not related to blogging. These are all people who could provide valuable insight into creating content for your blog. A majority of times people who have no experience in a niche ask the best questions. Remember when you first enrolled in a high school course without any prior knowledge about the subject, you probably generated hundreds of questions within the first week because this was something new that you enjoyed. Talk to your friends about blogging paying close attention to the questions they ask you.
If you have an email list then you’re already on the right track because you can shoot a quick email to your subscribers asking them what they want to know. Setup a quick “poll” with 5-10 questions on a blog page where they can vote for a question then start with answering the question with the highest votes working your way down.
Other Bloggers: I can think of at least 5-6 bloggers in my niche that are so busy consulting, creating products and writing courses that they just don’t have the kind of time to dedicate to their blogs especially writing content. This does not mean that they’re going to stop networking with other bloggers building alliances. Asking other experienced bloggers about “what’s trending” can be very valuable since they can provide insight into fresh topics. In return they might ask you to reference their blog with a link back but you’ve just created special content with the chance of it going viral generating much needed traffic to your blog.
Forums: Niche targeted forums provide a great place for you to ask people for content ideas. Forums are a community for Q & A’s so instead of you answering questions why not ask community members about questions they would like answered. Even though you can skim through the categories and find many common questions being asked, create a new topic labelled “Need Content Idea’s for “keyword” Blog” replacing keyword with you main niche and start writing down what feedback you get from the members.
Social Networking: Asking your loyal followers to provide their feedback definitely works. These are people who enjoy your work and decided to follow you because you provide value to them. Post a quick message on your Twitter or Facebook profile telling them about a page you setup where they can provide suggestions on topics. To test how well it works, post the message asking them to reply directly to the message with suggestions or on your blogs page. Sometimes people do not like being redirected because it takes too much time so they rather post a reply message with suggestions. The more followers mean’s a higher the chance of getting some really awesome ideas.
Imagine if you had 10,000 followers and 10% reply with a topic idea…this equals 1000 suggestions from targeted people which can generate a lot of social shares going forward as well. I would write down what each follower recommends then group common questions writing content based on popularity.
The more you interact with your followers asking them for their feedback, the more they will provide insight because everyone loves to be involved in something special.
Follow through based on their suggestions and the more suggestions you’ll get from them!
Conquer Writers Block #8 – Just Start a Series…They Work!
Writing a series never fails because you’ve taken one idea and created several posts out of it. This keep you above water with content ideas since a series can generate anywhere from 3-15 blog posts. Many bloggers fail to take advantage of series posts because they feel that it’s too hard or takes too long but if you understand human nature then you’ll know that…
- People sometimes prefer shorter posts because there easier to follow
- People prefer a sequence of posts because they can work like an “Action Plan”
- Shorter posts which cover one topic are much more to the point
- Writing a series posts can be much more in-depth (depending on the blogger)
In Conquer Writers Block #3 we created micro-categories from core ideas. These are the same ideas we can use to create a series post. One of our micro – ideas was “Wordpress” which you can now use to solve one problem at a time. Here are some topics titles you can include in your series posts:
- Installing WordPress on Your Hosting
- Adding and Configuring your Theme for your Blog
- How to Install Plugins to Your WordPress Blog
- Working with Your Themes CSS File
- Top WordPress Plugins That Every Blogger Should Have
The objective is to create high quality content covering all these sections for your series. To get an extra boost, research other people who have written on these topics and create something better than them. Google has put a lot of value into high in-depth content so taking your time splitting these sections up writing a series will definitely drive loads of social & organic traffic.
How can you find your competition? Very simple, use Topsy.com
This site analyzes the web to find which content is popular within social circles and has huge amounts of social shares.
The results won’t be completely accurate depending on people’s social privacy settings but you’ll get a good idea of your competition and how you can create better content by checking out their content.
In this example, we’ll use “Top WordPress Plugins”
Here are the results and you’ll notice a few things…
Look at the 1st & 3rd on the list with “Top 30” doing better than “Top 60”. However, recently, “top 60” has gained much traction which I’ve circled in “yellow” on the image. If you check the same results within 1-2 weeks the “top 60 plugins” will probably be at the top. Either way you know that your goal is to beat the best content so create a post outlining the “top 75 WordPress plugins”
Blogging is all about testing what works so keep an eye on your traffic comparing series posts with a single long piece of content to see the difference in momentum. Writing series posts will sometimes triple your traffic because people find them easier to follow using them as an action plan.
Content Idea’s that Never Fail
Case Studies: You’re gathering data and providing in-depth results on a problem. Case studies do not involve writing content from previous experiences but are things you’re trying out & testing to see what works well. For example, you might do “effectiveness of tiered link building” case study setting up a campaign to see what results you’ve achieved over 30 days. You’ll provide progress reports every week so it’s easy to follow. If you’re objective is to rank your search term on Google’s first page, then along the way you’ll adjust your link building campaign until that specific objective is achieved. You’d outline the changes you made within your campaign and how effective those changes were.
Why are case studies so popular? You’re outlining step-by-step how to achieve specific results while showing the most effective way to achieve those results. You’re basically saving the reader time & effort from making mistakes by showing them what to avoid.
Polls: These are perfect since they don’t require a lot of effort getting started. You’re asking people one question and they provide their preference. Here’s a quick way to generate a topic idea quickly….
Throw a few questions on a page asking your readers to vote on what they want answered and get to work writing the best piece of content providing a solution to that problem. I love using polls because I’ll brainstorm so many idea’s that I won’t know where to get started and using a “poll” has allowed me effectively know what my readers find important to them. I listen to my readers and they stay loyal.
Interviews: I’m surprised that people don’t use “interviews” to their advantage because of the simplicity. They are so easy to put together and very popular going viral within a few days. If you’ve just started blogging then imagine how getting feedback from experienced bloggers can help you and others. Put together 10-12 questions that you want answered by gurus in your niche which shouldn’t be hard since these questions can come from your own personal experience.
Ask yourself: What problems did I have when I started out? & what is the most effective way to overcome these problems?
Write down these questions on a piece of paper and send them to bloggers who have conquered these problems and are successful. They will provide the best insight into how you can achieve the same success!
Check out my “Interview Series”
Expert Posts: These are different from an interview because an expert post is based around one question. For example, in a recent expert post which I conducted I asked them what they thought was the most effective link building strategy and was surprised at the results. The best way to put together an expert post is to start by doing some research online finding a common problem that many people are having. Search niche targeted forums, blogs and answer sites for questions people are asking and having trouble finding a solution to.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating an expert post:
Ask the experts a question which only they would be able to provide the best answer to. No point in wasting an opportunity asking a question which both beginners & experts can provide a solution to. You need to get feedback on something which experience does play an important role. For example, only experts would know what the most important link building strategy to use when growing your blog because they’ve used it and achieved success.
The more feedback you get from the top bloggers the better. Take your time contacting the best in your niche because this adds value to your content. You can send them a link after you’ve completed the post asking them to share with their inner circles creating a social buzz.
Numbered Lists: A quick reference guide for your readers outlining the “top + something” within your niche. For example, in blogging people are always searching for the best SEO tools, WordPress plugins or even other blogs. Create a quick list of these things for your readers so it saves them time & effort doing the research on their own.
Some good examples include….
Guest Blogging: Start by setting up a page on your blog accepting guest posts from other bloggers. It’s an awesome way to get unique content on your blog. Guest blogging provides you with an opportunity to get another’s creativity and point of view adding a twist to the type of content currently on your blog. It’s been very successful in building long-term alliances with other bloggers helping you build momentum.
Product Reviews: Find the top 5-10 products within your niche and write an in-depth review about them. Give reasons why this product is useful and the pros & cons. The reason reviews are so successful is because you have so many products in the market with false promises and people are wasting their hard earned money buying them. There are two ways to test the product before writing an in-depth review…
Write to the developer of the product and ask them for access so you can write a review. Tell them about your blog and how your review could potentially generate sales if everything about the product is true. Many times those who stand by their product will be happy to give you access.
Next, if you really want to create a buzz then purchase the product and use it for a few days tracking your progress. Create a case study outlining the success you’ve had using the product or none for that matter. Focus on products that people are talking in forums or blogs. Many times they’ve not even purchased the product but are writing false reviews to earned affiliate commission from sales. Focus on popular tools within your niche.
Tutorials: People are always searching for ways to solve a problem. If you do a quick search for “how to + WordPress”, you’ll have a handful of tutorials pop up in the results. Why not take advantage of this trend and create tutorials of your own? Do research and create a step-by-step tutorial solving a common problem that people are having within your niche. Try to find a problem which has not been covered in-depth and build on it.
You can find tutorials which are detailed and create a better tutorial for your readers. I find that if you create something better than everyone else you’ll get loads of FREE traffic to your website for the search engines.
My Final Thoughts
I know that writer’s block can be frustrating however every problem can be solved if you use a step-by-step approach. Create your own blueprint which is easy to follow and works for you. My sequence is just a starting point and along the way you’ll find that if you change a few things around you’ll have more success. The key is to start small with tiny steps over several days. Sometimes the lack of creativity is NOT because you have nothing to write about but you have no way of unlocking the creativity within your mind.
I hope that my simple guide has allowed you to organize your creative process allowing you to create some of the best content you’ve ever created.