Struggling to remain creative during the content creation process is a challenge that most, if not all, content marketers have faced at some point in their career. Novel ideas are often simply hard to come by and creativity doesn’t always follow the same tight deadlines that content marketing does. Coming up with fresh, new and exciting ideas can become increasingly harder the longer that you work on a campaign. It can often feel like every single creative content marketing idea has already been done – multiple times.
So, what do you do when you’re in a content creation slump faced with an impending deadline? In this blog we discuss reasons why content marketing can sometimes be stalled by writer’s block and content creation tips that are sure to help you move past your brainstorming hurdles and back to stellar, creative content marketing.
Why Does Writer’s Block Occur?
Writer’s block during content creation can occur for a myriad of reasons. One may be that you’ve simply exhausted all your creativity for a certain client or business. It’s difficult to come up with daily content that is original, especially when you’ve been working on it for weeks, months or years on end. This feeling of immense pressure to produce can be a huge stumbling block in creating creative content. Pamela Bump from HubSpot shares with us that:
“The pressure to create can cause both stress or fears of failure which are scientifically proven creativity barriers. Not only can they stand in the way of your motivation, but they could also prevent you from coming up with new or unique ideas. When you’re under pressure, you might feel less inspired, unmotivated, or run into a nasty case of writer’s block that leaves you wondering if you’ll ever come up with a great idea ever again. When that moment happens, don’t panic. Remember, this happens to everyone — especially marketers who need to churn out hundreds of creative assets or campaigns a year.”
In addition to stress leading to a lack of originality and writer’s block, Caroline Forsey with Moz speaks to how the focus on SEO and keywords can stifle creativity if you let it. While an SEO-driven strategy ultimately can lead to immense growth, it can sometimes feel like it takes the fun and creativity out of writing – but it doesn’t have to! There is room for both analytics and creativity in content marketing, it just may take a little time to find your groove.
Writer’s block happens to everyone. The important thing to do when faced with it is not to panic. Instead, be prepared with strategies that will work for you when it inevitably occurs. The following eight ideas will not cure or solve your creativity issues in content marketing, but they will give you a place to start when you find yourself stumbling and in need of direction.
1). Walk Away
One of the best and most straight-forward content creation tips is to simply walk away. This doesn’t mean ignoring deadlines or the needs and wants of your client. What it does mean is that it is immensely valuable and helpful to just get up and move around away from your computer when you’re feeling stuck. Take a walk, do yoga, grab a cup of coffee or tea or watch a mindless TV show.
What you do doesn’t matter as long as you’re away from your computer and are able to force your mind to focus on something else for just a brief amount of time. Even though it may seem counterproductive to halt content creation for a bit, the end result will be a boost in creativity that couldn’t have occurred without giving your brain a much-needed break.
2). Always Be On The Lookout For Inspiration
Hubspot reminds us that: “Great ideas can happen at any time: in the car, while cooking, during a walk, or even when you’re falling asleep in bed. When something interesting pops into your head, record it.”
Recording ideas that come to you in real time can be a significant tool for combatting writer’s block in content marketing. Taking photographs of things that spark your interest, keeping a list of ideas and topics and utilizing voice-to-text messages are all ways to record creative ideas when they hit you.
You may not have time to flesh these ideas out in the moment, but they’ll be available to you later and can lead to solid content marketing in the future. Furthermore, setting reminders to review these notes later will also help to keep these ideas top-of-mind when you find yourself needing to use them.
3). Just Start Writing
One of the things that I do when I begin content creation is to simply just start writing. Sometimes this means I start with an outline, but oftentimes it means that I just start. I write what’s in my head then and there, and the end result is – awful. Just awful. BUT, the simple act of getting something on my computer screen prompts my creativity to do the rest.
Pamela Bump from HubSpot has similar advice, suggesting that: “If you’re really feeling uninspired, just get the bare bones of the piece down on paper, and come back to it later. Once you have something semi-ready to publish (even if not the most well-written piece), the pressure should subside, allowing you to dive back into it a few hours later with fresh and innovative ideas for how to add flair.”
Sometimes the biggest stumbling block to content creation is a blank screen. All it takes it a little text on a page to get you inspired and moving again.
4). Ask For Help
When creating content marketing pieces, marketers are often afraid to ask for help. This could be because they are new and hesitant to show that they don’t know everything, or it could be because of a bit of an ego and not wanting to admit that you can’t do everything by yourself. I have experienced both. Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in admitting that you need a bit of content creation help.
This approach is especially useful if you find yourself writing about a topic that you are unfamiliar with. Caroline Forsey with Moz suggests that: “If you’re feeling frustrated by a topic you don’t feel comfortable writing about, don’t hesitate to reach out to experts — even within your own company. Their passion for the subject will fuel your desire to write the piece from a more human angle.”
It doesn’t really matter who this help comes from. Friends, colleagues or other experts in the field you are writing about are all good places to start. As long as you find someone who can provide a fresh perspective, you’re golden. You’ll find that most people are willing and even eager to provide some insight into a client or content marketing area, you just have to ask.
5). Work When You Feel Most Creative
Figuring out when your ideal productive times are and scheduling your most creative tasks during this time period is essential to creating quality content marketing. Whether this time is morning, mid-afternoon or even in the evening, protect this time for content creation as much as you can. This may mean that you will find yourself needing to snooze Slack, put your phone away or turn off sound and notifications on your computer. Whatever it takes, carve out a time when you feel your best for tasks that require creativity and save to-do items that require less of your mental energy for other times of the day.
6). Connect With Your Audience
Putting yourself into your target audience’s mind when you’re working on content creation can really go a long way. Caroline Forsey with Moz states that: “I often tell new writers on the team that you can find an interesting human angle to any topic, no matter how boring it may seem, which makes writing about the topic more exciting and offers more ways for readers to connect with the piece. The easiest way to find the human angle is to consider the reader’s point of view when searching a topic on Google. Start by asking yourself, ‘why would I ever search for this topic?’”
Connecting with your audience can also involve engaging with them on social media and observing the world around you. Listening and absorbing what you see happening all over the place can help you to focus on this human element. Keep an open mind, read books, articles and tweets – whatever it takes for you to see your content marketing from another point of view: the consumers.
Find out what is important to your audience and write from that angle. And if you’re not sure what this is, just ask! Take an informal poll on social media or send a survey through a newsletter. Taking the time to utilize whatever you can to discover your audience’s wants and needs will go a long way in helping you to create content marketing that authentically connects with your readers.
7). Look At What Has And Hasn’t Worked Before
Analyzing what has worked in the past, as well as what hasn’t worked, is a great way to produce creative content marketing pieces. There’s no use in spending time creating something that has already been proven not to work. Forbes suggests that: “An easy way to get ideas is to look at competitors and industry publications. You can look at their website and sitemap to see what content has been created if you want to get a comprehensive view of mapping out a content plan. If you want quick, easy wins, you can look at their social media accounts to see what topics are receiving a lot of engagement and if there are any trends.”
They also suggest using social media data to not only help you create new content marketing ideas, but to also understand what’s happening in your product or service category. Observing these trends is a simple way of guaranteeing that your content marketing hits the mark.
8). Outsource Your Content Marketing Creation
Creating content on a consistent basis can be difficult, let alone creating engaging, exciting and fresh content daily. Taking some of the steps above can save you stress, time and help to ensure that you enjoy the content your business creates and that it’s something you are proud of.
However, if you find that the above ideas still leave you struggling to create quality content, consider that it may be time to outsource your content creation. Utilizing professional content marketers can save you multiple hours a day, as well as an enormous amount of stress. For more on writing your own content versus hiring out, take a look at this Three Girls’ article here. It gives a thorough breakdown of each option to help you make the best decision for your company.