Do you find writing web copy hard? Coming up empty when it comes to thinking up traffic-pulling ideas for your web writing?
There’s nothing worse for a content writer than sitting in front of blank page, writing a sentence, then deleting it; writing another sentence, then deleting it… It’s not so much ‘writer’s block’, but a lack of workable ideas.
This can be a problem if you’ve set yourself a blog posting schedule or you need to come up with an idea, fast. But sometimes all your brain needs is a nudge.
Which is why I’ve put together this list of 57 ways to make thinking up new article ideas and writing web content easier.
It starts with what I think is the most important point…
1. Create content readers will find valuable – Give your readers what they want and what they don’t yet know that they want.
2. Create content readers can’t get anywhere else – What makes your content unique? What’s your angle? Are you funny? Are you more comprehensive? Are you always first?
3. Create content that promotes you, your brand or products – Does your content have a call to action?
4. Brainstorm the old-fashioned way
Pen, paper, Post-It notes, a block of free time, a quiet room and an unbreakable rule that no idea is too crazy. At least not yet…
5. Brainstorm the 21st century way – As above, use an app like Mindmeister instead of the pen, paper and Post-It notes.
6. When you know what your readers want, give them more of it
7. List posts are still your best friend – They may seem like a tired content format, but they work.
8. Product comparisons can also drive traffic – This proofreading software roundup has proved very popular for us.
9. Try creating a free report to build an email list – Because you can’t always rely on search and social media to bring you repeat traffic.
10. Write a comprehensive buyer’s guide – The ‘everything you need to know’ approach is a fantastic reader service.
11. Solve people’s problems with a ‘how to’
People typically search the web to find answers to their questions. Work out what people need to do and show them how to do it.
12. Cut through industry or product jargon – Write a glossary.
13. Tell people how we got from ‘there’ to ‘here’ – Put information in context for your readers. Say ‘why’ things matter.
14. Interview an expert – Get a different view.
15. Write a case study – Show how a problem was solved or a strategy was implemented and inspire other people to do the same.
16. Get a good, old-fashioned ‘scoop’
Because news is, by definition, ‘new’.
17. Review something – Tell people whether a product is good or bad so they don’t waste their time or money.
18. Write a link post that aggregates content – Save readers time and effort by rounding up interesting content.
19. Write a series of posts – Link posts together to explore a subject in more depth and make them easier to find.
20. Have a strong opinion – You won’t get noticed if you can’t stand out from the crowd.
21. Recycle or update an old post
Turn an old how to into a case study or add new information to an existing post to give it new relevance.
22. Start a debate with your readers – What do they think? Have you asked them?
23. See what’s already popular – What’s doing well on competitor sites? Could you do something similar?
24. Mine your analytics for good content ideas – Crunch the numbers, see what’s getting viewed and do more of it.
25. Write about what you know – Unless what you know is only of interest to five people.
26. Don’t skimp on research
Get your research right and that’s half of your article writing done. But don’t get bogged down in planning.
27. Get your facts right – Check your information thoroughly, especially people, places, products, company names, etc.
28. Just. Make. Sense
29. Nail your keywords – Use free tools, such as the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, to work out the best keywords to target
30. Optimise your content – Use your keywords in key places within your content
31. Don’t go OTT with your SEO
Never let SEO interfere with readability.
32. Adhere to best practice web writing methods – Download 17 Ways To Improve Your Web Writing. It’s FREE.
33. Inject some personality – What can make your content stand out from the crowd? You. You are the biggest Unique Selling Point (USP) that you have.
34. Tell a story
35. Inject some variety – Bring in some other writers to add different ideas, language and tone of voice.
36. Short articles are OK – You don’t need to write 1,000-word articles. People have short attention spans these days.
37. And long articles are OK too
38. Be specific and narrow your editorial focus – Don’t dilute your content. Stick to your subject like glue.
39. Be consistent
If you say that you’re going to publish new content on a Tuesday, then publish new content on a Tuesday.
40. Write first, edit later – Minimise distractions and get your words out.
41. Don’t always use the first title you think of – Write several and pick the best one.
42. Get some proven headline help – Download Write Great Headlines Every Time. It’s FREE.
43. Don’t try to please everybody – It’s impossible.
44. Read as much as you can – Expose yourself to new writers, language, structure and ideas.
45. Never stop learning
There’s always a new trick you can pick up.
46. Look at other topics/niches for inspiration
47. Consider other ways of delivering content – Infographics, slideshows, podcasts…
48. Get outside once in a while – recharge your mental batteries.
49. Don’t let your good ideas get away – Always carry a notebook or a digital device that can run Evernote.
50. Brainstorm a list of questions about your topic and answer them in post-form
51. Find inspiration in related books
52. Find inspiration in related magazines – Try magazines.com for inspiration.
53. Spend time on related forums, Twitter, Facebook and Quora
Identify common problems and solve them.
54. Set up Google Alerts to track topics/keywords – Let Google send content ideas to your inbox.
55. Don’t let poor quality control ruin your writing – Don’t put all your faith in a spellchecker. There’s more to proofreading than clearing up spelling errors.
56. Multi-tasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – Trying to do too many things at once can overstretch you and lead to disaster.
57. Just let your content go – Don’t aim for perfection. It’s usually impossible to hit.
So there you have it. A lengthy list of techniques, tricks and tips that you can use to improve your content creation efforts. Have I missed anything out? Is there a number 58 and 59 to add to this web writing list… Let me know in the comments below…