Updated: Feb 3
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash
If you're a content creator, chances are you've experienced the dreaded "writer's block" at some point. You know what it feels like to be stuck on generating content ideas and unable to come up with something new or interesting.
Overthinking can be a major obstacle. It's easy to get caught up in the details and become overwhelmed with analysis paralysis. Use the following tools and tips to stay focused and effective.
Bouncing ideas off each other in a meeting can be an effective or completely pointless exercise, depending on how you run it. Brainstorming sessions are great at generating ideas, but we often keep debating each idea’s merits and demerits without going anywhere.
Instead, agree at the beginning of the meeting that you will only list ideas and not judge them, at least not right then. Make the list and then regroup again to prioritize them. You can do this offline by writing it down on a shared spreadsheet and asking your team to vote each entry up or down.
2. Use research tools:
While brainstorming sessions are great at building on existing knowledge and bringing out ideas that are more than the sum of their parts, you still need knowledge about the industry or space which is up-to-date and relevant. Some of this will happen organically, but it is always good to use some research tools to pick up on what is trending or better yet, what are the unanswered questions in your audience’s minds.
Some of our favourite research tools are:
Google Trends - Type in any search term or topic and find out what searches people make about them, along with a helpful trendline that shows how interest levels are changing over time. Use this tool to find niche topics or subtopics that are on a dramatic upward trend so that you can make content around them before it becomes the talk of the town
AnswerThePublic - A great companion to Google trends, this tool uses autocomplete data from search engines to give you exact phrases and questions people are using. Use this to refine the topics you select and speak to specific questions
BuzzSumo - What people are searching about is one piece of the puzzle, but what people are sharing on social media is another. This tool will let you enter any topic and see the top-most shared posts around it with a breakup by channel. This can help you decide which topic to select for each channel.
3. Monitor social media platforms: You can do all the focused research you want, but we all know most of your ideas and industry knowledge are gleaned from obsessive scrolling on social media. Try to leverage this in a more structured manner by doing two things:
Curate a list of relevant social media handles who speak about your industry and follow them, then engage more with their posts rather than reading passively so that the newsfeed algorithms show you more relevant content.
If you want to take things up a notch, use tools like Hootsuite to display panes with posts just from selected handles,
4. Browse content curation platforms:
If social media is too overwhelming or toxic, we hear you. You might be surprised that content curation platforms like Flipboard and Scoop can show you a truer ‘news feed’ optimized for your interests and reading patterns, without hate speech and personal opinions. You might miss the memes though.
We would even include Reddit in this list, as it is less of a social platform and more of a crowdsourced content curation platform if you ignore the comments.
5. Idea generation software/apps:
Last but not least, AI-driven apps can generate ideas for you. These apps are great at making a big list for you, which is what you try to do through brainstorming and other exercises. They might not all hit the mark, but you can easily expand the list without additional time from your end, and then spend more time deciding what to pick from it.
The now household name ChatGPT can do this, but so can several other platforms. Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator and Portent’s Idea Generator are two good tools, but every other content assistance platform is starting its own.
Bonus tip: All-in-one content creation platform
We hope these tools and tips will help you get over the most difficult part of content creation, the blank page. However, if you still want to make things easier, check out our digital content creation platform Yarnit, which was built specifically to bring all these pieces together.
Yarnit shows you trending topics right on the first page, lets you generate ideas with a topic conjurer, and then helps you take it forward through storyboarding, editing and designing creatives in various formats for different channels.
In fact, this blog post was written with the assistance of Yarnit, which generated the key points and most of the listed examples. All this writer did was add some personality, which thankfully is not AI-generated yet.