Feeding the content beast is often one of the tasks on the Top 10 Most Hated Chores of writers, and its needs are almost nuts – if you want to succeed, you need to create content for your blog, your newsletter, your email-marketing strategy, your social media accounts, your guest post blog targets, your emails, your handouts…
It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
And it’s no wonder that the creative well of most writers quickly runs dry as a bone – usually well before they know what hit them.
You don’t have to dip deep into that well to make compelling, shareable content on a regular basis. You can tap into much more pleasant methods of creating quality content that don’t leave you drained at the end of the day. You can even create a consistent, endless stream of content that keeps the flow going.
First, let’s get something out of the way:
There’s nothing new under the sun – and that’s okay
It’s said that wise King Solomon once proclaimed, “There is nothing new under the sun.” He was right. Even thousands of years ago, humanity knew that every original idea was tapped out.
Today we have books like 20 Master Plots that remind us every story boils down to a few key ideas, repeated over and over again. This applies to non-fiction as well – a quick web search on your topic of choice will reveal hundreds (if not thousands) of similar articles.
Given this, how the heck can you write an original idea?
You can’t – and that’s okay. Your readers aren’t looking for something that’s so new it’s never been said before. They’re looking for something that’s never been said the way you say it, or something that’s never been presented from your particular perspective.
Your readers want you to communicate in a way that resonates with them. Right now. Today. When they need it.
So take the pressure off yourself. You don’t need pure originality to write good content. You need your originality, and that comes from writing in your voice. The unique tone, style and perspective you bring to your content makes it fresh and exciting, regardless of what you’re writing – or whether your readers have seen something like it before.
Now that the pressure’s off, and you’re free to write about whatever you’d like, here are 7 easy ideas to start that content stream flowing on a permanent basis.
Rewrite older, hidden content
If you’ve been writing for a while, you’re aware that most of your older work has disappeared to the ages. A blog post you wrote last week gets pushed further and further down the timeline, so new people who find your website today never see that great article, let alone those you wrote months or even years ago.
You can use that to your advantage. Browse through your archives and older work. Look for articles with a solid concept behind them. Look for articles with shaky concepts that could be solidified. Look for your favorites. Look for the ones you hated writing, even though you knew at the time you were sharing good advice.
Pick any one you please – and rewrite it. You’re a better writer now than you were six months ago, or a year ago, so rewriting older articles into stronger, better pieces can give you fresh, new content without having to sift your brain for a new idea.
Republish older, great content
As you sift through your archives, you might find content that’s so solid and well-written that you feel you can’t improve on it. You love it as is, and even if you tried to rewrite it, you’d probably only swap out a word or two.
Fantastic! If some of your best writing graced your blog a year before new readers found you, chances are they’ll never have seen that work.
You could link to it from a new article – or you could just take that great article and republish it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
If most of your audience wasn’t around when you originally published that piece, you don’t even have to say anything. You can simple republish as if it’s brand new to your blog. Alternatively, you can add a small snippet at the beginning of the article that reads “originally published in 2014” to let existing readers know you’re bringing back a good piece.
If you want, you could even add a little paragraph in which you mention why you want to republish the article.
“Last week, I was doing some housekeeping in the archives and found this fantastic post tucked away in the corner. It talks about how to feed the content beast, and it’s as relevant to you today as it was back then – enjoy, and happy writing!”
That creates a nice little personal touch, and readers will feel like you have their best interest at heart.
Expand on existing, current content
While I’m on the topic of your best work, a very easy way to write new content is to expand on existing articles.
All you need to do is skim through your latest 5 posts. As you’re reading, ask yourself if you can create a “Part Two” for any of them, to continue discussing what you wrote about in the original piece. (The answer will likely be yes.)
You could do the same for older content, of course. If you find an article you wrote 3 years ago, you could write about how your opinions have changed since you wrote it, or expand on a point that you only touched on in the original piece.
This also gives you a great opportunity to link back to your original pieces, which in turn boosts your traffic and shows newer readers you’ve been around for a while. A nice perk, I’d say!
Turn overviews into a series
One of the simplest ways to create a flood of new content is to take a piece of writing that covers multiple points (like this one, for example) and write several dedicated articles, each expanding on a single point.
This makes your original piece a little more like an introduction, or an overview, and you’ll have multiple opportunities to link out to your new, in-depth articles that expand on each point.
Any list post you ever created can become a springboard to enough content to make you look like a publishing dynamo – and who wouldn’t want to be known for that?
Use competitors for inspiration
You’ll never hear me recommend you copy someone else’s content. Not only does it open you up to a rat’s nest of legal issues, but it’s a lazy way to approach your writing career.
Copying someone else’s work is never a path to success.
However, being inspired by someone else’s work is.
Take a look at what your competitors are up to. See what they’re writing about. What ideas do they cover? What topics do they have on their blog? What are some of their latest posts?
Don’t lose yourself reading everything they’ve put out. Just skim through their articles, or even just glance at their headlines. The simple act of exposing yourself to pre-existing topics can kick off a flood of “I could write about that!” inspiration.
In fact, you may even find that your thoughts lean more towards, “I could write about that – and do a better job of it, too!”
Rewrite guest content with a new spin
Just because you’ve written a guest post for someone else’s blog or website doesn’t mean you can’t ever touch the topic again. You can absolutely tackle the same topic and write a new piece for your own blog.
Dust off those guest posts. Take a look at the headlines. Just as you did with your competitors’ content, don’t read the full posts; just skim through them to get a feel for the topic again.
Then put those guest posts away. Sit down and write an article like it was the first time. You’ll have fresh content that doesn’t duplicate the old – and in fact, they’ll often be better than the original.
Go back to basics
It’s common for writers to think they can’t write on the fundamentals of their topic – it brings up fears of boring advanced readers who “know it already”.
But your audience is made up of more beginners than you’d think… and writing about the basics is a very good way to secure their loyalty.
It’s not difficult to accommodate advanced audience members, either. A simple introduction that invites advanced readers to see if they know the basics as well as they think can activate their desire to read.
Plus, it’s often fun for them to run through the challenge just to see if they really do know it all. Smug pride and a “yep, I knew that,” feels great!
Creating content on a consistent basis doesn’t have to be hard.
Most writers tend to make the task of coming up with consistent content harder than it needs to be. And I know it’s easy to get looped into feeling like everything you write has to epic or you’re doomed.
That just isn’t true.
Remember that the real keys to securing reader loyalty come down to your writing voice and your confidence. That’s it. Putting pressure on yourself to create nothing but new, unrelated content all the time means you’ll simply burn out. You need a different approach to prevent burnout and keep your writing fresh.
Go forth and use these strategies to pour new life into your writing. Start the flow of an endless stream of content today – and every time you feel stuck, just come back here to refresh yourself on the options that are always available to you.