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August 1, 2013 (Updated: March 21, 2023)
Marketers are constantly striving to create unique content that entices readers to share. Oftentimes an in-depth article or series of articles is staring you right in the face. Let’s look into ways that content marketers can get inspired from what’s already out there and put a fresh spin on content.
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This is a hard pill for veteran bloggers to swallow. For most it’s as if their fingers are in control, typing away furiously as gold shows up on screen. Taking the time actually write out an outline can help writers see opportunities to turn one article into an entire series.
For example, let’s say you want to write an article called 8 Great Tools for Email Management. Some of the ideas you have include Boomerang, Rapportive, and DropBox. Under the segment of Boomerang you want to discuss how to set it up, how it can be used in different industries, why it is underutilized, etc. Instead of cramming all of that information into one or two paragraphs, pull it out and write an entire article on it. You could even create a series of blog articles called Tool of the Week: Plug-ins, Apps, and Websites You Should Be Using.
By creating an outline before the actual article, you can see what points are strong enough to stand by themselves.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to write about, let your readers decide what points you need to elaborate on. Where in your comments section do you see the phrases “What do you mean by…” or “Can you explain how…?” If there’s a particular paragraph or two that your readers are confused by, take the main points and elaborate on them.
Let’s say your article is Regular Maintenance That Car Owners Can Do By Themselves and you’ve included sections on tire pressure and oil changes. If your readers ask multiple questions about what brands or types of oil to buy and where exactly it needs to go, consider writing an article called The Complete Guide to Changing Your Car’s Oil.
Keep this in mind even before you hit the publish button. Are you having trouble explaining a complex concept in just one paragraph or two? If you keep coming back to the same section or feel like you’re glossing over important details, take it as a sign. Take that one bullet point and turn it into an article where you can explain your ideas with a (relatively) unlimited word count.
Let your competition be a resource when you feel like you’re running out of ideas. By reading and following other blogs I’m constantly inspired by an offhand comment or seemingly minor detail. Something that someone vaguely mentions in one sentence can be turned into an entire post.
Warning: This does not mean your should create content for the sake of content. You should never say in 500 words what has been said in 15. This idea is meant to find opportunities for you to dig deeper and go where no blogger has gone before.
Has this happened to you? You look up how to do something – like Ways to Transplant Flowers Without Killing Them – and find a decent article that breaks down the steps. One of the ideas mentions using the right size pot to facilitate ideal growth and then moves on to discuss loosening dirt around the roots. What do they mean when they say use the right pot? Is there a danger of planting flowers in something too big? What are the consequences of planting them in something too small? Congratulations, you have just been inspired to write Choosing the Perfect Pot Size for Your Plants.
Believe it or not, there was a time when we believed CDs were as advanced as music technology could get and MySpace was the end-all be-all of social media. Oh how the times have changed. Take a look at some of your older blog posts to see if anything has been phased out or become outdated.
Did you create a formatting guide for a blogging platform from three updates ago? Websites continuously update their pages, add buttons and create new paths to improve the user experience. Most of the body could still be relevant, it just might need a review.
Skim through your old articles and check if there’s anything that’s no longer applicable or needs refreshing. This is great for content in late December or January as you can create Important Updates to Know About X in 2014…15…16.
It really doesn’t matter which social network your prefer, but with platforms like Twitter, a character limit makes it hard to stuff multiple thoughts and ideas into one tweet. I recommend attending live chats or listening to webinars, and let your audience tell you what they’re interested in and see if any particular points stand out.
Neil Patel recently talked about measuring content marketing success through analytics. He briefly mentioned the pitfalls of placing too much importance on vanity metrics. What he mentioned in a sentence or two can easily become an entire article: X Metrics You Should Be Ignoring or Are You Vain? Vanity Metrics that Boost Your Ego.
If you can’t fly out to Seattle or New York for a conference, keep an eye on what people are live tweeting and posting on social. As little snippets surface from the presentations of thought leaders, you might discover an idea that’s completely new to your blog and readers. You can easily put a fresh spin on content with one attendee’s 140-character snippet to plan your next 1,000-word article.
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