Whether you call it writer’s block, lack of motivation, or missing inspiration we’ve all had those times when we just can’t come up with an idea that seems worthy of our reader’s time. Having written far more than 10,000 articles in my years there have been moments I wondered why I even bothered and how I got into this line of existence. Fortunately through some experience of my own and observing (and learning from) others I can share some advice that works for me every time.
Before we get too far into it let’s make sure we understand that we can write beautiful, glowing articles that will never be read even if they are highly interesting. How can that be? The secret to getting a lot of readers and high traffic is to not only write great articles but to write on topics that mean something to your readers and are worth sharing. Until your articles get shared or you have a very large subscribed reader base it is crucial to write powerful, “viral” content. Notice I placed “viral” in quotes because it is quite difficult to force something to go viral. That said it’s easy to be relevant and timely. So let’s get to the seven tips.
Identify Trending Topics Relevant To Your Subject
I use a couple of different free methods to find hot topics. One is Twitter and the other is Google. That’s a pretty good pair of resources don’t you agree? Google Trends gives you a list of 100 or so of the hottest Google search results in near real time. Use the “Explore topics” feature at the top of the page to search for trends in your subjects. Add several terms to see how they are doing. One of my regular subjects is “cyber security” and I can see (at the time of the writing of this article) that the term is increasing in popularity every month.
Twitter is kind enough just to hand us the list of the hottest tweet topics. Go the the “home” link and it will be on the left of your screen. As you can see in the example given here the twitter trending topics cover a wide range of subjects. What you cannot tell since you’re reading this at a later time is that some of these trends are actually old. True enough today is #NationalCoffeeDay but #facebookdown was 18 hours ago and #SuperBloodMoon was 36 hours ago. Still they are being discussed.
What’s the point of writing on trending topics? If it needs explaining perhaps we should go back to Social Media 099 (basic introduction) and talk about the importance of eyes on words and clicks on links.
You can write relevant content to many of these topics without being campy. You certainly don’t want to write a complete litany about your subject and just throw in a completely irrelevant line or two about the trending topic. You may get a few readers but you’ll likely tick them off and not get any resulting action. Unless you have a link-bait site you’ll want to stay on topic and on subject. If you do run a link-bait site please leave and block my site in your firewall. Thanks.
Subscribe To Relevant News Feeds
You could just set your browser homepage or bookmarks to some of the sites that contain information valuable to your readers. I’ve found that using an RSS aggregation service is the most valuable use of my time. For me I love InoReader. It’s free, easy to use, I can access it from anywhere (because it’s a website) and the way they present the results is appealing. Many of my tweets, Facebook posts and articles are inspired by the content I get from those feeds.
Check Big Podcasts
If you don’t know how to find them it’s very simple. Using Google or Bing (or your favorite search site) just search on the terms “my topic” and “podcast”. Here are the Bing results for “cyber security podcasts“. I actually turn these on while I’m doing other things or even listen on my mobile device while I’m hiking or driving. Not everything has to be trending but it really all needs to be relevant.
Listen To The Radio
Before there was an Internet the fastest way for information to travel away from ground zero was the radio. It still works though it’s not as fast as social media. What it does, though, is let you know what other people are hearing and you can tap into that. For me a lot of my clients and prospects are going to listen to talk radio like NPR and CNN. What I’m looking for in these moments is something relevant to what my readers are looking for. If I already spotted in in my news feed and I hear a report about it on the radio it’s probably a great time to write about it. Remember to be relevant.
For the same reasons as listed above I watch TV news and trending topic shows like TMZ. When a pop icon has their phone hacked it’s big buzz and if I’m not writing about it and including it in my emails I’m a doofus! The important thing is to watch what your readers watch. It may be Access Hollywood or it may be Meet The Press. If your reader base is interested and you echo something in your writing they heard from a trusted, favorite source you will gain much credibility.
Read Printed Materials
I know, newspapers and magazines are dying. Well, not exactly. Some are doing very well. Magazines especially are niche content for the most part. If you write about baking you’ll find an endless stream of inspiration from magazines. Same for weapons, motorcycles, gardening…the list goes on. Be sure you’re not plagiarizing. What you’re looking for is not content to steal but inspiration and credibility by mentioning you saw something in a certain magazine or newspaper.
Meditate – Yes, Meditate!
Some of my best ideas come as I am laying in bed about to go to sleep. Other ideas come in the shower. Why does this happen? Dopamine. And here’s some trustworthy backup from LifeHacker. This article is not the place for a long dissertation on the cause and effect of dopamine release but you certainly can do some research on your own. What I am suggesting is that you take time to turn off the noise and let your brain be the center focus. You’ll be amazed what just 5 minutes of quiet time without intensive disruptions can do for your writing ideas.
Please proofread. If you don’t have great language skills find someone who does. You can hire a proofreader from Fiverr, FreeLance or UpWork. For most business articles bad grammar, street talk, and misspellings can be killers. And you cannot trust spellcheck to help with possessive nouns and plural versions of words – my two biggest friends. The proofreader won’t help make sure you didn’t “borrow” content and forget to credit it but they will be able to find errors that can easily be corrected. Go ahead, spend the $5-$20 it costs to have your article proofed. Your readers will be pleased and it may just land in your bank account!