guest post by Charlotte Varela
Picture the scene: you've set aside an afternoon to write the perfect blog post, brewed some tea, de-cluttered your desk and… nothing. For whatever reason and no matter how hard you stare at your computer screen, an idea just won't materialise.
Writer's block isn't just something that affects literary wordsmiths; even digital marketing experts suffer when they're least expecting it, which means bad news for any content marketing and link building strategies.
It can be easy to forget the intrinsic value of blogging for business. Gone are the days when content was allowed to be sub-par and only created for search engines. It must now be created for users too, serving as a clever tool for both link building and lead nurturing.
And when it comes to lead generation you can't ignore the figures – stats from InsideView indicate that B2B companies with an active blog generate on average 67% more leads each month than non-bloggers.
Impressive right? It just goes to show how potentially threatening writer's block can be, but thankfully you have me on hand to dish out some advice on how to cure it…
1. Read other industry blogs
For the times when your own expertise has only taken you so far, it's worth taking a good look at the blogs of other industry leaders. Think about it, you must have had at least one light bulb moment induced by a stat or infographic you saw elsewhere.
Take this blog post for example, all inspired by a set of Facebook statistics that I'd never come across before. They got me thinking, I wonder how many other people have come across them and whether they know how easy it can be to turn them around. Thus, 'Surprising Facebook Stats and How You Can Use Them to Your Advantage' was born.
Then there's the more tactical route – put your own spin on an article you took a shine to or even a counter argument to one you didn't agree with. Comments from other users are also a great place to gather a set of opposing viewpoints that form the basis of your counter-post.
2. Glean inspiration from social media
Social media can be a crafty temptress, so if you're prone to letting Facebook eat away at your working day then I suggest you read this insightful post from Daily Blog Tips' Daniel Scocco before reading any further.
On the other hand, for all its frustrating distractions social media is one of the best places to stay up to date with industry news and chatter. Twitter especially is the social network of choice. Take some time to follow influential people and brands in the digital marketing sector as they will often tweet about the latest news and discussions keeping you up to date in the process.
LinkedIn on the other hand offers an even greater place to network with like-minded bloggers and professionals, enabling you to bounce ideas off of one another in digital marketing groups. Once a debate gets going about a subject it won't be long before you've formulated a heap of top notch content for a blog post. You can even receive daily or weekly email updates to alert you to the latest discussions.
3. Research statistics for up to date material
Type your chosen subject into research search engines such as Fact Browser and you have a ready-made blog post that only requires you to fill in the gaps with a unique viewpoint. Whether you decide to compile a statistical report explaining the current state of your chosen area, turn the stats into an infographic or put a unique spin on them, this is one of the best techniques for formulating a blog post, building trust among your followers through the use of official data at the same time.
Fact Browser also lets you fine-tune your search with categories such as 'Regions', 'Topics' and even just specific keywords such as 'Facebook UK.' Great if, like me, you're looking to create an infographic with much more relevant, country focused figures.
4. Analyse the popularity of your past posts
If it aint broke, don't fix it, especially where blogging is concerned. Taking a look at what your readers prefer to see will give you a pretty good indication of what subject matter or angles to stay away from, but don't just regurgitate something you've written in the past, look for similar subjects in the same area, post an update on a changing trend or approach it from a brand new angle. And if all else fails, you could always ask your readership what they'd like to see next.
5. Get involved with a few tools of the trade
There's a tool for everything nowadays and blogging is no exception. Websites like Quora and Google Groups are perfect for finding out what people in the industry are talking about, and therefore what subjects you should be broaching.
What's more, utilising software such as the new social media management tool BuzzBundle is the perfect way to stay up to date with conversations concerning your competitors and keywords. With minimal effort to set up you will be automatically notified of any "buzz" across blogs, forums, social networks and Q & A sites, meaning you can save you prowess for crafting a fantastic body of text.
6 Put a spin on current events
During and after the presidential election a flurry of marketing bloggers sprung up to analyse the social media and email marketing strategies of each candidate, myself included.
Current events like these provide the perfect opportunity to write about something a little different for a change and, to be honest, I think they provide a much needed breath of fresh air. It also shows that you can think outside the box, earning you major brownie points among potential leads.
7. Speak from experience
Have you experienced a particularly great piece of web design software or tested a new digital marketing technique that's won you more website traffic? Then write about it! Readers love to hear about things that have been successfully tried and tested; it builds trust and saves them having to find out for themselves.
Equally, why not take the more controversial route and write about something you haven't had the best experience with before putting a more positive twist on it, a la Joshua Merritt? No-one likes an overtly negative Nancy.
8. Take inspiration from everyday life
Marketing is all around us, from the heart-warming new John Lewis advert to follow up emails sent by ecommerce sites to remind you that your order is lying, unclaimed, in your basket. Revealing part of your personality goes a long way in helping readers identify with what you're saying and, therefore, with your company, and sometimes it's just refreshing to read about experiencing your niche in action when you spend your whole week providing it.
After seeing the aforementioned John Lewis advert I remembered how equally heart-warming last year's offering was, and upon researching their campaign further found out that their new ad has been tied in to a social media campaign that gives followers a chance to win a holiday to New Zealand, where the advert was filmed. Then came more research into this year's more successful festive marketing campaigns and I had the framework for another blog post which I'll be working on straight after this post.
This is just a short roundup of the tips I find work best for me, so don't be afraid to comment with your very own techniques for curing blog writer's block, no matter how weird or wonderful!
Image credit: DepositPhotos
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