Reprinted guest post that originally appeared on LKR Social Media.
The more content you create, the greater your need will be for ways to up your game.
Struggling to come up with ideas?
Feel like your content isn’t engaging?
Maybe it’s time to try changing some of your habits to jumpstart your brain.
Here are 7 easy ways to get you back on the path to great content:
1. Become an insatiable reader
It’s no secret that reading can improve the quality of your writing. But what you read can be as important as how much.
Instead of gravitating toward your favorite genres or topics, make an effort to read outside your comfort zone. It will often lead to finding unique connections and examples in your content.
2. Analyze before you click
Slowing down to understand your own motivation for clicking a link or reading an article can help you create content that does the same for others. Create a simple spreadsheet to track your browsing habits. Take note of:
- Words/phrases you use in searches
- Wording that entices you to take action
- Graphics/formats that motivate you
3. Create a swipe file
A swipe file is simply a collection of anything that inspires you. Whether you collect clippings in a shoebox or catalog your favorite posts in Pinterest, it’s a good go-to resource to spark new ideas.
Remember, it’s just called a swipe file. You’re not actually going to copy other people’s ideas exactly. You’re using them as a jumping-off point to fuel your own work. Whether you’re inspired by an e-book layout or come across topics you want to explore, you want to keep it organized and accessible.
4. Outline, outline, outline
notebook and penWhen you’re creating content, it’s really easy to go off on a tangent if you’re not careful. Outlining can keep you on track and help you flesh out your idea.
But before you start having high school English flashbacks, keep in mind that these should be simple outlines. Figure out the main takeaway, then jot down 3-5 subheading bullet points each with 2-3 support points/examples.
Not only does this give you a nice roadmap for your content, but it can also highlight thin topics.
Once you finish your outline, you can use it and simply expand the sections. As you’re writing, be sure to sideline anything that doesn’t fit the outline. It could make a separate, new piece of content. I always have Workflowy open to capture my ideas.
5. Write a messy first draft
Repeat after me: First drafts are supposed to suck.
Now here’s where I usually run into problems. I have the bad habit of editing in my head before I type. As much as I would love to write like the wind to get an idea out and then go back and edit, my body won’t let me.
While that might seem like an asset, I can tell you from experience that I have lost numerous brilliant ideas because I muddled them around in my gourd too long, and they slipped away before I could type them.
So let this be a warning, fair content creators; write fast to get the ideas down, then go back and shape it into content someone will want to read.
6. Evaluate your work
Now that you’ve written your draft and edited it into something great, you must resist the urge to click “publish.”
No seriously, don’t do it.
Before you send your content out into the world, you need to evaluate it from a couple different perspectives. Does the content deliver the main idea from your outline? Is it engaging to your prospective customer/visitor? You’ll also want to proofread for any errors.
reading glassesBecause you’re so close to your content, you may not be able to give an objective evaluation. It may be best to have someone else look at it with fresh eyes or let it sit for a day or longer and then look at it again yourself after you’ve given it some distance.
For her recently published e-book, Linda Formichelli had put a call out for beta readers to take a last read through before it was finished. By doing that, she was able to gather a collection of quick feedback and suggestions, which no doubt made it a stronger offering.
7. Conduct a postmortem
No, I’m not suggesting you perform an autopsy! A postmortem is simply evaluating your content’s effectiveness after others have had the chance to view or act upon it.
You can get as detailed as you want here, but I suggest keeping it simple to start out. Take a look at what worked well and what may not have met expectations.
Would a different subject line prompt more subscribers to open your email? Does shorter or longer copy convert better on your landing page?
Fortunately, you can continue to tweak and test most of your content until you’re satisfied with the results. And by constantly fine-tuning, you’re also showing your audience that quality is important to you, which will keep them coming back.
It may seem like a lot, but these are just a few ways to improve your content. There are a ton of resources out there to help you spark creativity and improve your writing.
Time to share!
What processes or go-to resources do you use to improve your content?