contentFor a few years, I created content for a company in the door and lock industry.

When I first began working there, I thought to myself (at least a few times a day), “There is no way I’m going to be able to come up with content about doors and locks forever. It’s just not possible.”

And every day I would prove myself wrong.

It wasn’t easy, especially at the beginning, but eventually I found my groove and actually became pretty good at finding a way to relate doors and locks into almost anything.

But my biggest content inspiration came from movies and pop culture.

Not every industry is exciting or glamorous, and sometimes when you’ve worked with a client for a particularly long time, you run into roadblocks for fresh content.

And that leads to this week’s #SpinSucksQuestion.

When you find your content well running dry, where do you turn for fresh ideas?

The Spin Sucks community showed up in full force with their answers.

Look Around You

Geri Rosman enlists the help of others in the communications industry such as editors and reporters:

I like to reach out periodically to editors and reporters (you could also include bloggers) and have a conversation, including asking what they think is hot right now/coming down the pike; or what topics/issues they’d like to cover, but haven’t had the opportunity to recently. You might also reach out to communications/marketing colleagues at industry (and/or related industry, i.e., design, architecture) organizations, to see if they’ll be highlighting specific issues over the coming months. Could be an opportunity to piggyback, or use as a jumping off point.

Dee Donavanik hits up other people on the client’s team, outside of marketing and communications, that might have a different view on topics:

When working with clients who don’t necessarily have anything “newsworthy”, one thing we’ve tried to do is tap into the rest of the client’s team (from leadership to people in the field), see if they have any interesting industry insights, recent experiences, or even anecdotes on how they ended up in the position they’re in…basically find a way to utilize storytelling!

Surf the Web

I feel very corny using that subheading.

It sounds like something my dad would say when he asks me if I had a good day at work: “Have a good day surfing the ol’ web, Whit?”

No matter. It’s staying.

Robin Eldred is a fan of Answer the Public:

I find that is a great source for questions. Good for SEO research as well.

I’ve used this too, and it is a GREAT resource.

Although, I’m not a fan of the old man who stares at you, while he waits for your question.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out their site.

Corinna vanGerwen keeps a swipe file handy from articles she’s found on the internet:

I’ve always found having a swipe file to be super handy when I’m stuck on ideas. Not just for stories/articles on the same topic, but stories that are presented or packaged in an interesting way. Looking at good writing on unrelated topics can trigger new ideas—how would we do this for us?

Visual Stimulation

Athanasia Price uses photography and video to help spur new ideas:

So many great suggestions. Another one is to think about visually interesting ways to photograph/video the product, like repetition or patterns. A wildly successful piece of content in Australia a while ago was of a new road being resurfaced in the ‘outback’. Sounds odd but it was mesmerizing.

Eric Eastwood gets inspiration from my favorite source—movies and pop culture:

Pop culture has always served me well. It’s relatable and keeps an otherwise dry content fun and engaging.

Analytics, Google, and How To Content

Chris Williams has a tried and true method he uses when he’s running low on content:

One of our customers works in the industrial equipment industry. His customers are large contractors, vineyards, and warehouses. There’s only so many ways you can talk about a warehouse shelving system!

That said, I’ve written monthly newsletters for him for 6.5 years now. I find topics with him, and with other customers, using these methods:

  • Talk to a customer of theirs. Use the conversation as an interview, or pick out topic ideas from their concerns/enjoyments.

  • Monitor search rankings. Google Search Console gives you plenty of search terms people use. Devote content to each of them! 

  • When all else fails, fall back on the old “how to.” How to fix something, how to replace something, how to make your product do backflips…whatever! As long as you’re giving information people can use to improve their situation in some way.

Christopher S. Penn is a fan of predictive analytics, which is surprising news to absolutely no one:

Predictive analytics. I’ll take the top 50,000 articles in a space, mine them for bigrams and trigrams (two and three word combinations) to get a sense of what’s most important for that industry, then run that through an SEO tool to validate search volumes. Once I have a list of a thousand or so terms, I use predictive analytics tools to build a forecast for the next 52 weeks of what terms will be most popular and when, and use that as my content calendar going forward.

Keeping Your Content Fresh

Creating content is not always easy.

And everyone has those days where it seems like they’ll never come up with a new idea again.

I find the key is to not get to worked up about it, because you’re never going to run out of ideas.

Plus, if you’re a member of the Spin Sucks community on Slack, you’ve got lots of great resources right at the tip of your fingers.

Do you have a certain go-to method when it comes to creating fresh content? Tell me in the comments!

Whitney Danhauer

Whitney is living in Central Kentucky with her husband, Michael and her daughter, Evie Rose. She's an avid reader, an even more avid movie watcher, and loves nothing more than a well-placed pop culture reference. By day she writes about all things communications for Spin Sucks, by night she writes about whatever she wants. Her first novel, Good Riddance, was released in October of 2015.

View all posts by Whitney Danhauer