I have to blog every week? EVERY week?

Yes, you should be creating new content every week, at a minimum! It sounds like a lot, but if you want to keep engaging your audience, you need to keep giving them a reason to pay attention to you.

Plus, each post is a new way for someone to find you. It’s a win-win, and all you have to do is think up ideas and write!

Okay, you say. More complicated than it sounds. How do I come up with a new idea every week?

No worries. Don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to sit at a whiteboard and pull ideas out of the air. There are plenty of ways to find great ideas for new content.

Here are a few content idea generating methods:

1. Look within the industry

Writer's Block TipsYou want your content to be original, but you can get inspiration from others. Maybe a headline in another article will spark a completely different idea for you.

Or, you are free to repurpose ideas. Can you make a topic more specific to your customers? Or more broad for a wider audience? Maybe you can offer a new perspective? Additional analysis on a trend or event? An intriguing case study or personal story with a similar message? You can even repurpose your own old ideas with a new spin or a current update.

Always make sure you are making any repurposed idea more valuable to your audience. Taking someone else’s idea and republishing it will only make you seem unoriginal, and you’ll miss a chance to earn more of the viewership by making your content better than other bloggers’.

You don’t have to go through 10 websites a day to keep up with industry news. Here are a few tips to bring all those streams to you:

    •    Set up an RSS feed– use a reader like Feedly to scroll through all the other blogs’ posts. Don’t only stick to the more-known bloggers. Include smaller niche blogs and publications in your feeds, too.

    •    Keep up with news– Add an extra Feedly stream of Google News alerts for search terms relating to your industry.

    •    Create Groups– Combine the top Tweeters in your industry together on a List, and G+ers into a Circle, and so forth.

    •    Set up search streams– Services like HootSuite allow you to search social media not only for hashtags, but also general search terms.

Remember: when setting up search and news streams, you can narrow your results. Putting multiple-word terms in quotation marks will tell the search engine only to bring back results with that exact phrase. Still getting bombarded with stories that include the phrase aren’t related? Add a subtraction sign before a word usually found in those unrelated stories, and the search will exclude the stories with that word.

2. Know what information is being sought

Check into search trends. What times of year are people looking for certain services you offer? Follow the keywords and build your blog calendar around what customers are seeking out at that time.

Look to your current customer base for information, too. Gauge the feedback you’re already getting. Look through your blog comments, or just through your business’s comment cards. See which blog posts are most popular, and try to think of similar ideas. Which social media posts generate the most engagement? Could those posts be expanded upon in a blog?

It’s always good to put particular focus on answering questions. Any time your customers are confused, take the opportunity to put the answers at their fingertips. Chances are, they weren’t the only ones wondering.

And don’t be shy about asking people directly what they’d like to see. People usually like sharing their opinions, and they appreciate when they’re heard.

3. Think outside of your template

Not every post needs to be a “Top 10” list, a tutorial or an explanation. Considering non-traditional content styles might open up new possibilities, and help you brainstorm completely new ideas.

There are tons of non-traditional styles of blog content to consider, if they might work for your brand:

    •    Build Tools– What helpful tool can you provide to make something easier for your readers? A map? A fill-in-the-blank worksheet that will help them do something, instead of just an explanation? Creating something useful goes beyond text.

Video content    •    Get Visual– A great info graphic, photo or video can stand in the place of written content. Can you do a product test video from someone’s perspective? Make a chart or illustration to explain something? Photos can be especially compelling, since they can speak volumes with only a glance.

    •    Be Personal– People find other people’s stories compelling. Stop writing from the generic “we” perspective and shift it to your own.Tell your own story about interacting with your brand, or give advice from your own personal experiences.

    •    Illustrate by Example– Share a case study about a particular topic, or create a compelling hypothetical story. Make details concrete by painting a picture.

    •    Make it Interactive– Consider making your content fun to play with. Create a quiz. Build a “choose your own story” adventure that gives real-world advice based on choices. Create a generator of some sort. Add pop-up fun facts. The possibilities are endless. Try to think of unique ways to make your content enjoyable.

4. Ask others

While not everyone in every department is going to be willing to write blog posts, everyone probably has a fresh take on what you could be writing about. Your area of expertise is not the only one of value; share the creativity and wisdom of your entire team.

Sometimes this means a little more work. Talk to people in different roles, even if you’re not sure if their ideas will be useful. Ask them what they find most interesting about their job and what they think would be useful or interesting to your audience.

5. Search Images

This is actually one of my most effective tactics: seek out inspiration in image form! Flip through Pinterest or Google Image Search. Sometimes a visual cue will spark an idea you wouldn’t have even considered otherwise.

A great bonus of an image search: it will probably bring you a wider range of results from different related topics. Broadening your topics and expanding your pool of possible ideas will open your mind and lead you into entirely new topics to explore, which might actually link back in interesting ways to what you’re doing with your blog.

So feel free to go off on strange tangents in your image browsing. Try searching for more abstract terms related to your topic. The more you can bring into your realm of consideration, the more creative your ideas are bound to be.

Those are my top tricks! What do you do to come up with content ideas?