Content creation ideas abound everywhere … if you know where to look for them. Yet content creation has also emerged as the most difficult tactic to execute, cited by 47% of respondents of a survey of entrepreneurs. In a study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, the two factors that most content marketers found extremely challenging were discovered to be … “producing great engaging content” and “producing great content consistently”! This begs us to ask ourselves this question first: what is great content?
Jeff Bullas, the content expert, believes that “epic content is that which earns a lot of shares, offers actionable information, is exhaustive, has a long shelf life, delivers sustainable results for the long term, differentiates the brand as a thought leader in the niche, and develops trust and credibility for your business”. To that I would add something that I have found indispensable to the Content Creation Process that stands head and shoulders above the rest: it’s “emotional resonance with audiences“. Where do you get those super-sensational ideas that help you produce such great content, day after day, month after month, year after year? Read on for a few pointers …
Challenge the status quo and don’t be afraid to get controversial.
Apart from everything else, it’s great fun playing the “devil’s advocate” and question all that you read or see around you with a cynical or even sceptical eye. Who knows, you may find a point of view on the whole topic a bit more refreshing than everything else!
Also its a lot of fun to try and compare two or more writers on a topic to see what their contradictions are. Derek Halpern, the hugely successful online marketing expert, talks of being “controversial” as one of the sure-fire ways to get people to stop and devour your content! Much as people like their opinions to be validated, they enjoy other people’s opinions getting torn apart! So if “going against the common grain” excites you, go for it!
It’s not really that hard to be different and “outside the mainstream opinion” (it takes the same effort to think with the grain than against it!). Then why do so many writers of content prefer to be strait-jacketed and conservative in their points of view? Do they believe they would be more popular if they echoed the popular opinion than otherwise? Or are ideas easier to get from around you because many people say the same things over and over again?
To be able to ask yourself if you’d like to be different and memorable, you have to first ask yourself if you merely want people to read your content – or if you want people to read your piece and then get provoked to apply their own minds to the question.
Get in the habit of trying to see patterns of thought that others don’t see.
If you look around you, you will notice many people who are able to see patterns of thoughts in ways very different from most others. We often term such people as “creative”, as if creativity was a rare gift from birth, without realising that creativity can be learnt and it’s nothing but a different kind of thinking ability. The more you use those unused mental muscles, the more creative you will become.
To begin getting creative you have to learn to juxtapose unrelated things together to see if you can see some way they can fit together.
You read an article, let’s say, on how to use visual content differently for mobile websites – and then you read another article on the online buying psychology of teens. A “creative person” would then say to himself: “Hmmm … visual content … mobile websites … teens … buying habits …? Can I do a piece about whether the quality of visual content on mobile websites can affect the buying behaviors of teens?”
The strange law of life is that whatever enters your awareness will then appear everywhere around you. For example if you think to yourself “red cars” suddenly it will seem as if all you are seeing everywhere is red-colored cars and there are many around that day!
It’s the same when an “idea” enters your head. You will find yourself seeing it’s contours everywhere and the germ of an idea will become a full blown article! Try it! It always works!
Look at subjects through many different emotional angles.
Here’s something very interesting you can do if you want to find refreshing new ideas on topics that have gone stale from tons of other people writing the same things about it. You just have to imagine the same topic through the eyes of eight people having eight different emotions as they read it.
Let’s take an example. You have just come across a piece of content about “What’s most frustrating to people about content on mobiles?”.
- Now think of the topic like a logical-minded technical geek and you will write about the mechanics of mobile readership being challenging.
- Think about it like a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic so-and-so, and you will highlight the knots people put themselves into with mobile reading which are not perhaps the designers fault.
- Think again through the eyes of an angry ill-tempered groucho and you will find any number of tiny irritations that make the whole experience extremely bumpy and unpleasant.
- Look at the topic through the eyes of tight-fisted scrooge and you will suddenly spot all the irrelevant stuff that is not only complicating the reader’s reading but also wasting everybody’s money!
It’s all in the emotionality. All experience is emotional. Different emotions beget different ideas. When you want a new look at an old problem, try wearing a different emotion for a moment and the whole topic will change to show up aspects you never saw before!
Another variation of this creativity method is this one which I like to call the “freelance journalist’s one-story-nine-cheques approach”. This is one of my favorite stories of creative content production.
I once came across a freelance journalist who would take a piece of news and write the story in 9 different ways to match the editorial style of nine different newspapers – and then send them off and wait for nine cheques. He did this every day, and would actually get a thrill out of mimicking the stiff–upper-lip style of some serious dailies, or the flowery frivolous approach of some women’s magazines, or the gossipy scandal-mongering tone of some tabloids or the caustic editorials of the radical press.
Whatever gets you out of your own mental rut is good game-play for a dose of creativity. And if it also earns you nine times more, why not?
Break things and ideas apart mentally and put them back again differently.
Kids have a great way of expressing creativity. They tear toys apart and then try to re-assemble them differently. They love doing this over and over again. That’s why playthings like Lego are so popular, because of the sheer number of ways you can put the pieces back to form new objects or ideas!
Most adults forget the joys of taking apart thoughts and re-assembling them differently. I once read an article on how people hate to see a list that says “Here are the main points in no particular order”. It appears a huge majority of people are very uncomfortable with statements like that and would rather see neat little dovetailed steps that follow one another showing how to do anything!
Contrast this with the childlike thrill of “random re-assembly of broken objects” and you realize why as you grow older your thinking becomes hackneyed. You become a slave of process and sequences.
So one of the easiest ways to take someone else’s ideas and make something original out of it is to take it all apart, break the sequence, turn it all upside down, put it all in some other order and see what you get. I am tempted to do this frequently, and I get loads of opportunity to do this when I see articles that say “7 steps to doing this” or “9 stages to doing that”.
Take all the good ideas, throw the order of priority out of the window, and see if you can create a new formula for success using the same great ideas, or more. You’ll surprise yourself, I’ll guarantee!
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Creation Process”:
- How To Use Visual Content To Create More Appeal In Your Blog Posts!
- The Best Strategy You Can Use To Do Outstanding Content Curation!
- Brand Storytelling: Inspire Your Customer To Play A Stellar Role!
- How To Kickstart Your Content Marketing With Total Confidence!
- To Use Social Storytelling Powerfully, Learn To Mesmerize Your Readers!
- 15 Ways To Be A Top-Class Content Creator With Great Ingenuity!