A 3-Step Guide To Never Running Out Of Content Ideas For Your Small Business Blog

Have you ever had a conversation with a 7 year old?

They never run out of questions.

When you answer one, ten more pop up.

But when you write content, you run out of ideas. Why do you think that is?

It’s because you forget to tap into that brain of yours. You forget to leverage the knowledge you already possess.

And more importantly, the knowledge you have right at your fingertips.

Let me explain.

The Problem Isn’t a Lack of Ideas

You have plenty of ideas.

The problem is that you fail to break apart and really dive into the ideas that you have.

You’re soaring up in generalities, and you aren’t giving your readers and customers specific, actionable information they can use right now.

So, how do you get out of this vicious cycle?

The first step is to talk to a customer.

Step 1: Find a Customer You Like

The best way is to get on the phone with a customer.

If that isn’t possible, email them.

And if that doesn’t work, then go through old emails and conversations you’ve had with them, and take notes.

The reason you’re looking for a customer you like is because you want to attract more customers like that.

And you can do that by focusing in on what they need help with. It will free you from trying to come up with content ideas, because you can just ask.

In future sales calls or conversations with customers, you can throw in questions like, “What do you struggle with most right now?”

Surveys work, too. But keep them short.

Then take notes, because the answer to that can be made into dozens of articles, podcasts and videos.

But let’s say you do get on the phone with a customer. What do you ask them?

Step 2: Interview Them

Here are a few examples of questions you could ask:

  • What’s your biggest problem right now?
  • What specifically about that bugs you?
  • Why did you decide to buy from me?
  • What problem did my product/service solve?
  • What problem did my product/service NOT solve that you wish it did?
  • Is there one piece of content you’d like to see that we haven’t covered?
  • What steps did you have to go through to solve your problem?

To make this concrete, let’s take an example from my own business, where a conversation might go something like this:

Me: What’s your biggest problem right now?

Client: I don’t know how to start building my email list.

Me: Could you elaborate on that? What specifically is it that you’re struggling with?

Client: Well, where do I put the sign-up form? How do I get people to sign-up without attracting freebie seekers? What do I write once they’re signed up? Will I have to keep writing every day or at what frequency should I produce content? And will I have to separate my newsletter content from my blog?

Henri: Great questions. I’m curious, could you tell me more about the problem you have with getting people to sign-up to your email list?

Client: Okay, so I don’t know if I should give away an ebook, podcast, or video. Should I even give away something, I know some people don’t? If I do, how long should it be? How do I find the intersection between getting people interested while also keeping it relevant for my business, so I can get more sales?

Are you starting to see how many ideas we have just from that short conversation?

It doesn’t stop there. We haven’t even drilled down, which is where this gets fun.

Step 3: Drill Down

Drilling down is simply diving into one specific topic.

Let’s say you wanted to write an article on how to craft the perfect email list incentive. The outline might look something like this:

Headline: How to Craft the Perfect Email List Incentive
Introduction
The Problem With Most Incentives
How to Craft the Perfect Incentive
The Biggest Mistake You Can Make
What If
Summary

To drill down, all you have to do is pick one sub-topic from the outline above and make it into its own article, so let’s pick the biggest mistake. Here’s the outline:

Headline: The Biggest Mistake Businesses Make With Their Email List Incentive
Introduction
Why an Incentive is Crucial for Sales
The Biggest Mistake
The Solution
Example
Summary

You could drill down even further by yet again taking another sub-topic, such as creating an article just focusing on examples of great incentives.

But I won’t do that here, because I think you see where I’m going with this.

Can you see how just one idea can spark dozens of articles?

How many content ideas would you have if you took one conversation with a customer and broke down all of those ideas?

But there’s a problem, isn’t there?

Doesn’t This Take Too Much Time?

Anything that isn’t a priority always takes too much time.

You alone have to decide whether creating great content for your business is worth it.

You don’t have to spend extra time to interview customers. You can blend in questions during regular conversations, such as sales calls, emails, or even coaching sessions.

You could even set-up an automatic feedback loop on your blog or email list, where you get people to fill out a 60-second survey.

The possibilities are endless.

Summary

You see, you have plenty of ideas.

If you think back to interactions with customers, I’m sure you can come up with many common objections and frustrations.

These frustrations are the foundation for your content.

Your content should bring value to your customers, but it can also be used strategically to remove objections and make it easier for prospects to become customers.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Think about what one thing you can take from this article and use in your business.

Do it now.

Then write it down.

Henri Junttila

Henri is a freelance writer and the founder of Wake Up Cloud, where he helps people turn their passion into a thriving lifestyle business. When you feel ready to take action, get his free special report.

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Comments

  1. Love this topic, just wanted to add my thoughts…

    Microbusiness owners often run the entire business from marketing to sales to customer service and fulfillment.

    This gives us a tremendous advantage. We are always in contact with our customers. The key is to be listening to sales prospects and existing customers throughout the process. Have a process for recording ideas for content that could be created — I use the Voice Memo app on my iPhone.

    This is a great post Henri! Thanks for writing it!
    Russ Henneberry recently posted..A Powerful, Lucrative and Authentic Way To Respond To a New LeadMy Profile

    • Great point, Russ.

      I personally just carry a notepad and pen with me when I’m out and about. I get my best ideas in the gym, so I make sure to bring my stuff there. Otherwise I have to run home to scribble them down, which has happened too many times ;)

  2. Henri:

    I had to laugh about the conversation with a 7-year old. My daughter is 7 and I have those conversations every day. I love them:)

    To address the concern of this process taking “too much time,” business owners need to realize that the content they create can actually save them time. In your example, if you write about email incentives, you’re going to answer that question for every potential client that reads the post. Furthermore, you can also refer clients to the article to speed up the learning curve when educating clients. The content will reinforce what you tell them on the phone or in person.

    Travis Van Slooten
    Travis Van Slooten recently posted..Does It Matter What Domain To Use For My Small Business Website?My Profile

    • Exactly!

      You can use your content almost as a sideways salesletter, where you are educating your potential client while at the same time delivering value.

      And the more articles you write that solves their problem, the more they will see you as the go-to-person and authority.

  3. Hi Henri, it’s great to see you on the Hub. I think children can teach you a lot about selling. They don’t assume anything and always dig deeper and deeper to find what they need to know. It’s magic.

    This is such a cool tip. It’s easy to feel you need to create content in isolation – after all you’re the business owner and you should have all the ideas. But actually, by talking with clients and digging deep with them, you end up writing stuff that’s significantly more targeted. And I agree with @Travis – the beauty of content quality creation is it can help you make a sale by laying that solid groundwork.

    Thanks for writing this post :-)
    Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..In Conversation With Popular Blogger Stan Smith From Pushing SocialMy Profile

  4. The interview with your client is actually a lot of content: it starts with an interview post on your website! Then you can create other posts (possibly quoting them and so giving promotion) from the specific content that isn’t about their business.
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..3 reasons cake belongs with bookkeepingMy Profile

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