The writer W. Somerset Maugham once famously stated: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Of course his muse wasn’t actually that punctual. Maugham just happened to be a practical, very disciplined writer – a fact that makes me and others who regularly experience writer’s block insanely jealous. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a 900-page novel, a 500-word blog post, or a 140-character tweet. Sometimes you need to produce content, and inspiration is nowhere to be found. While it can feel good to curse people like Maugham in those moments, it’s better to have a back up plan. Trust me, I know. The truth is, I’ve avoided writing this article for almost a week. Oops.
Thanks to my lack of inspiration, I’ve pulled together a list of writing prompts that will help you (and me) create quality content on a tight schedule. Most us wear many different hats over the course of a day, and can’t afford to spend hours slaving over a single blog post. We need to create copy that entertains, educates and inspires, and then we need to get on with the rest of our day. So read this article, print it out, hang it over your desk, and turn to it whenever you have writer’s block. I know I will.
- The How-To Post. The How-To post is a classic genre on the Internet. These posts are often very popular and can lead to great SEO. People love them because a good how-to post will teach them something they want to know. For a business, they’re a great strategy because they give you an opportunity to show off your expertise and experience. Write this post using simple, jargon-free language and step-by-step instructions to make it as helpful as possible. If you can include photos, diagrams or examples of what you’re talking about, even better!
- The List Post. The List Post was popularized by viral websites such as BuzzFeed, and for good reason – they are really effective. A good list makes a specific promise to the reader, whether it’s 7 Ways to Have the Best Day Ever or 10 Things Your Website Needs Right Now. Your reader knows that by the end of the article, they’ll have 5, 7, 10 or 29 new ideas to work with. Lists are also an easy way to organize your thoughts and give your article a natural structure, which can help keep the words flowing.
- The Case Study. Most people love stories. It’s why we watch movies, read books and gossip with friends during happy hour after a long week at work. You can appeal to this aspect of your audience by telling them a story about your business. Think of a recent project, a client you served, or a customer who wrote a good review. Then write a case study of the project, client or customer. Give it a beginning (state the problem), a middle (talk about your process or solution), and a happy ending (show how your business improved someone’s life). These posts are a great way to spin a good story and also share a real life example of how your business works.
- The Interview. An interview offers a lot of possibilities for a great blog post. You can interview someone from your staff, such as a new team member or an employee of the month. This can give your business a human face and offer your customers a behind-the-scenes look at who you are. You also can interview someone in your industry who offers valuable advice or insight into a current topic or trend. These posts are easy to write, too. Craft a brief introduction, and then launch into the Qs and As. Make sure you come up with good questions and let your subject’s personality shine.
- The Beginner’s Guide. Go back to basics and write a guide for some of your most popular services. If you gear it to beginners, your post will be easier to write, accessible to more people, and keep your audience wanting more. Give them the first few steps, and when they’re ready to take things to the next level they’ll be calling you.
- The Trending Topic. This post is great for procrastinators, since you have to write it at the last minute to ensure that it’s as fresh and relevant as possible. Log on to Twitter and keep an eye on trending hashtags, read blogs from other people in your industry, and see what’s going viral on Facebook. If anything you see relates to your industry, write a blog post about it. Content that acknowledges the day’s headlines shows you’re engaged and informed, especially when it comes to your business.
- The Response Post. Similar to the trending topic, the response post is also industry specific. If you’re writing a blog you should be reading blogs, too. Subscribe to a few different ones from your industry and see what topics or issues come up again and again. Then blog your response to someone else’s post or article. The trick here is to share your post with the author of the original article, which will hopefully start a conversation and help you network with others in your industry.
I hope this article has given you some great ideas for future blog posts. If you still find yourself dealing with writer’s block or churning out sub-par content, I’ve got one last suggestion: Sage Island. Our copywriters are talented, creative and ready to use their skills on your behalf. Contact us today
and get inspired.
Mike Duncan co-founded Sage Island in 1997, and since then has evolved the agency’s scope to include marketing strategy, creative design, technical development and a wide range of digital marketing services. With an integrated approach that leverages the power and measurability of the internet, the savvy Sage Island team develops strategies, builds brands, writes killer copy and delivers to clients all over the world. And they have an awesome time doing it. Sage’s collaborative working environment keeps creativity and innovation at the heart of the concept. With a 17-year history in Wilmington and beyond, Sage Island shows no signs of slowing down. To learn how Sage Island can grow your business, check us out at www.sageisland.com. To stay updated on the latest in digital marketing, follow Sage Island on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SageIsland, and on Twitter at twitter.com/SageIsland.