Guest post by Deanna Dahlsad.
One of the things I now find myself doing in my consulting work is providing clients with a Writing Prompt Service. It was born, like any good service, from client needs. In working with my clients, it quickly became clear that whatever their reason for having a website or blog, writers, bloggers, marketers, etc. all struggle with coming up with fresh ideas to write about.
I shouldn’t have been surprised; I’ve been stuck there myself with my own writing for my own sites. *wink* Some days, you just feel like you’ve said everything you can, you have no spark of inspiration. But when someone else hands you the task — a task that is suited for your own goals, it is much easier.
As a freelance writer, I do provide custom written content; but this Writing Prompt Service is a less expensive, DIY option. My Writing Prompt Service is pretty simple really: I provide my clients with an idea to write about.
What makes this service something worth paying for is the fresh set of eyes. I see what their site or business is all about, what they are trying to do, and what is missing for readers and/or potential clients and customers. I take all that information and provide them with a prompt for writing. It may be a question, an inspirational photograph, a news story — anything to get them talking (writing) about an idea or issue their website should be covering.
Because I approach this the same way I do with my freelance writing — from the point of view of the client’s goals and the needs of their site visitors, the prompted posts provide engaging organic SEO.
For those who feel stuck with their writing, but do not wish to pay for writing prompts, here’s a quick little list of ways to get ideas for writing:
1) Get out of the office or house. Often, part of feeling stuck is largely due to feeling stuck in the same old place. To rid yourself of that funk, get away from your computer, out of the office, out of the building. The fresh air will do you good and bring you fresh ideas.
2) When out — even just running errands, open your eyes and ears. Notice what people are talking about in the checkout line. Look at the headlines on newspapers and magazines on the sales racks. What are people wearing? What are they doing? What are they not doing? What about the houses, buildings, roads, businesses, etc. Are the flowers in bloom? Is it snowing? What might any of this mean to you, your readers, your business? From larger trends to tiny minutia, there are things you can observe which can spark your writing.
3) Consume media. Listen to the radio, watch TV, read books and magazines. And read online. Really read. Don’t just scroll past the links on Twitter and Facebook, but read the articles and posts. I know this can seem tricky…
On one hand, we fear disappearing down a rabbit hole of lost or wasted time. You can overcome this easily by setting an alarm for say an hour or so.
On the other hand, we fear reading articles and blogs by those in the same industry. Will you be accused of copying someone’s idea, of not having your own ideas? If you participate in the conversation (by linking to the source of your idea when you write about it), you won’t be lambasted. And you can also bypass this issue completely by simply not reading industry publications.
4) Get fresh (free) eyes. Ask a friend or family member to ask you questions about your business, work, or the “beat” you cover.
We are often too close to our own work. Too often we don’t write about something because we believe that “everyone knows that” or we think that we’ve already addressed something; but they don’t and we haven’t. Too often we mistakenly believe that we aren’t good enough, interesting enough, smart enough, etc. to write about something. Pessimistically we think, “No one wants to hear about this from me.” But that’s nearly always wrong. If a friend or family member is asking you, likely your readers want to hear about it too — and from you.