Content writing is a fascinating gig because you never know what kind of content you’ll be writing.
I’ve written for industries from ocean shipping to residential landscaping to wellness coaching and everything in between. It’s fun to learn a thing or two about a new subject, and it’s easier to write fresh copy for industries that are new to me.
But like any job, I sometimes feel stuck in a writing rut.
Much of the content I write is for one or two specialised industries, and it can be hard to invent novel ways of expressing the same idea.
When I’m stumped for inspiration, I turn to these sources to revitalise my writing and renew my enthusiasm for the subject.
Where to find inspiration online
My first stop when looking to refresh my phrasing is my client’s competitor’s website.
Obviously, plagiarism is never the goal here. Instead, I look to see if a client’s competitors may describe their services from an angle I hadn’t considered.
If I think a competitor has described a pain point in a way that will resonate better with potential customers, or if they’ve positioned their services with some eye-catching phrasing, I may use those tactics to replicate something similar for my client.
I also keep a sharp eye out for competitors’ word choices, especially their use of keywords that might help their website outrank my client’s.
Good content writing has to seamlessly integrate crucial keywords to help blog posts, landing pages, and websites rank well in search results, and competitor websites may highlight keywords I hadn’t considered when writing my copy.
The client’s website
When looking for novel ways to express old ideas, I wouldn’t usually start with the client’s website as a source of inspiration.
Clients typically want to reinvigorate their current copy, so using their outdated text as a reference for the new text isn’t always a good idea.
But clients may have hidden gems of phrases on their websites or industry-specific ways of explaining technical concepts that don’t warrant any flouncy wordmanship.
The metadata, titles, and images they choose on their website also help me understand their brand. Their work samples allow me to get my head around the types of customers they work with.
Even their Contact page offers a glimpse of their personality. If they provide a phone number, maybe they’re more casual and approachable than a company that insists on a contact form.
If you’re reading a current website to help write new copy, be careful not to allow their text to influence yours too closely. Look to the existing website to better understand the client’s brand personality, not copy and paste the text.
The client’s customer testimonials
Perhaps my favourite source of content inspiration is a client’s customer testimonials.
Customers often have a unique way of expressing the benefits of my client’s products or services. They may pinpoint my client’s value in situations I hadn’t considered or highlight a pain point I hadn’t thought of.
Testimonials are honest words from real users. They are invaluable to the content writer and should always be consulted, even if you feel confident that you understand your client and their services.
Ok, at the risk of sounding like a high school English teacher, I always recommend consulting a thesaurus to find content writing inspiration.
Even if you don’t end up using any of the synonyms for the words you research, reading the synonyms can help you reframe your point in a more straightforward, concise way.
I usually use the Collins Thesaurus, but I will also check the Merriam-Webster to see if it offers any suggestions Collins missed. Merriam Webster also includes antonyms which can be just helpful as synonyms in certain situations.
When writing blogs for clients, I always check related blog titles from other players in the industry. This helps me in several ways:
- Ensures I have a well-rounded understanding of the subject
- Ensures I’m working off the most recent, up-to-date understanding of the subject (be sure and read recent blogs. Blogs from more than three years ago may be outdated)
- Offers tips or points that I had not considered
- Leads me to other helpful references
Industry blogs could include reports and research, news articles, or blogs written by industry leaders in the field. For instance, if I’m writing about lead generation via digital marketing, I’ll look for blogs from acknowledged experts, such as Hubspot. If I’m writing about software, an article from TechCrunch would probably offer a lot of helpful information.
But before you blithely insert a link into your client’s blog, consider the source. If the blog you’re referring to is a potential competitor, your client won’t appreciate your supplying the competition with a coveted backlink.
So explore and investigate industry blogs with abandon, but don’t cite them as a direct source with a backlink unless they pose no threat to your client’s business.
If you’re deeply stuck, call in the professionals
Content creation is time-consuming, and writer’s block doesn’t help it go any faster. If you’re short on time, stumped for creative blog subjects, or simply looking for a to-do list task you can offload to a consultant, consider hiring a content writer.
Our founder Abby Wood would be happy to explore how our content writing team can create a strategic content calendar, targeted monthly blogs, or compelling website copy that boosts your digital marketing.