It’s hard not to hear the phrase, “content is king,” when having a conversation with a social media thinker these days. Any brand, business or company asking questions about how to improve their website or better engage with their online communities should be hearing it over and over. Still, the vast majority of company and corporate websites out there remain static billboard-like online presences with a monthly front page rearrange or other minor addition the company misunderstands as producing fresh content.

Writer's BlockThis is where blogs can make the biggest difference in your approach. Blogs, by mechanism, are simple content management systems meant to help individuals publish content frequently. By using one, and becoming a blogger for your brand or organization, you are tasked with providing compelling content and frequently. The content can be used as the primary substance on the front page, great if you have multiple posts per week and an experienced blogger running things, or as a portion of the landing page content that is truly dynamic, updating with each blog post.

So what happens when you’re due for a blog post but don’t quite have a topic in mind? How can you produce compelling content with each blogging effort? Here are some ideas that should help when the dreaded blogger’s block hits:

  1. Educate Your Audience

    Few places do this quite as well as Common Craft. But big corporate brands are also providing compelling content, via blog or not. Gibson offers an entire section of its website dedicated to free guitar lessions (Though they don’t put this content on their front page … WTF?). If you are a consumer products brand, offer up recipes, alternative uses or other how-to type entries that expand the norm for your consumers. If your business is a service, pick a small portion of what you do that you can teach folks how to do on their own. For instance, an accountant could do a 90-second video on how to properly determine number of dependents, then invite viewers to contact them for further tax assistance.

  2. Take A Stand

    No big blogger gets to be such without stirring up his or her fair share of controversy. Or at least without offering up a strong opinion on an issue. The most popular blogs, even corporate ones, are those with a strong editorial voice. When Bill Marriott has a bone to pick with the government about immigration policy, he does it on his blog and Marriott reaps the content (and traffic) rewards. Every business faces tough issues. Whether it’s smoking bans, zoning measures, tax increases or human resource-related issues like same-sex partner benefits or, yeah … immigration, you can probably find 10 hot-button issues to write about in a given week. So write about them. Draw your line in the sand. Yes, you might tick off a potential customer, but the ones who agree with you will be more apt to become brand enthusiasts as a result.

  3. Review Your Purpose

    It never hurts your business or your blog to restate your mission. It also doesn’t hurt to revisit it now and then. Remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place, then remind your audience. By reaffirming your convictions, suspicions on the need for your voice in the blogiverse and desire to connect with those who want to hear it, you’ll reinvigorate readers and stumble upon some new ones in the process. There’s also an evolutionary element to blogging. Whether it’s a new design, experimentation with video or podcasting or even welcoming your first guest blogger, your approach changes as you become more comfortable with it. Remembering where you were going when you started while reassessing where you want to go will help keep your ship on the right course, which ever one that may be.

  4. Get Personal

    The primary quality of marketing that businesses and brands seldom seem to understand is that the best kind is personal in nature. When Kathleen Bannan, Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility for McDonald’s used being a mother to communicate why she is passionate about her job, it put a different face on the McDonald’s CSR blog. Sure, the post’s last couple of graphs have corporate spin written all over them, but any parent reading the post sees her has a real person, not a corporate suit (Who aren’t real people … you knew that, right?), because they have kids, too. Part of the appeal of many bloggers, like Jeff Jarvis, is they incorporate their children into what they’re doing. And, of course, there’s no better way to bolster your audience’s respect for you that to admit when you’re wrong or share a personal story of heartbreak, sacrifice or hardship. Matt Heaton of hosting service BlueHost did it in January. Read the post. It makes the guy real. (He also has a post that qualifies under No. 2 entitled, “Steve Balmer is a Jackass!” Heh.)

For more pointers on blogging, check out the videos from April’s expert blogging panel at the Social Media Club Louisville gathering. I emceed the panel, which featured Chris Pearson of Pearsonified.com, Rob May of CoconutHeadsets.com and formerly of BusinessPundit.com and Michelle Jones of ConsumingLouisville.com. The panel was captured on video by Todd Earwood. Each of the four parts can be found at the SMC Louisville’s blog post here.

Scott Clark of Finding The Sweet Spot asked a preliminary question for the panel via Twitter that I didn’t get to that night. His suggested topic was getting companies through the blogging “dip” around post No. 15 when many corporate bloggers start to question whether or not it’s worth the trouble. Certainly, focusing on compelling content is one way, but I would offer that anticipating the dip and setting some reasonable expectations for success at that point might help. Companies want to know what they’re getting – the ROI – more than anything else. If you say, “By post No. 15, we hope to have 100 RSS subscribers and an average of four comments per post,” then some symblance of measurement can be understood by those running the project.

But that’s one view point. How did you, or how would you recommend a company get past the blogging dips that occur throughout the lifespan of a blogging effort?

Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:

  1. 10 Surefire Ways To Get Past Writer’s Block
  2. Bloggers: Are You Ready For Writer’s Block?
  3. Blogger’s Block: Break Past The Barrier
  4. 10 Common Challenges For Bloggers And Keys To Overcoming Them (Part 1)
  5. Content Is Becoming A Commodity

[tags]bloggers block, writers block, blogging, content creation, writing[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.theviralgarden.com mack collier

    Best way I get past writer’s block is to read other blogs and get on Twitter. Doing this gives me ideas for posts via items in my feed reader, as well as discussions on Twitter.

    And after going to SXSW, Blogger Social, and now Small Business Marketing Unleashed, I have seen that attending conferences is a GREAT way to get fodder for posts. One the way home from SBMU this week, I scribbled down 7 ideas for posts spread over three blogs, all from conversations I had during SBMU.

  • http://www.pureblogging.com David Culpepper

    Hi Jason,

    Thanks for including us in your links!

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Mack – Agreed. I not only get ideas from Twitter, but use my community there for input and focus group-like research on my posts. It’s the one place online to keep a finger on the pulse of a lot of information.

    David — Thank you for consistently good posts!

  • http://mariadkins.com Mari

    Thanks Jason. I need to use Twitter more – that’s apparent. Now to get my life reorganized…

  • http://www.pauldervan.com Paul

    nice post. i might steal the bit about gibson + guitar lessons if that’s ok? great example.

  • http://techkeyla.com Sujoy

    Fortunately for me, I have too many topics to write on in a typical day, and just not able to squeeze out a slice of time to write as many posts.
    But definitely this post shall definitely come of help when ‘it’ finally strikes me.Great post!!

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  • http://www.creativitity.com Mark Baratelli

    I enjoyed reading your post. Here’s what I do on my blog(s) that helps me avoid the “what to write” problem. Just offering it up as yet another idea.

    I never force myself to post. I just avoid that mentality. What’s the point of having a new post every hour/day/week if you sit down to write it and go “Oh man, what do I write about?”

    There is a ton of stuff to write about. You just have to go live and allow the stuff to come to you.

    I only post when I have something I really want to share: I see signage that’s odd and take a photo, I have a conversation that generates ideas, I read an article that gets me excited about a topic…

    That way, I void that pressure to write. There is no pressure. I only write when I am inspired. And when I limit myself to only writing posts when I am inspired, my posts are (a) better and (b) easier to write.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Paul – Steal away!

    Sujoy – Thanks man. You sure are prolific. Keep up the good work.

    Mark – Great point and one a lot of bloggers can and should take heed to. I’ve alluded to that somewhere before, but thank you for sharing it and for stopping by!

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