We all get stuck in a creative rut now and then. Maybe you’re having trouble thinking of new topic ideas to overcome a traffic slump or have simply hit a creative wall.
Bringing data into your creative process can help you be more agile so you can break through these challenging situations to produce high-quality content.
So, where to start?
1. Identify objectives and become a goal digger!
Creativity thrives when it has parameters. Limitations help us hone in on our creativity and focus on impact over an overwhelming sea of details. Content creators get overwhelmed with tools that allow for nearly limitless expression in a new media world, making it difficult to choose what content to create.
Make goals measurable
Focus on tapping into the personas of your target audience. What is your content strategy in connecting with them? Are you trying to engage a new audience to increase readership? If so, are you interested in more views? More revenue? Lower bounce rates? More time on site from your visitors?
Having measurable, specific goals helps you tune out the distraction of too many choices.
Instead of focusing on the overwhelming world of possibilities, become a goal digger. Focus on problem solving and creative ways to meet your goals, challenge your readers’ expectations and innovate new content ideas that connect with your audience.
Write it down and be clear!
Whatever your objective, write it down.
The most effective way to innovate is to focus on outcomes and objectives first. You want to make clear goals that are specific and measurable. By writing these expectations down in a treatment, brief, or outline, you can refer back to your goals and objectives as you write to make sure your research and content stay on target!
2. Research! And more research!
Story ideas don’t come out of thin air. Many writers and content creators feel like an original piece of content has to be entirely born in a stream-of-conscious fever dream or only out of their expertise. Trying to tap into the psyche of rising interests and trends gets frustrating without putting time into research.
This is the fun part! Do the detective work to find out answers. Seek out data and insights to help you come up with your content.
Here are a few places to start:
- Break out the search engine
- Chat with folks in the know on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms
- Deep dive into keyword research with Topic or another SEO content creator
- Find trends and opportunities for evergreen content that never goes out of interest
- Dig into your Google Analytics, your AdThrive publisher dashboard, and Google Trends
- Read up on industry news and research, and gather social insights
Whatever your method, keep your goal in mind. By fixating on the objective, you focus your time and prevent wasting effort on random pieces of data or ideas.
3. Find the story
Every story is unique. Having a brand strategy and a set content format will get you through most general decisions that keep you writing. But the same method for every story gets monotonous and, worse, can limit the ability to convey your message.
Find your angle and create your game plan. This is where the magic happens.
Once you have all this data at your fingertips, start brainstorming and ideating. Get your data in a creative state. Play around with charts and graphics. Put ideas on post-its. Write notes on the wall! Move images and data around to see how they juxtapose.
Seek out things that make your data both similar and different from each other. Think about other ways to look at the data and explore those possibilities. Once you have a story and game plan for your content, it’s time to put it all into action!
4. Bring it all together
You’ve done your research! You’ve got your story! You’ve nailed down your game plan!
The only thing left is to put your talent to work. Execute and adjust as needed!
It’s always exciting to see your ideas come to life on the page. Write out your content with your insights, keyword research, and objectives in mind. Connect your data points to craft your story. Arrange your data creatively to get your readers’ interest and keep it focused on the story you want to tell.
After publishing, track your progress against your goals. Audit your gains, reach out for reliable feedback. Measurement and feedback are essential to a more innovative content strategy.
Did you rope in the audience you were trying to reach? Did your revenue increase? Whatever your goal, now is the time to check your work and see if it measured up to your expectations.
If the current execution is not hitting the goals you set at the beginning of the process, you may need to tweak something. Minor tweaks can drive significant results.
Remember not to tweak more variables than you can measure. Changing more than one or two variables in your strategy can cloud which changes are having the greatest impact and leave you wondering whether your SEO, a change in content format, or another factor were most effective.
Great content begins with a solid strategy
It’s important to know when you have the seeds of a good idea and when you may need to start over fresh. A strategy for developing content with objectives and monitoring simplifies the process of finding and creating content by focusing on your goals to eliminate fruitless distractions.
Whatever your workflow, keep your goals clear, measurable, and consistent so you can focus on what matters — the story and the goals you set for it.