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21 Ways to Develop Fresh Content Ideas for Your Blog

21 Ways to Develop Fresh Content Ideas for Your Blog

Writer’s block can strike without warning, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned blogger, and when you’re confronting a blank page and a fast-approaching deadline it’s easy to get disheartened.

But don’t panic—here are 20 ways to rekindle your mojo and start wowing readers with your awesome content.

1. Survey your readers.

There are a few easy ways to do this: you can use a tool like Survey Monkey, or ask a question on Facebook or Twitter. Alternatively, if you have an auto-responder system set up, invite new subscribers to reply and tell you what they’re struggling with or what questions they’d like to ask. The more you engage with your readers, the easier it will be to create content they want to read and share.

2. Create a challenge.

Are you a health coach? Challenge your readers to run 20km a week or quit sugar for a month. A financial advisor? How about 3 months to a healthier bank balance? Each week, provide your readers with tips and inspiration to help them achieve their goals.

3. Get yourself on Pinterest.

This site is full of photos, posts, and inspirational quotes that are bound to get your creativity flowing again. It’s a fantastic hunting ground for ideas, especially if you’re a food, lifestyle, travel, or fashion blogger. Check out the kinds of content people are re-pinning and commenting on, but make sure you give yourself a time limit; this site can be addictive!

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4. Whom do you admire?

Write a post about them and the reasons you find them so inspiring. You don’t have to make it about one person, either—you can create a whole list of people whom you find inspirational. A great example of this is Nicole Antoinette’s 100 Lunches Project; her quest to have lunch with 100 people she admires before her 30th birthday.

5. Watch movies, attend concerts, live a little.

I’ve read some great blog posts inspired by movies like Moneyball or performers like Lady Gaga and Adele. Inspiration is everywhere if you take the time to look, and time away from the office will stimulate your mind and reboot your creativity, especially if you feel burned out (which let’s face it, is when blogger’s block tends to strike).

6. Write a love letter to your readers (seriously!)

You don’t have to go overboard, but tell them how much you value their loyalty and feedback. Offer them a freebie. This could be something simple like an eBook you’ve written or a free consultation. Make them feel appreciated and inspired to engage with you.

7. Make a list of frequently asked questions.

Which questions are you asked repeatedly by clients, readers, or potential customers? Make a list and answer them one by one on your blog, providing examples to illustrate your point, or write up a couple of case studies.

8. Who are your readers, and what are they most concerned about?

If you’re not sure who your readers are yet, think about who you want them to be, and create content that’s very specific to that audience. For example, say you’re a careers coach and you want to attract people who have recently been retrenched; you could write a post entitled “7 tips for getting back into the workforce after redundancy”.

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9. Interview experts and bloggers in your industry.

Who would your readers be interested in hearing from? If you’re a fashion retailer, you could interview a stylist. Or how about your favorite author, online entrepreneur, or blogger? You can record your interviews, turn them into podcasts and publish them on iTunes, which is another great way to drive traffic to your blog!

10. Write a personal story.

Make it relevant and honest. Are you a relationship coach? Write about how you dealt with a relationship drama in the past. An online entrepreneur? Maybe you’ve made mistakes others could learn from. Turn your past struggles into inspirational blog posts that resonate with your audience.

11. Visit your Linked in or Facebook groups.

Check discussion threads. What are people talking about? What questions do they have? What could they use more information on?

12. Create a tutorial that’s mind-blowingly useful.

What do others struggle with that you find easy? What have you learned through trial and error that your readers would find valuable? Highlight your expertise. Pat Flynn’s Podcast Tutorial is a great example of this. Make your tutorial simple to follow and offer actionable tips.

13. Write a list post that offers solutions to a common problem.

Like this one. Other examples include: 11 Actions You Can Take Today That Will Drastically Improve Your Health and 5 Tips to Stay Ultra Productive at Work.

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14. Pay attention to your blog comments.

Be sure to check the comments on other popular blogs in your industry in addition to your own, and take note of the kinds of problems and concerns people are sharing. This is a great way to take the pulse of your audience and find out what’s really bugging them.

15. Hone your observational skills.

Once you start paying attention, you’ll find great blog ideas everywhere. Maybe it’s the way online orders from your favorite boutique are always packaged so beautifully, or the amazing service you received at that new restaurant on Friday night. Real life stories are blogging gold.

16. What do people always ask for your help with?

What advice do you find yourself repeating? It may be something you take for granted, but sharing your wisdom could mean a lot to your readers.

17. Read magazines and newspapers.

Check what’s trending and look out for stories that tie in with your topic. Maybe there’s a new angle you can develop on a current news event? Magazine headlines also come in handy when you need inspiration to come up with a catchy blog post title.

18. What bugs you about your topic or industry?

What are you itching to do something about? Get it off your chest, have a rant (just don’t get too whiney) and put your opinions out there.

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19. Revisit your archives.

If your audience has grown since you first started your blog, it might be time to introduce them to some of your old content. Don’t let your archives languish unread (they’re too good for that, right?). You could put a new spin on an old post or simply republish a piece your readers enjoyed first time around.

20. Write a review.

I don’t know about you, but I always Google a product before I buy, so why not review a product or book for your readers? It could be anything from the latest marketing book everyone’s talking about to a cool new gadget or productivity tool.

21. Become an expert content curator.

Search for interesting content around the web to share with your readers. Who has time to trawl the internet for articles every day? Become a go-to resource, and try to include posts that your readers haven’t seen a million times already.

I hope these tips help to get your ideas flowing again.

Do you have any tips to add to the list?

If you’re still stuck you can read more about How to Work Through Blog Burnout.

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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