Let’s talk about how to generate content ideas for all those copy needs in your creative small business.
I’ve learned so many ninja tricks for never running out of things to say … and I’ve kinda always wanted to make this video because I nerd out a bit on the systems behind bulk content writing.
While I typically chat more about sales copywriting than content marketing copywriting, they’re very closely connected—and both rely on writing systems when you’re churning out a large volume.
As I realized I needed to create more and more content and story for marketing content, I started taking it seriously to figure out how to make sure I always had words at the ready, what really worked, and about a year ago I really hit a stride with my writing process.
Get a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the writing hacks I implement in my business in this post and video, plus the freebie workbook to start getting on paper your own brand’s voice.
Why You Need a Bank of Content Marketing Ideas
Last week, I came back from maternity leave—I also took about a month offline during leave. Both things made me realize I needed a way to catalog all the stories, ideas, and thoughts for when I come back to writing every single day.
James Wedmore said on a recent episode of his podcast that for many online entrepreneurs, content creation is our paintbrush. I think even if you are a service provider and don’t really think of yourself as an educator, you still have to do this—it’s part of running a business and marketing what you do.
Done well, I also believe figuring out how to enjoy content marketing copywriting can be a fun creative outlet.
With all the noise and cacophony in 2019’s content marketing landscape, quality over quantity is the name of the game. I’d rather not post or write if I don’t have anything to say … but I also don’t want to depend on crossing my fingers that I’ll always have something READY to say.
Instead, I need to make sure I have a bank of ideas ready to write about.
So, let’s dive into hack 1!
No. 1| Story mine your own life with a story bank
The first little ninja trick I do is story banking: At the end of every day, I try to think of at least one story that happened to me during the day, and I add it to a “story bank” of sorts.
These little stories and anecdotes can be GREAT kick-offs and illustration points, cautionary tales, ways to communicate with story. But sometimes they’re hard to come up with on the spot, which is why it makes sense to me to collect them.
Lemme give you an example of this in action.
Recently, I was having an entrepreneur freak out, and I told my husband. “Ashlyn, just because the Patriots don’t win the Super Bowl every single year doesn’t mean they’re not great,” he said.
See how I could tie that into an email newsletter or social media caption?
A pro tip here? Sort them—I learned this tip from my speaking coach Jess Rasdall, who one time suggested I sort my stories into categories. What could be a cautionary tale, what illustrates overcoming a problem, what’s a holiday story, what’s a story about my eating disorder or teaming with others … ?
Start a practice of being on the lookout—little stories and things that are passing you by constantly, but can be GREAT writing fodder.
So, first things first record a daily story from your life, or sit down and do this a week at a time.
No. 2|Use the Brain Spark App
I found this Brain Spark app recently, and it’s a fairly inexpensive way to get writing prompts. It’s super simple to use. This is a creativity app with more than 250 creativity prompts to get you out of your rut.
I talk about morning pages in a YouTube video and blog, and these may help you journal or start an idea that you can use for an email newsletter, blog, or social media post.
No. 3 | Create a Killer Note Housing System
The third thing I started doing that’s made a big difference for me is going bananas with an organization system for my writing fodder and ideas. You’ve probably heard me talk about creating a housing system for your words—that methodology, which I call the Ashlyn Writes Copy Banking system, WORKS really well for collecting writing snippets for any platform you need to create content for on.
Some people collect postcards, some people collect ornaments or wine, I collect notes and quotes. But, I’m a writer—my well-worn tools are the books and quotes I lean on daily.
Evernote is my favorite external brain for keeping track of learnings from books, courses, etc.
“For every one book you choose to read, you ignore ten thousand other books,” its been said. There’s a difference in consuming books as a reader vs. reading to diligently seek wisdom … recording notes from things I read is one way I’ve grown both as a reader and a writer …
… and adding them to my AW Copy Bank is how I reference them for content ideas.
I LOVE Evernote, and it’s an app I can’t live without for generating content topics.
No. 4 | “Mad-Lib” Pinterest or iTunes App Store for Podcasts
That brings me to the next trick—story mining for writing prompts in Pinterest and iTunes.
Go into these apps, look at titles—they don’t even have to be related to your topic—and see what they spark. I don’t want you to listen to it or read it. Just see what content marketing ideas the titles generate. Does one hit you and you think, “I have something to say about that” … or, can you change the words around a little bit and get started writing?
No. 5 | Create a Client/Customer Question List
Now the next thing is to make sure you’re sharing content you’ve been specifically asked for … if you’ve noticed so far, that’s not really what I’ve gotten you doing yet. But THIS is how you’re going know you add value, and how you create content that’s gonna get engagement.
Researching clients and customers is something you need to know how to do as the marketer for your creative small business. The “Client Voice Hacking” technique is the whole system I take my Copywriting for Creatives™ students through so they know how to get their ear to the ground with surveys, so they always know how to listen in on what people want from them.
It’s the grunt work that goes into copywriting, but it’s what starts to get your ideal clients to pay attention to you for sales purposes. A section of your word banking system needs to be dedicated to questions you’re getting asked about what you do or your service itself.
Another little secret is to see how you can set up an evergreen system here. If you really want to be savvy and not run out of things to say, figure out a way to automate this.
- Maybe you have a landing page that leads to a question field
- Maybe your inquiry form has a spot for the #1 question someone wants to ask you
- Maybe your welcome sequence has a note about this
- Maybe you have an Instagram story in your highlights where people can give ideas.
The conversations you start when you open the door for people to reach out are so amazing. Build real relationships with people by serving up exactly the article they asked for when you can—that’s how you’re going to add value!
The trick to never running out of things to say is to plan ahead, of course. Upping how I organize the content I have as writing fodder has really helped me grow organically my bank of things I have to say, so I can then use that for social media captions, email newsletters, and other things I need to write for my business.
If you need help, I have a shop resource -my Content Creation Story Starters Brainstorm Guide, that can come alongside you and get you started with content starters.
To get some bonus tips on top of everything I talked about today in the video, grab the freebie workbook to finding your brand voice.
I hope this was as fun for you as it was for this little nerd right here! I love talking about this and giving copywriting tutorials on my channel, but if you want another tutorial, put them in the comments below.