Content marketing isn’t easy. But once you get into a rhythm it’s not bad. The hard(er) part is creating better content marketing and doing it consistently.
We all suffer from brain farts and writer’s blog occasionally. I’d argue I’ve been suffering from a fairly consistent case of it myself for a couple of years. Sure, I can fire off a good idea now and then here on the blog or in my handy email newsletter, but I’ve not written much of significance in a while.
Sometimes, inspiration is the key. Sometimes motivation drives it. Regardless of your particular hang-up when it comes time to create and you’ve got nothing in mind, there are ways to jump-start your brain.
I’ve found four main categories of activities that help kick my creativity in the pants. So when I’m misfiring or just don’t like the content I’m producing, I resort to one or more of these:
Where I’m writing is often the most important factor to my success. I’m a people-watcher. So sitting at my desk at home or at the office doesn’t cut the mustard for my creativity. The lion’s share of No Bullshit Social Media was written at the Panera Bread on Springhurst in Louisville because I could sit in the front corner and randomly look up and see people walk in, place their order and mingle with their friends and family. (Which is actually what I’m doing as I write this.)
I typically pause for a moment and try to create a character in my head to match the people I see. The lady sitting in front of me is an upper-middle class, middle-aged housewife who just finished playing tennis with her girlfriends. She has a home business putting together flower arrangements for doctor’s offices but wishes she’d not had kids so early so she could have finished her nursing degree. She thinks her husband is pretty awesome but misses her independence. Her kids are old enough to not need her anymore so she’s desperately looking for a new challenge in life. She thinks she may want to be a Yoga instructor.
I don’t actually know if any of that is accurate, but going through the exercise of creating this woman in my head opens up the creative neurons that I can then divert to making what I’m working on better content marketing. (And yes, if you’re across the room from me writing, I’ve probably made up a great story about you in my mind. Heh.)
And environment isn’t just the place. It’s also what music you’re listening to, the temperature, your clothing and what you’re eating or drinking as you work. (1980s pop play list on my iTunes, the normal 72-degrees in Panera, shorts and a t-shirt with tennis shoes and a Diet Pepsi along with some mixed nuts today.)
Find the environment that is most inspirational or motivation to you and recreate it, even if it means negotiating with your boss you need to sit at the coffee shop down the block to finish that report you’re working on or series of social media posts for next week.
I know!? A 44-year-old, out-of-shape dude giving you advice to exercise is a bit ironic. But it works. Every time I go for a walk or hit the gym, I come away with a clarity of mind on several fronts. Yes, there’s science behind it. I’m sure the endorphins and the metatosises hyperventillate the seratonin or some jazz.
Hey? If you came here for science you should take a deep look in mirror and ask yourself who exactly is the dipstick in this scenario.
What I do know is that getting your blood going, your heart rate up and perhaps listening to some loud, fast music while you do it makes your brain more awake, alert and ready to work. Give it a try. A good sweat might be the best path to better content marketing.
Creating content — generally some form of writing, though certainly art, photography and graphic art qualifies — is a form of expression. So it may sound odd to say that you should find a way to express yourself to jump-start your expressing yourself. But bear with me.
Writing is one way to express yourself. If you’re stuck there, turn to another way. Sing along with a couple of songs you enjoy. Play an instrument? Give it a spin for a half-hour just to get that creativity kicking in your brain. (I’m learning to play bass guitar, but one day I’ll have space big enough to re-start my fledgling rock drumming career with a full trap set.)
Take some pictures with your phone and play with them in Photoshop, Instagram, Over or some other app that allows you to filter-ize and edit them in fun ways. Do you also paint? Sketch? Doodle? Do that. Just because your expressive engine is stalled in one genre doesn’t mean it will be in the others.
Perhaps the single-most effective way to get my brain going is for me to watch or listen to stand-up comedy. I love the craft of making people laugh. A few minutes of it and I start thinking of “riffs” on jokes I’ve heard or come up with a premise for a joke or story I might write later, so I jot it down in my notebook.
(Kyle Kinane is my current comedy jam.)
But maybe schmoopy movies are your thing. Or episodes of Friends on Netflix. Being witness to great expression can quickly inspire and jump-start your own so you can create better content marketing. Listen to jazz or opera. Turn on a radio talk show that always gets you fired up. Listen to a good podcast.
Better content consumption begets better content marketing creation. So take a few minutes and just take in someone else’s great creation if that practice pushes you to do the same.
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you full permission to air-guitar, air-drum or even lip synch whatever tune is pumping through on your headphones in public. Trust me, the inspiration and energy you get as a positive will far outweigh the odd stares, eye-rolls and ridicule you might suffer from the people around you (who you won’t likely encounter again anyway).
How do you get inspired?
Those are my four categories for creative jump-starting when I’m looking to produce better content marketing. What gets your brain firing? Is it a mental exercise? Physical activity? Watching something or someone else? Share your ideas for the group in the comments!