Tag Archive for: Content development

Writers Block
Writers Block

Do you struggle with writer’s block? I get it when it comes to writing for myself.

For me, nothing is harder than coming up with ideas for my own blog. Give me your blog, and I’ll come up with ideas pretty easily. But for my own blog, it’s a little more difficult. I guess it’s all due to subjectivity.

Still, I can offer three easy ways to identify new content ideas with varying freshness.

  1. Repurpose older content
  2. Expand your reading
  3. Use AI to get ideas, although your mileage may vary

Yes, I am suggesting AI even though it still hasn’t responded to my requests from earlier this year about giving credit to earlier content it “scrapes” off the internet.

1. Repurpose Older Content to Create Fresh New Content Ideas

Repurposing content is one of my core services. Good content deserves to be showcased in different ways!

As a writer, I prefer to update older content and republish or write a new blog altogether, even if it falls into the evergreen category because there will always be updates or new information.

waterproof boots repurposed as planters
Repurposing content in different formats can generate new ideas for next time. Paid stock photo.

But there are other ways to repurpose content if blogging isn’t your thing.

Create New Formats to Repurpose Content

Looking at content in a new format gives it a unique perspective that can help you generate new content ideas. You’re probably rewriting some of it and definitely editing. The content will look different and that might be enough to generate new content ideas as you work.

Most of all, putting content into another format extends its reach to new audiences. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Create slides based on blog content you’ve already published.
  • Or, create blogs based on any slides you’ve presented.
  • Record a quick video. I’ve seen some really nice one- and two-minute clips on LinkedIn.
  • And of course, any video can be transformed into a blog or other presentation.
  • If there isn’t enough content for a slideshow or blog, consider creating an infographic.

Here’s a list of free infographic tools recommended by Website Planet. I’m about to start using Canva again with a new client; a friend who has the Pro version loves it. And who hasn’t dabbled in a Google tool or two?

2. Refresh Your Mind: Expand Your Reading

Reading expert opinions is always helpful, but it’s also a good idea to expand your reading just for the fun of it and even into completely unrelated areas. It gives your brain a break and that’s always a great way to open it up to new content and ideas.

When you get back from your hiatus, you might find you’re picking up on new-ish ideas more readily and have fresh perspectives to share as well. I subscribe to a ton of SEO newsletters and watched a webinar from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) this morning. And you know what? I’d laid off reading SEO stuff for a few weeks and probably got more from this webinar because I give my brain a break.

I caught up on back issues from Wired and Smithsonian.

Get new content ideas from mags like Smithsonian and Wired.
My favorite reads. Photo by the author, c. 2023


I picked up a copy of Gerald Posner’s Pharma from the library after watching Painkiller on Netflix. (Matthew Roderick may have lain Ferris Bueller to rest after this one.) I also bought a copy of American Prometheus to read before I see Oppenheimer. I have a feeling it will be on Netflix by the time I finish it (and Pharma isn’t exactly a short read, either.)

Did I get any new content ideas from these sources? I’m sure I did. I’m thinking about metaphors a lot these days and that alone spawns a lot of creativity.

I also caught up on emails, which is a great way to get an overview of other people’s thoughts. In addition to SEO, I subscribe to health and medical newsletters and print journalists whose work I simply enjoy reading.

3. AI Content Stinks and Doesn’t Acknowledge Sources – But It Can Suggest Topics

There’s a lot of talk about the role AI should have in generating content. Thanks to lazy students who use it to cheat and its plastic approach to generating content, there’s a definite backlash against replacing human writers. This is good for writers and readers because only humans can come up with new content ideas.


Only humans can come up with original ideas and content. AI just steals, uh, “scrapes” them.

Apparently, AI can identify useful content and use it at will. Case in point: I offered one of my older articles to a prospective client. He reported back to me that it scored high on their AI detection tool but ran it through others where it scored zero. (He also hired me.)

Transformer-type figure in front of laptop.
“Wow, great article! Think I’ll steal it!”
Photo: CreativeCanvas/Pixabay

Katie Greenwood, a product manager for the collaboration platform Miro, recommends ChatGPT as a way to jump-start research into new content ideas. In the past, I tried using ChatGPT a few times for a blog with a long-time client, but it came up with topics I’d already written about. So perhaps it’s a useful tool to integrate into researching new topics.

Allie Bhutani, the brand director for the SEO platform Conductor, helpfully reminded everyone that AI is more than ChatGPT. It’s in tools like Grammarly, which I’ve used for years. Point taken, but I won’t cheer on AI’s alleged writing skills. As Allie commented, no one should use AI-generated content without editing it and, one hopes, finding the sources AI “scrapes” and giving credit where it’s due.

For some, writing comes easily, almost naturally. But even the most enthusiastic content creators sometimes struggle with new content ideas. I used to write a weekly blog on decorative hardware for a manufacturing client. I did this for about eight years, and believe me, there were weeks when it was a tough job. Rewriting and updating older blogs was an approach I often used when no new products were on the horizon.

I also read design magazines and blogs, where I found decor suggestions to pass along (with proper acknowledgment, of course). I learned that paint manufacturers roll out new palettes every year. Decorative hardware isn’t cheap, but it’s less expensive than a wholesale remodel. The more ideas I was exposed to, the more new topics I could create.

What do you do to overcome artistic or creative blocks? Drop me a line or set up time to talk.

SEO + UK drawn in a heart on a chalkboard
SEO + UK drawn in a heart on a chalkboard

SEO Best Practices add much-needed structure to content, on and off the web.

Honestly, before web content was ever needed, I always thought writing was fun. The web changed all that. As SEO developed, Best Practices emerged that mostly made sense. Current SEO Best Practices focus on creating content that answers search queries and is easy to skim to find those answers.

I’ll say it out loud – I like SEO because it provides Rules of Engagement for web content.

I do my best to keep up with SEO trends and adjustments by subscribing to the usual suspects – Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute (CMI), Semrush. Going forward, I hope to see more content from the Arizona Innovation Marketing Institute (AZIMA), which recently hosted a panel discussion on SEO Trends and Best Practices.

I’m a little embarrassed that I hadn’t encountered this group earlier. I heard about it on a Slack channel for the Arizona WordPress Meetup. Dana Baedke, President of the RUNMARK communications firm generously shared highlights on the AZWP channel. She gave me permission to summarize her observations.

If You’re Doing SEO Right, Stay the Course!

Anyone who’s paid attention to SEO in recent years understands that SEO fundamentals haven’t changed: Develop content for users and design accordingly. This isn’t a trend – it’s an established piece of SEO Best Practices. In fact, it’s probably the most important one.

The key takeaway regarding SEO was that the strategy has not changed that much…you should design and develop content for the user.”

Dana Baedke, President, RUNMARK

This goes back to Google’s years-old advice to write natural content without obsessing about keywords. Sure, they’re important, but if it’s a struggle to incorporate them into your content, don’t sweat it. There are lots of related words and keyword phrases (which do a better job of mirroring how people search) to use.

Use SEO Best Practices to sail ahead of the competition like this regatta leader.

If your SEO strategy keeps you competitive, don’t change it. Pixabay/ermakovasve

Of course, if a client has gone to the trouble to provide keywords, you should use them. Put them in your title and at least a couple of headers and H2 headers, introductory paragraphs, and snippets. Don’t be afraid to look up synonyms or check Google’s similar search recommendations that appear at the bottom of every search engine page (or SERP for the acronym-addicted).

How content looks is also important. Readers often skim content, so a smart strategy keep sentences short to less than two full lines. Limit paragraphs to six lines. It’s OK to keep them even shorter if your analytics show a majority of your site visitors are using smartphones. Remember, smaller screens are more challenging to read but they are a majority for initial searches, especially in the B2C market.

Website and Page Hierarchy Remain Important SEO Best Practices

In an SEO context, hierarchy refers to how a website and page are structured. Pages and sites should be easy for a site visitor to navigate. If it isn’t, they will quickly leave, which will eventually result in higher bounce rates and that definitely weakens a site’s SEO efforts.

These items also fall into Best Practices rather than trends. Search engines want to provide useful, authoritative content. Well-organized and reader-friendly content provides an essential SEO boost as well.

I'm using this CAD floor plan design as a metaphor for SEO Best Practices.

Just as you’d design a floor plan, you should carefully design your website. Pixabay/3844328

A Top-Down Structure is a Best Practice for Website Hierarchy

Website hierarchy, or structure, for businesses, usually follows a top-down approach. There’s a landing page that provides basic information about what the business does – how it can help with a particular problem or requirement. This can be anything from manufacturing or marketing support (business-to-business, or B2B) to daycare or groceries (business-to-consumer, or B2C). Some businesses, like plumbers or HVAC services, have B2B and B2C customers.

The landing page will have a menu, often in its header and repeated in the footer or a sidebar. That’s where the structure comes in. Typical menu items are labeled as About, Services, and Contact. Menus often include a FAQ, Testimonials, and Blog or Newsletter. Details, like specific services, are nested underneath.

Best Practices for Page Hierarchy Require Skilled Writing

As a writer, I get so frustrated when I see an otherwise excellent post or page that has poor posture, so to speak. There’s so much useful information that could be presented so much more efficiently!

That’s where skilled writing, or at least copyediting will help. The role of a content creator isn’t necessarily to be an expert but to take information and put it in language readers can understand. That said, many of us certainly gained expertise in industries and topics over our working lives.

I always tell my clients that they’re the experts in their fields. My role is to translate their expertise into content their target audiences can skim or read carefully as they need.

The Negative SEO Trend is a Risky One!

This last piece really caught my attention. I’m on hiatus at the moment, but I wrote about using negative SEO in a weekly newsletter a few months ago. (See the 4/19/23 newsletter on my archive page.) I haven’t seen much on negative content but I have worried that it could become an SEO trend.

Using negative content is a risky SEO trend represented here by Darth Vader.

Resist writing to the dark side. Pixabay: ErikaWittlieb

I reported on Ann Gynn’s CMI article about how and when a contrarian marketing strategy can perform well. It featured a Philadelphia jeweler whose tagline is “I Hate Steven Singer” and uses the phrase in its URL. Its advertising and website content, one reviewer wrote, stresses the quality of their jewelry and put down the competition. Since then, the content has taken the hate vibe down several steps.

I visited the website on July 5, 2023 and the only negativity on the homepage was in the popup to “Join the Haters” and get Steven’s newsletter, and a top menu link that didn’t work. The content was exactly what I’d expect from a jeweler who sells diamonds – soft-focus photos of diamond engagement rings and earrings and wedding bands. The headers read “GUARANTEED YES!” and their brand is “Ready for Love.”

At some point, a content box labeled “Why Hate Steven” dropped down where I was reading. I clicked on it and was taken to an About page that didn’t give me a reason to hate the guy; in fact, I liked his backstory.

The hate campaign just seems illogical to me. As I wrote back in April, proceed with caution when you take a negative content strategy.

Coming soon: AZIMA’s website security recommendations.