Has it been too long since you published a kick-butt article?  Does your blog look like the web version of an abandoned strip mall?  Have you found new sites to publish guest posts on — but you can’t think of anything to write?

photo courtesy of James Nash on flickr
photo courtesy of James Nash on flickr

Forget the writer’s block!  If you want to come up with content ideas that will have the web buzzing, these 5 tips will help you do it:

1.  Subscribe to AP news feeds

This webpage allows you to subscribe to a variety of different AP news feeds — from business, to technology, to politics.  With it, you’ll have access to the same breaking details that professional journalists see.  And, since you can specify exactly which news feeds you want, you can zero in right on the news that affects your niche the most.

2.  Set up Google Alerts

Want to see more than just what the Associated Press churns out?  Google Alerts can… well… ALERT you to all kinds of things that are happening around the web.  Set up an alert for your target keywords to see the latest developments in your niche, or even set up an alert for your competitors to see what they’re up to.  That way, you’ll never be behind the curve.

3.  Subscribe to a variety of different newsletters

No matter what niche you’re in, there are going to be plenty of companies that have a free email list you can join.  Those emails can be a treasure trove of information!  Maybe you vehemently disagree with something you saw in a newsletter — which can be the perfect springboard for a new article or blog post.  Or, maybe you love what you saw in a particular email — and you want to write an article that digs deeper into the issue.

Remember, both love and hate are powerful emotions.  So, turn your inbox into a flow of different ideas, from different people.  Whether you love or hate what they have to say, you’ll be inspired — and THAT’S how you create memorable content!

4.  Tap into the power of your inbox

Your inbox contains a whole lot more information than a few newsletters you’ve signed up for.  If you’re like most business owners, you’re always getting questions emailed to you about your specific products/services or about your industry in general.  Before you delete those emails (after answering them, of course!), see if any of them can be used to generate new content.

For example, if you’re always getting asked a particular question, devote a blog post to answering it.  Or, if the questions you’re getting seem to follow a certain trend — like focusing on a particular aspect of your niche — devote some new articles to the subject.  After all, these emails are coming from potential customers.  By learning what THEY want to learn about, it will be much easier to create content that you KNOW your target audience will find interesting!

5.  Harness the power of your social networks

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are far more powerful than you think.  For example, searching for hashtags that are relevant to your niche can give you a great idea as to what your target audience is currently talking about.  Twitter and Facebook BOTH offer easy-to-use hashtag search options, so you can get a real cross-section of Tweets and status updates to draw from.

What about LinkedIn?

Tap into the power of LinkedIn’s group directory to find groups in your niche.  From there, you’ll be able to see what people are discussing.  In just a few minutes, you can find all kinds of interesting things to dig deeper into!