Are you looking for content in all the right places?

"Are you looking for content in all the right places?" Blog post by Roshan James, Hot Quill CommunicationsAll over the world, people are celebrating the end of one year and welcoming the crisp, clean slate of 2014. I can appreciate the simplicity and fresh feeling of a new start as much as the next person, but it can cause a certain heart-fluttering panic when we’re talking about clean slates, blank pages and stories-to-be in the realm of strategic business communications. Staring at the blinking cursor on a blank page is a leading cause of anxiety and inertia among content strategists and business writers alike. We don’t need a stat to back that up, do we? We just need to think about every time we sit in front of a blank page.

Cue involuntary reactions.

Furrowing of brow, squinting of eyes, staring at ceiling pensively, checking Facebook for inspirational memes, coming back to the document and saving it with a filename as a way of recommitting to the process…remembering someone you need to follow up with, wondering why you need to follow up with them, wondering why people selectively read and respond to emails….coming back to the still-blank document….giving it a title and date ….considering the need for a chart to organize the forthcoming content….

If you don’t do this – if you instead sit down and hammer out your plan for the year and fill your editorial schedule with wonderfully-aligned themes and key messages, without any increase in blood pressure or a rising sense of vulnerability – congratulations, you’re so much more guru-esque than the rest of us. This blog post is not for you and you can go back to playing with your phablet.

If you’re reading this instead of working on that plan document you have open (you know, the one hiding behind this open web browser….), how would you feel if I whispered this to you, ever so seductively:

Content is king.

Makes you crazy, right? You may even start to resent me.

"Are you looking for content in all the right places?" Blog post by Roshan James, Hot Quill CommunicationsWhen I’m stressing about where to start with a content plan, the very last thing that I want to have hanging over my head is how majestic content is. What I really want is to find the content…to uncover an awesome thread of high-value information that will be helpful and insightful for my audience groups. I don’t want to be distracted by the mantra, or end up cowering in the shadow of the looming monolith called Content with a Capital C and a Crown.

If you find that you’re always casting around for information nuggets that can be hammered into a blog-esque piece of “content” – stop, take a breath, and look to these timeless sources of content that will kick some royal ass:

Clients – What questions do clients ask repeatedly? Are there common themes in their feedback? Track it, document it, draw out insights, share. Rinse and repeat.

Colleagues – What do you “talk shop” about? What do your clients talk to their colleagues about? What do you troubleshoot together? Collect ideas, add to the list over time, talk about it some more, draw out knowledge in the form of tips and articles…and share.

Competitors – What do they do that makes you kinda (hella) jealous? What do they do that makes you smirk reminds you that you have a unique perspective to offer potential and existing clients? Make note of all of this. Think about how you can add to or augment what the other guys are saying, how you can elaborate and add value to a line of thinking…and then start drafting.

"Are you looking for content in all the right places?" Blog post by Roshan James, Hot Quill CommunicationsSo, courageous content gatherers, stand strong in the face of a clean slate. Don’t let blank pages cause you concern or let the gurus get you down with grand statements about who is or isn’t king and what trend is the queenliest. You have access to deep content if you go looking for it in the right places.

As we start the year, I wish you all the inspiration and ingenuity to fill your pages with real content that builds trust and business growth.

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  1. Love your ideas for getting content. Lots of times things I think are obvious are things that clients ask me. They make great blog posts because someone else probably has the same question. It can be hard to see those things on your own because we tend to live in our own bubbles.

    Often finding another article, good or bad, is another source I use often. Whether to support or debate their point of view, it’s a great discussion.

    Great post!

    • Thanks for your comment and for sharing another great source of ideas that can be nurtured into content! I would add that the more you read in general – whether it’s directly related to business or not – is bound to broaden your perspective and get your creative juices flowing. When I get stuck, googling and reading things that other people write is usually helpful….or at least feels constructive 😉

      Thanks again for stopping by and happy 2014!


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