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January 12th, 2011

Ideas Aren’t Magical – They Require Work

There’s been some discussion lately about where to get ideas for blog posts from. Some people are charging for regular distribution of ideas they come up with, meaning those ideas are not only going to be as generic as they possibly can be (the better to be relevant to a broad base of people who, it’s hoped, will continue paying). Other parties, including WordPress on its new Daily Post site, are giving away ideas for free. Again, those are going to be fairly generic but at least you can take what you like and not be out $10.

The need to publish regularly is absolute. That doesn’t have to mean five posts a day and it doesn’t mean every post needs to be 1,000+ words. There are going to be times, though, when answering the question “What am/are I/we going to write about today?” is a struggle. Don’t let anyone tell you different. But while there are some easy ways to search for an answer they require a much more difficult question to be asked at the end.

First the easy bit: Most companies are just swimming in fully-produced content or in an environment where it can be pretty easily produced. Look at the calendar. Does anything about your company tie in to holidays, seasons or some big upcoming event? Great, there are three or four potential posts each. Is anyone in the organization going to a conference? Does someone already put together a round-up of industry news that’s emailed around? Are there some commonly asked questions by your customers that could be answered? All those – and many more like them – can be the source of potentially published content.

But here’s the trickier question that has to be answered: Does this content fit with the strategy that’s been put in place? It’s answering that question that all the idea-generation services in the world won’t help you with. They don’t know what you’re trying to do with the blog or whatever it is that’s being used for publication. It takes work to not only know what that strategy is but to make sure the content conforms to it. Occasional veering off is fine – it can help take some of the stuffiness out of an official platform – but a trusted partner is one who will say “I don’t think that’s a good idea” when they need to.

Again, there’s no mysticism here, just hard work and an adherence to agreed-upon strategies and tactics. There will be times when you have so much to publish you won’t know what to do with it all. There will be times when you struggle to get a single post out the door. Bigger companies have fewer fallow periods simply by virtue of being bigger. Smaller ones might struggle more. But, as I said, regular posting is very much

By looking around for ideas internally and then working with a partner who’s not just there to give you more ideas but also help guide you through every step of the process, though, you’ll find that creating that content is a relatively painless process.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

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