Do you find yourself staring at a blank screen, struggling to come up with ideas whenever it’s time for you to sit down and create content for your, or your clients, business?
Don’t worry, it’s not just you. This is a common problem for freelance business owners, but it’s one that can be overcome very quickly.
If you’ve ever wondered how you can take inspiration from all the amazing content that you spot online (without being a copycat), then keep reading (or listen to the episode) because that’s exactly what we’re talking about today!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How to find content inspiration regardless of the platform or which industry you’re creating content for
- Why you should be paying attention to other people's content & what to pay attention to
- How to create an effective system to keep track of your content inspiration
- How to take inspiration from other people's content without copying them
- The Content Inspiration System you need to organise your business
Why you should pay attention to other people's content
A lot of people think that they always need to come up with new ideas when they create content and that they shouldn’t be looking at what other people are doing. But here’s something you need to know: There are no new ideas.
There is no such thing as new content. It’s just that people are changing the way they say things, putting a slightly different slant on it or giving their own personal context to it. Yes, there are new opinions, statistics and ideas around existing things, but there are very few new things.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time you create content. Once you get your head around that simple fact, it will make content creation and coming up with new content ideas so much easier, quicker and a lot less painful.
For example, we’re not great graphic designers, so whenever we need to create graphics, we’ll take inspiration from other content that’s out there. We take note of what we like, what we don’t like so much and what seems to be performing well.
So it’s okay if you’re not a naturally creative person and it’s okay to take inspiration and learn from other people. That’s how everybody learns and progresses!
Content elements you should be paying attention to
When you find yourself inspired by a piece of content, it’s important to ask yourself what exactly it is about that piece of content that inspires you. Don’t just look at it as a whole; think about what specifically stands out to you. What made you stop scrolling? What is it that made you enjoy that piece of content? Take note of these things for your own content creation!
Below, we’ve listed a few different elements of content that you may want to look out for and use as inspiration for your own content.
The most obvious element to look out for is the topic of the content. This is easy when looking at content within your own industry, but you may also find some really great topic ideas when looking at content in completely unrelated industries. Often, you’ll come across topics that will be interesting and relevant to your audience, and you just need to identify how you can put your own spin on it. This may be by sharing an alternative opinion, related stats, a customer story etc.
Sometimes, if you see a particular topic being talked about a lot, it can be easy to think that you shouldn’t share that topic on your own platform because so many people have already created content about it. However, you need to realise that the opportunity is still there to put your own spin on it.
For example, within The Inner Hub, we have The Newswire, which we update whenever there are changes in the industry or to any social media platforms. As a social media manager, it’s a great idea to create content based on these updates! While a lot of people may be sharing these updates with their audience, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. You still have the opportunity to put your own spin on it and explain why it’s relevant to your particular audience, how they will benefit etc.
What we’re trying to get at is that just because someone has already spoken about a particular topic, that doesn’t mean they have the given right to be the only person talking about it. People need to hear things in different ways, and the way you share may be exactly what your audience needs to hear.
The hook is the thing that captures your attention and stops your scroll. That may be the first line of your copy on LinkedIn, the graphic you use on Instagram or the wording you choose on TikTok. A good hook is vital to social media content. If you don’t have an attention-grabbing hook, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
If you struggle with writing hooks, take a look at how other people are implementing hooks within their content. What is the very first thing you see? What’s on the graphic? What’s the first word on the video? What’s the first line of the caption? And then how do they continue to use hooks throughout the content to encourage you to keep reading or watching?
There’s so much you can learn from others, so pay attention to the content that captures your attention and save them for inspiration because it will definitely help you to enhance your own content!
Pay attention to how content is presented. If you find yourself drawn to a particular piece of content, ask yourself what it was about that piece of content that made it compelling or made you want to share it.
Shareable content is really powerful for increasing visibility, so if you come across a piece of content that’s being shared a lot, pay attention to the format.
Here are a few things that you may want to take note of:
- The overall format, e.g. whether it’s a video, carousel, Reel, Twitter thread
- How long the sentences are
- How the paragraphs are formatted
- Whether they use bullet points
- How that creator repurposed the post across different platforms
Every single piece of content you create should contain a call to action. If you struggle with this, you need to spend time looking at how other people use CTA’s within their content.
The most obvious one we’ve probably all heard is “go and click the link in my bio”, but there are many different, clever ways that you can encourage your audience to take action.
How to take inspiration from content without being a copycat
1. Look outside of your industry
When working with clients, it can be tempting to go and see what your client's competitors are doing so you can be inspired by that. While this is fine, it’s not necessarily the best way to gather inspiration. Instead, pay attention to content within different niches and sectors across multiple platforms.
For example, if you’re working with a niche industry, there might not be many people out there who are creating content well. So how can you go out and find content to be inspired if they don’t exist? By looking outside of that sector.
Even if there are a lot of people within your, or your clients, industry, you don’t want to get sucked into the echo chamber of all the businesses in one industry creating the same types of content because you’re never going to stand out that way.
You should never copy anyone but the best way to protect yourself from doing that, even unintentionally, is by looking outside of your industry.
2. Put your own spin on it
Never copy and paste someone’s content and claim it as your own. You should always be creating original content and putting your own spin on the topic, inserting your unique opinion etc.
If you’re taking inspiration from a creator, it’s always a great idea to refer back to the original post and then add your own insights, opinions and advice. This way, you can make sure you’re giving credit where credit is due, and you’re also adding more value to that original content, and people will remember YOU for that.
It doesn’t matter whether your opinion is different to the original creator, we’re allowed to have different opinions and as long as you’re able to justify that opinion, you should be sharing it! A lot of the time, you’ll notice that people actually welcome having their content shared with a different opinion as it opens up their eyes to different things and also gets them in front of a new audience.
3. Make sure it resonates with your audience
You know your audience best. If you see a piece of content that inspires you, it’s important to make sure that you make it relevant to your own audience. The language and imagery, for example, should fit with your audience and your brand. Copying something that worked for someone else and assuming it will work for your audience is never a good idea because everyone’s audience is different.
It’s also important to ensure that the content you create sounds authentic. It needs to be in your brand voice, not somebody else’s – your audience will notice that immediately! So it’s okay to be inspired by something, but make sure you change the language and imagery to reflect you and ensure it resonates with your audience.
4. Credit the original creator
If you’re sharing posts from another creator or sharing the stats they’ve pulled together, make sure to credit them! A lot of people seem to worry that doing this will make them seem like less of an expert, but that’s not the case at all! In fact, crediting another creator can often work in your favour if you’re aligning yourself with credible people.
We do this a lot in our emails. Often, we find content on LinkedIn that we’re inspired by, and we’ll then write an email with our thoughts on the topic and how it’s relevant to you, our audience, but we’ll always credit the original creator.
There’s no point in sharing advice or ideas and expecting your audience to take it as gospel if you’re not crediting where you get those ideas from.
How to create an effective system to save your content inspiration
Once you’ve found a piece of content you’re inspired by, you can save it to come back to and take note of what it was about that piece of content that drew you in and how you want to use it for inspiration.
It’s no good just saving a tonne of screenshots to your phone because when you come back to it, you’ll have no idea why you saved it in the first place (trust us, we’ve made that mistake)!
Content creation is frustrating enough as it is without knowing that you’ve seen all these brilliant ideas but not being able to find them when the time comes to create content. Rather than taking thousands of screenshots and allowing them to completely take over your phone, create an organised content inspiration system.
Within this system, you can save your screenshot, a note of why you’re saving that piece of content and even a link to the original content. When you save the original URL, you can go back and see how that content performed, whether there are any comments that might assist in your own content creation etc.
The Content Inspiration System™️ you need to organise your business
Creating your own system to organise your content & ideas can take a lot of time and involve a lot of trial and error. So instead of spending hours fixing your content organisation problems, why not check out what we are now calling The Content Inspiration System?!
The Content Inspiration System is designed to help you to really strategically save content ideas and store them in one place so that you can easily refer back to them and find exactly what you’re looking for.
Whether you’re searching for the perfect hook, a really great topic to write about, or a really strong CTA to end your video – you'll be able to quickly find what you’re searching for and create content without overthinking it.
Here’s what The Content Inspiration system will help you with:
- Store, organise and quickly find the screenshots you take for content inspiration
- Keep all your social proof in one place with an organised system to tell you who it’s from, whether you have permission to share and when you last shared
- Save all your evergreen or launch content in one place, so you don't have to scroll through your feed to find the content you want to reuse!
- Store and keep track of all your photos and links, both for your own and your client's business
Ultimately, this system will make you far more efficient, you'll feel way less frustrated, and it will save you so much time! And the beauty of this system is that the more you use it, the more powerful it becomes. And the sooner you start, the quicker you’ll benefit from it.
We can’t wait to hear how you use this system within your business and how much time it saves you.