I’ve been asked a few times recently where I get ideas for this blog. I think it’s a common question most people have when they first start out blogging. I had the same question myself and often enough still do in all honesty. It can be a challenge to come up with three or five or seven new topics each week, but there are things you can do and places to look to help generate ideas for posts.
Ideas can really come from anywhere. It’s more about recognizing what would make for a good topic than actively looking for something to write about. For example yesterday morning I had an unpleasant experience with the automated response when I placed a customer service call to Qwest. I certainly wasn’t looking for a blog post idea when I made the call, but I looked at the call in relation to what is usually written here and was able to see how it might make for an interesting post. Whether or not it really was interesting I’ll leave to you, but interesting or not that call became an idea for a post here.
Another place I’ve found ideas is forums. If I’ve come across the same question a few times it seems like it might be ripe for a post. One common question has been how to center a web page and answering that question was easy enough to turn into a post. Sometimes the question is asked once, but leads to some good discussion in a thread and the thoughts there get me thinking about a topic that eventually finds it’s way here. Forum threads and posts are a natural source of ideas.
Read, Read, And Read Again
The three most common ways I find ideas are:
Yes reading. Read anything that interests you about your topic. You can sometimes use someone else’s idea and write it from your own perspective. An idea you see on a related blog may spark an idea for a new topic. The more you read about your subject the more it should get you thinking about your subject. And the more you think about it the more you should start seeing ideas in your everyday life.
Read anything and everything. And not just industry related blogs and articles. I’ve found the ideas for many posts in newspapers or in magazines unrelated to anything this blog discusses. Read from a variety of sources. Learn to see how seemingly unrelated articles and stories are related to your topic. In fact when you read things that most in your industry aren’t reading you can often be the first with a news story or find yourself with an original idea no one else has covered.
Sometimes you might read actively looking for ideas. When you do or when you’re just reading in general, train yourself to find ideas. Read with a highlighter or take notes on what you read. Learn to become an idea magnet.
There will probably be some standard topics everyone in your industry covers. This blog is often focused on seo and within seo there are some ideas that you can always write about. Keywords and link building are two that come to mind. You can even write an seo tutorial and turn it into a series of posts. Tutorials and How To’s will always make for interesting blogging fodder.
News makes for good posts. When something new happens in your industry write about it, though know that you won’t be the only one. If you can get the story out first it can lead to others using your post as the resource when they in turn cover the latest.
Prepare Yourself So Ideas Can Find You
More than anything the key is to learn as much as you can about your topic. As you learn more about your subject ideas will begin to show themselves to you when you least expect it. You can be walking down the street and notice a store logo and realize that it would make a good example for that post you were thinking about writing on branding. You can be eating at a restaurant and decide their menu is an interesting design and talk about why. You can bump into an old friend while out shopping and have him or her become a business contact and turn it into a post on random encounters leading to sales. It’s less about finding an idea than it is in seeing an idea in ordinary things.
I like to keep lists of possible topics and make notes about them when I can. I’ll bookmark any web page that seems like something I may one day want to write about and jot down random thoughts as they occur. Many won’t ever find their way into a post, but many will. Three pages I bookmark may end up as the research for a post. Random thoughts combine into something coherent and become a post. Not all post ideas come full blown. Sometimes you need to let an idea simmer for awhile before you can write it. Sometimes you need to marinate ideas into blog posts.
Ideas really can come from anywhere. And the more you blog the easier it will be in general to spot what might make for an interesting idea for a post. The most important thing is to immerse yourself in your particular topic and start to see how things relate to your topic. It won’t necessarily come right away and we all go through times where the ideas don’t seem to be there. But the longer you blog the more you’ll find that the ideas for posts come to you instead of you having to go looking for them.
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