If you have a blog, website, newsletter, or any other sort of content marketing as part of your brand or business (and you should). Then you know that consistently coming up with new and fresh ideas can feel like a high mountain to overcome.
This mountain is there for all of us from time to time. Whether you're a writer by trade, a marketer, or a business owner -- we all have times when the task of sitting down and coming up with something engaging to write seems impossible.
As a writer and habit builder, I set out to write every day. But there were days when I'd sit at my computer or notebook and the blank page staring at me was too much to handle. I'd write gibberish, or make a to-do list (a specialty of mine - they are all over the house), just to get something on the page. But it was not the type of productive ideating that I was intending to complete each day. It wasn't meaningful or mindful.
And let me be clear, there are times when I am in no mood to write, or I know that whatever I write at this moment is going to be awful. But I was determined to figure out a way that I would AT LEAST have something that I could write about. I'd have an idea, a headline, or a prompt to go off of -- even if that piece of writing is one that I'd never willingly share with anyone. I was determined that ideating was NOT going to be my problem ... and the other problems I'd work on solving later.
Here are a few actions you can take today to start your library of ideas, so all you have to do is pull it up and choose the idea that resonates the most in your writing moment. And if you stick with me to the end, I have an added bonus for you!
So grab your notebook, idea board, or trello list and get ready to ideate. I suggest deciding on a location to keep all of you ideas -- and keep it close to the location where you write (if you write at a desk, use your notebook; if you're on the go with a laptop or tablet, use an electronic version like trello, tasks lists or Google Keep).
Find a system for keeping track of your ideas
My 2 favorite places to keep ideas are Google Tasks and Trello. Both of these locations are with me all of the time - on my laptop or my phone. Both contain the ability to create a Task or Card from a link (to save a piece of inspiration), or to create from scratch.
Once you have a system for where you'll keep your ideas, it's time to start ideating.
Understanding Your Audience
Once you've been through the exercise of identifying your audience's pain points and motivations, you can take this information to your idea board. Here are some questions to ask (and answer) to come up with writing ideas:
What are my client's pain points and how do we solve them?
What are they motivated by, and how do we enable that?
What keywords are our clients searching for?
Where are my clients on social media?
The answers to these questions will likely help you drive to the core of what your blog is about. Use them to derive your first several blog posts and come back to them in future posts often.
Now that you have a system and have identified with your audience, it's time to start ideating! I know, I know. This is so much easier than it sounds. But most often, once you get on a roll or in a rhythm, the ideas flow. Soon you'll have more ideas than you can get to in the next few months. But you need to get the juices flowing.
Here are some tricks to coming up with your next blog posts:
Go for a walk in nature, or just get outside. Take a shower. Workout. Get away from your work or find a creative corner to live in your own thoughts.
Freewriting is one of my favorite ways to jot down my random thoughts and see where they go. Often you can get a brain dump of all of the junk you have rolling around in your head -- to clear it! So now there's room for the good stuff, let the ideas flow.
Read anything. Read your favorite things to read. Read the news. Follow your favorite influencers and read their posts. Scroll (what!?!). Yes, scroll through Pinterest or LinkedIn (or others) and find a post you want to click into. Why did you click it? What was interesting?
Use Google Search or your favorite keyword search tool and start typing in your pain points and motivations from audience research. What are adjacent items? What are people searching? Where can you add value to the answers?
Collaborate with Others
Find those in your niche that you follow on social media and ask them to collaborate with you. Or talk to your friends and colleagues locally to figure out ways you can work together, help each other and grow. At the very least, find a sounding board of trusted friends to bounce ideas off of. You never know how someone else might think about solving a problem in a new way you haven't thought of yet!
Whether you scan through your own social posts or others, use the intel you've gained to determine what topics are resonating with your audience. Did a tweet perform particularly well? What made it resonate? How can you turn that tweet into long-form content?
Ideas are everywhere. Sometimes you just need to set yourself up for success with a system that works for recording the ideas. Sometimes you need to find your flow of inspiration. Either way, the ideas are there to be found, and the world needs your spin on them. Keep sharing!
If you're a visual person or just love a great print-out, check out my FREE Ideating Guide! And if you're still overwhelmed by the thought of starting your blog, or struggling to consistently post, reach out to me, I'd love to help tell your story!