To keep your business going, you may need to create content regularly. So what can you do when you need an idea and your muse is AWOL?
Do you get stuck trying to come up with topic ideas for articles, podcasts, blogs, books, newsletters, ebooks and other content? You may have times when ideas come easily and the words flow, and others when your mind seems to go blank.
Here are some ways to come up with ideas:
Look for something new. Check news sites, blogs, press releases and other sources of information about what is happening in your field. Subscribe to Google Alerts at http://www.google.com/alerts to be updated by email when there is news involving your topic. For example, I get an email from Google whenever they index a page including information about mystery shopping, the subject of one of my books. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds from your favorite sites to get the latest news.
Read articles written by others. Do NOT copy their articles or just paraphrase what they have said. However, even reading an article on a topic unrelated to yours could give you ideas. For example, “Six Ways to Get More Customers to Your Retail Store,” might give you the idea to write, “Five New Ways to Get More Patients for Your Dental Practice.” The ways will be different because the businesses are different.
Do a review. Talk about a new product, book, tool, web site or something else that would be of interest to your audience.
Do a keyword search. Use the Google Keyword Tool or Google Suggest to find ideas on your topic. In Google Suggest, you can enter a search term and, as the name implies, Google will suggest related terms. So if I enter “fly fishing,” I get terms including fly fishing knots, fly fishing equipment, fly fishing rods, fly fishing show, fly fishing reels, fly fishing tackle and more. Any of those might make a good topic for an article, podcast or blog post. Maybe even an ebook or book.
Look at pictures. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a picture can certainly inspire a lot of words. Go to a photo site such as Flickr.com or a video site such as YouTube.com and search for images related to your topic. As you look through the pictures and captions, see what ideas come to mind. Clip art and stock photo sites are good, too. Try ClipArt.com or iStockPhoto.com.
Use a template. Create an article using a standard format, such as Top Ten lists, Q&A, common myths, step-by-step and others.
It doesn’t always have to be words. When I wrote a weekly newspaper column, each column had to be words, and a certain number of them at that. However, your blog post or newsletter item could be a video, a picture, an audio, a graphic or something else. Don’t assume that content always means written words.
Keep a notebook. When an idea comes to you, write it down. I used to think that I would remember the great idea I had for a product or an article, but I often did not. Or at least I could not recall it on demand. WRITE IT DOWN! Instead of a notebook, you can use an electronic form, such as a PDA, text messages, voice recorder or whatever you have with you all the time to capture ideas as they come to you.