13 ways to find your blog inspiration

Tue, Aug 10, 2010

Uncategorized

How do you generate ideas for your blog? It’s a question I hear often from friends, fellow bloggers and clients alike.

Let’s face it. Everyone runs into writer’s block from time to time–some more than others. But, if you have systems and processes in place to mine post ideas on a regular basis, you should have a full “draft” folder at all times.

Here are 13 ways to come up with blog post ideas on a weekly basis:

* Hop on your favorite Twitter chat for 15 minutes. You’re bound to uncover a nugget or idea you can explore further in a post. My favorites include #pr20chat, #journchat and #blogchat.

* Scour the daily news. Review your daily news sites and look for nuggets, news items and angles you can play off in a post. I’m constantly looking for a digital PR angle in current events (witness last week’s Brett Favre post).

* Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark. I find that 10 minutes with my Delicious account at the end of the week is a great way to look for post ideas. I bookmark so many great posts in my regular reading over the course of a week–my Delicious account is just full of nuggets by week’s end.

* Live blog conferences and events. Chances are you’re going to take notes at that industry conference anyway. Why not make it into a blog post in real time. Easy content opportunity (good example from my friend Tony Saucier who live-blogged BlogWorld last year).

* Pay attention to your daily interactions. It’s amazing the ideas that come to you when you always have your blog filter on. For example, the other day I was having lunch with my family at Jimmy Johns. The posters in that store always kill me–and they had one that read “We’d love to see you naked” in huge letters. Of course, the small print read: “But state code requires shoes and shirt.” Gave me a spark for an upcoming post about the impact of a good headline.

* Look for ideas in your email chains. Ever go back at the end of a long day and browse through your email? I do–and it’s a great way to mine post ideas. Conversations with clients (you don’t have to name the client, remember–talk about the concept you’re discussing instead). Discussions with colleagues about professional development. Or, a back-and-forth with a friend about a news item. You might be surprised what you find.

* Don’t forget the comments. Danny Brown recently talked about mining for gold in the comments section of your blog. I couldn’t agree more. After all, the comments are frequently more compelling than the actual post. Browse the comments in your own posts–and a few of your favorite blogs–for post ideas regularly.

* Take a favorite post and giver your perspective. Friends Scott Hepburn and Gini Dietrich just did this last week as they built off Jason Falls’ initial post about consultants offering incentive-based pricing. Great idea–wish we saw more of this “continuous conversation” post strategy.

A few additional ideas from friends and colleagues across the Web:

* See a random word, question or headline and twist it into a blog post. For example random words like “recipe,” “clash,” or “pyramid” could all be something to wrap a blog topic around some day. I push myself to find inspiration far outside the usual “echo chamber” – even through art and music — because I want to blog where no one has blogged before. (fantastic suggestions from Mark Schaefer)

* Check your Google Analytics. The phrases people search to arrive at your blog can be fascinating sources of ideas. Make sure to stop by Google Analytics regularly for a good look. (Great idea from Becky McCray)

* Reflect back on your week. Think back on the problems and challenges you faced during the workweek–and consider the solutions you came up with. Was it a particularly creative solution? If so, it would probably make a compelling post. Great idea by Christina Khoury.

*Insights from current projects. Think about your current client work. Is there a particularly interesting ethical challenge you’re facing? Or, maybe you took a different approach to a common problem. Whatever the case, there’s probably a post or two each week just in your everyday client work. (Nice add by Alison Lewis)

I’d like to close this post with a thoughtful comment from Edward Boches, chief creative officer at Mullen. I asked Edward what inspired him when it comes to posts. Here was his response:

“I find inspiration everywhere: industry news, new technologies, consumer behavior, the social dialog among the community of thought leaders I follow. I try not to make my blog a simple stream of what I’m seeing, hearing, reading, watching.  Rather I want it to add real value to readers, peers, employees and clients. So my preference is to look for interesting things to dissect and take lessons from.  For example, what can we learn from the NY Times use of social media? How can marketers obsession with Facebook teach us to be better at overall strategy?  What does consumer participation in news events and story spreading tell us about how to mobilize our followers?  What does it mean for the future of crowd-sourced video if the iPhone 4 lets you edit and post movies directly to YouTube. In short, I look for things that I can turn into lessons or meaning.  That way I don’t simply regurgitate, but add value and clarify my own thinking in the process.”

Well said, Edward.

What inspires you when you’re trying to brainstorm post ideas? I’d love to hear more about your process.

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8 comments
Nikki Stephan
Nikki Stephan

Love these suggestions, Arik. I've been struggling with blog inspiration myself lately. My personal blog doesn't focus on PR/social media, but I have used some of the suggestions you recommended to generate ideas for my PR agency's blog.

Lately I've been thinking about who inspires me (personally and professionally) and thinking about ways to incorporate them into posts (either Q&A's or video interviews). Another suggestion is to take the main themes of your blog and do a Google news/blog search with those keywords. Browsing through the search results can help spark an idea for a post.

Arik Hanson
Arik Hanson

Great point, Thomas. I do that a bit with some of my sports posts. Your passion always comes through...

Arik Hanson
Arik Hanson

Maybe a "best practice" in this area then is recapping the previous post in the first graf of your post?

Thomas Wendt
Thomas Wendt

I like incorporating past education or experiences. Lately I've been thinking a lot about the relationship between literary theory and marketing, and it comes out in my blog posts. I'm not traditionally educated in marketing, but I have a degree in comparative literature. I like using the esoteric and problematic theories from philosophy and literature, mashing them together with trends I see in social marketing, and trying to make sense of how it all fits together.

So I guess my tip would be to use your own background, whatever it may be. Apply what you have done before to what you're doing now.

michelletripp
michelletripp

Love this post! I agree with Edward on looking for the lesson. The best posts are always the ones that dissect a topic and pull out the important developments, or the posts that uncover a completely different take-away than other posts written on the same topic. Thanks for this great list, Arik!

Ike Pigott
Ike Pigott

Just be careful about building on someone else's post.

Allow it to inspire you, but if you are forcing readers to read-three to understand-one, it's asking a lot.

Synthesize.

markwilliamschaefer
markwilliamschaefer

This ia an incredibly useful post Arik! I would agree with Danny about comments. I would say 25% of my posts come directly from questions posed by the community on {grow}. Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] 13 ways to find your blog inspiration – Ever hit a brick wall or lose your muse? Don’t lie, everyone does, however the recovery of said passion or inspiration is what is important. Arik Hanson gives some great resources to tap when you get that not so fresh feeling. [...]

  2. [...] 13 ways to find your blog inspiration (arikhanson.com) [...]

  3. [...] ahead of your competitors. But, more than just a way to get smarter, these posts and articles could inspire blog posts of your own, newsletter articles, white papers and other unique content you can use to demonstrate [...]

  4. [...] … Webdesigner ist auch ein Schöpfer. Und jeder Web-Designer hat solche Periode, wenn die Inspiration verschwindet. Auf der Suche nach Inspiration wendet sich der Designer an verschiedenen Quellen. Es kann ein Besuch von beliebigem Blog oder einer Website sein, eine Fahrt ins Grüne, Veränderung der Tätigkeit, Musikhören oder sogar eine Frau (oder Mann) . Ich stöberte im Internet, in einigen Foren und schuf eine kleine Liste der beliebtesten Quellen der Inspiration im Bereich des Webdesigns. Bei mir gibt es 7 solchen Quellen. Wenn Sie nicht einverstanden sind und etwas hinzufügen möchten, nur schreiben Sie mir im Kommentar. Also, zur Inspiration. [...]