Using RSS Feeds to Subscribe to Blogs and News Sites
One strategy I’ve found for generating writing ideas is to subscribe to RSS feeds on topics that interest you. The reason for RSS feeds is that they are easier to organize, so you can stay organized with gathering your ideas. Using an RSS reader allows you to categorize and tag articles in a way you can access from anywhere.
The downside with just signing up for a bunch of email lists is that the emails will come at various times. By having feeds you can scan through at morning and/or at night, you can identify articles that interest you to read later more thoroughly. Doing it in this organized way ensures you won’t lose track or forget about articles that may give you valuable ideas for later writing.
Subscribing to Print Magazines or Their Online Counterparts
There’s a reason why print magazines still exist. They make for good downtime reading. Of course, many magazines have online counterparts that you can read on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. They also tend to have top-notch content, sometimes above the quality you’ll find everyday for free on the Internet. By taking notes on articles you read, in a Google doc or some other notetaking program, you’ll have something to work on for future writing.
Making Your Smartphone Your Content Generating Machine
Smartphones have become invaluable tools in content creation. Where content creators used to carry a PDA, camera, and cell phone, you now only need one device that combines the function of all three of those devices. You can create content, organize your ideas, and communicate with others all with one piece of tech!
Taking pictures of interesting moments, things, and places is easier than ever. You can use a voice recorder app on your phone to catch an idea as it hits you, or you can put it in a note on your phone. Then, every night you can upload your ideas to your favorite cloud storage such as Google Drive and your pictures to social media. You can draw on these notes and photos to generate writing ideas on a daily basis.
Leverage the Wisdom (Or Lack Thereof) of the Crowd
One of the more underrated strategies in getting content ideas is reading comments on articles you regularly read. Sure, many comments aren’t helpful. But, when there are interesting ideas , strong opinions, or pros and cons of a certain issue, take note of them. Chances are, they are food for additional content. Of course, gleaning the answers from popular Q&A sites like Quopra and Yahoo Answers for ideas is another good strategy. Topical forums can also be a great resource for generating writing ideas.
Having Lunch With Friends
It’s no secret that many writing ideas come from discussions over lunch. That’s why it’s good to have lunch with a good friend or friends at least once a week. Use this time to bounce around ideas on any topic. As usually happens during a meal, chats tend to go off in interesting directions. If any interesting ideas emerge over lunch, be sure to take note of them. If something is important to your friend, it’s probably worth writing about, especially if you can work on relating it to your own topics.
Taking Advantage of Downtime
Some of the best times to generate writing ideas are actually during downtime. This can include activities like driving, exercising, or watching TV. You can think about your favorite topics and try to relate them to things you observe while on the road, or while exercising, or on the TV. Then, when you get an idea, be sure to record it in your smartphone or in a notebook as soon as possible. You can get some very interesting ideas built on observations, and these can turn into some good stories to tell. People love stories..
Put Twists on Old Ideas
So much content is based on putting a new spin or twist on an old idea. Whenever you’re feeling stuck, go through your notes and see what ideas or articles you think you can put a new spin on. Or, you could combine two or more ideas, or tweak or improve upon an existing idea or article. These are all great ways to generate new writing ideas.
Check Viral Article Sites for Trending Topics
Years ago, content creators turned to websites like Technorati, Digg, and Delicious for writing inspiration. Technorati is still around, still curating trending topics, although it doesn’t work quite as well as it once did. Social bookmarking giant Delicious is gone. However, Digg is still very much around, and Reddit has become the king of social bookmarking. These tools are great for writing inspiration because they are a fresh source of what’s buzzing (trending) on the Net. Sure, what’s trending often won’t be on topics that may not be directly related to what you’re writing about. But, you never know what you might find that could be relevant to something you want to write.
Creating Pros/Cons Articles on Hot Topics
Pros and cons type content is extremely popular. If there are issues or hot topics that you want to cover, you may consider creating this type of content. The idea is to collect at least a dozen diverse opinions, ideally split in half between pros and cons. These types of content do tend to require a lot of research. You may even find that a pros and cons article isn’t even what you really want to do. Still, you’ll have generated a whole bunch of writing ideas to work with in the future.
Ask What If, What Else, and Why Not Questions on an Issue
Similar to a pros and cons article, you may instead decide to ask yourself “what if,” “what else,” or “why not” questions about a certain topic. You do much the same research, generating new ideas based on your research. This could lead to creating an in-depth article or guide to a certain topic or issue. These in-depth articles can be seen by the search engines as resources and tend to be very search-friendly and shareable on social media.
Analyze Data for Patterns That You Can Chart or Graph
While this type of content isn’t for everyone, charts and graphs are very popular. If you like to use spreadsheets to collect data and look for patterns, then you may want to consider this direction for generating writing ideas. Writing about patterns you find in creating the charts and graphs tends to attract people with varying interpretations, which can be a good thing. Content based on visualized data is very shareable, so if it’s something you can do, it’s a great way of generating new content.
Checking Keyword Research Tools for Related Keywords
If you’re looking to generate writing ideas that can also generate a lot of search engine traffic for you, keyword research tools like Ubersuggest are your best bet. You can put in a general keyword and the tool will give you a great many related keywords based on their popularity in search. Take note of a few keyword phrases that pique your interest and see what articles already come up in search for those keywords. You may find ways to improve upon the existing content or generate new ideas based on the keywords you’re researching.
Do you have any strategies for generating writing ideas?