By Josh Haynam
It's one thing to come up with good blog content ideas on your own, but sometimes you need to rely on outside sources to find inspiration for another post. Don’t worry about not having a topic on the tip of your tongue; there are wells of great concepts that never dry up, and your small business blog visitors will thank you for them!
1. Read books
Billionaire Richard Branson is famous for being caught with a book open, and he’s not ashamed of it. In fact, he attributes much of his creativity to the ideas that are found in books. Reading books will help expand your mind and expose you to ideas you may not have come to on your own—even if they're fiction. You can make great articles out of all the things that make a story great: Conflict, struggle, triumph, and more.
2. Attend events
Talk with people in person, not on the internet. Whenever you put a bunch of people into a confined space, no matter the profession they're from but especially if they have things in common, interesting things are sure to happen. Conversation and controversial events spark creativity and open up new opportunities.
3. Watch movies
Let someone else spend millions of dollars to come up with a story. Movies often have great concepts mixed into them that can be spun into marketing and business advice. Also, watching a movie can be mindless (at least that’s what your mom always said) and will allow you to relax and clear your mind, which can help idea generation later. A great example of marketing in movies is the "Anchorman 2" phenomena, which Forbes outlines here.
4. Play games
Games are a lesson in strategy. Sports, and even board games, are strategic battles won by mental strength. Playing games stimulates the mind and stretches your creativity beyond what you are able to muster staring at a screen all day. Also, activity releases dopamine in your body, which gives you more energy to get through that long article.
5. Talk to a customer
And ideally, do it on the phone or face-to-face. Every customer has a story behind why they became a customer of your small business. Each one is unique and likely far more interesting than you’d imagine. Turn that story into an article (with their permission). Kissmetrics uses customer stories to create some of the most compelling email marketing I’ve ever seen, like this one.
6. Tell a stranger what you do
They will ask questions that can lead to great blog content ideas. Explaining what you do to a complete stranger who doesn’t understand your industry will spark questions and ideas that don’t arise within the bubble of your industry. Take those off-the-wall questions and turn them into articles.
7. Study a company
What did they do right? Pick a company you admire and figure out what clicked for them. For a bonus, reach out to someone at the company and interview them. GrowthHackers has a lot of case studies to get started.
8. Change your surroundings
One of the least creative places in all the world is a desk next to a bunch of other desks in an office building in a crowded city. Move around—it doesn’t have to be for long—but get out to shift your perspective and spark some new ideas.
9. Get uncomfortable
The best ideas are just beyond your comfort zone. One of the strongest feelings we have is being uncomfortable. The sweating, squirmy moments are enough to make the fear of public speaking stronger than the fear of death for 50 percent of Americans. However, being out of your comfort zone causes creativity to flourish and new ideas to surface.
10. Push the limits
Go ahead, write 50 headline ideas—go crazy! If you’re brainstorming and want ten new ideas, write 50 down. The explosive site Upworthy is famous for requiring 25 headlines per published article, and it’s working for them. The weirdest, most bizarre, best ideas come at the edge of your knowledge.
I get it; coming up with new and witty articles every day is a tough task, so next time you’re stuck, try one of these ten ways to get inspired.
Josh Haynam loves making the internet more fun, that’s why he started Interact, a place for creating lead capture quizzes that are enjoyable for everyone. Learning is Josh’s jam so feel free to tweet at him.