Recently my friend Marijean Jaggers offered up a guest post over at Gini Dietrich’s place on Four Ways of Sparking Blogging Ideas. She presented some really good ideas, my favorite of which was “talk to a kid” as you look for fresh perspective.
Face it, even if you don’t get writer’s block, you probably get into a rut where you feel like you’re writing the same things over and over again. I know I do. Using guest bloggers can eliminate some of that problem, but sometimes it helps to have a prompt of sorts to get you out of your conventional thinking. So in addition to talking to a kid, here are a few more ideas that might be interesting sources of blog content or inspiration when the well seems to be running a little dry:
1. Check your Facebook Newsfeed – Just scroll through. What are people talking about? Perhaps someone has posted a photo, video, or link that will spark an idea. Same goes for reading through your Twitter feed.
2. Go through your CDs/iPod library – Music is great for getting us thinking. Perhaps a title, or specific lyric will give you an idea. Margie Clayman recently got a lot of play for her post The 20 Songs the Beatles Wrote about Social Media Engagement.
3. Play with your pets – I’ve been rather openly mocked for a series of posts I did about what my dog Shadow has taught me. Oh well. The fact is, pets, like kids, help us find a different perspective. I make no apologies for those posts, and will continue to use my pets for inspiration. Hmmm, I haven’t written any about my cat, Callie.
4. What’s on the bookshelf? – I love books and I love to read. I have shelves and shelves of books, and many more in boxes in the basement. What are you reading now? What about your favorite books from childhood? It might just be a title that sparks an idea, or the plot of a book. Maybe it’s even a book somewhat related to your business.
5. Visit some other businesses, possibly even a competitor – This might not be easy if people know you well, but just looking at how other businesses operate might give you some ideas. Certainly you don’t want to be seen as trying to steal trade secrets, and you should be very careful if you mention a competitor in a post, but just getting OUT of your business and IN to others might give you ideas. This includes reading their ads and visiting their website.
6. Go back in time – No, I’m not talking in the Back to the Future sense, but pull out some old photo albums or yearbooks. If this doesn’t spark some ideas, check your pulse. In fact, if you really want fresh perspective, mix this one with Marijean’s idea about talking to a kid. That’s right, look through your old yearbooks with your kids. Just make sure you bring your thickest skin. Perhaps there’s even an archive of photos of your business five, ten, twenty, or more years ago.Old newspapers at the library are good for finding this material. How has your business or industry changed over time?
7. Go hunting for ads – While most of us passively filter out the ad messages around us, and many of us even go as far as actively filtering them out, sometimes we need to pay attention to the marketing messages around us. Open up a magazine or newspaper and skip over the content and focus solely on the ads. Forget the programming and focus on radio and TV commercials. Take a drive and pay special attention to billboards. What kinds of messages do you see? Are they effective? Something along the way might spark a few ideas.
8. Dig into your analytics – Check your Google analytics or any other sort of metrics you use to track how people are using your website. Which posts are the most popular or least popular? How are people finding your site? I find that some people find my site through some rather interesting searches. Some of them are rather funny and could give you some nice fodder for a blog. Two posts that came as the result of seeing how people found me were Businesses are Spamming Me on Facebook and How Facebook Hurts Businesses. I figured if someone found my site while searching for those things, I might as well give them something worthwhile to read!
What are some of your sources for inspiration? What’s the oddest thing that has given you an idea for a blog post?
- Four New Ways to Spark Blogging Inspiration (spinsucks.com)
- How I Nearly Tripled My Blog Traffic (inklingmedia.net)
- Looking for Blog Post Inspiration? (markevanstech.com)
- WTF? Friday: Whining and Blogging Don’t Mix (marijeanjaggers.com)