8 Out of the Way Sources for Blogging Ideas

by Ken Mueller on July 27, 2011 · 32 comments

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Image by orkboi via Flickr

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?

 8 Out of the Way Sources for Blogging Ideas
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23 comments
MarthaGiffen
MarthaGiffen

Honestly, sometimes I am so blog-focused, every single thing I see or hear becomes a blog post idea! LOL These are some great ideas! Never thought about having a conversation with a child. Will definitely use that one! Thanks :)

SoloBizCoach
SoloBizCoach

Great ideas @KenMueller. My number one source for inspiration is Google Reader. I subscribe to over 400 blogs, and I can always find an idea there.

richmac
richmac

Another good idea that I heard recently from Marcus Sheridan @TheSalesLion was to list the recurring questions that existing and prospective customers have about your products or services. You can then prioritize them based on frequency or recency and develop posts around the issues related to the top questions. A simple, but powerful approach

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

I seek out comedy!!! I used a clip from Jimmy Kimmel today that inspired my blog post. I love talking to my kids also; my son has inspired many a blog post. I'm sure I could find something with my cat. Best source of inspiration? NPR snippets in the morning...they have been my source for many a post. I take a story and then apply it to PR or Marketing and voila.

KDillabough
KDillabough

Books: check. Going back in time: check. Two things I'm going to use to spark my creativity.

Oddest idea?...hasn't come to me yet.

Great ideas as always, Ken. Cheers! Kaarina

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

Marijean's suggestion of talking to kids was my favorite too. Since I am a big dog lover, I love your idea of talking to the dogs!!! I always turn to my babies when I'm sad. they definitely sense it and make me feel better. Now I'll see what they can do about blog inspiration. I'll keep you posted.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@MarthaGiffen I"m the same way, Martha. I drive my family nuts because everything I see is an idea. They can tell when I get that look in my eye. And the child idea belongs to @marijean . Or, you could talk to a husband. I'm told that we are a lot like children.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@SoloBizCoach Thanks, Fred. My RSS feed is also on my list, but a bit less "out of the way". Half the time I don't find the time to even get to read much of that, because I subscribe to so much!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@richmac@thesaleslion Yes, that's one of my top ones I tell businesses when they start blogging. Makes the task so much easier and more relevant.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@EricaAllison Those are great ideas, Erica. I've done a lot with comedy in the past, as well as movies. And sometimes the news whether it be NPR or elsewhere.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@KDillabough Thanks, Kaarina. Look forward to how your visit to the past works out for you!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Lisa Gerber Awesome!. And feel free to use some of that inspiration for a guest post for my blog here! And...part 3 of 4 is headed your way today!

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