Lately I’ve been working a lot on my idea generation skills as one thing I struggled with a lot when I first started blogging, (gosh, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year) and still do today, is coming up with interesting ideas for original content besides reviews and I’d be willing to bet most bloggers, new and old, experience this too.
After a lot of trial and error, I found it was just a matter of subjecting myself to the right kind of inspiration for my blog posts. When I was actively trying to come up with ideas I almost always drew a blank and it was really frustrating, but then something interesting (and relieving) happened.
The longer I had my blog the more I noticed myself drawing inspiration from the things around me for new content ideas without meaning to. Whenever this happened I’d frantically run to find a notepad or open a memo on my phone to record it lest it slips away to someone more appreciative. Nowadays, I’m a bit more organised and have a 4-page word document filled with content ideas I actively procrastinate from actually writing.
Statistically speaking (and corroborated by every productivity and entrepreneurial guru out there), the bulk of these ideas will be okay to not very good (but never bad, all ideas have some potential) but a portion of them (one would hope) will be good and have great potential to become really interesting posts if a certain blogger would pull out her finger and actually try her hand at writing them.
Instead of doing that, I’m actually going to let you in on some of my most trusted sources of inspiration for these ideas in the hope you might get some amazing ones and I can read your awesome posts instead of writing my own.
I’ll warn you now, almost all of my inspiration actually comes from just reading other people’s content. Wait now, before you get out your Plagiarism Pitchforks, I think it’s important to remember inspiration is defined as ‘the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative’ (Google, 2018). Reading other people’s content is a great place to start this process because no two people will read or watch the same piece of content and have the same feelings or thoughts in reaction to it.
Half of the time a post inspired by another bears no resemblance to the catalyst post, and if it does it will still offer a unique take but it’s very simple to avoid any conflict and credit the original post in either instance.
The other reason this works well is that usually, you are enjoying this content recreationally. The part of your brain that does the heavy lifting when coming up with blog post ideas can relax and work in the background while the rest of your brain is having a whale of a time digesting some great content. That is what we in the business call a win-win situation.
So, what are these sources you’re asking, now I’ve prattled on needlessly for 500 words? I’m so glad you asked.
5. Other Blogs
Well, duh, I know. In all honesty, this one seemed so obvious I wasn’t sure whether or not to include it but in the end, I felt it really deserved its place here.
Most bloggers take inspiration from each other without properly recognising that’s what they’re doing. If you partake in the Top Ten Tuesday tag run my Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl – or any other tag for that matter – the prompts in that qualify as inspiration. One of Jana’s prompts earlier this year was simply ‘freebie’ but due to the list prompts from the previous weeks I had already generated a few ideas of what might make good prompts and it generated one of my all-time favourite posts on this blog.
One great blog I’ve found for this is Avalinah’s Books but it could work for any blog written in a similar style. Evelina (the voice behind the blog) writes many posts that include reflections of her own thoughts and feelings about books and blogging in general as well as other things. Readers can actually see ideas unfolding in every post and it’s actually brilliant at encouraging your mind to start in the same place but maybe follow a different path of thought and stumble on its own ideas. Even if you turn up nothing at the time, a post that follows that pattern might resurface at a later date and trigger something new.
4. My Own Google Searches
So this may sound counter-intuitive since, if you’re googling the answer yourself, it’s safe to assume you don’t have it but, if you’re finding yourself searching the same things over and over and not getting any decent results, consider yourself your own target market and that’s a gap that needs filling.
Even better, if you find yourself searching a lot around a subject you’ll likely feel like you’ve read every article, good or bad, out there and be a kind of expert on the matter. Use that knowledge to write a one-stop post for the lot and share your knowledge.
For instance, I recently found myself googling gift ideas for specific types of people and found little help, as a result I have started carrying out my own research to write a post that will fill that need. However, beware straying away from your blog’s theme; for example, I read a lot around revision techniques and distance learning toward the start of my last course and actually wrote a few posts consolidating that knowledge. Only two got published before I realised they did fit the message and brand I was going for with my blog but it was great to get them onto a page.
Podcasts are really an untapped ore of creative genius, I’ll tell you. They are most certainly becoming more popular now, but for the most part, are largely overlooked by a lot of content creators. When I find myself getting tired of the same old playlists, again and again, I head on over to the podcast section of Spotify to try something new.
By far my favourite is Geek History Lesson Podcast which, whilst still being very specific to my interests, is varied in format (which is a form of inspiration all on its own) and introduces new concepts and characters to explore and get inspiration from. Plus, Ashley V Robinson’s vocabulary and manner of speaking have informed some writing habits of mine because they are awesome.
A few others aside from GHL I have recently discovered are Potterless, The School of Greatness, Tiny Leaps, Big Changes, The Guilty Feminist and Major Spoilers. There is also a great list of Bookish Podcasts by Bookish Inspiration here.
I discovered this little gem through Medium, and online reading and writing platform I haven’t quite fallen in love with yet, but definitely see the potential in. Medium is a place writers both successful and aspiring meet to share and publish their content. The free tier of membership only allows 3 articles to be viewed a month, I usually blow through these pretty quickly but haven’t gone so far as to upgrade to a $5 a month membership yet, but I am considering it.
It’s worth following them on Twitter to see what they’re up to as all of their articles are written by actual writers who can give an enormous amount of insight and knowledge on writing technique and process. By just reading about those basic necessities to a blogger I’ve found it stimulates ideas for blog posts simply by not thinking about anything other than the writing perspective.
These insights into writing technique can also massively change your perception when reading books and articles alike and help you refine existing ideas into more readable content.
This is by far my new favourite platform for articles and news in general. Flipboard is an amazing personalisable news feed where you can curate your own magazines of content. Very similar to Pinterest, except it is definitely geared more toward actual content than visuals. When you set up your account you select your interests to add to your home tabs and each tab collects content under that category. Blogs (AKA, you) can also apply to be a publisher on there and add their own RSS feeds to the mix alongside huge news platforms, websites and journals.
My tabs are: Book Reviews, Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Literature, Audiobooks, Writing, Book Publishing & Blogging. I think this is great because trying to find relevant inspiration in the news and contemporary events without a filter is hard; Flipboard does all this work for me and shows my thing relevant to my interests and my blog’s content that might inspire me.
Though I have started to curate magazines on Flipboard itself, I also pin my finds here and on other platforms, like Medium, on my Blog Post Inspiration Pinterest Board which you are more than welcome to check out. One post I can think of immediately that came from this source of inspiration is my 5 Iconic Characters I’d Love To See Racebent post which came from this article about a certain Spider-Man.
That’s it! An unsung hero in this post would be comments from my readers on my blog also. If you think about your blog as a service (which it is) and the readers as your customers (which they are), if they comment on or identify something they would like to know or see – do it (within reason, of course). For instance a while back a lot of my readers were commenting they didn’t really like Edelweiss for reasons unknown, a feeling I related to because, before I had used it a lot, I didn’t like it either. In response I wrote this post identifying the main lessons and revelations that lead to me being endeared to Edelweiss as a platform and – check the comments – it actually helped people! (Personal goals!)
So, there you have my Top 5 Sources of Blog Post Inspiration (plus 1 Freebie!) – I hope these help you out and inspire some awesome content – let me know if they do! What are some of your main sources of inspiration?
Until next time!