You’ve got Google Documents open on your desktop, a cup of coffee in hand and your favourite background music playing. It’s time to create. Your fingers lay on the keyboard, but nothing comes to mind. A few words get typed and deleted immediately, as the room fills with the sound of crickets. I can almost hear your brain flat-lining from here.
Creating successful content requires creativity and inspiration. The problem is sometimes the juices aren’t flowing, and we’re stuck in neutral.
We tend to look at writing and content creation as an art that requires ingenuity at every step. Being unique is important, but building a basis and using concepts from existing channels push us in the right direction. Don’t worry about reinventing the wheel, understanding its principles is all you need.
I’ll be exploring the different avenues for content inspiration that will help you come up with new content ideas. Depending on your field, some may seem more applicable than others. I suggest going through each, as creativity often comes from combining more than one abstract idea.
Blueprints for the wheel are everywhere; you need to know where to look.
Here’s what we’ll cover, listed below.
11 Sources For New Content Ideas
Stuck on start? Use these helpful sources to fire up
- Industry and sector competition
- Trending topics
- Social Media
- Mind mapping
- Repurpose content
- The 6 Thinking Hats
- Books to trigger ideas
- Dig inside your subconscious
- Take a look at your life
1. Industry and sector competition
It’s said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Here we don’t want to imitate, but build off what’s already proven to work. Take a look at the content and projects your competition has made. Using analytics, you can see which performed well and others that need some fine-tuning.
Keeping up to date in a dense sector is a tough task; make your life easier by subscribing to weekly mailing lists. Another great option is Flipboard. Flipboard provides a “feed” style display for websites and blogs of your choice.
Once you have a solid foundation of who provides excellent contact, weed out the rest. Voila, you’ve got the other teams doing the work for you!
2. Trending topics
Every day there are a million new topics with countless hot takes. Twitter, Facebook, news sources, are littered with what’s trending. They provide optimal resources to build content around. Not only is the content fresh, but it’s also highly searched.
You may not be into the clickbait business, but whatever you fancy, there’s something relevant happening daily. Staying up to date with the happenings of the world keeps the content ideas swirling and your fingers typing.
3. Social media
Social media builds on the idea of trending topics but is much more diverse. They’re swelling with past trending topics, creative insights, art, and anything else you can think of. While the big 3, come first to mind (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), numerous social media platforms need recognition.
Here are a few social media platforms that provide unlimited resources for inspiration.
Posts offer an excellent opportunity for research, but there’s also gold in the comments. See what people are talking about. The conversations between users provide more in-depth insight into subjects, and might even be more relevant.
This list pales in comparison to the volume of social media swirling around. To further curate your feeds, create an account that’s used only for inspiration. Like and follow pages that suit your needs and let the algorithms work their magic.
4. Mind mapping
Tools like MindMup make the brainstorming and mind mapping process easier.
When creating content, there’s a tendency to focus on quality over content. I don’t mean to produce poor quality content, but to focus on the number of ideas generated to find your topic.
Brainstorming is easy and done solo or in a collaborative fashion.
Using a mind map gets the neurons firing. Apps like MindMup have made it all the more easy to follow, but it’s also possible to use a Google document or plain old paper.
Start by writing a very general theme. If your goal is to write about auto manufacturing, use “car” as your starting point. From there, find 4-12 sub-topics that explain the theme. For a car, you can use manufactures, history, models, styles and so on. From there, break it down even further.
An up and coming platform is Quora. I like to look at it as if Google and Facebook had an offspring. Quora allows users to ask and answer questions to the masses.
You can also create accounts to follow people and earn credentials as a reputable source. Odds are if you ever have a question, somebody’s already asked. And more often than not, a quora user has stepped up to the plate to answer it.
If you’re feeling stuck on a project, look for or ask a question. Listen to what real users want to see from you, your company or your profession. The best content relates directly to the viewers, so why not hear what they have to say?
We live in a world driven by analytics. It commands and conquers the internet marketing world in a way that’s ever-evolving.
Billions of dollars are poured annually to gather analytics that provides insight into a customer base. Capitalizing on their spending and dishing out a couple of dollars yourself keeps your ear to the pavement. It helps you build content curated around what others want.
7. Repurpose content
Why redo the content that’s already published, you ask? Well, it’s simple.
Analytics show you which articles and posts performed the best. Not only can you see if an article played well, but you can see what tanked. If an article flopped, giving it a makeover might just do it a world of good. Not only have your skills (hopefully) increased since first writing it, you probably understand more about the genre.
Once you repurpose your old content, you should try to do so by making the content as timeless as possible. That means no specific date stamps (i.e 2017’s Best Blogs), reliance on trending news events or topics that will become irrelevant in a year. What we’re talking about here is called evergreen content. You can read the full guide on that here.
In addition, if your article is using rich keywords but not performing well, it’s essential to make the best article possible with by performing keyword research again. Analytics run the world, and SEO is an integral part.
8. The 6 Thinking Hats Technique
The 6 thinking hats is a technique by Edward De Bono. It takes mind mapping one step further by using pre-existing filters.
The categories are as follows.
- White Hat – Facts
- Yellow Hat – Positivity
- Black Hat – Judgement
- Red Hat – Feelings
- Green Hat – Creativity
- Blue Hat – Analysis
Using this model creates a detailed landscape of any topic.
Whichever method you use, make sure not to get too caught up in being strict. Write down whatever comes to mind and let the snowball effect take over.
9. Books to trigger ideas
Books are one of my personal favourites, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. Books are a never ending resource for inspiration. There’s a book that’s written about anything and everything.
You can always pick up a book that’s relatable to your topic, skimming through and finding useful information. But, I like to use an abstract method.
Whenever we’re stuck with a content brain fart, we might need to look at it from another angle. What helps is an abstract point of view that is unrelated.
Pick up a playful and creative fiction book. Start reading from any random page without the intent of finding any inspiration. I prefer something of the Alice in Wonderland nature – strange and wonderful.
The stream of unrelated information always gets the subconscious swirling, creating new and exciting ideas.
Speaking of the subconscious, the next source for inspiration is located right there.
10. Dig inside your subconscious
Why look outwards when you have what you need inside? Overthinking leads to running the same situations over and over again. I want to let an old Zen master explain how our minds are similar to a teacup.
“Once upon a time, there was a wise Zen master. People travelled from far away to seek his help. In return, he would teach them and show them the way to enlightenment.
On this particular day, a scholar came to visit the master for advice. “I have come to ask you to teach me about Zen,” the scholar said.
Soon, it became obvious that the scholar was full of his own opinions and knowledge. He interrupted the master repeatedly with his own stories and failed to listen to what the master had to say. The master calmly suggested that they should have tea.
So the master poured his guest a cup. The cup was filled, yet he kept pouring until the cup overflowed onto the table, onto the floor and finally onto the scholar’s robes. The scholar cried “Stop! The cup is full already. Can’t you see?”
“Exactly,” the Zen master replied with a smile. “You are like this cup — so full of ideas that nothing more will fit in. Come back to me with an empty cup.”
11. Take a look at your life
At times we like to believe our life doesn’t offer much creativity. But my life is boring; I have nothing to write on. Lies I tell you! There are lessons and inspiration in the most mundane of events and sequences. Picking them is the tricky part.
If you keep a journal, read the last few entries. Try to elaborate on the events that transpired and see if anything clicks. If you don’t, then it’s alright, you can start by writing what’s happened in the last 24 hours. Be as specific as possible.
Don’t write, “I went to the grocery store,” but instead offer insight to what you purchased. Also, why did you make a purchase, how did it make you feel and what are you planning on using it for?
Another great way to find inspiration is to think back to an important moment in your life and breakdown how it affected you.
What about it was strong enough to move you until now? What lessons did you learn that it stuck?
We build creativity by examining and reliving emotional experiences.
Key Takeaways: Inspiration New Content Ideas Are Everywhere
Inspiration isn’t cut and dry. Although I won’t lie, it does help to have a list of reliable resources to fall back onto when nothing comes to mind. The creative process is an interesting one that’s not an A to B journey. It requires us to zig-zag, run around in circles, and duck and dive to keep ideas streaming.
Sometimes we search but it’s nowhere to be found. You might find these key takeaways useful to trigger that bit of creativity.
- Every twist or turn you take, there’s inspiration knocking at the door. Opening up to this principle puts an endless amount of content in the palm of your hands.
- Finding what works best for you is key. It will be different than what my colleagues or I use, and for the best! It populates the world with fresh ideas.
- Immerse yourself in daily trends and social media. You’ll always have new content ideas.
- Review your competitors content strategies. What works for them will more than likely work for you.
- Using analytics gives you the upperhand for content inspiration. Release content based on search history
We’d love to hear from you and what your tricks are. Do you have a particular routine, or simply a creative space? It doesn’t matter, as long as it gets the job done. Good luck and keep creating.