Where do you find inspiration for your content?
As editor and the most prolific writer for ITK Magazine, having penned more than 200 articles for the site over the last year, I will admit that my ideas for content can sometimes dry up. There’s only so many times I can talk about the impact of Covid or the fallout of Brexit, or how the world is faring for the average small business owner.
If you look at my profile on the ‘ITK Contributors’ page, you’ll see that I cover lots of different subjects, so I obviously manage! There are lots of places in which you can gather inspiration, you just need to attune your eyes and ears.
Here are my go-to methods for content ideas…
Forums and social media
Everyone spends time on the social media platform(s) of their choice, and these can provide a hotbed of content ideas.
A connection may be having a rant about something, which could provide the basis for a debate-style article…even a simple quote or meme could be the foundation of a piece.
I visit conversational forums such as Mumsnet and Reddit for escapism and entertainment purposes, predominantly, but these often throw up a scenario or question that I can use in an article. I’m not the only one—mainstream media journalists scour forums regularly for content ideas.
I may write a personal post every now and again, which only needs my memory rather than research to pan it out. ITK Magazine isn’t my memoir, of course, but something may happen in the news that reminds me of a lived experience that feels appropriate to share.
Because I keep these posts to a minimum, they stand out against the other types of articles I write for the site, and they tend to do well, according to the analytics. This is because a personal story is relatable and evocative, compared with numerous ‘how to’ or informative pieces.
Piggy-backing on the news
When I’m really stuck, I take inspiration from Google (shoot me). Because ITK Magazine is mostly aimed at entrepreneurs and SME owners, I type ‘business news’ into the search engine, click ‘news’ and filter down the results to UK-centric articles that have recently been posted.
I don’t just choose the first one I come across; I often sift through page after page before finding the right idea. This can be an unusual angle about a hot topic, or something few people may be aware of that I could bring to light. It’s also got to be something I haven’t written about for a while/before…because there’s nothing more guaranteed to turn your audience off than banging on about the same thing over and over again.
If you’re a seasoned writer, you’ll know that inspiration can strike you when you’re not looking for it. So many times, I’ve had/heard a conversation and it’s triggered an idea for an article. I may be carrying out research for another project/job, but stumble across a content idea for ITK; in those instances, I save/bookmark the webpage or I’ll email myself a prompt, ready for when I’m next writing for the magazine. I have to forward/record the prompt as it appears, or it would flee from my brain the moment I blink.
Human life and interaction with others are the biggest and richest sources of content ideas—but only if you’re tuned in to listen for them or you’re curious enough to spot them as they happen. I can sometimes be in a world of my own when immersed in a project and I find content ideas don’t pop up when I’m this focused; however, when I’m mentally idling, my mind seems to open itself up to suggestions from every angle.
The harder you think about ideas, the less they’ll come to you. Prompts help, but they don’t just make themselves known during working hours. This is the reason authors keep notebooks by their bed or in their bag, as they too know that inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t matter if you write about astrophysics or sewage control, you can still find insight and influence all around you.
Read content by others
Another way to furnish yourself with ideas is to see what other people think of a topic. This doesn’t mean ripping off someone else’s article/information (plagiarism is a definite no-no if you’re a content writer), but you can use it for inspiration.
It’s unlikely you’ll be the first person to have ever written about a particular subject, so it’s unavoidable that you’ll feature a topic that’s been covered before…BUT you should have your own opinion or angle on it. It’s not just unethical and something you could be sued for, to steal someone’s words, it’s also really boring for readers to digest copied or heavily recycled content. By all means, quote statistics or even repeat a phrase from someone’s content on the net if it supports your explanation/argument, but always remember to cite your source and link back to the original article wherever possible.
Not every article you write will be an instant hit with hundreds or thousands of readers, but each piece you produce will potentially have its own niche readership. The real struggle is getting your content to its audience…but that’s another story.
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