The advice that helped you get across the street as a kid can help you populate your blog. In my class today, we are talking about coming up with ideas for reader-friendly content, and for a lot of people, that is the hardest thing about writing.
I’ve written already about the types of content you produce, the things your audience needs to know and the things your audience wants to know and I’ll be talking today about using variations on a topic to come up with ideas.
Another technique you can try is bringing ideas across media. Here’s how it works:
Stop. Use your reading habit to find ideas in a lot of places. You know you can use an .rss reader to keep up with writing in your area of interest. But do more. What are popular podcasts in your area? Do your YouTube subscriptions bring in new ideas? Keep a list handy in the cloud so you can add to it when deliberately searching and on the go.
Look. Train yourself to attend to serendipity. You are surrounded by content pretty much all the time. Look intentionally at billboards, that TV channel that they plan in the grocery store, the back cover of the magazine that lady is reading on the bus. Snapping photos of things you want to remember and pinning them on a private Pinterest board is a good way to remember this kind of information.
Listen. There’s content that you are interested in, and there is content other people are interested in, too. People talk about media frequently, it is worth it to pay attention to the things they say, both for topics and smaller pieces of information that are interesting. For example, the Superbowl featured a bunch of new ads, like usual, and people have favorites. When they talk about the ones they like, ask questions – what did you like about it? Who was your favorite character? What surprised you? This can give you ideas for both topics and approaches in your own work.
Tomorrow is idea workshop day in my class. It’s a simple premise: taking a general topic, you can come up with lots of different story ideas by considering how you’d present it in different genres. For example, let’s say your product is shoes. Basic, boring shoes. What kinds of stories can we tell about shoes?
Round up – Mistakes people make in fitting shoes
Historical – What’s the origin of the athletic shoe? How did they get the popular feature you are selling?
Inspirational – “When I put on my shoes, I’m ready to dance. My shoes bring out my inner wild man.”
Humor – How many shoes X has ( a senior citizen who has them going back to 1964; a child who has dress shoes, sneakers, cleats, etc. etc.)
Essay – First person on why the right shoes make the outfit.
Exposé – If your shoes worker friendly, what are the conditions for shoes that are not?
Service article – What kind of shoes for what kind of activity?
Profile – Our tough river sandal, the outdoorsman’s best friend.
How to – How to break in your new shoes.
Presentation on the characteristics of different types of articles.