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Guest post by Josh Haynam
It’s one thing to come up with good content ideas, but sometimes you need to rely on outside sources to find inspiration for another post. Don’t worry about not having a topic on the tip of your tongue; there are ‘wells’ of great concepts that never dry up and your small business blog visitors will thank you for them!
- Reading books - (Hacker news and TechCrunch don’t count): 8-time billionaire Richard Branson is famous for being caught with a book open, and he’s not ashamed. In fact, he attributes much of his creativity to the ideas that are found in books. Complex plots, character development, and triumph are all story elements that make great articles.
- Attending events - talk with real people in person, not on the internet. Whenever you put a bunch of people from one profession into a confined space, interesting things are sure to happen. Conversation and controversial events spark creativity, and creativity is where great ideas are born.
- Watch movies - let someone else spend millions of dollars to come up with a story. Movies often have great concepts mixed into them that can be spun into marketing and business advice. Also, watching a movie can be mindless (at least that’s what your mom always said) and will allow you to relax and clear your mind, which can help idea generation later. A great example of marketing in movies is the recent Anchorman 2 phenomena, which Forbes outlines here.
- Play games - they are a lesson in strategy. Sports, and even board games, are strategic battles won by mental strength. Playing games stimulates the mind and will stretch your creativity beyond what you are able to muster staring at a screen all day. Also, activity releases dopamine in your body, which gives you more energy to get through that long article.
- Talk to a customer - on the phone or face-to-face, no emailing. Every customer has a story behind why they sbecame a customer of your small business. Each one is unique and likely far more interesting than you’d imagine. Turn that story into an article (with their permission). Kissmetrics uses customer stories to create some of the most compelling email marketing I’ve ever seen, like this one.
- Tell a stranger what you do - they will ask questions that can lead to great posts. Explaining what you do to a complete stranger who doesn’t understand your industry will spark questions and ideas that don’t arise within the bubble of your industry. Take those off-the-wall questions and turn them into articles.
- Study a company - what did they do right? Pick a company you admire and figure out what ‘clicked’ for them. For a bonus, reach out to someone at the company and interview them. Growthhackers has a lot of case studies to get started.
- Change your surroundings - One of the least creative places in all the world is a desk next to a bunch of other desks in an office building in a crowded city. Move around- it doesn’t have to be for long- but get out to shift your perspective and spark some new ideas.
- Get uncomfortable - the best ideas are just beyond your comfort zone. One of the strongest feelings we have is being uncomfortable. The sweating, squirmy moments are enough to make the fear of public speaking stronger than the fear of death for 50% of Americans. However, being out of your comfort zone causes creativity to flourish and new ideas to surface.
- Push the limits - go ahead, write 50 headline ideas — go crazy! If you’re brainstorming and want ten new ideas, write 50 down. The explosive site Upworthy is famous for requiring 25 headlines per published article, and it’s working for them. The weirdest, most bizarre, best ideas come at the edge of your knowledge.
I get it; coming up with new and witty articles every day is a tough task, so next time you’re stuck, try one of these ten ways to get inspired. Have an idea to add? Please share with us in the comments!
Josh Haynam loves making the internet more fun, that’s why he started Interact, a place for creating lead capture quizzes that are enjoyable for everyone. Learning is Josh’s jam so feel free to tweet at him