"Now whenever I’m reading something, watching a video, listening to a podcast, or attending a presentation, I have one eye and ear on the content itself (presumably I’m there to learn from it), and the other eye and ear watching and listening for content ideas."
Source: Search Engine Journal
Now that I've been writing for every day for a month, I want you to take up a writing challenge in 2018. I think people want to create more content! But they always seem at a loss for content ideas.
Here's the good news: content ideas are all around you. You just need to put on your "content glasses" to see them. Let me explain.
1. Become a human venn diagram. Pretend your the circle on the left and everything you read, do and experience is the circle on the right. Your goal should be to always be looking for the intersection of these two circles and things you could write about.
For example, on Christmas Day I wrote a post that talked about Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. What does the story of Ebenezer Scrooge have to do with cause marketing? On the surface, nothing. But since I read the story and watch every movie and audio version of the book in December, the story is always in front of me and I'm always thinking what the book and cause marketing share. One day, I realized that like Scrooge, marketers and fundraisers have to live in the past, present and future. That became the hook for my post!
A great example of the venn diagram strategy at work is on the Spin Sucks blog: 36 Animals with a Better Social Media Strategy Than You. Blogger Laura Petrolino, who works in digital strategy, is no doubt a fan of several key animal influencers online and came up with a nice post that combines her field with an interest that teaches readers a powerful lesson. I mean, it's kind of sad when Rhea the Naked Bird has nearly 150,000 followers on Facebook, and, well, we don't.
Never stop looking for these intersections and you'll never run out of content ideas! Learn from Laura and Rhea!
2. Listen to what people are asking you. We all get questions every day. I know I do. Several of the posts I've written over this past month addressed people's questions.
How did you come up with the name Selfish Giving?
How do you keep track of all the content you consume every day?
What good books have you read this year?
Whenever you get a question from someone, write it down. Online I use Simplenote and Trello to keep track of questions. But I also carry a small Moleskine notebook and pen in my coat pocket. I bet you get just as many questions as I do. But I keep track of questions since they are content gold!
3. Read. Read. Read. I have an acronym for this: PDR (i.e. people don't read). They either don't read enough (or at all!) or they don't spend enough time thinking about what they are reading and its relation to their work.
Writing without reading just doesn't work. As Stephen King, the master of horror, has said: “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
I always have my head stuck in a book. Just ask my wife. If I don't have a physical book with me I have my phone. I always have a new book on my Kindle. Or I can read from one of the articles I saved to Pocket. Or I can listen to one of the books I downloaded from Audible.
In short, I never give myself an excuse NOT to be reading something. But I also read actively. I'm also thinking of where the overlap is between me and what I'm reading and doing. These turn into the insights and posts I share with you. 😀
Do you have your own strategies for finding things to write about? I'd love to hear them!