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I’m very happy to present the next chapter of my blogging series. Today’s topic is very important, being able to find new article ideas is crucial for any blogging business because we function the same way as magazines do – people come back to us because of the content, of course there are other things, but let’s face it, without the content they wouldn’t come back. We need to have a never ending well of ideas to engage our readers, which is not an easy task, so how do we stay inspired?
Even when you start a new blog, it’s smart to write a list of 20-30 article ideas before you launch just to make sure you’ll have something to write about for at least the first month or two. Coming up with 20-30 ideas should be easy, but what about 100,200, or even 300? How do some of these writers seem to have an endless supply of things to write about?
Some of the things I will share in this chapter are ways that I have kept generating new ideas for both my writers and myself. It’s not hard to find new article ideas, I think the key here is passion – if you are genuinely interested in what you’re covering, you’ll always find time and inspiration to learn something more about it and will be able to come up with more ideas easily just by learning all the time.
Ok, that sounds good in theory, but what if you are still lacking new article ideas? Well continued reading and your brain will be overflowing with new ideas by the time you’re done, or at the very least you’ll have some really great ideas as to where you might find fresh topics to write about.
More than likely it’s part of your daily life anyway, but if it isn’t yet, I cannot stress enough how important it is. If you’re a designer,developer, freelancer and/or blogger you know how important it is to keep up with technology and that your profession requires ongoing education.
Setting some routines in life will help a lot – you don’t have to read much, but you should allow yourself 10-30 min for reading each morning. Reading other related sites will not only educate you, it will also help you to understand what other sites are writing about, what topics are currently trendy and what topics are starting conversations and making their way around the Twitterverse.
Since I’ve been making time to read daily I’ve never been short of article ideas! I don’t know how it works exactly, but reading what others have written inspires me think about new angles and ways to approach topics. Reading just helps to get you in the right mindset and when your thoughts are going wild, that’s when you get the best ideas!
Quick Tip: Always take notes while reading, these quick ideas which may seem unimportant at first will be invaluable in the future.
Don’t stop at reading similar sites and news – start reading books in the evenings and whenever you’re going out make sure you have some audio files with you – while your body works, your mind can learn (for example if you’re driving, taking the bus to work, working out). I always listen to interviews with successful entrepreneurs, bloggers, designers, marketers and that’s why I am always in a rush to do more because I am inspired to achieve more!
Even if what you’re reading, watching, or listening to doesn’t directly relate to your blog, you should always try to find a way to relate it to your business. Try to find similarities with your work everywhere around you! For example if your friend is succeeding in her manicure business, see what she’s doing that is making her successful and try and relate what you learn to your own business.
It’s hard to explain how it works, but you always need to be in search for new ideas and inspiration wherever you go – it’s not as hard and time consuming as it sounds! You don’t need to overdo the learning and reading process – 10-30 min each morning and evening will be more than enough, just make sure you make it part of your daily routine, eventually it will become natural and as normal as having your morning coffee.
If you don’t have valuable feeds about your niche you browse already, consider subscribing to the Smashing Network feed, currently there are 44 blogs in this network. These blogs are the best web design and development blogs around and if you keep an eye on them you’ll have a good idea how to stand out and what content works for the big blogs and thereby what might work for you as well. Good luck!
Guzzle constantly monitors hundreds of feeds. Each new article is carefully inspected and analysed. The language it has been written in is detected, and important keywords, places, companies and people’s name are extracted and indexed.
When you add a new topic on your page, Guzzle instantly searches this richly categorized set of data to get you the freshest, most accurate and spam-free results.
Guzzle is a topic based single page news aggregator, letting you input your own keywords or just pick topics Guzzle provides already. Once you do that, Guzzle instantly will provide you with a customized and personalized page created just for you! Great source for inspiration don’t you think?
If you’re lucky enough to own an iPad, there are 3 great applications that act as an internet news magazine, just pick your topics of interest and you’re all set for daily inspiration!
This is one of those tips that’s almost like a magic trick, I probably shouldn’t reveal it, but I want you to be successful so…here’s a blogger secret! Whenever people run into problems they search Google for the solution or try to find it in forums. Whenever there is a problem, if you can help solve it, why not explain how in a quality article! If, for example, a lot of people want to know how to get traffic to their site and you know a good solution, why not create a comprehensive article about it and even better – after you’ve written the article, share the link in the forum!
These two tips alone should be all you need to get enough article ideas forever! If daily reading doesn’t help, then forums, Question and Answer sites, well there’s always Twitter. Twitter is an eternal source for inspiration!
How do you find questions in Twitter? Easy! In the search box just type a question mark “?” and a topic you feel confident in. In Tweetdeck you can even filter your friends feed typing in ? to find all the questions your friends have asked before. Help to solve these problems and you’ll definitely get noticed and rewarded!
Some quick links to get you started:
If you really have a huge problem finding interesting new content, then consider setting up Google Alerts. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
Enter the topic you wish to monitor, then click preview to see the type of results you’ll receive. Some handy uses of Google Alerts include:
This tool can help you keep up to date with the hottest and most interesting news in your industry and can be a great source of inspiration and article ideas. While alerts may not always be accurate, this is a handy tool. Even if you never find enough time to read the news, you’ll always find time to check your email and short emails with news are always helpful! You can choose how often you receive these alerts too – weekly, daily or even several times per day.
Well, you got that article idea noted down somewhere, but are you really sure you know enough about the topic to write a great article? Are you sure you’re going to cover all the important points?
Usually the answer is no and that’s why it’s useful to do a little more and actually write your intro and key points explaining what exactly what you will cover in the article for your own clarification. Research and find related articles, websites you will want to include, videos. Often you’ll discover your one idea generates new ideas and can become an entire series of articles.
How do you stay organized? Well, usually I use Google Docs to quickly collect information and write it down, but there are several other handy tools to help you do that in a more interesting way.
Spaaze is an information management web application which tries to do things a little bit different. While most other applications try to bring structure to your data, Spaaze is more like real life. Everybody likes to sort things differently, has different aesthetic demands. Spaaze doesn’t force your thoughts into a specific structure, but lets you decide how to arrange and group them.
Spaaze is like an infinite desktop on the web. This application will come in handy when you start to collect different types of information – whether text, websites, screenshots, videos. And if you can organize this info in an easy way, you’ll become more productive! Visual reference is much more powerful than simple text and mystical links.
Spaaze also has a handy bookmarklet letting you bookmark articles to your cork board whenever you want while browsing the internet. And of course…as designer I enjoy the beautiful user interface, which makes browsing easy.
For a better idea of what Spaaze can do and how it might help you, check this intro video:
Skribit cures writer’s block by tapping your blog’s readership for post suggestions. They are the ones reading your blog, so it makes sense to ask them for ideas on what to write about next. Once you have received a few suggestions, your readers may also follow suggestions to make sure you know exactly what topics are popular with your readers and so they receive notifications when suggestions are updated.
I like the idea of readers suggesting ideas. If your audience is responsive this tool will help you to get more article ideas and actual content your readers really care about! There are WordPress, Blogger and Typepad plugins available or you can install this tool manually with a code snippet.
Check out their website to see the intro video there.
One more interesting approach – this is an actual blog helping you to get more article ideas! Each day you’ll find one question you can answer there. If you’re blogging about web design, rarely will the question be something you can use right away, however think creatively – is the question relevant to your niche? Can you find a way to relate it to your blog?
You’ll also find some more tactics, tips and inspiration to post something every day!
Plinky makes it easy for you to create inspired content. Every day Plinky provides a prompt (i.e. a question or challenge) and you answer. Plinky makes it simple to add rich media and share your answers on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
This site is, in a way, similar to DailyPost but it has a more centralized system to show other people answers, showcase them, you can also connect your Plinky account with your blog! This feature would work if your blog is, more or less, a personal blog, otherwise it would be best suited as another way to gain inspiration.
Want to know what’s trending on Twitter right now? There are several social real-time search engines to pick from, choose your favorite and stick with it! If you would know what others are talking about and what they are sharing, you can write about real trendy topics.
TweetMeme is a service which aggregates all the popular links on Twitter to determine which links are the most popular. TweetMeme categorises these links into Categories, Subcategories and Channels, making it easy to filter out the noise to find what you’re interested in. You can also subscribe to any category you want to follow.
TweetTabs is a way of viewing the latest tweets of upcoming Twitter trends or searches. Use the search box to easily search Twitter for tweets, TweetTabs will automatically update each tab with new content when it comes in.
Put your keyword in search and see what the search returns and maybe you’ll get lucky and get some interesting ideas.
Sency is real-time search engine for social media, here are some tips how to use Sency.
To use Sency, simply enter whatever you want in the search box, hit the button, and you’ll get real-time results powered by real people. The first tab allows you to search what people are talking about at that moment. The second tab, to the right, allows you to search today’s most shared links in real-time. On the Sency home page, They have highlighted topics which may be of interest to you. You can look at what’s going on right now, and see the hot topics of the moment. You can also see the most popular topics over the past day via the what’s going on lately box.
Well, once you’ve got your idea it’s also smart to do your research, not just about similar content, but try to understand the demand for, and how many search queries have been made for information relating to a particular topic! Remember earlier when I said research, research, research? You didn’t actually think I’d cover it all in a couple of paragraphs did you? This isn’t an article that will attempt to explain how to use these tools, but you should be familiar with Google Adwords and Yahoo! Site Explorer, and if you’re not, I suggest you take some time and become familiar with them. They’ll help you write timely articles that get a lot of hits and keep your readers coming back. Put them to good use if you want to be better prepared and know how competitive a particular keyword is and how big a chance there is for you to get ranked well in search engines. Good luck!
I hope you’ll never run into the problem of not having enough article ideas again! Let me know if there are some different ways that you find inspiration!
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Dainis Graveris is 23 years old blogger and designer, founder of 1stWebDesigner, now more silently managing everything behind the scenes. He usually hangs out in Twitter tweeting design related links and chatting with people. If you have any questions or feedback that's the best place to start! Cheers!
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