Finding Blog Content Topics

September 4, 2012

It’s been asked of me at every conference, Tweetup, Meetup and social gathering I attend. “Where do you get ideas for blog posts and articles?”

My mind isn’t an abstract mass of grey matter that comes up with brilliance non-stop. It need some jumping off points. And you can train your mind to do that too. So, where do the ideas come from?


The answer isn’t simple and it isn’t a one-size-fits-all one either. For each writer, the sources of inspiration are different because they can be moved by different events, thoughts and images. In fact, Allison (a blogger for BlogWorld/New Media Expo – among other places) just posted this piece that made me think up my answer to the question.

Here’s an excerpt…

I already posted this short list of the places I find inspiration most often – from current events, stories/parables, and kids/pets. But some days, those techniques just don’t work. So let’s dig even deeper and find more places to help get inspired to write. Here are the places I look for inspiration when I don’t know what to write about (and if you need even more ideas, check out this list of Brilliant Bloggers talking about finding post ideas):

1. Other Bloggers

When is the last time you took a day to catch up on your reading? When’s the last time you actively searched for new blogs to read instead of relying on your old favorites? What’s the last time you wrote a reactionary piece to something someone else wrote?

The list goes on to cover things like searches, analytics, YouTube, Twitter and even Pinterest. But I think the answer is even more expansive than Allison’s 12 Places list. I say you can find inspiration for a blog post or column or article anywhere. Content lives all around us. So, let me do a live, never-rehearsed experiment right now for you. I’m going to look around the room and come up with five topics in the next five minutes.

There’s a brass duck on my desk. I have no idea of its history, but it might make a good article topic or a column on why we feel a need to hold down paper with ornate weights.

Board games sit dusty in the shelves by the office entertainment center. While I’m not a psychologist, I keep some games on hand to stretch the mind. A cool article would be the introspection of how much we nest and how being in comfortable and low-stress environments with others (unless you’re playing Monopoly) can benefit your mood and creativity.

Speaking of mood, it’s raining outside. The recurring topic I get from that is how bitter and angry I get at the world when rain falls from the sky. No idea why, but it happens. I have no issue with bitter cold, darkness, snow, hail or other weather. Just rain. Has the rain short-circuited my mood wiring?

Is the age of the receipt fading? The pile of receipts I collect each day (and I’m a spender) grows all the time…but I don’t really do anything with them. I do my taxes by reading my checkbook entries and my credit card statements. Is it really that important to get these little slips of slippery paper that fade in days to unreadable markers of our path through life?

Food conventions are silly, but people adhere to them like a religion. Outside of brunch, you’d get slapped upside the head if you had cereal for dinner (as kids are allowed to do) or Hamburger Helper for breakfast (as you might find happening in colleges all over the world). How did we get so locked into these beliefs? Is it an American thing — some other countries make lunch the biggest meal of the day?

AND there you have it. Five quick thoughts that took about five minutes to develop. I can hash these out further and I’ll have five new posts. I think you can do the same if you’re observant and curious about the things, people and events around you. Allison has a point that it helps to look at different inspirational sources. I agree with her – and contend these sources are all within arm’s length.

Where do you get your ideas?