Bloggers block can keep you from consistently creating, so here’s how to stockpile inspiration so you never get stuck for blog posts again.
I’m possibly a little unusual in that I love reading. I will literally read everything – from cereal boxes to app update notifications, every bit of writing fascinates me.
Even if you don’t have the same appetite for reading as me, I genuinely believe the more you read the easier you’ll find it to generate ideas for your own content.
Keep a title file
As well as reading voraciously, read consciously. Notice what you want to read and use it to spark content ideas. Feedly is a great tool for this. Subscribe to blogs that interest you (ideally across a wide cross section of topics) and save every title that you’ll compelled to read on in a “titles” folder.
Next time you’re stuck for ideas or titles you can come back to your list of compelling headlines.
Look outside your bubble
We all live in somewhat of an online bubble. Part of the reason Brexit was a such a shock for me (and many others) was that we didn’t realise the extent of our social media echo chamber – everyone we knew had similar views, so all seemed ok.
It’s the same to some extent with content. If you only look at blogs that are similar to yours, you’ll all end up creating the same things. Combat this by making an effort to look outside the content you usually see. Look at content created in different industries, niches, formats and cultures. Don’t just look at other blogs – read magazines and books, and check out slideshare presentations. Everything can ignite new ideas.
Another good tip (from Sara Tasker) is to check out content from other countries to find fresh inspiration.
Create a content “moodboard”
Just like you would create a moodboard if you were a designer, you can create a file of content inspiration to draw on for your blog. I use Evernote for this so I can easily save the ones I like from across the web.
Pinterest is another good place for this, lots of blog posts are shared on Pinterest, making it easy to create a board of inspiration to refer to.
Get away from the computer
My best content ideas always seem to arrive at the end of a workout or on a walk, so I’ve made a folder in Evernote to record my ideas where ever I am. Every half-baked idea for a blog I write in there so I can come back to it when I’m planning my next round of posts. Others prefer Trello, or just iPhone notes. Whatever can be quickly opened and updated on your phone.
A note on copying vs. inspiration
Plenty of blog posts I’ve written (normally ones for employers or clients) have been copied. Sometimes it’s blatant – pretty much word for word. Other times it’s not so blatant but it’s still super obvious to me. For example they’ll shift the topic slightly but keep the format. Or they’ll keep in a reference that was from my own experience (which is always kind of funny).
I can understand why people do this. Copying can seem like a handy shortcut to success. But although it can seem tempting, doing it this way is probably not going to get the results you’re hoping for. Inspiration is great – and essential, but outright copying benefits no one.
I love this poster from Austin Kleon (more great stuff from him here) – especially the point that you should steal from many, not from one. Drawing inspiration from lots of sources is part of the creative process, copying one person or business is not.