How to find ideas for your online content

Ideas for blogsWhat could be better than having free rein over what to write about in your online content – it sounds like the perfect situation, doesn’t it?

Well, it depends. With that privilege comes the responsibility of developing the ideas. Whether writing for a client or yourself, ideas are the hooks upon which to hang your content.

But this can be more difficult than the writing itself, if you have little or no guidance to work from. Whatever the online content you are crafting, the ‘freedom to create’ can be paralysing. So when faced with the proverbial blank page, where do you start?

Well, you may have read my previous blog post about “15 ways to beat content writer’s block”. One of the ideas (No. 11 – “Read how someone else has written and structured a similar article”) holds a clue. Sometimes, it’s more useful to ask ‘Where to get ideas?’

You see, no-one said they have to be your ideas. You don’t need an original idea as such, because you can borrow from someone else.

This sounds like cheating and stealing, but it’s not. It’s unlikely there is any content idea out there that hasn’t already been thought up and used before. You only have to type your idea into Google to see that someone else, somewhere in the world, has already done it. A million other people may also have used that idea since, in many forms. So why not you?

I admit it’s potentially crushing to one’s sense of individuality to think that you’ve never had an original idea, and probably never will have. But put such negative thoughts to one side. For the pragmatists out there, here is an opportunity. Save yourself some time and bother, and borrow with pride.

This blog post itself was inspired from something I read by someone else, and by quite a few people since. But that doesn’t mean it’s not therefore a great idea. It’s not original but it is important, and that’s why so many people have revisited this subject. After reading this post, you might also decide to use the core idea in your own post.

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating plagiarism. I’m talking about taking the seed of an idea and reusing it by applying your own experience. By drawing on your own experience, you give the content your own personal and unique voice, and make it your own.

But you have to be careful here and not get stuck on the search for inspiration either – or you can equally end up wasting a lot of time.

I was out at the weekend searching for a good café. I walked past a couple of them before I settled on a third one. I could have kept walking and found one that was even better, and to be fair there were lots of them. But why bother? Why stick it out looking for the perfect idea when you have already found one, and could be spending the time more wisely, and enjoyably, tapping into your own experiences?

To conclude, don’t get hung up on originality. Don’t fear to borrow other people’s ideas. Add your own knowledge and experience and create something which is unique to you. Have a process for sourcing them and don’t take too long about it. This is about authenticity, not originality.

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