There are plenty of questions I hate fielding from people when they find out I’m a freelance blogger (such as, “Why don’t you write for a newspaper?”). But at least I’ve developed canned responses for most of them (such as, “Because print is dying and traditional jobs make me murderous, Uncle Frank.”).
The one question I’ve yet to figure out a good response to, however, is one which on the surface seems fairly innocuous: “How do you come up with ideas?”
This is is because I myself don’t really know the answer to this.
I can say it helps to have a working knowledge of the publication you’re writing for, a sense of what has already been covered (and converted well), and a healthy heaping of creative spin to make your approach new and noteworthy. It also helps if you’ve gotten enough sleep, had enough caffeine, have nothing else stressful going on in your life, and are Seth Godin. (The man is so prolific it’s unnatural).
But even possession of all the above (minus, of course, Seth Godin) isn’t enough to ward away those times when the ideas Just. Won’t. Come. Some days you’re a wellspring of potential pitches and some days the well runs dry, but if you want to succeed as a freelance blogger, you have to find ways to prime the pump no matter what condition it’s in. Because your clients want content, and their schedule doesn’t revolve around your “aha!” moments.
When you find yourself at a loss for blog post ideas, here are 21 ways to step outside your stale, obstructed brain and jumpstart your creativity. Whatever topic you’re covering or audience you’re writing for, these hacks can be tweaked to fit your needs — and the timeframe you’re working with. [Read more…]