Sometimes the ideas come as easily as oxygen. Other days, a white wall has more spunk than the topics coming from your head.
All writers struggle at some point with coming up with new ideas. It’s par for the course. I’m going to break down a process I use when I’m stuck brainstorming new content for a blog.
Your focus will be the obvious starting point. It’s what your general niche is all about. For me, I write about “rowing” and “real estate” most often. These are two niches. But the big-picture focus could be anything: “parenting,” “fitness,” “food,” “travel, ” et al. Whatever you’re writing about it falls into a big bubble.
Now inside that bubble you’ve got more specific focuses. Example:
Rowing → Training. Boats. Competitions. Age groups. Running a club.
Real Estate → Residential. Commercial. Geographical Market. Buyer Type.
Parenting → Age group. Parent specifics (Mom/Dad). Child specifics (diabetes, special needs, gifted).
The topic-finding challenge lies in figuring out where to go from here.
The brainstorming set-up
Sit in a quiet space. Or just a space where no one will bother you. Coffee shop, library, locked office door. Whatever. Make sit time.
Pick your brainstorm weapons. I’m old-fashioned. I like pen and paper. Maybe you’re a key-puncher on a Word Doc. Or you like color-coded sticky notes. You have a treasured notebook with “IDEAS” written across the cover in a flourish. Whatever. Pick your documentation style.
Step 1: Target Audience
We write for audiences. Don’t lie and say you’re writing for yourself. We’re blogging here.
List all your target audiences. Example: Your bubble is “Real Estate → San Diego → Residential.”
Who are your clients?
- First time home buyers
- Moving (new to area)
Step 2. Break down what your audience needs to know
All your audiences have specific needs and wants. Content is about addressing those needs and wants. Taking the list above, add “first-time home buyers” to your focus. What do San Diego first-time home buyers need to know? Maybe…
- Finding a mortgage
- Tips for credit
- About the home buying process
- Special loans
- Great neighborhoods to look
- What does a real estate agent do
- How to find a real estate agent
- Interview tips for your real estate agent
- Understanding contingencies
- What to do if it doesn’t work out
- Why use a real estate agent
- Saving for down payment
- Finding your home buyer’s checklist
Boom! I just brainstormed thirteen ideas in a few minutes.
That doesn’t mean you’ll use them all. Does the world really need another blog about why you should use a real estate agent? No. The topic’s overdone. Picking topics isn’t the point of brainstorming. Brainstorming is the act of generating ideas. Some, like a coffee-popcorn maker combo machine, will be bad. Others, like an instant single-serve popcorn maker, have potential.
What if that brainstorm doesn’t work?
Here’s my other little trade secret: I start reading. Yep. I break out the phone or the computer. I’ll sift through the backlog of email newsletters or start googling different topics and reading interesting stuff. Sometimes a single sentence in someone’s article inspires a whole topic for me. I particularly remember one sentence, “social media is a marathon, not a sprint,” which was a throwaway remark in someone’s blog. It inspired a 500-word blog about long-term impacts of social media in marketing.
And if none of these steps work for you, there’s always the auto topic generators. Take one of your bubbles, throw them into the generators, and see what happens. The results are equally humorous and helpful. Ex: “11 Reasons Why Unicorns Make the Best Home Buyers.”
Yes, that’s real.
Need a real estate writer? Want to chat about another writing project? You’re looking at your girl.