Content Basics: Find Great Ideas And Sell Your Writing

When you write content, ideas are your lifeblood. For our purposes, I’m defining “content” as anything you like: words, images, advertising, YouTube scripts, presentations…

However, although it can seem as though ideas are everywhere, they need to be the right ideas for you.

Ideas everywhere, for every type of content

Anyone can write content, but if you want to stay sane, you’ll write about ideas you LOVE. That isn’t always possible but aim for ideas in which you’re interested, at least.

Here’s why: when you do that, there’s a chance you’ll become inspired. Heaven knows lots of content is mechanical.

“Mechanical” content is stuff that feels as if it’s been created by a machine. It’s developed as clickbait, or to target specific keywords. It can be developed using generative AI.

I’ve been coaching a couple of beginning freelancers recently, so finding subjects and topics has been on my mind.

However, there’s more involved than finding an idea you can use today; you need:

  • A way to capture ideas, an idea bank, if you like. You’ll write content that’s inspired when ideas coalesce for you—so you need to revisit your ideas occasionally. When ideas connect, you’ll become inspired.
  • Sources.

Although I know better—an idea bank that’s stored in one location is best—mine is scattered over several apps, primarily Obsidian.

Let’s look at my favorite sources for finding content ideas.

Basic free sources for ideas

  • News. You can find interesting news on free news websites, as well as in press releases from large companies like Amazon. Local news sites are valuable if you’re a content creator for local companies. A tip for you if you’re writing fiction. Readers read to learn, as well as to be entertained. I once read an interview with Dean Koontz, who suggested that newsworthy ideas sell books and that authors should grab them and publish quickly. (Other authors read the same news sources, looking for ideas.)
  • Exploding topics is a brilliant resource for affiliate marketing, as well as for self-publishing authors.
  • Newsletters. Subscribe to any that appeal to you. The Rundown for example is my favorite source for AI developments.
  • Twitter: useful if you set a time limit for each visit. BTW, I’m angee on Twitter. You can contact me there anytime.
  • Google Trends: discover what people are searching for online.
  • YOU: you’ve lived and experienced. You’re your own best source of ideas. Remember the things you research, too.
  • Other free sources include sites like YouTube, Medium, and Quora. Try YouTube if you’re an author; you can source useful documentaries.

Are you a self-publishing author?

Research sources are endless if you’re a self-publishing author. I like Zotero (it’s free) to store my research, especially for anything in Google Scholar or Google Books that I might want to use again.

Zotero creates automatic citations: very useful. Expand on them to create bibliographies for your books.

Do you find yourself using the same sources repeatedly? The new Arc browser allows you to create helpful Spaces, Easels and Notes: it makes it easy to get organized.

Do this: a process to help you to generate ideas and develop content

You know I LOVE processes. 🙂

Here’s the basic process for managing your ideas, creating an idea bank, and becoming a prolific content developer.

  1. Collect your favorite sources. Subscribe to newsletters. (You can always unsubscribe.)
  2. Stash your ideas, insights, and inspirations in an idea bank.
  3. Review your idea bank once or twice a week.
  4. When you’re starting a project, whether it’s your own or a freelance commission, create lists. These can be lists of titles, ideas, resources…
  5. Keep your research. While this is essential for client projects, in case there are queries, it’s also useful for your own projects. If you’ve written about superfoods, the material may be useful when you’re writing something about kids or longevity.
  6. Have FUN with this. I know several writers who look at managing the masses of materials they collect as a chore. If you feel like this, stop. Instead, look at your collections as a treasure trove. The National Library of Australia’s online portal is even called Trove; go figure. 🙂
  7. Whenever you feel bored or uninspired, visit your idea bank. Read and make notes; within a short time, you’ll feel inspired and ready to create content.

Onward: start collecting, thinking, and creating.

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