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Writing: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?


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#1 AbleReach

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 05:25 AM

If you blog a lot, where do you get your ideas?

What's a lot?

#2 eKstreme

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 05:39 AM

I get them from other people. On rare occasions (less than 10% of the time), I generate ideas on my own. But when I get an idea, I write it down in a custom app I created in Zoho Creator. It contains references, details, the new angle or insight I'm adding to the idea, etc etc.

When I have time - and that's more of an "if" than a "when" - I browse through the database and pick one.

Pierre

#3 cre8pc

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 08:38 AM

If you blog a lot, where do you get your ideas?


Life, work, experiences and lessons learned from work, forum threads, other blogs that inspire discussion, other blog posts that fit my readership that I think are worth sharing

What's a lot?


I think there's never too much when you're a fan of the blogger, their writing style and the topics they write about.

#4 EGOL

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 09:13 AM

I read the news, read other sites, read magazines.... while doing this I am often inspired by a photo or graph or comment - but at that moment I am not in a mode or location that allows me to write. So, I write the idea in a special section of a notebook, just to get it recorded. Then when I am ready to write I go to that notebook and face the difficult problem of WHICH idea to write about.

#5 DCrx

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 11:59 AM

I have done, roughly, two posts per week for five years. That's not a lot, but I think pacing yourself explains how you get to go past the normal point of burnout for blogs.

The ideas come from several sources. One is looking at things from the user standpoint. (Specifically a likely target user rather than a fan of gadgetry).

Context, context context. When I'm reading something, I'm always thinking what is missing from this picture? Many times people can't see the forest for the trees, or the big picture. Often that is the user or target market. Other times it's history, competition, or some other missing dimension.

Next is connecting the dots. I don't "blog" the way most do. The blurbs I write try to find a thread of meaning. I may relate two totally different concepts, or a current hot topic to its context. For example I try to connect what business wants to sell to a compelling reason to buy.

#6 Jem

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 12:12 PM

I usually blog a few times a week - except this month where I took part in an activity to blog daily - and for the most part have no problem coming up with material. Like others, I take my inspiration from my life, work, things I see on the web and so forth. Sometimes I'll just be sat there watching TV and a random idea will come into my head.

#7 Wit

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 01:03 PM

Alcohol.

#8 Respree

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 01:09 PM

You have to admire his economy with words. At least they won't take a long time to read. :)

#9 EGOL

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 02:18 PM

I should try that one.

#10 eKstreme

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 02:21 PM

Alcohol.

You have to admire his economy with words. At least they won't take a long time to read. ;)

Yes. But what does it mean??? :)

Pierre

#11 AbleReach

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 08:00 AM

--> Alcohol --> Caffeine --> Alcohol --> Caffeine -->

Add a side branch for worthy causes and organic veggies, and another for spam and profiteering, and you have a sort of a Krebs cycle for powering Internet life.
:hmmmm: :angel: :wave:


Do you write about your own views, or about industry happenings?

I get bored with writers who don't seem to infuse much of themselves into their blogging. However, if someone is blogging about an industry trend I like them to demonstrate a boundary of journalistic integrity between editorializing and reporting.

And, I wonder if, for blogging, writing for an audience is really as important as writing from a personal voice. Not that the target audience is not important -- more that the blogger's voice is a big chunk of why bloggers develop followings.


Ideas -

Use a broad personal reading list to spark your own ideas and keep abreast of developments to pass on.

Mine the FAQ (I like FAQ) and keep track of what people ask you to explain -- but, if something is Really, Really basic, will fellow professionals be bored out of their gourd?

Look for missing bits (in your opinion) as DCrx said. This is a way for the writer to dig into creative thought and personal input.

Edited by AbleReach, 28 November 2007 - 08:03 AM.


#12 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 09:15 AM

My ideas come from pretty much everywhere - others, news, blogs, my life, myself...

But I tell ya...after writing pretty much every day for three and a half years for one blog, and nearly every day for the last year on another blog, I have very nearly gotten to the point of believing that there isn't one other single thing to say (at least about those two topics).

I'm seriously considering just shutting up.

#13 cre8pc

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 09:43 AM

I'm seriously considering just shutting up.


I can relate to this Donna. My blog is over 5 years old. Unless I feel I have something worth anyone's time to come and read, I don't write. That, and pretty much I need the personal outlet for what's rolling around my head. My blog helps me sort through the marbles and organize the thoughts rattling around (like my post from yesterday...that was a sorting through type to get to what I'm supposed to see and share with readers.)

I think you shutting up would result in one less understandable voice out there in blogland. So many blogs are AdSense jungles instead of thoughtful, productive real estate. They just take up space. Blogs like your's share observations and bring about discussions that would otherwise be kept to ourselves or behind physical walls, where only a select few can participate.

I think blogs with passion and purpose are satisfying for both the writer and readers and we miss them if they go silent.

#14 A.N.Onym

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 09:52 AM

I don't think forcing oneself into a schedule is a good idea. That'd be a lot of posts, even if you post 2 posts a year, and your natural schedule is 1.

For some, who can write 5 posts a week without forcing themselves, that would be okay, though.

As for myself, I, like Kim, write when I have something to share. Lately, instead of finding a topic to write about, I started writing about what I want to talk/share at the moment of writing. It sort of works.

I have too experienced the "There's nothing else to write about syndrome", even though I haven't written much earlier. This happened, when I was making myself write 3-5 posts a week. Drawing ideas got harder and harder.

I think that one of the best sources of ideas is personal experience and observations. If you know your stuff well, you can find it in anything that happens in your life, from a vacuum cleaner to how people behave in your supermarket.

And, if you write, only when you want to, and only what you want to, blogging is easy :)

You can also read a lot: blogs, news, social sites, related industries, etc. Apply your knowledge to other fields and share your views, etc.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 10 January 2008 - 11:55 PM.


#15 cre8pc

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 10:04 AM

Here's some thoughts that came to mind...

Did marketing, as a motive for blogging, remove the joy of artistic or inner expression via blogs?

Does RSS feed delivery interfere with what some bloggers wish to express and how they choose to do it?

#16 A.N.Onym

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 10:32 AM

I can't comment on the marketing part, because I am not selling anything, but I can comment on RSS.

I feel I have a responsibility to post so that the subscribers won't be let down by subscribing to my blog. Also, I don't want to lose the minimal readership I have gained (ah, it's still marketing, I guess) to make my blog more or less noticeable.

So having readers that are connected to the blog via RSS is an obligation of some sort, a chain that you are bound to posting at least once or week or at least writing something useful once in a while.

If it were a static site, I think I wouldn't feel a connection with my readers and I'd just write content as I'd see fit, determined by the free time and the possible ROI of the blog.

#17 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 10:44 AM

Yep...what A.N.Onym said...exactly.

#18 swainzy

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 11:02 AM

Alcohol

:rofl:

Wit, your soooo witty! ;-)

#19 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 12:02 PM

I pretty much write when I feel the urge...sometimes, I push myself to get a few extra articles out --- largely, because I do also contribute to sites other than my own, but most of the time I content myself with the 1 or 2 articles a week that I get out to my own site.

Lately, I have to admit, writing has been more of a struggle --- I think it's simply because I've gotten busier. When work was slower, and I would sometimes have breaks between projects, etc., it was easy to just sit down and write a few articles to be published later. "Get on a roll" so to speak --- now, I'm always working on several concurrent projects; and there's never a break. So finding the time and inclination to write is more challenging. I pretty much just have to write when something really moves me. Otherwise, it'll never get done.

Finding topics for me is generally not that hard --- I'll comb through what I've read recently, etc. If something irks me, that's a post topic. Frequently, I post to disagree or provide an alternate viewpoint to something I've recently read...although I may not mention that fact in the post itself.

#20 DianeV

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 01:08 PM

My schedule in the last months is such that I can't blog as much as I'd like — let alone to the handful of blogs we now have. But I generally blog about what interests me.

If I feel I've already said whatever I wanted to say, then I shift subjects.

Anyone who's ever spoken to me knows that I can change subjects with the best of them. LOL

Edited by DianeV, 28 November 2007 - 01:08 PM.


#21 bwelford

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 02:15 PM

If you like to write and if you constantly look around you, then there are a host of things to write about. I usually like to take a different point of view and rarely like to repeat myself.

Here are some of the questions or phrases that can trigger a topic for me:
  • That reminds me of ...
  • Why don't they do that differently?
  • That really is novel.
  • That really is much better.
  • That really is much worse.
  • I think they've done a great job there.
  • I think they've done an awful job there.
  • Someone should do something about that.
  • That should be stopped.
It's rare that I don't have two or three topics in mind that I could write about.

I have a simple text file template that I use to record a possible blog topic. When I see a link or topic that might become a blog post, I'll record my thoughts, however minimal, in such a text file. Sometimes it's only the URL of an intriguing website with a draft title. As time passes, I may add other thoughts or URLs to the file.

When I have the time, I take one of these text files and expand it into a full blog post. Usually this involves doing a web search with appropriate keywords. This will often bring out others who may have commented about the same issue. I used to use Google BlogSearch for that but have now abandoned that given its problems. Overall I find this process works well and there is never any stress about lacking ideas.

#22 AbleReach

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 02:29 PM

Thinking of communicating and exploring ideas is like the fountain of youth for writing.

Marketing is more formal, on the drawing board, though to be interesting to others it has to have that fountain of youth character. To be useful to others, it has to consider how an entity is represented to others, how others may see it in terms of its usefulness and message.

If I think about how I am representing myself I get very, very quiet. The ideas dry up. If I think of how to communicate almost anything else, one thing leads to another and I am my own caffeine. You couldn't shut me up if you tried.

Edited by AbleReach, 28 November 2007 - 02:30 PM.


#23 Wit

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 03:10 PM

I like the idea of getting lotsa people to subscribe and then feeling sorry for them if you don't write anything new regularly. Hmmm, maybe that's one of the subliminal reasons why I don't like blogging in the first place.

But I can relate to the suggestion that there's far less pressure on adding pages to static sites. I feel the urge to write a recipe on Apple's salad blog or start a tread on Skitz' forum more often than I feel the need to add Y.A. page or script to one of my own static sites. I guess I'll never make big bucks on the web eh :)

Back to alcohol then, I fear. It might inspire me - or it might not. :violin:

#24 AbleReach

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 03:34 PM

Kim just made this comment @ her blog.

I thought of Sphinning this post but there’s no category there for blog posts that make you stop, think and wonder

That's a big deal for me!

I get that audience and focus and all that matters, but without the "stop, think and wonder," certain vital nutrients are missing. Stop-look-wonder about bounce rates and the rest of it only takes me so far. Knowing that "it" connects/bounces/whatever is one thing. Hearing about why it makes a difference on a personal level keeps it real.

But I can relate to the suggestion that there's far less pressure on adding pages to static sites. I feel the urge to write a recipe on Apple's salad blog or start a tread on Skitz' forum more often than I feel the need to add Y.A. page or script to one of my own static sites.

I can see it now. Wit's "categories" could include "Recipes I thought of posting at Apple" and "Skitzy stuff."

I just started one called "The meaning of life." Are "snacks" really all that different?

:pieinface: (mmmm, pie....)

I wonder... if separate feeds are offered for marketing vs personalwhatever categories, would very many people opt out of a give-me-everything feed in favor of a just-the-business feed? Has anyone tried this, kept track, and now would care to share? Are our readers reading "us" or our topics?

#25 DCrx

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 03:41 PM

One recurring theme for me is to stop, look and wonder "What on earth were they thinking?!?!"

Edited by DCrx, 28 November 2007 - 03:42 PM.


#26 cre8pc

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 04:32 PM

ROTFL!

I shudder to think what would happen if I asked Danny Sullivan to add a "Stop, Look, and Wonder (What were they thinking!)" category at Sphinn. I mean, look at all the hoopla when I asked him to add a "Usability" category!

Which he did, finally, to his credit, thank goodness.

I just don't have the nerve to ask him for another one :nah: :angel:

#27 AbleReach

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 05:23 PM

My daughter used to look over her glasses at me and the breakfast table and say "don't poke the bear."
She was not a morning person.
Usually I couldn't resist a little nudge or two, and when I did resist I was less myself.

OK, OK, so there's a difference between Danny's Sphinn categories and Danny's personal page's categories.

For a small shop, and I am almost serious here, what's wrong with a little pie? Isn't that part of what you get when you read a blog instead of a newspaper?

Edited by AbleReach, 28 November 2007 - 05:24 PM.


#28 A.N.Onym

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 11:13 PM

I guess I'll still say on marketing, since Elizabeth asked about a pie for a shop.

My personal attitude about marketing is that whoever you are, is marketing. If you write what you want, you market yourself and your product. If you start changing voices, style and content, it won't be you any more and you'll be getting a different audience and won't be enjoying the process.

Lately Seth has written about it (I can't find the post since he uses undescriptive titles. I wrote about it to him and he said he likes creative titles. Go figure.), too. He said smth along the lines that doing what you do to market yourself, aswell as being yourself in marketing is more authentic and effective than formal, corporate-looking marketing.

So, I'd still add a personal touch to a commercial blog, because it'll allow me to build a closer connection with the readers. And when it comes to trust, they'd rather trust someone they know.

Thus, I think it's good to "poke a bear", as long as it is not a real bear in the wild =)

#29 Thejspot

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Posted 10 January 2008 - 07:02 PM

From other blogs. I'm not copying ideas, for legal reasons we'll call them points of departure.

If you're writing a blog about a business, often customer questions are a good source of a blog topic. You have to answer them anyway...

Then the blog also becomes a source for reference for other customers who might have similar questions, saves you time answering them again....

Much like this site.



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