Shut up and blog: How to create endless ideas for content!

endless ideas

By Mark Schaefer

Today I am going to share a subtle but critically important secret to developing an endless supply of fascinating social media content. It’s an idea that seems so obvious … but I don’t think I have ever seen it discussed before.

I have a backlog of nearly 200 possible blog post ideas. I hardly ever dip into this treasure trove because every week I am coming up with even more ideas that turn into the posts of the day. How do I keep the ideas coming?

It’s quite a simple routine, but a discipline you must hone each day — I view my life through the lens of a blog post. I am constantly aware of ideas that interest me and consider how the experiences of my day could be turned into a story.

Perhaps it would be easier to show you instead of trying to describe this process. Here are examples where simply being aware of my environment led me to great blog post ideas.

  • I saw a headline on a magazine cover — “Shut Up and Dance.” What if I wrote a post called “Shut Up and Blog?” What would that look like? I captured the headline and here we are today.
  • PR Pro Ann Deeter Gallaher was preparing for a speech and sent me an email asking for my opinions on upcoming digital trends. I copied and pasted my answer into WordPress and my email response morphed into “7 Digital Marketing Trends to Embrace Now.” (At last count, this little post had received more than 1,800 social shares!)
  • My friend Alex Lavidge described an experiment on a Facebook post — For the next 100 days he’s going to hand-write notes to people who have impacted him. I loved this idea and saw the potential for quite an interesting guest post. He’s agreed to work on it.
  • At a basketball game, I saw a confused basketball player score a basket for the opposing team. I thought to myself how awful it is to execute well against the wrong goal and this became “How Do I Develop a Strategy When the Target Keeps Moving?”
  • The number one source of post ideas (by far) is simply paying attention to the questions people ask me. If they are curious about a subject, perhaps the readers of {grow} are too. When somebody asks a question my first response is to wonder if it would make a good post.

So you see, my catalog of new post ideas is not coming from any particular gift of personal insight or intellect. It’s simply being aware of my environment and developing a nose for news.

Think about it this way. You are being bombarded with millions of sensory stimulations every day. People. Conversations. Images. Events. Surprises. Websites. Stories. Data. Isn’t it likely that just one or two of these experiences could become an interesting and relevant story to tell your audience? The key is activating your mind’s “blog” setting and not ignoring these daily provocations.

I think anybody can develop this habit. Any time you think to yourself “Wow that is cool (or interesting or disturbing or inspiring)” consider how the emotion you’re feeling at that moment can be translated into a blog post. And then write it down somewhere!

Does this make sense to you? What process do you follow to create new content ideas?

SXSW 2016 3Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

All posts

The Marketing Companion Podcast

Why not tune into the world’s most entertaining marketing podcast!

View details

Let's plot a strategy together

Want to solve big marketing problems for a little bit of money? Sign up for an hour of Mark’s time and put your business on the fast-track.

View details

Share via