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Overcoming Writer’s Block: 7 Idea-Generating Tips for the Business Blogger

Here at QLP, we recently published our 1000th blog post. Exciting stuff! But the ideas for all those articles didn’t always come easily — and even after a thousand posts, we still stare at a lot of blank pages.

As any blogger knows, producing interesting, fresh material on a regular basis can be daunting. We all suffer from writer’s block now and then; but luckily, there are ways to overcome this. The next time you don’t know what to write about, try a few of these idea-generating strategies:

1. Read the News

Think of all the blog ideas you’ll find here!

Think of all the blog ideas you’ll find here!

What’s happening in the world — locally, nationally, and internationally? News items, business-related or otherwise, can spark many ideas. Get started by reading a newspaper daily and subscribing to online news aggregators.

Stay on top of the news specific to your industry, too. Follow blogs, websites, and other sources of industry chatter. As QLPer Mandy says, “Having a good idea of the current stuff being published can kick-start my own ideas. Sometimes people write things and I feel like I could flesh out a certain point, so I do!”

2. Examine Your Personal Spending Habits

QLPer Jenna asks herself, “Why do I love the brands that I am loyal to?” On the contrary, are there brands you refuse to buy? Brands that have disappointed you recently? Have you had any memorable customer service experiences, good or bad?

Look closely at the ways companies try to attract your business, and write about what they’re doing right and wrong. Case studies and personal examples can make for informative and compelling content.

3. Draw on Hobbies and Interests

What do you like to do in your free time? Maybe you’re a sports fan. Perhaps you’re preparing for or just experienced a big event, such as a wedding or vacation. Whatever interests you, get creative and transform what you already love into an article that relates to your industry.

QLPer Jen says, “I also learn quite a bit while researching topics, so I think that’s what really motivates me to write.” What topic do you want to learn more about? Develop it into engaging material for your readers.

4. Watch TV and Movies

We’re working, we swear …

We’re working, we swear …

Television and film are great sources for blog ideas. Analyze the characters and storylines in your favorite shows and movies and apply your conclusions to your industry. QLPer Jill says, “I love picking out specific portions or quotes from things I watch and then trying to turn them into an attention-grabbing topic!”

Take notice of advertising, too. How successful was the marketing for that film you just watched? Did you see a commercial lately that altered your perception of a brand?

5. Interview Someone

Do you know anyone who has a story to tell? Are there business owners in your personal or professional life who could offer insight? Perhaps your customers are willing to share their experiences. Don’t be afraid to approach people outside of your network, too — the worst they can do is say no. As long as you ask the right questions, you can provide some stellar content to your readers.

6. Revisit Old Content

Just because something isn’t new doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing anymore. Bring new life to old articles by finding recurring themes and topics and shaping them into compilation posts.

Also, read through the comments from your old writings. Are there issues your readers want to know more about? Did they ask questions you could answer in a new post? Can you expand a well-received article into a series?

7. Carry a Notebook

Ever had an idea strike you randomly during the day, but you lost it because you didn’t write it down? Don’t rely on remembering stray thoughts; instead, keep a small journal and pen with you at all times. QLPer Amy says, “My family makes fun of me for keeping a mini notebook on our coffee table, but it’s saved me so many times!”

It’s easy to lose hope when you’re idea-less and on a deadline. But with some research and creativity, you’re bound to discover something out there (or in your head) that you can turn into first-rate content. Then, once you latch onto an idea, get inspired and write!

Which of these strategies is most helpful to you? Where else do you find ideas for articles? Let us know in the comments!

 Image credit to Clipart.com.


Rachel Hamsmith

When not writing for the blog, Rachel is a data entry specialist at QLP. She spends most of her free time consuming a variety of geeky TV shows, movies, and books, as well as funny cat videos and other Internet oddities. Otherwise, she moonlights as an editor for a literary magazine and tries to spend as much quality time as she can with friends and family. You can also connect with Rachel on Google+.

Comments

  1. Jaimie Smith

    Rachel this was such a helpful blog!! I am so glad you did this. I have been having a hard time lately, so this hopefully will help me get back on track. I really like advice #s 1 and 2. Watching the news is a great idea because there is always something new and interesting going on in this world that you can turn into a blog. And Examining your own expenses is an awesomee idea! And it will be a lot of fun too because it is something you enjoy and like to talk about. Or like you said, on the contrary, business you hate and will not spend a dime at. There is most likely reasons for that, so ranting about what they do not do successfully as a business will make a great blog too!

    Thank you for posting this, Rachel!! Very helpful! :)

    • Rachel

      Thanks, Jaimie! I’m glad the post is useful to you. :) And yes, #2 is great because you get to draw from personal experiences, which is often more fun to write and more interesting to read about!

  2. Jenna Markowski

    This is a great post, Rachel! And especially timely for a rainy Monday like today when motivation is dwindling. My most common strategies are (obviously) the one I was quoted on and watching movies and TV (NBC in particular). I also subscribe to quite a few news sites so I’m up to date on current events.

    I really like interviewing people, but that can be tricky because once you’ve figured out who it is you want to interview they can be difficult to get a hold of. But it’s usually worth the wait, because those posts tend to be really insightful!

    Good work, Rachel! :)

    • Rachel

      Glad you like it, Jenna! And thanks very much for your input in the post itself!

      Interviewing can often be a more drawn-out process than writing from your own experiences or research — but like you said, it’s usually worth it in the end. :) And you’re right, NBC really is a gold mine for blog ideas, hah! We should get royalties or something for how often we write about their shows …

      Thanks again, Jenna!

  3. Jen

    I always get great ideas when I’m watching t.v., but I never write them down. Then when it comes time to write I can’t remember what I was even watching let alone thinking about! That’s why this would have to be my favorite tip, hopefully I will remember to use it. This is a great post Rachel, it will be very useful for future blog brainstorming. Thanks :)

    • Rachel

      I have that problem too! I need to take my own advice and keep a notebook on me at all times. :) I’m happy you found this post helpful — thanks, Jen!

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    It’s amazing where inspiration can strike. Much of my inspiration for blogs come from random conversations that I have with Amy in our office. I could be telling her about something I saw on Facebook, and suddenly, it hits me that it could make a good post. (Thank you to Amy for listening to me ramble. :) )

    And I also like revisiting this Copyblogger post. Lots of good ideas here, AND it’s in an easy-to-digest picture!

    • Rachel

      It’s very true that inspiration can come from the strangest of places. As such, it’s important to keep an open mind, so that you recognize these crazy thoughts or conversations as legitimate blog prospects and not just, well, crazy thoughts. :)

      And that Copyblogger post is awesome! Another great resource for sure. Thanks, Mandy!

  5. Jill Tooley

    So…what you’re saying is that I need to watch more TV and movies, right? I can get behind that! ;)

    I’ve never excelled at interviewing, so I’d probably avoid that one unless it was low-pressure (I always sound like a dope). But I’m a firm believer in the rest of your tips, particularly numbers 3 and 7. I’ve carried a mini notebook and pen around with me for ages now, and it’s never let me down! Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something extra satisfying about jotting down a kickass idea instead of typing it out.

    Quality post, Rachel! Thanks for the tips. I’ll refer back to this when I need a boost! :D

    • Rachel

      Absolutely! Watch ALL of the shows and movies! ;)

      I tend to agree regarding interviews — though I know lots of people are good at them, and they should use those skills to their advantage! And you’re right, sometimes it’s pretty satisfying to write down those snazzy ideas instead of just typing them out.

      I’m happy to hear you liked the post, Jill — thanks!

  6. Amy Swanson

    I’m such a sucker for reading news, glad to see I’m in good company here :) Awesome post, Rachel! I’m bookmarking it for the next time I get stuck!!

    • Rachel

      Thanks, Amy! I hope the suggestions are helpful next time you need ideas :)

  7. Eric

    I’ve made a point of keeping a short list of random-topic blogs. Ones that really aren’t thematically cohesive, but offering a good enough mix to jog my mind and/or memory to write something. Think we could all use this article, Rachel, so thank you! :)

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