Gini Dietrich

How to Capture Blog Post Ideas

By: Gini Dietrich | August 5, 2014 | 
91

Capture Blog Post IdeasBy Gini Dietrich

Nearly every interview or podcast I do, I am inevitably asked, “How do you create so much content?”

It always makes me laugh because the answer is: I don’t know!

Because I have to? Because it’s expected? Because I love it?

I do love it. I can’t imagine not writing every day.

When Marketing in the Round was published, my dad said, “Ah ha! Your job finally makes sense to me. I always thought you’d be a writer and here you are.”

But it’s not easy. Let me tell you. I get the serious summer doldrums EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.

I know they’re coming and, yet, when they hit, I’m rarely prepared.

Part of the reason is I go from super psyched about the new year and a successful first quarter to losing some inspiration because all I really want to do is ride my bike all day long.

We have long winters in Chicago. You can’t really blame me!

So I do this thing where I spend a little extra time every week digging for trends, stories, videos, and crises that inspire me.

I capture blog post ideas all in one spot so, when I’m facing the, “I really don’t want to write today because nothing has inspired me lately” mood, I have something to fall back on.

Capture Blog Post Ideas

As I was thinking about how I capture blog post ideas, I thought it’d be fun to ask eight bloggers what works for them.

Because, you know, it’s not a one-size-fits-all process.

Erika“For the past year, it’s been a notebook. I circle my ideas to keep them separate from my comedy stuff. But my black notebook is class notes, brain droppings. My purple notebook is standup comedy stuff.If I write it down, I don’t forget. If I put it in my Mac Notes, I’m screwed. DIGITAL PURGATORY.” — Erika Napoletano, speaker, branding strategist, author, and columnist.

Andy Crestodina“My favorite tool for capturing ideas? It’s Google Docs. If I have an idea, I sometimes just start writing an outline very quickly, stop as soon as the idea is captured, and then add the link to the doc to the spreadsheet. Then, over the next few weeks, if I find something that supports one of those partially written posts, I drop it in.” — Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media Studios, author, and speaker.

#FollowFriday: Carrie Morgan“I use a combination of an editorial calendar, putting the idea into WordPress as a quick draft, and scribbled pieces of paper floating around my desk. I also keep a notebook in my car, which leads to said messy desk.” — Carrie Morgan, founder of Rock the Status Quo, senior digital PR consultant, and author.

Mark Schaefer photo“I type it as a headline in WordPress. Then, when I am ready to blog, the draft area reads like a list of ideas. Works for me.” — Mark Schaefer, college educator, author, speaker, and consultant.

 

Rebekah Iliff“If I’m on a plane, I put in the Notes app on my iPhone, then email to myself after I have service again. If I’m at work running around, but have a spark of genius like while on the toilet or listening to an engineer talk about something I don’t really understand, I email myself ideas. The when I have time I copy/paste into a larger Word document that is subcategorized.” — Rebekah Iliff, chief strategy officer at AirPR, writer, and entrepreneur.

Danny Iny“I just have a running Word document that I dump all of the ideas into. Though I like your carrier pigeon + chalkboard combo idea. I’ll have to look into that.” — Danny Iny, founder of Firepole Marketing and author. (When I emailed him, I asked if he uses a chalkboard or a carrier pigeon to capture blog post ideas.)

Jeannie-Walters-320px“I have a magic St. Bernard named Sven who stores my ideas in his little collar barrel. When he’s napping, I write the headline in the WordPress dashboard and save it as a draft.” — Jeannie Walters, founder of 360Connext, speaker, and community experience expert.

Collier, Mack“Typically what I do is as I am surfing I will come across an article that will spark an idea for a blog post.  Then, before I forget it, I will go to my WordPress dashboard and create a new post with a title describing the post, and in the post I will write some quick notes about what I want to talk about and a link to the article I found.  Just so I have it down and then later I will come back when I have time and write out the post.” — Mack Collier, social media strategist,trainer, and speaker.

And me? I keep a spreadsheet. It’s fairly simple. I read a blog post, article, or story I find interesting and I plop it into the links column. Then I write what the topic is and voila! An easy place to go when I sit down to write each morning.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 5.04.16 PM

Online and Offline Tools

Of course, there are lots of places you can get inspiration—SmartBrief, Talkwalker Alerts, blog comments, the news, pop culture—but that’s a different topic for a different day.

What I find interesting is there is a great mixture of both online and offline tools when bloggers capture blog post ideas.

(I also know Andy didn’t tell the full truth because I’ve seen the notebook he carries around when he’s not at his laptop.)

Now I leave it to you. How do you capture your ideas and what is most effective when you get the doldrums?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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91 Comments on "How to Capture Blog Post Ideas"

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crestodina
crestodina
2 years 19 days ago

I’m surprised to see everyone using WordPress as a place to capture ideas. I’d never thought of that! And using a St. Bernard to help? Great idea, Jeannie (and Sven)

davidpbutler
davidpbutler
2 years 19 days ago

We developed an App to help to capture creative ideas, stories, and briefs before social media or blog production.   If interested in test driving the private beta version, you can sign-up at http://www.ipositioning.com.

ClayMorgan
2 years 19 days ago

I’m still an old-fashioned notebook guy.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich
2 years 19 days ago

Do you like Jeannie’s idea best?

corinamanea
2 years 19 days ago
A very useful post Gini. I´ve always liked the idea of caring a notebook with me, not any kind of notebook, but one with style like those signed Agatha Ruiz de la Prada. What can I say I am a girl ;). I thought I like to write in them, but always had the problem of “saving them for the good stuff”. Every year I buy a small notebook and every year my pile of untouched notebooks rises. Four years ago I discovered Iphone and its Notes. Since then, every idea I have for blog posts and everything else (including… Read more »
DigitaleMspace
2 years 19 days ago

Glad we’re not the only ones with scattered minds! We use wordpress iPhone app to  jot down blog ideas. We simply enter a headline idea and jot down a few ideas related to the post and possible link an article that triggered the idea for later reference. Although we don’t do this as often as we should! Sometimes the ideas slip my mind!

jeanniecw
2 years 19 days ago

What would I do without my trusty magical companion, Sven?

bobledrew
bobledrew
2 years 19 days ago

corinamanea I’m a big evernote fan, so I was pleased to see it mentioned, although I don’t know why you need connectivity? I have EN on my phone and on my laptop, and I use them all the time without being connected. Simple matter to sync ’em when I’m back online. 

And I am also interested to see how many people use WP as their placemarkers for posts.

Anneliz Hannan
Anneliz Hannan
2 years 19 days ago

All great ideas but Sven is the winner in my book. It could be a great incentive if every time an idea for a post was placed into Sven’s barrel, a little nip would be returned;) Imagine how those posts would be lightning!

jeanniecw
2 years 19 days ago

But Sven tells me your techniques are good, too.

KateNolan
KateNolan
2 years 19 days ago

ClayMorgan Me too! I usually have at least one if not 2-3 notebooks with me at all times.

AnneReuss
AnneReuss
2 years 19 days ago

@Gini Dietrich You know Sven is just another name for Jon and me, right? 😉 I do google documents with links but my best ideas come at nighttime. So when I’m sleepy, I just email myself (or if I’m not too tired, I’ll write it down) and then rummage through the emails later! Sometimes it’s messy but being half asleep is one of the easiest tricks to generate ideas when you’re stuck.

ClayMorgan
2 years 19 days ago

KateNolan ClayMorgan I always start with multiple notebooks – usually one for Bible study and related, one for ideas for the company, the blog, and similar, and then another general notebook. But I always seem to consolidate them into one.

jennimacdonald
2 years 19 days ago

I share http://www.businessesgrow.com/us/ & http://blog.airpr.com/’s approach, except that I use Tumblr for my personal blog. Having a bunch of titles already written, and a few bullet points for each post, makes creating content much easier for me. Great list @Gini Dietrich, thanks for sharing!

CarrieMorgan
2 years 19 days ago

While I wouldn’t want a big ole dog, I’ll take the barrel of booze! A glass of wine does miracles for conjuring up fun headlines. Gini, thanks for including me in this post. 🙂

LauraPetrolino
2 years 19 days ago

AnneReuss I do this too, but it doesn’t work all that well (see my last blog post) 🙂

biggreenpen
2 years 19 days ago
Oh wow I love this post and this topic!!! Life is so full of blogging ideas (not to say I don’t have my thought deserts but still….). One of my most successful posts had to do (of all things) with a convenience store bathroom. It grew legs, got picked up by the store’s regional newsletter, and got me some new friends (store staff and their friends….). // I do a little of what some of the people featured here do. I start a post in WordPress with that title so it will prompt me — and I add the still-fuzzy… Read more »
LauraPetrolino
2 years 19 days ago

I have an email folder entitled “Blog Inspiration” that I collect emails I send to myself (because my ideas all come when I’m out walking, driving, or otherwise not at my computer…thank you iPhone!). I have also been known to write on the back of coasters or napkins when out and about.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

crestodina I actually used to do it that way…until we opened up the admin for guest bloggers to upload the content themselves. Then it got too unruly in there.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

davidpbutler Cool!

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

ClayMorgan That notebook up there in the photo is where I generate ideas that don’t have a link or something specific tied to them.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

corinamanea LOL! You have a bunch of notebooks you’ve never touched? That’s hilarious!

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

jeanniecw I’m sad I’ve never met Sven. I mean, I’ve been to your house lots.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

LauraPetrolino AnneReuss I was just going to say you should ask Laura how that turned out for her.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

CarrieMorgan I would like a barrel of booze right now.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

biggreenpen I agree with you about the technology. There are certain places (I won’t use it in a meeting with a client) a notebook is just more appropriate.

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich
2 years 19 days ago

I can’t believe I’ve never met Sven. I don’t know where she hides him!

jeanniecw
2 years 19 days ago

biggreenpen Nobody has Sven but me. He’s all mine!!! I like your pocket calendar for themes! Great idea.

jeanniecw
2 years 19 days ago

AnneReuss Well the secret is out about Sven! LOL!

jeanniecw
2 years 19 days ago

ginidietrich Magical. Only appears for me.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

jeanniecw Not. Fair

JoshuaJLight
JoshuaJLight
2 years 19 days ago

Some awesome ideas.  Thanks for sharing.

I use Microsoft OneNote.  The search function in it is perfect for staying organized, and I enjoy being able to take quick screen shots.

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

JoshuaJLight Microsoft? What’s that?

JoshuaJLight
JoshuaJLight
2 years 19 days ago

ginidietrich JoshuaJLight haha I know…but seriously.  OneNote is amazing.

KateNolan
KateNolan
2 years 19 days ago

ginidietrich corinamanea That’s not hilarious. It’s normal. Completely normal.

davidpbutler
davidpbutler
2 years 19 days ago

ginidietrich davidpbutler I find I need help in a few areas:  (1) just need to write down the idea and then be able to edit it.   (2)  I need a way to attach interest graphics/media/web info related to the idea.  Sometimes I  start by just clipping a video or picture (3)  I need a quick way to access it from all my devices.    In a way we can do some of this with Post It notes and a notebook.  If an app can make this 1-3 simple and repeatable I’d have more time to be creative.

CarrieMorgan
2 years 19 days ago

ginidietrich CarrieMorgan Meeeeee, too. (said with emphasis)

CarrieMorgan
2 years 19 days ago

AnneReuss I like to email myself, too. I do it with hyperlinks to revisit later, too. =D

CarrieMorgan
2 years 19 days ago

I’d do nothing but write!

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

JoshuaJLight 🙂

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

KateNolan corinamanea Oh dear.

CarrieMorgan
2 years 19 days ago

corinamanea I can just picture that pile of new notebooks toppling over! It’d make a great tattoo. LOL

corinamanea
2 years 19 days ago

CarrieMorgan The funny thing is I can´t give them away. I like them too much. LOL

KateNolan
KateNolan
2 years 19 days ago

ginidietrich KateNolan corinamanea What’s that, Gini? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you behind this stack of notebooks…

corinamanea
2 years 19 days ago

KateNolan ginidietrich corinamanea LOL.

Howie Goldfarb
2 years 19 days ago
I find topics easy to come up with. Of course most of mine start with reading something and saying ‘Holy Freaking Lord of Mayo and Pickles how could you publish such utter nonsense? I need to blog about this! I love when I am first for a subject even though sometimes it takes years for everyone to catch up. But last week was grand I had Neil Degrasse Tyson take what I blogged about and used the exact same ‘cry of foul’ for the media I did but for science. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/01/neil-degrasse-tyson-media-speed-of-light_n_5634547.html Just substitute anything and everything in Social Media for… Read more »
Howie Goldfarb
2 years 19 days ago

AnneReuss Sven as in the Reindeer in Frozen?!

biggreenpen
2 years 19 days ago

ginidietrich CarrieMorgan ME TOO

biggreenpen
2 years 19 days ago

Howie Goldfarb AnneReuss Let it go, Howie …. (couldn’t resist…)

ginidietrich
2 years 19 days ago

biggreenpen CarrieMorgan I’m about to break out a flask.

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