Gini Dietrich

How to Capture Blog Post Ideas

By: Gini Dietrich | August 5, 2014 | 

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.

  • crestodina

    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

    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

  • I’m still an old-fashioned notebook guy.

  • Gini Dietrich

    Do you like Jeannie’s idea best?

  • 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 shopping list) I store it in there. I have my phone with me everywhere (literally), so when ideas “strike” with or without phone coverage I can access Notes.
    I tried to use (still trying) Evernote to store ideas and write blog posts, but you need Internet coverage and sometimes, like when I am in a subway, I have none. 
    Sometimes, a whole post it´s writing itself in my head, so I need quick access to a device to type it 🙂

    So, Notes beats Evernote…for me, at least.

  • 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!

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

  • bobledrew

    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

    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!

  • But Sven tells me your techniques are good, too.

  • KateNolan

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

  • AnneReuss

    @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.

  • 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.

  • I share &’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!

  • 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. 🙂

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

  • 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 thoughts about the topic to keep the train of thought. I email myself my ideas (especially if there are links) and keep it all in my “blog ideas” folder in my email vendor. I always carry a little tiny notebook around in my purse (even though I do have the iPhone notes function and use it some too). There are times (church for example) where scribbling notes in a tiny notebook makes you look focused and on task whereas pulling out the iPhone makes you look like you’re avoiding the message (IMO). I also have a 24-month pocket calendar planner which I mainly use to keep track of “theme days) (like this being National Breastfeeding Week) that I talk about on my @optimismlight account but those sort of cross over into blog topics as well. Sadly, I do not have a Sven. What a pity. 🙂

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • davidpbutler Cool!

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • CarrieMorgan I would like a barrel of booze right now.

  • 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

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

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

  • AnneReuss Well the secret is out about Sven! LOL!

  • ginidietrich Magical. Only appears for me.

  • jeanniecw Not. Fair

  • JoshuaJLight

    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.

  • JoshuaJLight Microsoft? What’s that?

  • JoshuaJLight

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

  • KateNolan

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

  • davidpbutler

    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.

  • ginidietrich CarrieMorgan Meeeeee, too. (said with emphasis)

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

  • I’d do nothing but write!

  • JoshuaJLight 🙂

  • KateNolan corinamanea Oh dear.

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

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

  • KateNolan

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

  • KateNolan ginidietrich corinamanea LOL.

  • 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.

    Just substitute anything and everything in Social Media for Speed of Light Story

  • AnneReuss Sven as in the Reindeer in Frozen?!

  • ginidietrich CarrieMorgan ME TOO

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

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

  • Howie Goldfarb AnneReuss Reindeers are better than people.

  • ginidietrich biggreenpen CarrieMorgan I’ll be right over. Figuratively.

  • CarolineGilbert

    I’ve found my best system so far is a notepad/Basecamp combo. Many of our blogging is decided on in a group brainstorm (either internally or with clients) so I’ll usually just bring along my small notepad to jot down the ideas. 
    Then I translate each headline as a to-do in Basecamp (along with supporting ideas in the comments section) and assign it a deadline so I know when to start writing. I’ve tried WP, Evernote, Word docs… but this seems to work the best for me.

  • Great work, you certainly deserved it. Hope for more better results from your end.

  • Yes Gini, capturing blog post ideas is not a one-size-fits-all process.  Every blogger has what inspires him or her to write a post.  The expert takes on this topic as detailed in this post are revealing.
    However, for me, reading news updates and making jot of inspiring headlines give me quick ideas of the best blog post ideas! 

    This post “kingged” or upvoted in where it was shared for bloggers,social marketers,and online marketers.

  • BillSmith3

    For me either a notebook and pen or the Evernote app on both my iPhone and laptop.

  • We built an exercise that will help you generate around 60 topics in 45 minutes. It works really well and it’s like wringing out your brain and letting the topics you’ve been thinking about fall onto a page. Free with an opt-in at
    We use it as the starting point for all of our customers.

  • JoshuaJLight ginidietrich don’t make fun of Microsoft. They made $21 billion NET last year on $77 Billion in Sales. Way better profit margins than Apple who made $37bil on $170bil in Sales.

  • BillSmith3 step away from the Evernote Bill and no one gets hurt!

  • JoshuaJLight

    Howie Goldfarb JoshuaJLight ginidietrich they’re a savvy company.  Have a few products I like.  I wonder how their new AI will compare with Siri.  I beta tested their products for a few years.  Was really fun.  Got a surface years before it was out.  *full disclosure lol

  • BillSmith3 I used to use Evernote religiously and fell out of the habit. I can’t get back into it!

  • CarolineGilbert Ah ha! That’s an interesting way to do it. I’ll bet Lindsay and Jess would like to know this.

  • I use a hybrid of these – minus the St. Bernard, plus the wine sometimes – with mixed success. 

    I’m often walking or driving around somewhere, and my brain will do on a little rant and I’ll think ‘this would make a good post’ but alas, when I get to the keyboard – mind has gone blank. Then there’s Evernote and WP, Readability and Pocket, my iToys; sometimes I do capture and draft posts, other times it ends up in Erika’s digital purgatory. 

    Inspiration – that’s reading, watching, listening; really almost anything can be fodder. The trick is making it work for the blog, that balance of writing for myself, my biz, the readers I have and the ones I want. FWIW.

  • luckylou

    I mix it up between iOS’s Notes app, which is so convenient and simple _and_ it works with Siri so it’s really my go to, Google Docs which allows collaboration with others, and Evernote, which I know I should use more but still am not in the habit of using.
    If it’s for one of the brands which use a CMS like Squarespace then I can do as others do and create a draft there as a placeholder/starter.
    All my options have 360° syncing between all iOS and OS X. They all work with Chromebook ook, too, except Notes, which is one reason to not use that app. Can’t use paper or Word or email combos as that’s way too inefficient.

  • jsturgeon

    Great, advice! We actually built a solution that’s tailored for capturing new content ideas and managing them on an editorial calendar: . The mobile app is coming out next week which will let you capture those ideas whenever/wherever they come 🙂

    We have a private beta right now…let me know if you guys are interested in trying it out! Here’s the invite page:

  • jsturgeon Hey Josh! Just saw your email, too. Will check it out.

  • luckylou I’m like you with Evernote. I really got into it and then got busy and stopped using it. I know I should, but…

  • 3HatsComm Mixed success with the wine? I feel like I have 100% success with wine.

  • daveyoung I’ll check it out!

  • ginidietrich  if I could get away with blogging about the wine, what pairs best with various grilled cheese creations, I might do better. BTW I ‘captured’ a few ideas yesterday, the trick will be if they make it out of Evernote and out onto the Internet. 🙂

  • It’s so interesting seeing how different people take in ideas. As for me, I have to write it down or I’ll forget it immediately. Sometimes a funny meme can help spark a blog idea or the shoes I’m wearing that day. It’s about as random as it sounds. 
    Thank you for taking the time to research and write this!

  • Ramin Assemi

    corinamanea I use Evernote offline all the time 🙂 Maybe you just adjust the settings in the app somehow.

  • Ramin Assemi

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who is chaotic… uh, I mean creative about capturing blog post ideas 😉

  • Ramin Assemi LOL! Do you also have a dog that collects the ideas for you?

  • JustineEspersen I love the randomness of blog ideas. This means you’re a true blogger.

  • Ramin Assemi I´ll give it a shot. Thanks!

  • robinyearsley

    Hi Gini,
    These days, because I have to focus on running my business, I use (I’m the co-founder). It enables me to visibly create my own content command centre – a dashboard of all my favrourite content, based on keywords and filters I need.
    I can curate, share content across social networks (automated too) and publish snippets or full blown blog posts in Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress. It’s like a Swiss Army knife for busy bloggers.
    The best feature is the ‘draft blog posts’ feature. I can select an article that inspires me, and have an experienced writer create a new, unique draft blog post within 3-4 hours, on auto-pilot. The draft is pushed right into WordPress (in draft) where I take a few minutes to edit and hit publish. I use it daily to create ‘starter posts’ that I can embellish and publish when I like. Mixed with some curation, it’s easy to get more content published.
    Check it out if you get a moment.

  • robinyearsley I love this, Robin! I’ll definitely check it out!

  • bobledrew I couldn´t possible answer you. I tried it more than a year ago. Probably I forgot to sync and that´s why.

    After your message I started using Evernote again and you are right, it´s working quite good.

  • Ramin Assemi

    ginidietrich no dog, but I often jot down ideas with crayon while drawing with my daughter 😉 From stickman drawings to B2B sales content 😉

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  • philipshaun

    This is
    a smart blog. I mean it you have so much knowledge about this issue and so
    much passion.