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? It’s expected? 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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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, principal at Grace & Wit, writer, and entrepreneur.
“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 Mirasee and author. (When I emailed him, I asked if he uses a chalkboard or a carrier pigeon to capture blog post ideas.)
“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.
“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.
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?