How do you get ideas for things to write about?

One of the biggest challenges content marketers and producers of other types of information products face is coming up with fresh material.

ideas-tuscawilla-creative-images-for-impactI have found a great way to get ideas is to listen to what people around you are saying when you’re in public places. In other words, eavesdrop.

If people are talking openly about something, it’s obviously important to them. And if you hear two or three people discussing a topic, chances are that it’s an issue for plenty of others as well.

When you’re standing in line, commuting on a bus or train, in an elevator, at school, in the grocery store—wherever you are that you can overhear people talking with one another, pay attention to what they’re saying.

It might not be appropriate for you to join their conversation (although sometimes it could be—use your own judgment there), but you may have information to share on the topic that would be of value to a wider audience. So when you hear something interesting, especially something that relates to your business or is a problem your product can solve, use that as the foundation for a blog, special report, ebook or other information product.

Beyond providing ideas for content, you might also hear things that will help you improve your operation. Here’s an example: Many years ago, back when I was in the corporate world, my mother was having dinner in a restaurant. Several men at a nearby table were discussing the company I worked for at an easy-to-hear volume, sharing less-than-positive experiences. My mother repeated what she’d heard to me and I passed it along to the appropriate manager who took corrective action.

Let me be absolutely clear that I’m not suggesting that you do anything illegal or immoral. Don’t go planting bugs or doing anything else that would invade anyone’s privacy. But when people talk in public places, they have no expectation of privacy, and they probably don’t care that a stranger might overhear them. If it happens that they’re discussing something personal or with the potential to be embarrassing, you can write about the topic without including anything that might identify the individuals involved.

Blogging for Business: Why and How to Create Blog Content that Works by Jacquelyn Lynn (cover)Content ideas are everywhere. My book, Blogging for Business, includes some additional suggestions for how to come up with great material, such as soliciting input from your sales and customer service teams.

Another way to create great content and build your own reputation as an authority is to comment on current events; the technique is called newsjacking.

What are your best techniques for generating content ideas? Please share.

Jacquelyn Lynn
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