Reader Question Session: Inspiration for Posts
What is your single greatest source of inspiration for writing material, and how to avoid information overload?
Sometimes I end up reading so much stuff that I paralyze my abilities.
This is yet another great question and once again, probably something that I should have covered already. The inspiration for my posts largely come from one (or more) of three places.
Obviously posts like this one are generated from questions left in the comments or emailed to me by readers. It’s not only obvious posts like this though that are spawned out of comments. A lot of times a comment will trigger ideas or alert me to topics I need to cover that I’ve not thought of before. Any time I find myself answering the same question more than once or twice, I’ll almost always make a post out of it. If multiple commentators ask the question, there’s a good chance other readers are wondering it as well. Of course there’s also the occasional comment that I feel either merits a post of its own, or needs to be corrected in a new post. This usually happens when the topic is a good one to cover but not quite related to the original post, or when I find myself writing a long reply in the comment field.
When I say that another popular source of inspiration is other websites, I don’t mean just copying their content or just rewording their posts. What I’m talking about is reading websites or blogs and gaining topics to discuss. For example, if news breaks that affects my audience, that’s probably a post right there. If I read a blog or a story that I strongly agree or disagree with that is probably another post. If I see a successful story or popular post in a different niche or genre, I may try to adapt the idea into something that would fit my topic. This source also ties into the first one a bit as often comments left on other blogs prove to be great sources of inspiration.
The last major source of information is probably the most obvious one, my previous experiences. If I learn something useful or try something and fail, that’s information my readers would probably like to know. If I have a recommendation, that’s probably another good idea for a post. As you continue to blog about your topic, whatever that might be, you’ll begin to gain experience not only about your topic but about other topics that interact with it or that might play into your topic. Also, don’t make the mistake of limiting your thinking to only your experiences with your niche or about your topic. Some of the most interesting and popular posts I’ve read have been created when the author applied knowledge from one topic to a completely different topic. Maybe there’s a rule in sports that you feel applies perfectly to finances, or maybe there’s a saying in business that you think works for dog grooming or whatever. The point is, just because it’s not directly related to your topic, doesn’t mean your experience can’t be valuable to your blog and your readers as well.
So, Matt, there you have it, my three biggest sources of inspiration. If I had to guess, I’d say that 90% of my posts across all my different blogs have had their roots in one or more of these areas. One of the toughest things to do is think outside the box when it comes to your writing but that really can be the most rewarding as well. The blogosphere is a crowded place and as I’ve discussed before, you have to find some way to stand out from the crowd. Your content is the easiest way to do that and most of the time, you’ve already got the topics to do so right in front of you. It just becomes a matter of making sure you recognize the opportunity for a post when you see one.
As always I hope this was helpful but if anyone has any follow questions or input of their own, please do share it in the comments below. After all, it might turn into a whole new post! 😉