One of my favorite ways to help me think of new article ideas is through brainstorming. As a freelance writer it is important to always have something to write about! But how do you think of new ideas? For me, especially when I need to create a large body of content around a specific topic, brainstorming is highly effective.
I like to brainstorm on paper. Usually large sheets of paper where I can write and scribble and scrawl down myriads of writing ideas quickly. And visually. However – for today’s post I’ll go through the process online just so you can see it. Here’s how I brainstorm article ideas for web content production.
Start With Your Main Writing Topic and then Be Specific
This is especially helpful if you are writing a lot of articles over a long period of time about a specific topic. For example, I am the Plants & Bulbs Feature Writer at Suite101.com. So every week I need to be able to write an article related to plants or bulbs somehow.
So I’ll start with my main topic first and then begin to make it more and more specific until the individual ideas are single articles or “content webs” (article series). Plants > Plants for Certain Landscape Situations > Plants for Winter Garden Interest > Evergreens > Variegated Evergreens/Conifer Plants/ Colored Evergreen Foliage/Broad Leaf Evergreen Shrubs/ Evergreen Perennial Plants
See how the thought process broke everything down smaller and smaller? What types of plants do you need for winter interest? Evergreen plants! But even “Evergreen Plants” would be a broad topic. An entire book, in fact. So you could easily break that down even further into “Evergreen Shrubs” and “Evergreen Perennials”. Now you can see that through brainstorming “Winter Interest in the Garden” became enough articles for an entire month or two! Plus, when I decided to turn the idea into an ebook later, I could easily do so because I had already mapped out the entire article series.
Write Down Everything First – Edit Your Article Ideas Later
The absolute worst thing you can do while brainstorm article ideas is to limit yourself in any way. Don’t write down “Winter Landscaping” and then think, “Oh, that’s a dumb idea to write about in April when everyone is planning spring and summer gardens!”. Write it down! Your goal for this brainstorming session is to write down enough article ideas to keep you going for MONTHS. I’m serious!
When I began working as the Plants and Bulbs Feature Writer in October of 2006 I brainstormed several article series ideas on a large sheet of my son’s construction paper. Last month I copied the last of the ideas down into a notebook paper and threw the large construction paper away, but I still jotted down about a dozen more ideas I haven’t used yet. In over two years. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot brainstorm a year’s worth of article ideas in about an hour of free association brainstorming. If you are having trouble coming up with ideas – leave a comment and let me know what you are wanting to write about! Maybe I can help you brainstorm an article or two or ten.