WeblogToolsCollection.com recently published an article that discussed how to develop post ideas. Near the end, the author wanted to know what individuals did to generate post ideas on their own and quite a few people responded in the comments. Most people used the drafts section of WordPress to write down a block of notes for a particular post and then saved it for future use. Others used a text file on their desktop, sticky notes, note taking applications, etc. As a blogger myself, I thought I’d share my tips and techniques for how I generate ideas for posts. This list is in no particular order.
Twitter – Without a doubt, the biggest source of ideas to write about has come from Twitter. The WPTavern twitter account follows 237 people, 95% of these folks have something to do with WordPress. Through theme and their streams, I get links to interesting sites, ideas, discussions, etc. For a long time, I practically stopped using my feedreader in place of Twitter because it was that effective for me.
RSS – It’s interesting that just the other day, Adii of WooThemes asked this question:
I seem to get most of the most important news stories via Twitter. so why bother with RSS?
The short answer is, Twitter can’t give you the scoop on everything WordPress related and that is how I maximize my use of RSS. While Twitter is the pulse of what is going on right now, RSS and the feeds I have subscribed to provide me a bigger picture with regards to what is happening with WordPress. Everything from development to plugin and theme releases, RSS does a great job at filling the gaps that Twitter leaves open. I can’t tell you how often I’ve found a great story in my feedreader that was not mentioned on Twitter. Also, you have to subscribe to feeds and searches which give you a non-WordPress community perspective on things. Too much in-house linking and you begin to lose focus on the bigger picture.
Comments – I envy those blogs who have an intelligent audience such as the case with WPTavern.com. All too often throughout a conversation, I’ll see bits and pieces of opinions or topics that generate new posts ideas. Whether it be the passing on of a link to a relevant article or a plugin that fixes a problem, I’ve always enjoyed reading thoughtful comments which continue the conversation rather than derail it. Comments are like additional food for thought.
Normal Conversation – Whether I’m chatting in IRC, on Skype, or through any other real-time means of communication, I’m always on the lookout for ideas to talk about. There have been many times where I’ve conversed with someone about a particular topic I had in mind and because of the conversation, I’ve changed the way I was going to write the post or, I come up with two posts on the subject.
Community – Luckily, I have a strong community of folks who participate on the forum and who I communicate with on a daily basis. If they find something interesting or newsworthy, they generally say so on the forum or send it to me in an email.
Not Thinking About The Topics – To be honest, this is when I think of post ideas the most. When I’m not thinking about the subject. When I’m reading a magazine or when I’m outside on a hike, I’m thinking about things I’ve written already or things I’ve seen pop up and I have time to formulate ideas or ways to approach the topic for a future post. This is also when I have free time to think of random, insane ideas which are always fun as they challenge my imagination.
This is the point where I think most people will be shocked in that, I don’t write down ideas or write draft posts. I’m one of those people that if an idea is flowing or I need to write a post, I do so right then and there either on my iPhone or in the write panel. Although because of the iPhone, I’ll sometimes just write the majority of my thoughts regarding the topic and then attack it again once I reach a desktop or my notebook. That’s as far as I go with drafts.
The bottom line is, I am open minded to any and all ideas. I’m always on the lookout for them and thankfully, I have a knack of choosing some good ones to write about.