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How do you Find Stories for Your blog? – Open Mike

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of February 2007 Writing Content 0 Comments

On the weekend I asked readers to submit their tips on how they find readers for their blog in an ‘open mike’ discussion – the results were pretty good (it’s done pretty well on Digg today – I hope some of those featured got some good flow on traffic).

Today I’d like to open up a discussion around another question.

Where do you Find Stories for Your Blog?

I’m interested to hear from bloggers of all varieties (news bloggers, tips bloggers, business bloggers etc).

  • Where do the ideas from your stories come?
  • What tools do you use to find them?
  • What blogs/sites/offline sources do you use to track them?
  • How do you work out which stories to write about and which to leave out?

I’m really after any tip that you’ve found helpful in keeping your blog up to date with interesting, useful and unique content. There’s no wrong or right answers – no tip is too simple or advanced.

Looking forward to reading your wisdom – hopefully we all can learn a thing or two in the process.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. Concerning my blog on science communication, popularization and education,

    IDEAS COME FROM: current work experiences, past experiences (I’ve been doing this activity for over two decades), conversations with colleagues/friends, conversations with students/visitors, TV shows (lots of material: TV coverage of science — and possibly everything else — is awful), book reading, plain old personal reflections and brainstorming. I think a lot and I accumulated lots of ideas over the past years. One of the purposes of the blog is to “dump” such ideas somewhere.

    TOOLS FOR FINDING STORIES: online forums, web, a few blogs (relatively limited niche).

    SOURCES TO TRACK STORIES: already covered. But let me add this: when you run across an idea, even a simple one, jot it down immediately on the first scrap of paper you can get your hands on.

    WHICH STORIES TO WRITE ABOUT: I started my blog just a month ago and I currently don’t leave out any stories, but I keep a long list of possible topics and don’t yet know which will find their way to the blog.

  2. For me, there are three main avenues for finding posts:

    1) My archives: Sometimes inspiration is as easy as looking back through older articles I have written. Almost everything I have written has some angle I didn’t explore before, or some tangent I discounted originally, or didn’t notice that can now be developed.

    2) My notebooks: I keep a notebook with me pretty much all of the time, and jot down random thoughts, quotes, interesting things I come across and reminders to myself to dig deeper into topics that have grabbed my imagination. I also use my notebook as an index or concordance to all of the books I read, which are all well highlighted and full of marginalia, perfect for plumbing for new ideas.

    3) The outside world: Whether it be through the aforementioned books, my ridiculously large rss list, random web searches, conversations overheard on the train or what have you; sometimes all it takes to find an interesting story is to sit still somewhere and let it come to you.

  3. One easy way to get some ideas is to create some Google Alerts around specific keywords/products/people you’re interested in. Obviously if you’re promoting a product of some kind (such as Uncommon AdSense in my case) you’ll want to create an alert for the product name. But you can add alerts around any keyword that’s related to the general theme of your blog. You’ll then get an email from Google whenever there are new web pages, news items, or blog posts containing those keywords. You can often use those pages as starting points for a new blog posting.

    Don’t forget to add an alert for your own name so you can catch references to you from people who aren’t linking back to your blog.

  4. Inspiration and content comes from a variety of sources. In my experience, if you use sources too regularly, your blogging might begin to get stale. Variation is a big key for me.

    With that said, here are two great sources I like to use to spice things up a bit:

    1) Podcasts – Sometimes I get great article ideas by getting away from the computer and just listening to someone’s podcast. There are tons of good ones out there. You might even find inspiration for your blog in a podcast way outside your niche. I think podcasts help vary the brain’s thinking from “have to write” to “fill me with ideas.”

    2) Reader feedback – This comes in the form of comments, emails, trackbacks, etc. I’ve had readers suggest some awesome post ideas, or just comment in a way that leads to another post. I’m trying to highlight reader email questions (and my answers) with their own post, to help foster more feedback and generate even better ideas.

    Darren – Thanks for your awesome work!

  5. My blog is about Shakespeare, so it’s relatively easy to setup Google, Technorati and Delicious alerts for whenever somebody tags something that way. It’s fairly unique, although I do have to weed out stories about racehorses and fishing poles. I throw out all stories where the reference is trivial, such as newspaper articles that merely say “As Shakespeare once said…” or livejournal blog posts of students saying “Oh well, have to go read Shakespeare now.”

    I also opt not to post information on performances, using a simple guideline – there are too many to keep track of. Should I track just the ones in my own local area? That wouldn’t be much of a service to my wider audience. It wouldn’t make sense to pick and choose, since I have no real way of knowing which performances around the world are good or bad. Every now and then I’ll post one if there’s something special about it (for instance, Patrick Stewart doing Shakespeare is always worth a reference so people don’t miss their chance to see him).

    Shakespeare’s a good topic to do book and movie reviews on as well, so I keep an eye out for these. They’re easy hits. Still waiting on that version of Macbeth starring Jennifer Connelly and Philip Seymour Hoffman :).

    I also keep my eyes and ears open to content and references, online and offline, that might be interesting. I get lots of traffic for people looking for Shakespeare quotes on the Simpsons, for some reason. And just this weekend I had dinner with a woman who teaches high school Shakespeare. I could fill a week with stories that came out of that conversation.

    Lastly, it’s ok to have original opinions as well. I’ll think up my own questions on some issue (example, “If Juliet is 13, how old is Romeo?” or “Did Hamlet’s mother Gertrude know that Claudius killed her husband?”) and throw them out to the audience, offering my answer to the question and encouraging discussion. I doubt I’ll ever find myself on Digg :), but I get my share of people who know what they’re looking for and like to contribute.

  6. One way that I get a lot of post ideas for my blog is from mainstream media sources. I’ll take a story that Newsweek or MSNBC or CNN has done, highlight the best parts, and then add my own commentary (what’s wrong with the story, taking it one or two steps further, or going deeper into something that they just mentioned). One of my favorites news sources for this is the Washington Post, because they link back to people who are blogging their articles.

  7. I used to have daily google alerts for my blog, which was pretty good for news-type coverage but not quite what I was looking for. Since I’m addicted to information and I parse through disgusting volumes of news-content each day, that mostly supplants the specific alerts, since I tend to be on top of whatever Google Alerts would have sent me anyways. I have about 75 blogs relevant to my topic subscribed in Feedburner in specific folders, and I look through those and if anything good or inspiring is there–or anywhere else–I just plop it into ‘working blog posts’ folder that I have and write about it later, or as necessary. Then whenever I want a new post I just go to that folder, pick a topic, and write.

    Annoying I have to go read the Chronicle of Higher Education in hard copy because I don’t have an online subscription to it… but just about everything else I can handle through my online digital data meta-stream.

    I also get a lot of very relevant e-mails from readers and other interesting people and I keep those in a folder in Thunderbird, and I leave them sitting there–mocking me, I guess–until I finally get around to writing about them.

    Usually turns out pretty well, and my problem is usually having too much to write and not enough time to pen it all down!

  8. Most political blogs focus on stories involving celebrities as covered in national media outlets; the NY Times on Hillary Clinton’s visit to Iowa, the Washington Post on John Negroponte’s confirmation hearings. Today, I suspect thousands of blogs are generating noisy feedback about Judith Miller’s testimony at the Scooter Libby trial.

    I find news and inspiration in local and state level stories in a selection of smaller market newspapers, particularly state capitols such as the Boston Globe, the Lincoln Journal Star, the Santa Fe New Mexican, and so on. They cover the day-to-day issues and politics that directly affect our daily lives. Most of us are unlikely to affect the next election on the West Bank, but you may be able to change the outcome of a city council race.

    So, before you add to the repetitive chatter about The Big Global Issue, read the local news in the online edition of a newspaper in another region of your country. And, remember the cliche: Think globally, act locally.

  9. Most of my ideas for what to write about on my blog come to me when I go for a run. (My blog isn’t about running but I find that a long solitary run is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.)

  10. I find ideas are basically everywhere. Other blogs provide some ideas, google alerts on keywords are very useful, then I’ve got some good websites I read, books from the library and reader comments.

    For those stories I like a lot I email myself a link so I recall it later and then I’ll write a draft post. Then I have to ignore it for a day and then I can really edit it into something useful otherwise I find my writing never is as good on a quick second draft.

    I tend to only keep up to 4 drafts going at once. Otherwise I start to have too many stories going on in my head. I will write the draft in google docs or blogger itself. That way I can work on them regards if I’m at home or work during lunch.

  11. I utilize a combination of tatics for topics on my website.

    1) Real life conversations. I am currently working on an article about securing wireless networks because a conversation with a friend not wanting to secure his home wireless network. I also did a article on password security because of a conversation with my father about using safer passwords.

    2) RSS Feeds. I subscrible a decent number of RSS feeds and when a story comes up that I feel I need to talk about, comment on, or debate, I del.icio.us that story as a “BlogIdea” for later use.

    3) Random ideas that I come up with throughout the day. Google Notebook really helps me keep my ideas in line. And since there are very few times I am not around a computer, I always have access to it to jot down ideas.

  12. Here are my seven inspirations for stories. I never fail to get an idea from one of these.

    1. My readers. I read every comment posted. About a quarter of them have enough juice to send me down the path to a new post. Plus, some of them email me, too.

    2. Bookstores. When I feel empty, I go to a bookstore and wander around. I pick up magazines related to my topic and leaf through them. I browse books related to my topic. I’m not looking for things to copy, just little nuggets of ideas that can get my juices flowing.

    3. Participation. My blog is about personal finance. If I am engaged in a personal finance related activity (and many things are: shopping, paying bills, etc.), I look for great stories and ideas in that activity.

    4. Other blogs on my topic. I read a ton of blogs that focus on topics that are approximately similar to mine in topic. Blogging is a conversation, and I find myself continuing dozens of them each day.

    5. Well written blogs not on my topic. I also read a lot of well-constructed blogs that aren’t on my topic. A well-written blog is one with great ideas and writing that I might be able to hook into my own concepts. Obviously, this blog is one, but I have dozens more. Thank god for RSS.

    6. Conversation. I talk to people, both in real life and on instant messenger and soon on the radio. The stories that people tell me are often amazing, and often end up providing the source for stories on my blog.

    7. Meditation. Once a day, I spend a half an hour just stretching and meditating. My best ideas and stories usually come from that period.

    Electronically, I use RSSOwl to keep track of lots of blogs, Remember The Milk to keep track of ideas, and TextEdit/Notepad for the beginnings of composition. When I’m AFK, I jot down ideas in a Moleskine notebook, a small one I keep on me at all times along with a trusty pen. I have no qualms stopping a conversation to do this – I just tell them that this conversation is fascinating and I want to jot down some thoughts so I can recall it later. People I converse with usually flattered by that.

    Hope this little essay helped someone out there!

  13. I’m fairly new to blogging but here’s my 2 cents.

    I keep a notebook with me all the time which I use to jot down any thoughts on any topic but it’s obviously used to note ideas to blog about.

    I also use mind mapping software to create ideas and then constantly expand and grow the ideas out from each other.

    This method has left me with a number of ideas and not enough time to blog them yet so I’d better get going.

    I also read a lot on my subject for influence, reference, news and ideas. I read blogs, magazines, books and other websites

  14. Brandon Wood says: 02/01/2007 at 2:29 am

    I typically have two ways that I come up with ideas for stories for my blog:

    1 – My feed reader. As I go through my feeds (I use Google Reader), I star any items that I find interesting and may want to come back to. Once I’ve gone through everything once, I go back to my starred items and see what sticks out at me. Usually there is some good material for a few posts.

    2 – Personal experiences. I write a lot about web design and programming in my blog, and a lot of what I write comes from personal experience in the field. Sometimes I’ll learn a new CSS trick or figure out a tricky PHP problem, and then I’ll write about it to share the knowledge.

  15. I have several gadget blogs – computers, cellphones, etc;. There are several ways I find the stories:

    1. Vendor sites, their PR page in English.
    2. Vendor sites in original language. I use Google and AltVista translation tools for them.
    3. Popular blogs, grouped according to the topic. Also includes blogs and sites in other languages e.g. russian, polish, Italian, hungarian, japanese, chinese, korean, etc; . Again, use online translation tools for them.
    4. the same with popular forums.
    5. Online databases for patents (European and US).
    6. FCC approved product database

  16. Like most people I have already mentioned, I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds that give me food for thought, plus you can really see where trends are going and what people talk about.

    Again, as previously mentioned I also listen too what people are talking about (mainly in the pub *lol*).

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the good old fashioned newspaper. Quite often there’s a small article in there that I pull out to keep for a rainy day.

  17. A surefire way to always have good original content is to carry a notepad wherever you go.

    I didn’t do this the first few months of blogging and I really wish I had. I would have great ideas at the mall or out at lunch, but would quickly forget them before I had a chance to jot them down. VERY FRUSTRATING!

    I too read a large quantity of blogs for inspiration, but original content is where it’s at! I find that posts written completely without “other blog inspiration” are always my most popular posts.

    Finally, guest bloggers are AWESOME! They bring in traffic, they bring in a new perspective and conversation, and sometimes bring in controversy. I’ve had 2 guest bloggers so far and they were my highest traffic days by far.


  18. While I’m new to blogging, I have found a number of great sources for materials. Since I blog about travel, personal stories are my main starting point.

    I’ve also subscribed to a number of feeds (Google Reader) that offer great starting-places for discussions that can be supplemented with my personal experiences. Other travel blogs have been helpful, but I also try to receive feeds from a number of relevant (and irrelevant) news sources.

    I have spent most of my life reading travel writing, so my book selection also helps provide materials.

    Friends and family are also a great source of stories and feedback. I recently posted on mishaps in foreign language, and the stories pouring in are amazing. Unfortunately most tend to be x-rated and inappropriate for a post . . . but it keeps the material flowing.

    Finally, I find that the content tends to almost generate itself. I started writing on recent travels, and that sparked many people to send me relevant and provocative articles that then help me produce more material which results in more useful forwards. It’s great. I have to filter. If I think I can add something interesting or illustrate or argue a point, it will make a post. If I find it interesting but not worth commenting on, I add a link through del.icio.us.

  19. Life is full of stories. As we build our author network at mysnowpro.com we will be pulling from a number of authors individual pages. But, as a daily regiment I carry a camera. I find one can either build a story around a photo(s), or use photos/videos to compliment a story.

    As my daily conditions report goes, I take lesson topics from the day to share them with the readers. Also FAQ’s are good topics to expand upon.

    I have also been building content from ideas that I have been receiving from comments and discussions of my articles which have been picked up by industry forums.

    I certainly look forward to more snowsport instructors creating their pages on MSP so I can feed of those ideas with trackbacks.

    thank you for the forum to write down these ideas and get some new ones from your readers.


  20. I get my ideas from several sources which include some that have already been mentioned.

    1) Personal experiences. Since I compete in ultra distance cycling events, I have stories about events and tips from things I’ve learned.

    2) RSS feeds from other blogs and news sites.

    3) Subscriptions to niche groups on Yahoo, Topica, etc.

    4) E-mail alerts from advocacy groups.

  21. I find stories by keeping an close eye on certain keywords related to niche on Technorati (RSS comes to the rescue!!)

    Apart from this, I also subscribe to tens of thousands of RSS Feeds (This time NetNewsWire comes to the rescue!!)

  22. 1. Visit related sites/blogs
    Benefit of this is: you can get an idea what’s hot and worth to write about in your niche really quick, also, leave a comment right the way will give you an entrance to your own blog. I’ve also seen some bloggers do nothing but quote other bloggers articles and put few together… grrrr…

    2. Forums/Social network that has a related topic
    Take a glance of those place will also give an idea what people talked the most and willing to talk about. Questions got asked and answers that has been put together will save you lots of time doing research.

    3. My personal reading material (Books and magazine/TV or radio)
    Traditional medias are very well established. Also, they’ve got a huge group of people working behind it to capture new and hot topics from all kinds of resource which individual bloggers can’t afford to hire.

    4. Site status
    By looking at what keyword your visitor put in will also inspire me to write a new topic. Due to the RSS feature, some search result will lead a visitor who search for some completely different to my site. By writing a new article about that phrase, you give yourself a new topic, as well as some new potential visitors.

  23. My blog covers a variety of topics, so I like to use many of the methods already mentioned, but I also wanted to add in the use of Digg. There is a lot of bad and/or useless links that flow through Digg, but there are gems that show up every once in a while, like the first open mike discussion, that lead to ideas that I would not have otherwise found.

    Also, I like to see where other bloggers in my niche are getting there ideas from, by following their source links. It’s a great way to find new sites to add to the RSS feed group that I follow.

  24. I absorb all kind of information during the day and then, just before I go to sleep, I try to remember something worth writing about. It usually ends next morning when the whole process is repeated.

    My main sources are:
    1. RSS feeds I’m subscribed to.
    2. Comments on blogs I read.
    3. Forums.
    4. Real life experience.
    5. Problogger.net

  25. Darren,

    Thanks for the question. I went ahead and answered it with this new post on my blog.

    To summarize:

    1. My Life
    2. Reader Comments
    3. Other Blogs and Websites
    4. Darren Rowse’s Group Writing Projects
    5. Searching YouTube
    6. Searching Forums for Questions
    7. Searching Yahoo Answers for Questions
    8. Giving Polls
    9. Taking Polls
    10. Interviews
    11. E-mails
    12. Brainstorming
    13. Creating Lists
    14. Keyword Research
    15. Watching Television
    16. Listening to the Radio
    17. Having a Dreamer Personality Type

    Thanks again for the inspiration for a new post!

  26. Using feeds is I think the only realistic way to keep up with blogging community but does have its draw backs paticularly using feed reader like Google Reader, which I have up constantly and only now has shown this post. I wrote an article yesterday on reputation management which included a list of ways to find stories and links you can find it Quick guide to reputation management the third post, I can’t find a way to link to it directly.

  27. Serph.com and their RSS feeds will keep you on top of specific topics. Del.icio.us/popular, popurls.com and diggdot.us help track buzz.

  28. My blog isn’t a focused blog, nor is it ad-driven (I’ve discovered I hate ads). I don’t actually make money from my blog, but rather from sales of my book and articles that I often “test drive” at my blog. Here’s where I get my ideas:

    1. Reading RSS feeds (and a number of my posts lately are speedlinks), including my friends’ LiveJournal feeds.

    2. Attending my club events. I’m in several clubs, including Toastmasters and STC. Attending these meetings puts me in contact with more people and increases the number of people who have expressed a need for information on a subject.

    3. My agent. I’m a book author, and the agency I’m signed with has a syndicated content site. I get suggestions for what to write about there.

    4. Helium.com’s “articles wanted” section (at the bottom of each channel). I use this as a meter for what people are looking for. I may or may not write a Helium article about it, but I file it away as “something to research later.”

    5. My own travel plans. I’m traveling about every other month now, so I plan in advance to write about my travels when I go.

    6. Books I’m reading. I podcast my book reviews.

    7. Technology failures! So far, the three most popular blog posts that I haven’t tried to promote are the three posts I wrote about fixing all the problems I’ve had with .mac and iSync. If I have a problem and find a solution, I document it.

    8. StumbleUpon– I love surfing for cool things on the web.

    9. Blog Carnival. I look for upcoming blog carnivals that I might want to contribute to, and then I write a post that I can send to them.

    10. My hobbies. There are whole categories in my blog dedicated to my crafting hobbies and my pets. Some are “how to” posts, and some are about projects I’m working on or have completed.

  29. Oh, I forgot one more! The mailing lists and Yahoo! groups I’m on. In fact, there’s one I should read more regularly so I can post more up-to-date news and information for readers of my book.

  30. I have a couple of main sources I pull aggregate stories from, and one that I pull solely original content. eGamer is an entertainment blog primarily skewed towards interactive media (a nice round way saying “video games”). GameTab is a good place to get a whole bunch of feeds stored on one page. I generally get all my gaming headlines from that site, then dig deeper for the ones I want to research and maybe write about.

    For films and my blogging at FilmRot, I use our own feed collector and go through the same process as when I blog about gaming. I have a pretty old laptop that is not friendly to many independent RSS readers. My friend James swears up and down by RSS Bandit, but I’ve found it can be too taking on my system’s processor and RAM. Needless to say I do most of my feed research through FireFox.

    Original content can come from anywhere. The crux is to find a central idea or theme that you want to run in the story. It all depends on what type of blog you write for, of course, and the two that I contribute to allow for more creative flexibility in terms of humor and satire. Researching humor is a mountainous task, because I don’t really believe it can be taught. You can report a well researched story all you want, but making it funny is completely an individual effort. That said, I find that most, if not all, of my original humorous posts are formed in the shower. I’ve just always been able to think clearer and have more ideas while standing under a cascade of hot water. That’s just me. ;)

    Hope this helps!

  31. reading other blogs and rss feeds are the most important ways for me. but some good ideas comes from areas upside the internet and blog.

    1. personal discussion with friends
    2. bookstore surfing
    3. reading paper and magazines
    4. updating archives and special posts
    5. collecting ideas for a new project
    6. reflection about future trends
    7. personal research and small own case studies
    8. testing new software versions

  32. A combination of life, work, and various online search feeds.

  33. By “stories” I’ll assume we also genericly mean “posts”. Roughly 75% of my primary blog are straight out reviews. This content is easy to get and keep up but your reviews should be interesting. I’ve actually been receiving a fair number of complements lately on my review style as my blog has become more popular.

    As for news related articles, generally I lift them from other sites I frequent on the same topic. However instead of just regugitating the same garbage everyone else is I’ll post an actual thought or opinion on it.

    Then there is always life experience. I have a second blog that details various experiences while at work. These are not “This job sucks” posts these are “I did some sort of repair and this is why and how the system works”. It’s sort of a behind the scenes of broadcast television. Unfortunatley it’s excessively niche in topic so I have essentially zero readers. IT’s mostly for my log and benefit more than anything.

    Then of course I have a few other blogs about generic life experience. My old livejournal is updated when I feel like blabbing off random boring pointlessness. I have a wordpress blog about my family life. I’ve recently started playing with the Vox account Istarted a while ago on the subject of experiences doing photography.

    So I guess primarily I get inspiration from experiences.

  34. I have several sources for information and inspiration.

    Flash from above – it just comes to me. Very often when I’m sitting on the train during my evening commute.

    Other blogs – I subscribe to a number of blogs’ feeds in my niche.

    Google Alerts – I have searches set up for a few keywords in my niche. It also helps that I use GMail and I have a large archive of these things.

    Technorati search feed – Again on a couple of keywords. This helps me find blogs that I don’t read but happen to be on my topic, at least for one post.

    Offline – I try to keep my eyes open out in the “real world”. Newspaper stories, for instance.

    I use Google Reader, Gmail, and Window Live Writer.

    How do I determine what to use and what stories to write about? It has to interest me. Maybe there’s some odd or humorous angle to the story. If the story, or what I’m writing, is interesting to me, then I am fairly confident that much of my audience will find it interesting as well.

  35. I write about the stock market so I have thousands of angles to take each day but when I want to write an educational or inspiring piece and I am drawing a blank; I also search the archives.

    I recently switched from blogger to wordpress and my readership has grown over the years so I have gone back and continue to re-write articles from the past with my latest knowledge, data and life experiences. Many of my new readers will never see those old articles and some of them were extremely popular in the past.

    Aside from the archives: other blogs, websites, radio and print give me ideas each day. Finally, I love books (older Wall Street books) so I get endless ideas from reading stories from 50-100 years ago. It all applies to today’s life with a newer spin!

  36. My own inspiration comes from two core places:

    1. Google Reader is one of the best ways to keep up on current events. I could never consume the amount of information I get from Google Reader by keeping a list of bookmarks, or even using some of the other feed reading services. Any time I find a new, interesting site, I subscribe.

    The key here is to always leave your own mark on whatever you publish. Cite your sources, but make your writing your own. Don’t just regurgitate.

    2. The people around me: I work in I.T., and publish a website about making use of (and dealing with) computers. Work is a gold mine of material, because I get to observe how non-technical people view and use their computers daily.

  37. Well, I have it pretty easy for my blog. All I have to do is learn something new! And there’s always something new to learn, so that takes care of blog material for… oh, the next 500 years or so. :)

    I think this could work well for any type of blog, though. Try to learn something new about your niche, about your community, or about yourself.

    All the suggestions here are great: RSS feeds, communities online and offline, podcasts, videos, personal experiences… Also, I’d like to add that reasearch can also be very useful — start surveys, conduct your own research! Darren has made good use of that here!

    In short, make learning new things a normal part of your life — an essential part of your life! It works even if you’re learning things that are completely unrelated to your topic. Just keep your mind full of fresh information to chew on, and it’ll be more conducive to creativity and originality.

  38. Nathan mentioned carrying around a notepad, and I would have to agree 100% with him that this is a great way of getting (and keeping ideas).

    I can often times come up with an idea while browsing the internet, or just traveling around town, but they typically slip my mind within a matter of minutes. After keeping post it notes around me, I was able to keep track of ideas I had better. I then found some programs that let me attach sticky notes right to my desktop.

    For Vista users, they have a gadget, and Mac’s have a Widget. For XP users, you may want to give the application Notezilla a try ;)


    1.Seriously though, I have my readers submit them to me…

    2. I ask friends to email me their stories

    3. My Feed Reader (e.g. other websites)

    4. Google Alert

    5. Stumbleupon

    6. bloghopping

    7. local newspaper

    8. evening news

    9. news websites

    10. forums

    11. The Public Library

    12. Yahoo Groups

    13. Your local am radio stations

    And lastly, just sit at your desk, with some silence, and brainstorm. Write down anything that comes to your mind. The main goal is to list as many ideas that pop into your mind. Set a timer to 10 minutes, and after the ten minutes you will literally have dozens of ideas on that notebook of yours.

  40. A little story(it gets relevant eventually, I promise!):

    When I was younger, my grandmother(who could read/speak only Russian, not English) subscribed to a newspaper called “V Novom Svete” (which, roughly translated means “In the New World or “In a New Light”). This was a newspaper only in the loosest sense of the word, because it arrived twice a month, so the news was hardly current. But it was still written in a newspaper style, with headlines, reports, etc, except they were weeks old. The reason people subscribed to the newspaper is that, unlike mainstream American newspapers, every single news story was written from the writer’s personal perspective, with no pretenses of objectivity. Essentially, the reporters were given carte blanche to write whatever they wanted about the topic. The entire newspaper, which still billed itself as current world news, read like one giant editorial. Thus, even though the content was weeks if not months old, the unique perspective the writers provided kept it fresh and unique for readers, and built up a large reader base largely around the personality each reporter contributed.

    Can you see the parallels to blogging? As a small to midsize blogger, you will probably never have the chance to deliver breaking news. Engadget is news. You(I am addressing the random blogger seeking advice here, not Problogger :) ) are consigned forever to the realm of opinion reporting(and blogging is, after all, nothing more than citizen journalism). However, this should not stop you from delivering something unique, something your audience can’t find anywhere else.

    And this brings me to a strategy for finding blog stories so fresh I haven’t even started using it on my own blog much (I just wanted to reminisce about old newspapers when I started writing this lengthy comment.):
    1. Find popular news stories within the scope of your blog(tech, politics, etc)
    2. Take an element of said story, flesh it out, and add your own perspective and spin, or synthesize several related stories into a fresh view.
    3. ?????
    4. Profit!

    As others have commented, it’s all about your own unique angle. If you have that, you can turn humdrum news into unique blog content. My father still has copies of V Novom Svete scattered around the house, because it reads like a political book, and provides fascinating insight into how people thought about past world events. Write quality content that uses current news but does not depend on it, and your readers will do the same.

  41. WOW this site just rocks!!
    It has been stated above as a part of other peoples comments but I have to emphasize. Ideas for blogs come from personal experience. For example, I have been building a Network Marketing business for 7 years. I have been in the trenches out there building my business through multiple means. The content for my blog (new) comes from this experience. The inspiration to write the posts typically come when I am out for a walk thinking about the experiences.
    I look forward to reading more comments on this post. This is a gold mine!!

    Chris Spurvey

  42. Google news rss feeds – Similar to Google alerts, but allows you to create a custom RSS feed with your keyword(s).

    Stumbleupon – After a few “stumbles” (again searching with a specific keyword or two) I may not find something blog-worthy, but it definitely gets the ideas flowing. The random nature of stumbleupon leads to going down new paths I hadn’t thought of before.

    Tivo keywords – I set tivo to record programs based on the same keywords as my blogs. Perhaps there is a new program or special devoted to my topic I hadn’t known about.

  43. I blog about being a student of online journalism, so some of my topics come from classes I’m taking. Others come from my feed reader (110 subscriptions and counting). If a teacher or friend mentions something that I find interesting and relevant, I’ll write about that, too. I read blogs in my niche (students and teachers in journalism, mutlimedia) and respond to interesting points on my blog.

  44. As mentioned I get post ideas through others commenting on my site and in the site forum.

    Aside from that, I also write and comment on things that others have blogged about through the use of Google Reader and Firefox Live Bookmarks.

    And in fact, most of my genius posts come from a little quiet time of pensieve thought in the shower! I find that the motion of the water helps to stimulate my brain as odd as it may seem!

    Past experiences also help me to write good posts based on analogy and current news and revenue / profitmaking always makes for good comment discussion as I find out how well others are getting on.

  45. Sorry, I put in the wrong web address.

  46. I consider your way to find topics one of the best.
    You just ask readers to give their opinions,thoughts, ways,… By doing so you get at least 3 or 4 ideas for other posts.

    You kill 2 birds with 1 stone. You get a lot of interaction and a lot of nice ideas. Not just ideas, but ideas that you know for sure that the readers are intrested in.

    Content and Traffic, 2 birds

  47. My three sources of inspiration comes from creative realization (happens alot when I’m running or waiting in line), personal reflection or observation of a specific event/object, and reflecting on quotes from wikiquotes, music, friends, fellow bloggers and strangers. I run blogs where the different forms of inspiration are best suited for them. My more praxis and practical blogs stem mainly from creative ideas and the more thought-provoking and inspirational ones come from reflections. It is interesting that the analysis of quotes can fit on most of my blogs.

  48. I take inspiration more from daily life than anywhere else. For example today, it is snowing and I’m watching people drive like idiots. Up went a quick post on how to drive more safely on snow.

  49. I find the best content just by listening. Listening to friends and family and even people I talk to out and about.

    Since my blog is about travel with kids, everyone has a story they can share about their travel. Whether it is likes, dislikes, tips, things to avoid, or expression of interest in something, I can take that and turn it into a topic.

    For example just last night a neighbor was telling me about her system for keeping all the pieces of information together before going on a trip. Her organization system included a 3-ring soft-sided binder that she took with her that included reservation info, emails exchanged in agreeing on prices for tours, and interesting things she’s printed off the web. After she’s finished with things during her trip, she can toss them. Then she fills up the binder even more with souvenir items – ticket stubs, maps, etc.

    Now that’s a great tip that I can turn into a full entry. It’s topical and interesting and can be put to good use.

  50. I like to read forums to get topic ideas. Personally when I am looking for the answer to a question that I can’t find on google, I’ll post the question on a forum.

    If you are looking to write a post that answers a question, but you dont have the question yet, forums are a great place to find it. Sometimes you can respond directly to a question that has been asked in a forum, or you can use a specific question to explain a more general question to your blog readers.

    For example, I run a guitar blog on which I write about many different topics including guitar gear, lessons, and practice techniques. I want to write about things that people want to know. So I look for posts where people are asking questions about learning guitar. Posts that have a lot of replies or views usually mean it is a popular topic.

    Like others said, I also use RSS feeds, Google Alerts, Magazines, TV, books, and other people for ideas.

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A Practical Podcast…