I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Facebook.

OK, so maybe destroyed is a bit dramatic, but they were at least heavily distracted by it.

And so it goes. We in the world of content marketing have a lot of things to click on. There are blog posts to read. There are whitepapers to download. There is research to skim. There is news to dissect. There are viral videos to watch. There are infographics to print out. There are webinars to attend. There are podcasts to tune in to.

It all becomes a bit exhausting after a while.

infinite blog post ideas

Image via: abstractlight

And oh yeah, damn, we still have to get that blog post written?

So we go back to the web for inspiration:

“Can I post a counterpost to this blog post?”

“Can I blog about the highlights of this whitepaper or research?”

“Can I write about why this viral video was so … viral?”

“Can I embed this infographic and write about why it rules?”

“Can I post my ‘takeaway’ from the webinar I just watched?”

The answer to all of the above is yes. That is if you’re okay with contributing to the echo chamber and putting people to sleep.

But if you really want to create compelling content, if you really want to bring something fresh to the table, if you really want to make a name for yourself there’s really only one thing to do: work.

Why You’ll Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas if You Just Get to Work

  • You’ll run into real-life problems that you have to create a solution for. Your story will make an interesting tale.
  • You’ll break things and have to fix them, and the way you did it will provide a great tutorial.
  • You’ll get tough questions from smart people that you don’t have the answer for. You’ll have to figure it out and find one for them.
  • You’ll experiment with things just to see how they work, and your failures and accidental successes will make for interesting case studies.
  • You’ll spend less time as the audience and more time as the actor, and the experience will improve your credibility, build your skill set, and add bullet points to your resume.

Sure, maybe diving in isn’t as fun as floating around on the web, but when you come up for air, you’ll have better stories to tell. And the blog posts will write themselves.

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About Andrew Hanelly

Andrew Hanelly

Andrew is SVP, Strategy for McMurry/TMG and for one semester in college, was a sociology major. He writes at Brain on Digital, as @hanelly on Twitter and here on Google+.

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  • http://binghamtonmarketing.com/ Ben Giordano

    Amen! I've been trying to implement this exact thing over the past couple of months and found that I have been in a much better place for it. I used to spend all day trying to find great stuff to write about, now by spending more time with my head down in actual work, when I do write it really has a lot more depth.

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      We're on the same page, Ben. This dawned on me a few weeks ago when I was writing an email to a client explaining something and then all of the sudden I realized my email was a blog post. The skies parted, and a beam of sunlight shined down from heaven.

      • http://binghamtonmarketing.com/ Ben Giordano

        Very cool, yea, I always turn emails into website content if at all possible. I do web design and instead of sending out a PDF or email with instructions on how to update content I direct clients to a page I created with tutorials and instructions on my site. As I keep adding to it, it's a huge win win also, new content for my site, less email questions, more credibility, and on an on it goes.

        • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

          I like where your head's at, Ben. Then, instead of having your knowledge evaporate, you have an archive of useful material that works for you in a lot of ways. Great stuff, man.

  • http://www.secretsushi.com/ Adam Helweh

    Excellent quick read Andrew. I am in full agreement.
    Don't blog for the sake of blogging. Blog because you want to take the opportunity to put something out there and see what impact it makes. Do you move their needle or does the guy/gal with the great comment move yours? Likely both.

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      Exactly, dude. Just as you want to have impact on the work you do in your daily life, your blog should be a reflection of that. You wouldn't filibuster in a real-life conversation with a client, so why do it in a blog post? Great comment, Adam, thanks.

  • http://www.brainwads.net/drewhawkins Drew Hawkins

    Simple yet to the point. Never thought about it until now but my best blog posts have come from personal experiences and not simply commentary. Well said.

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      I appreciate you appreciating it. I feel like it's so much less of a stretch to write a post when I'm just telling a story that happened, rather than contriving one from some stuff I saw online (though I'm guilty of doing both). Thanks for the comment, Drew.

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    If you really know your niche, then the content just comes to you..and it never stops..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      I guess I'd have to ask you then: how do you get to know your niche? Typically by doing work in it, no?

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

    Andrew, good observations. Instructions, stories, even editorials are all made much more rich when they stem from personal, hands-on experiences. The perspectives are deeper and generally include anecdotes and colorful insights factored in from several perspectives. When you've done it, your writing will generally include reference or mention to what the *other* guy/side saw/felt/thought, providing a more well-rounded picture than the standard birds-eye view.

    Like-y. :-)

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      Thanks, Heather! Your comment made me think of one of my favorite lines in Good Will Hunting, when Robin Williams' character says to Matt Damon (Will Hunting):

      “So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that.”

  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    Hey Andrew,

    I keep a moleskine notepad handy with me at all times. I write down questions, post titles, jot down notes, etc and look to the day ahead where I can take at least one of those points and turn it into content for our company blog, a webinar, an ebook or a post for my personal blog.

    When I head home, I stop by the coffee shop or Barnes and Noble to just sit and write some more. There's a quote I read somewhere: “Write when you don't feel like it. If you can't write, read.”

    Writing makes you a better writer. The more you practice the better you get. Same goes for reading (imo). You have to train yourself and exercise daily to get better at it.

    Anyway, good post and great things to think about!

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      Those are great tips, Ricardo. Thanks for the comment. I love the quote you listed.

  • http://www.moneymakerlegend.com Fazal Mayar

    nice stuff andrew. I often dont know what to write about but inspiration to write a blog post just comes by reading other bloggers.

  • http://www.automatedsocialnetworking.com Nicole

    Awesome post… Really informative and some great points you have here Andrew… You really gave me some ideas… Thanks for sharing… Great tips from Ricardo too… Thanks guys…

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Wow, lots to digest. Thanks for generously sharing this useful info. Especially appreciate the acknowledgment that for blog writing, the goal may not be tens of thousands of fans but a few hundred solid ones.

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    […]Thanks for generously sharing this useful info[…]
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  • http://www.michaeltmak.com Michael T. Makahamadze

    Hi Andrew,

    My first time stopping here, and I fell right into a great post. Just when I was contemplating some of the exact questions you ran through in your article.

    This definitely does give inspiration to think outside the box a bit. We attend a lot of seminars and webinars and read a whole lot, and want to add to this. Better exposure can come from our own initiative. I guess it's about just getting down to work.

    Thanks for the excellent post and ideas.

    Michael T. Makahamadze

    • http://www.hanelly.com hanelly

      Thanks for the kind words, Michael. The reason I actually wrote this post was because I caught myself messing around online; clicking links, jotting down notes from research and webinars, basically doing a lot of nothing and wondering why I wasn't getting inspired to write. Then, all of the sudden, I realized my best ideas come from when I've actually done work. So, this post is sort of an example of that, in a weird way.

      Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Definitely subscribe to Jason's blog, there are a bunch of really smart people on this thing. And Jason is an all-around good dude.

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Consider me a subscriber your ideas. I might not write about those subjects immediately, but I’ll certainly pay attention. Some real winners in there.

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