I just got off the phone with a client and we were chatting about a list of 10-15 blog post ideas that I had created for her. She asked me where I came up with those ideas as she figured some people would struggle with creating a list like that — specifically in an area that they weren’t familiar with.
I told her that most of my blog post ideas come first from a session of inquiry — I ask myself, “What would I like to know about this subject?” Sometimes that means drawing on my past experiences and other times it simply stems from pure, genuine curiosity. I love knowing how things work so asking myself that question generally ignites a fire inside of myself of wanting to know more.
The second place that I glean inspiration from is a source that I’m much more methodological about. Whereas the first is much more of a brainstorming process, and less about a system, the second is grounded in my ability to wrangle together some tech to help support my needs.
The tech tool that I use is Feedly and here’s how it helps me generate inspiration for blog posts, vlogs and e-books.
Step #1 – Set Up a Feedly Account
The first step in curating content to inspire you is to create an account over at Feedly.
Feedly is an RSS feed reader, which means you can copy / paste the URL of blogs you love (or blogs in a niche area) into the tool to generate a feed that makes it really easy to read ten, twenty or hundreds of the blogs you love.
All of the blogs you subscribe to can be sorted into helpful categories (aka feeds) and once added, will populate an easy-to-read feed like the one you see below.
Step #2 – Add Your Favorite Blogs or Blogs in Niche Categories
I’ll typically add 25-50 blogs per category. This is because many of them have a slow publishing schedule, which means if I only have 5-10 blog posts in a category, I may not see new posts for some time.
The goal is to get a really good feel for what’s happening in the industry or niche topic so that I can pick up on trends quickly and without much effort. I look for blogs that update often and get lots of shares to social media and, if they are open, comments.
Once the blogs have been added, I login and refresh that specific category whenever I am about to do any type of creative work for a client or my own blog.
Step #3 – Browse the Posts and Process Them
After you get into a routine of checking Feedly, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of processing the new posts that appear.
I like to leverage the “Read Later” or “Save to Board” options (as seen in the screenshot below) as it lets me clip things that I know will be good for my own writing or for my client’s writing.
Anything that I know isn’t a good fit or is more promotional or company-specific news related, I simply use the “Mark as Read and Hide” option, which removes them from the feed.
* * *
The goal with this process isn’t to make a list of blogs to copy from but rather to take away enough new ideas, and keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry, so that you feel inspired to write and have a direction to write in.
I have found this to be an effective way to “deep dive” into an industry, too, specifically when I work with a client whose focus falls outside of my general arcs of fire.