My first thought was to title this post “Desperately Seeking Inspiration” but that is not entirely accurate. Seeking, yes – desperate, no. In fact just the act of seeking inspiration inspired me this morning as I prepare for today’s live broadcast of Social Media Edge Radio. Normally one need not look far for enough inspiration to fire off 250-500 words for their blog. Truthfully it matters little whether the post is by assignment, for hire or for personal reasons most writers need a lodestone to motivate them into creating a work worthy of reading … and sharing.
Having been behind the blocks when it comes to finding a topic or even get the inspiration to write an assigned article I know how it feels to twittle (or Twitter) until it hits me. Like today where I found a guitar pick on my desk, stuck it to my forehead and fired off a webcam photo and the next thing you know I’m writing an article about blog inspiration. I know, however, it is not always that easy so here is what I do when I need a topic whether it be for Social Media Edge, Zoonds, Active Rain, this blog, or anything else where my topic is not picked by the person stroking the check.
Mass Up on RSS Feeds
Use whatever reader you like. iGoogle is free, Google reader is free and both are platform independent. Group your RSS feeds into categories that make sense to you. I have mine as such: Business, Economy, Technology, Politics, and Humor.
Usually one of the first things I do in the morning is look through my RSS feeds. I do often use Google Reader and it will tell me just enough information to find something new. There are more powerful readers and some which do quite a bit of work for you but for free GR isn’t so bad.
Bookmark Everything Interesting
In my bookmarks I have a folder named “Topics”. Inside of it I have links to everything you can think of that I don’t have dumping into my RSS readers and some things I do. There are subfolders to match the names of the categories mentioned in the previous paragraph and one just named “Interesting”.
Dig on Twitter
Have you ever searched Twitter? I don’t mean for a person I mean for a topic. Go into Twitter and use that search function and search on just about any topic you want and voila … you’ll have 4,000 stories about Tim Tebow in a flash. Of course they’ll all be the same so you’ll have to dig a little. One of my favorite Twitter searches is for infographics. Try it, here’s the link.
Absentee Fishing with Google Alerts
If you do not use Google Alerts you should start now. Set up alerts on the topics you most write on or on topics that are currently trending. You’ll want to make sure you choose good search terms because in years like this setting an alert on “election” would be … dumb. I set alerts on things like “LAMP development” and “social media tool”. Google Alerts are here.
Follow The Trends
I am beginning to sound like a Google evangelist but the truth is they just have so many good, free tools. So I guess I am. One of the best ways to find hot topics to blog about is to visit Google Trends. GT will give you ten of the hottest trending topics on the landing page and if you click “more” you will be presented with 20. You can also set the date to some time in the past to see what was trending on that date. Google Trends is here.