Brainstorming Content Ideas In 4 Steps
Since you’re someone who creates a lot of content, that means you also likely spend a fair amount of time brainstorming (or at least you should be doing this).
EXAMPLE: You need to brainstorm topic ideas. You need to brainstorm unique angles/approaches for your content. You need to brainstorm things like how to turn a step-by-step process into your own unique formula. And so on.
With that in mind, here’s a brainstorming checklist you can use to help you do all the brainstorming you need to develop content ideas, angles, talking points and more.
Step 1: Pick A Brainstorming Method
Many people think of going old school and taking pen to paper to do their brainstorming. You’ll want to experiment to see what works best for you, as some methods will open up your individual creativity better than others.
Here are different methods to try:
- Pen and paper
- Large tabletop paper plus markers
- Audio (record yourself)
- Text/document/app using your device
- Mind mapping
NOTE: While you may be brainstorming on your own (which is fine), many people find it more effective to brainstorm in groups. Even having just one other person helps the two of you think up ideas that neither of you would have thought of on your own.
To that end, consider brainstorming with a knowledgeable friend. You can brainstorm in the same room using a whiteboard. Or, if you’re not local to each other, then you can use an online chat to brainstorm. Ideas include:
- Use a platform like Trello.com.
- Try using Skype.
- Utilize a system like Slack.
- Brainstorm using Google Docs.
… or use any other platform or messenger service that you prefer.
NOTE: Trello (and similar platforms) are specifically designed for helping teams brainstorm.
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Step 2: Select A Brainstorming Topic
Before you begin brainstorming, you need to get very clear on what exactly it is that you’ll be brainstorming. If you’re not clear, you’ll likely end up thinking about all sorts of things… but not thinking or brainstorming deeply about any one of them.
To that end, start with a focused question. E.G., “What topics should I write about for my blog?”
Step 3: Shut Down All Distractions
The next part of good brainstorming is to get rid of all distractions and potential interruptions. For example:
- Schedule a block of time when you don’t need to be anywhere else immediately after (so you can extend your brainstorming session).
- Ask family members or roommates/housemates not to interrupt you.
- Turn off all distractions, including TV, music, your phone, etc. If you’re brainstorming on your computer, close all windows and apps except for the one you’re using to brainstorm.
TIP: If you’re brainstorming using a device, and you’re prone to distraction, then you might use an app like GetColdTurkey.com. This app blocks your access to certain sites you find distracting, such as social media.
- Be sure you’ve taken care of everything that needs to be taken care of before you brainstorm.
For example, walk the dog, feed the kids, feed yourself, get yourself a beverage and so on. You don’t want to get interrupted or distracted because you didn’t handle a task beforehand.
NOTE: If you live in a household where there’s a lot of noise and distraction, then you may want to leave the house in order to do your brainstorming. You can go to:
- A library.
- A coffee shop (works if you perceive the constant hum of this sort of noise as white noise).
- A mall food court (same as above — do you perceive it as white noise or a distraction?).
- An outside location, such as a picnic table at a quiet park.
And similar places.
You may find that going to different locations helps unlock your creativity.
For example, maybe you find yourself distracted at a coffee shop because you’re too busy people-watching. But perhaps an outdoor setting — such as a secluded, quiet park — keeps you focused and really unlocks your creativity.
Step 4: Start Brainstorming
Now that all those preliminary steps are out of the way, you can start brainstorming. Keep in mind that you’re just generating ideas at this point, and in no way should you be judging the ideas while brainstorming.
Write everything down that comes to mind — later you can judge the ideas to see if they’re good or viable.
Let’s work through an example…
For the purpose of this checklist, let’s suppose you’re brainstorming topic ideas in your niche. You can start by asking a generic question such as, “What topics should I write about?” Then write down every answer that comes to mind.
You can then ask yourself a series of more targeted questions to help you uncover even more ideas. For example:
- What topics do I know a lot about?
- What sort of problems have I solved in this niche?
- On what niche topic do people ask me for advice?
- What topics do I like to talk about?
- What topics do I read about often? (E.G., read niche blogs, newsletters, watch videos, etc.?)
- What topics do people ask me about via email?
- What topics do I have special qualifications to talk about? (E.G., You’ve won relevant awards, you’ve had a job related to the topic, you have a track record of producing good results for yourself and others with respect to this topic, you have a degree related to this topic, etc.)
Be sure to set aside individual brainstorming time for each targeted question you ask.
NOTE: As you can see, a brainstorming session can get quite lengthy, so be sure you schedule enough time to go through all the questions.
Now, let’s wrap this up…
If you’re creating a lot of content, then you’re going to need to do plenty of brainstorming. Be sure to keep this 4 step process handy so you can follow the steps and tips that you just learned for effective brainstorming.
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