One challenge for most of us that never seems to go away: identifying new topics to write about...

Right? At least that's what I hear time and again from the people I talk to about the various challenges of their content marketing efforts. It all starts with good content; we know that - so: what to write about?

My colleague Adrian Lurssen has been sharing a super-simple but highly effective way to generate writing ideas in five quick steps. This is something that marketers can share with their writers; anyone can do it and it goes like this.

  1. Grab a blank piece of paper and write at the top of it: "I am often asked..."
  2. Under that headline, draw six blank lines, one below the other.
  3. In each blank line, complete the sentence that begins, as above: "I am often asked..."
  4. For each response, think back on first client meetings, phone calls, lunches. Think back to networking events - or conversations at 30,000 feet as you fly across the country - or in hallways at industry conferences, or in Q&A sessions following a presentation at one such event...
  5. In short: go deep as you recollect what, over time, people have asked you again and again. To borrow from web language: what are your Frequently Asked Questions!?

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Don't get hung up coming up with the perfect title as you write each response to the prompt. (Titles come later!)
  • Simply write, in any language that suits you, a response that captures something you are often asked.

Once done, you have six new writing ideas!


Assign yourself a deadline for writing drafts in answer to each of these (based on what you are capable of doing according to your busy schedule). For example, consider writing a draft post in response to one of your frequently asked questions every two weeks. With six ideas, that schedule gives you three months worth of new writing ideas.

As Adrian points out when he describes this exercise, these ideas will more than likely be evergreen in nature (as important today as they will be a month or two from now) -- and so, as you work your way through the list, any time you see a breaking news story that merits analysis by you, set aside the list and write the timely piece instead.

In fact, this can be an effective way to build a basic editorial calendar:

  • Plan to write one article per your six evergreen topics every second week
  • For the alternate week when you have nothing scheduled, spend 15 minutes rooting around for a timely news story (if that!). Start with a consideration of how the news impacts your clients, and take it from there...

End result: 12 new pieces of writing over a three month period, half timely, half evergreen! Obviously, you can adjust according to busy-ness. Good luck!

What's your tried and true method for coming up with writing ideas? Share with me below:


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