Welcome to the second part of creating an infrastructure for Idea Generation.
In the first part (lesson 1), we went through the reasons why this is important and how it can help you manage all the ideas that you will be generating from now on.
Remember: it’s more than a way to manage your ideas, it’s a way to create more from just one idea and it’s an infrastructure that will help you gain more from any one idea.
Okay then, let’s begin with this second part of the lesson.
Stephen King once said that a good writer is a person who reads a lot. Writers need to read a lot more than other people, because it’s what gets their “juice” flowing and helps them generate more and also BETTER content.
An important ingredient of idea generation is getting inspired by ideas that you read about, by story angles you never thought of before. That’s why the following part of this lesson is extremely important.
3) Building an Inspiration-Driving Mechanism to Sustain Idea Generation
You may feel like you do not have time to read a lot. Well, no problem there, because there is an amazing thing called YouTube, where you can watch and listen to a lot of inspiring videos.
Find what inspires you.
In your case, it can be something as small as a walk in the park, or perhaps a good book. Your source of inspiration might even be a modern-arts magazine. Whatever, you name it.
But it’s important to start identifying those things which get you inspired. Start Today! Find one thing that inspires you. Write it down on a sticky note.
Tomorrow, you’ll have to find a new thing that inspires you.
What you should try to get to is having 3 or 5 things that inspire you.
Remember, this is the perfect chance to start being inspired more often, which in turn will make you feel better about your day and generate some nice income.
Here’s an example to help you out:
I personally feel inspired when watching and listening to smart people I admire talk about interesting stuff. That’s why I try to find cool talks on UpWorthy.com, or TED or YouTube.
I also feel inspired when browsing retro game design magazines.
Something about them just makes me want to create stuff that’s different, weird and quite uncommon.
What else? Oh yes, there’s also archery. Whenever I go out shooting arrows, I just come back a lot more inspired and ready for new challenges with idea generation.
Turn it into a well-defined Process
After you manage to identify the things that inspire you, you can start building a well-defined process for getting inspired more often.
You can do it the boring way, and just make a plan for yourself to engage in those activities that inspire you every day, for at least 15 minutes or 45 minutes.
Or, you can do it the gamified way, and start building a small game for yourself, that rewards you points according to each activity.
By the end of each week, you will win if you have an established number of points.
Example: let’s assume that you’ve identified that you are inspired by TED talks and interior design images from Pinterest.
A TED talk is somewhere at about 20 minutes of video. Assign +20 points if you watch a TED talk.
It’s much easier to just browse the interior design sections of Pinterest. SO let’s make it interesting:
For each like you give to any picture: +5 Points
For each picture that you collect (re-pin to a relevant board): +10 points.
At the end of the week, you will want to have: +240 points. That means you’ve managed to engage in inspiring activities. Otherwise, it means that you did not try enough to be inspired during that week.
I know it sounds like a silly little game, but if you start being persistent about it, you’ll soon get to observe amazing results.
Rinse and Repeat
What I showed you above with the points is just an example I thought of.
You should identify your own activities and then assign points to them based on various criteria.
It could be related to how hard it is to do it; how much impact does it have on your inspiration; or how long it takes to complete the task.
The purpose of the game is to create habits, which means you’ll keep doing these things week after week.
If you want to make it even better, you can re-adjust the points you need to make at the end of one week, so that there will be a sense of progression. Either way, it’s a great thing to try out for at least 3 weeks.
What should you see 3 weeks after doing this?
After three weeks you should start seeing an improvement in the way you write, in the information you present in your articles, and in the new way you think about writing.
You’ll also begin to realize that this is a fun-to-do activity that gets you inspired and pushes you to do things that you like anyway.
All of this will help to make idea generation become a daily routine. Of course, you’ll also feel more inspired, on a personal level. Two great wins for you! :-)
4) Making Your Content Repeatable, Predictable
One of the most important things to learn when creating a lot of content and trying to constantly come up with many new ideas is to have a clear structure. A structure that allows you to just change a few things, related to a fixed point. Okay, that was awfully abstract.
You can think of creating repeatable events. Here are two examples:
1) On Thursdays, you can have a “VIDEO Content Thursday”, and you’ll know that for each Thursday from now on you’ll start showing video content on your WordPress site’s blog, on your social profiles.
2) On Saturdays, you can have an: “Interview Discovery Saturday”, where you find interviews on the web with interesting individuals from your industry.
You become the scout for such interviews and announce them to your audience. Simple curation task, for which your audience will love spending Saturdays on your site.
You can see that Thursdays and Saturdays will now be planned out, at least by 50%.
Because you no longer have to think about what you will post in those days.
You already have a structure. You don’t have to spend time searching for a new topic. You only have to find content that fits that structure you started. Which is about 50% of the work you used to employ before starting to make your content repeatable.
In the long run, this will help you a lot with saving time. Especially because by constantly searching for stuff that fits into what you’ve defined for your days, you’ll get better at finding sources from which you can come up with that kind of content.
Reducing your time like this will help you stay sane and will provide a huge boost for your idea generation process, week by week.
Is it good to have predictable things?
Think of this: Is it good for you to know that Wednesday at 8 PM, each week, they play your favorite TV Show? (it’s an example)
The answer is Yes. Us humans love to know what’s going to happen, and not have to always be surprised by un-wanted, un-predictable changes.
Your audience will love it if you start having such events, as I mentioned above because they’ll get the feeling that if they go to your site on a Saturday, they can find a new interesting interview that you found for them. Which is perfect for them!
Try this as soon as possible.
There’s no point in delaying this. If you already started using the editorial calendar, you can already establish some times in that calendar in which you will post certain kinds of content on certain days.
Using Trello to make your new ideas RICH
Brace yourself for this will get visual :-) (yup, lots of screenshots, to prove my point)
Trello.com is free to use, and it’s one of my favorite online tools that was ever built.
In the following part of this lesson, I will show you many screenshots of how you can use Trello to organize the ideas for your content.
While taking this class, you’ll do a lot of idea generation, so you’ll get a lot of new ideas.
It will be great to have a way to capture each idea somewhere, add content to it, videos, pictures, infographics, places where you can promote the piece of content after you publish it, etc.
This way, you’ll make a RICH infrastructure to hold each of your ideas, and it will become a piece of cake for you to stay organized and break apart each of your ideas.
Enough talk! Let’s see the pictures :-)
We’ve published a really long article, about characters in inbound marketing. Here’s an example that will show you how we used Trello to implement that idea into a media-rich article.
As you can see, we have an entire section dedicated to Promotion.
We also have a section where we document the videos and visual assets that we want to include (and the necessary planning for acquiring those assets).
Using Trello, you can attach files from your computer, which makes it easier to keep everything related to an article idea in one place.
As you can see below, we’ve attached an image of our mascot that we could use in the article.
After attaching the image, we made sure to update the Trello Card so that we can easily keep track of the progress we made.
You can create a separate column on Trello where you’ll place your ideas for Content that you want to create.
This was just an example of how you can use Trello to organize your ideas for new content.
As I said, the purpose of the Infrastructure is to help you capture new ideas that you’ll come up with and make the most out of them, so that NO new idea will go to waste.
Here’s to the MOOCs, for they have taught us well.
What is a MOOC?
Massive Open Online Course.
They are amazing classes held by some top-notch universities and open to the world wide web, which is awesome, because you can learn about amazing topics, such as:
- business strategy,
- and more.
Where can you find great MOOCs?
You can find them on Coursera.org and other sites. MIT and Stanford have MOOCs on their own sites as well. There’s also AcademicEarth.org, Udacity.com, Udemy.com
What do they teach us, besides their obvious teachings?
Other than the obvious subject of the course you choose to study, they teach us that we, as content writers, can actually group our article in more mini-articles.
You’ll see that they have modules. Each module has smaller video lessons of about 3 to 20 minutes. That’s an awesome insight.
Because we can apply the same thing to the content marketing that we do. Here’s how:
Hacking content marketing, Mooc-Style.
If you write a 2000-words article, you can do two things with it:
1) publish it like that, as a long-form article, because it will help your SEO, but the downside is that it will probably not be read in full by a good chunk of your audience.
2) publish it in 400-word articles, because it will help you generate about 10 new articles for your site. I know, right? A whole lot of new articles, instead of just one.
Look, it all depends on your strategy. If you want to focus on SEO, you need to publish long-form content. But if you want to make sure your audience won’t get overwhelmed, you can also alternate it with shorter articles.
But just think of the possibility of adopting this Mooc-style content creation. You make one big article, then break it down into shorter articles.
Make it: “Part 1”, “Part 2”, and so on.
– you won’t bomb your audience with articles that are too huge;
– there will be continuity;
– you’ll have more updates on your site;
– less time you have to spend with idea generation because you turn ONE idea into several new articles.
End of Lesson 2
Wow, there was a lot of stuff in this lesson. I hope you’ll find it useful and start applying some of these teachings right away.