3 Tips for Effective Article Brainstorming

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3 Tips for Effective Article Brainstorming

One of the big challenges faced by content marketers is the constant need to think up new ideas, often around the same topic. This is particularly true when it comes to blogging. These days, the shelf life of even the most compelling blog posts is pretty short thanks to our ever-decreasing attention spans and Google’s bias towards new content. A blog is like a great white shark—it has to keep moving or it dies.

In order to keep your content engaging, relevant, and regularly-updated, you need to keep the creative juices flowing in your editorial team. So the next time you get together to brainstorm some article ideas, here are 3 tips that might help.

Tip #1: Mix Up Your Team During Article Brainstorming to Promote Fresh Thinking

When it comes to pumping out new ideas, a lot of people find it useful to change their environment. Getting away from your computer screen and sitting in a breakout area or the coffee room can provide some helpful stimulation. That’s why companies spend money on beanbags or take all the chairs out of their meeting rooms.

But just as important as where you are is who you are with. We’ve found that putting people together for article brainstorming who write for clients in completely different verticals can be an excellent way of introducing some fresh thinking.

Your tech writers might not be too familiar with the hot topics and recurring themes in health care, but the questions they ask might be just the stimulus that your health writers need to come up with some truly original article ideas.

And to return the favor, discussing the recent articles on the tech beat could create some new and interesting angles for posts about health and well-being. In fact, it’s surprising how often the same idea can spawn articles on seemingly unrelated client briefs.

Tip #2: Create Mind Maps to Help with Idea Association

When I was first introduced to mind maps at business school, I was pretty skeptical, but come exam time they proved to be an excellent learning tool. Your writers might not be swotting up for a strategy paper, but they can still put the concept of mind maps to good use, drilling into their topic areas and generating new article ideas.

The idea with a mind map is that you take a given topic and put it at the center of your page. You then branch off broad categories from that main topic and then draw some more branches drilling down into each category. There are plenty of apps that draw mind maps for you, but I always prefer doing them by hand as it’s more satisfying to create them that way, and the information tends to be easier to recall.

A mind map for a cycling blog might start with “Cycling” at the center of a plain piece of paper or a whiteboard. You might then add some broad categories, such as “Keep Fit,” “Environment,” “Bike Industry,” and “Sport.” From each of these broad categories you branch down into more specific topics (you might add branches for “benefits of regular exercise” and “government diet campaigns” under your “Keep Fit” category, for example).

Drilling down into topics like this will mean a good idea leads to a bunch of great articles instead of just one. If it’s a new subject area, mind maps are an excellent way to explore and learn. If it’s something familiar, they can expand your thinking into new areas.

Tip #3: Use Visual Aids to Provide Creative Cues in Your Workspace

Of course mind maps also look great on the wall, which brings me to my third tip. Placing visual aids around the place can be an excellent mental stimulant for your writing team. It also ensures that the creative work from your brainstorming sessions is put to good use.

Whiteboards, window writers, idea paint, or old-fashioned paper and sticky tape can help build a creative environment where your editorial people are surrounded by little prompts and reminders that can lead to new content ideas.

Redecorating the office in this way will also make it more likely that your writers will find links between the topics they need to write about and stories in the mainstream media or doing the rounds on blogs and news sites. Angles on breaking news stories are easy to miss, but a good visual snapshot of a topic is a great way to help your writers spot them.

Adam Barber

Adam Barber

Adam is a director at Castleford Media, an online news and content marketing business based in Sydney, Australia. Castleford provides ... [Read full bio]