When Henry Ford wanted a portable cup holder, he built the automobile. When the Wright brothers longed to see a small package of peanuts soar, they invented the airplane. And when Bill Gates wanted to see his favorite colors, royal blue and off white, splashed across computer screens all over the world, he made Windows.
But most of us are not genius inventors, capable of conjuring up brilliance at the drop of a hat. So when it comes time to make amazing content, where does one begin? How do you stimulate creative thinking? Here are some tips on how to generate new ideas and give that Gates guy a run for his money.
1. Go Google Go!
Google does more than just act as a crutch for forgetting years of education, it also can help you land an idea. Use the Google Keyword Tool to put in a phrase or idea and have Google generate more “keyword ideas,” which you can then build off of. Or use Google Alerts which sends you a notification by email whenever new content comes online with any of your chosen words. That means you can also feed your ego and get notifications anytime you or your company is mentioned.
2. Search for Searches
Wanna know what people are searching for? Type part of your idea into Google and check out the dropdown list it generates for you. PROTIP: You can go through the alphabet and generate even more ideas. For example, if you’re writing about floral arrangements, type in “floral arrangements a,” “floral arrangements b,” “floral arrangements c,” and so on to get all kinds of ideas.
3. Consult An Expert
If you’re struggling on your own for an idea, you should absolutely look elsewhere. There are plenty of helpful books out there to fuel your fountain of creativity. We’re fans of Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath (book review coming soon!). The Heath brothers do a great job of breaking down the anatomy of ideas that resonate or stick, and their fast-paced and compelling stories further illustrate their points.
4. Become An Idea Collector
Made to Stick talks about “collecting ideas,” or constantly being on the lookout for new ideas in your daily life. To make sure nothing slips by, always have a notebook or smartphone notepad app handy — something you can keep on you to write down ideas as they occur. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and jot down all your ideas on those cocktail napkins, but that method works best for people who can read through margarita condensation stains.
5. Change Your Surroundings
Sometimes staring at your computer screen just isn’t gonna lead to a brilliant idea. Changing your environment can often lead to a spark that wouldn’t have come otherwise. 107 Ways to Inspire Creativity lists a number of activities that can jumpstart the ol’ cerebellum, like biking, yoga, listening to music, and — our favorite — cloud gazing. There are also a number of words that can get you going, like “color,” “sound,” “smell,” and “perspective.” Not listed: margarita.
6. Check the Rest
We’re sticklers for originality, but let’s face it, new ideas are more scarce than emotionally enriching episodes of Maury Povich. But combinations of old ideas, now that’s a market that’s ready for tapping into. Check out what other people have written about your idea or keyword and let that inspire a fresh new take of your own.
We hope these tips help you generate a ginormous stack of new ideas. I know writing this article has certainly inspired me… to go cloud gazing with a margarita. See? A combinations of old ideas!