How to get good ideas for your business blog: be a resource squirrel

Being a bit of a squirrel and gathering research fodder to take back into your nest is a very useful way to breed and develop ideas for blog posts that will work really well. Here as just a few ideas to help you squirrel away some useful information…

Online

Google Alerts are very useful tools that can help you keep up with your topic all over the world. You simply set up however many words or phrases relevant to your topic that you want, and Google will email you whenever they are mentioned on the internet. It’s a free service, too. Obviously you need to be fairly precise in what words or phrases you search for, if you don’t want to receive a lot of irrelevant stuff along with the good bits.

Another helpful tool is Google Keywords. This is intended to help advertisers find out which key words and phrases, relevant to their product or service, are being searched for on Google, and in which volumes. It can be useful when checking out an idea, as well, because the results will give you an indication of overall interest in that idea or topic.

Of course, the whole of Google and other search engines are available to you and it’s well worth monitoring your topic or idea on a weekly or monthly basis while you’re developing it.

Cuttings

Cutting articles out of newspapers and magazines may seem like a rather charmingly old fashioned thing to do these days. But it’s amazing how many people still find it a valuable thing to do whenever they read something that either triggers an idea, or adds substance to an idea they are already playing around with. And in any case, “cuttings” today can mean literal cuttings from paper papers, or simply cutting and pasting articles from the newspapers’ online personae.

In fact it’s probably worth packing a small pair of scissors in your briefcase or bag when you’re out and about, to make the process easier than tearing! (Avoid taking them in your hand luggage when you’re flying, though, or the security people may think you want to stab the pilot…) You never know when you’ll see an article that you want to keep hold of – it’s just as likely to be while reading the paper on a train, or a magazine in the dentist’s waiting room, as it is when you have deliberately set out to research something.

Needless to say you can get reasonable results from searching online versions of national and local newspapers, magazines, etc., then creating a “cuttings file” on your computer. However bear in mind that the contents of online and offline versions of publications are not always the same, and online versions often tend to be shorter and less detailed.

Cherish your ideas

Finally, never discard an idea which you like, even if – on researching it – you find there isn’t a market for it. There may not be a market for it at the time, but this can and often does change.

As I write this, I have three other book concepts in negotiations with publishers. One is 15 years old, the second is 9 years old, and the third is 4 years old. The first two are novels and neither tickled any publishers’ fancies when I first came up with them, but now I have a publisher wanting to do both. Their concepts – the ideas behind them – have become fashionable.  And this can be true of anything from a work of fiction to a new type of can opener.

As far as your blog is concerned, keep your ideas in an actual or virtual folder, in a nice safe place, and keep looking back through it. Not only can an old, undeveloped idea suddenly become flavour of the month, but also old ideas can often trigger new ones.

Now, let’s get you writing that business blog – beautifully:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

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Thoughts

  1. Thank you for your excellent suggestions. Google Alerts take only a few minutes to set up. With the right keywords, you can get useful results. They are also a good way to monitor discussions including your name or titles of your work.

    My indispensable tool for online cutting in Evernote. I use it to clip articles, partial webpages, images and urls. Evernote can also be used to make audio, video or emailed notes. In fact, you can scan or photograph items to add to Evernote. Create notebooks and use tags to organize your notes. Add comments. Then sync notes among your computer, your mobile devices and the cloud.

    To keep up with news in my areas of interest, I use scoop.it. It’s how I found your blog.

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