Two weeks ago, I celebrated the 365th article on business creativity and innovation that I co-published on a bi-weekly basis in a Bangkok Post column titled “Creativity Un-Ltd.” and the Thinkergy Blog since April 2007. In the previous article, I explained why I had spent one year of my life writing new, fresh, relevant articles on creativity and innovation over the past 16 years (as one piece takes roughly one day of work time). But you may wonder how I could keep on finding new, fresh, and relevant content every two weeks to grow my blog/column to now 366 articles (as of today)?
Over the years, I have followed and honed my content creation process that helped me find creative topics. Today, please allow me to share with you seven tips that might be helpful for your blogging or article writing activities on creativity and innovation (or another topic dear to your heart).
1. Have a clear view on how you get started
Before you begin writing e blog or newspaper column, you need to know that you’re ready to start and maintain it over a more extended period. It’s not enough to be passionate about a topic; you also need sufficient domain know-how (expertise and experiences).
When I approached the business editor of the Bangkok Post (Jim Chiratas Nivatpumin) in early 2007 with the idea to start a regular bi-weekly column on business creativity and innovation, I submitted a clear plan on what topic areas I envision the column to cover — plus a list of the first 20 articles I intend to write related to these areas.
In other words, I had a clear idea on the contents to fill the column in the first year that helped Jim to understand how the column might work and evolve. It also gave me a clear writing agenda to follow during the first year. I only had to let the contents flow onto the paper every two weeks without worrying about what I am going to write about next.
So, if you want to start a blog or column and cannot map out the first year of content, then probably you’re not ready for it yet. In that case, soak the sponge (your content reservoir) with more water (know-how on a topic) before you begin squeezing it.
2. Collect topic ideas in a notebook
Here is a related tip: Reserve two pages in your notebook to jot down ideas for possible blog articles. Take a few minutes to write down all possible topics that come to your mind to give you a solid basis to start with. Then, keep adding to this list whenever an idea for a new article or blog post crosses your mind. That way, you have always a reservoir of potential topics to fall back on when the time comes to begin writing your next piece.
3. Align your blog/column to your current creation or business agenda
During the past one and a half-decades, I created, tested, refined, and used four proprietary innovation methods for Thinkergy. Naturally, our creation and work agenda formed one rich source of content for the column/blog. So, I regularly wrote an article about a method or tool that my Thinkergy teammates and I worked on creating then:
- In the first five years of the column, I composed many articles related to Thinkergy’s creative process method and toolbox X-IDEA.
- Between 2013-15, I wrote heavily about the creative mindsets and routines that we teach prospective creative leaders in our creative leadership development program Genius Journey.
- Later on, I added many articles explaining how our talent & innovator profiling system TIPS can add value to business and innovation.
- In recent years, I focused on creating articles to fill vacant spots in the 64 sections of my new book The Executive’s Guide to Innovation (targeted for launch in Q4.2021).
As such, write about those topics that you work on right now to leverage focus content and work time intelligently.
4. Pay attention to what happens in your work and life
Any remarkable or surprising things that happen at work or in your life can be another excellent inspiration for original articles in a blog or column:
- At work, you might talk about what happened at project or training workshops you facilitated, and share unexpected wins and successes as well as your planned or unplanned failures — and what you’ve learned from these.
- On a personal basis, you might also spin special moments, surprises, highlights, and defeats into an article.
Here be aware that your losses, failures, defeats, and knockdowns allow for more exciting articles with more vivid stories and significant learnings than your wins, successes, and highlights. For example, one article that I wrote relayed how the principles that I teach in our creative leadership development method Genius Journey helped me stay calm and recover after a sudden, unexpected heart attack.
5. Use regular special events and connect these to your domain topic
One of my strategies to create relevant, fresh content was to piggyback on regularly repeating holidays or special events and link these to the domain of creativity and innovation. For example, for twelve years on Chinese New Year, I published an article on the respective animal of the Chinese Zodiac (the last one was Creativity in the Year of the Ox) that completed the cycle of the twelve animals.
I also regularly looked through a creative lens at major international sports events such as the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics and also took a creative spin on popular holidays such as Christmas or New Year if the publication date for the blog/column coincided with the festive event.
6. Opportunistically write about irregular topics that are “hot” for some time
Another tactic for my “Creativity UnLimited”-column and the Thinkergy blog was to quickly and creatively respond to “hot topics” or discontinuities emerging on the panel suddenly. Examples include last year’s outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic or the 2008 financial crisis, which helped me fill several columns with fresh, unique, and relevant content that readers appreciated. Other hot topics that made for a good article were newly emerging business concepts such as digital transformation, sustainability, or open innovation, among many others, or extraordinary events such as the passing of an outstanding creative leader (such as Steve Jobs or Muhammad Ali)
Be aware that if you want to adopt this strategy, you need to get on your feet fast and write on the topic before others do. As they say, “eat the pizza while it’s hot.”
7. Leverage content as much as possible
You might have already noticed that one of my content production secrets is to leverage my various activities and related work outputs as much as possible. I regularly ask myself if I might turn anything I am doing in one area right now into a meaningful article for the Thinkergy blog or the Creativity Un-Ltd column.
For example, as I am both an entrepreneur and an academic, I have made it a habit to sum up in an article the most interesting findings of my research projects (that I mainly disseminate in the form of scientific papers and book chapters). The article How creative leaders epitomize their Genius Journey is an example of such a research project leveraged as an article. Likewise, I turned stimulating discussions with fellow academics and innovation practitioners and presentations that I witnessed or delivered at international innovation and creativity conferences into blog articles. (An example of such a conference-inspired article is Resolving the real-life challenges of innovators that I wrote after participating as a keynote speaker at the Kuala Lumpur Innovation Forum 2015).
Outlook: What to do when you cannot get a new topic idea as a regular blogger or columnist?
None of the 365 articles I posted over the past 14 years was repetitive as each one largely comprised of novel, original, and meaningful (or in other words: creative) content. Today, I shared with you some systematic strategies that I employed to help me produce fresh content on a continuous basis. But what can you do when a new column or post is due for submission or publication — and you have no idea what to write about? Come back in two weeks, when I will share with you my secrets on how Ito come up with an idea for a new article or blog post when you’re under time pressure and out of flow.
- Have you become interested to learn more about our range of innovation methods and related solutions that we can also offer as online formats for you?
- Or perhaps you’ve got curious about my upcoming book, “The Executive’s Guide to Innovation”? You can preregister here so that we let you know when you can order your copy.
- Contact us to tell us more about your innovation challenges so that we can come up with some suggestions on how we might creatively empower the would-be innovators at your company.
© Dr. Detlef Reis 2021
Credits: Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels