As a blogger, infopreneur, coach or just all around creative-preneur the pressure to constantly create new and helpful resources can be overwhelming. Almost to the point where it can often feel like you can't form a complete sentence let alone create an entire blog post, e-book, e-course and launch strategy!
I for one have experienced my fair share of creative ruts. It's intimidating and can make you feel like a total fraud if you don't snap out of it quickly! If you're feeling stuck or just need a little guidance with coming up with new ideas whether it be blog posts or new products, I want to share with you an exercise that has helped me to get those creative juices flowing again!
Before we get started, download the worksheets I've created for you to use with this post and make sure you have about 20-30 minutes of undistracted time to yourself. You'll need to focus is you want to make the most out of this exercise.
1. CUT BACK ON HOW MUCH YOU CONSUME
We live in a world that's full of free content. And while it is tempting to consume every bit of it, you have to be sure that you're taking the time out to create for yourself as well. Over the past couple of months, I consumed so much content to the point where I started to doubt everything I wanted to create. So to get out of it and gain that confidence back into my work, I literally had to stop reading as many blog posts, stopped hopping into everyone's Periscope and spent some much needed time re-energizing myself and focusing on my own work.
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with consumption as long as it doesn't put you in a funk.
2. THINK OF THE PROBLEM YOU WANT TO SOLVE OR THE NEED YOU WANT TO MEET
All great ideas have a purpose behind it, whether that be solving a problem your audience is facing or providing a resources that meets their needs. Follow the next steps to figuring out that need or problem.
- Start off by asking your audience what they want. I do this through a reader survey every year and it not only helps me to get a better understanding of who I am targeting but it always provides me with ideas on what I should create next.
- Also pay attention to the questions and concerns your audience is voicing. A lot of times your audience will tell you exactly what they need but you just have to pay attention and listen.
- What do you wish you had when you first started in your industry? More than likely (at least I hope) you started your business genuinely because you felt there was a need in your industry. You know better than anyone what services, blog posts or resources you can provide to prevent your audience from making some of the same mistakes you made!
3. COMING UP WITH IDEAS VIA INNOVATION
Innovation is all about making the wheel better instead of trying to re-invent it. What have you created before that you can expand on or make better? I call this the "break down process" and explain it more in depth in this post.
Another part of innovation is taking what already exists and going the opposite way with it. For example, let's say I created a workshop on "The Right Way To Brand Your Creative Business", I could easily turn that into a blog post or series on "The Biggest Branding Mistakes To Avoid". This wont work for everything that you create but it is definitely worth a try!
4. LET'S BRAINSTORM
This is the only time it will ever be ok to have quantity over quality. The purpose of brainstorming isn't to immediately produce your next big idea but to come up with as many ideas as possible for you to sift through. Go back and look at what you wrote down in steps 2 & 3 and write down any ideas (big or small) that stem from those three questions. If you'e still stuck, try finding inspiration else where like your favorite magazines or books. I've found that if I look for inspiration from an industry completely unrelated to my own, it always sparks new ideas (thank you fashion & food bloggers!).
Look back at your list of ideas. Some will be good, some will be well...trash. Thats ok because this is the part where you'll do a process of elimination.
For each idea ask yourself these questions.
- Will this solve a problem or meet a need?
- Is this a strong idea? At the least, can you write a 1,000 word blog post on this topic?
If you answered "no" to any of those questions, ask yourself, "What can I change to make it strong?"
6. TRY IT OUT
Now that you have your ideas, the only way to truly know if they will work is to put them to the test. I even tried this exercise before scheduling this post just to make sure it was legit! Plan out your launch or editorial calendar. Set goals like how much you want to make or how many pageviews you want & send it out into the universe. PROMOTE, PROMOTE & PROMOTE then track your results! Even your great ideas may fall short but by tracking your results and your process will tell you exactly which areas you can go back and tweak!
Like I mentioned before, some ideas will be horrible, some will need a little work and some will be freakin' incredible! But that's the purpose of this exercise, to make sure you're putting out your best!