Generating Article Ideas

Do you carry a small notebook to jot down ideas? If not, start. Great ideas can get lost in our multi-tasking, fast-paced lives. Once you have identified your topics of expertise and interest, keep that list in your notebook. Add the following to your notebook as well.

The top 10 most profitable topics to write about are:

  • Business and finance
  • Diet & nutrition
  • Essays
  • Fitness and sports
  • Health
  • Home and garden
  • Parenting
  • Profiles & true-life features
  • Technology & science
  • Travel

Pair up your expertise to the profitable topics. Brainstorm. Everything is connected. Find the connections. Explore them.

What captures your imagination and attention is likely to interest other people too. What are people in your industry talking about, afraid of, planning for?

Let’s say your topic of expertise is farming. How does farming connect to the world around you? Are you concerned about the safety of eating genetically altered vegetables? How are people of different ages/cultures/regions affected by farming changes, trends, costs? What are farmers talking about? Are small farms being lost to co-ops and giant conglomerates? Are people growing their own herbs and veggies at home in suburbia?

Once you’ve gathered your research on a topic, try developing your article in different formats for different publications. Can you write on the same topic in a personal essay and a How-To? Look for sales opportunities. Consider breaking up an article into bite-size bits to sell as fillers.

How about writing an article for a magazine you regularly read or for your local newspaper? You are already familiar with the content, style and topics and you represent the magazine’s demographic (readership). Can you take a national news item and give it a local focus?

What combinations of popular topics can be done? What is the popular trend or belief and can you argue the opposite in an interesting thought-provoking way? Is the majority belief based on erroneous information or misinterpretation of facts? Is there a low-tech approach to a problem that high-tech society is overlooking? NASA spent serious coin on developing a writing instrument to use in weightlessness, testing and creating a special pen. The Russians used pencils.

What hot topics are in the news? How can I relate these hot topics to the specific readership of this publication?

Generate ideas from sources like:

  • Snapshots, fillers, sidebars and tiny front-of-book items in magazines. These (500-word or less) fillers can state a fact, a survey result, a bit of trivia that could be developed into a story. For example: Children under age 10 spend an average of 3 hours a day watching television. What could you do to develop that into an article?
  • Personal experience. Mine your life for stories. How does your family handle reunions? What special traditions have you developed in your life? What events in your life have changed you?
  • Old magazines and newspapers. What was news ten years ago? Still a problem? Problem solved? How? Compare then and now. Diet, fashion, health, medicine, telephones, computers, look around at what has changed in your life and what those changes mean.
  • College web sites. Research findings, projects. Wild class titles. What issues are on the minds of this generation? Why does it take more than four years to get a college degree these days?
  • Eavesdropping. What are people talking about? What bothers or excites them? Social Media?
  • Calendar. Magazines buy stories months in advance, so think Christmas in August. What holidays are big in your town? What happens in different seasons where you live?
  • Trend reports. Business magazines, civic groups, industries all track changes. What’s coming up next that consumers would like to know? Identity theft was a critical issue at banking conferences five years ago. It hits the news now as more consumers become victims. What trends do you see?
  • Word play with potential titles. Keep a rhyming dictionary on hand or go to the website www.rhymezone.com and find all the words that rhyme with your word and then look at famous quotes using the word.
  • Clip and save weird news articles that capture your attention. The Tabloid headline kind.
  • Pay attention. Listen. Ideas will come to you with practice. One idea will grab you and demand to be written.

Keep a notebook handy for capturing those ideas to develop into articles.

Sign up for this blog to have it delivered to your inbox through www.jonimfisher.com.