Looking for Ideas? 5 Tips for Non-Writers

Last Updated May 27, 2011 12:01 PM EDT

You want to establish yourself as an expert? In a previous post, I discussed how to develop a relationship with reporters. But, with all the new tools available, you don't have to--and shouldn't--wait for someone else to create your content for you.

Creating content - whether it's blog posts, articles, podcasts, or lectures - is essential to developing your personal brand. It showcases your expertise and lets the world know what you have to offer.

But what, exactly, should you write or speak about? The thought of developing content on a regular basis can be overwhelming to many people.

Here are five tricks you can use to develop and pump out engaging content.

1. News events. Pick one of the leading stories of the day and play a game: what does this have to do with your profession? This can actually spark some unexpected creativity, as you ponder the insurance implications of natural disasters, the branding challenges when celebrities go awry (will the companies they endorse also take a hit?), or how enhanced consumer confidence will impact travel and tourism.

2. Interviews. Not sure what to say? Make someone else do the work for you! Identify a leader in your field or someone who's doing something interesting, and reach out. Asking someone for an interview is a great way to make connections, because people are usually flattered and you're positioned as an expert/peer from the start.

3. FAQs. If you're been in your field long enough, you'll hear the same questions time and again. (How do I find clients? What should I charge?) Think back to a speech you gave. What questions did people ask from the audience? What do people always want to know when you meet them at parties? What comments pop up when you blog? Find the patterns ("Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tax Law" or "10 Misconceptions about Buying Life Insurance") and dive in.

4. What You Wish You'd Known. Think of it as a message in a bottle to your younger self. What do you wish you'd known when you started out? What advice would have helped you? Now's your chance to pay it forward and give that counsel to others. Picture the worst mistakes you made - what would you have done differently? Or your greatest success - what can people do to maximize that? Provide inside tips that people can't get anywhere else, and you'll soon be regarded as the go-to expert.

5. Trends. There's a saying in journalism - once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, but three times is a trend. If you keep hearing buzz about something in your field (geotargeting, the resurgence of mustaches), you're probably sensing a trend. So what's the implication? Think two steps ahead. Who gains? Who loses? And how can people prepare? Giving ideas and advice ahead of the curve makes for grateful readers.

What are your strategies for creating great content over time? How do you keep your ideas fresh? Who does it well?


Position Yourself as an Expert
Dorie Clark is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the National Park Service. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.
image courtesy of flickr user, Drew Coffman