Generating great ideas to write or blog about or to use in a podcast or video can be difficult. If you’re lucky, you might be hit with a spark of inspiration while you stare at your computer screen. However, it’s more likely a little nugget will come along while you are doing something else, showering, shopping, cooking, or having a discussion with a friend or colleague.

Ideas can come from unexpected places. Conversations or situations which appear unrelated to your business or your services and products can actually elicit ideas you can approach from a new or different standpoint.

Take for example our post on “throttling out.” The idea was born from wandering thoughts about motorcycle riding one nice day when a connection was drawn between the act of accelerating to right a path of travel and increasing marketing efforts to same effect.

Our post on testing the waters of digital marketing “bubbled up” during a bit of snorkeling in the Caribbean. And a lesson from a world-renown string quartet produced some insight into how we connect with our clients and not-yet-clients.

If situations don’t seem to be helping you with ideas, you may want to try traveling down what we like to call “rabbit holes.”

Start by Googling an idea you have or a perform a search for something, anything; read some of your favorite blogs and news sites; or spend some time on social media.

Select an article. Read it. And then, if nothing piques your interest, Google something from the article or investigate related posts that are sure to be listed on the page. Follow links in the article to the sources of related information.

Keep digging and going further into the rabbit hole, delving into the unknown, the unrelated or the unfamiliar.

You may feel a little guilty when your quick glance at Twitter, Facebook or HuffPo turns into thirty minutes or an hour of reading content, following related links in an unplanned or uncharted path.

However, going down the rabbit hole keeps you up to date on trends, news, and the latest articles and can inspire ideas you may not have thought about by staring at a blank screen and a flashing cursor, probling your memory banks for information you already know.

The rabbit hole can lead you to new ways of looking at things. As the Cheshire cat said, “it doesn’t matter which way you go,” to which Alice replied, “—so long as I get somewhere.” You’ll definitely get “somewhere” almost as interesting as Alice, so long as you are open to looking at ideas and information from various angles or perspectives (hopefully without the use of magic cake and mysterious beverages).

Let’s try one.

Starting with Mashable, an article about musicians making music from social media rants catches my eye. It has nothing to do with graphic design, marketing, website development, or social media strategy. Would the boss be piqued if she saw me “wasting time” on this story?

I think about investigating ideas around turning discord into harmony. However, the idea doesn’t really excite me so I write it down and move on.

There’s a video of a dog doing a trust fall on the same page in the right column. Cute. But it doesn’t even produce a nugget of inspiration.

I use the navigation to view the Tech-related articles within the site.

There’s a video about a sleeping mask that could save your relationship. Apparently it can reduce snoring. And then the train of thought leaves the station:

  • Relationships aren’t just at home or just in the bedroom.
  • Relationships are everywhere
  • Some of your most important relationships are with colleagues and clients.
  • Being tired and feeling tired not only affects you, it affect how you act toward or with others
  • Blog post idea: How getting better sleep improves business relationships, customer satisfaction and ROI

A few more articles and I can have a month of blog post ideas. In fact, I took a quick peek at Twitter Moments before finishing this post and saw an article about an expensive new “health” trend involving “raw water.” And I think about how the latest trend isn’t necessarily good for you and I can see a connection between health trends and business trends and the importance of research before jumping on the bandwagon.

But be careful. The rabbit hole can be a terrible time suck. How long was Alice gone on her adventure once she followed the perpetually-late rabbit?

If you‘re going to start down a path of content exploration, set a time limit. Take notes as you go and be sure to write down your thoughts and ideas so you can go back to them when you need an idea. Use your bookmarks or software like Evernote to catalog posts you might want to come back to later.

Finally, recognize that anything at any time can inspire a content idea worth pursuing.

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