One topic that writers become accustomed to talking about is “where do you get your ideas?” Most of us who write find that the ideas outstrip the time we can commit to writing. However, those ideas are often based on popular consumer topics, ideas for fiction, and other “fun” projects.
Writers working to build a niche freelance writing career for trade journals and custom publications might have to work a little harder at idea generation. All this is not to say that writing for these publications isn’t fun, or that ideas can’t be interesting. Quite the contrary – but it is fair to say that you may not devise ideas for marketing pizza franchises or hygeine considerations for pilots in your spare time.
If you’re struggling for ideas, here are three places to get you started:
1. Twitter: Use the search function of twitter to see what topics are trending. You can also put in keywords to see what people are posting and discussing related to your topic. These can be great sources for very hot, up to the moment trends.
2. Keyword searches: Another way to see what people are thinking about is to use the Google Keyword tool or Google trends to get a birdseye view of search trends. Pay attention not only to general keywords, but also to “long tail keywords.” Long tail keywords are longer phrases, and often can show specific information that a searcher is looking for or a problem they are trying to solve. Examples of long tail keywords might be “how to develop a marketing budget for insurance agencies” or “interview questions to ask administrative assistants.” These can provide the basis for evergreen “how-to” articles.
3. Follow blogs in the space: Use a tool like Google Reader to track the latest posts by key blogs in target industries in a central place. You can identify seed blogs or starting places by using a blog search engine such as Technorati, or doing a general blog search for “top blogs + industry.” Use these seed blogs to set the pace for finding other blogs. What are they linking to? Who are listed in their blog roll? Those two questions can also help lead you to bloggers who are tackling important topics within a specific topic area.
The Freelance Writer’s Guides site offers tips and markets for freelance writers seeking writing jobs online. Find high paying markets with write for trade publications and custom publishers. This is an excellent resource for freelance writing jobs.