Writer's block...need I say more? Every writer experiences writer's block at one time or another. For a writer using the marketing with articles technique the block often starts with trying to generate a new article idea. There are many creative ways to discover article ideas no matter what your topic and we'll cover several of them below.
Your first step in finding article ideas should be to create a "swipe file." Copywriters initially used swipe files for collecting examples of outstanding copywriting techniques. Swipe files included clippings from magazines, direct mail pieces, copies of e-mails, web site copy, etc. For the marketing with article techniques our swipe file consists of a file in your favorite word processing program. In this swipe file you will collect article ideas for future articles. Begin by typing in any article ideas that you may have already. Then build your swipe file using the following suggestions:
Chat Rooms - Participate in these online forums where you can chat with others by typing messages, which are instantly displayed. Choose a chat room in your topic area that is frequented by your target audience and discover the hot topics everyone is discussing. You can find chat rooms by visiting http://chat.yahoo.com/, http://web.icq.com/icqchat/ and http://chat.msn.com/.
Forums/Message Boards - Users communicate with each other in these web based message centers by posting text messages that can be viewed using a web browser. Some forums and message boards allow you to follow a topic by asking for e-mail notification when a new posting is made. Find threaded conversations on hot topics in your niche by visiting http://messages.yahoo.com/index.html,
http://www.ivillage.com/boards/ and http://www.delphiforums.com/.
Newsgroups/Discussion Lists - Classified by subject matter these communication driven groups are categorized by topic and can be read on-line or via an e-mail newsreader (often included in your e-mail software). Hot newsgroups and discussion lists can be found at http://groups.google.com/, http://groups.yahoo.com/ and www.topica.com.
Article Directories - Sites that archive article submissions by topic are gold mines of ideas for article writers. Read articles written for your target audience to obtain ideas but never plagiarize the actual articles. Ideas can be gleaned from the list of the most popular or newest articles (if offered). My favorite article directories are at http://www.opportunityupdate.com, http://wwwgoarticles.com and http://www.articlecity.com.
Newspapers - You can obtain a wealth of article ideas by reading your daily newspaper. Keep a notepad with you while you read and jot down topic ideas. Many newspapers offer on-line versions that can be found by visiting http://www.allyoucanread.com/newspapers/, http://broadcast-live.com/newspapers/ and http://www.localfreepress.com/.
Calendars - There are hundreds of holidays and special occasions every year. Search through http://www.holidays.net/dailys.htm, http://www.earthcalendar.net/_php/countrysearch.php and http://www.madmanmike.com/us_events_dates.html. Using holidays tied to your niche will impress your readers and show that you are current and up-to-date with your article topics.
Surveys - Conduct surveys with your web site visitors or newsletter readers. Ask them what topics they would like you to cover and always have a field asking for questions. Surveys can provide you with a wealth of topics that are sure to please your audience. Use free survey generators such as http://www.ezquestionnaire.com/ or http://www.surveymonkey.com/.
Hoaxes - There are enough hoaxes and old wives tales in just about any topic that can give you plenty of article ideas. Explain or dispute the hoax or tale and relate the story to your topic area. You can find hoaxes and old wives tales at http://www.snopes.com, and http://www.stiller.com/hoaxes.htm.
Conferences - Meeting planners are charged with the task of bringing in speakers and arranging roundtables on the hottest topics for their target audience. You can take advantage of their hard work by checking out conferences in your field and making note of the workshop and keynote topics. You can find conference listings organized by topic at http://www.tsnn.com, http://www.allconferences.com and by searching http://www.Google.com.
Get started today building your swipe file and add to it on a daily basis. This will help you become more organized and will ensure that you never run out of article ideas!
(c) 2004, Davis Virtual Assistance. All rights in all media reserved.
Bonnie Jo Davis is the webmaster of the Articles That Sell Center. The ATSC site offers free articles, newsletter and e-books. Visit http://www.ArticlesThatSell.com/newsletter.htm to sign-up for your free subscription to the Articles That Sell Update monthly newsletter.