How to Brainstorm & Create Brilliant Ideas

Sometimes, when you sit down at the computer, the words flow like a river. Everything is perfect. Finding something to write isn’t hard, the biggest problem is typing fast enough to get all your great ideas on the screen. But this isn’t always how it goes. On the days when the idea river seems to have been damned up, a good brainstorm can be just what you need to get it flowing again.

Writing Tip: Learn how to brainstorm so you will never be without writing inspiration or blog post ideas.

Think Like A Marketer: Brainstorm

As you work on building a successful blog, you will find that you have to be more than just a writer. You are a photo and video editor. You are a designer and sidebar updater. You are a social media manager. You are a networker. You are a marketer. You can learn valuable techniques from all of these specialties, but today we will focus something marketers use to develop good ideas.

Good marketers are brainstormers. They brain dump a big pile of ideas that they can then pick from, build from and be inspired from.

But brainstorming isn’t just for marketing peeps with funky brainstorming rooms in trendy parts of town. As a blogger, you can also use brainstorming to bring out your inner marketing genius in order to come up with:

  • blog post ideas
  • a new blog series
  • a wish list for a blog makeover
  • ways to promote your blog to a new crowd
  • ways to improve your Facebook fan page
  • a pitch to ask a brand to sponsor your blog

You need ideas for at least one of those things, right? Good. Let’s move on.

Why You Need to Brainstorm

It boils down to this: you brainstorm to solve a problem. All of those reasons I list above are the result of problems.

  • Blog post ideas = you’re hitting writer’s block
  • A new blog series = want to create authority with your readers around a particular topic but unsure what topic should be, how to promote it, etc.
  • A wish list for a blog makeover = you don’t think your blog design is as spectacular as it could be

And so on.

Brainstorming solves problems.

Blogging problems in this case. So if you’re up to the challenge of finding an answer to that problem, then give brainstorming a try!

Things You Should Know Before You Brainstorm

  • It’s not an outline. It’s messy and without order. Think of it as a “brain dump” of any and every idea you can think of.
  • You don’t have to be the “creative type.” Yes, some people are just plain brilliant. And some of us have to work hard at it. Brainstorming trains your brain to think creatively as it frees you from judging your ideas before they have a chance to simmer.
  • Turn off your self-censor. It’s quite easy to think of an idea and dismiss it quickly because it sounds too dumb, outlandish or impractical. Don’t censor yourself! Write it ALL down. I can’t tell you how many times the “outlandish” idea ended up working—or at the very least served as a springboard to an even better idea.

How to Brainstorm

Don’t confuse brainstorming with a plain ole burst of ideas. Those are great too but sometimes our brains need a little more hand-holding (or make that brain-holding?). While you may picture a brainstorming session as the idea frenzy where ideas just magically pop out of your skull and onto paper, getting to that point may require a little bit of practice. Or not. You won’t really know until you try. Either way, I’m here to walk you through it so you can unlock some brainstorming awesomeness of your own.

1. Gather the right supplies.

Grab any of these that you think will jumpstart your creativity:

  • computer
  • magazines
  • colored markers/pens/dry erase markers
  • paper
  • a whiteboard
  • a window or mirror (do you know how fun it is to use a dry erase marker on these?!)
  • a koosh ball or some other “thing” to toss around, fiddle with, etc.

Honestly, all you really need is a computer or pen and paper. But those other things make brainstorming much more fun and really help stimulate that brain of yours!

2. Anchor yourself.

Prep your mind a bit by asking: What problem or challenge am I trying to solve? What am I trying to come up with ideas for? Do I need blog post ideas? Creative ways to promote my blog? Finding the right direction for a blog post topic you already have?

Knowing what you want to get out of your brainstorming session gets you in the right mindset from the start.

If you aren’t feeling particularly creative at that moment, you can try brainstorming later or try these seven tricks to boost your creativity.

3. Just Start

You can psych yourself out by worrying how you can be creative on command. Give yourself more credit than that, sister! Just start. Write your topic down so it’s there for you to look at. Now write an idea or even a word that helps build your idea. For example, if you were trying to think of ways to promote your blog, start by writing “forums” for instance. Then list the ways you can engage with other bloggers in forums.

If it’s relevant, try to answer the 5 Ws and H: who, what, when, where, why and how. You can also start by researching your topic online to give you a springboard. Or flip through a magazine or book that may help. If you need some blog post idea inspiration, try my secret to a gazillion blog post ideas (which involves any type of magazines).

You can jot ideas down a page or do something like a mindmap. I’m a big, BIG fan of mindmaps. I use them for nearly every blog post I write as well as anytime I’m brainstorming for any marketing campaign. My post How to Mind Map for Better Blog Writing covers how to use mindmaps.

If you can get through creating a few mindmaps, you’ll wonder how you ever blogged without them!

4. Go as long as you can (but don’t give up too soon)

Your little brainstorming session might take five minutes or it might take an hour. Go until you feel done. Don’t pressure yourself to have the “answer” or the “big game-changing idea” by the end. BUT if you feel stuck, try to move locations or read something to get your mind cranked up.

how to create brilliant ideas for your blog

What to Do with Your Brainstormed Ideas

Whew! Now that you’re exhausted all your mental energy, it’s time to figure out what to do with your ideas.

First things first: step away

Take a break. You know how you eat ginger in between sushi to cleanse your palette? Or sniff coffee beans in between smelling perfumes? Well, your brain needs to reset like that too. Go do something else for a while then get back to work.

Weed out the “bad” ones

Now that you’re coming back to your ideas with a fresh set of eyes, pour over your notes. Are there any ideas that are so horrible that you’re embarrassed you even wrote them down? Before you get rid of them, is there any way to salvage them? Anything less strange/crazy/expensive/absurd that you can build from? If not, toss ’em and don’t look back.

Shelve the “meh” ideas

What about the ones whose concept you like but can’t figure out where to go with it? Or an idea that you’re unsure about? Save the ones that have potential. You may look at an idea again later and like it. Or it may springboard you into a different idea that’s anything but “meh.”

Start rockin’ the awesome ideas

These are ones that jazz you up. The ones that get you all warm and fuzzy! A brilliant blog post idea. The perfect mindmap for the new post you’re writing. A list of ways you want to improve your blog. Whatever it is, start taking action and rock it!

There’s no official “homework” for this lesson. If you really want to take action, think of a blog problem you need to solve and brainstorm a solution!

Download your lesson handout here so you have it for easy reference.

More From the Think Like a Marketer Class

Be sure you don’t miss a single post from this series. The Think Like a Marketer Class is guaranteed to help you learn how to blog better!

About Melissa

Melissa is a busy mama with 11 years of experience in marketing and branding. She blogs at Adventuroo, a blog about capturing the everyday moments in motherhood, and Momcomm, a blog where she shares can-do tips for blogging, writing and social media.
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Comments

  1. says

    These are some really great and helpful ideas. I find myself lacking inspiration this time of year, and a lot of that has to do with the weather honestly. But that’s a terrible excuse. Because what is it take to allow myself a few minutes to simply iron out ideas for upcoming blog posts? And I love the suggestion of riffling through magazines for topics, too. Inspiration is all around us; sometimes we just need to know where to start.

    Thanks for this.

  2. says

    OMG, this is timely for me, lol! I rediscovered Pic Monkey yesterday, and did an impromptu branding/blog redesign. I’m such a perfectionist though, I had to try to finish everything in one go, and now I need a little caffeine to get me through the day, lol.

    Great tips for idea generation – I’m a big fan of plain old pen and paper for that. 😉

  3. says

    This is great info and a good reminder on how to keep a blog interesting. Going to need to refer back to this… :-)

  4. says

    Thank you for reintroducing me to these techniques I let fall by the way side. I love the mind mapping as a way to clarify my thoughts about a blog post idea. The extra credit link post you gave were filled with excellent information. The one that was invaluable to me was “my secret to a gazillion blog post ideas” because I struggle with this issue. Thank you for all the great information and help.

  5. says

    This is exactly what I needed! I have a ton of stuff on my mind and I need a place to put all of these ideas and question about blogging. My mind can not thank you enough! lol!

  6. says

    Just wanted to add that there are some cool/fun apps for the iPad in regards to White Boards and Brainstorming. I think the one I use is called MindMapping.

  7. says

    Awesome post. I especially like the vision of myself writing on a window while tossing a ball in the air!! Hey there group #22 – I’m here!!! I just had problems logging in for the last 2 days.

  8. says

    This was an awesome post! I’ve brainstormed before for all those reasons and more, it really does work! I’ve never tried writing on a window or mirror though…

  9. says

    Aaaw thanks Melissa for the shout out! I really appreciate it. I just think this is such a great series I really want to help the ladies get as much out of it as they possibly can!

    If anyone needs help finding a group or help with the homework, message me in the boards or tweet at me. I’m always happy to help!

  10. says

    Great ideas everyone–thanks!

    What has worked for me so far is ALWAYS making sure I have at least a little pad of paper nearby–nightstand, purse, even my gym bag (which I learned the hard way when I had to make notes on the gym class schedule).

    I also have at least a dozen blog drafts saved on my blog at a time. Some may be just a title, others a picture or a few sentences, but at least if they are saved online I know they can’t disappear.

  11. says

    These are all GREAT ideas!! I have an entire notebook devoted to blogging where I jot down and brainstorm ideas. It has really helped me to keep creative juices and fresh content flowing. Looking forward to printing this one out and saving it for future reference.

  12. says

    I like what you said about not self censoring as one brainstorms, that was one trap I used to fall into but I think I’m doing better now.

  13. says

    These are all awesome ideas. My problem is that I think of something, I know I should write it down, and then I forget….later on, I try to remember what it was I thought was such a grand idea to write about….and it’s gone.:) I’ve got to keep my notebook handy at all times, or even my sticky notes app on my phone.:)

    • says

      That happens to me A LOT! I keep a notebook in my room and my purse. I usually grab my iPhone though and use either Notes of Evernote to type it real quick so I don’t forget!

  14. says

    Great ideas, my problem is all my good ideas come when I’m asleep. Like this morning, and instead of getting up and working it,, I went back to sleep. And NOW I have COMPLETELY lost the idea. It went away with my weird dream about my daughter!

  15. says

    Love these tips! And love this class! I really, really struggled with brainstorming when I first started my blog, but I found what works for me is keeping a running notebook/list of my post/blog ideas.
    I ususally come up with them while doing dishes, cooking, cleaning stalls, milking the goats, etc! I then race to the notebook to write them down before I forget!

  16. says

    I love the energy of your writing! And these are great tips. Sounds like brainstorming is like any other writing activity — just do it. Like writing prompts (In the Beginning, In the End, Stream of Consciousness, etc.) they work by allowing your brain to turn off and your mind to turn on. Thanks for the encouraging ideas!

    • says

      That’s exactly right, Melissa! We do so much self-censoring without even realizing it so brainstorming really helps to cut that out! :-)

  17. says

    I use this methodology all the time and think it is really good for coming up with blog posts ideas, thanks for detailing it out!

  18. says

    Man this class is so good. I mean so good. I am just gobbling it all up! I hope I can put it into practice!

  19. says

    These are some really great ideas. Since I’m on a short break from school, I might sit down tonight and have a brainstorming session!

  20. says

    This is hard for me. I’ve never been very good at brainstorming, but I get the feeling that I spend a lot of time rushing my ideas and not really letting them come on their own. I’m going to work on this for the next few days. Thanks!

    • says

      I know the feeling, Lindsay! Brainstorming really helps me dump out all the ideas and then start making sense of them. Doing that all in my brain makes my head hurt! Writing it down really helps me process it!

  21. says

    I’m loving this series! Such a help so far. I now have a tag line! Didn’t even know I needed one!

  22. says

    Awesome post! I’ve brainstormed before for blog post ides, but never thought about mindmapping for a specific blog post! Loving the lessons :-)

    • says

      Thanks! Regarding brainstorming for posts, it really does help me. My mind jumps around A LOT so sometimes I know exactly how I want to end a post or a few points I want to make in the middle but no idea how to start. Mind mapping really helps because I “dump” those ideas down and make room in my brain to think about the rest of the post.

      I’d love to hear how it works for you!

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