Brainstorming is a term I first heard in elementary school. I’ve always thought it was such a great visual- a cloud full of ideas in your head with occasional flashes of brilliant lightning. Even to this day, when I get a great idea, it feels like a bolt of lightning, a flash of genius that has the potential to spark other ideas.

But even with such evocative imagery, brainstorming can be one of the most difficult, time consuming, and rewarding parts of content marketing. Sometimes the ideas seem to come on like a summer storm – they come out of nowhere and light up your mind with flash after flash. But it seems that more often than not, brainstorming sessions end with a mere drizzle of effective, but not brilliant ideas. By utilizing these tips you can easily get lightning to strike, making content creation easier and more enjoyable.

  1. Collaborate

They say that two heads are better than one, and when it comes to brainstorming that is absolutely true. Having a group of three or four people to bounce ideas off of is a great way to brainstorm. Maybe you’ll come up with a half formed concept that someone else can expand on. Perhaps someone will say something and inspiration will abound. Everyone is going to have different ideas, and sometimes combining them will produce brilliance.

  1. Say It Out Loud

This might sound like an odd suggestion, especially if you aren’t working with a team. But saying your idea out loud will make you really think about it. You’ll hear how the concept sounds and sometimes it will be great. Other times, even if you’ve written an idea down, when you say it aloud, it sound ridiculous.

  1. Look At What Others Have Done

Now, this isn’t to say that you should copy what others have done. Rather, you should draw inspiration from others. Is there a particular idea that someone touched on that you could expand on? Is there an article that you could write better or in a more entertaining way? Building on and improving the ideas of others is extremely effective for creating brilliant ideas.

  1. Spiderweb

Some people call this mind-mapping, but I’ve always thought of these as spiderwebs. You’ve all seen them and probably done them at one point or another. You start with a word of concept, then add associated concepts around it, then associated words around those, until you have a spiderweb full of concepts and ideas related to your central topic. This method of brainstorming gives you a great visual of a lot of related ideas, so you aren’t just always thinking about one central idea.

  1. Free Writing

This method, also called stream of consciousness writing, isn’t always 100% effective for idea generation, but is is a great way to get past a block. When free writing, you simply start writing about anything and everything in your mind, with no regard to grammar or style, for a set amount of time. You may start out with absolutely no ideas, and that’s what you’ll write, and when an idea finally comes to you, you’ll write that until more and more ideas come. Free writing isn’t usually chock full of great ideas, but it does help get the creative juices flowing and can help you get out of a rut.

  1. Topic Generator

This might sound like a cop out, but it really isn’t. Hubspot’s Blog Title Generator, for example, allows you to input any three nouns and get 5 blog title ideas from those three words. They aren’t always perfect, but just having some ideas to start with can help spark an idea. You’ll probably want to change the topic ideas, but it can give you a great starting place.

  1. Ask Questions

If you are looking at a totally new topic, and can’t come up with any ideas, ask questions. Chances are, other people new to that topic will have the same or similar questions. Then, think about how to answer those questions. This might take a little more research, but you’ll get quality ideas from figuring out how to answer your own questions.

Equipped with these brainstorming methods, you’ll be well on your way to creating an entire world of content.