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Fun Ways to Come Up with New Freelance Writing Article Ideas

blank notebook and pen for freelance writing ideas

November 8, 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I had a freelance coaching client admit to me recently that she was feeling stuck when trying to come up with new freelance article ideas. Whether you’re a professional writer like I am, or, simply have had to write a paper for college, we’ve all experienced that pressure of a blinking cursor on a blank page or a white lined sheet of paper that was full of promise, but void of ideas.

Sometimes you can’t come up with ideas because you’re not feeling creative. Other times, it’s because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to produce The Most Original And Amazing Idea Of All Time. Admit it. You’re stuck. Here’s my formula for generating a ton of ideas. Take any one of these tips and give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to come up with ideas. Get silly and have fun! This is just for you, but it should help get you out of your own way so that you can produce a few quality article ideas that could become paid writing assignments.


  • Think about what problems you’re having now in your life you want to solve.
  • What problems do friends and family come to you with to help them resolve?
  • Recall the conversations you’ve had with your friends about their issues and problems, maybe it’s babysitting, being a caretaker, health issues, this list can go on forever. Be a great listener!
  • Read local newspapers and stories in small towns. Look for trends and inspiring stories that have potential to be of interest to a national market.
  • What do you read about for pleasure? What brands/companies/bloggers do you follow on social media? What do you Pin on Pinterest?
  • What podcasts do you listen to? Are there topics they discuss that could be researched, refined, and pitched to an editor?
  • Take one idea and come up with a few different types of content strategies around that. (See my “go bananas” exercise below.)
  • Look to upcoming holidays, anniversaries in the coming months. (Here’s a list I found on the internet of movies that will have their 20-year anniversary in 2018.)
  • What are you excited about in your life in the coming months?
  • Is there a smaller niche you’re interested in that you can become a niche writer for? Not only are you a gardener, but you’re an expert in growing roses. Or, you’re into gaming and know a ton about tabletop games. Maybe you’ve been passionate about beauty topics and have your finger on the pulse in the eyeliner market.

Go Bananas Brainstorm Exercise:

I once did an exercise in a magazine editor’s course and it’s been a huge help with thinking about topics differently throughout my career. Try this exercise to remind yourself that there are so many ways to think about one idea differently.

This summer, I had the Forbes magazine issue with Alex and Ani Billionaire Carolyn Rafaelian on the cover. The issue includes a bio on Rafaelian, her gorgeous Newport, RI, mansion, and more profiles on “The Richest Self-Made Women.” After reading her business profile and the feature on her, I might ask myself these questions to consider other ideas:

  • Where did she go to college? Has her alumni magazine written about her?
  • What is her fitness routine? Is she working with a personal trainer? Has this story been pitched to women’s health and fitness magazines?
  • What are her “must have” products she relies on when she travels around the world? Perhaps pitch something like this to a luxury travel magazine or blog.
  • What books would she recommend other entrepreneurs?
  • Has she done interviews with jewelry niche magazines? Why does she use certain metals and where do her products get manufactured?
  • What jobs did she have early in her career? Perhaps there’s a story in “The Worst Jobs Billionaires Ever Had Before They Were Self Made.”
  • What’s her favorite personal piece of jewelry and why?
  • Rafaelian is American-Armenian. You could explore this angle and see what interviews she’s done with American-Armenian magazines.
  • Does she give back to charities or volunteer? Explore this angle.

Let me know how this exercise worked for you by leaving a comment or emailing me: diana(at)dianakelly.com.

Like what you’re reading? I’d love it if you would share it with your networks!

If you want to read more of my tips and freelance writing advice for beginners and experienced writers, check out my Freelance Writing Online Course on Teachable. Enroll today!

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