By Jay Croft, Special AFS Contributor

Studio owners who know the value of content in their newsletters, blogs, and social media might still struggle with a common problem: “How do you come up with ideas to write about?”

It’s a question all writers hear and it creates anxiety that keeps non-writers from getting started. But in today’s business climate, most of us have to write with some frequency or at least present topics to develop. As a veteran writer and editor, I want to present some ideas you can use to keep that question from slowing you down.

First, there’s no mystery to generating ideas – whether you are writing at your job, for personal reasons or even in artistic pursuits.

Anyone who’s done it for a while knows there’s no magic secret, no reliance on a muse.

It’s just like how you help clients develop exercise techniques and habits. You do the work, you get the results.

That in mind, here are 10 sure-fire ways to keep the ideas coming, whether you’re feeling inspired or not. Mix and match with your own to come up with reliable, proven techniques, and apply them as part of your ongoing process. (Even when you don’t want to – just like you tell your clients about the value of consistency in exercise and diet.)

Jot them down

Good ideas can come at any time – while you’re working out, trying to sleep, watching TV. And, if you’re like me, you probably won’t remember them later unless you scribble them down inn a notebook or make a note or recording on your smartphone. I compile them later on a Word doc and refer to it regularly.

Tickle yourself

Keep a “tickler file” – either a literal file or something on your computer or phone – of articles, photos or links about upcoming events that might yield good content. For instance, if your neighborhood organization is hosting a City Councilman, put that in your tickler file – and link it to your calendar for a reminder. This is especially helpful with events that repeat regularly, on a monthly or yearly basis.

Follow the news

That includes niche sources about your specialty, industry, and community. You should stay informed, of course, for other reasons, but events and headlines also are great sources of ideas.

Include pop culture and sports

Think about the Super Bowl – one of the biggest sports/cultural/media events every year. Even if you don’t care about football, you should know who played (and won), who performed at halftime, and which commercials blew up Twitter.

Revisit your own content

You should periodically go through your existing content of all kinds, not just articles, and see what you can dust off. Chances are, readers won’t remember that you already covered a topic. And you can easily find a fresh way to top, update or present the information.

Repurpose from the best

When you see something you like or find useful, consider how you might apply it to your own situation. By the time you tailor it for your needs, you will have made it your own.

Curate content

We don’t have to write or create everything all the time. Sometimes, it’s best to share what others have written or produced and make a list to share.

Get out of the studio

Go to community events, conferences, speeches, ballgames – and pay attention to what people are talking about.

Remember the basics

Always ask yourself: What am I trying to say? To whom? And why? That will help you focus, which will help you think of ideas.

Do one thing different

Try a different grocery store. Watch a different news program. Toss the football instead of a Frisbee with your kid. It doesn’t really matter what. But you’ll be amazed how even the smallest new experience can help you look at things in a new way.


Jay Croft is a veteran journalist and content creator who leads Prime Fit Content for studios, gyms and trainers trying to engage people over 50.

Join the Conversation!