Freelance Writing Tips

5 Idea Generating Tools for the Busy Freelancer

Freelancing is a mixed bag. Sometimes your clients hand you topics that they’d like to see written. Sometimes you come up with topics on your own and pitch them to prospects and publications. And sometimes, as is frequently the case with my clients, you find yourself pitching new ideas every month for their approval.

Generating your own ideas can be empowering to an extent. After all, you get to pick and choose relevant topics that you might enjoy exploring. However, it’s also time consuming and more than a little frustrating, especially if you’ve been generating ideas around a specific subject for a while and find the well is running dry.

Thankfully, there are tools out there that can help you find fresh, relevant, and SEO friendly topics on the regular.

TweetDeck

If you’re in the business of finding article topics for specific subjects, then you might already follow relevant publications and people on Twitter. However, depending on who else you follow, it may be hard to parse through all the “noise” for idea generating tweets. You could also be missing out on some valuable twitter accounts that you just didn’t know were out there.

TweetDeck helps you get the most out of your Twitter feed by allowing you to create custom feeds based on hashtags, search terms, and more. If you create a feed for the subject relevant to your client, you’ll see any tweets relevant to that keyword, including those from accounts you don’t follow.

In this way, your custom twitter feed becomes a makeshift news feed that can clue you into current events, trending topics, relevant hashtags, new keywords, and more.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts distills web content and delivers it right to your door. You decide what kind of content you want updates on and let Google do the work. Google will send you emails with updated news, blog posts, and more regarding your subject. This makes it easier to stay on top of new developments in your chosen subject and trending topics.

It’s worth noting that Google Alerts has had some technical issues over the years. Many people have scrapped it for more complex RSS feeds for this reason. However, if you’re goal is just to get the idea gears turning, then you may not need to look much further.

Answer The Public

This free site tells you what people are asking about a given subject. Just type in the topic and see what relevant questions have been making their way into search windows.

If you already have an article topic in mind, then go here for FAQs to help you make your article more SEO friendly. If you are looking for topic ideas, type in a general term and see what people want to know about it. You can fashion an article around one or more of these questions. You can also look for relevant terms that might lead you down the internet rabbit hole to new topics.

HARO

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) connects writers and professionals in a symbiotic way. Writers get quotes for their pieces and professionals get exposure. Although idea generation is not its stated goal, it can be an effective way to get the creative juices flowing.

When you sign up for HARO, for better or worse, you sign up for a lot of emails. If you’re only interested in your own article queries and not in everyone else’s, this can get annoying. But it’s possible to look at that torrent of HARO emails as more of a blessing than a curse.

Click on one of those emails and check out what other people are covering. The topics are broken down by general subject to make them easier to browse. If you don’t see something that inspires you, then open a new email. You’ll get plenty of them.

To be clear, I’m not advocating for just copying other people’s topics. But just as a news feed can get you thinking about new topic ideas, so too can a feed of potential articles.

Keywords Everywhere

This tool has less to do with getting you thinking about new topic ideas and more to do with helping you to focus on the most SEO friendly ones. Keywords Everywhere is a free Google plugin that will tell you how frequently a given term is searched each month. This can tell you if your topic has too much or too little volume.

Just install the plugin and go to Google.com to search. The number of searches will appear to the right of the term in the Google autocomplete dropdown. And hey, maybe that autocomplete will give you a few ideas too!

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