How To Never Run Out Of Ideas – My 100% No-Fail System

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Note: This is part 1 of a 3-part series about creating. I’ll use the topic of writing since that’s what I know, but the lessons can be extrapolated to any form of art. We’ll cover Ideas (today), Burnout (next Monday), and Validation (next Thursday).

Idea generation is a topic that comes up pretty regularly amongst bloggers and would-be bloggers.

“Do you ever run out of things to write about?”

My Writing Process

I write most of my posts a little bit in advance because I write them whenever I feel inspired to write them. Then I schedule them with the WordPress scheduler. As I’ve mentioned before, the majority of my writing isn’t for this blog, so sometimes my scheduled post days come upon me out of nowhere.

“Whoa, it’s 4am Eastern and post time is at 7:11am … how did that happen?”

(I’ve still never written about why I set most of my posts to run at 7:11. It’s not superstition, and the truth is I don’t think it’s even worth writing about.)

I’ve consciously created my life to be as stress-less and enjoyable as possible, but it seems this would be a stressful situation to put myself in. It’s not.

The Definition of Definition

On the one hand, I don’t have a well defined niche like Corbett (help small businesses get more traffic), Baker (sell your crap, do what you love), Everett (minimalism), Pat (passive income) or Leo (simplicity).

On the other hand, I get to write about whatever I want. That’s why I never have a problem writing an article here at Ridiculously Extraordinary, even if I have to write it at the last minute.

(Actually, some of my most trafficked/commented/facebook shared/stumbled/tweeted articles were all last minute articles.)

Evergreen Niches

Some of you have read my Evergreen Niches Report dissecting the best niches to go after if you’re starting a small business. I recommend you only choose one, but my blog and premium products cover all of the niches. (OK, there’s only 1 premium product right now, but as you can see in the sidebar, 2 in the pipeline.)

From a marketing standpoint this is dumb and I don’t recommend it. It’s difficult to brand this blog and Baker has even asked me a million times to define what this site is about.

My tag line sucks: Freedom, Health, Travel, Life. What does that mean? How much more vague can I possibly be?

For a guy who has studied marketing for so many years I should know better.

And yet, even with all of that working against me, it’s working.

I fully admit I stole this from Tim Ferriss. Before starting this blog I thought to myself, “I don’t care if he’s a NYT best selling author, if he can write about whatever he wants and be successful, so can I.”

How To Define Your Niche (And Should You Even Bother?)

There are a couple of easy ways to define your niche:

1) Define it yourself.

Matt did it fantastically with No Meat Athlete. There is absolutely no questioning what the site is about. Matt’s a veg athlete and he writes for others who either are veg or considering it.

Kenny has done it with Me vs MJ – My Journey To Jordan Camp. It’s targeted to basketball fans, but with a personal story and helpful articles which non-basketball fans can connect with as well.

2) Ask your readers (once you have a decent amount) to define it for you via a reader survey.

Why Define?

When a new visitor hits your site and doesn’t know what it’s about they probably won’t stick around unless you’re incredibly compelling.

Here’s the fun part about defining your niche: you can actually still write about almost whatever you want, no matter what niche you’re in!

For example, Baker’s blog is ManVsDebt.com, but does he stick to the same boring personal finance topics as other personal finance bloggers? Not a chance.

And to go back to the MeVsMJ.com example: does Kenny only write about basketball? Not exactly, but everything he writes about has the common thread of basketball worked into it.

It might take a little bit more work, but you can tweak almost any topic you’d like to write about into your defined niche.

Defining Your Niche Actually Makes It Easier To Generate Ideas

Defining your niche also instantly gives visitors something to connect with.

When all your synapses are firing on a common goal, the ideas just don’t stop.

What you may find is ideas may come at inopportune times, but instead of getting pissed, embrace it. Some days I write 3 articles for this blog and then go another week without writing another one. Some weeks I write 10 articles and then never post any of them. :)

If I’m inspired to create, I create, no matter what else is going on.

I discussed that concept in The Absolute Idiot’s Guide To Inspiration.

Define your niche and don’t stifle inspiration and I guarantee you won’t have trouble generating ideas.

How You Helped Clarify My Niche

I asked in a survey a few months ago what you thought this site was about and the answers were incredibly varied.

From a marketing standpoint that’s not good.

But most of the answers had one element that told me I’m on the right track: “inspiring.”

Ridiculously Extraordinary is about minimalism. Because that is what I am at the core.

It’s about entrepreneurship. Because I’ve been entrepreneurial my whole life

It’s about doing what you want, and doing what you love. Because that’s what I do.

It’s about kicking ass and thinking for yourself. Because I follow exactly that.

It’s about questioning everything and everyone. Because I’ve learned the hard way that that is the only way to make it.

But it all boils down to this: Ridiculously Extraordinary is about inspiration. You inspire me and my goal is to inspire you. Inspiration is my niche.

And because of that simple fact, I have a fire lit under my ass when it comes time to write here. I hope whatever you decide to do that you’ll have this same fire lit under your ass as well.

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On Monday we’ll cover How To Extinguish Burnout (plus 7 Guaranteed Burnout Busters).

It will focus on these common questions (and more):

“Do you ever feel like not writing?”

“Do you ever just want to quit?”

Subscribe to the RSS feed by clicking here so you don’t miss that update.



48 COMMENTS

  1. First of all, when I saw that your next post was on burnout, I giggled (in a manly way, of course), because I wrote a post on that a few days ago, and I’m not sure if I’ll post it, but after finishing it, I saw posts on burnout everywhere. Funny.

    You helped me realize something: I’m in the inspiration business myself. That’s something I hear a lot from my readers (thank you readers!).

    Boom!

    • Dude, that means we’re in the same business! You better delete your blog ASAP. ;)

      P.S. To everybody: I’m seriously kidding. Henri and I are friends.

      P.P.S. Yes, after I wrote and scheduled the burnout post I noticed a bunch of burnout posts as well. Weird and awesome!

  2. I never thought of defining a niche and then working everything else into it. That’s my task for the day! I also find the bit about last-minute posts interesting. My most trafficked posts are almost always the “Did I actually write this shit?” posts. I think they’re horrific, and then the hits start rolling in!

    I’m excited to see the rest of this series.

  3. I actually wrote a post about this.. It’s a lot easier to write content and come up with post ideas when you create a broader blog. You can hit many different topics that all relate to ONE main IDEA..

    This way you can see which posts become popular so you can then focus in that segment of your blog..

    great stuff..
    Hector

  4. I’m still in the process of defining what my niche is for my blog. Currently I just write about whatever and see what comes out. Sometimes what I start to write is completely different from what the finished article is about. That’s what makes it exciting for me. But I think looking back on my posts they are all about self-improvement and development.

    I’m looking forward to the burnout post.

    • Thanks Eugene. While it’s good to write about whatever (for practice and just for the enjoyment of writing) it’s good to keep it on some sort of topic. Self improvement is a good niche. :)

  5. My niche is helping people succeed online, from keyword to building links to networking, I hope I never run out of ideas, write great content and be passion about it, Great post, waiting for part 2

    Marios

    • Hey Marios, awesome … that’s a good, but crowded niche. It’s good to niche it down to a smaller sub-niche. You’ll still be able to write about most of the same stuff. :)

  6. I have a specific niche – parenting, and just like you said, I can write about anything as long as I can put the family stuff in there. And because I live alone with my daughter, pretty much everything for me includes thinking of a child :) Sweet.

    • Awesome Marilia. Parenting is also a pretty broad niche. You can niche it down more and still write about all the same stuff. For example: “Parenting for single Moms with a daughter.” Now that is a niche. ;)

  7. Very nice post Karol, thanks alot!

    Helps me to create some more structure in my E-book, and how i am planning to sell it.

    These how to create posts really help me alot now. thanks!

    Henk.

  8. Inspiration. Yes, if I had to associate one word for you and your blog, that would be it. Then, I had to think through what that word entails. The dictionary.com definitions for “inspire” start out with phrases like “to fill, to produce/arouse, to influence/impel, to guide/control, to bring about.” Reading these, it came to me: you instigate “change.” Your writing makes me reflect on my assumptions, values, behaviors, and tactics, which, in turn, initiate changes–some might call it growth–in me. Niches are external, but inspiration is how you connect and offer value to your readers. I think this is a good as any description of “quality” content. Thanks, Karol!

    • Thank you Greg! I really appreciate your thoughtful words. And I’m a fan of “instigating change.” That’s actually a great idea for a blog post and/or Manifesto. ;)

      Thank you again!

  9. Karol~I’m so glad you touched on this subject. I’m getting seriously close to starting a blog and am wondering what it’s going to be about. I’ve been asking myself, what am I really good at? What is going to differentiate me from other people? What can I talk about in a really interesting way that will get people to watch or read and come back? And, I’ve been struggling with this because, see, I have all these ideas! (Jack Black/Orange County)…But, seriously, it stops me from starting my blog. So, it was really good to read about how you go about your writings, getting inspiration, etc. It helps give me the confidence that I can do it too.

    • Thanks Jean! Starting is difficult, sustaining is more difficult (especially in the beginning when nobody is reading) … but there’s something that’s the most difficult (in the long run): doing nothing. Difficult because it hurts you in every way possible. So, pick a niche that you’re into and start writing!

  10. First…Thanks for the mentions!!:-)

    Everything you wrote is so on point, as usual. I also think that when the blogger stops worrying so much about being “good” and just worries about being themselves it can speak to people. At least that’s my hope:-)

    I would challenge you slightly with your niche though. I think RE is about inspiration at its core, but it is also about CHANGE to so many of us (readers/followers/fans/friends). You are changing lives bro. That’s powerful. Our (Charissa and I) life is different in many ways from knowing you personally. Not too many people I can say have had that impact in my life…ever.

    Much love man. Keep it up!

    • Thanks man! Greg, up above, mentioned change as well and I like it. :) But I still look at it as I’m trying to inspire … because the change is all up to you. As the saying goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make her drink.” ;)

  11. Karol, this post came at the right time. I have changed my blog around (name, URL and content change) and I’m struggling a little at the moment. I have lost some readers and subscribers (which is only to be expected) and I’m having a little trouble defining what I want my new blog to be about.

    Your post helped me realize that I too can pull it off writing about anything I’m inspired to write about. My general theme is about freedom, but I’m also in the inspiration and motivation business. I’m writing about goals, dreams, life, creativity and action.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Marthe. There are a lot of blogs with the general theme of freedom. A question to think about to make yours stand out: what differentiates your blog from mine and the others? There is room for us all, but having a unique hook will help you grow.

  12. “you can actually still write about almost whatever you want, no matter what niche you’re in” – wow! so simple yet so true… this is my main takeaway from this post :)

  13. We are all in the inspiration business. It is easy to get caught up in the details and loose sight of the main thing. You can say you will walk a fine line over to the right, but the reader stops by every week to be inspired, not to worry about your direction. That is a more self imposed restriction. Thanks for reminding us.

    • Interesting comment regarding self imposed restriction Erin. But what I am advocating is exactly a self imposed restriction in a way… it is a smart idea to define a niche and still write about virtually whatever you want. :)

  14. Interesting post, Karol. And thanks for the link! Since I discovered your blog I’ve actually thought to myself that I wish I could write about the variety of topics you do. Which made me curse the fact that my niche is so well-defined (and narrow). But your examples made me realize that I can and should branch out to other topics, and I think keeping inspiration as a common thread might be just the way to do it. We’ll see how it goes!

  15. This post is for me a confirmation that I am going on the right path with my blog, which I just moved to my own domain (from WP.com). I write about my daily experiences with origami, the art of folding paper (or any thin and crisp paper-like material). I’m finding no shortage of ideas and I realize that it can be broad and many topics can be woven into the main origami thread.
    Nice to find this blog!

    • Thanks Leyla! Oh my, I used to love Origami. I was never particularly good, but I had a few books and it was a peaceful hobby. Glad to know you’re writing about it, passionate about it, and full of ideas about it! :)

  16. Great post as usual, Karol!

    And right on time for me as I am debating on whether to change over to a new blog or write more widely on my current blog. You have given me much to think about.

    Rasheed

  17. As so often, I’m a bit late to the party, but as comments are still open I might as well use the opportunity. I find it funny how your write Tim Ferriss inspired you to write about everything you want. For me, it were other authors, but I still can relate to that feeling so well. Thus, I am having a lot of trouble with defining my niche, too, but I’m not sure if I’ll really do it. One day I get up and say, “Man, you really, really should get this niche thing handled”, but then I’m like “Fuck it, you don’t even WANT to have a blog that’s simple enough to fit in a tweet”. Because… well… LIFE is NOT. And that’s what my blog is about, I suppose.
    Anyway, you got me thinking once again, and that’s a good thing. Might even survey my readers. So thanks for that! :)

  18. I’m having trouble with my niche as well. I’m not even sure what you would call my niche.

    But I have managed to write on quite few topics that I hope relate to the theme of empowering disabled people in our post-industrial world. And one point you didn’t mention. That is, who is your audience? I’m even more clueless on that score.

    Thanks once again for an change inspiring post.

    Peace and true freedom

    • My audience is people looking for a different way of life than what is forced down their throats in school, in media, and by most of their peers.

      As for your audience: empowering disabled people sounds like a good niche that you know a lot about, although I haven’t done any research.

  19. Excellent article. I’ve been going through a lot of the “now what I do I write about?” crisis. I had to write an essay as part of my requirements to become a Black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I was having enough trouble writing that, much less keep up on my blog. I finally finished the essay, and now I’m ready to start writing about chess again. Yes there are a bunch of people who write about the game of chess. Though lately my circle of chess bloggers all seem to be going into hibernation.

    I have to read your part two. I just found your blog today.

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