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3 Ways to Generate Killer Article Ideas

3 Ways to Generate Killer Article Ideas

As freelance writers, it’s extremely difficult to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the pack. You can have perfect grammar/spelling and a very elegant writing style, but it won’t matter if your ideas aren’t creative.

Here are 3 ways to come up with something interesting:

1. Stop Thinking Like Everybody Else

Chances are whatever idea you have for writing, an article has already been covered elsewhere. Just a simple Google search will reveal that. How can you come up with something that’s interesting, but unique at the same time? It might seem impossible since there are so many articles out there, but it can be done quite easily if you know the trick to thinking outside the box.

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At the core of 99.9999% of article ideas, the writer is trying to answer a question the audience might have. Examples are: ‘Top 10 Movies/Games/Whatever of All Time’ or ‘How to fix this’ or ‘How to save money doing that.’ In order for these articles to succeed, it needs to be objectively better than the other articles out there (usually written by experts) and the content needs to be marketed.

Alternatively, you can try writing something unique which has a greater chance of going viral. Here’s the trick: just do the opposite of everyone else and answer a question which the audience doesn’t need to know. Sounds weird? Well here’s an example:

Remember Drogon from Game of Thrones? He’s the largest one and most aggressive one, distinguishable by his red and black scales. Shade Station did an infographic about how much it would cost to feed Drogon. The content saw great success through various Game of Thrones related sub-reddits and forums.

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Name one thing in the world which that knowledge would be useful for. How much does it cost to feed a fictional character? It’s completely useless knowledge, but yet, people are still interested in reading about it. This is the same reason why many articles on Buzzfeed go viral, despite containing useless knowledge. It’s a great place to go to, if you’re looking for examples.

2. Start Stealing Ideas

“Good artists copy; Great artists steal.” Read an article you really liked? Steal it, and add a twist to it to make it yours. This is a great way to come up with ideas which haven’t been covered before.

Here’s how to add the twist:

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Let’s say you recently read an article about ‘3 ways on how to generate killer article ideas,’ and you thought it was an amazing read. Some twists you can do are:

  • Take one aspect of it, and make it the opposite e.g. 3 ways to generate boring ideas
  • Add in an element of ‘what if’ to it e.g. what if you’re on a tight deadline? 3 ways to come up with killer article ideas in just 5 minutes
  • Exaggerate or supersize it: 57 ways to generate killer article ideas

These aren’t the only ways to do so, but they’re a great starting place.

3. Ask the Right Questions

In complex fields such as IT, insurance, health or technology, educating the readers is the top priority. That is why it’s extremely important to ask the right questions. What things do the readers need clarifying or understanding with?

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In order to find out, your best option is to ask the audience directly, rather than try and ‘think in their shoes.’ Being an expert in your field, you will most certainly miss out important questions that need answering.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of this: Ryan Hanley, marketer of ‘The Murray Group’ did a video series called “100 questions answered in 100 days.” This is where he asks people to answer the question: ‘if you can ask one question related to insurance, what will the question be?’ After receiving 147 responses, he narrowed it down to 100 questions and made that video series.

The Murray Group was only receiving 70 hits per week, but during the video campaign, their traffic went up to 500 hits per week. A lot of this success was due to a lot of obscure questions which were not covered in the New York State Department of Insurance’s website.

This goes to show even authority sites will miss out on things which the public wants to know.. The audience will always have questions which are not covered on other sites. Survey them on social media, email, real life or even Survey Monkey to find out what you should write about.

Overall, I hope these 3 tips will help you write engaging articles that will go viral and/or educate the masses.

More by this author

Tanvir Zafar

Software Engineer at GCUF

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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