How to Get Loads of Fantastic Content Ideas
Here’s an interesting scientific fact — you can’t catch yourself not thinking. It’s odd, then, when people catch me not thinking at all.
I have a curious mind; my interests are as many as they are varied. The universe is vast, but it is made up of tiny particles. Our brains are like that; we concentrate our attention on one small thing at a time.
I read in a comfy chair in my lounge. If you look out of the window, you will see a big house across the street. It is habited by a nice middle-aged couple. He teaches the bagpipes, and she works in a bank.
He hasn’t been working during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, he has built a second garage, a garden fence and a small wall running either side of his front path. She bought a new car and has been on a Yoyo diet for as long as we’ve lived here — 28-years.
The only reason I know these things is that, now and then, my wife comes in, looks out of the window, sees what they are up to and then tells me. I am sure there are more facts about our neighbours she has told me, but…
I like big ideas.
I’m interested in what changes us from the inside out, the concepts that stop people in their tracks and make them think. The actions that make a difference in our world. These are what creators should pay attention to—not the Jones’s across the road with their new Kia Sportage.
If you want fantastic content ideas, make sure you are focussing your attention on something other than the mundane.
Humans are limited only by their lack of curiosity.
Sadly, curiosity is often misplaced.
When I am told, ‘You’re not listening to me.’ It is not because I am not thinking — it’s because I have better things to think about than the bored piper and his fat wife across the street.
‘I was listening, darling. You suspect he is a serial-killer, and she is helping him bury the bodies in their garden.’
‘No. I said he is eating his cereal, while she is planting a bonsai tree in the garden.’
I read a dozen books at a time.
Only one of them is fiction.
I only read one chapter, then move on to the next book. I use a highlighter and a pen to make notes. When I next pick up each book, I read my previously highlighted text and notes. This is a good learning technique, each read strengthens the synaptic connections in your brain.
When I finish a book, I read through all my notes again and write a summary in my journal. This reinforces the knowledge and instils the learning. By changing the topics, I find I never get bored and I often make connections from vastly different subjects.
Here are the fantastic content ideas from last night’s reading.
1. Can You Trust The Money In Your Pocket?
In Sapiens by Yuval Harrari, he gives us an insight into how humans, by necessity, developed money. How we went from trading corn for a pair of shoes to developing a trading system based on the value of a metal disc bearing the personal word of The Great King So-And-So.
We’ve advanced a great deal. Our promissory notes are now plastic. Designed to last longer and make it harder for counterfeiters. But that highlights we’ve had a problem.
Ever since we first used coins, the unscrupulous have been shaving little bits off the metal and forging their own. As a police officer, I have had to take suspect notes to the bank to establish if someone other than the Bank of England printed them — they were that good.
Rumours abound, countries like North Korea are flooding the USA with fake $50 dollar notes — and churning them out at a faster rate than the New York Times prints papers.
Today, we rely on electronic transfers. Ones and zeros sent through the ether and like magic the numbers in our account go up or down. With the growth in computer hacking, is it any wonder we hear of people skimming money from accounts?
One software expert changed the code so that anything less than one cent from interest on every account was rounded down, and he transferred the leftover fractions to his account. He thought nobody would notice — only he made so much money he got caught.
2. Humans will die out in 200 Years — Max.
In “Wit” Rides Again by Des MacHale, he quotes Philip Larkin —
I cannot see why there is all this fuss about the human race being perhaps wiped out in the near future. It certainly deserves to be.
Which made me think, so far, we haven’t done such a good job of making sure that doesn’t happen.
We only need to look at the COVID-19 pandemic as an example. We predicted it. We saw it coming, we knew what to do, we knew the drastic action we had to take — instead, we puttered around waving a sticking plaster at it.
Some countries did a better job than others — but it would have been so much easier to control if we had all acted as one. It begs the question, how are we going to survive when all our attention is on yesterday and today, instead of the next century?
3. This Is How To Stimulate Your Readers.
If I had to choose only one book to recommend to a writer, it would be 100 Ways to Improve your Writing by Gary Provost. I read one tip in the morning and one at night, and I read the book on a loop. When I get to the end, I read from the beginning again.
Any of his tips would make an excellent base for a longer article. The last tip I read he tells you how to stimulate your readers — Show your opinion.
By giving your opinion, you give the reader a basis for discussion. It doesn’t matter if they disagree, you have done your job by making them think. You tell me if there is a better book for writers — I’d be interested in reading your thoughts.
4. Sex Is Better On Ecstasy — It’s More Sensual.
I’ve no personal experience if that is true or not (you can trust me, I used to be a police officer).
The fiction book I’m reading is Ecstasy by Irvine Welsh, one of my favourite Scottish authors. His fictional characters dive into various drugs and discuss their effects. One character suggested the above and I might have written about it, but I don’t have the knowledge. I’d be interested in reading more, though.
5. The Most Extraordinary Thing In The Universe Is Inside Your Head.
One of the best compliments I had was when a reader compared my book about my Scottish travel adventures to the writings of Bill Bryson.
But Bill Bryson doesn’t just write travel books. His book, The Body, A Guide For Occupants, was a number one best-seller last year — I’m reading the paperback. It’s a book packed with information and it’s sprinkled with his usual intimate humour.
He points out,
The great paradox of the brain is that everything you know about the world is provided to you by an organ that has itself never seen the world.
My brain took in this information and my synapses began firing all over the place.
6. The Strange Effect That Can Kill You
You will have heard of the placebo effect, but have you heard of the Nocebo effect?
The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane describes how potions or interventions we know to be fundamentally ineffective can often still improve people’s conditions if they believe they work — the placebo effect.
Remarkably, the mind can also create toxic consequences if it believes the potion or intervention can harm. This is is the nocebo effect.
In one experiment, people who knew they were extremely allergic to poison ivy had their skin rubbed with a completely harmless leaf but told they had exposed them to poison ivy. Every single one of them developed a rash where they’d been rubbed.
Here I’ve drawn a connection between №5 and №6. That lump of organic material that lives in our skull and is made up of 80 per cent water, 20 per cent fat and protein is truly amazing. Is it possible to trick it into killing itself?
I think I just came up with the perfect crime.
Here are the fantastic content ideas from listening to yesterday’s podcasts.
7. Why Did Michael Jackson Want To Be White?
The novel, White Teeth, immediately became a best-seller and won several awards. The author, Zadie Smith, was being interviewed on The Penguin Podcast by David Baddiel about her latest novel, Swing Time.
During the interview, Zadie stated she didn’t believe Michael Jackson had some mystery disease that turned his skin white. She was of the belief he bleached his skin because he wanted to be white. And this was the same reason he underwent plastic surgery to change his features.
She questioned why.
She questioned why the world needs a saying like, ‘Black is Beautiful’.
I thought of the Black Lives Matter movement and why some people seem angry simply because some of their fellow humans were protesting against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence.
There's room for a decent social commentary on learned racism there.
8. Crime Detections Are At Their Worst.
— since the police stop bothering.
Even a comedy podcast can throw up ideas. Breaking The News is the satirical BBC Radio Scotland panel show which makes fun of all that is happening in the world. There is often more than a grain of truth in their wisecracks. The one above opens up many opportunities — both funny and serious.
9. What would you do if you knew you would fail?
Life advice isn’t more thought-provoking than this line from Seth Godin talking on The Tim Ferris Show.
The usual question is: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Seth turned this around. What would you do if you knew you would fail?
Answering this will probably tell you more about yourself and steer you towards what you should do with your time.
If it inclines you to write about it, I’d be keen to read it.
Here is a fantastic content idea from talking to my son.
10. Reinvesting Your Dividends Will Make You An Extra $120k.
Okay, he’s just started his YouTube channel and he wanted me to give him a critique. In this one, he was talking about dividend reinvestment. He showed me the chart.
The difference is apparent. Take those yearly $1,000 dividends and after 40 years you’ll have $40k. But, if you reinvest them and you’ll have $160k.
Isn’t that great? I wish I’d had his savvy when I was his age. People need to know these things — those who listen will surely be grateful to you if you spread the word.
Here is a fantastic content idea from reading Medium.
11. Undersell. Overdeliver.
If I hadn’t found Medium, I wouldn’t have found Tim Denning. If I hadn’t found Tim Denning, I wouldn’t have followed him on Twitter. If I hadn’t followed him on Twitter, I wouldn’t have read his 11 overly simple rules for business. If I hadn’t read his post on Twitter, I wouldn’t have read his #5 rule — Undersell. Overdeliver.
And you would only have the 10 content ideas I promised.
Instead of 12…
Here is a fantastic content idea from reading a quality newspaper.
12. How To Make A Billion From Gym Vest.
Nine years ago, Ben Francis, a pizza delivery boy, started stitching cool fitness gear at his parents’ house. Today his label, Gymshark, turns over £250 million a year in sales. And he’s only 28.
When he struck a deal valuing his company at £1 billion, he celebrated by ordering pizza.
I wonder if there is more to this story than printing ‘GYMSHARK’ on a workout top — I’d be interested to read about it.