Link building is a creative process. At least the type of link building that can generate hundreds of editorial links is. Where does the inspiration for such powerful ideas come from? A breakdown on the London Underground gave Ken McGaffin the inspiration for this article – and an opportunity to summarize some of his thoughts on creativity.
Creating web content is a great way of getting links and exposure. To make it work though, you've got to keep at it and publish regularly. Take writing articles, for example: it's a straightforward way of creating web content.
But regular publishing means you've got to have a stream of ideas for articles you could write. And that means you've got to have ways of generating good article ideas.
I enjoy reading quotations for inspiration - and then a personal experience sparked the idea for this article and I thought I'd share it with you ...
A breakdown on a London Underground train broke my day’s usual pattern. Instead of traveling all the way to work on the train I had to walk the short distance from Kings Cross to Euston Station.
That took me past the British Library and what I saw outside made me stop in my tracks. There was a sign outside the library with a quote from Stephen Fry:
"An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them."
I liked the quote so much that I just stopped and stared at it.
There are two immediate interpretations of the quote. The first is perhaps a little cynical – just go in to the library and steal one.
The second more profound one is that all those wonderful ideas you’ll find in the library will stimulate your own creativity. By taking some time to explore and think about the original ideas you find, you will spark off your own creative ideas.
Later, back at the office, I was having a coffee and chatting about my experience. One of the guys remarked that it was funny how the quote had such an impact on me, and said there must be many quotes that inspire people.
So I did a few quick searches on Google and collected a few quotes on creativity. Any quote on creativity or the process of creativity can spark ideas in your own brain.
Then in my head I could hear our editor Mark Nunney saying "could you group those quotes into categories?"
Mark is also our SEO guy and he likes things in groups – and he loves lists. So I read through the quotes I’d found and picked out five groups. Here they are:
1) Inspiration from others
This group is born out of the idea that there is no such thing as an ‘original idea’. You just take an idea that attracts your attention and adapt it to your own situation.
The Stephen Fry quote is a great example so I’ll repeat it here:
"An original idea. That can't be too hard. The library must be full of them."
Here’s another quote on adapting other people’s ideas
"The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book."
2) Numbers are important
Here are creative quotes inspired by numbers of ideas:
"The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away."
"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
George Bernard Shaw
"There is only one way in which a person acquires a new idea: by the combination or association of two or more ideas he already has into a new juxtaposition in such a manner as to discover a relationship among them of which he was not previously aware."
Francis A. Cartier
"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have."
3) Where do ideas come from?
There are really few limits to where you get ideas from but here’s a few quotes:
"Rules are a great way to get ideas. All you have to do is break them."
"Ideas are like wandering sons. They show up when you least expect them."
"My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living."
4) Take action
"Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference."
"An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied."
Arnold H. Glasgow
"Labor gives birth to ideas."
5) What you do with them
“Others go to bed with their mistresses; I with my ideas."
José Marti, letter, 1890
“When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.”
"In the matter of ideas he who meditates is lost.”
Some thoughts on creativity
(i) Ideas can come from anywhere – even when you’re frustrated and grumpy because a train has broken down.
(ii) When something catches your eye, don’t just move on. Stop and take it in properly and try to think about why it caught your eye.
(iii) Talk to other people about the things that you notice and the ideas that you have. That is guaranteed to expand your thinking.
(iv) Isolate the problem that your idea solves – why is it compelling to you? What would make it most compelling to other people?
(v) Do your research and absorb information. Collect quotes and resources, read what’s been written before.
(vi) Follow through. Do something about your idea – even if its just to write an article about it.
I keep a notebook with me most of the time and write down ideas and experiences that I have. Then all I have to do is flick through the notebook to get something I can write about.
Many people struggle with writer's block and you've got to have ways of overcoming that. A notebook serves me well - what can you do to help yourself?
More help with content ideas and link building
To answer the demand for ideas for content for websites and link building, Wordtracker have produced the following books ... The Web Content Recipe book
Stumped when it comes to creating content for your website? Fear no more! With Wordtracker’s e-book, it’s easy to whip up rich, exciting content that drives more traffic, converts visitors into customers, and establishes your business as an authority. (Yes, even if you’re the worst writer on the planet!)
It’s true: no matter how dizzyingly sophisticated your website design, content is still king. If the information on your site fails to captivate, entertain and educate your visitors, you’re losing sales, day after day. Not to mention, your site won’t attract quality links, which negatively impacts your search engine rankings.
Learn the "Secret Recipe" for outstanding website content and discover 21 irresistible content ideas.
It’s a proven fact: link building is vital to creating a thriving, cash-generating website.
Written by renowned marketing experts Ken McGaffin and Mark Nunney, this book unravels the mysteries of link building, breaking it down into a digestible, manageable process.
Ken and Mark explain, step-by-step, how to create a productive linking strategy that can be easily integrated into your day-to-day work.
Can’t Afford to Hire a Pricey PR Firm? You Don’t Have To. The good news is that the internet now makes it easier than ever before to get your business in front of journalists and the media. You can use the web to:
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Wordtracker's own link building guru Ken McGaffin tells you how.
Blogging expert Chris Garrett's “Blogging for Business – 50 Steps to Building Traffic and Sales” lays out a practical, step-by-step process for developing a successful blog for your business.
Karon Thackston addresses the challenges ecommerce websites face when trying to create copy that converts well while also ranking high with the search engines.
You'll get in-depth information with practical action steps for every phase of the copywriting process. In addition, you'll get helpful, quick-reference worksheets that make fast work of developing copy for Home pages, Category pages and Product descriptions.
About Ken McGaffin
Ken McGaffin is a writer, speaker and trainer in online marketing. He provides webinar and video training in link building, online PR and content marketing on his site at LinkingMatters.com You can join him at Google+ or on Twitter
He wrote The Definitive Guide to Successful Link Building with Mark Nunney, and has created two in-depth online courses, 'Get Links: 7 Weeks to Link Building Mastery' and 'Broken Link building Video Course', both with Garrett French.