Why an Idea Capture Strategy is Critical to Your Content Marketing
Whether you’ve got a side-hustle or you work full-time in the gig economy, you are responsible for your own marketing.
No one will promote your work as well as you can.
Whether it’s through email, social media, video, or podcasting, it’s a content-driven world and we need to generate an endless stream of new material to keep those fresh leads coming in.
While content generation is fresh and exciting at first, you’ll need a steady stream of ideas to ensure you’ve got something new to say every time you post or write and article.
This is where a solid idea capture strategy is critical to your business.
As writers and creators, we spend a lot of time behind the keyboard. There’s no use wasting a moment if we don’t have to. There’s nothing worse than sitting to write with no ideas for content.
You need an endless stream of ideas.
You need a list that will feed you an article or social post every time you pick up your phone.
There’s a way to generate these ideas– almost on autopilot.
You can do this with the idea capture strategy I’m about to share.
A good idea capture system will give you an endless well of content to keep your single-employee business filled with great ideas.
When you run your own side-hustle there’s no spare time to sit and hope a great idea will come to you. Your subconscious mind doesn’t work that way. Instead, we’ll collect the ideas in advance, so they’re ready when we need a piece of content.
It’s time to develop your idea capture system.
Idea capture will give you more time
There’s nothing worse than so-called writer’s block. You sit and stare at the screen. The blank page mocks you. You’ve got five pieces of social content that need to be released today, coupled with a long-form article and an email.
If you sat to write these pieces of content cold, it might take you all day.
When you have a strong idea capture system in place, you give yourself the gift of time. When it’s time to write, the idea is already there. All you have to do it flesh it out.
The premise of idea capture is simple, but it can bury you in over-choice if you’re not careful.
The strategy is to capture all the ideas you get while you’re out in the world.
Our brains are designed to do their best work in motion. We’re at our most-creative when we move. Therefore, sitting in front of a monitor is the worst situation for creativity.
…but most people try to develop their marketing content cold, while they sit in front of that blan screen.
You’ll have ideas for days.
Your idea capture system
The key to a good idea capture system is to have the right capture device for a given situation.
- In my car I have a digital recorder, so I can collect ideas while I drive, without having to write anything. I could also record these ideas into my phone
- In my pocket I have both my phone and a paper notebook. I use both for jotting content ideas
- In my shower I have a waterproof notepad, stuck to the wall with a suction cup
- I’ve got scraps of paper and notebooks in my nightstand
- There are scraps of paper on my desk
- I’ve got notebooks and legal pads stashed all over my house–including the garage
I won’t let a single idea leave my side.
It’s also important to note that your capture device shouldn’t be sacred. The kind of notebook you use isn’t important. The digital recorder isn’t important.
Use as much paper as you can get your hands on.
When entrepreneurs get sucked-into buying $35 notebooks they get stingy with their thoughts and words. I might feel like I don’t have a $35 idea, so I shouldn’t waste my new notebook.
Grab cheap notebooks from the dollar store.
Use scrap paper waste from the copy machine at work.
The important part is to capture every idea that comes from our subconscious. If we get fancy with notebooks, we hobble our idea capture system. The notebook doesn’t matter.
You’ll discard the original notes during the curation phase, anyway.
Ideas a fleeting. You might think you’ve got a great idea–one you’d never lose. The idea came to you while you walked your dog.
You had no capture device.
You were positive you’d never forget it, but as you returned to your house, the dog ran after a squirrel. The moment jarred the idea from your short-term memory. Once you returned to your desk to record it, the idea was gone.
This kind of distraction happens to entrepreneurs every day.
So, we phone-in our content for that day. Maybe we write a half-assed article, or we post a non-engaging piece of social content, because we’re out of good ideas.
There’s no room for poor content.
Your audience won’t engage with it. They’ll skip you for someone who took the time to post a story worthwhile.
When you capture every idea that comes to you while your out in the world, you’ll never run out of content marketing ideas.
…but the capture is only half the story.
With idea capture you need a curation strategy too
Ideas-alone aren’t worth much.
You also need a way to curate the best ideas and eliminate the fluff.
I like to keep a running content list in my phone. While my idea-capture thoughts might come from a dozen places, I collect all the god ideas in a central depository.
You can use a simple list in your phone, deleting each item as you turn the idea into a new piece of content.
I take all my capture devices and sort through the random thoughts I’ve collected as I moved through the wild.
Most of these ideas are terrible.
This is why the curation phase is so critical.
You might have a dozen random thoughts for every one idea you turn into content. The curation phase helps cement what’s worth saving.
Never judge an idea as you capture it
The capture phase is just that–collection. When you try to pass good/bad judgments on your fragile ideas, there’s a danger you won’t capture them at all.
The only time to judge an idea is during the curation phase of the capture process.
Collect every idea that comes to you. You never know how it might spark a different idea.
You might see a clever ad or email headline from some big-name brand. Maybe you get an idea from nature.
You subconscious mind works on the conscious problems you feed it, but you can’t control when the good ideas will come out. This is why we capture everything and sort it later.
There’s a final piece of the idea capture system.
You must give yourself room to move.
Ideas love motion
If you want more great content ideas for your side-hustle, you’ve got to give your body room to move.
This includes time away from your work, so your subconscious has time to process the problems you feed it.
Whether you take a shower, exercise, go for a walk, or practice a physical hobby (unrelated to your side-hustle), you need time to move if you want to generate fresh ideas.
We’re wired for movement.
Stagnation brings stagnant ideas.
If you’re stuck for content, it’s time to push-away from the desk and begin capturing all the idea that come to us while we move.
Most entrepreneurs and creatives don’t do this.
You’ll have the upper-hand.
This is the same method I use to generate millions of words per year in content marketing to help grow my publishing business. You can do the same with your side-hustle.
Whether you need ideas for a social caption, an article, or an entire income stream, you subconscious mind will work on those ideas in the background. You can’t guarantee when you’ll get a good idea to come out, but you’ll be ready to capture it when it does.
While it might feel counter-productive to leave your desk while you’re stuck for ideas, pushing-away and moving is the best remedy for being stuck.
Whether you need content, a long-form article, a full business idea, or a simple social media caption–your idea capture system will save you from wasting your valuable time sitting to think of clever marketing ideas.
It’s time to get capturing.
Your side-hustle will thank you for it.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.