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Writing

How to Generate New Article Ideas

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jan 23, 2020 • 4 min read

Freelance writing is hard work, and sometimes it takes a lot of effort to generate new story ideas. The good news is there are a ton of simple ways to brainstorm new ideas in subject areas that interest you.

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15 Ways to Generate New Article Ideas

Writer’s block affects even the most seasoned journalists in every newsroom. If you’re feeling stuck and it’s been a while since you’ve pitched an article, take a look at these tips:

  1. Have a niche. If you’re a freelance journalist, it’s useful to specialize in a niche early on in your writing career. Writing a number of stories on your own blog or for other publications about a specific subject matter will give you a brand. Having a writing specialty will lead magazine editors to think of you when story topics come up in that arena.
  2. Write an impassioned opinion piece. Many writers have a strong point of view and are passionate about a variety of topics. Writing impassioned opinion pieces can be a great way to write about topics you feel strongly about and have personal experience with. Depending on where you intend to publish these pieces, you can opt for a more formal op-ed or a casual open letter featured on your own blog.
  3. Write a self-help column. One way to get over writer’s block and skip the search for the perfect article topic is to start a self-help or advice column. Taking reader’s letters and offering suggestions is a great way to generate traffic and can give you a constant source of new writing material.
  4. Peruse trending topics. Many freelancers decide to write about real-world current events by perusing trending stories on social media websites. Lists of trending stories can help clue you in to the daily news cycle and give you ideas for where to focus your efforts.
  5. Follow up on a previous story. One way to generate new content is to write a follow-up piece on a great article or two that you’ve written previously. Most interesting stories warrant further examination, and there’s no shame in following up on a piece you’ve written with further information or updates.
  6. Write an explanatory article about a piece of national news. Whenever there’s a piece of breaking news, many news outlets are looking to supplement their initial coverage with an explanatory feature article breaking down the ins and outs of a story and giving behind-the-scenes insight. These pieces are not breaking news but rather give readers context and background information to better understand the main story.
  7. Write a pop culture roundup. An ever-relevant magazine article idea: Compile a pop culture roundup of recent TV shows, films, or books. As a writer, blogging about the books or films from the past year that piqued your interest is a way to keep your readers engaged. These roundups work well as list posts. You can also include a preview of upcoming titles you are looking forward to.
  8. Seek out personal stories. If you’re looking for something new to write about, you always have the option to go beyond the daily news cycle and write personal interest nonfiction pieces about people outside the public eye. Writing articles about a small business owner struggling to make ends meet or a nurse who moonlights as a high school mascot can bring attention to stories that don’t often get told.
  9. Write about local issues. Local news may not make the pages of The New York Times or The Washington Post, but these types of stories can fill a niche that many readers in your area may find interesting.
  10. Consider writing a travel piece. Freelance writing can take you many places across the United States and the world. If you find yourself on the road, consider writing a piece about local culture, whether it be taking in the arts or viewing local sports teams.
  11. Profile a compelling figure. News organizations are always looking for great stories about famous public figures. Writing news articles about compelling people can help build your writing chops and connect you with valuable sources. Think about influential people who might allow you the access you need to write a profile.
  12. Break down a new scientific discovery. Writing a newspaper article or Internet blog post about new research is a great opportunity for up-and-coming writers. Researching new scientific breakthroughs is a great way to generate new article ideas. If you’re posting about scientific research, consider including infographics or other visual aids to break down new research for your readers.
  13. Write a how-to. Readers and publications are always on the lookout for step-by-step tutorials for new products or complicated procedures. As a freelance writer, writing a cheat sheet on a new piece of technology is a great way to get eyes on your work. It can also be a good place to practice new SEO techniques to get more clicks. Learn more about writing a how-to article in our guide here.
  14. Write about a product. Writing about new technologies and products can be a great blog topic or article idea. Publishing articles previewing new video games or frequently asked questions about the newest smartphones is a great way to attract new readers. It’s also an opportunity to enter into the world of content marketing and potentially tie in a product giveaway.
  15. Read. You never know where you’ll come across a great article or news story that inspires you. As a writer it’s your job to read every piece of writing you can get your hands on, whether it be feature stories on the front page of national newspapers or small blog posts about school board issues. Keep reading other writers and seeking out new and exciting voices that inspire you.

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