If your marketing ideas are running low, you can find inspiration all around you if you know where to look.Creating high-quality, wow-worthy content is the secret sauce to digital success. Yet crafting stellar blog posts, articles, and video creations is hardly an easy process.

For many, inspiration is the missing link. All of us who have ever stared at a blank screen, begging our muse to bestow us with creative genius, know how challenging the creative process can be. The trick for all creators — marketers included — is to stay inspired. If you know where to look, there’s a limitless source of inventive brilliance out there; just commit yourself to never stop looking.

Ready to jump-start your inspiration? Consider these off-the-wall sources, and let your innovative world expand into untouched corners of creativity. Then watch your content marketing explode with newfound genius.

Where There’s Laughter, There’s Creativity

Ask any writer what genre is toughest to nail, and almost all will tell you “comedy.” Anything that truly incites a belly laugh takes a massive dose of wit and awareness to manifest. Your first source of inspiration, therefore, should be anything that forces you to break a smile, no need for the best teeth whitening strips when your smile is so genuine! Stand-up comedy, a stellar joke, or any successful comedic medium is ripe with ingenious ideas for great digital content.

When’s the last time you perused newspaper comics, or the brilliant cartoons in publications like The New Yorker? There’s a secret source for brilliance.

Cartoonist Paul Biedermann teaches us why cartoons are a perfect alternative for spurring a content marketer’s imagination:

Good cartooning is about developing a personal style and point of view that is uniquely your own — and that only comes with time […] Cartooning is commentary, and that demands knowledge. […] In order to satirize something, you first need to know the issues and have something to say. This also includes observing human nature and its foibles.

Comedy writers are forced to ask the smart questions about human nature in order to make us laugh at ourselves. They also have a challenge similar to a marketer’s in that they must make an major impact in a short time span, or else be forgotten.

Biedermann also has an insightful view on creativity. “[…] the answers for what it takes to produce good work are not easy,” he states. “They are even more difficult to learn. But the more we work, the more we evolve and develop the unique voice that drives quality work.”

Inspiration for Creating Great Content from Unlikely Sources

Channel Your Inner 4-Year-Old

For most of us, at no time in our lives are we more imaginative than in our preschool years. We have scores of friends no one else can see, a fantastical view of the world, and a firm belief in things like unicorns. Channeling this kind of innocent creativity is another perfect way to find new fodder for your marketing campaigns.

For most of us, remembering what life was like before we could read is tough. If you need to jump-start this time warp, get ahold of some preschool apps or games that whisk you back into a world made only of pictures. Great marketing isn’t just about words, after all: Images often tell stories better than lifeless words can. Bringing out your inner preschooler can not only spark your creativity, but also provide a necessary reminder to keep things simple and straightforward. You’ll impact the masses in a grander fashion, and have a ridiculously fun time doing so. That’s a definite win-win.

Let Emotions Be Your Guide

If you’re knee-deep in content marketing, you probably have already developed an awareness of who and what your audience is. You know their wants and needs, and their overall attitudes in life. With this knowledge as a jumping-off point, think about the emotions you’d like your content to invoke in your customers. Are you appealing to a sense of safety and security with your brand? Or, more of a silly, carefree energy? Perhaps you need to strike a professional, focused tone. Regardless, let these emotions guide you.

Your next task is to use those emotions as a mantra of sorts, and pay close attention to anything in your daily existence that evokes this response from you. From street signs to product packaging, television shows to magazines, you are inundated with inspiration every day, if you know to keep an alert mind.

Most importantly, you must be dedicated to the task of creating in order to truly connect with whatever inspires you. In other words, no one creates a masterpiece without sitting down to write it. As Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”

Hear Your Customers’ Voices on Social Media

Many marketers use social media to blast their agendas loud and proud, but few use it as a way to hear members of their audience express themselves. Use your social channels as a means to gauge what’s on the minds of your demographic — not just about your company, but about life itself. Let them inspire you.

Content creator extraordinaire Noemi Tassara-Twigg imparts her wisdom thusly: “When it comes to writing content, that seemingly bottomless well of ideas you have can actually run dry.” To combat this dry spell, she suggests hitting sites like Quora and Reddit to stay inspired and connected. “You’ll probably find yourself ‘wasting’ time reading the comments and joining the fray,” she states, “but the chances of getting inspired by the snarky and smart (most of the time) Redditors are really high. The trick: browse the comments.”

She also suggests less-known leisure sites like Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. “They say that in order to write well, you ought to read good material. Admittedly, there is a lot of crap online, but this site will give you awesome writing and make you laugh till your seams burst at the same time: from pieces on literature to defending the honor of Comic Sans to interviews of people with interesting jobs.”

The moral of the story is simple: Stay open to inspiration. Know who you’re serving, not what you’re looking for, and the great lightning bolt of creative genius can strike you when you truly least expect it.

Photo by usmarine0311.

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