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How to Think Outside of the Box and Develop Attention Grabbing Content

I’d like to welcome Glen Stansberry from LifeDev (feed) to Problogger. Glen has offered to write a series of posts looking at how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills.

With the blogosphere ballooning to gigantic proportions, more and more blogs are springing up in every single niche. While it’s great for the reader to see a wide spectrum of opinions, it makes the blogger’s job of standing out that much harder. Any blogger can read a bit of news in their topic, and regurgitate it on their own blog with little thought. But that doesn’t do anything to help our readers, other than give them one more reason to unsubscribe from Mr. RSS.

It’s quite easy to get lost in the sea of voices. However, there’s one often-overlooked way to instantly grab attention: thinking outside of the box.

Case Study: 37Signals

37SignalslogoloLets take a look at a quick example of what we’re talking about here. 37Signals runs a great blog Signal Vs. Noise.

In this blog the software company’s founders spend most of their time writing about the 37Signals mantra: great web software is simple, fast and elegant.

But what makes their writing so compelling is that they hardly ever write about software.

Huh?

That’s right – What makes their writing great is that they are able to take pieces of seemingly unrelated topics and link them to their mantra, like how comics relate to web design. Or film concepts and branding. They know how to breathe life into a concept, to let the viewer see an idea in a different light.

Apply, Rinse, Repeat

This technique not only adds a new dimension to your writing, but it also shows how knowledgeable you are on your topic, Obi-Wan. The deep understanding you have of the concept means that you can show correlations previously unheard of. Can you smell the linkbait? :)

And the best part about this strategy: you can start using it immediately. And it’s really not that hard.

It all starts by changing the way you think about information.

Try reading news about topics that interest you but are completely unrelated to your niche. Or read less news, and allow your brain more time to think.

In short: start becoming more aware of how everything relates to your blog’s topic, in some way or another.

You may not get ideas from your feed reader either. That’s OK. Odds are it will be better if you don’t anyway. You’ll want to use as little “influence” from other sources as possible to help ensure originality and to get the creative juices flowing.

[One word of caution: Don't get too abstract on your readers. Clarity is key in making this work. You never want to have your readers scratching their heads at your writing.]

There’s something that puts a well-crafted post ahead of the rest. By wrapping your posts in fresh perspectives, you’ll instantly improve your blogging, and your readers will thank you for it.

This is the first part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Great stuff, Glen. As a LifeDev subscriber, I’d expect no less :)

    One thing I find interesting is applying good eLearning and storytelling techniques to the art of writing blog posts. Using story, metaphor, and other concepts to get your ideas across tends to make your writing more compelling. You can sometimes see from the blogs you read those that have a background is some form of storytelling – screenwriters, novelists, journalists, or lecturers for example.

    Never underestimate the power of a good story.

  2. Not sure how creative they are, but their Basecamp project management system is top notch.

  3. cosmin says:

    right on with “read less news and allow your brain more time to think”. it might be harder in the beginning, but practice makes perfect.

  4. You know i was having quite a bad day until i saw the title of this post which made me lol, i know it’s not related but it was funny to me, watch this trailer
    and you’ll know why i laughed at “outside the box” :D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWQ_Rmcf-Y

  5. Think outside the box is really importat!
    Thanx for the tips

    peace

  6. Thinking outside of the box is a particular instance of the more general term “don’t follow common sense”. If you follow common sense *always* you will lost many opportunities because of fear, because everybody is doing something in some way and it’s just weird to do it in another way, because you are a software developer and not an athlete, etc.

    37s’s guys, by the other hand, are designers turned into software developers, so they don’t follow common sense at all. That’s one of the reasons they are so admired: they have an uncommon approach to software development, an uncommon blog that talks about that uncommon approach to software development, and a pair of uncommon applications that really feel good.

    Another well know example is Google. When they started, there were already well known leaders on the search engine industry, and the tendency was that search engines would provide many many more functionalities than just search (they were ‘portals’ do you remember? :)). Suddenly came Google with a good algorithm and an uncommon approach to user interface and boom, an internet star did born.

    Thinking outside of the box will not only allow you to be a better blogger: it will allow you to advance in your life because you can’t be a better [whatever] if you continue to be the same as you are now.

    Great post Glen ;)

  7. Donovan says:

    Darren, I finally made the move to my own domain, thankyou to a developer of a Blogger Beta RSS -> Import PHP WordPress script.

    Great post. It’s always a good thing to learn to think outside the box, and become more compelling.

    D

  8. What a great post Glen! I’ve just been thinking about this lately and have been doing some of the steps you’ve listed here with really satisfying results.

    By inviting eaders into an experience that’s unlike any other, we ignite their genuine curiousy and interest, which makes them want to come back to our blogs every day to see what we’ll throw at them next.

    And approaching the writing of a blog as you describe is oh-so-much more enjoyable than simply regurgitating another bloggers posts. I’m looking forward to seeing your future posts on this topic :-).

    Cheers,
    Sharon

  9. Armen says:

    I’m definately going to start implementing this, and I’ve begun with todays post because there’s no time like the present.

    Thanks!

  10. Jay Wilson says:

    Very good topic.

    I have a ton of interests that I’d like to write about, but lately I’ve been trying to tie said interests into the overall theme of the blog. And I agree completely, when it comes to news, sometimes less is more. Sometimes much, much more.

  11. Dave C. says:

    This is an excellent post, a great perspective on writing. I must admit, as a new blogger, I’m guilty of the regurgitation post, but I’ll definitely keep this in consideration from here on out.

  12. frnaky174anky174 says:

    If you are looking for some good adive on “Thinking Outside the Box” try checking out what Gary Busey has to say about the topic.

    I stumbled upon this the other day.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNjhXSd-LP8 …it is hilarious. Plus there are 40 more of these videos of him to trying to talk about the world of business.

  13. Will Rhodes says:

    Interesting piece. When i started my blog I was up in the air about what I should write about. I wanted to concentrate on publishing my books – but I found a gazillion blogs about that – each one practically dead with few if any readers.

    I found my way only by admitting to myself what I was – a political junkie. Now I know politics are boring to most, but to me it’s like a grand chess game – I love it.

    I do try to think of different ways to present politics and I will certainly take you advice on-board

    Thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Today, blogs have to be creative to make it and become successful. There are many elements that deliver the success of a blog. Search engine optimization, increasing backlinks and daily traffic, working towards increasing Google PageRank, etc… But there is one element that people can overlook. And I think this is a huge factor that needs to be considered. It’s called, Thinking Out of The Box. This morning I read two articles. One, from Darren Rowse titled, “How to Think Outside of the Box and Develop Attention Grabbing Content“. The other, from George Manty titled, “Teens Get Rich with smart ideas“, which lead me to reading this article from USA Today titled, “Teens get rich with smart ideas“. After reading these articles, and discovering that teens have a natural ability to be successful online. I soon realized why. [...]

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  3. [...] Hot on the heels of an article I wrote for Problogger about creativity this morning, I later discovered this little nugget about the benefits of Jazz and creativity. Dee Coulter, specialist in musical patterning and neurological development finds that the jazz of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and John Cage can lift the listener into theta consciousness. Theta waves, considered the most highly creative brain waves, according to Coulter, give birth to artistic and spiritual insight. See colored theta waves below. [...]

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  5. [...] Darren Rowse har riggat ett intressant inlägg om att blogga och tänka utanför lådan. Om att se samband och hoppa över rss-flöden från bloggar som liknar din. Tankarna kommer från Glen Stansberry på LifeDev. Pro Blogger: How to Think Outside of the Box and Develop Attention Grabbing Content [...]

  6. [...] This is the second part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Part 1 was here. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity. If you enjoyed this post Subscribe to the Free ProBlogger Newsletter [...]

  7. [...] This is the second part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Part 1 was here. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity. [...]

  8. [...] How To Think Outside the Box and Develop Attention Grabbing Content (Problogger) [...]

  9. [...] Desarrollo software la mayor parte del día, y a través del tiempo he logrado crear un sistema propio para desarrollar rápidamente buen software, fácil de usar y fácil de aprender. Este sistema es una mezcla de muchas metodologías muy en voga, y para compartirlo con Uds. haré una analogía entre el desarrollo de software y la literatura. La razón de esta analogía es que el sistema no ha surgido como resultado de seguir los típicos estándares de ingeniería de software -los cuales encuentro muy áridos- si no más bien de buscar la creatividad “pensando fuera de la caja“, y buscando hacer sentido para los usuarios en lugar de para los programadores. Fue así que reflexionando sobre el tema me di cuenta que la literatura tenía mucho que aportarnos en el campo del desarrollo de software pues es una exitosa disciplina con miles de años de antigüedad, versus los aproximadamente 50 años que llevamos desarrollando software. [...]

  10. [...] I am developing software most of my time and going along this way I have been able to create my own system to develop good, quick,and easy to use and learn software.This system is a mixture of many popular methodologies and, to share it with you, I’m going to use an analogy between software development and literature. This, because the system is not an offspring of the typical software engineering standars -which I consider too arid- but it’s the result of a creative search: “thinking out of the box” and looking for sense for users more than for programmers. It was this way that I realized literature has a lot to do in the software development field since it’s a successful discipline, thousands of years old against approximately 50 years we’ve been developing software. [...]

  11. [...] For example in a recent guest post here at ProBlogger Glen Stansberry asked for his feed URL to be included in his byline. [...]

  12. [...] How to Think Outside of the Box and Develop Attention Grabbing Content [...]

  13. [...] 3) Your Content: Give your content a personality. Give opinions, and do your research before posting. Read as much as you can and give your brain the time and resources to think of great content. Check out Darren’s post on “how to think outside the box and develop great content” post to learn more. Your content is your voice. You have to stand out above the noise to establish credibility and longevity which is especially true for new bloggers. [...]

  14. [...] The key is to not spam these news websites with every blog post, article, or review that you write. Many successful bloggers such as Darren Rowse of Problogger fame preach that content is king. Darren has an entire section devoted to writing content for your blog or website. How to Think Outside of the Box and Develop Attention Grabbing Content is a good place to start. John Chow, another successful blogger has a blog post entitled, The Art of Creating Content and Pumping Out The Content. As long as you write compelling content, people will link to it, share it with others, and you will be successful. [...]

  15. [...] This is the third part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Read part 1 and 2 at How to think outside of the box and develop attention grabbing content and at how to blog with voice and increase community and readership. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity. If you enjoyed this post Subscribe to the Free ProBlogger Newsletter Stumble it! [...]

  16. [...] the cliche, but all you need to do is think outside the box. Problogger, wrote about this in their linkbaiting content article: Try reading news about topics that interest you but are completely unrelated to your niche. Or [...]

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  18. [...] Find a fresh angle. Consider a subject from your personal professional point of view. Argue with your readers, strengthen your position, deliver your message. Let your readers see an idea in a different light. Take pieces of seemingly unrelated topics and link them to their mantra.” [ProBlogger. [...]