When it’s going well, writing for money on the internet is a great thing. If you have a good idea, actually writing the article can be fun and once you’ve published it and started to watch the cents/dollars flooding in, you’re laughing!
Otherwise, it can be truly miserable. Scraping together an article when you have no enthusiasm or drive to, and you can’t think of a topic either, is one of the most despair inducing activities that I can think of.
So how do all these prolific InfoBarrelers (Vic Dillinger et. al) keep inspired. How do they month after month, article after article, still think of new and interesting things to write about? Even though I’m only a newbie, I’ve had a go at answering these questions.
Re-read your own articles
You might think that being the writer, your only job is to write. Why on earth would you want to read your own articles? That’s for the casual internet surfer to do. But in fact, reading through your catalogue of articles (even just scan-reading them) will refresh your memory of the sort of topics that you write about and hopefully give you loads of new ideas.
Alternatively, look for topics that you’ve mentioned briefly in one of your existing articles (or even someone else's, but it’s polite to obtain permission first) and turn them into a full article. For example, say you’ve written an article, Basic Calculus for Teenagers, and mentioned Isaac Newton and Leibniz in passing as the founders of calculus, you could do a whole new article on, say, The Birth of Calculus - Newton or Leibniz?
Find a topic that you can write loads about
Hypothetically, now that you’ve done one article on the conceptions of an area of mathematics, you could write a whole host of them: Pythagoras, Quadratic formula, Binomial theorem…
Finding rich seams like this of article topics that you can easily write about will make it so much easier and faster for you to build up your library of articles (and hence reputation) on InfoBarrel. Even better, having loads of related articles means that you can link between them and send readers through your whole collection - on a highly mathematical journey through history, or whatever...
Read other people’s work
Grab a newspaper. Read some blogs. Check out the articles of well established InfoBarrellers. Don’t ever copy other people’s ideas and work, but looking through their ideas and work can often spark off related ideas of your own.
For example, if you saw a news report on Blah blah New American Healthcare Bill blah blah, you could write your own piece relating to it, The New American Healthcare Bill - What it means for America.
Take a look at the “Get Featured” page
If you’re stumped for ideas look at the list of topics for next month’s feature submissions calendar. Often a prompt like “Interesting places to go/things to see/thing to do” can make you remember long forgotten personal experience and knowledge that you could probably make into a really interesting article.
And as an added bonus, if you submit it, it might even get feature and end up on the front page of InfoBarrel! I can say from personal experience that this is a great thing - I recently had my first two features and it was such a good feeling knowing that an editor/webmaster somewhere had seen my work and thought that it was the best for that particular topic.
Write about something different for a change
If you’ve worked through all the steps outlined above and there’s still nothing that you can think of to write about, there’s only one thing for it; venture into the unknown! You’ve written about all the topics that you know anything about, so now is the time to think of a topic that is completely alien to you - Making Tail Warmers for Abnormally Large Cats - and do some good old research. It only takes 20-30 minutes to find out enough about a topic to write a half decent article on it.
Also, you might end up learning something fascinating or kick-start a passion for a new hobby: Care for a spot of knitting, anyone?
All of these tips have come from my head and are what I do, on this writing site and others, when I’m stumped for ideas. Follow them all and never run out of topic ideas again.