How to find creative inspiration

There’s more than one way to ignite creativity in content marketing. Here are some examples that might stimulate your creative thinking.

BY James Meyers
Founder, President and CEO

What inspires you to come up with content that delights, engages and helps to express the essence of your brand in different and effective ways?

Creativity doesn’t, after all, just happen. It takes inspiration in one form or another as the starting point, the springboard and sometimes the enabler of creativity.

Leaving yourself open to inspiration is the trick. It is where you find it: a smart and charismatic presenter at a TED conference. Award-winning work across the content spectrum, through the organizations and sites that showcase it. Ideas, thinking and visual and auditory cues curated by old hands as well as the next generation that’s shaping the content community.

There are a lot of possible places to find creativity. Here are some of Imagination’s creative staff’s favorite go-to stops while searching for a muse.

Where advocates and influencers operate

The ton of thought leadership out there on content and content strategy is helpful from the perspective of staying on top of trends and issues and applying that thinking to what you’re working on.

You can’t go wrong with TED Talks. I’m not the only one at Imagination who goes back periodically to certain TED presentations to get a dose of inspiration for the job ahead. One of the most powerful (and popular) discussions, for example, is Sir Ken Robinson’s on whether schools kill creativity. In addressing the question, he moves us all to embrace our creative potential. Another one that always gets me thinking (and that I recommend often to clients) is Seth Godin’s “How to Get Your Ideas to Spread.”

We also regularly visit sites like Creativity, Reddit and LinkedIn Pulse to check out who’s saying what and/or what’s new or different to help fuel our thinking. But two sites we’ve recently found worthy of repeat visits are Medium and Music.Mic.

Medium bills itself as “a community of readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas large and small.” It aims to “reimagine” your daily news—not from the perspective of the mainstream media, but from that of people who are making the news and living it every day. It’s inspirational storytelling at its best.

Music.Mic is a similar play, but for music—making a case for why music and musicians matter. It's the place where significant developments in the music community are discussed, notably by the young people who are making a difference.

"Creativity doesn’t just happen. It takes inspiration in one form or another as the starting point, the springboard and sometimes the enabler of creativity."

James Meyers
Founder, CEO and President, Imagination

Showcasing visual creativity

Visual cues can inspire creative thinking about content, and a favorite place among many of our folks on this front is Pinterest. It’s not just that the content is curated by friends and peers, so you can see what’s sparking their creative fires and why, but there's a huge variety of content and ideas to spark yours—from videos to images to memes.

Another is Behance, which shares some amazing work across a wide range of fields. You can find inspiration in its curated galleries (collections of work in such categories as architecture, product design and game design), or take a look at work that’s most appreciated (with likes), most viewed and most discussed.

We also like Gratisography, a collection of free, high-resolution downloadable photography that’s not just fun to browse, but categorized in a way (whimsical, nature, animals) that makes it easy to find great attention-grabbers for the blog post, digital book or whatever content efforts you’re working on.

And the winner is . . .

Our team also keeps an eye on who’s winning awards in the content field and for what. The creativity it takes to stand out, and the outcomes achieved by our industry’s best and brightest talent, is a huge source of inspiration to us all. This is particularly true of website development. It’s such a dynamic space that if you don’t notice who’s stretching the limits, you may be challenged to stretch them yourself.

To that end, we’ve bookmarked two sites in particular that showcase standout web design: Awwwards and The Webby Awards. Awwwards is designed as a place for inspiration, debate, knowledge sharing and helpful critiques. It highlights a different site daily; each is chosen by a multidisciplinary jury of experts from around the world. The Webby Awards, established in 1996, honor excellence across five major media types, including websites, mobile sites and apps and social sites.

Other resources we like

Sometimes you’re doing a search that has nothing to do with muses and inspiration. You’re just looking for information. But you stumble upon cool stuff and an hour later bookmark it all as content you want to revisit. It’s often just serendipity, isn’t it?

Check out Rainy Mood, for example, a collection of mixes that will soothe you to sleep or (more to the point) drown out the office sounds around you so you can work creatively. And we love the Longform podcasts—hearing conversations with great nonfiction writers such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Malcolm Gladwell and Susan Orlean on how they approach their craft inspires us all.

Creativity, in all its forms, is all around us. Be open to it. You never know where the next inspirational spark might come from.

published: June 13, 2016