Where do great ideas for your magazine, blog, or website come from? Everywhere!

As you plan content, you want to listen widely to gather more ideas than you need. The top of a funnel is very wide, it captures everything that flows from above. Just like a funnel, you want to collect many ideas for content, so that you aren’t limiting your thinking. Later in the planning process you need to narrow down the many ideas to a few great ones, but if you limit too soon, you might miss some great thinking.

Listen for needs

Whether you are scanning social media, blogs, or talking to people in your sphere of influence, listen to the needs people are expressing. Or the needs they are not sharing about. Often people will not be as direct as saying, “I need to learn how to handle conflict in my marriage.” But by observing how they act, what they share, and even what they don’t share, you may be able to infer their real needs.

As you listen to more sources and in different settings, try to spot trends. If you keep hearing similar needs or issues in several settings, pay attention. Your listening can include places such as coffee shops, lines in the grocery store, Bible studies, work groups or neighborhood gatherings.

Listen from diverse sources

While your content should focus on a specific audience segment, such as Christian families or Christian singles, listen to what people in different contexts are saying. Everything you hear may not apply to your audience, but let your listening reflect the widest part of the funnel at first. If you see lots of information in the secular press about how people are having difficulty finding affordable apartments, reflect on what this might mean for people in your audience.

Part of listening widely to diverse sources includes listening to people you don’t necessarily agree with. While articles that end up in your magazine or on your website should always reflect the values of your organization, you can learn about current challenges in culture by listening to people who don’t necessarily share these values. Consider what worldview is behind their thoughts or actions. How might your magazine help your readers see people who hold this worldview as Jesus sees them?

Listen to the Holy Spirit

The process of putting together a magazine can seem like a long list of tasks. From gathering lots of ideas, to focusing the content, to editing excellent articles, and finding great images—it’s a lot of work to create a magazine. But as a Christian magazine publisher, editor, or designer, you have help! You have the Holy Spirit guiding you.

Ask God to help you to listen, so that you will see new ideas. Ask God to put the right people in your path, so you can learn from their stories. Ask God to for extra insight as you go about your everyday life, so you will be aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

By Carla Foote, Fine Print Editorial

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