21 juicy ideas for fascinating content

Creativity is a fickle mistress. Especially when creating content.

Sometimes, the words flow as fast as the coffee. Other times, well, not so much.

It’s easy to create boring content. (Many people do it quite effortlessly.) But if you don’t have a distinctive point of view, you’re just reporting.

Feel stuck when it’s time to crank out captivating content? Need a boost of inspiration for a post, podcast, or speech? I’ve got you covered.

Below, you’ll find 21 juicy prompts for creating fascinating content. Keep this handy list in your content creation arsenal for when you need to whip out material that fascinates your audience — and keeps them captivated.

1. Start with information, then add insight

Information is good, but it’s not enough to establish your thought leadership.

If you and I can both search for the same information, that “content” isn’t content — it’s a commodity. Step it up a notch by adding insight to your message.

Insight requires more effort and sophistication, and it increases the relevance and value of your material.

If you’re not a thought leader, you’re a thought follower.

2. Show us the implications of a trend

Enlighten us. Connect the dots.

For example, “Here’s something on the horizon: ___, and here’s what it means for you and your business: ___.”

Give us your interpretation. Point us toward what we need to pay attention to.

3. Go on a rant

Show us a point of view that you feel strongly about. Make a fuss about a problem.

A passionate voice vividly communicates what you believe and why we should care.

4. Build the message first, and the media second

With so many different ways to publish content, it can be easy to focus on the way you deliver content rather than the message itself. However, before you think about which form of media to use, you must first decide what to say.

Your message is not an afterthought. Message is king. Emperor.

Don’t “do” content unless you actually have something to say. Get your message right first, and the rest gets a whole lot easier.

5. Ask a provocative question

I once posted on Facebook: “Would you rather work for a talented jerk or a sweetheart hack?”

The resulting commentary became a two-part article in Advertising Age.

If you ask a provocative question on your blog, you should be prepared to be present in the comments section and on your social media channels so you can interact with people who share their views.

6. Give first dibs

Let people know if it’s the first time you’re writing about a certain topic or giving away a juicy gift.

When your community knows they’re getting an exclusive goodie, they’re more likely to value the special content.

7. Share a piece of your history

Pull back the curtain on your business and invite us inside.

Here’s an example from my own business:

When I first created the Fascination Advantage personality assessment, each report was created manually and had a 72-hour turnaround time. Today, every report is delivered instantly, but I’m not so sure that’s a good thing because it doesn’t give people the chance to build curiosity about their report results.

8. Curse a shared enemy

What do you and your reader both dread?

If you’re reading this (and I happen to know for a fact that you are), we probably share enemies of creativity, such as feeling stuck or the pressure of looming deadlines.

Define a mutual misery, and you’ll bond with your audience by proving you understand their pain.

9. Give an unexpected gift

When Beyoncé released her fifth album without any pre-launch preparation, fans cheered for the unexpected delight.

U2 pulled off a memorable surprise, releasing Songs of Innocence for free, without warning, announced by Apple’s CEO literally minutes before it became available on iTunes.

What if you unexpectedly release a new course, product, or freebie?

Sometimes, the most effective hype is none at all.

10. Critique your own brand (or yourself)

Ever heard the term schadenfreude? It describes the pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.

It’s human nature to be fascinated with what went wrong — and to wonder if you were able to learn from your mistakes. That’s why interviewers frequently ask, “What was your biggest mistake?”

11. Educate people about a potential problem

“Education” seems a little matronly when standing next to its sexier cousins: entertainment and engagement. But don’t forget this reliable standby.

Teaching is useful, and sometimes, even sexy.

12. Ask for opinions

You might not be opinionated, but your audience is. Present your community with a specific point of view and ask them to weigh in.

Add your own follow-up thoughts in your comments section.

13. Give a behind-the-scenes glimpse

Every once in a while, invite us into your home, creative process, or personal life.

Show us a new side of yourself, so we get a three-dimensional understanding of who you are as a person.

14. Find the good

Praise a company that’s doing things differently — and getting it right. Spotlight customers, employees, or even other competitive products in your category.

There’s room for all of us to succeed.

Lead us to a bigger world without the fear of making yourself smaller.

15. Hit a nerve

Find an intensely charged issue that taps directly into your audience members’ brains. Link this hot button to your desired action, then build your messages around that.

What does your reader fear could go wrong, and how can you prevent or solve this? FedEx uses a hot button and charges a premium for “fear relief.”

16. Identify our secret hopes

Deep down, we all hold certain aspirations (even if we don’t admit them).

We want to become smarter and more relaxed; we want to be recognized and admired. While it’s easy to identify rational needs, it takes some savvy to demonstrate that you understand what we aspire to become.

17. Start a contest

I used to be surprised by the lengths people go to for even the smallest reward. Now I know that it gives people permission to step in and participate.

Fire up a little competition by inviting readers to enter a contest and interact with one another.

18. Explore an unfulfilled need

Identify something that’s missing or unsolved in our lives — ideally, something that people don’t realize is missing until you point it out.

Do they have a rational need (such as the need to spend less)? Or, an emotional need (such as feeling validated by a well-known brand name)?

Find ways in which your business fulfills what’s missing.

19. Describe anything that fascinates you

Any topic can be fascinating, as long as the author openly illuminates a weird or wonderful passion.

Do you have a mania for macramé or a devotion to Dachshunds? Tell us why. Show us the world through your eyes.

20. Predict what will happen next

Or what you think should happen next. Or what you believe should be true, even if it’s not (yet).

21. Dare us

Challenge us to take one step outside our little bubbles. Make us a little uncomfortable.

Incite people to commit to one small act of defiance or bravery.

Be courageous enough to provoke and occasionally turn people off. Your job is to change the way we think. Go ahead. I dare you.

22. Overdeliver

I promised you 21 ways to create fascinating content. This is #22. Sometimes a little extra bonus wins your readers’ hearts and minds.

When you fascinate your audience, they’ll remember, share, and take action on what you say. Show us why we should care, and we’ll care about your content, and you.

The goal of creating content isn’t just to create more content. The world doesn’t need another post, tweet, or article. The world needs you.

Originally posted on Copyblogger.com on June 14th, 2016


21 easy ways to create fascinating #content
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Creativity is a fickle mistress. Get 21 tips for creative content, here.
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If you don’t have a distinctive point of view, you’re just reporting.
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Fascinate your readers with these 21 juicy thought-starters.
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Identify our secret hopes.
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Start with information, then add insight.
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Hit a nerve. Go on a rant. Dare us.
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Which of these 21 tips is YOUR favorite? Tell us in the comments, below!

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About the author

Sally Hogshead

Sally skyrocketed to the top of the advertising world in her early 20s, fascinating millions of consumers for clients such as MINI Cooper and Coca-Cola. Since then, she’s published two New York Times bestsellers on the science of fascination, and is one of only 172 living members in the Speaker Hall of Fame. Over a million professionals have taken the Fascination Advantage® personality test to discover how others perceive their communication.


  1. Frances O. Thomas

    Great ideas. I’ve instinctively done some but will now try to be more deliberate.

  2. Mary Camfield

    This was very helpful for me! I really appreciate your insights

  3. Greg

    Thanks, Sally! Awesome ideas, as usual!

  4. Tiffany

    You always inspire me and have changed the way I write content with your books and personality tests! Thank you so much Sally!

  5. Barbara Reed

    Great list, Sally! I love number four — Build the message first, and the media second. Your message rules. Long live the king!

  6. jessamina

    curse a common enemy! What a riot!

  7. John Paul

    Hello Sally,
    You and How to Fascinate have changed my life.
    What would be the best way to share all the wonderful details with you?
    I heard you speak at the GKIC SC 2016 in Jacksonville.
    Thank you.

  8. Heather Nees

    Always the right stuff at the right time! Thank you, Thank you!

  9. Melinda

    Thanks Sally! Great ideas but YOUR take on them is what makes them awesome!

  10. Gary MatlockName (required)

    If you are approaching writing as a business function – such as a blog or fan page with the purpose of attracting clients or a following – expressing a provocative idea, or cursing (what you believe to be) a shared enemy could be significantly counter-productive. Purposely or purposefully hitting a nerve or going on a rant also are tactics that need to be approached with extreme caution. Also, you laud educating as an objective, but deride “reporting” as a function. In a meaningful percentage of instances, I believe the two have much in common. Indeed, I’m not sure opinion is of great value – and perhaps is even damaging – to the education process.
    Overall, I find your suggestions valuable, but I must admit to being a little nonplussed by it all. These ideas are offered as a means of addressing being “stuck” for content, but these guidelines would seem to compound that problem, rather than alleviate it.

  11. Matt Coco

    Nice list of ideas – thanks Sally.
    Go on a rant was my favourite, I may just do that this weekend!

  12. Rob Carol

    Good list- I was using a couple and now I have 19…or 20 more

  13. vivayne

    Please post photos on your posts so that I can Pin the posts I want to revisit 🙂

  14. Caroline

    Great ideas Sally! People are usually scared to rant, but if done to the right audience it works very well!

  15. Kym Yancey

    Love your insights and creativity. Fabulous tips Sally!

  16. Brian

    Sally- these are GREAT! Thank you!!

  17. Breeda Miller

    Brilliant. I especially love how you teach by example within this piece. Opening with your kids making homemade frozen orange pops and later suggesting we let our audiences inside our life a bit. Love the “juicy” theme throughout. Thank you.

  18. Marc Zazeela


    I really like “provocative”. That gets people engaged and involved.


  19. Gail Gaspar

    What an inspiring post. Appreciate the invitation to assess and kick-it-up a notch tips!

  20. Ayanna Castro

    Awesome ideas!

  21. Anna

    Well done, passionate, loud (meaning I hear the sound of your voice)and effective. Thanks

  22. Robin Gibson

    Great Ideas! A real jump-start for my thought processes. Thanks!

  23. Clint

    Thank you, for these ideas. They are amazing!

  24. Michael

    The U2 release through Apple is not exactly a poster child for doing something well. Google “u2 apple store debacle” and you get 11,600 hits on why this was not so well received by all. Talk about your unintended consequences.

  25. Alex J

    I love #18 Explore an unfulfilled need. Sometimes I don’t realize something is missing until I calm my mind and then it hits me. I suddenly see deeper and realize something was missing but it was in front of me the entire time.

  26. Timothy Paulson

    Sally, you’re brilliant! Keep up the great work – this is a great, TREMENDOUS article! Thank you!

  27. Talisman Collection

    I read your article fast. Once. Smiling. Creative ways to get un-stuck creatively. It’s helpful. Thank you for the tips. I appreciate them.

    I then read Gary Matlock’s reply four times, each time more slowly than the last. Perspective is a fascinating aspect of opinion.

    Re-reading your the tips a second time, slowly, I continue to want to use your tips. In fact, I’m EXCITED to used them. Fresh approaches. So welcome in a world overflowing with content and banter.

    Respectfully, Gary Matlock, I think you’re being kinda negative and sour-grapey.
    Which leaves me a little nonplussed. Why look a gift horse (or a gift Hogshead) in the eye?

  28. Phil

    You are a breath of fresh air. I met you at an MDRT event a few years back and you blew the audience away and continue to do so. One of the most fascinating and creative people on the planet. I just love your work.
    Phil x

  29. sharon

    Awesome tips – going to keep this list front and center. Thank you, Sharon

  30. Debra Lindegren

    Brilliant tips, Sally, thank you! Have already used a few. I especially like your thoughts on being a thought leader vs. a thought follower. “The world has enough boring content!” I am sharing with my peeps!

  31. Scott H

    Well done: insightful and creative ideas!

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  34. mamaligadoc

    With respect !!!


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