“How do you come up with so many content ideas?”
This is a question I get asked pretty often, and it’s a great one.
The cool answer? I steal them 🕵️♂️
The real answer? I have a system in place to generate those ideas.
And, to no one’s surprise, it’s based on “stealing” from others.
Let’s look at exactly what this system is and how you can start using it for yourself.
But first, a quick word:
Good Stealing vs. Bad Stealing
There’s always some resistance whenever I talk about “stealing” ideas.
Some people don’t agree with the use of "Steal" when it comes to online content.
And I get it.
When it’s so easy to plagiarize others, saying that you “steal” content doesn’t sound nice.
But as the founder of The Steal Club, I have something to say:
In this context, the term Stealing is rooted in inspiration.
Some people confuse Stealing with copy-pasting. That’s not cool 👇
My goal in using the term is to show others how to look at what works for others and use that as the foundation for their content, projects, services, ideas, etc.
We get inspired.
We feed from multiple sources.
We mix it up in our brains and then create something new.
That’s the Stealing I’m about.
Having said that, let’s jumpy to the system!
Step #1 - Save what works
The first part of stealing content ideas is to pay attention to what draws your attention.
A tweet made you stop the scroll? Stop and Bookmark it.
A LinkedIn Carousel? A Youtube thumbnail?
Do the same. Put all of that onto a swipe file.
I use Twitter bookmarks and a Notion
Something that helps me is to tag the resource so it’s easier to find. I tag them by topic/category, platform, and source.
Step #2 - Analyze what to steal
Whenever you look at one of these bookmarked pieces of content, you need to pay attention to two things:
The big idea is basically the core concept behind the content. Example: Example: what is the “big idea” behind this tweet? 👇
The big idea here is that we are in the golden era for startups and that there are a series of elements of why this is like this.
Now if I wanted to steal it, I could take that core idea and extrapolate it to my niche → Content creators
The resulting piece would be something like, “We are in the golden era for content creators and this is why.”
Do you see where I’m going with this?
The second thing you need to pay attention to when looking for ideas to steal is the structure, aka how the content is formatted.
Going back to the tweet above, the structure is pretty easy to identify:
See? From one simple tweet, now we have one core idea and one structure we can steal.
Step #3 - The stealing
Now, whenever I sit down to write a new piece of content, I just need to look at my swipe file and decide what to steal.
Let’s see it with a few more examples.
→ Stealing the big idea
Browsing Twitter a while back, I found this tweet from my friend Andrea Bosoni
What stood out to me from this tweet is how clear the “big idea” was → Pointing out classic mistakes founders make.
How can I apply this to my niche? What’s a classic mistake that creators make?
One of these mistakes is spreading yourself too thin. Some creators try to be everywhere when they start out.
The result? They burn out and quit after a few weeks.
This concept served as inspiration for me to write this tweet 👇
I took Andrea's big idea (classic mistakes) and gave it a new spin, adapting it to my niche (creators + content).
→ Stealing the structure
When looking at content structures, I try and template that structure so it’s easier for me to fill.
This is exactly what I did with this other tweet from Greg Isenberg (sorry, Greg, you are just a good tweet writer 🤷♂️)
Ok, we have a template. Now what? Well, we fill it with one idea.
Again, tie it to your niche. This is an example of how I mixed the “Future of” structure with content (my niche) 👇
→ Stealing both
The LinkedIn post below caught my eye for two reasons:
- The structure → Inverted pyramid + list structure
- The big idea → Things that “destroy” a post
This example from Matt Barker is specific to LinkedIn but could quickly be adapted to any other platform. Here’s my take (for Twitter):
I took the big idea and the structure and made it my own.
This is how you ethically steal content ideas.
Is Stealing ideas okay?
Remember, the core of stealing in the creative context relies on inspiration, not copy-pasting.
You need to identify the big idea and the structures behind every piece of content. Then create new content starting from either (or both).
You use these other ideas as the foundation of your content. You make them your own.
It’s never about copy-pasting.
I understand some people may find this uncomfortable, but after looking at how the top creators work, I can guarantee that 99% do it this way.
Stealing (the good kind) helps you become a better creator because every idea you encounter will influence you.
By the way, this method is valid for ANY platform and content style. Content stealing can be done everywhere, so there are no excuses!
Every artist gets asked the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” The honest artist answers, “I steal them.”