Following up on my recent posts, consider the following ways to seek out ideas. If you write nonfiction, read articles which interest you, in magazines with editorial slants which fit you. If you read something and say, "Wow, I could write better than that," look at issues from the last three years. You'll find article ideas are often repeated after one or two years. Find out what was written a year or two ago. What's new in that field now? Then, write about it. Keep in mind, however, that the person who wrote the original article probably has the same idea.
In order to actually get a sale, you need more than just an idea. You need an angle for the idea. Anyone can think about writing about gardening, for example, but how could you put a special twist on that. Do you know any handicapped gardeners? What about a senior citizen who gardens and gives away his produce to the neighbors? Is there a community garden in your neighborhood? Make your approach unique.
Many workshop instructors urge you to brainstorm before writing an article. To do this take an idea such as the gardening idea above. Then write angles for as many types of articles you can think of relating to gardening. When you're brainstorming, don't take time to think about whether or not it's a good idea. Put down whatever comes into your head. Write down the ideas as fast as you can. When you're finished, look at your list and eliminate ideas that have no sales potential. Also, eliminate any angles that have been overused and aren't fresh.
Take some time today to browse through old issues of magazines in which you'd like to see your byline. Is there an article you could update with current information? Before submitting your article, be sure to check out a current issue of the magazine. Their slant may have changed along with their editor. Be sure not only your article but your guideline information is current.