Inspiration For Non-Creatives: Where To Look When You’re Out Of Ideas

Jacqueline Zenn
Jacqueline Zenn



There are hundreds or even thousands of websites and resources for anyone looking for creative inspiration online -- everything from design round-ups to lists of examples and more. And that’s great -- if you’re a designer or work in a similar creative capacity.

However, if you are on the account side at an ad agency or similar gig, these sources of mostly visual inspiration are excellent but not quite applicable to your daily work life. Here are some places where you can find real inspiration and key takeaways that will help you get excited to go to work on days when you don’t even want to get out of bed (hey, we’ve all been there). So let’s get started...

1) Reddit And Specialized SubReddits

Get past the front page (of the internet), and ignore the cat pictures, food posts, and insider jokes that can be overwhelming for someone who is new to the site. Instead, check out the various entrepreneurial- and inspiration-focused subReddits, as well as the social media marketing, “get motivated”, advertising, SEO, SEM, and online marketing communities. There’s nothing like reading posts by and talking to a group of like-minded people who are dealing with the same problems you face on a daily basis.

2) TED Talks

It is somewhat of a cliche to refer people to TED for ideas and inspiration for new concepts, but all cliches are rooted in truth on some level. Looking through the classic TED videos can be a good way to learn about body language, presentation styles, and other ways that you can improve your skills as an agency account person.

3) The Oatmeal

While the internet memes and insider references can be irritating at best and downright weird at the worst, there is no denying the humor involved. The site will give you an opportunity to laugh at the absurdities of work life -- and hopefully, motivate you to get back to your task list.

4) Tim Ferriss

The Four Hour Work Week might be a dream for most account executives and anyone in a similar position, but the content of Tim Ferriss’s books, podcasts, and the site itself are applicable for people in a variety of professions.

5) Chris Guillebeau

The Art of Nonconformity is one of the original examples for people who wish to live unconventional lives. And whether or not you fall into that category, his writing can be a wake-up call that inspires you to make a change for the better. After all, anything that provokes you to improve yours and your clients’ lives is a good thing.

6) Meet Advisors

Talking with professionals who have experience successfully dealing with challenging issues can be one of the smartest things you do when you feel like you’re stuck. Never underestimate the value of a good mentor who cares about your success. Meet Advisors is a great way to connect with people you may not otherwise run into. Think of it as online dating but for mentor-mentee relationships.

7) Gaping Void

Hugh McLeod’s site has become a modern classic for a number of reasons. The cartoons and artwork are inspiring on their own, of course, but his words might be more valuable. Sign up for the daily or weekly emails for a regularly scheduled figurative kick in the butt.

8) Your Own Netflix Queue

There is an astonishing amount of good stuff on Netflix, so perhaps the next time you feel like you need a spark of inspiration, check out the suggested documentaries. Even if it isn’t directly related to advertising or marketing, you can still learn from people who are dedicated to their craft, whatever it may be. This isn’t technically an online resource, but with the ubiquity of Netflix Instant on every device possible, it might as well be.

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