A few days ago I posted about finding business ideas … mainly being aware of the ideas that are right in front of you almost every day. But maybe you just honestly can’t find anything to get enthused about, annoyed about, passionate about. Idea block can be just like writer’s block. So here are some ideas to get your juices flowing and get you off the dime:
Enlist a Couple Hundred-thousand Online Researchers
Now, of course, you could stand on the street corner and holler, “Hey, whatcha want”? I’m sure you’ll get some kind of response …but I’ve heard that some city’s drunk tanks aren’t all that comfortable, and very few have Internet capability, so here’s a couple “better ideas”.
- Search Newsgroups – What interests you? Are you into baseball, traveling, knitting sweaters, picking stocks, comparing insurance plans or learning to take better pictures of the grandchildren? It doesn’t matter, there is a newsgroup or Yahoo or MSN Group or Google Group that covers the subject. (In the rare case that you can’t find one, start one … it will become a gold mine of ideas). The entries in these groups are always full of people complaining something or other isn’t going right for them .. often headed by those words I told you not to use yesterday … “If Only”. “If Only” is a virtual contract solicitation for someone, anyone to solve a problem. Jump on it, if you know a better way.
- Check Yahoo Answers – Yahoo Answers is a little gem that Yahoo has run for some time now that is a great place to find out what people don’t know, wish they knew or are confused about. If someone takes the time to sit down and type out a question that certainly means they have a need … which ones can you fill?
Read The Current Literature
There is that old expression going around that “there’s nothing new under the sun”. Some may chose to argue about it, but by and large it is pretty true. As an academician would say, search the literature:
- Search Websites – Use a search engine to find websites on the same topic that you are looking for ideas on. Read their articles and see where you can share your own insight or expand on their ideas. In addition to search engine built-in queries for “Similar Pages” you can also find free and/or free trial software that searches for sites with keywords, themes and content that resembles your own or potential competitors sites. Make a list as if you were going to link to similar sites of value (later on you will want to link to some of those sites anyway) and see what those established sites are “all about”. Great source of ideas.
- Browse and Read Blogs – Blogs are technically websites, but I feel they still differ enough to deserve a separate mention. In general ‘classic” websites are oriented around themes, keywords and pages while blogs are oriented around temporal information … the subject of the day, so to speak. read blogs on subjects that interest you … especially the archives and older posts of bloggers that you “connect” with, and you’ll find thousands of ideas. It isn’t really required to give credit for topic ideas, but it is a nice thing to do. If you’ll look closely many of the most successful bloggers routinely publish posts that are just links and comments about what is new, and what other bloggers are thinking about/writing about. It’s not only courteous to point your new readers to what an established blogger has written abut … it’s a true service to both your readers and your inspirational idea source. As an example, many thoughts I this post were written by Derek Beau under the title of finding ideas for blog posts and articles. They are all that and more, so I’ve built upon them, added to them and added my own methods. No reason you can’t either. Words and the way they are strung together are copyrighted … ideas, however, belong to everyone.
- Read Books – The best benefit of getting topic ideas from books is that a large percentage of your readers will probably never have heard of the book or read the content before. If you have a vague thought about entering into business “X”, go to Amazon and search for words related to that business. Not only will the books that have been written educate just from their title’s and synopses, but you might want to buy a couple, read and even write reviews of them as part of the web-based part of your new business. If the book has “gangbuster” content, then say so, and explain why. If the book is a hollow shell and not worth the time of readers, tell them that too … with reasoned and annotated references.
- Watch Television – What TV shows are there that relate to your potential business idea? or what TV shows are there that point out how clueless many people are about certain topics. There’s the germ of a business idea in every dumb thing Hank Hill does and in every show on Iron Chef or Nat Geo or HGTV.
- Set Google News Alerts: Go to Google Alerts and set “as the happen” or “daily summary” alerts for areas of interest. Suppose you have an interest in airline travel … maybe you used to work for an airline or were a travel agent. Set some Google Alerts on keywords and phrases in those industries and sit back and watch your mailbox fill up with excellent “idea seeds” for articles and business needs in that area. This is my ‘top earner” source. I get most of my ideas for blog posts, as an example, from Google Alerts set for the subjects of my blogs and it pays … believe me it does.
OK, I’m now out of ideas. Actually, that’s a really big lie. The time I have spent writing this has my head spinning. There are so many ideas out there it’s mind-boggling. I’ve got to put together some good content more attuned to filtering and evaluating ideas than how to find them … just be open and you too will find many.