How to Find Million-Dollar Ideas
for Your Freelance Business …
Just About Everywhere

A long time ago, so the story goes, a young man was driving his car over the Bay Bridge near Oakland, California, when something caught his eye.

It was something he had seen many, many times before … but this time it looked, well, a little different.

What he noticed was the bevy of massive, creepy-looking container cranes hovering ominously over the shipping docks below.

To most onlookers, they were just that. Cranes. That’s it.

But not to this young man on this day. In his eyes, these cranes looked like devastating weapons of evil … capable of destroying a hidden rebel base on an ice-covered planet and foiling a plot to restore order to the galaxy.

Please … hear me out on this one.

You see, the man in the car was George Lucas. And at the time, he was producing a certain “follow-up” film … and was, therefore, in full-time “idea generation” mode.

Anything he set his eyes on at the time was fair game.

Not long after that, in one of the most memorable scenes in science fiction history, a bevy of menacing Imperial Walkers (which bear an uncanny resemblance to Oakland’s container cranes) waged a vicious attack against the Rebels on the ice planet of Hoth in the blockbuster film, The Empire Strikes Back.

How’d the film do at the box office? To date, it’s grossed well over $538 million.

Not bad for a former D+ slacker in high school. (Thanks for the inspiration, Georgie boy! There’s hope for me after all!)

Now, to be fair, George Lucas is a creative genius. There’s no question about that.

But that doesn’t mean that ANYONE can’t come up with ideas just as compelling as George Lucas’s “Container Crane/Imperial Walker” idea.

Including you!

In the next few minutes, I’m going to show you that ideas – even million-dollar ideas – are literally all around you. And they’re ALL yours for the taking. Think all the best ideas are already taken? Nope. Not even close!

THEN I’m going to show you how to take these ideas and turn them into real life freelance projects that you can get paid big bucks for.

After that, I’ll show you how you don’t necessarily need brand-spanking-new, completely revolutionary ideas to succeed in your chosen freelance business. That’s right. You can take other people’s ideas that have already proven to be valuable in the marketplace, tweak them a bit, and make them your own.

You see … sometimes, you don’t need to “reinvent the wheel.” Why waste the time and effort, right?

And finally, I’ll show you how to turn your brain into a 24/7 idea-generating machine … and ensure that whenever you get a great idea, you never, ever forget it – even when you’re in the shower, brushing your teeth, shaving, or going for a run!

Ideas Are Everywhere You Look.
I Mean … EVERYWHERE!

Let’s say you’re a well-established freelance travel writer … and you’re interested in writing about something new … something intriguing … something different … something FUN.

You’re sick and tired of writing about all the beautiful beaches, exotic destinations, amazing restaurants where you dine “on-the-house,” and all the fancy hotels you get to stay in for next to nothing. (Oh, you poor travel writers sure have it rough, don’t you … )

So where can you start mining for fresh ideas? Why not start with your own home?

Let’s say you’re in your kitchen making a big bowl of spicy meatballs … with a few extra peppers thrown in for good measure. How about an article about “The World’s Top 10 Spiciest Cuisines”?

Or let’s say you’re tending to your garden in your backyard. How about an article on the gardens of the Mediterranean … or how you can build your own Mediterranean-inspired garden back home?

Or perhaps you’re watching TV one day … and you see a commercial with a mountain in the background. Write an article on how to organize your own once-in-a-lifetime trekking expedition to Mt. Everest base camp … or to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro … or to Australia’s Ayers Rock!

You’re limited only by your own imagination.

Oh … by the way … you don’t need to come up with “all-new” ideas all on your own. In fact, you can often save heaps of time, money, and energy by simply looking at what other people have done … modifying it, and then making it even better.

They call it “Piggybacking.”

Master the Art of “Piggybacking”
and Make Other Ideas Yours

“Piggybacking” is a term I learned from Internet marketing expert John Reese. He mentions it in his new Traffic Secrets 2.0 course many, many times … and I chatted about this concept at length in an article I posted a few weeks ago.

Piggybacking is simply taking other people’s ideas and making them your own. No … it’s not “ripping people off.” That’s simply uncool … and flat-out against the law in most cases.

What I’m talking about is using other people’s ideas as “inspiration” for coming up with your own ideas. The difference? Hopefully, you’re going to make it even better!

Let me explain with an example – straight from the boob tube.

Remember when the reality TV show Survivor first came out – way, way back in 2000? At the time, the “reality show” was a revolutionary idea. (Although some say MTV’s The Real World was the first big-time “reality show,” having premiered well before Survivor did. But I digress … )

Anyway, the idea generators behind Survivor took a bunch of attractive (and not-so-attractive) people with conflicting personality types and threw them on a deserted island. They made them play goofy, humiliating games. They teased them with highly desired prizes. They made them eat bugs that looked like they were straight from the Jurassic period. And then, they let nature take its inevitable course … all while the cameras kept on rolling.

One by one, contestants started backstabbing each other, forming alliances, initiating steamy relationships (and ending them just as quickly) and finally kicking each other off.

Lots of drama. Romance. Suspense. And betrayal. And in the drama-soaked finale, contestant Richard Hatch received one million dollars.

Think the formula worked? The final episode of Survivor that year attracted over 51 million viewers.

(Interestingly, the creators of Survivor got the idea from a Swedish show called Expedition: Robinson. The Swedes got the idea from a show in the UK. And who knows where the UK folks got the idea from? Maybe from reading Lord of the Flies.)

Once Survivor became a smash hit in the U.S., many other “copy cats” followed suit. Now, there are dozens upon dozens of reality TV shows … many based on the same exact premise.

You can do this, too, when searching for ideas. Take a look around you. See if you notice anything that you like and admire. Then modify it and make it better.

Make it yours!

Let’s say you’re an up-and-coming graphic designer, and you’re looking for inspiration. All you’ve got to do to get things going is take a look at other completed brochures, posters, flyers, and other designs that you admire. Notice the shape … the size … the colors … the font selections … everything. What do you like about it?

Then “borrow” what you like when you design your projects. There are so many different ways to take what’s out there and “recombine” them into something new.

So that’s yet another way to come up with great ideas for your business. Just see what other people are doing successfully and modifying it to make it yours.

But here’s the thing …

To get the most out of all this … to become a certified, bonafide, 24/7 idea-generating machine, you’re going to need some sort of system in place to ensure nothing gets lost or forgotten.

Trust me on this one. Our brains works in strange, strange ways. You’ll come up with ideas at the strangest of times … and you’ll want a way to remember everything at every time.

Your 24/7 Idea-Generating
and Idea-Capturing Action Plan

Here’s what I suggest …

STEP 1: Become an Information Sponge. Let’s say you’re a copywriter … and you write primarily for the alternative health and nutritional supplement market. Not only do you want to start learning as much as you can about your specific industry, but you’ll also want to learn about many, many other things. In fact, you’ll want to develop an insatiable appetite for learning … and learn pretty much everything under the sun.

Study what your competitors are doing. Read their promotions. Their newsletters. Their emails. Study how unrelated industries are marketing their products. Read books both related and unrelated to your industry. Read the newspaper. Watch the news. Talk to people. Go to seminars, conferences, and events. Everything your mind can soak up … soak it up and soak it up hard!

STEP 2: Let It All Sink in. This is what James Webb Young, author of the advertising classic A Technique for Producing Ideas, calls “The Mental Digestive Process.” Once you’ve done all your exhaustive research (which is really an ongoing, career-long process, by the way), you want to let it sit in your subconscious. “It is the process of masticating these materials,” he writes, “as you would food that you are preparing for digestion.” He then suggests, “ … to turn the problem over to your unconscious mind and let it work while you sleep.”

Once you’ve done this – you’ve let it all “soak in” – then it’s time for Step 3.

And you better be ready for it!

STEP 3: Be Prepared for the “Idea Storm Surge”! Once you’ve let your subconscious chew on all the information you’ve fed it, it will “sort it all out” in the background and then spit it back out at you at the absolute strangest of times. Like when you’re taking a shower or jogging or driving your car to work.

Why is this? Because you’re no longer thinking about it. You’ve fed it all to your subconscious … which has done all the hard work for you “behind the scenes” while you’ve kept your conscious mind busy with other things. What a great deal, ay?

So when this happens, you’ve got to be ready for it. And sometimes, it happens fast. What’s more, if you do a lot of research, which I highly recommend you do, you might be overwhelmed by it all when it hits you.

So it behooves you to have a system in place … to manage and collect your ideas for future use. I’ve got a small, pocket-sized notepad that I carry with me to collect new ideas.

And sometimes, I’ll even bring my digital voice recorder with me, too … if I really want to just talk about all the ideas in my head and then transcribe them later.

The point is to have some sort of “method” whether it’s as simple as a notepad and a pencil or a pen … or as intricate as a digital voice recorder with all the bells and whistles. Keep them close at hand … even while you’re sleeping. Remember, those ideas can come out of nowhere and simply whack you on the side of the head … so you’ve got to be ready for them.

Coming up with ideas is easy and fun, once you know what to do. Not only that, but it can put a lot of money in your pocket when you approach idea generation in a systematic way.

Here’s to your next great idea!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: February 3, 2009

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