Relate, Innovate, Create

Have you ever wondered how people come up with great ideas for new products and inventions? Are they grabbing them out of thin-air or being channeled by spirits? No, unfortunately. Great ideas are generally a product of three steps in my opinion.

Relate

Let’s say that you are a baseball player. You are up to bat in the world-series and it is bottom of the ninth inning. You are down two strikes, and you have to drive in the runner on third to keep your team in the game. You’re nervous, and it is causing you to sweat profusely.

The pitcher winds up and throws a fast-ball right down the middle of the strike zone. You are ready for this and it couldn’t be an easier pitch. You wind up and take a monstrous swing. As you come around on the ball and are inches from hitting one out of the park, the bat takes flight out of your hands and begins to sail 40 feet in the air like a stray javelin.

How could this have happened? Well, batting gloves and gripping devices haven’t been invented yet. Somehow, it hasn’t occured to you that a heavy, wooden bat can easily fly out of your hands when you are sweating like a madman.

Instantly, 50% of the crowd understands the problem… and only a few are willing to take action to do something about it. If only you had something to help you grip the bat, you would have hit the ball and won the game!

You can now relate the fact that a bat slipping out of someone’s hands is a problem, and a direct relation to how sticky the grip surface is. There is the problem… but what is the solution?

Innovate

It has occurred to you that if you had something to help you grip the bat, the game could have gone in a different direction. You go home from the game understanding that something must be done. Someone has to come up with a good solution to the grip issue.

You start to think of things that are sticky that could be applied to the surface of the bat. Glue, tape, etc. could all be useable options. You start to think of things that could even go onto the batter’s hands… maybe some sticky gloves?

Now that you have thought over the problem, and have come up with some great ideas and innovations to improve the performance of a baseball bat, you can start creating your idea.

Create

This is by far the hardest part of the product process. You must now draw upon all of your knowledge and creative abilities to come up with the best solution to this problem. Dig deep into your contacts and resources to find out how realistic your idea is.

Is your idea the type that would require a mound of investment to produce a prototype, or is it something that you can create for yourself? Now that you have your grand solution that could take its market by storm, check a few of these must-haves off of your list:

  • Does the product relate to the market’s world-view? If yes, check!
  • Seth Godin 101: Is it remarkable? Not just… different? If yes, check!
  • Does your product provide value to consumers? If yes, check!
  • Would it support a sustainable, scalable, profitable business? If yes, check!

You might want to ask yourself some of these questions as well:

  • Would I be the sole principal in the business?
  • Am I researched, dedicated, and motivated enough to quit my day-job to spend all of my time on the product?

The creation part of the series is by far the longest and most rewarding. If your product is properly implemented, and brought to market, you will reap the rewards.

When you start new products, make sure that you Relate, Innovate, and Create.

John Reese and ShoeMoney

I just found a great podcast interview that features John Reese and Jeremy Shoemaker a.k.a. ShoeMoney. It highlights some great marketing strategies and philosophies that are used by two of the top online money-makers! I am not sure as to how new it is, but it is some great stuff.

The cast is divided into seven parts on youtube, so here are the links:

You are looking at a little over an hour’s worth of learning. Enjoy!

wordpress template=$ and/or links

I did a post a few weeks ago about designing and coding wordpress templates for distribution. The article didn’t go into much detail of the method and benefits. Also, I didn’t have too many readers at that point, so I didn’t want to reveal too much. After the response I’ve gotten from the easy adsense article, it is clear to me that I have to now share another great article on how to make some money without too much effort. The great thing about this model I’m about to share with you is that not only can you make some money, you can spread some links as you go. ^_^ Let’s get started.

Just like the arbitrage method, this is going to require some skills in design and coding. If you feel you aren’t up to par in some skills… this could a great activity for practice! Requirements and recommendations include:

  • Intermediate competency in a WYSIWYG Editor (GoLive, Dreamweaver)
  • Intermediate competency in Photoshop
  • One domain that can support subdomains
  • Basic Competency in WordPress
  • 2-10 Hours depending on your skill level
  • Paypal Account

Photoshop Fun

We are going to start off by creating a photoshop design of the template. We are looking to create something basic for this walkthrough, so let’s say that the page has six elements (title-bar, header, navigation bar, sidebar, content, and footer). Try to get an idea of who might use this blog template, so you can cater the style to their tastes. I will be using a template that I have made for an example today, so let’s take a look at what it looks like after a basic design.

You can see the elements are there (aside from the footer) in this shot. This design is meant to be for a vacation blog or something along those lines. Really basic stuff to build this design. Total time spent at this point should be around 30-60 minutes for a competent photoshop user.

Chop Shop

Now that you have completed your design, you can begin the task of chopping up individual elements to be used in wordpress. Some elements you will want to cut out in their entirety (title, footer, header img, nav), and some elements will be cut so that they can repeat 1px at a time (content and sidebar should be cut in 1px-vertically/entire body width). This is pretty basic photoshopping all-in-all. If you are completely new to photoshop, you can get your skills to this level within a month, no problem. Here are a few examples of some cut elements:

As you can see, this is pretty simple up to this point. To be honest, the next part doesn’t get much more difficult! At this point, a competent photoshop user shouldn’t have spent more than 5-10 minutes cutting these elements and preparing them for integration into a wordpress theme.

What You See is What You Get

WYSIWYG editors are awesome. I personally use GoLive 9 for MacOS. At this point, you are going to want to install wordpress, or use a domain that already has wordpress running. For this design, you can start with the default theme if you would like (I did) to begin integration. The default template has very basic elements, so it is very easy to add on to. Arrange your “div’s” and what-not accordingly and work out the bugs. This kind of coding is relatively simple, but it can seem like a very steep learning curve. If you don’t have any experience in coding, this part could be very difficult for you. You won’t travel farther than Google to find some great learning resources for coding and even specifics on WordPress integration. The amount of time that coding takes can vary. Sometimes it can go through without much trouble, sometimes you will want to destroy your computer. That is the name of the game, though. :p

Re-Asses and Test

Now that you have your first draft of coding complete, go back and think of some useful things a blogger might want to include into the template. WordPress supports a wide range of plug-ins, so you can take advantage of that if you would like. Travel on over to where I keep my final draft of this template to see the changes that were made when coding. Very similar, but not exactly the same as my photoshop design. Test all of the pages for errors in your coding. There are always little things that go wrong the first time, so leave no rocks unturned in your efforts to debug. That all being said, testing the site takes around 15 minutes at the most. ^_^

Links/Money/Completion

So, you’ve designed and coded your template. Well done. Now for the good part! You have some options as to what you can do to either make money and/or build links.

I HIGHLY ADVISE everyone go read a great two-part article put together by Josh Buckley on selling sites for profit. More or less, what you have just built is a website… so his theory can be applied. Here are parts ONE and TWO. If you are selling, start with DigitalPoint.com and SitePoint.com. There are links for these sites in the second part of Josh’s article. What else can you sell besides the exclusive use of the template? Hmmm… sponsored links…? You might try auctioning links that will be embedded and encrypted into the template. It can bring in $50-200 for some templates, so it is definitely a good option.

You also have a great opportunity to build some backlinks here. If your route is the widespread distribution of the template, you can embed your own links into the template, thus creating an army of links. You can distribute your theme at some of these sites:

Conclusion

There is a possibility that you wont be able to sell your site or links. You can keep listing it over and over if you please, or you can just distribute for links. This is just one of many things you can do to make a little bit of extra cash. Good luck, and I hope I gave you some inspiration to go out there and make some money!