I don’t know if this qualifies as truly outside of the box, but I did one project where I used several ideas that I learned in slightly different ways than they were presented to me.
Back in January I created a tool called the Amazon Deal Finder and placed it on my personal blog. Look up at the top of the page there, it’s right under the header. I had read an article at Lifehacker.com about how to manually create links to the Amazon search engine that would filter results by a preset discount amount. The process was very simple, but not for people with no tech background – I couldn’t imagine my mother being able to do it.
Several people had created blog entries that explained the idea and/or gave you a form based interface to create your own links. The worst examples created long lists of links to every possible combination of store/discount range available. All of them were on techie blogs and none was attractive. The blog entries were focused on explaining the process to other techies.
I setup a simple form based version of the idea on my own site, but spent my time making it friendly and attractive rather than explaining the tech.
Pick a store, pick a discount, and click the deal button.
It took a few hours in total to get everything together. Then, I posted the form to my site and made a blog entry about it with lots of keywords. (I’m #2 out of 1.8 million returns on Google for the phrase “hidden amazon discounts” with no quotes – you can test that!) I also sent a note to Lifehacker about my version of the tool and they invited me to become a contributor and post comments. I added a comment with a link to my site.
The big ‘out of box’ moment came when I read a report that Dennis Becker posted on the 5 Bucks a Day forum’s download page about creating software products to boost your search engine rankings. The author suggested using a tool called MultiMedia Builder to create software that is essentially a mini browser that is programmed to open up your website.
In about 10 minutes I put together a little software file that opened the discount tool. It took almost no time. Then, I posted on software sites, added a link to my original page, and also listed it on a couple forums and JV giveaway sites as a free giveaway resource.
Finally, after having a few good months making commissions, I created the toolbar version of the Deal Finder and integrated it into my blog’s header. Now it shows up on every page of my site.
At every step I used the ideas I had been given in slightly different ways. I focussed on a user friendly interface and unique ways of getting it in front of people.
I’ve made a little money directly from these efforts so far – enough to have made it worth my while. In all, I spent 4 or 5 hours playing with this. It’s not yet a huge return on my investment, but I get new Amazon clicks every single day and every now and then I get an order for 20 drill bit sets or 5 hard drives that nets me $8.40 or $34.00.
I’m not done with this either. That’s another beautiful part of creating something like this. Whenever I think of a new place to incorporate the tool, I can plug it in and generate more sales. I have several ideas in the works now!
The Go-To Guy!