Panning For Gold – Finding Revenue Generating Opportunities In Comment Threads

by Paul Wolfe on May 26, 2011

If you browse the Forum threads at somewhere like The Warrior Forum you’ll often come across people who’ve been working on their internet businesses for 6 months, or 9 months, or more and barely generated enough revenue to cover their hosting costs.

Coincidentally these people tend to use one of the following business ‘models’ for their online businesses:

(1) Build sites with the purpose of attracting traffic.  That traffic then leads to income generation via some kind of advertising, usually AdWords.

(2) Build a site (Or sites) in specific niches – the income generation for these sites is via Affiliate Marketing.

(3) A Version of the affiliate marketing model building sites that ‘review’ products on Amazon and direct the visitor to Amazon via an affiliate link.

Now it’s not impossible to make money with any or all of these models.  Steve Scott of SteveScottSite.com and Brankica from Live-Your-Love.com both have niche sites from which they make money.  Or check out Pat Flynn’s detailed diary of setting up his own niche site at SmartPassiveIncome.com.

But it’s hard to generate income from these models because this is what just about EVERYONE who comes into the ‘make money online’ field try and do.  And so the competition is fierce.

And I guess a lot of these people get frustrated, think the information they’ve purchased is a crock of shit, and give up in disgust.

And that’s sad.

Generating Revenue With An Online Business Doesn’t Need To Be So Hard

These models are hard work.  And getting harder.

For the last couple of years it seems there have been people teaching ‘niche site’ formulas where basically you set up mini-sites of 10 to 12 pages, rank those sites in Google to get traffic, and then monetize with either adverts or affiliate links.

Well Google made that even harder with the Panda Update this year.  And reading between the lines of what Matt Cutts says, it’s going to try to make it harder for those kinds of sites to flourish in the future.

But it doesn’t need to be so hard.  There are other business models that you can use – most involve either creating a service or a product – and selling those.  Being a ‘creator’ is a lot more fulfilling than being a glorified billboard, and potentially far more lucrative.

But What Would I ‘Create?’

This is the problem most people seem to come up against.  They don’t know what services to create.  Or what products to make.

You can often find the answers in comment threads on blogs.  In the rest of this article I want to show you 4 potential products and/or services that could lead to viable ideas that I found in the last two weeks.  Two of these four ideas I found today as I was thinking about this post.

So let’s walk through them one by one – hopefully you’ll see that with the right viewpoint you can find product and service ideas everywhere.

Idea 1 – Found at JK Allan’s Blog

A couple of week’s ago, I was surfing over at JK’s House and reading this post:

Personal Branding, Self Promotion and The Art of Marketing Yourself

By the time I got to this post there were already 80 or so meaty comments, so I started reading through them.  Here’s a screenshot of something that Bill Dorman posted:

The phrase that immediately made me sit up and take notice was this:

“What I put in my ‘About Me’ page might be totally different than how people see me.  I think I would rather somebody else write that for me.

Bam!  Bill just suggested a Service that you could sell people.  The service would be to write ‘About Me’ pages for people’s websites from the viewpoint of the website’s audience.  Because the About Me page ISN’T about the blogger, it’s about the visitor – they want to see a reflection of themselves in some way, so they know they are in the right place.

I immediately left a comment:

I honestly believe that if you were GOOD at this, that people would pay good money to get a great ‘About Me’ page written for their blog or website.  It’s the kind of service that once you’d done a few, it would get easy to do.

That’s Online Revenue Generation Idea 1.

Idea 2 – Found On The Blogosphere

A week or so ago I posted an article about Kindle Spam:

An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos – Please Stop The Kindle Spam

As a result of this post a couple of people emailed me links to posts about Kindle and Kindle publishing, and I discussed it briefly with people from my Mastermind Groups.

One of the things that came up somewhere (sadly I don’t remember exactly where) was that although Amazon could raise their BS Filter to a higher level, that a lot of the ‘Kindle Spam’ would probably fade away due to poor quality of information, spelling mistakes, typos, poor grammar, etc etc.

Bam!  There’s Idea Number 2.  If you know how to proofread, or can learn to proofread to a reasonable level quickly (which you CAN do if you have half a brain J ), then you could set up a service proofreading eBooks for people who want to self-publish to Kindle

You could start with that, and upsell the service to include formatting for and actually uploading the eBook to Kindle.  And extend that to formatting and submitting the same works to the other eBook sites like iBooks, Nook, Smashwords, etc.

Again, this is a service that people would absolutely pay money for – to have their eBooks ‘professionally’ edited and then uploaded for them.

That’s Online Revenue Generation Idea 2.

Idea 3 – Closer To Home

On Monday this week, I posted this article about making your blogging more efficient:

How To Blog More Efficiently

In the comment sections, I got into a discussion with Michelle, and we got talking about typing, and I mentioned that I thought it was crazy that my kids are taught IT skills at school, but not any keyboard skills.

Look at Michelle’s reply – “…a surprising gap in education….I’m sure there are typing lessons aimed at kids too.”

Not only a surprising gap in education, I bet that it’s a surprising gap in the market too.  I quickly googled ‘typing lessons for kids’ and found that there are some programs at Amazon.

But I think that if you created a simple software program to teach kids to type, and branded it along the lines of learning IT Skills rather than typing, that there’s a good chance you could create a useful and highly marketable product.

That’s Online Revenue Generation Idea 3.

Idea 4 – Found at Copyblogger

Originally I was going to write this article with just those 3 examples, but an hour before I sat down to write I was reading this post at Copyblogger:

How To Kill Writer’s Block – And Become A Master Copywriter In Only 3 Hours A Day

Now the post was of interest to me because it talks about copywriter Eugene Schwartz.  And it was written by Robert Bruce, one of the better writers at Copyblogger.

Now what you need to know is that Eugene Schwartz wrote a book about copywriting called Breakthrough Advertising.  And it’s considered one of the classics in the copywriting industry – at one stage it was the most stolen book from US Public Libraries.

Now, the post was good.  But there was gold in the comments.  First, this one:

Notice Sonia Simone’s comment that it took four or five readings to start to get to it.  And then Brian Clark chimes in about the depth of the book, and the layers of nuance.

Later down the thread we have this:

Note these words: “…learning how to use the principles in Breakthrough Advertising is harder than learning how to do anything else…”

And Sonia’s response: “I agree on all counts.”

Bam.  Idea Number 4.  What if you could take Breakthrough Advertising and systemize it, and create a course teaching the principles of Breakthrough Advertising to would be copywriters?  Do you think that might generate some revenue?  (This is only a guess, but I think if you could do this that you could charge at least $1000 for such a course and if you branded and promoted it properly you would NEVER be short of people to take it)

How To Find Potential Ideas

Now I’ve not done anything special to find these ideas.  I didn’t go to JK’s Blog, or Copyblogger, or anywhere else, with the mindset of looking for ideas.

In those cases I visited those blogs to read the posts.  And I really like reading good comment threads.  I’ve said before that good comment threads are virtual gold mines for ideas.

Good comment threads are filled with thoughts from people similar in some ways to you – and their comments often reflect the day-to-day problems that they’re dealing with.

Being able to take a step back, realize that a comment contains a problem, and being able to conceive a solution is all it takes to come up with potential revenue generating ideas.

The other benefit of doing this is that you’ll be carving your own space in the marketplace, doing your own thing.  You won’t be following a business model that just about EVERY newbie starts out with.

So the competition will be less, often non-existent.  Leaving YOU to be the product leader with that particular idea.

Summary

Every day more and more people go into the ‘make money online’ space.  And the bulk of them start trying to make money online using one of the business models I outlined earlier – or some variant of it.  So the competition is fierce.

An easier way to generate revenue for your online business is to create unique products or services yourself.  Coming up with the ideas for these products or services is where most people stumble.

In the last two weeks or so I’ve stumbled across four potential ideas that could all be developed into revenue generating products and/or services.

And all of those ideas came from reading comment threads at various blogs.  And having the mindset of looking for ideas.

Two of those ideas cropped up TODAY – maybe because I’m hyper aware of it because the first of them really made the idea for this post coalesce.

If you’re looking to turn your website or blog into a site that generates revenue, start collecting potential service or product ideas so that you can take them through the testing and development process.

Blog Comments are a rich, varied and fertile ground to find ideas that can be developed into products or services.  You just need a small change in mindset to pan for these golden ideas.

What Do YOU Think?

Have your say in the comments.  Firstly, are you looking to generate revenue from your website or blog?  (I say ‘generate revenue’ most of the time because I loathe the word ‘monetization.’)

How are you looking to generate that revenue?  Have you ever found golden ideas in comment threads – whether on your blog, or someone else’s?

Love to hear your thoughts on this – and you never know, someone may get an idea for a product or service from them ;) )

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