Website ideas are all around you. Here are some ideas to get you in the right frame of mind so that you can see them. [UPDATED 2012.]
Let your mind roam. Play with ideas.
If you can, find a friend to bounce ideas off.
After years of earning a living from affiliate programs, my wife Joanna and I now see the world through a “Would that be an idea for a website?” filter.
Joanna may say something like, “That's a great idea.”
I'll add: “Mmmmm. ThatsAGreatIdea.COM. I wonder if that would work? I wonder if anyone has bought that domain name?”
Then we're likely to branch off from there … SillyIdeas.com? CrazyIdeas.com? FabulousIdeas.com?
We'll probably expand the theme … FabulousFantasies.com? … and so on. It's a little brainstorming game we sometimes play.
Here are good places you can look for website ideas for your next project…
1. Start with your hobbies and interests. Find a quiet, peaceful spot and picture a typical day or typical week. What do you enjoy reading about and talking about? These are the most important topics to consider carefully because if you choose one of them, you'll find it easier to do the research and write the articles. Most important of all, you're more likely to enjoy the project.
2. What about your job? Have you learned special skills you could share? You may be able to write a 20-page report you could sell to supplement your affiliate income.
3. Consider your family, relatives, neighbors and friends. Sometimes ideas can be so close to us, so obvious, that we overlook them. Do you know someone who is an expert at something? Does a neighbor build wind chimes? Does a friend grow beautiful roses? Does a cousin …? You could interview that person to acquire unique, useful, interesting facts for your website. You could make a video of your cousin showing how she… whatever.
4. Look in your daily newspaper, magazines and on TV for ideas. Read the ads as well as the news. Read the sections you don't usually read.
5. Visit forums in niches in which you are interested. Look for problems that need solving. Watch out for questions which keep appearing over and over again. Search Google for “anywordorphrase” +forum.
6. Subscribe to email discussion lists – if you're lucky enough to find one in your niche. Look for problems that need solving. For example, LED Digest was a very popular discussion list about online business and marketing. LED Digest seems to have died, but you can still find ideas in the archives.
7. Walk around your house, considering every item you see … toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, perfume, teeth whitener, jewelry, wastepaper basket, cutlery, drawer liners, sheets, towels, carpet, rugs, desk, pens, etc, etc. Open the drawers, cupboards and boxes.
Choose products you like, so that you can be genuinely enthusiastic about them. Try typing some of the words into Wordtracker. You may be amazed at the demand for ordinary products online.
8. Turn your keyword research on its head. Instead of typing very specific, niche phrases into Wordtracker, type in a GENERAL, non-specific word. Good words to try include “ideas”, “tips” and “problems”. Also try “find”, “where” and “how”.
9. Walk into a magazine store and see which magazine catches your eye. If you already have knowledge of the subject, you'll find website creation a lot easier and more fun. Each successful magazine is aimed at a niche market. Scan the article headings and index for ideas.
10. Read the list of industries in the Yellow Pages … Gardening, Removals, etc, etc.
11. Think of seasonal topics. For example, Halloween, Easter, Valentine's Day, Super Bowl marketing, Christmas. Try searches in Google for “holidays and festivals”.
12. Slowly scan the subjects in our affiliate programs directory. Carefully consider the ones you're tempted to reject – the ones which nearly everyone else rejects, too. The ones which might be “too hard”. If you do that, you'll have less competition.
13. Regularly check new affiliate programs as they are listed in our directory. Consider building your websites quickly before most of your competitors even know the topic exists.
14. Investigate the affiliate networks for website ideas. You'll find obscure programs not many affiliates know about.
15. Look for consumables, items that need to be replaced frequently, such as cellphone batteries, vitamins, condoms, prescription drugs and inkjet cartridges. (Note: AdSense is not allowed on sites promoting pharmaceuticals.)
16. Seek products for which there's a passionate demand. For example, someone who has bad breath will be very keen to find a product which solves the problem. In a similar way, people who collect things can be passionately eager to buy products. This is a very powerful idea. People who are desperate for an answer make excellent customers.
17. Consider easily identified market segments, for example readers of all sorts of magazines. Wander around a store selling magazines for ideas, or browse an online magazine store.
18. Consult Amazon.com for new website ideas. Look at the hot-selling books. You can also find website ideas at ClickBank and eBay. To find out what products are “on fire” at eBay, see eBay's What's Hot page and download the PDF report.
19. Keep a sharp eye on new ebooks and other products offered on the ClickBank network.
20. Check out the big portals. Yahoo! and other large sites often have hot lists and popular searches. You'll spot seasonal changes and new trends. On Yahoo! check Marketplace and the Buzz Index. At CNet.com, see the Buzz Report.
21. Get a list of valuable keywords and analyze them carefully. Valuable keywords are excellent for generating AdSense income to supplement your affiliate revenue. By the way, don't design a site purely for AdSense revenue. That's against the AdSense rules.
22. Consider new trends, fads and fashions. Type “trends” and similar phrases into Google. See if you can catch the next trendy wave as your theme. Google Zeitgeist shows you “search patterns, trends, and surprises”. Most of the popular searches involve celebrities but you'll probably spot the odd surprise. Gizmodo is a popular gadgets blog. Another popular site is TrendWatching.
23. Look for high-demand topics. Subscribe to Wordtracker's free Top Keywords report and get a weekly report of the top 500 frequently searched words on the Internet. You can spot seasonal changes and hot new ideas for your site.
Shopping.com, where millions of shopping searches are done each week, has a Consumer Demand Index which reveals emerging trends and hot products.
24. Dummies.com was NOT created by dummies. The For Dummies business has more than 150 million books in print, covering more than 1,300+ topics. Each topic is a market niche which has already been carefully researched before the book was launched. Each index gives you a heap of ideas for articles. If a Dummies book has been published in the niche, you can be certain there's a market out there. For heaps of website ideas in all sorts of niches, see Dummies.com.
25. Social networks. Scan Digg, Twitter and other social networks and bookmarking sites to see what people are discussing. Be disciplined. You could waste weeks, months or years on “research” without actually doing anything productive.
26. My favorite website idea … Aim to get paid over and over again. Look for affiliate programs that pay you month after month, perhaps even year after year. Residual income programs, such as some for web hosting and autoresponders, automatically pay you every month.
Lifetime commission programs pay you every time “your” customer makes another purchase. I love these programs so much I set up a web site reviewing them: LifetimeCommissions.com.
27. TOP TIP: Download the free Affiliate Masters Course and study the tips on how to dig up a topic that matches your interests. If you've already read it, print it out, re-read it and take notes. Make sure you've read the latest version. It describes what SiteSell's top 100 affiliates do. This is absolutely essential reading for all affiliates.
28. Become interested in something. If, after your brainstorming sessions, you still haven't found a topic that interests you, try this. Throw yourself wholeheartedly into researching a topic. You'll find that the more you learn and become an authority on the subject, the more you'll become interested in it. As your depth of knowledge increases, the more interested you'll become.
It works. Eventually, one day you'll realize with surprise that you're actually enjoying what you're doing.
29. Consider promoting successful retailers. Study a list of the Internet's top 500 retailers. You can safely guarantee that these companies know how to sell. That's an excellent start. For more in-depth research, you can buy a Top 500 Guide.
30. Be sure to read my Affiliate Program Tutorial for ideas on incorporating valuable keywords into your plans. This is most important if you want to maximize your income.
31. In his article Choosing a niche for your online businesss Jay Stockwell shows you free tools and the strategies and techniques you can use to find a profitable niche.
32. Still seeking ideas? Try the website 43Things. It's all about people's dreams and aspirations.
Before choosing your niche, you need to read this…
In Ken Evoy's famous FREE Affiliate Masters Course, he describes what his top 100 affiliates do. He also gives invaluable tips on how to choose the right niche for you.
These tips apply to ANY affiliate program.
Print it out, find a quiet spot and study it carefully. Do this, and you'll save yourself an awful lot of wasted time.
PLEASE do this. I've seen so many affiliates make a snap decision when choosing a topic, only to regret it after months of wasted work. Save yourself anguish. Read Ken's course BEFORE you choose your niche.