Hiring the Ideas Guy

As more and more content is created there are more publishers than there are good ideas, which means publishers are hungry to spread the few good ideas that exist. What separates a profitable channel from a money loser is typically two things: ideas and execution. Because I have been posting about a more diverse set of topics sometimes outside of SEO I get asked lots of business strategy questions. Many of them revolve around "and then I will pay someone $10-20 an hour to help with the strategy", but the problem is that if your strategy comes from someone else you are going to need to pay a lot more than that for GOOD strategy, and if they are willing to work for meager rates for a while and notice that all your value is built off their ideas it won't take long for there to be an ego conflict that causes them to quit working for you and start working for themselves.

Site design can be outsourced. So can programming, writing, and project management, but if you are not giving up an equity stake, and expect your workers to be the ideas guy eventually they are going to quit...at least if they have ideas worth sharing.

The reason consultants can charge $500 to $1,000 an hour is because they can create and spread good ideas that create significant market leverage and value quickly.

As an entrepreneur you either need to have a lot of capital to invest and/or be the ideas guy. And you need to excute.

Published: February 21, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


February 23, 2007 - 6:57am

I don't know any specific stats, but I'm sure that most businesses entering into a market are from "expatriates" who once worked for ABC and then left to start up XYZ.

One has to imagine that they were part of the idea process. No doubt especially true because idea people often want to be a part of something bigger than is. They may not necessarily have any desire to go off and do their own thing, but if they don't feel that they are being given the attention, respect, or perhaps compensation they deserve, they are often passionate enough to break from the fold.

February 24, 2007 - 6:16pm

I'm an idea guy as well, but I can, and do execute. You just have to have the resources to get r' done.

Here's a mistake you should never make that I did once. Don't pitch yourself as an idea guy, pitch yourself as an idea guy who implements.

Most people hear "idea guy" and think, "Oh, he wants a big paycheck for sitting around thinking about stuff." Believe me, they do.

March 22, 2007 - 1:32am

But it has to be the RIGHT idea, too. You can be an ideas guy but until you execute on the right one, you're not validated.

I proposed $20k worth of "idea" to a client and despite serious discussion, they couldn't get past the analysis paralysis. So I executed on a simple optimization aspect of the "big idea" --it took 2 hours of work -- and within days it boosted rank/traffic/revenue beyond what a year of "optimization" had done for them prior.

What convinced them? The BigIdea, or the simple performance of a little idea?

February 21, 2007 - 8:54am

I unfortunately have always been an ideas guy but have lacked the ability to execute some of them. So I guess its time to find myself a sugar daddy.

February 21, 2007 - 9:14am

I'm the idea guy, the marketer, the programmer, the developer, the financier, the content writer....whew. It's a 24 hour job, but I'd much rather it be in my hands. If it fails, there's no one else to blame. If it doesn't fail, then I get all the glory, lol.

Eventually I will bring someone on board to help out, but for now I'll just drink more Mountain Dew, smoke a few more cigarettes and keep powering through by myself.

February 21, 2007 - 2:28pm

I was thinking that the core value that seasoned professionals bring is not what they can do, but how they think, what ideas they have about the business. Typically, they already have a ready list of things to do for a business and they only need to apply it to a particular one. If they don't know something, they will learn it and find new ways to profit from it, too. That's what makes professionals different from beginners.

Gordon Blocker
February 21, 2007 - 5:01pm

To the budding SEO wannabe - As a media and production consultant to numerous and diverse companies over 35 years, I have to comment on this topic as a newby to SEO. I have learned in a short time the value of engaging content in effective ranking. Every effective communication whether it be print, web, or any other media must be the result of studying "business processes" - in fact it is so obvious to me that an effective job can NOT be done until an SEO professional and team would understand a client's business process inside-out. This takes marketing wit, thinking outside the box and creative execution. You can learn so many techniques from Aaron's Book (plug intended)

For clients, these professionals are out there - but get out the checkbook for fresh ideas and an investment of having those professional "learn" how you think and compete so they can translate your processes to website deisgn and archtecture and branding. This can be painful.

For SEO teams, I would suggest bundling a great content professional into your proposal offering for any unfamiliar industry. The target customer must feel that YOU understand their business - so do your homework - ( how about starting by doing a little simple business intelligence like reading some company 10Ks and 10Qs which are readily available and must balance forward-looking statements with the reality of the true risks to investors) . Also it is a great way to understand a competitive landscape and be more "consultant-like"

If you are not using Google Alerts and scanning newspapers everyday, you are also losing out on some creative opportunites and ideas being "handed to you" for free.

Spending a lot of money on a bad concept will give you one really great looking, well designed, expensive flop. - not good for your SEO reputation. But run it like you would a film project i.e., research and learn, put together a team, develop ideas, have active debate and flush out what works and is effective, refine and then execute.
I always used to say "If you need a Phd, then hire one".

Think processes! And pick clients where you can be effective with the resources you have beyond knowing how to SEO - you must be a thinker, researcher and organizer.

I really think that LSI is more in play in the Google than we realize. SO if your ideas, organization and content are killer with good SEO - I think it is a big win for you and your customer!

February 21, 2007 - 6:54pm

As an idea guy I've found that execution is just as important as a good idea. When I made my living as a writer I always had people telling me that we should partner up- they had a cool idea for a book and I would write it. Right. I never had less than ten marketable ideas for books at any given point. Choosing which to focus on and writing it were the challenge, not the idea.
When you can find an idea that you are passionate about pursuing, then you have the real deal: Idea + passion = success. IMHO.

February 21, 2007 - 5:34pm

I'm an ideas guy, the problem is I don't always know what ideas should be followed through with.

PS. Why not put a "remember my info" check box so I don't have to keep typing my name, email, and blog url?

February 20, 2007 - 3:39am

I almost hate being labeled as an "ideas guy". Typically, it is assumed the guy who brings the ideas, can't execute. It's like the "those who can't do, TEACH" saying. Most fellow idea guys I know have more incomplete projects stacked up than they do active and current projects. Many times this is the result of getting an idea while working on a previous one. It can be a downward, and vicious cycle.

I suffer from this as much as anyone. It's easier to stop caffeine/smoking/drinking/(crutch) than it is to focus on a single idea. Lack of focus is the Achilles heel for idea guys, and many "million dollar ideas" often get tabled because they don't get the team or attention behind them that they deserve.

And to compound things, I just purchased 20~ websites that were 80% done from a fellow ideas friend of mine. But, oddly, this is working out quite well. Having them 80% done already, I'm able to go and add my ideas on how to optimize and monetize them and get them out the door at a very rapid pace. Motivation is huge because my ideas are getting executed and I'm not waiting on anything to launch the sites. This pattern is working so well for me, that I decided I'm going to outsource all of my original ideas, while working on and adding to incomplete sites that I purchase from others (through forums and brokers).

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