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Listen to Your “Inner Crazy Voice”

Sometimes I hear voices … they suggest I do crazy things … and sometimes they end up being the best things I’ve done!

Speaking of 'Crazy Ideas'

Okay, that’s one of the strangest first lines of a post that I’ve written but it struck me today as I was looking back over the past few years that some of the most successful things that I’ve done have often started out as a “crazy idea.”

Perhaps it is just my personality type, but I’m a prolific idea generator. Barely a day goes by when I don’t have at least one idea for a new product, blog post, or even new blog. Sometimes the ideas are simply extensions on what I’ve done previously, but occasionally I get a really crazy idea—something that is either really big, or something that makes me laugh and shake my head.

For a long time I would simply push aside the crazy ideas, but I’m learning to at least give them a second thought these days, because the ones I’ve acted upon do have a history of working.

Let me give you some examples of “crazy ideas” that I’ve had that have worked out well, or which I’m currently working on building up:

  • Bestselling ebook: One “crazy idea” that I’ve written about recently was 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. The original idea came on 30 July 2005, when I decided that I’d write a 31 day series of blog posts here on ProBlogger, each day containing homework for readers. It was crazy because I’d never done a series that long before, I’d not really given readers “homework” to do before, and because I decided to start it the following day with no promotion or planning. The idea paid off—it eventually evolved into my bestselling ebook.
  • Successful conference: Another “crazy idea” was to hold my first ProBlogger training day. I started pondering what would happen if I held a training day for bloggers in Melbourne. Again it was something I decided to do on the spur of the moment. The period from my having the idea to running the training day itself was a matter of weeks. I’d had no experience in planning conferences, had no venue, and didn’t know how much to charge or even what we’d do on the day. Again, the idea paid off—we’ve now held two training days and there’s significant demand for more (we’re planning some exciting events for 2012).
  • ProBlogger “Tour down under”: One more “crazy idea” that looks like becoming a reality dawned on me on the way home from a conference in one of Australia’s northern states (Queensland). The state has some of the most beautiful beaches and natural wonders that you’ll ever see and, on the spur of the moment, I tweeted out that I wanted to run a competition to get bloggers form overseas to come do a tour with me of some of our country’s most beautiful regions. Among the tweet replies that came in from hundreds of bloggers wanting to come on the tour were a couple of replies from Aussie Tourism boards. Those conversations continue today—watch this space to see if this was another crazy idea that might pay off!
  • ProBlogger clothing range: Lastly, a fourth “crazy idea” that I’ve had for a couple of years now, and which looks like it might come to be, is the long-awaited “Blogger Work Ware” range of clothes. Again, this started as a crazy tweet saying I wanted to develop a range of “work clothes” for bloggers: PJs, bathrobes, and so on—after all, we’re known for blogging in our PJs are we not? The number of people who responded that they’d buy a bathrobe or PJs was overwhelming. I’m now looking at it more seriously (watch this space).

Of course I’ve had my fair share of crazy ideas that I’ve not done anything with, or which have failed. But in each of the cases I’ve mentioned here, the ideas came out of the blue and, for some reason, just wouldn’t go away.

In each case, the reaction I had straight after having the idea was to either laugh or gasp. In most cases, the reaction was the same when I told those around me. I’m learning that the laugh and gasp reactions are good. They tell you that you’ve thought of something a little out of the box—something that will, at the very least, get noticed.

The other thing I did each time was to share my crazy idea with others. In some cases, it was with another couple of people who I trusted, and some cases the “test” was to share it more widely (on Twitter in the last two cases) to see if the idea had any resonance beyond my imagination.

What has been your most crazy idea that has paid off?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Bryan says:

    The cool thing about crazy ideas is that once you start following through on them, your creativity begins blossom and more ideas keep coming. My blog is my “crazy idea.” It’s my first blog and I started it with almost no planning because I was frustrated with my “overplanning” of a different blog. I just started blogging by the seat of my pants, and I’m loving it!

    Thanks for sharing Darren.

  2. Amie Marse says:

    I’m right here with ya – I come up with crazy ideas all the time. Unlike you… I tend to go for it without reservation. Which usually ends up with me on my face. That’s one of the reasons I brought one of my longtime team players as a partner in my company. I am a fount of optimism and idea maker, I was in desperate need of a “no” person. Bringing her on and having that accountability has balanced a lot out. Which in turn has been *very* successful for our company. So kudos to you for having that crazy voice and for following it! I wish I could sensor myself, lol.

  3. Usman Hafeez says:

    i know myy website doen’t look like much right now because I am still experimenting but my craziest idea yet. Make it into a cool pc website with a cool design and everything on wordpress. the strt makin money with ads and sell my own t-shirts. I guess its more of a dream. but for now it is what it is, I really don’t know yet how to do all tht stuff. u inspired me to take initiative.

  4. Shelly Cone says:

    I’m a crazy idea generator. But my most recent that paid off was probably the play I produced this summer, based on monologues by real women talking about their experience in motherhood from a Latina perspective. I’ve never been in theater and had no experience but wanted to take my marketing firm into collaborative events. So I put out a call for Latino artists, Latino musicians and of course the mothers and put together this performance. I wasn’t scared until the week of when I realized how many tickets I had sold! Of course their were glitches and people thought I was crazy but in the end it was overall very awesome.

  5. rahul says:

    No you are not crazy every blogger hear voices and its important as new ideas come to your mind also you have to implement new and crazy ideas to your blog in order to keep your blog alive otherwise your blog will become dead and boaring.

  6. Hah! Love your crazy photos, so funny and cool! :D

  7. Noe says:

    That’s really crazy idea!!!
    :)

  8. Clivant says:

    Hi Darren,

    Your inner voice had brought great insights to people! :)

    For me, my inner voice is a chatty fellow. It will suggest many things all at once and tends to get me distracted.

    My most crazy idea so far was probably to create my own website design when I had no prior experience in website designing.

    Well that sounds rather ordinary but I guess being crazy is to do something that is new to you and not procrastinate about it. :)

  9. I’d definitely buy the PJs! In fact, my last day on my day job is 12/31, so starting in January, I’ll be working from home full time (a combination of writing and VA work). To celebrate my transition, I’ve told my family members that I want loungewear for Christmas!

    But yes, the crazy ideas are often the best ones. In fact, I’ve gotten many of my clients as a result of crazy ideas. Maybe the ideas are crazy enough for people to be curious enough about who I am to get to know me, and as they get to know me, they figure out I’m what they are looking for. Strange, but true!

  10. Clarabela says:

    I love the “crazy idea’ about this blogger’s PJs. I would order a pair and a huge bathrobe, like the Johnny Depp wore in Secret Window.

    The craziest idea I have had is that I could make living as a writer/blogger. It is still a work in progress, but once you get started, it is had to think of going back to work in an office cubicle.

  11. Jobin martin says:

    An ideas worth depends on the individual on whom the idea germinates. Hundreds of people across the globe get a great deal of ideas but only a few flourish. The ideas which were sown on your mind had good fertile ground to grow and flourish.Hope more such ideas will dawn on you so that readers can expect even more in the coming days.

  12. Denys Yeo says:

    My crazy idea was to develop a digital presence on the world wide web. I found that once one has a “big” crazy idea then it generates many more “baby” crazy ideas that, if implemented, will help achieve the bigger picture idea. For example, I discovered that Bloggers achieve a digital presence through their postings, and regardless of their motives for blogging they begin to exist in the digital world. Me blogging? – that seemed pretty crazy, but I started posting, and commenting on blogs, and found – yes – my digital presence increased dramatically. So I agree with your comments here Darren, go with those crazy thoughts – you never know where they might lead.

  13. James Greg says:

    The pictures really show that you can get crazy ideas. Ideas that are unique and not followed by everyone certainly pay off, and these are the ones that can take you to heights or drop you from heights. Overall your crazy ideas have worked as these were liked by people. I like the idea of clothing range, it makes your bolg a real brand and people appreciate it too.

  14. Musa says:

    For the most part I’ve been doing what you used to do when a crazy idea drops in for a visit, laughing it off.

    Maybe I should give it a try, and listen more to this “still, small voice within” as Wayne Dwyer terms it.

    Thank you.

    - Musa

  15. A lot of individuals are worried about pursuing any crazy ideas they may have, but they don’t realize that they can work as long as they temper creativity with logic and careful planning.

  16. Janet says:

    14 years ago, I had this wild idea to start my own magazine as I couldn’t find one that was exactly what I was looking for, and lots of people thought I was crazy … well, Footprints magazine for Australian Christian women is still going strong!

  17. You’re right about this. I was also thinking the other day that I lost my crazy, spur-of-the-moment voice when I became a parent. I’ve become so careful about everything. I realised that the best things that happened to me were the things I went out and tried at the spur of the moment. I’m working on getting that mojo (I call that crazy voice ‘mojo’) back.

  18. naijadotcom says:

    Those spontaneous ideas that just creep in,make you have a good laugh at yourself and think of what a fool you will be if the world knew what you were thinking or if you half as mentioned it to someone anyone,lol,Yah those are the ideas that will actually make you a breaking point,maybe its time we all started giving those ideas a bit of a try,Great luck and Great trying,Everyone.

  19. Linda Ryan says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post AND your energy. Sounds like you’ve developed the habit of listening to your intuition (aka known as “that voice in your head”) and act on the great ideas that have come to you, which is awesome. Most people second-guess the voice and never take the action. So happy I found you and I look forward to following you around….AND meeting you in Australia when I win the contest! :-)

  20. Aman says:

    Ya! i agree to that one. Even, my decision to blog was a crazy one. Sometimes, those crazy ideas are actually very bright as they are unique and have the will of ourselves.

  21. Amy Joy says:

    Most of my best ideas come at the most inconvenient moments, but when they do, you are right: I either gasp or laugh. It’s fun to hear someone else describe my experience. Good article. Best wishes.

  22. Drewry says:

    it’s all the crazy ideas that drive a website & unique content pages to page one of Google. When it comes to being online, it pays to be creatively crazy :-)

  23. Hugo Guzman says:

    Thanks for sharing the thought, Darren! I wouldn’t call the stuff you mentioned crazy. It’s more like spontaneous or stream-of-consciousness.

    I always think that crazy (or insane) refers to doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results.

    This is almost the opposite, in that you’re most definitely doing/thinking in completely new ways as opposed to just copying or repeating the same behaviors from the past.

  24. Josh Sarz says:

    Great to see you posting regularly, Darren.

    Yeah crazy ideas tend to be great. One crazy, spur-of-the-moment idea of mine is this new project I’m doing with my new blog.

    Totally crazy because it’s been done before. Thing is, I just want to experience it first-hand.

  25. Tom Treanor says:

    Darren. I love it. My crazy idea was to get a one day pass to Blog World LA somewhat last minute (missed all the ticket deals!). I grabbed my camera, zoom lense, flip and I figured I’d make the most of whatever happened. I never sit in the front row but I decided, “why not”? I sat in the front row for the Peter Shankman keynote, took some pictures and took notes.

    Crazy idea #2 was to do a mega-post on the Shankman keynote right away. That really paid off! I ended up connecting with Peter and sending him some pictures, the post got a ton of traffic, shares, links and comments. These spur of the moment and opportunistic ideas seem (at least for me) to pay off better than the more calculated and strategic ones..

  26. Bougie Girl says:

    My craziest idea was packing up and moving from the Southwest to New England site unseen. I still can’t believe that I am here almost 2 years later. Surprisingly, moving to New England has increased my creativity ten-fold. Not as many distractions, I suppose.

  27. Daniel says:

    Darren, be careful with those CRAZY images of you!

    You might scare off any new readers dropping by for the first time.

    Okay, jokes aside…I think many great ideas were(are) thought to be quite crazy when first suggested.

    Yet, within time those same crazy ideas, have become integral parts of our lives that we would find very hard to live without, in the world we live in today.

  28. Chris says:

    I believe it is very important the try some of those weird ideas that come to mind in strange circuimstances. After all, they are what makes us stand apart. Those ideas you mentioned might not sound like anything original (writing a book, organizing a conference), but the way you approached it (31 days daily blogging with homework, blogging workshop) definitely is.

    I also believe everyone has his or her specific vibe, he just has to get to it. Getting rid of the voices might be what our parents might say to us when we were younger. Hell, even our psychiatrists try to convince us to do that! But that would kill the creative process and all the fun that goes with it ;)

  29. Jack Cola says:

    You look a bit like Tony Martin in the first picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Martin_(comedian)

  30. Hey Darren,
    You call the ideas crazy – I’d call them inspired! (tomato – tomahto)
    I’m all about listening to your gut/intuition – that inner voice is your inner genius speaking.
    Go for it – it’s obviously working for you already.