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Guide: Best Tips and Techniques for Freelancers
Brainstorming is the secret weapon of every freelancer and entrepreneur. It helps us to remember everything we know about the subject and all related ideas. Whether we realize it or not, brainstorming is the foundation of every endeavor we undertake, be it a product, project, or something as simple as a blog post.
There’s a reason freelancers swear by the power of brainstorming. A single brainstorming session can create new and creative ideas that make you more productive or help you find a solution to your problem. It’s a great way to extract all the information you have and need to know about. It allows you to notice relationships and patterns in the information and helps you to create an overview.
Knowing the importance of brainstorming, how can we use it to take our projects to the next level? How do we brainstorm effectively? The following tips and techniques will help you get the most out of your brainstorming exercise.back to menu ↑
Mind mapping is the easiest and most popular form of brainstorming. They are especially effective when you are brainstorming alone. A mind map is a graphical representation of all of your ideas linked and arranged around one central idea, problem or topic.
There are no rules except to write down everything that comes to your mind. Your mind map can be hierarchical or in a tree branch format. You can create a mind map on paper or use an online program like Mind Meister that allows you to save, import and export your mind maps and a free version is also included.back to menu ↑
Brain dumpers are the most fun. Grab or open a sheet of paper up your word processor and start writing anything that comes to mind. There is no rule that says it must be related to the project.
If you’re brainstorming logo ideas for a client and find yourself thinking about lunch, write down what you want. Trust me, it’s a lot more productive this way. Otherwise you will be stuck trying to come up with logos while you water while thinking about food.back to menu ↑
If you find yourself stuck with ideas, talk to someone and invite them to the project. Let them brainstorm and compare notes with you. More often than not, your brainstorming partner will choose up something you may have missed, find a bandage or come up with a unique angle that you would not have come up with yourself.
If you don’t want to become a partner up on the project, that’s fine. You can still have them team up with you to brainstorm as long as you return the favor.back to menu ↑
Reverse brainstorming can work in two ways. The first is to visualize the result you want to achieve and then work back to the beginning. For example, if you want to write a blog post, your reverse thinking timeline will look something like this depending on how you write:
Respond to Comments Publish Post Format Post Write Post Create an outline of post titleWrite
This technique will help you focus on areas you may take for granted and highlight anything you may have missed. In the example above, you may realize that you didn’t pay attention to the formatting of the message and now know you have to.
The second way is to ask yourself the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. First ask yourself “How do I achieve these results?” and then ask “How do I achieve the exact opposite?”
Let’s take this blog post as an example. When brainstorming the ideas for this post, I wanted to make this post exceptional. So I asked myself, ‘How can I make this post great?’ I drew up a blank. I spent an hour reviewing my sketch for this post to find out how to make it great.
Then I decided to ask myself, ‘How can I make this post mediocre?’ The answer was staring me straight in the face – for this question as well as for the one above. I could make this post mediocre simply by editing the tips and techniques for brainstorming and not giving examples and not showing them how to use these tipsback to menu ↑
Group sessions are great for picking up ideas from the past that have you stuck. If you’re stuck with a particular part of your project, a group brainstorming session can be your ticket to clarity. The people in your group bring their own experience and knowledge to help you find ideas to solve your problem.
It is not necessary for the group members to be from the same field as you. As long as they have a rudimentary understanding of what you are trying to solve, their ideas can be invaluable.
Sometimes even input from someone who has no idea what you’re talking about can help. Encourage them to ask questions and suggest any idea that comes to their mind – even if it seems weird. A beginner’s perspective on your problem may be just what you need to find a solution.back to menu ↑
Asking questions is a great way to come up with ideas and answers to your problems. Use prompters such as what, where, who, when, and how.
Suppose you are creating a website for a dentist, ask “Who is the customer?” The answer will be people who have problems with their teeth. Then ask, ‘What are their problems? To which you answer ‘Toothaches, cavities, dentures, etc.’, and so on, until you have all the information you need.back to menu ↑
Set a time limit
Setting a time limit is a great technique if you’ve taken too long or haven’t been able to brainstorm. It forces you to focus and come up with as many ideas as possible in the given time.
The duration of the time limit depends on you. The limit should be short enough to instill a sense of urgency, but long enough to capture all of your ideas. If you are trying this technique for the first time, start with 10 minutes.
For larger projects, divide your tasks into small pieces and then brainstorm them one at a time. This way, you will not feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of the project.back to menu ↑
A SWOT analysis is an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your project. By performing a SWOT analysis, you get a clear picture of what you have, what you need, what you can respond to and what you need to improve.
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The great thing about brainstorming is the lack of rules. It all depends on you. If you are a list maker, you can brainstorm through it freely. If you are a chart fan then you are more than welcome to go wild with printed or virtual charts.
All you need to do before brainstorming is:
Identify and Work the Problem Set up rules for your brainstorming session (how many people per group in case of group sessions, time limit, etc.) Understand there is no such thing as a bad or stupid idea. How do you brainstorm and what is your favorite brainstorming technique?back to menu ↑
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