All of us need ideas.
We need ideas for blog posts, new products or services, and even ideas of what to eat.
There are times when inspirational bolts of lightning strike us, when we have unexplainable hunches, or when we simmer on an idea for years.
Now, when it comes to having an idea for doing something new, you don’t need any idea.
You need a good idea worth pursuing.
This might sound simple, but it’s a crippling thought for many people. The fear of potentially doing something new or significant stops many people in their tracks.
This might be you.
Instead of pursuing your dream, you’re sitting in a seat of self-doubt:
“What if no one likes what I have to say?”
“What if people don’t sign up?”
“What if no one shares this with their friends?”
“What if this turns out to be a complete waste of time?”
“What if no one cares?”
I totally get this.
I regularly fight with a tremendous fear of writing.
Regardless of whether I’m writing a tweet, blog post, email, or book, I have to punch fear in the face every time I sit down to write, edit, and publish anything.
Often, we do not act upon our ideas. Whether we think they’re bad, will be a flop, or that other people will think they’re terrible, fear often paralyzes us from moving forward.
But what if I told you there are simple ways you can test your ideas? A way you can know whether or not people will care about what you have to offer before you go public with an official launch.
No, I’m not a magician or crazy. There are many ways you can test your ideas to see if they’re worth pursuing. Here are five ways you can tell whether or not you have a good idea.
1. Social media
Social media is a great way to receive instantaneous feedback from people.
To see how well your idea resonates with people, average the number of likes, shares, or comments you normally receive per update on the social media platform you’re using.
Now, in comparison to your average engagement, how does your idea measure up? In general, the answer to this question will help you know if your idea is worth developing further.
Don’t lose heart if you share one update and don’t receive the type of engagement you had hoped for. Continue to share your idea. Isolate your variables: Experiment with different copy, use different images, and post at various times during the day to name a few suggestions.
2. Blog posts, videos, or podcasts
Writing a blog post is even more useful than social media when it comes to testing your ideas.
Writing a blog post or series of blog posts will help you clarify your thoughts, see how your readers respond to your ideas and help you begin developing an audience around your ideas.
This tactic will not be tremendously useful when first building your platform, but the more you write, the more your audience will grow and provide feedback to your content.
For some of you, the primary channel you use to share your ideas and reach people is a podcast or vlog. If this is the case, then the advice for writing blog posts is applicable to recording podcasts or videos, too.
3. Google Analytics
Google Analytics can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be, and I don’t believe you need to be certified to maximize it’s potential.
When reviewing your analytics, you only need to ask two questions:
- Does your idea receive more pageviews per month?
- Do readers spend more time on your post or page?
From these two questions, a common theme will begin to emerge. You will see what content people are consuming on your website. This will help you to understand best what’s resonating with your audience, which proved to be the case during my time as the content manager for a non-profit organization.
During my tenure, we always had an idea of what topics resonated best with our audience. However, it wasn’t until we thoroughly reviewed our analytics that we couldn’t ignore how well a particular theme was hitting home with our audience.
So, we engaged our social media followers with a question about this theme — e.g., “What would you like to know about ___?”
Our social media following did not disappoint. They shared multiple ideas.
From the list of responses we received, we identified the most common themes and then we created blog posts in response to these questions.
The results did not disappoint.
Due in large part to these blog posts, we experienced the most visits to our website during a one month period, which exceeded 1.5 million pageviews. This simple exercise helped us to create a significant amount of brand impressions for the organization.
If you’re just getting started as a blogger, then Google Analytics will not provide you with a ton of useful information at first. As you publish new content, you will gradually see what topics people engage with the most. Keep an eye on your pageviews and time on the specific post or page you’re monitoring.
Is your content being linked to? If so, then this is one of the best indicators that your idea is valid. Take academic papers, for instance.
The level of authority an academic paper is attributed is based on the quantity and quality of references it receives from other academic papers. Numerous, high-quality references indicate that the paper possesses a high level of authority in its field. This is also true for creating content online.
Individual blog posts, podcasts, and videos that are linked to also indicate that people consider your content valuable. Whether you’re producing educational or entertaining content, a significant vote of confidence is that people choose to link to your material.
You can quickly see who is linking to your content by using Google Webmasters. This tool will let you know who is linking to the content on your website.
Simply asking people what they think about your idea will go a long way.
You can do this face-to-face, on social media, or even use a more formal approach by surveying your online audience with such tools like SurveyMonkey, Wufoo, or Google Forms.
When you survey people, you want to ask questions that will help you understand whether or not the problem your idea solves resonates with the people you are trying to reach.
If you’ve made it this far, then I imagine you have an idea worth pursuing. I encourage you to use one or more of the tactics above to either test your idea or to see what ideas you have shared in the past that have resonated with people.