When you develop something new in your business, don’t make the mistake of dedicating dozens of hours to something until you know there’s a demand for it.

If you ask most online business owners whether there’s been a failure in their past, the answer will always always be no. I have found that some of my biggest failures were when I had this “brilliant” business idea that I spent a lot of time outlining and creating only to find that no one wanted to buy it. Soul-crushing, right?

Putting something out into the world that’s been sparked by your creative process is a really personal thing to do. It can be terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. You have all your hopes and dreams pinned on this workbook, course, ebook, or training selling dozens or hundreds. So what happens when that product sits there and sells nada? All the work you put into it seems for naught even if you know the material you put out was good.

I’ve definitely fallen victim to this. I get visited by a great idea, which when prompts me to drop whatever I’m doing and run with it. Then, after hours of research and prep, it goes live and no one buys. Ouch. It can be so frustrating to go through this, especially when you know the quality is high.

Missing this crucial step of testing your idea could mean lost time and decreased creativity because the next time around, you won’t feel as motivated, even if your idea would be in high demand.

Now, this is not to say you should never create for creativity’s sake. But when you’re introducing profits into the picture, your idea must be something people want. You might be surprised at what your audience wants… and sometimes this is actually different from what they need.

Let me walk you through an example. I have a small audience of freelance writers. I thought I knew what they needed- help creating writing samples. Every time I’d review a student’s sample or put the call out for a project hiring writers, some of the samples coming in were horrible. So imagine my surprise when my audience all said in a survey that they wanted help marketing their business and finding clients.

Knowing this allowed me to help craft a product that accomplished both- because the marketing won’t be successful without great writing samples. But I delivered this in a way that met what my audience was looking for as well as the information I thought they needed, too.

When you’re thinking about a new product, I encourage you to do a few things.

Find What People Are Already Asking

First of all, visit forums and Facebook groups where your ideal customer are at. Facebook has a great search feature in groups to allow you to see what questions people are asking. For example, I might visit an online entrepreneur FB group and type into the search feature “freelance writing.” What would pop up are all the relevant posts associated with that. Free market research, my friends! What kinds of questions are people asking? What are they struggling with? This can help you pinpoint whether there’s demand for your idea.

Don’t Be Someone Lost and Scared to Ask for Directions

The second thing you can do if you already have an audience is really simple. You ready for it? Ask them.

Literally.

Don’t beat around the bush in the name of “Research” and spend hours on Google.

Ask.your.audience.

Give them a reason to fill out a survey (free gift? Personal response from you? Freebie PDF?) and ask them what they MOST need help with. The answers will give you a clear direction about the people who are already following you and more likely to buy from you when compared with a total stranger.

Use a free survey tool like Survey Monkey or Google Forms to capture responses and there you go: your most-requested responses should be your next product.

Sell it Before You Make It

This sounds like a crazy idea, but it’s also genius and it works.

When I first started making courses about freelance writing, I was overwhelmed by the process of making an entire hours-long course. Where the heck to start? I needed some motivation.

As a writer, I’m totally driven by deadlines, so I forced myself to make this product: I sold it to two people before it was even a real thing.

I told them it would be delivered one module at a time each week.

It worked! I knew each week I had to create at least one module to send it to my students, so one piece at a time, my course was sold.

The bonus here? I knew my idea had demand before I created it- I was essentially getting paid to create the content before it was put together.

Pre-selling is a great way to find out if your ideal customer even wants whatever the heck you’re making. A waiting list or pre-sale price point at an all-time low can give you the motivation to create the product and deliver what you said you would.

Those are my top tips for testing your idea. Spending hours down the rabbit hole making something is a creative work of beauty… but your confidence could be rattled if it never sells. Do your research and then create a motivation for you to finish (like pre-selling.)

What’s your idea for your next product?

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