What do the best entrepreneurs and the best content marketers have in common? They come up with a lot of bad ideas in the content creation process.
- George Steinbrenner bankrupted a small basketball team before successfully managing the New York Yankees for 37 years.
- Arianna Huffington, the owner of The Huffington Post, had her second book idea rejected by 36 publishers.
- Before co-founding LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman created an online dating site, SocialNet, that ultimately failed.
Marketers and writers who struggle with coming up with content ideas have a fear of coming up with bad ideas. The ones who are successful wear them as a badge of honor.
Seth Godin, marketing expert and author of 17 books, puts it best:
“The problem is that you can’t have good ideas unless you’re willing to generate a lot of bad ones.”
Here are the logical reasons why you should finish this blog, grab a pen and write down 20 of the worst ideas anyone has ever heard:
Fear of Bad Ideas Limits Your Creativity
We’ve talked about the science of idea generation before, but indulge me with one last study. Stanford University studied the brain activity of participants as they were asked to draw a series of pictures based on action words (they were basically playing Pictionary, yay science!). Then the pictures were rated for their creativity.
They found that when participants ranked the word as difficult, the area of the brain associated with thinking was active, and their drawings were ranked as less creative. When the participants ranked the word as easy, the part of the brain associated with movement and creativity was activated, and their drawings were ranked as more creative.
Manish Saggar, the study’s lead author, summarized the findings: “The more you think about it, the more you mess it up.”
Fear of Bad Ideas Limits Your Output
We’ve all heard of “paralysis by analysis.” While you are thinking about your one idea and how it isn’t good enough for your audience, another content marketer already has 5-10 ideas to weed through.
You have a limited amount of time in your day and a limited amount of creative power to draw on. Spending that time critiquing or limiting your ideas before you’ve even given them a chance to develop is a surefire way to end the day with no ideas.
To go back to Seth Godin, “Waiting for the thing that cannot be improved (and cannot be criticized) keeps us from the beginning. Merely begin.”
Fear of Bad Ideas Limits Your Insights
The problem you might have with bad ideas is thinking that once you hit publish, that is the last chance you’ll ever have to develop or improve that content. Blog posts can be edited. Social media posts can be taken down.
Marc Chesley, CTO of the marketing automation software Infusionsoft, has a favorite saying: “Version one is better than version none.”
“I can always fix a mistake, I can’t fix a non-decision. Many times people wait until everything is ‘perfect.’ Well, perfect never happens. Get okay with that. Perfect is the enemy of good enough.”
You lose very little by creating a bad piece of content. Unless you offend a group of people or put a swear word on a 50-foot billboard, the backlash from your ho-hum blog post or whitepaper is mostly going to be crickets. So what is the downside to not posting it? You don’t learn anything.
Your content creation strategy should always be a work in progress.
We have published content on the nDash site that we would never dream of publishing now. The reason we know not to is that we tried it, saw limited success, learned from it, and slowly grew our content to be even stronger.
I spoke about the dangers of thinking too much about your content ideas, and I stand by that. But when it comes to your content strategy, that’s where the thinking comes in. In order to create a well-targeted and thought-out content strategy, you need the insights that come from creating a lot of content.
Some of the ideas you’ll move forward with will be bad. Some of the content you write will be bad. But all of it will serve to improve your content marketing as a whole. Don’t fear bad content ideas – embrace them.
Okay, now head to Twitter and give me 5 blog ideas worse than:
- “What Bob Villa Can Teach You About B2B Marketing”
- “Using Social Media Posts to Raise Your Children”
- “Why 50 Word Blogs Are the Future of Marketing”
- “How and Why You Should Buy Ad Space on the Moon”
- “Do Rug Colors Affect Productivity?”
Hmm…those aren’t bad.
Once you get your bad ideas flowing, check out our new whitepaper on the content creation process, “Fill Your Content Calendar in Under an Hour: The No-Nonsense Guide to Idea Generation.”