Stop Debating and Start Testing

December 18th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

It’s amazing the lengths people go through to avoid making a simple mistake. I think the reason is that we’re so conditioned to believe that making a mistake is something bad, so we go overboard in trying to avoid making mistakes altogether — to the point of being unintelligent about it.

There are a number of reasonable risks to be taken where the negative consequences of failure are negligible, but the potential upside is considerable if things work out. That’s the time when it’s often a good idea to dive right in and risk making a mistake, even if it’s probable that you’re wrong.

For example, consider the decision many bloggers face of whether or not to put ads on their blogs. Some bloggers type many words discussing and debating this matter, trying to decide whether or not it’s a good idea for them. Such words are wasted. With programs like Adsense, it’s so easy to just put up some ads and test them in a matter of minutes. Then you can see what kind of feedback and income you’re generating and have all the facts in front of you to make an informed decision. Guesswork, polling, and debate are pointless when it’s so easy to test something and get the facts. If the ads don’t work out as you’d planned, you can remove them within minutes. Just try it for a week and see what happens. Then you’ll know.

For example, by running Adsense ads on this site, I know several things: 1) hundreds of people click on the ads every single day, 2) the ads make me a significant amount of income, 3) that income has been increasing by more than 50% per month for the past 9 months, 4) only a very tiny percentage of people complain about the ads (maybe one complaint a week), 5) traffic is still growing rapidly (40x increase so far this year), and 6) the ads appear to be relevant to the content. I also know how the ads perform in terms of CTR, CPM, weekends vs. weekdays, and other stats.

Given all those facts, the decision to continue showing ads is a no-brainer for me, unless of course someone wants to pay off my mortgage for me.

So on the one hand, I risked running ads for a bit, calling the experiment a failure, and turning them off. That’s the downside. The upside is a free house, free groceries, and free medical insurance for my family, and possibly much more down the road. Hmmm…. tough call, tough call. ;)


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