I'm trying something different today. I usually leave the how-to technical boring stuff to other people. Writing about this kind of thing usually doesn't interest me.

But this week I conducted my first survey here at Ridiculously Extraordinary and the results have been a little bit mind-blowing. One of the suggestions I got (more than once) was to include more step-by-step hand-holding technical type information on this blog. If today goes well I will consider doing this more often.

If you got the survey it's because you're in a not-so-secret club. ;)

There is a lot of online survey software out there.

The most popular seems to be SurveyMonkey.com. Which, for the version I'd want to use, is $20/month. And even that only allows 1,000 responses/month. Seriously? Come on.

Free Surveys With Google Docs!

Which is where Google Docs saves the day!

I'll be honest with you, I have a love/hate relationship with Google Docs. What I hate is the formatting gets really jacked up if you save a document and then open it in OpenOffice or Word. What I love is almost everything else. :)

I especially love the Forms feature.

There are a myriad uses for Google Docs Forms, but today we're going to focus on surveys.

Surveying your audience is a great way to figure out what they want from you. Say you're stuck on what kind of product to create. Run a survey! Maybe you're out of blog post ideas? Run a survey! Looking for feedback about your site/products? Run a suvey!

Using Surveys For Infoproduct Creation Ideas

Back in the days when Google Adwords wasn't such a beast we used to use surveys to figure out what kind of niche products to create.

The idea was simple: run a Google Adwords campaign on some topic, say dog training. The landing page would be a 1 question survey: "What is your biggest problem with training your dog?" (and variations on that theme)

It would cost maybe a few hundred dollars in Google Adwords spending to get a ton of awesome questions.

Then we'd compile all the relevant questions, get the answers, and BOOM, instant infoproduct. :)

You can use this exact same strategy now, but a better bet would be to use Facebook Ads, Yahoo Search Marketing, Microsoft AdCenter, Plenty of Fish ads,  or any other ad system that doesn't hate 1 page landing pages and is still comparatively low cost.

Step By Step Survey Creation

I've been wanting to run a survey here for a very long time, but it wasn't until Day 26 of the EBK that I got the kick in the pants I needed to actually do it.

So on Monday I ran a survey about the future of RidiculouslyExtraordinary.com, including future premium products and future free articles.

This is how I did it.

Step 1) Go to Google Docs: http://www.google.com/docs

Step 2) Click on Create New > Form:

Step 3) Give the Form a name:

Step 4) Create the first question:

Step 5) Now, assuming you selected a multiple choice, checkboxes, or choose from a list question type offer up some choices:

As you can see this part offers you a few extra options. Click "add Other" to give people the option to suggest their own answer instead of using one of your stock answers. Then check "Make this a required question" if you want to force people to answer this question. (The survey won't submit if the question isn't answered.)

Click Done when you've finished with your options.

Step 6) If you want to do more than a 1 question survey click Add Item:

Then select what type of question. All very simple.

Step 7) Repeat Step 4 - 6 until you're done with all your questions. The shorter the survey the more people will finish it. The longer the survey the more detail you can get out of each person. How you decide to tackle it is completely up to you.

Step 8 - Optional) Select a new Theme to give your form some kind of design other than plain white.

The default theme is plain, but Google has a few dozen theme designs for you to choose from if you'd like.

Step 9) Click on More Actions > Embed:

Step 10) Copy your Embed code and past it into a new Wordpress blog post.

That's it!

The Finished Product

Now just send your visitors to that blog post like this:

http://www.RidiculouslyExtraordinary.com/survey-time/

That is the survey I sent out earlier this week. If you want to help me shape the future of RidiculouslyExtraordinary.com please fill it out. It's completely anonymous.

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