Confession: I’m obsessed with thinking up new and original ideas. Unhealthily obsessed? Maybe. Some time ago, a reader here commented that there’s “nothing new under the sun”. In other words – people have been on this Earth for a long time and nearly every good idea has already been taken. And she was 99% correct. But that remaining 1%? That 1% is what keeps me up at night.
Many bloggers today run successful websites and drive loads of traffic by repackaging and finessing work that sits elsewhere on the web. Take an existing idea, tweak it a bit, slap it on the web, and repeat. This practice is nearly fool-proof in attracting site visitors and wooing search engines. But, it is fool-proof in all ways but one – these bloggers are actually fooling themselves.
In my view, your blog should be an outlet of your brain. Take those one-of-a-kind neurons firing around in that head of yours, and deliver messages that are uniquely yours. Communicate enough unique messages, and before you know it your “personal brand” tends to emerge.
But, if you are simply regurgitating the ideas of others, you aren’t building a personal brand. You are showing that you can turn on a computer, search the web and use copy/paste. You and about 3 billion other people.
What can you do then, to recognize great ideas that are already out there? Lots. Take this article by Naomi Dunford entitled Make Them Love You. THEN Ask For Money. I read it, and instantly loved it. My first instinct wasn’t to steal this idea and repackage it on my blog. My first instinct was to share the hell out of it. In no particular order, I:
- Tweeted a link to it.
- Shared it in Google Reader.
- Bookmarked it to Delicious.
- E-mailed it to a friend.
- Stumbled it.
- Commented on it.
- Vowed to myself I’d find a way to link to it here (check).
Naomi deserved full credit for a superbly intelligent article, and my network deserved to learn from it. Mission accomplished.
Admittedly though, reading brilliant ideas from writers like Naomi does make me jealous for about half a second – until I realize that we all have the same opportunity to stretch our brains and find a bit of our own brilliance. That thought is precisely what keeps me up at night.
Case in point: This article of mine from last year on using QR codes on resumes and business cards seemed to be an utterly crazy idea at the time. I hadn’t seen the idea anywhere else. And when I published it, the post seemed to be a major flop. But strangely enough, fast forward to today and that article of mine gets more Google hits than any other. Being that it was (at least to me) my own original idea, it makes me pretty damn proud.
So, my suggestion to you is this: If you are blogging to build a brand – strive to find ideas that you can claim as yours and nobody else’s. Will you swing and miss at times? Absolutely. But keep in mind that those other content regurgitators are never going to hit one out of the park – but you just might.
What do you think? Am I overvaluing the power of new and original ideas? Or, do you have an original idea of yours that made you particularly proud?