Be Original

" It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. " - Herman Melville There has been a huge increase in th...

Be Original

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
- Herman Melville



There has been a huge increase in the number of advice posts popping up in the blogging community, most of which discuss everything from how to increase readership numbers to photography tips to how-to guides on becoming a "popular blogger." What has followed has been an increase in the number of blogs that look and feel the same: identikit blogs void of personality and originality in an attempt to achieve "blogger success."

One thing the community seems to be missing is the urgency to create exciting, unique content that doesn't feel the need to buy into the popularity contest and chase reader numbers by following "winning formulas" and replicating familiar content. We need creators who write and produce work they feel passionate about in a style that is their own.

Overlaps happen: We move in tight circles and gain inspiration from similar sources but sometimes influence turns into imitation. While "there is no such thing as an original idea," there are definitely ways of presenting old ideas in original ways. Developing your own individual style is the only way to stand out. Be confident of yourself, your talents, and the way you create.


Be easily identifiable | From your writing to your photography style
Be consistent | Everything you do online should look and feel the same
Keep it simple | Focus on a few key elements and hone them
Don't try to replicate | There is no originality in reproduction
Discover and develop | Discover your aesthetic style and work on it


Be Original

"Trying to follow a formula, script or tactic to get more traffic, sales or followers never works in the long run because it screams inauthenticity... Copying what others did to gain success just makes you sound like an echo instead of a voice."
- Paul Jarvis



It's time to stop reading posts about "how to have a popular blog" or "how to gain more readers" and start doing things differently, in your own way, and in your own unique style. Experiment with photography styles, write about new subjects and unexplored content; be brave, take risks, and stop worrying about the numbers. Blogging is not a job but it can create job opportunities from the skills you showcase on them - copying content isn't a desirable trait but originality is.


Read less | Limit the blogs you read (especially the "most popular" ones)
Write more | Develop your own authentic style
Teach yourself | Photography skills and the value of a personal aesthetic
Stop analysing | Ignore the stats and readership numbers
Don't mimic | Don't try to replicate successful content
Have confidence | In your unique content and writing style
Ask questions | Is this what I want to create? Am I proud of this?
Explore | Read outside of your blog niche for fresh opinions
Develop | Curate your personal style and develop it over time
Experiment, express, inspire, and share


Originality comes only through producing content in a unique, personal style. Replicating someone else's aesthetic won't give you success and chasing popularity, instead of working hard on achieving something worthwhile, won't make you happy.

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71 SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  1. Bravo! Finally a post that provides some deeper thoughts on successful blogging. THANK YOU!

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  2. Shanna Madrazo8/09/2014

    Yes! I agree! It's a bore to see so many "twin" posts going around. Always the same topics, style and even personality! Thank you for sharing this

    Shanna | http://www.mycurvesandlashes.blogspot.co.uk

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  4. Whilst I mostly agree with you, I think that LLYMLRS' "advice" of just completely ignoring blogger advice is probably the best way forward. I know that's kind if what you were touching in here, but I just feel like advice on how to run your blog (in any form) isn't something that needs worrying about.

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  5. You are so right. I think we just need to do things our own way and enjoy it. There's something about taking all this "advice" that becomes people pleasing. ps-I love Steal Like and Artist because he's willing to be politically incorrect. We all want to think we are originals but there is probably someone creating something similar to us :)

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  6. i like this a lot! when i first started blogging i feel like my style would constantly change to be more like the popular blogs i read, but now i feel like i'm developing my own original style.
    x www.staygoldrebecca.com

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  7. This a great post! I've been reading quite a lot posts lately about how to become a successful blogger - not even because I feel the urge to be that popular, but because I love to read and happen to came across it - and sometimes I can tell that I'm trying to fit in way too hard. Definitely will keep this post in mind next time I write a post, thank you!


    Jimmy | http://amsterdaily.wordpress.com

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  8. If I had a printer, I'd print this post out and pin it to my wall next to where I usually write my blog posts so I always remember what's important. The first thing I'm going to do now is cut down on the numbers of blogs I read. Then, I'm probably going to stick something over my stats because I can't stand looking at them anymore.
    My personal style is a little bit of a problem as English is not my first language but I hope I can manage.
    Photography-wise I'm a bit at loss. I have a question for you in that regard, Sophie, if you don't mind: Do you use a lightbox? I'd love to get a bit of insight on your camera setup. Your pictures are so clear and beautiful, it's impressive!
    I also think it's impressive that you manage to produce such high quality content on a daily basis - I don't think I could do that! And there I am, comparing myself to others again. Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think this is exactly what I needed today! Have a nice day!
    Elina | missblueeyes.com

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  9. Great post! While it's much easier to go the cookie-cutter route, it's much more rewarding to go your own way and make mistakes and learn about yourself while doing your own thing. And there has been an influx of blogging advice posts lately. I wonder if it's a seasonal thing? :)

    PS that book is great. By far the best advice in it is that we should all take more naps.

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  10. This is a great post! And it's all so true. I love the quote you used. x



    http://www.thoughtsinstyle.com/

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  11. I agree; My favorite blogs are the ones that have a clear voice to them and seem really authentic. The things you listed are things that I try to achieve with my online presence especially being easily identifiable and defining an aesthetic--my brain is pretty all of the place so as a result I have to do some extra refining when it comes to the content I create.


    xHaley

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  12. This is such a great post! And I also feel it close because my blog was inspired by Austn Kelon's book, though I'm still working on my originality,

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  13. Bravo! Well said. :]

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  14. Having a very little readership is something that brings me down sometimes, it brings me back to high school and the feeling of not being good enough if that makes any sense. I think this is a grate post you're right just be yourself.

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  15. Grace Dalton8/10/2014

    Love this - I'm definitely tired of seeing "How to gain a following" types of posts. Great post!

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  16. Dressed with soul8/10/2014

    Thank you! Your wonderful post confirms me to continue my kind of blogging :)
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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  17. What a great post, Sophie! It is so easy to get lost in the blogosphere, trying to please everyone and gain readership, that we forget why we even started to blog in the first place. It is not an easy thing than to find our own voices but it is worth the effort of trying. I am constantly working on my personal voice, and when I feel like I am starting to sound like another blogger I read, I stop and refocus. It's a constant battle. Hopefully one day it will come easily! You clearly have found yours! Love your posts!

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  18. Jessica Johansen8/10/2014

    This is fantastic, Sophie, and what an important post! I feel like more and more blogs are looking the same nowadays, with their owners vying for the attention of brands and the masses, rather than trying to grow a loyal readership by being helpful and original. Everyone should read this! Thanks for the advice, too!

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  19. I'm glad you enjoyed it and the post was received well

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  20. I think, so long as we are truly happy with what we are writing, then that's OK. But I do think there is a lot of writing for the sake of "being successful."

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  21. This was totally my point; "blogging advice" is counterintuitive. The "advice" I offered above is on originality and can to be applied to anything, not just blogging. But blogging advice is a weird one, I rarely see anything of substance offered. Surely blogging is about doing our own thing? I think too many pin hopes of a job on their blog.

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  22. People pleasing is exactly the term I would apply to it.

    Steal Like an Artist is AMAZING and I also read Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod, which is one of the best creative books I have ever read. I think a lot of people (myself included) would benefit from reading these two books.

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  23. Original and personal style is the best thing.


    You can't stand out if you try to be the same as everyone else :))

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  24. I really enjoy reading your blog and I think you offer something very few others do. It's hard to resist writing posts to "fit in" with the blogging community (I'm sure we have all done it at some point, I know I probably have) but it's really important to stick to remember why we started blogging and keep pushing in the direction that is unique to us.

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  25. I am super pleased you loved this post so much.


    Regarding the photography questions: I get asked this a lot and it's really simple, I use a white background - ANY white background - and I use natural light, then I edit the photographs to achieve a smooth evenly lit photograph. I do not use a lightbox or any other equipment. The most important part of photography is the editing, in my opinion, oh and the natural ability to have "the eye" for pleasing photographs.


    Thank you so much for your lovely comments, it really means a lot.

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  26. I think it's a trend that is likely to stick around; there has definitely been a shift towards advice posts. I have no problem with advice blogs, I read a lot of them for my business BUT I only take advice from people I know I can trust - like professionals. I wouldn't ask a film critic to review a restaurant for me, so why would I take business advice from an 18 year old?

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  27. Thank you so much for reading

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  28. I have no interest in reading five blogs that all look and feel the same, I want to read blogs with a clear, distinct personality that gives me something to think about, laugh at, or feel involved in.

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  29. It's an on-going process; I've spent the last few years developing personal style both for my business and, as of last year, my blog. It's not something we achieve overnight :))

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  30. Don't let it! You are not your numbers, it means nothing. Your success isn't hinged on how many readers you have. Forget about it and just CREATE.

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  31. People pleasing is something I loathe, it's a terrible trait to have and I think we all, at some point, suffer from it.


    There will always be similarities between what bloggers write and photograph and that's OK, crossovers are fine. It's when we see the same content being regurgitated time and time again that is becomes tedious and boring. Where is the inspiration?

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  32. I do really need to limit the blogs I read, but working all week I come to thurs/fri and have hundreds to catch-up with :( i think we all are still finding our styles and what we like to write about, and this is helping my boost my thoughts at the moment about blogging etc :)
    Lauren x

    Britton Loves | Fashion Lifestyle + Photography - www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk

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  33. again a great post sophie! Really need to but that book!

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  34. Great points! Thanks for sharing!

    Saska
    workthathealth.blogspot.com

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  35. There is just so much truth in this blogpost. It's a constant struggle to not lose your own, unique voice because it's so easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be one of the 'inner blogosphere circle'. You kind of want to be heard like they are being heard so it's easy to believe you have to copy the most popular blogs instead of following your own path.


    www.cosmiccloudcadet.com

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  36. Katy Donnelly8/10/2014

    I think this raises some good points about originality, as, particularly when a new product is revealed (with big PR sample hype of course) blogs have a tendency to become identical for a few weeks as people scramble to produce their reviews. Originality and uniqueness are certainly important to me, I like to think that with my blog that comes through my writing which is idiotic and incredibly 'me.'

    However I'd like to respectfully call you out on just two points. Firstly, I think reading more and more blogs is the best thing that can be done. I would agree that's reading too many 'identikit' blogs gets dull, however there are hundreds of unique and inspiring blogs out there; these should be embraced, though not imitated which is what I think you meant by that point. Secondlyo while I fully agree with the personal aesthetic point (something I enjoy about blogs such as yours and From Roses for example, with the colour pallette and photographic style continuing throughout) I think photographic skills in general aren't necessary to have a great blog. Bloggers nowadays are expected to be a 'triple threat' of magazine level photographers, professional layout designers and insightful writers, which I just don't think is positive. Most bloggers don't have the necessary DSLR to use these photographical skills, therefore I will always think content and writing style are far more important.

    Well written post though! I enjoyed it :)

    Katydesu.blogspot.co.uk

    Katy xx

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  37. You raise some really interesting points, Katy, thank you so much for taking the time to post such an insightful comment.


    Personally, I think a balance needs to be struck between reading some blogs and reading too many. I sway wildly between reading so many I can't keep up to cutting right back to three or four. "Too many" is subjective; my current blogroll has at least a hundred or so blogs - is that too many? Not enough? Some people might say 100+ is too many while others think it's more around 500 when the overload happens. So, yes, actually I agree with you on that point. Ultimately it doesn't really matter how many blogs you read, so long as you keep true to your own personal voice and style.


    In regards to photography, again I do agree with you in some respect. I don't think a DSLR is required to take good photographs and I didn't intend for it to come across that way. I take photographs on my phone and I doubt anyone could tell the difference between them. What I really meant was photography style; images are important, there is no denying that, but that doesn't mean they all have to look the same nor have the same 'quality.' I'm more interested in seeing people try new things than try to achieve "perfection" in their photography. However, I am very aesthetic minded, design is incredibly important to me, so I do prefer to read blogs by people who have "the eye" for taking photographs (and I think this is true, unfortunately, for the community and our culture at large) but that doesn't mean I would stop reading someone's blog based on that element alone - like you said, the writing is far more important. What good are pretty pictures without solid content?


    Thank you so much for your contribution, Katy.

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  38. "You want to be heard like they are being heard."


    So perfectly said.

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  39. Thanks for reading, Saska!

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  40. I think it is spot on the thoughts I have been having. Trying to find my own unique voice, photography, and style will take time and probably some good amount of blogging, but I think it is worth it in the long run and makes my blogging experience more enjoyable.

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  41. Elizabeth Murdock8/10/2014

    Great post! I loved it xx
    fashionismyfirstlanguage.blogspot.ie

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  42. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply on all the comments! Indeed, it will happen at least once or twice.

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  43. Thank you for reading, Elizabeth

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  44. Victoria Barnett8/10/2014

    Thanks for the great tips. New blogger and this helped a lot! Love your blog. :)

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  45. Emily Shaw8/10/2014

    Loved this post. I had been thinking the same; images, layout and content all looks so similar! Great tips... reassuring as a new blogger!

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  46. I'm glad someone came out and said it. I think it's fairly obvious when a blogger has read one too many of those "how to" posts especially when it comes to their writing style. It's such a shame to see bloggers who are just starting out completely lose their voice and personality just because they're trying to gain readers. Personally I'm more likely to read and follow a blog that has personality rather than just another generic one.

    www.raisethewaves.blogspot.com

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  47. Great post Sophie and I couldn't agree more. There seems to be a lot of blogs lately that are trying to emulate the bigger bloggers rather than letting their own personality and style shine through, which is a real shame but I got caught up in that too when I first started blogging.

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  48. that really is true. I think a lot of people end up burning out because they are concentrating on th wrong thing. I would really love more posts like these in the future :)

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  49. I was beginning to feel alone until I read this. It is what i do both on HotelDesigns in writing about interiors, and on my personal creativity blog at Goff Goofs Off (http://goffgoofsoff.com/). Trouble is that taking this apporach can be a very lonely path

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  50. True, it can, but I think it's important nevertheless.

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  51. It's easy to do; when you first start blogging in a specific genre, you always end up reading the "big names." Now I hunt around for the new people because they tend to offer a lot of original content.

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  52. It's frustrating to see bloggers offering "advice" on blogging including marketing because (this sounds awfully mean but..) what do they know? They don't work in marketing, they've mostly just started blogging, and also: does blogging really need to be explained? It's pretty easy stuff. Seeing advice posts on "what to blog about" just makes me think if you're reading those posts and you don't have ideas of your own, why are you blogging?

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  53. There is a lot of copying formulas to try to "make it big" and mostly the blogs pale in comparison. I'm more interested in seeing someone do something different than an identikit blog.

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  54. Glad you enjoyed the post, Victoria!

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  55. allenrobinson6135118/13/2014

    just as Leonard answered I am taken by surprise that a single mom can make $7907 in a few weeks on the internet . check source ............. web site---------WARPJOBS.COM

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  56. Just wanted to say that I really love your blog and the content you produce!
    It's so different from everything else I know and I find myself always looking forward to your posts!

    I'm having my own little blog and I've always struggled on this topic since I felt that my own ideas are hard to grasp for other people---

    but you're a huge inspiration and I try to keep true to myself!!
    Thanks for this thoughtful blog post!

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  57. so true...it's very hard to be true and original, and it does feel easier to conform, with the illusion that it might help in reaching out to a wider audience. It doesn't work though, does it? ;-) above all, I really can't stand to not be true to myself!

    Great post, I'll definitely be exploring your blog

    xx Sara

    saraekali.blogspot.com

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  58. akanekinomoto8/14/2014

    This is so so true. It can be that only 10 people look at my blog, but at least I'm making them a little bit happier!

    Thank you for this, sometimes it's easy to forget it... =)

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  59. chrisylla9/01/2014

    Your advice def got me. I used to be "that girl" who worried about numbers, followers, and likes. I soon realized that it doesn't make me happy or satisfied. If money, freebies, and followers are the only things that encourage you to blog then it won't last very long. I love to write, stating opinions, and photography. I enjoy doing those things, and I know that I should focus more on the content that I create instead of "how many readers do I have today?" or "My blog should look like her blog."


    Thanks for the reminder :)


    xo
    www.colorsinmybubble.blogspot.com

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  60. Thank you so much! Your comments mean a lot.

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  61. Thank you so much, Sara

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  62. I'm glad my post helped! :))

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  63. If you blog, the only thing that really makes you happy is producing quality you're proud of. No amount of money or freebies will make you feel good about your blog :))

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  64. I needed to read this today, I really really did. I also love Austins blog and books :)
    Today I wan questioning everything to do with blogging and my blog, but reading this, I'm doing ok because I'm almost happy with my blog,

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  65. Thank you for this post. My friend and I started a blog only 3 weeks ago and it's difficult not to obsesses over how many people visited us and what was the bounce rate. But at the same time writing, taking photos and producing the end result makes me feel so happy, it really overshadows everythung else.
    Ana
    www.champagnegirlsabouttown.co.uk

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  66. I really needed this. Lately I've been getting all my inspiration from other blogs or other people. Now, instead, I'm going to look within myself. Thank you so much! xx

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  67. Ksenija11/09/2014

    This is by far the best post about blogging I have ever read! Absolutely to the point. I am happy I found your blog

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  68. I have been chewing over this problem for a few weeks and now I just happen to stumble across this post. Thank you for this, it has strengthened me in my belief that I have to start going my own way in blogging.

    xo Elise

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