As an Expert Author juggling your business and personal goals, it’s not easy to come up with an original article idea on the spot. Under the circumstances, you do your best with the resources and time you have. After all, you know the importance of maintaining a connection with your audience and you have an article deadline to meet.
Pressed for time, you stick to writing what you know: The standards of your niche.
But there’s one problem … Dozens of experts in your niche may also know what you know. Stuck, you exasperatedly exclaim:
“There are no new ideas! How am I expected to write anything new when everything has already been done?”
That’s a myth. There are tons of ideas waiting to be discovered. And you can discover them in the same manner Johannes Gutenberg rethought the printing press around 1440, which would influence the Age of Enlightenment and centuries later cause Mark Twain to say, “What the world is today, good and bad, it owes it to Gutenberg.”
You rethink an idea. You focus your creativity. You think critically. You problem solve. You use your own experiences to dust off old ideas, polish them into insightful articles, and make an impact that’s original and authoritative.
Challenges You Face
If you’re following any number of websites on your personal social media or are signed up for email newsletters, you see the daunting task before you: idea churn. What’s idea churn? It’s the Internet machine that agitates and turns out the same topics, but in different packages. When you look for it, it’s easy to recognize on many websites: A leading authority makes a ground breaking statement that resonates. Within hours, everyone begins publishing their version of the statement after seeing the waves it makes with readers. You’ve likely seen some variant of these titles from a variety of sources:
- Ways Successful People Think Differently
- What You Should (or Shouldn’t Say) in an Interview/On the Job/Etc.
- The Relationship Advice You Need
I’m sure you can rattle off 5-10 themes specific to your niche that are overdone on the Internet. It’s the nature of the business, which has been going on long before websites were developed and the Internet was born. Readers clamor after the same topics during particular stages in their lives and careers because they need to allay their fears, meet their needs, satisfy their wants, and achieve satisfaction. Authors and publishers know this because they have proof in their data. While each of these articles and their variants no doubt contain original approaches, stories, and more – the core facts are rarely new or ground breaking.
It’s in the message – the impact the author has on the reader – that makes it successful.
Reinventing the Wheel
You can be a game changer in your niche by improving your message with original content. Establish these three methods into your writing routine to build bigger, better ideas. As soon as you reflexively begin passing your original ideas on to your audience, you’ll have made a huge leap toward greater authority and improved exposure.
Make idea generation and writing a priority. If you don’t make time, you won’t have time.
Avoid the trap that ideas will come to you. You have to go after them. Idea generation is not sustainable without dedicated time for reflection and the act of writing.
Many people get disheartened because writing begins to feel like an undesirable chore, so they give up or put it off. Don’t quit. In fact, do the opposite: Write a huge body of work that explores every aspect of your niche, discloses your personal reflections on how trends affect your readers, changes the perspectives, asks new questions, and much more. Look for that special thing that marks your content as uniquely you to build credibility (and in turn, increase your exposure). Don’t hold yourself back by striving for perfection for each and every article – you, your style, and your audience will grow with each article. Just write!
Open up to creativity and curiosity by admitting three difficult words.
People tend to think creativity is about spontaneity – that spark of inspiration that spontaneously combusts in your mind and possesses you to crank out an article in under an hour. Creativity is rethinking an idea and reshaping it from a new perspective. Creativity is also asking strange and difficult questions. Creativity is thinking macro and micro. Creativity is admitting you’ve reached the edge of your knowledge. Creativity is admitting you don’t know.
In their book, Think Like a Freak, authors Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt explain those three little words, “I don’t know,” are the most difficult to admit. You may think, “I’m supposed to be the expert – readers are counting on me to know. If I admit that I don’t know, then I’ll lose face. I’d rather fake it to make it, than lose credibility.” Here’s the issue: By failing to admit that you don’t know and only sticking to what you know may be wasting tons of your time, money, and resources. Not to mention, you risk more embarrassment if you make the wrong assumption while faking it. Levitt touched on this point in his recent Freakonomics’ podcast:
“Think about it. It might keep your job for another week or another month, it might make people think you are good, but that’s not the point. I mean what fun is life if all you do is go through life trying to fake that you are something that you are not when really the goal is to be good, and to improve, and to learn, and to make things better. And the only way to do that is to start by saying I don’t know. And when I don’t know, I don’t know.”*
There’s safety in writing what you know, but do you know whether it’s actually working for you and attracting your audience? Have you tested it? There’s major opportunity in discovering new information. Break new ground. Test new strategies. Allow your topics to spill over into different facets of life and into other niches. Try new approaches to reach your audience. Your curiosities will lead you to new information in which you will be the primary source, leading everyone else.
Know when to stop! If you feel like you’re repeatedly charging at your idea like a battering ram, then stop. It’s not going to make the idea reveal itself to you.
A while back, I found myself watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory. The character Sheldon was stuck while trying to work out a physics theory. He tries a number of experiments that don’t work, such as placing dozens of marbles on the floor (much to the dismay of his roommate) or sitting in a children’s ball pit. He’s at his wits end when it dawns on him that he should perform a menial task to take his mind off the problem and it will reveal itself to him when he’s not looking. So he picks up a job clearing dishes from tables while letting this problem sit in the back of his mind. While carrying a tray of dirty dishes, Sheldon is distracted by another character and drops the tray. A look of awe and recognition overcomes him as he sees the answer for which he was searching in the array of broken dishes.
Here’s the moral of the story: Don’t focus so hard on the problem that you can’t see the solution. Change your tactic. Do something else. Wash the dishes, drop off the mail, play a puzzle, go to the park, read an article, or watch the news. Be a sponge that absorbs your environment and is in the moment doing other things. You’ll be surprised when that idea you’re looking for finds you.
Don’t Stand Still
Dismiss the myth that there are no new ideas. What readers want is always changing. The world of article writing and content marketing is always growing. You can either go with the flow by reiterating the same old ideas or you can direct the flow by generating new ideas. Use the above strategies to achieve the latter and begin building your authority in your niche. Who knows? Someday, another great author may say this of you: “What the world is today, good and bad, it owes it to [insert your name here].”
How do you ensure you aren’t writing the same ideas over and over again? How do you develop new ideas? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!
* Dubner, Stephen and Steve Levitt (2014 May 15). The Three Hardest Words in the English Language (Transcript). Retrieved May 19, 2014, from Freakonomics.com
PS: I have a confession – I’m a huge fan of the 15 Busting Myths in Your Niche Article Templates our editors created. The idea for this post was inspired by the There Are No New Ideas Myth Article Template. As soon as I reviewed this template, my mind leaped to that old complaint by many frustrated authors who write into us and I had to jot this down as a reminder to share with you: “Original? How?! Everything’s already been written on the Internet. What chance do I have to make it?!”
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