Finding original stuff

Ian Lurie

You know what’s really hard? Finding original stuff to write about.
I’m at my 3rd conference in 4 weeks. The presenters are great. And the attendees who are hearing it for the first time are getting a lot out of it. But it’s all been said before. And before that. And maybe even before that. You can only hear “Optimize your title tags” and “The important thing in blogging is to start writing” so many times before you feel like you’re in a Twilight Zone episode.
Now I’m sitting in my hotel room trying to come up with something original and useful to write, preferably on the topic of internet marketing. That is, after all, what this blog is about.
And I’m stuck.
I can’t just litter my blog with checklists. My fingers now refuse to type “OL”. They’re going on strike. I’m not like the geniuses over at Smashing Magazine, who crank out one brilliant list after another. Nor do I have 2-3 hours/day to write my posts. These posts have to come quickly, or I have to move on to paying work and family – both legitimately higher priorities.
And deep down, I know I’m about to start rehashing old content, which isn’t a good use of my time or yours.
So yes, I’m whining. I can’t come up with anything original at the moment. I don’t want to rewrite my own stuff, or write about something that someone else has covered far more effectively. Nor have I slain any dragons lately, unlike Rhea Drysdale.
I know all bloggers go through this. Or, at least, the ones who are worried about keeping their blog fresh. It happens to everyone. Really.

What’s our responsibility?

In the drive to publish, publish, publish lest the search engines and our audience drift away, what’s really our responsibility as bloggers? To write useful stuff, even if that means a lot less of it? Or to keep the traffic flowing at any cost, and hope that some new visitors come to my blog, read recycled content and love it as brand new?

I have no answer

I don’t know the answer – I’m looking to you all. This isn’t just my attempt to fill space. It’s a plea/request/demand: What do you want your favorite bloggers to do when they run out of ideas?

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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  1. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Even when you’re stumped I enjoy reading your posts. I understand where you’re coming from when it seems like it’s all been said before. However, in the scheme of things, blogging is newish and lots of people are trying to find their voice and look to bloggers like you for examples.
    Even in a post like this you are an expert, experienced in your field, mentioning things that others can learn from. Adding anecdotes and links to related info.
    Funny though, just today I was thinking about writing a post about titles and meta data, and SERPs, and how the title sits in the top left corner of your browser screen, and how it’s all interrelated. I’m still going to do it, even if it’s sort of been done before because there are lots of people who have no clue that this is how it works.

  2. Most of the WHATs to do in SEO and Internet marketing have been covered over and over (optimize your title tags, use alt text on your images…), but I think it would be fascinating to learn about the HOWs–how you would (or did) implement a particular task or strategy in relation to a specific problem or client. Which keywords would you actually pick and why? The thought process for how to apply SEO or marketing rules hasn’t been addresses sufficiently, IMO.

  3. I’m kind of enjoying the simple honesty of low ebb on new ideas.
    Once I heard Kara Lennox speak. Kara is a successful romance novelist who told the story about a stall in her career where she couldn’t sell a thing. She decided her life as an author was probably over, so she stopped writing. During that time, she went on a cycling adventure down Route 66. Instead of writing about life she began living it. It recharged her soul and she began to write (and sell) again.
    In my day job, I meet a lot of churches. The challenge is that many of them that are “production-centric” become creatively dry. When you are assembling a new production every seven days (Sunday to Sunday)there isn’t much time for much else. And if the only thing the musicians, artists and pastors are exposed to is their “church world” they can find themselves recycling the same stuff over and over. Their world becomes narrow. Insulated. Internal provisions run low.
    This happens in business, academia, art… Without fuel, the creative spark dims.
    David Wahlstedt introduced me to a great quote by Theodore Zeldin…“Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet they don’t just exchange facts; They transform them, reshape them, draw different conclusions from them, engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards, it creates new cards.”
    We all need new cards from time to time. Speaking with people with different life experience…having different life experiences ourselves. That exposure creates richer, deeper, more interesting human beings.
    It feeds the creative soul.
    Moral to this story? Find your Route 66.

  4. Here’s a list (uh no! OL!) of some things I do when stumped for topics:
    – Daydream
    – Talk a walk
    – Spend a few minutes searching/stumbling upon other sites for something that is interesting or needs more explanation.
    – Look at books/library for ideas
    – Doodle
    – Think about a problem I recently solved and see if it applies to others
    – Don’t post until I have something – even if my readers are used to hearing from me on a regular schedule
    – Look for old posts that need updating and re-post them
    – Use a creativity tool / whack pack
    – Invent a typical reader and imagine one of their problems that I can solve
    Hope these help

  5. I was just thinking about that the other day. Another endangered “O” word besides “original content” is “opinion-based content.” I find that most blog posts these days are irritatingly neutral and objective. It’s not journalism people! Take a stance! Preferably a feisty one! Hmm, I may feel any original blog post coming on…

  6. I agree with Jade, it seems like a number of bloggers have become afraid to voice an opinion anymore and definitely err on the side of political correctness, which is frankly, boring.

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