How to Be Creative in a World Full of Sellouts

Sometimes when I travel, I find a takeaway, which becomes a souvenir for my brain. It can enlighten me and inspire a new way of thinking. This time, it included thoughts of creativity, originality, and its risks in a world where selling out is common. That invisible souvenir was even better than the sunglasses I bought!

Susie in Sunglasses

Lots of ideas floated around in my tiny cranium after my California trip. I had been inspired by what I had seen and experienced. LA is a place where being different is embraced from fashion trends to lifestyle and everything in between. I really love its creative people. Their energy is contagious!

With stops at The Broad, a contemporary art museum, the art district in Downtown LA, and a conversation with a clothing designer, the five days filled me with all kinds of inspiration.

A famous Warhol in The Broad.

IMG_7504

But what was it about art, design, and the freedom of expression and how Californians wear clothing that kept my brain bouncing?

I was trying to reconcile it with what I’ve been seeing online, lately.

While surrounded by duplication, there’s a risk in originality, right?

When perusing Pinterest, I’ve noticed many blog posts that are super similar. Some promise huge increases in stats. Others, on how to make money. The similarities don’t stop at content. Their blogs are almost carbon copies.

Were they really successful or just snake oil salesmen? The straight-up bait-and-switch bloggers won’t get anywhere. What I do know is there are millions of lifestyle bloggers writing the same posts. Many will quit in less than a year when they become frustrated with their results.

Lari Pittman’s mural behind Jeff Koons’ Jim Beam Train at The Broad.

Abstract art at The Broad

Why should I care?

Like most bloggers, one of my goals is to increase views. I had been tempted to blog a bunch of bullet-pointed travel posts since I have tons of photos. They would do very well on Pinterest, which is becoming a huge traffic generator for bloggers.

After writing one about California, I laughed. I set it aside for a few days and then reread it and laughed again. “No way,” I said out loud to no one. I couldn’t blog it. My brain told me so.

Brain: Don’t do it. Don’t follow the crowd just to blow up on Pinterest.

Me: Why not sellout a little bit for a few extra clicks? This post would totally blow up. (That’s good, BTW. It means my post would soar with lots of views.)

Brain: Because it’s not your brand. Continue being original and creative. Be you!

Me: But being original and me? That is so risky!

Brain: That’s what it’s all about. How do you think the super bloggers became super? By being like everyone else?

Me: …no…

Brain: Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to want to increase views and followers, but do it in a way where you don’t sell out. You’ve spent almost seven years building an audience. You don’t want to turn them away for more hits. Your goal is to write books while continuing to blog.

Me: I totally get that. So can I write about my travels as long as I make them personal stories?

My Brain: Sure, and don’t forget to include all the dumb stuff you do. Readers love that.

Me: I have tons of material.

Brain: Yeah, I know.

It took almost a week, but I finally wrapped my mind around my souvenir.

If you’re a musician, artist, writer, blogger, or any other creative person who is producing content or a product, make sure to capture a part of you in what you create. Originality is key. Duplicating what’s already popular almost always ends up being a mere shadow of the original. If you’re interested in a popular idea, personalize it somehow. Experiment. Come at it in a new way. Turn it upside down. Put it on your head and wear it for a while. Play with it.

Readers want to be entertained, educated, or inspired. The hardest part is to get them to click. It’s our job to give them something new to think about.

Wondering what to create? Ask yourself these questions:

Who are you? What is your unique perspective or what are you trying to say that’s different from everyone else? Where are you from? What’s your story? What are you afraid of? Why? It’s probably holding you back from your full potential.

Fear is deadly to creativity. Be courageous and unlock your brain. You might be surprised by its crazy ideas!

This is my brain on inspiration:

An illustration of my brain on inspiration.

 

My brain is super crazy. Ask anyone. Especially when it’s filled with invisible souvenirs!

Do vacations inspire you? Are you creative? Do you go out of your way to avoid fear or do you face them head on?

Click for more adventure on the Wild Ride!

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102 thoughts on “How to Be Creative in a World Full of Sellouts

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  1. Love your thoughts on this Susie. O totally agree on the not selling out and copying. What works for me is being me totally and honestly on my blog and I don’t plan to change that either!

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  2. Great post! Yeah, how many blogs can there be about blogging? I’d say .05% of my 600+ posts are about blogging. Why? Because that’s not who I am. I’m a humor blogger and write about anything and everything that I found. Now if there is a “how to blog” moment that inspires a blog of mine, fine, I’ll go for it. But I’m not going to feed off of newbie bloggers, claiming I know the secret formula to becoming the next Mann or Lawson. I don’t know that formula and never will. Yeah, I would say there are a ton of sell outs. I think I went the reverse of selling out when less than a year I switched over to self-hosting. To say the growth is much slower is an understatement. But I know I just have to keep chuggin’ along and not give up. I’m here to win the war, not the battle.

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  3. Firstly great questions to ask yourself. I’ll keep those in mind. It’s so easy to think you should go with the flow, sometimes I think wow they have so many followers and likes, how? Why? Personally I enjoy following a blog where I get to know a person. I don’t just want tips or recommendations that I can find on many other blogs. Lists don’t really hold my attention unless they are specific or personal. I like a bit of humour, I like to get involved with a blog. Although I have to confess I’ve considered doing some of these blog posts myself at times to see if the stats rise, but I have to keep true to myself and my readers! Great post, made me think!

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  4. I love this post, Susie – very original! 🙂 It’s funny this popped up today because I was just thinking about how many posts I read that are nearly identical to another I had read. In fact, a friend suggested I take this free 5-day course on how to make money blogging (which has never been my purpose for having one, but I was curious). Anyway, I made it through, but barely. Everything that was included were things I have already read elsewhere. I learning NOTHING new. Pretty amazing for a 5-day course. Anyway, great post. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing – writing about the things I’m passionate about. I may never strike the big bucks, but I’ll keep enjoying myself.

    Oh, and nature, animals, and history are what inspire me.

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    1. That is so funny! I used to click on posts about increasing blog views and found the same thing. They were all about sharing on social media. Got it the first time! Ha!
      I’m glad to hear you’re not getting caught up in the rat race!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked the questions you listed to ask yourself about your blog. I know who I am, although I do believe I am evolving daily. I think this is something that is noticeable in my blog. Vacations to inspire me, I need to take more vacations. I could use the added inspiration 🙂

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    1. I used to search for activities to write about!! I could go skiing or XC skiing but it’s 10 degrees outside. Not sure I’ll have a big adventure today. Ha!

      Evolution is a big part of blogging especially in the beginning. It’s all about finding your voice. Have fun with it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been trying for years to “make it” as a creative type, but I’ve had to accept that it’s just not in the cards for me.
    Nevertheless, I’m still plugging away, and while my enthusiasm for blogging/writing has diminished significantly, I’m still here.

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    1. Don’t give up, Hook! I think you’re very creative!

      I don’t know how anyone does this with a full-time job. There are definitely highs and lows in blogging. We are about to go into spring break season so a lot of readers will be on the beach!

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  7. Vacations do inspire me. Sadly I haven’t had many in the last 10 years. There is just something about being in a different space in a different state of mind (not everyday kind of state). The air is different, the sky is different, the people are different, even the pavement is different. Sometimes it is hard to carry it home and continue to use it. Especially as well as you use your “souvenirs”.

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    1. There is something so special about those souvenirs. This time, it took a while to put them into words! I do love vacations and am very grateful for the breaks. I hope you get one soon! Lots of places to visit in the US alone!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m embarrassed to say I have probably visited a lot more places in the US than I have my own country. I do fall prey to the call of sunshine in the warmer states when Canada is in a deep freeze but Canada is one of the most beautiful countries and I should spend more time exploring the parts of it I haven’t seen.

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    1. Thanks so much, Marje! I hope you go on one soon! They are great for the creative imagination!
      I’m trying to choose a destination for my birthday in April! I can’t decide!!! I have too many choices syndrome… Ha!

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  8. I remember, as a new blogger, reading one of your posts. You said the posts you spend the most time on aren’t always your most “viewed.” Glennon Doyle Melton (a million plus followers) talks about how she’s asked by bloggers how to increase their views. What you and she both advise is wise: Be yourself. Tell your truth. Do it with integrity and quality. Don’t babysit it.
    I love how simple it all is. And when that beautiful, handcrafted post doesn’t find it’s ten thousand views don’t assume it’s bad. Just let it be what it is. Maybe time hasn’t ripened to give it the audience it will eventually have. How many artists have found their work re-discovered years after it first made it’s debut? These are all excellent things I try and remind myself of.
    And I do truly love the conversations you have in your brain.

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    1. Thanks, Angela and for weighing in!

      I’ve already spent a lot of time on my next post since it’s so personal. I wish I could knock them out in a short time but sometimes the story-telling is complicated. It ends up being therapeutic!
      I do love the fact that evergreen content can go viral later. My happy birthday post from 2011 got 50,000 views on Reddit in 2014! You never know.
      My brain has conversations like that all the time. Ha! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so glad I got to meet you in person. I think you have created a fab blogging brand.

    After stepping away from my blog for a bit in terms of creating new content I have had chance to look around blogging land and I do see the same content being churned out. I have also seen a lot of posts with no depth; big title, a nice image but not much to go with it. I applaud those bloggers who are sticking to their own brand values and working hard to be original. I think those who work at their posts day in day out should be praised.

    Great post.

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    1. Thanks so much, Lucy! It’s always great to “see” you. I’m so glad we met!

      I think burnout is a real thing. If I don’t have anything to blog, I wait until I do! It might take up to two weeks especially if I’m traveling.

      I joined Tailwind Tribes for Pinterest and boy is it hard to repin! Most have a rule to pin 1:1 so I’m obligated. Too many bloggers are on the same bandwagon all selling the same thing. They don’t realize they’re all competing with each other. I don’t need to read thirty duplicates!

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  10. This post ties into why I blog. I do it to express my thoughts, opinions and to offer up a little everyday wisdom. The people that connect with it are the people I want because they are authentically interested. If that is only one person, I’m okay with that. I resonated with someone on a deeper level. The same thoughts about creativity and originality can be said for writing with SEO rankings in mind. To place specific words and phrases in a post so that it ranks higher and gets more views, in my opinion is not being original but rather looking to be popular. This post resonated with me on that deeper level. Thanks

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    1. I totally agree, Diana! Writing for SEO trends is a mistake!
      But writing a post and paying attention to the wording of the first paragraph can help readers find it. In general, SEO is tough for bloggers unless they blog totally informative posts without the jibber jabber. I’m not that blogger. Gabbing is my thing. Ha!

      Thanks so much for reading and weighing in!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a relatable theme. Probably most bloggers struggle to walk the line between writing about what we care about and trying to increase exposure. Nice to read support for non-fad followers. As the internet has progressed, it’s become more and more clear we need honest, interesting, informative writing much more than escapist click-bait. Nothing wrong with click-bait! But if it’s not your passion, there are plenty of empty content generators to fill any void.

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