Why Original Ideas Often Fail



Clients want them. The search engines want them. Social media wants them. The Internet is all about original ideas, or so it would seem.

Yet often, the most popular articles and blog posts are not those with unique ideas. What gives? Why don’t original ideas generate more shares?

In this post, I’ll discuss my thoughts and experiences on why posts and articles with original ideas are not more popular.

I’ve been writing professionally for over twenty years. For the last eight years, I’ve been focusing largely on web content and Internet copywriting.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that unique post and articles are usually not the most popular. It seems as though readers flock to and share posts on the same old topics over and over again. This is true even when a post with a unique idea covers an important and even newsworthy topic.

A Tale of Two Posts

For example, here are two original posts that I wrote for Freelance Folder. One post deals with a popular, but often addressed topic–freelancer prices. The other discusses a more unique topic–what happens to a freelance business after the freelancer dies?

Both posts were shared through social media. Both posts were original, since they were written from my unique perspective. However, the idea behind the second post is more unique than the idea behind the first post.

You can take a look at the posts through the links below:

While both posts did get some social media shares, you can see that the post about rates, a topic that has been written about frequently on various blogs and publications, attracted nearly three times as many tweets and comments as the post about helping your loved ones understand your business in case you die.

What’s the difference?

I don’t think anyone would want their loved ones to be unable to access their business assets after their death–so the second post certainly deals with an important topic. Yet, it didn’t generate nearly as many shares.

The Audience Is the Key

While search engines and clients may ask for and even demand posts and articles on original topics, the readers have a different idea about they want.

Probably nearly every freelancer who ever starts freelancing types “how do I set my prices” or something similar into the search engine at some point during their freelance career. It’s no wonder that posts about how to set freelance prices are so popular.

In contrast, a search query about how to prepare your freelance business for your death probably occurs less often. Most of us would probably prefer not to think about their death, let alone what will happen to their freelance business after they die.

In fact, studies show that only about a third of Americans even have a will. The statistic is probably similar for other countries.

So, basically what drives traffic is not original ideas. What drives traffic is what the readers want. Pleasing your audience is the key to getting social media shares.

Your Turn

Have you noticed a trend towards the social sharing of posts on the same old topics?

Discuss your thoughts in the comments.

  1. Thank you for saying this out loud, Laura.

    The “gurus” all preach the sharing of original ideas, but all we see on blog after blog (and all anybody seems to want to consume) are the same old rehashed topics.

    This might be an extreme example because the topic of death is not one most of us want to face or even think about, but it still proves a point I’ve long considered to be true.

  2. Thanks Prudence!

    I’m glad to see that someone else has observed the same thing.

    I suppose that I could have used a different example, but I wanted to illustrate that even important topics can be less than popular. I’ve actually observed the same thing about other, less dramatic, original ideas.

    As someone who is paid to write, I often cover the topics people want to read about–but I do try to mix in some new ideas every now and then.