Why It’s So Hard to be Original When There’s A Formula For Online Success

Well, shit. We’re talking about it, ain’t we?

We’ve all noticed it, we all – consciously or not – support it and at the same time, we all complain about it. The ‘it’ we’re discussing is the cookie cutter formula to online success, it’s lack of originality and it’s a conversation we’ve all had before.

I know I keep writing posts off the back of Vix’s blog posts, but her posts just make me think. So it might be annoying or appear as if I’m sucking up (maybe that’s just my insecurity talking) but carrying on the conversation is partly what blogging is all about, no? Anyway, the post that is the muse of this post, is about being fake in the blogosphere – faux-modest captions, exciting emails that are actually setting the bar pretty low and forced relatability.

These musings got me thinking about why some people take this path with blogging – either fully or just here and there.

It feels a bit like when you spend a lot of time with someone and you pick up on their phrases and sometimes even a twinge of their accent. Obviously, I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend (subtle brag) and since he’s got funny northern/just weird sayings and mannerisms I find them slipping out of my own mouth sometimes.

I’ll be honest, sometimes blog posts that mimic a popular writing style can be better than the writer’s natural writing style. I’m guilty of clicking off a blog post when I see that it’s one giant chunk of text. Short, snappy and sassy blog posts are fashionable, and writing in that style can all turn out okay if we only slip on the trendy (but restrictive) dress for a few hours. When we leave the fashionable dress on for too long though, we forget about our own sense of style and when it comes to writing, that’s where there’s a lack of authenticity.

I don’t know where I plucked that crazy metaphor from but bear with me. As far as I’m concerned, taking inspiration from what’s trending doesn’t have to lead to a life of online fakery.

Photo-22-02-2018-17-11-52 Why It's So Hard to be Original When There's A Formula For Online Success

So, why do we get stuck in the loop of creating trendy content?

Because we know it will do okay. Fake content that looks and feels manufactured does well, and when I say well, I mean it doesn’t bomb. A pretty flat lay of ten things you’ve never used but professed to love has a high chance of finding an audience amongst your audience, whereas a piece of truly original, creative and honest content won’t always strike a chord with the small number of people who will be exposed to it.

I mean, the every changing algorithm of Instagram and dwindling interest in blogs is another topic entirely, but the fact is that we’re scared to create original content.

We don’t know how it will fare and too many of us are scared to fail.

Let’s not forget about all the pressure on the blogosphere right now either, the pressure to be consistent and the pressure to churn out more on top of the pressure to be unique and original… This trio of pressure is a little bit like that meme about not being able to do three things at once, only achieving two at any one time.

If we’re being consistent and creating more, then trying to make everything original throws the first two checkboxes into chaos. Creativity and honesty don’t always show up when we want them to, and the thought of not being consistent on our blogs or Instagram feeds scares many of us into making that difficult choice. Choosing consistency over originality – and I don’t blame us.

There’s a million and one blog posts and articles out there telling us that to grow our online presence, consistency is key. When we don’t post for a week on Instagram because we’re in bed crying we lose 50 followers but when we post for 7 days in a row at 7:30 am, we get the best stats we’ve had in months. Algorithms and consistency go hand in hand, so that’s often what we think will serve us best.

We’ve established that being original can be bloody hard, right?

From what I’ve said you might think that I don’t think originality is possible, but I really do. It just takes some sacrifice and some bravery.

Allie from Rush & Teal recently changed up her Instagram feed, and it’s the perfect example of sacrifice and bravery. She interrupted her stunning feed, which is chocka with interior inspiration and a moody colour palette, and posted a 9-square collage of photos, doodles and general creativity that felt very Rush & Teal. By doing this she did sacrifice some of her audience and some of those stats, because arty collages aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but by taking the risk of being very original and doing what felt right for her, Allie’s probably gained a lot of respect from her existing followers and the support of a new audience.

Breaking the status quo is scary. It can feel as if you’re doing something wrong by taking the path of originality and creativity, but honestly, it’s the only way to combat the feeling of forced smiles in the blogosphere right now.

Even if you’re happy with the content you’re creating, going out of your way to support those who are doing something original is one way to break the cookie cutter mould of success.

Interact with the different types of content you see on Instagram, blogs and Twitter – like and share videos, illustrations, mixed media pieces. Give feedback to those creating the pieces, whether it’s answering an Instastories poll or honestly giving your opinion on a piece of prose someone has written on their lifestyle blog.

Double tap all the flat lays you like, but remember to notice why you’re double tapping – is it a truly outstanding photograph? Or is it a mediocre collection of products that feel like the things we all like? Read all the blog posts that are relatable af, but search for the real connection with them, and if it’s not there, find something that has a more visible authenticity to it.

There will always be some who are on this blogging journey for the likes, comments and big numbers – let’s not let this small handful of people brainwash us into producing the same cookie-cutter content. Let them be and make it our mission to support those who are doing, not just copying.

If you have any thoughts or comments on fakery in the blogosphere or cookie cutter content, then leave me a comment below. I feel like I could go on for ages, but I’m sure half of you have already switched off…

Thanks for reading, I’m hoping my crazy metaphors and sometimes incoherent writing style got through to some of you.

Until next time,

Becky