I’ve suffered yet another round of disgust with my feed reader. Something new and shiny becomes the latest thing, and suddenly a flurry of “same old’ posts flutter about on the blogosphere like so many ripples in a dead lake going nowhere.
Been there. Done that.
Recently, my feed reader looked like a broken record. No less than 12 posts on how to increase comments sat there waiting for my attention – in the same day. Even the titles and headlines looked the same.
I marked everything as “read” and moved on, saving myself half an hour of boredom.
Then I ranted on Twitter. I complained about people rehashing what’s been said. I pushed for more originality. I grumbled that we should strive to be different, to be interesting. I muttered that we shouldn’t be writing on what’s already been written.
It was a good question. People wondered about the newcomers to the Internet. Should they not be educated? Others mentioned that nothing is really ever new; can we truly make old news original? And what about blogger experience? If it’s new to the blogger, shouldn’t the blogger discuss it?
Yes, yes and yes. But there are ways to avoid sounding like a skipping record stuck in the moment. Here’s my take on how to make old news sound fresh:
Wait until the buzz dies down. I never post on what others are currently discussing. I sit and wait until people have almost forgotten about the topic, and then I write. Whatever I discuss comes off as news rather than old news.
Write about your perspective. One of the biggest reasons our posts do well is because they contain personal opinion. They discuss the effects of a topic on our lives. No one can replicate your thoughts and feelings. You’re unique. So be unique.
Discuss the opposing view. Every coin has two sides, and every mirror has two faces. If people are all posting about the good in something, write about the bad. If people are talking about a new “how to”, write about what not to do. Be the devil’s advocate – it’s refreshing.
Examine all angles. Rather than discuss a matter from one side, delve into the pros and cons or the dos and don’ts. Turn the subject around and see if there’s a facet that people haven’t mentioned yet. This gives people a more informed perspective, too, and shows that you’ve taken the time to learn more before writing.
Search before you write. It’s difficult to know what’s already been said – the blogosphere is a big place, and tons of people may have written about the topic. So Google your idea before you write. See how many results come back. Pages of returns? Find something different to write. Just a few returns and not much information? Go ahead. Discuss.
Don’t be sheep in a pasture. Following the herd and writing what everyone else is writing makes you look rather uncreative. Instead of being sheep, be the shepherd. Lead readers down a different path than the one they’re already following.
Point to other resources. While it’s great to keep the newcomers in mind and write about the basics, it’s a better idea to point readers to well-written resources and in-depth posts that already give the information. Don’t rehash what others have already discussed.
Be daring and disagree. There’s nothing wrong with calling something like you see it. If you find everyone agreeing with some A-lister’s just-released opinion and you’re not 100% convinced it’s good advice, discuss your feelings or thoughts. Encourage people to do more than just nod and smile.
Stay away from the latest fads. If it’s new and shiny, you can bet everyone’s discussing it. If it’s just released, you can be sure it’s the talk of the town. So wait. Don’t post. Read what others have to say first. Give the fad a week or two and post your personal review instead.
You don’t always have to come up with earth-shattering revelations. You don’t need to be the person leading the world. But if you’re simply going over what’s already been done, you aren’t adding value to your own blog or giving value to your readers.
So be different. Find a way to present old material in a new way. Think about how you can present a more original angle. Don’t leap on the latest, and don’t crow about something until you’ve truly thought the matter over.
Slow down. Think before you write – and don’t repeat what everyone has already said.