Share Your Best Ideas Today, Not Tomorrow

Intro quote from The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. . . .
—John Donne

Around the time when Brian Clark launched the initial Teaching Sells report I made a post covering many similar ideas from my perspective. About a month ago I wrote a guest post for ProBlogger about overcoming fears in writing a blog, but Darren's vacation got moved and the post just got published today. A couple days ago Brian wrote a post about overcoming writing fears.

If a person was to only read Brian's blog then read my post it might appear that I copied his story. Or that maybe a couple stories were published because of the other. We both read each other's blogs regularly, and in some cases ideas feed off each other, but in the above example I think the delay on the posting to ProBlogger and the timing shows that beyond the ability to recycle ideas sometimes people are just thinking about the same things at the same time. And it makes sense that people in similar markets would do that.

Some of the best writers focus on their own problems, struggles, and issues associated with their learning, background, or history. Many of the best ideas stem from personal experience, customer questions, and/or other market feedback. Thus some great ideas are obvious to any marketer who is creative and has a few months of experience.

The day that my wife Giovanna wrote her first post here asking when will Wikipedia rank for everything Rand posted about the dark side of Wikipedia. A total coincidence, but if Gio would have put a bit of a negative slant on her article it might have seemed like one was derived from (or inspired by) the other.

There are only so many topics that are interesting enough to write about. Well maybe the sea of stories is endless, but within the confines of any market some ideas are recycled once a year while others enjoy a fresh view every few months. When I wrote linkbait is the new reciprocal links page I was quickly reminded that someone else used that exact same title in the past. The sad thing is that I know I have accidentally done the same thing before without knowing it until after the fact.

In every market worth being in there are so many people competing for attention that you are bound to accidentally recycle stuff. And if you have any reach people will recycle your stuff or create additional ideas inspired by your stuff. The sooner you share your best ideas the more likely you are to be attributed as source and the less likely you are to be viewed as a copycat.

The Blogger's Guide to SEO was an idea kicking in my head for six months before we finally did it. And the motivation to do it stemmed from a panel at the Blog World Expo with Andy Beal, Vanessa Fox, and Stephan Spencer. After I published it, Andy linked to it and said it was something he was thinking about doing. If he had done it first he would have got thousands of links and I would have been busy eating crow, or meowing - as a copy cat does. :)

Many people are thinking similarly to you right now. The longer you wait to release your idea to the wild the more likely it is that someone else already did something similar.

Published: December 1, 2007 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


December 2, 2007 - 3:53am

We can say that every word that has ever been spoken has been spoken before. There is no way for any article to be 100% original, so actually you need to be 100% genuine in intent. That comes off very well. You can usually tell if an article is the same old stuff recycled of if there is something original in it. For me that usually makes me stay on the article instead of just click away.
As far as the whole concept of doing and writing about the same ideas only in different styles or fashions, well that reminds me of the music industry in the 1950's. I wasn't around then but I read a quote of some music industry giant who said that there will never be another original song made. All that has been made is all that there will ever be.
How funny is that thinking about it now, with the many new styles and genres and sounds and technology now in music.
I think we can all stay original if we always grow and are able to look at things with a different perspective. Evolution happens, not just for a species like mankind but for thoughts and ideas and business concepts as well.
It wasn't long ago ( the early 1990's) when you could watch movie after movie on the greatness of Japan, and THEIR way of doing business over our own. The many books on the topic cited how well they plan long term better than our own companies. Well guess what, all of the hype is dead. We Americans took what we thought was best from their models of business, applied them with our own and now once again we have a superior model of business based on ingenuity, as well as our unique ability to adapt faster than any of people on the planet to any situation.
Long term planning doesn't help much when on a roller coaster economic ride as the Japanese have found out from their various financial crisis after crisis. Our ability to adapt prevails over time, yet their planning would prevail over our own had economic conditions not changed much and were more consistent.
So back on topic directly, originality matters a great deal. It is how you approach the idea for an article that matters and as long as you add value to the ideas of others, you add to the great evolution of ideas and society.
One last note that I took from the Japanese in my own life. The concept of Kaizen, which in simplest terms is Constant Improvement, even if little by little daily. Over time, you have massive improvement in any project.

December 2, 2007 - 3:34pm

Nice historical perspective Lodispoto
Your comment was far better than my post. :)

December 2, 2007 - 8:56pm

Also glad to contribute to your site. I will be a regular reader and contribute what little knowledge and experience I have.

December 2, 2007 - 4:45am


This is a very well written article because it has one subject, provides a couple of examples and then drives the point home clearly at the end. It's the old say what you are going to say, say it and then say what you said.

Very well written and a pleasure to read. Also, great advice because in both good and bad we are often tempted to think "that it is just me".

Was your approach to this article any different than usual?

December 2, 2007 - 3:33pm

I think the only difference is this was focused on personal experience and psychology stuff...and not so much on algorithms.

SEO Nirvana
December 2, 2007 - 10:00am

It's pretty amazing that many good ideas seem to mature almost simultaneously. You may see it not only in SEO but many other related areas. One good example is sudden emergence of coywriting articles on the demise of a traditional 'long copy salesletter' by marketers like Michel Fortin, John Reese and others.

But it's not even a recent phenomenon. Isaac Newton and Bernhard Leibnitz arrived at the idea of Calculus almost at the same time. The concept that was hidden from everyone for thousands of years appeared mystically at the same time from the desk of two persons miles apart.

To me it looks that the market seems to be ready or ripe at a certain point for a particular idea. And there is a good reason for it as well. Say if a population of mathematicians can't handle the basic algebra, how in the world they would think about calculus. So it needed a certain degree of maturation of many other ideas with a simultaneous need for the new invention.

In SEO, decades ago (OK years ago), everyone would talk about metatags and KW density. The market was not yet matured for ideas like trusted links simply because there was 1) no underlying concepts or technology and 2) no real need - all you needed was to get some low quality anchor texts. But the market kind of dictated for the appearence of newer concepts such as TrustRank, aged site, content changes and link maturation pattern etc.

Same with copywriting. As legendry copywriter Gary Bencivenga remarked in his excellent newsletter 'Bencivenga Bullets', words like free, new, sale etc used to elicit a favorable response from prospects. But today the same words cause almost immediate rejection and hence the biggest sale killers. And the reason is quite simple - In the early years of web there were very few sites and the prospects used to believe anything they would say. But with increasingly bad experiences, they learned to be on their guard as if in a dark alley. And this maturity took few years. So do the appearence of 'Death of sales letter' articles almost at the same time.

There are countless other examples - subprime crises, dollar weakness, newly emerging markets, oil crises. Seems like all the media is singing the same song. Probably the market has come out of Dow mania and preparing for the new threats (and opportunities).

December 2, 2007 - 3:36pm

Brilliant comment Ramesh
Every market has some tipping point, and, if possible, it is far better to be an instigator than a follower.

December 3, 2007 - 2:27pm

Aaron, when I read your post on Problogger, I never even made the connection with my article from earlier in the week.

I think your approach was unique, and your perspective valuable. I guess that's why I just read it and took away my own personal lessons from it without ever thinking that I had written something similar.

December 4, 2007 - 2:44pm

I think it is worth while knowing what we have and having confidence in what we can offer to our customers when it comes to marketing.I think knowing what we can offer means being able to attract customers through our copy writing skills which Aaron had already passed through and elaborated in some of his posts for quite some time now.This should help us to market any goods/services without any fear.

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