the sally sisson blog


May 17, 2013

Creativity as Commodity: The value of cutting through clutter

photo blogging, creativity, content marketing

“OK, GLASS, FIND DOG FOOD!” by Thomas Hawk @thomashawk.com

Picture, caption, period. End of story.

Sometimes that’s all you need for a blog post. If it’s really, really good, and you’re very talented and clever.

The picture and caption above are all that comprise today’s post on Thomas Hawk’s photoblog. Sometimes the photographer writes several paragraphs to accompany his photos, sometimes barely a sentence.

I stumbled upon this image while reading The Battleground of Creativity, a post by Geoff Livingston on, among other things, perfectionism, fear of failure, and the agony of the creative process.

As a content writer and editor, I work with clients to whittle down text and push out content at a steady pace. But when it comes to writing my own blog posts, I often struggle. I keep long lists of ideas, thinking I’ll spin them into brilliant essays on something or other that everyone will want to read. Or not. I overthink and underproduce. It’s hard to be prolific when you’re a perfectionist who has a hard time pressing the “publish” button—and then walking away.

My three thoughts of the day:

Sometimes less is more. (Note to self.)

Enough said. Don’t write three paragraphs if you can say it in one. Don’t overcomplicate a blog post; break it into a 3-part series. Leave some white space. Breathe. Let a picture tell a story. Add a compelling caption and be done with it.

You get what you pay for.

This minimalist approach only works if the content you post — written or visual — is strong enough to stand on its own. Want an arresting image that breaks through the clutter in inboxes, news feeds, and social media channels? Spend money on a really good professional photographer. Want a logo that’s clever, iconic and and stands the test of time? Forget crowdsourcing and Fiverr (another rant for another day). Instead, find the most talented designer you can afford. Want a landing page that lures in visitors and ups your click-through rates? Hire a good copywriter. Don’t try it yourself. If you want creative work that makes you stand out in a crowd, invest in creative talent.

Lose the LOL cats. 

In an age where everyone’s churning out and repurposing content, it’s hard to find ideas that aren’t derivative. So when we stumble across something original, a small gem like a black Lab wearing Google Glass, it makes us stop and think. Or bookmark and buy. Or smile and share and re-post on our own blogs, inspired to be a bit more creative and original ourselves the next time around.