Is it possible to be original? Here’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.


I saw this quote kicking around social media and I’m sure I’m not the only one that can relate to it. Or that often you bail out around #3 or #4 on the list!

There’s a lot of pressure on you where you’re developing ideas. Often it’s pressure you put on yourself. Is your idea good enough? Has it been done before? Is it original…or ‘original enough’?

Whilst these are all important questions – and important in evaluating your ideas -the challenge with this line of thinking is that it can paralyze you, and you end up doing nothing – starting nothing, finishing nothing.

So when I find myself facing this challenge, I try to remember one of the best pieces I’ve advice I’ve ever been given:

Everything has been done before. But it hasn’t been done by you.

It was from a photography teacher, as I bemoaned how hard it was to take original images, come up with unique ideas for a photo-essay project.

This advice easily translates to other fields – art, writing, business.

Because we each have our own perspective on the world. We bring to our creativity, our idea generation process, our own life and work experiences. And these are unique to us. So it is likely that we have the capacity to create something original, even if it isn’t ‘ground breaking’. (Although we could do that too.) Whether it be from our own head, from ideas outside your field, from collaboration with others. Great ideas – original ideas – are possible.

Another consideration is the ‘bleeding-edge’ vs ‘leading-edge’ issue. Back when I was working in the early dot-com era, there was a lot of debate about whether you REALLY wanted to be the very first to market, take the risk of the true first-mover. Because often, the first (and sometimes second) business to try something failed…and everyone else had the opportunity to learn from that failure. A fairly recent example is MySpace vs the far more successful Facebook. This is not to say you should never be first – just that actually being first, being unique, isn’t always the best course of action.

So next time you’re caught up in self-doubt, to the level that it stops you even beginning a project, remember this advice.

Everything has been done before. But it hasn’t been done by you.

Remember your capacity for creating something new, something special, something that is uniquely you.

You may also like this post on how to evaluate ideas or this post on creativity tools.


Image source: BeHappy.Me

How to… install and use google webmaster tools on to better understand your blog audience. (People find us using search terms we’d never have imagined)

A creative outlet (or marketing tool) for millions of people is blogging on WordPress. Whether you’re blogging to showcase your writing, build an audience for your business or simply to share ideas or progress on your latest creative efforts, you probably want to know how people are finding you. Because you don’t really write a blog unless you want someone to read it.

At we blog via at the moment, which means we can’t install the Google Analytics tracking code and get access to the insights from Google Analytics. WordPress gives you some basic stats and insight, but doesn’t provide much in-depth information or give much insight into search terms.

Enter (free) Google Webmaster Tools. This will allow you to see how often you’re showing up in Google search, what search terms you’re appearing for and what terms people are clicking on.

Why does this matter? Because in Australia – and most other English speaking nations – Google is by far the dominant search engine. And it’s likely it’s going to be a key way you find new readers. So it’s good to know how readers are finding you – and if you’re being found for the sort of search terms you’d like to be ‘found’ for.

We’ve previously blogged about using the Google AdWords Keyword tool to look for ideas. Today I’m going to show you how to install Webmaster Tools on your blog and show you the sort of information you’ll see once it’s installed.

How to install Google Webmaster Tools on  (It’s pretty easy!)

Free tutorial follows with screenshots.

Step 1. Get a Google account (they’re free and you’ll already have one if you’ve ever had a gmail account).

Step 2. Log in to with your Google account details.

Step 3. Click the red button ‘Add a Site’ at the top right of the page.

Step 4. Enter your blog address without the http:// or https:// into the box. Then hit continue.

add a site webmaster

Step 5. The option you want is “HTML Tag” under ‘Alternate Methods’. You’ll see a line of HTML code. Copy the entire code inside the quotation marks.

Step 6. Leave the verification page open and open/log into you blog dashboard in a new tab.

Step 7. Open the menu item ‘Tools’ then ‘Available Tools’ page and paste the code into the Google Webmaster Tools field under the Website Verification Services header.

adding google webmaster

Step 8. Click on ‘save changes’ at the bottom of the page.

Step 9. Go back to the Verification Google tab and click the red ‘Verify’ button.

That’s it, your done! Now you just need to wait for some data to be collected so that you can get your insights.

So what will you see in Google Webmaster Tools after a few weeks?

Below you’ll see a couple of examples from our blog. Google Webmaster tools will only give you the past three months of data, so it’s a good idea to check in every couple of weeks and see what’s going on.

The graph shows how many times we’re appearing in Google search queries and how many times we’re being “clicked” on.

The list below shows just the start of the sort of search terms people are using that our blog is appearing for (there’s 641 search terms in total for the past three months).

You’ll see we show up for a WIDE variety of terms, largely because we blog about such a wide range of topics on ideas and creativity. (As a blogging strategy, that isn’t necessarily a smart one for getting traffic via Google, but we think it’s better for us and our readers.)

Knowing the search terms you’re appearing for allows you to decide if you want to TRY to get more traffic from that, by blogging more about those topics. It also gives you some idea of whether you’re appearing for keywords you’d want to. In an ideal world, we’d appear in search results for terms like ‘daily creative ideas’, which we do, but nowhere near as often as we do for ‘placemat template’! Why? Google has decided we’re more of an authority right now on placemats than the more generic daily creative ideas, due to a combination of factors – detail in posts, number of posts, amount of traffic on those posts (from Google but also other sources), etc.

So hopefully you can see how the information from Google Webmaster Tools can give you some insight into how your blog is performing and if you’re getting the sort of traffic you’d hope to – and get some ideas on how to change your posts if you want to change the traffic you’re getting.


search queries

search terms


Friday colour – books and artichoke

I’m sitting in the library trying to write, so here is a book-inspired colour palette for today.


Good growing soil, russet, leather journal, forgotten pink, dirty cream, foggy beach sky, blue dress.

Colour-Palette_PORTRAIT-books-4 Colour-Palette_PORTRAIT-books-3 Colour-Palette_PORTRAIT-books-2Colour-Palette_PORTRAIT-books-5

And here are some more book-inspired palettes: with red, with pink, and with navy blue.

Victorian typography at its crazy best

There’s no doubt the Victorian era has had a huge influence on typography trends of today- think hand-crafted script fonts, scrolls, condensed type and curved headings. Great typographers like Luca Ionescu and Ged Palmer owe a lot to their Victorian predecessors.

So here are some images to gaze at and admire- all of these examples have been sourced from The British Library’s photostream on Flickr, a fantastic image resource.

[Illustrated Official Handbook of the Cape and South Africa. A r

Sketches of City Life ... “The Library.” Côte occidentale d'Afrique. Vues, scènes, croquis. Nombreuse Mysteries and Miseries of America's Great Cities, embracing New Victorian_typography_05 Victorian_typography_06 Victorian_typography_07 Pennsylvania illustrated; a general sketch of the State, its sce The National Burns. Edited by Rev. George Gilfillan, including t The Great Eastern Railway Company's Tourist-Guide to the Contine [The Countries of the World: being a popular description of the The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Unannotated edition.

Want some more type? Check out these pics of signage in Clunes or this post on typography in packaging. And here’s my top ten favourite fonts.

Have you got your elevator pitch ready?

elevator pitch

Creating, generating ideas, developing business concepts is just the start of any creative journey. Once you’ve ‘created’ you often have to tell others about it – whether it be trying to convince them of the strength of your idea or even selling them a product or service. You rarely have long to convince people to keep listening to you – you may only have 30 seconds on the phone, or in person, before someone has decided if they’re going to engage with you – or pass. That’s why it’s worth having an ‘elevator pitch’ rehearsed and ready.


Imagine you and your dream potential customer (or person you need to convince of something) are suddenly in an elevator alone. You’re only travelling ten floors (or pehaps in an airport queue, or waiting for your latte). In the very short time you’ve got alone, can you get her interested, enough to keep the conversation going or get an appointment? What you deliver in that time is your elevator pitch. It is, at most, 3-4 sentences that deliver a result.


1. Know what you are trying to achieve—are you looking to close or just keep the conversation going?
2. Know your target—Have you taken the time to understand your audience?
3. It’s not about you—Forget what you want to say. What’s important to your target?
4. Keep it real—Don’t use generic words or meaningless phrases. ‘Total Solution’ or ‘Innovative new approach’ come to mind. Use real words that still mean something.
5. Be specific—Don’t say “It’s our people that make the difference.” Exactly what difference do they make? And how is this different than what anyone else can claim?
6. Preparation is key—Don’t shoot from the hip. Be ready. Put some thought & research into your pitch.
7. Solve a problem—If you know your target market, you know their problem. Make sure what you are pitching solves that problem in some way. Even if one doesn’t really exist, make them worry it does!
8. Let your passion show—Enthusiasm is both attractive and catching. Don’t be a robot. Get passionate about your ability to solve their problem, and they’re more likely to believe you can.
9. Practice—Practice your pitch, just in case the opportunity presents. This is more than just writing it down. This is testing it on people you know and asking for honest feedback.
10. Keep it short—This is not a half hour presentation. You’ve got a minute or two at most. Think about a news story. What makes the headline or the first para? Just enough to make you want to keep reading. Learn from this. Make your words count!


Quickly, without thinking too much, write down what you are selling in 3-4 sentences: Your ‘elevator pitch’. It might be an idea, your own business, a product or service you’ve developed.


Read over what you’ve written.

Would it excite a prospect, make them want to learn more?
Does it bring out what’s truly unique or exciting about you or your product or service offering?
If you’re like most people, you might struggle to clearly articulate what you’re pitching in a compelling and concise manner. (Even experienced sales people do
a terrible job most of the time).
You must learn to sum up unique aspects of your service/ product/idea/creation in a way that excites others. You need to consider, and share, what really sets you apart.

Sometimes you have time to tell a story; many times you don’t. Ultimately, your pitch must to survive the ‘So what?’ test. In other words, you want to ensure that question is eliminated for your prospect.

For example:
“I am the owner of a small agency”. So what?
“We have clients in all sorts of industries.” So what? “We would love to work with you.” So what?
“We have an existing client interested in a cross promotion that will generate double your normal widget sales.” Okay, now I’m interested.