During his 75 year career, Picasso produced an estimated 13,500 paintings. Plus 100,000 graphic prints or engravings. And 34,000 book illustrations (147,800 pieces total).
And unless you’re an art buff, you’d probably recognize maybe 5-10 of his paintings max.
Most creative works don’t catch fire and become world-renowned.
Even when you’re one of the most celebrated artists in history.
So if you’re expecting the next thing you create to be an instant hit… it may be time to rethink that approach.
If you’re always starting from zero, spending a ton of time and energy trying to create something 100% original, you’re going to get it wrong a lot.
The problem is…
Being wrong from scratch is exhausting.
It’ll drain you.
And this is true especially when it comes to the intersection of business and creativity.
Marketing has been going on for a long time.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time…
So what can you do instead?
Seth Godin talks about this concept of a “Scrapbook” in his book, This is Marketing (p. 85).
Here’s what Seth recommends:
- Find the things you think that those you engage with (i.e. your customers and audience) will be attracted to and will trust (e.g. typefaces, pricing, offers, images, etc)
- Cut them up, break them down into the original indivisible elements within.
- Rebuild something new on top of these pieces
Find the essential elements that matter to you and your audience, and weave them together into a new thing.
So how does this work for online businesses?
Step 1: Create a Swipe File
The basis for our scrapbook is what’s called a “swipe file”. It’s a collection of pages, emails, text and more that we enjoy or we know are proven to work.
As things catch your interest, go ahead and screenshot them.
Could be from your competitors. Could be from other industries not even related to yours.
(Pro tip: Use a Chrome Extension called Full Page Screen Capture to quickly screenshot entire pages)
Step 2: Weave Elements Into Your New Marketing Campaign
Then, when you create new marketing, you’ll have all this raw material ready to go for your scrapbooking.
Grab an image you really liked from this company’s page. Take this bit of explanation copy and put it over here.
Now to be clear: you don’t actually use their intellectual property in your final product. This is just to help get you started in the creative process. The final product should be your own.
Never start from scratch.