Small Ideas, Big Results: The Story of Postsecret

The idea is simple: write your secret anonymously on a postcard and mail it. This was Frank Warren’s idea for something that began as an art experiment but what now is worth over £3,300,000. But because it is so simple we have to stop and ask: how did a project - an idea - become so successful? 

Founded on January 1 2005, Warren wanted people to write down secrets that they had never said before. There would be no barriers on what was accepted and, to date, the secrets have ranged from adultery to murder, hopes to dreams. Between 2005 – 2007, Warren had received over 2500 secrets from people around the US and would upload ten secrets onto his Blogspot every Sunday. Warren's reasoning behind the project was that he wanted to bring strangers together through secrets. 

By 2007 www.postsecretcommunity.com was launched and since then over 80,000 users have registered to see the secrets and discuss them. Warren’s success however was not met without controversy. With the chance to discuss the secrets available to the public many said that it contradicted the whole project. The point of Postsecret was not to judge. Warren’s original premise, however, never changed and his opinion on commenting was to create a community. The whole project, he said, was about community, bring these strangers together. The ups and downs did not end there. By 2011, a Postsecret app was launched. It soared to the top selling spot but had to be closed down in December due to malicious entries happening far too regularly.

Postsecret, however, continues to grow. Five books have been released since its founding and people’s secrets continue to be shared around the world. The simple idea that was Postsecret has made Frank Warren famous and an inspirational figure. Warren lecturers at different Universities – most notably at the TED conference – and travels around with many secrets. And why do people come to these lecturers? Why do people buy the books? Because people want to feel connected, they want to know they're not alone, they want an outlet. Warren recognised this and used this idea. 

What is interesting – fascinating you could say – about this business is that it all started with a small idea. When we look at the some of the biggest businesses today they all do. Facebook started with the idea of connecting people. Twitter with putting short messages online. It goes on. Postsecret was an art project. A way of trying to portray art in a different way and thereby became a fast growing and extraordinarily original business. Warren’s premise has not changed and he continues to profess it: to bring strangers together through secrets.