I cooked pork for dinner tonight.
Seared, then simmered in a garlic-white wine reduction sauce, sprinkled with parsley and pepper.
It was awesome.
But as I was thinking about the method–prepare, add ingredients, then cook until desired doneness, I couldn’t help but think of the relationship between cooking and blogging (I know, I’m a huge dork).
As we sat down to eat, I thought about the expression “tastes like chicken,” and I couldn’t help but wonder:
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
When we cook, do we want everything to turn out tasting like chicken–bland and the same as everything else? Probably not.
In the same way, why would we want our blogs and websites to “taste like chicken”–to emulate exactly everything else we see online around the Web.
As authors, artists, and creators, creativity is in our blood; it’s what we’re made to do. Why should we want to seem like everyone else?
For one, we want what we’re doing to work. We know that there are a thousand ways to grow a decent readership and build a platform, but there are at least a million ways to do it incorrectly. It’s much easier to fail, so we naturally look toward the ones who are doing it right.
Hell, I’m definitely a culprit: my newsletter starts out by asking “What are you struggling with? How can I help?” It’s a strategy I learned at Derek’s website, Social Triggers. It works exceptionally well, and I don’t want to stop doing it.
But the more of this kind of stuff we do, the more ideas we “lift” from each other and use on our own site, the closer to “chicken” we become.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with chicken, or being a chicken. It’s just common, everyday, and not “exceptional.”
Here are some ways your blog might taste like chicken:
- You’re using a very common theme or template, with little customization.
- There isn’t any artistry involved with your site design (minimalists, don’t worry–I feel you).
- You get all of your images from stock photography websites.
- Your writing is conservative; plain. You’re not pissing anybody off with your topics and ideas.
- You’re providing the same content, in the same ways, as everyone else in your niche.
Is there anything wrong with this?
I’ll let you decide: Is there anything wrong with eating chicken?
Nope, but if you eat it every night and day, you’ll probably get a little tired of it.
To combat these things, you don’t need to be the most artistic person on the planet, or the most witty, or the best designer. You don’t even need to really say different stuff; at some point, everything in a niche has already been said anyway.
Instead, you need to focus on making your chicken taste like something else–or the best chicken anyone’s ever tasted.
The best way to do that is to not make chicken.
What do I mean by all of this double-talk?
It’s simple, really. You don’t need an amazing, top-secret recipe. You just need to change the ingredients:
- Instead of chicken, use steak. Instead of writing about plot, or character development, give us examples of terrible plots and horrendous characters.
- Rather than another list post, give us one amazing tip that we’d be stupid not to implement immediately.
- If your niche is full of great written content and eBooks, be the blog that only does video interviews.
- Write a manifesto.
These are examples of “ingredients” I’ve used to keep things fresh. It hasn’t always worked, and I don’t claim to have done everything right. However, I can’t say that my blog seems like “chicken” anymore, especially compared to what it used to be!
You don’t need to do something ridiculous or crazy just for attention, but you do need to be different than the people around you. We don’t need more “me too” people–we need thought leaders, thinkers, and creators, and all of us are capable of becoming someone like that.
The recipe for anti-chicken is 1 part confidence and 1 part something to say, but we get choose on our own how we cook it!