Bring a Unique Dessert

If you want to make friends at a party, bring dessert. Don’t bring something standard. That’s boring. Bring something unique and fit for the occasion.

A limited-edition flavor of Sour Patch Kids will be a hit at a 3rd grader’s birthday party, but it’s probably not acceptable for a black-tie awards dinner. If you want attention, decoration matters as much as taste. The more your chocolate cake looks like something you’d find at a world-famous bakery, the more popular it will be. No matter how good your cake is, nobody wants to eat a smushed up ball that looks like mud. 

Writing online is like bringing dessert to a party. You can either invent your own recipe or add a unique twist to a popular one, both of which I’ll explain below. 

When writing, look for in-demand topics that nobody else is writing about. At a party where people are only expected to bring appetizers, this is the ice cream in the heart of your chocolate cake or the Kahlua liqueur to match it. The biggest risk is that nobody wants what you have to offer. To solve that, look for an unnamed topic that people are already talking about. Then plant your flag in the middle of its orbit. That’s what Jason Crawford did with The Roots of Progress. But Jason believes that human progress is important and under-studied, so he started writing about the philosophy of human progress and built a reputation as “The Progress Studies Guy.” As a writer, he has almost no competition, but those who do should add a unique twist to a popular topic. 

You can succeed without being the first person to write about a topic, but only if you have a differentiated point of view. Bring a chocolate cake and that differentiation will come from colorful candles or frosting as ornate as a Moorish palace. When Ben Thompson started Stratechery, the Internet was filled with people writing about technology. But all that attention was focused on products, not the business of technology. Thompson had a unique perspective too. He’d spent the previous 20 years studying the industry, and that knowledge was furthered by an MBA from Kellogg. Inspired by Ben’s success, a Write of Passage alumnus named Packy McCormick started a website called Not Boring where he adds a funny pop culture spin to business analysis. Like anybody trying to add a unique twist, Packy’s biggest risk was a lack of differentiation. But he stands out with funny memes and a casual but intelligent flair you rarely find in business writing. It’s like Packy got tired of boring desserts, said screw it, and brought a piñata to the party. 

Avoid competition by bringing treats that everybody wants but nobody thought to bring. If you’re still worried about your cake standing out, tell your story. Maybe you can make your grandma’s favorite recipe. Or maybe, you can add homegrown fruits from your backyard garden. Whatever you do, bring a unique dessert and add a personal touch.

Sign up for my free writing course if you want to learn more.

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