Digital Transcendence: The Recipe that Will Give Your Blog an Afterlife

Consider all the ingredients that come together and make up the food we eat. There are endless possibilities to what pastries could be made from a bit of flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and whatever else you might find in your pantry. Cakes, cookies, muffins, sweet breads, donuts, and pies all have thousands of different varieties and can be made using techniques that differ among cultures and traditions.

Now that your mouth is watering and your stomach growling, take a moment to think about how and why you know what they are and how they’re made. As humans, we need to eat. As communities, we have limitations on the availability of ingredients. As a culture, we have foods that have become a tradition. As a country founded and built by immigrants, we have been imbued with the culinary wisdom of dozens of cultures with centuries of experience.

These foods have persisted through the ages because of a singular social construct: the recipe.

Recipes transcend their creators. They are more than ink and paper. They have their own past, their own present, and their own future. Recipes live on because of their importance in the minds of those who’ve made it, those who’ve eaten it, and those who’ve taught the recipes to others.

Like recipes, all the bits of information, ideas, and values that define us will live on in the minds of those around us and those to come. In Superconnected, Mary Chayko writes that “all social connections and groupings, including those that originate face-to-face, exist in their most complete form in the minds of their members.”

The knowledge we have curated in our lifetime can be passed on through our interconnectedness and be given a life of its own. Here are a few observations on what we can do to make our blogs as consumable and memorable as grandma’s thanksgiving pies:

What is accessible to your audience?

What good is a recipe if you don’t have all the ingredients? Likewise, what good is the information you’re sharing with your audience if they lack the background knowledge to give it the proper context?

Hubspot’s blog on knowing your audience recommends monitoring audience feedback. Analyze how people are responding to your content to gauge their understanding. If the only thing people have are questions about the flux capacitor, then you know you need to edit your blog and add in some helpful notes from Doc Brown.

What does your audience really want?

There’s only one reason a recipe can disappear from existence—no one wants it. Create a recipe for chocolate chip salmon tarts and see how long it lasts. Similarly, the information you share will have to fall into two main categories:

Something familiar: Whether it’s a reliably fruitful experience or a quick answer to a quick question, some audiences know what they want and expect to find it on your page.

Something new and exciting: Audiences are often reading and researching to learn new things or to find inspiration that will bring them out of a rut.

You can prepare your audience for what kind of content you’re giving them in your page title. It can either be a “This is how it’s done” title or a “What if you try this” title.

Always add flavor.

Whether for good or bad, both food and knowledge are memorable for their unique qualities. Find a way to make your words resonates in your audience’s mind after they read it. Maybe it’s a good pun, a line of wisdom, or the perfect chart that illustrates an idea.

Your audience may not remember you or the name of your blog, but if the knowledge you share transcends the page and finds a place in their memory, you have come a step closer to bringing something immortal into the universe.

Posted on October 4, 2020, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Aaron, you recipe metaphor is an apt one and it actually reminds me of some work tech comm folks have done on cookbooks as manuals or even this exchange about a recipe as documentation: https://idratherbewriting.com/2009/11/27/a-microcosm-of-technical-writing-in-the-kitchen-while-cooking-a-pie-for-thanksgiving/

  2. Great post, Aaron!
    I used to subscribe to “Breakfast In The Ruins”, a blog that reviewed horror films from the 70’s and 80’s. I would compare this blog to a gastro-pub or a theme restaurant: the experience isn’t mainstream, but if you are a fan of the content, you will come back for more. You might only reach a select audience, but the fan base will be loyal because of the rarity and quality of your blog.
    http://breakfastintheruins.blogspot.com/2011/01/destroy-all-movies-complete-guide-to.html?zx=f1c965cb4ce11d69

  3. Aaron,
    I agree with you that monitoring the feedback of audience is very important. By doing so, the writer of the blog can catch up with the trend that the public wants. It might be the main reason that I don’t do blogging because I am not interested in keeping up with current issues, and neither am I diligent enough to check how current issues change and reach their own conclusion in the end. Anyway, if a blogger is able to put additional factors to his/her blog as you mentioned, it might produce words that transcends space and time that lasts perpetually around the audience in the universe. Like you said, it is not the most important thing whether or not your audience can remember your blog’s tile. What matters is what a blogger influentially says in the blog.
    Thank you for the nice post, Aaron.
    YJ

  4. Aaron
    This entry reminded me of one of the concepts in a book I’m currently listening to called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The idea is that there must be a core purpose or identity that guides all decisions and actions. If you, your blog, or your food tries to be too many things, it ends up being none of them. One of the examples they used was Southwest Airlines, which has made an identity for itself out of being the low cost airline. Someone might suggest that passengers would appreciate a meal on a longer flight, which might be absolutely true, but as it would not contribute to their identity as the low cost airline, that idea is rejected. The fact that tofurkey has yet to take over our Thanksgiving meals is evidence to what happens when that principle is disregarded. If your blog is about writing, that’s what your readers expect. Don’t be pulled into being something else because in trying be all things, you end up being none of the things.

  5. Aaron,
    This is so true about not remembering the names of the people who shared the great recipes, and sometimes too the name of a blog author. The goal is not name recognition: it is all about the content. Going into technical writing is a bit like wanting to write good recipes: as long as the reader can successfully put dinner on the table, it’s a win for the writer. Many potential readers find blogs because they are looking for extra information on something specific, and they have expectations based on that search. I like the advice to stick to a “core purpose” for blogs. I would be disappointed if I discovered a great blog post talking about cake decorating, only to realize that the creator only posted this after her wedding; the blog is actually focused on photography. The photography readers expecting a new look at their craft might also be confused about the detour. While it is okay to be interested in many topics, an established blog needs a narrow focus to be successful.

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