In the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate the joys of cooking more. Before, I would’ve avoided being too adventurous in the kitchen, sticking with my pasta, and curry sauces from a jar.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this, but I’ve found there’s no better feeling than trying my hand at complex dishes I wouldn’t normally eat. Better yet, when things actually go right, you get a delicious meal out of it!
Just as cooking can bring enormous satisfaction and provide a veritable feast, the same can be said about writing content. When you hit the nail on the head with your writing, you feel a great sense of triumph and produce a feast for the eyes, for both yourself and the reader.
So, here are four things cooking can teach you about writing engaging content to fully satisfy your readers’ appetite.
1. Do your research beforehand
This may seem obvious, but research is of the utmost importance when cooking. During a trip to Angola to visit my parents, I spotted a whole fresh octopus while I was out shopping – an unusual sight back home.
I was excited by the notion of cooking it, so I purchased the slightly alien-looking creature, and in true Scottish fashion, decided to deep-fry it when I returned to the house.
Though, in my excitement, I failed to do the proper research before cleaning the eight-armed cephalopod. While some cultures do, apparently, eat the hard chitin rings found in the suckers, many online sources recommended peeling the octopus and removing them with the skin.
I now wish I had reviewed this information before I started cooking, as the deep-fried strips were at best chewy, at worst crunchy. It’s fair to say I couldn’t stomach octopus for a while after that.
No matter how familiar you are with the subject matter of your writing, it’s essential that you do adequate research beforehand. Doing so gives your content the best chance of coming across as clear and convincing.
Remember, your readers are intelligent; if they spot a lack of research or issues with the authenticity of your facts, they may be deterred from reading your content in the future.
Unless you too want to deal with hard chitin rings, or in this case, inaccurate information and a lack of insight, make sure you do your readers justice by researching topics thoroughly long before you start writing.
2. Know your audience like the back of your hand
You should remember that everyone has their own individual tastes – it doesn’t matter if you’re a wizard in the kitchen if you cook a meal with ingredients that someone doesn’t like.
Suppose you prepare a fantastic salmon-based dish for a friend that hates fish. No matter how well you pull the recipe off, chances are, they won’t enjoy it.
Just like cooking, it’s important to remember that we usually aren’t just writing for ourselves, but for the pleasure of others, too.
When you know precisely what content your readers crave, you can make informed decisions about the details to include so they understand the point you’re getting across properly.
You should also let this influence the overall tone and style of your content. If, for example, you’re composing an article about how best to utilise your retirement fund in the next chapter of your life, it may be unwise to tailor your writing towards younger audiences.
Just because you can prepare the most technically complex dish, or in this instance, content, there’s no point pouring your heart into it if the one to consume it won’t even savour the meal.
3. Fresh ingredients make all the difference
If you’ve ever watched Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares or a similar cooking programme, you’ll know how much the angry yet pragmatic chef purports using fresh ingredients.
Long-life foods often use preservatives and excess salt or sugar to keep the ingredients “fresh”, while canned foods are typically sterilised through boiling, making the product lose its natural taste.
Even freezing causes water within the ingredients to expand, entirely changing the texture and taste of the finished product.
When I’m writing, I sometimes find myself constantly using the same phrases until I realise my mistake and manage to break the habit. For instance, when writing lifestyle pieces about the gorgeous British countryside, I often wear out the word “breathtaking”.
Much like fresh ingredients can make a world of difference to your meals, using new and exciting phrases and adjectives can really spice up your writing.
If, like me, you find you’re stuck in a pattern of using the same language, it may be worth creating a list of interchangeable terms and phrases to use in your writing.
Say you constantly find yourself using “also” as a conjunctive adverb – make a list comprised of others to use, such as “furthermore” and “accordingly”.
While nothing is stopping you from using the same stale language, or indeed ingredients, try switching it up with fresh ideas to bring a breath of fresh air to your writing.
4. Don’t be afraid to stray from your comfort zone
I hate to say it, but British food isn’t the most exciting of cuisines out there. That isn’t to say it’s all bland and inedible – I love a good shepherd’s pie or a plate of haggis, neeps, and tatties, after all.
But sometimes, British recipes can disappoint when you want to cook an extravagant meal with an abundance of exquisite flavours. So, just because a recipe may seem daunting with a list of ingredients as long as your arm, doesn’t mean you should avoid it. After all, how else would you improve your skills in the kitchen?
You should embrace this creativity in both your cooking and writing, as doing so could bring a new and exciting twist to both.
When writing content, it’s often advantageous to “know a little about a lot”. Say, for instance, you solely write about marketing; it may be worth changing things up and trying your hand at a different topic now and then.
Not only could this break up your usual routine, but it could also help you view subjects, both old and new, from an unfamiliar perspective. Your readers may also appreciate a deviation from your typical content every now and then too!
Just remember: both writing and cooking are “easy to learn, hard to master”, so don’t be afraid to break the cycle from time to time.
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While we may not be able to help you improve your cooking skills, we can provide you with engaging content to hook readers and bring real value to your business.
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