Emulate, Don't Duplicate

Emulate, Don't Duplicate
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My favorite way to “steal” ideas for content is to emulate creators you admire, without duplicating their content entirely. One is sincere flattery, another is theft. I trust you know the difference. Here’s how to do it…

The Niestat VLOG & Emulating Style

When I started my YouTube channel it was at the height of the Casey Neistat daily vlog experiment. I loved the way Casey shot his videos, told a story, and made every day life look so fun. His videos were art and I wanted to emulate that.

The practical way I did this was to do my own daily vlog. If you remember The Gap from Ira Glass, this was a classic example. I had a great taste but couldn't' measure up to Casey’s style in any way.

Instead of getting frustrated or spending hours trying to emulate his style (which he honed in his own 10,000 hours) I only tried to emulate a single shot or transition. I could create something I was really proud of without getting stuck.

Ali Abdaal & DIYow (do it your own way)

Another way to do this is by seeing what other creators in your niche are talking about and doing your own version of the topic. For example a popular video of Ali’s is “How I Remember Everything I Read”.

Without even watching the video I can start to come up with an idea about how I would talk about books, notes, highlights, and translating ideas into new content for fans.

Don’t miss this - all I need to see is the primary title, topic, and view count to get an sense that this is resonating with people. Just from that glance I can start to formulate my own video script without risking duplication of Ali’s video.

The risk on each of these tactics is at worst you’ll copy, at best you’ll be a little derivative of the original idea. But if you keep your own message in mind and seek to do it your own way (DIYOW) - then emulate, don’t duplicate is a great way to come up with proven content ideas and styles.

Emulating Process: Daily Podcasting with Ryan Holiday

My recent daily run of podcasting owes a lot to how Ryan Holiday structures his daily podcasts - Daily Stoic and Daily Dad. Every intro/outro is the same, only the day's lesson is new. It saves 5-10 minutes per episode, which over the span of 7 days can save me nearly an hour each week.

Every idea is a juxtaposition. That’s it. A juxtaposition of existing concepts. - Steven Grant

The Question: who is a creator you admire for the way they film videos, interview in podcasts, or write?