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Homemade: The Deluxe Alternative to AI

When people know you put in the effort and you are ok you’ll never be perfect, everyone can win.

The pursuit for perfection is now a part of our lives where the lift up from AI makes us look smarter and more accomplished than we ever thought possible. However, what makes us stand out is the homemade approach to becoming better at our craft and accepting that the connections with others are central to who we are.

This article is to make that stand that our quirks and being slightly rough around the edges is what makes our work stand out.

Where This Started

I am giving full credit here to Ann Handley and her presentation at the recent Creator Economy Expo. The overall message was that while AI and ChatGPT are now a part of our lives, is the goal to be quicker at what we produce? 

If speed is now utopia, what is the point of creating? Ann mentioned that we sometimes forget that the joy of the work is what matters. It’s the ability to figure out, improve what we do and encourage others to feel a part of something (so they feel at home and share). 

Here are the four words that Ann said that have struck with more than any other sentence in 2023 is this… 

Homemade commands a premium

What if we shifted our thinking and approach from being flawless and striving to be excellent to the effort we put in. This is what leads to progress. 

Here is what homemade means to me: creativity, practice, honesty, not worrying about the immediate outcome, originality, personalised, genuine. Even glitches, awkwardness and messiness have a pride of place when homemade.

The Problem We Have Today

The danger with ChatGPT is the premature assumption we’re now faultless. We can be artists, we can write essays, we can strategise, and we can deliver work that would normally take us months to get right, in a matter of moments.

There is a lot to be said about AI having the ability to deliver what we ask it to do it, but then again there is still room for us to do that as well.

When we produce work that is always assisted and handheld, what starts to happen is that validation and confirmation from strangers take over the ability to create for the right people. In May, LinkedIn introduced its vision for generative AI prompts for posts. The recipe for progress is anything but creative. 

The answers (and posts) are ready in minutes.

Why it pays to champion homemade

One thing I have realised over the years is that doing something that might not work, helps to pave the way for something that eventually has its place. 

Letting your own ideas come to fruition, introduced and monitored, helps you get to a place where you have genuine meaning in what you do. For the most part, the scenarios and outcomes we all wish for, are far more likely that they won’t happen. 

I have spent many years delivering work that just didn’t progress. Only now am I realising this drive and curiosity to figure out and the willingness to step back and make refinements is where everything gels. With ChatGPT we are focused on the now, when you take a homemade approach, you’ve got to come back to assess the ingredients and be prepared to taste (and take risks that someone else hasn’t taken). 

When we use ChatGPT the focus is always on the outcome from the instruction you type. When you take a homemade approach to your work and figure out as you progress, you have to accept the results are what you cannot control. When you acknowledge that you’ll never be able to minimise errors, that is where the great opportunity lies.

First-Hand Proof Of Homemade 

By living a scrapbook-inspired approach, where I’ll share with you progress, has enabled me to become better at my work. It means that the spaces that are curated are now in a much stronger place for people to enjoy. An example of this is YATM Creator Day.

This is what homemade represents. Let me explain.

If I followed predictable patterns I would have delivered a conference-themed event. This means the emphasis on talks from others for the entire day, but still gives people the opportunity to chat and network.

By figuring out a recipe that was right for YATM and Creator Day, it meant beginning in unknown territory. For instance, during Covid we introduced online shows on Zoom, and we then created the YATM Month Of Learning. As the months progressed, we delivered hybrid events where we could reach out to others from around the world.

A central part of Creator Day is our working together section during the afternoon. This is where the focus shifts from the presenters as the stars of the show, to the people who attend and work in their own groups to produce a piece of work. This is all about accountability, encouragement and togetherness. This homemade approach has only progressed by continually testing to get to a place that feels relevant for others. This is something that no instruction would have suggested from AI. 

You can either stick to proven methods or forge your own path, and be ok that it may not work, but finding strength in the opportunity to try.

How To Think About Handcrafted Your Side

Charting your own course comes from focusing on the process and not the immediate outcome. 

Here is what can work. If you have an idea, jump in now. Here’s what you need to take on board with your homemade approach: 

Spec out what you need to make a start.

Identify who you are creating for, find the medium you feel most comfortable with (i.e. don’t try to be everywhere at once) and begin. You also have to be prepared to find a trade-off. This is something in your life that has to stop for you to do this. For instance, when I started the YATM newsletter where I worked better in the evenings with two young children, it meant no TV. 

Share your personality. Be vocal about your perspective. 

I realise that the more personal something is, the more universally it resonates. Don’t hold back on your perspective on an issue or idea. For instance, one of my most popular articles was when I deleted the entire YATM database in July 2019 by mistake and lost everything (read I deleted my entire database).

Embrace ‘good enough’ and keep going.

Embrace your imperfections and know that it’s the message that matters. You start to live in a far happier place! I started creating weekly videos for the newsletter in the summer of 2019. When I began, I wasn’t very confident when pressing record and you can see from this video below (about deleting the YATM database, above) that I wasn’t the most accomplished presenter to get a message across. That is perfect when you start, as you become better over time, the more you step up.

Create and get it out there.

You don’t need to sit waiting for the perfect piece of work, others will overtake you. You also have to know when you’ve gone as far as you can and when your work is ready and good to go. 

Outreach matters.

Sharing your work is as important as creating it in the first place, and essential if you’re looking to build an audience. So distribute, promote and get others on board to shout about it. Invite feedback from others, but don’t become too led astray. It is important for your work to connect, with you standing beside what you distribute.

Let’s Round-Up

Coming back to what Ann Handley said ‘homemade commands a premium.’ I now realise why. It’s the processes, learning, curiosity, development, continual connection and personal drive that will always beat the output.

Adding personality and bringing you into your work is what encourages others to step forwards with you. 

Overthinking and believing that you have to look smarter, with all the tools elevating you is fine, but let’s never forget the momentum that builds when you lean into a space that you can put your own stamp on, where you hone your skills at the same time. This is what makes you comfortable, relevant and sharing the right message to the audience that needs you. 

Being valuable to others is from the work you do where your audience knows you care and you’re prepared to do the work and welcome others to join in with you.

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