What An Expensive Dry-Aged Steak Taught Me About Blogging

by Derek Halpern · 28 comments

That's a truffle. Not too appetizing, but hey!

A few weeks ago, I ordered an expensive dry-aged steak from one of the world’s top steakhouses.

Most dry-aged steak is aged for 28-35 days, but this steak was aged for 8 months.

To top it off, I added 5 grams of truffle shavings for additional flavor, successfully making the steak cost ~$200.00.

How did it taste? And what does this have to do with blogging?

How Fascinating Stories Shape Our Perceptions

Yes, the steak was expensive, but the fascinating story made my palate go nuts!

As I mentioned earlier, this steak was aged 8 times longer than other dry-aged steaks.

(Longer must be better, right?)

Additionally, I added 5 grams of truffle shavings, which cost ~$15 per gram.

(If you’re unfamiliar with truffles, they are one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. They grow up to a meter below the ground, and you need a specially trained dog or pig to find them).

And finally, when I asked to order the steak, the server said something like this: “I’m not sure if we have any left. Since it’s aged so long, we often run out, but I’ll check.”

(The steak is aged longer, has expensive ingredients, and oh no, I might not be able to get any).

This steak MUST be good. The story demands it!

Here’s why this matters to you…

What’s this steak have to do with your blogging and business?

Well, as you saw, each detail of the steak was refined and packaged into a story that shaped my perception of it. That’s why I was willing to pay $200.00 for it.

Online, you should do the same thing.

You’ve got to find your ingredients, scarcity, and of course, what makes your service different (like how long you spend working with a client for example).

And once you know what that is, you’ve got to hammer it home. Nail it down, and communicate it in bite-sized chunks so people know exactly what you’re offering them and why it matters.

Now let’s look at a real-life example

What’s the example?

It’s Thesis.

Here’s how Thesis works:

1. Thesis uses bulletproof code that’s tailor-made to rank high in search engines. It’s optimized for SEO, right out of the box, unlike many other free WordPress themes.

2. Chris Pearson refined Thesis options over the last few years, and tweaked it for maximum performance and durability. It’s not simply a new WordPress theme, it’s a theme framework that has been refined to perfection for YEARS.

And while that just scratches the surface, you get the idea.

Now let’s pass it to you…

How can you create these bite-sized chunks for your business or blog?

First, think about what results your potential customers want from you.

Then, take inventory of what you do to achieve those results.

Do you use proprietary methods? Do you do anything different than your competition? Do you have special ingredients? If so, elaborate on them.

As one more example, let’s look at Social Triggers.

My blog is the only marketing blog (that I know of) that combines human behavior research with human behavior on the web. What’s that mean? It means that my advice is backed-up with experience and DATA.

It must be good!

And then what do I do? I tell everyone about it. It’s my bite-sized chunk, and it shapes your perception of my blog (or so I hope :-D).

Now how about you?

What makes you amazing? And what’s your story to back it up?

(Oh, and for the record, the steak tasted great, but I HATE the smell of truffles. Go figure. They are a fungus, and they grow underground, heh).

About the Author: Derek Halpern ran marketing at DIYthemes, and is the founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on how to be confident, sign up to his list here.

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I love how focused you are on building your brand; even to the point that you look for daily situations to incorporate into your writing.

I also love how you were thinking, “you better have steak, I’m trying to build an online story!” haha



$200? I’d rather have a sandwich.

Dennis Wilen

It’s nice, I guess, you have $200 to spend on dinner.

What’s not so nice is thinking there is a lesson we can relate to in your wasteful, boastful conspicuous consumption.

What kind of 1% company have I hooked up with?


Derek Halpern

Stop being so sensitive. It was a friends 30th birthday. We were celebrating.


Not sure Dennis was being sensitive. The smiley face indicates he was being a bit tongue in cheek, don’t you think?

J S Gilbert

It doesn’t sound much different than the 3 step process for identity statements.

1. Who are you?

2. What do you do?

3. What is your value?

In today’s society, price often gets bandied about as a main selling point. Sometimes our “jobs” become that of having to switch the emphasis from price to value.

The blogs are free, but some offer more value. My price is my time and energy I take to read them.


So… where did you get the steak?

Danny Cruz

Woah Derek. I really enjoyed this one. The build up story to the steak made the post for me! I was expecting you to to say, “The steak sucked and didn’t taste like $200 at all!” but I’m glad that wasn’t the case! Ha.


Great article! Not only for blogging but for writing of any kind. A statement further down raised a question in my mind though. Since Thesis is already optimized for SEO, do services like Scribe really add anything to a Thesis powered site?


Just another great example of challenges versus obstacles or perspective. When you’re driven, believe in yourself, and doing what you love, every experience is a learning process. You see everything as it applies to what you’re doing and how it can help you succeed.

Like seeing an aged steak and relating to building a brand.

Mark the mechanic

2 questions: about a year ago someone mentioned they where working on Thesis 2.0. Seems like 1.8 is the latest version. Will there be a Thesis 2.0? Second thing was I could not find a place to ask the first question (did I miss it?).

Derek Halpern

Thesis 2.0 is currently being worked on. Look out for it soon.

Annie Sisk (Pajama Productivity)

Couple of things:
(1) First- great breakdown of the basics of creating your online marketing story. Well done.
(2) It’s “palate” in this context, not “palette.”
(3) I wonder how many hungry families you could have fed dinner to for that $200 in your town. Yes, I get it was a special occasion, and no, I’m no socialist — it’s your cash, you can spend it however you want — but I wouldn’t be standing true to *my* values if I didn’t point out an awesome alternative: The birthday boy/girl and close friends could have gotten together at a local shelter and donated the ingredients for a simple, basic meal; cooked it together and served it to those who would otherwise go hungry; and walked away both feeling truly blessed and having given something truly priceless.

Derek Halpern

That’s not what we did though. We instead went to Las Vegas, and celebrated. I do see how your idea could have been good too though. Maybe that’s what I’ll do for my 30th.

Annie Sisk (Pajama Productivity)

I wholeheartedly encourage this idea! It’s a big idea, suitable for a “big” one like your 30th. 🙂


Actually, this kind of thing is best done anonymously. Otherwise, it looks like you’re just trying to impress folks with how charitable or moral you are.

Also, for what it’s worth, posting such advice in a public forum for others can come across that way sometimes, too. Not saying your post in particular. Just saying some might interpret it that way.

Anyhow, a lot of marketers (and others) use charitable activities to promote themselves and/or their business. Even Tony Robbins does it sometimes.

I guess if the only incentive you can come up with to do the right thing is if you get some self-promotion out of it, that’s better than nothing; but I guess I saw too much of this kind of behavior growing up among so-called Christians. I still see too much of it. Personally, it always kinda bothers me any time someone uses such activities in an apparent effort to promote themselves and/or their business.

Just do it because you believe it is the right thing to do, and then stay quiet about it.

Josh Sarz

I love steak, but I never fancied truffles or any of that additional stuff. Great way to mix in Thesis and a backup story for your blog or business.

As always, I’m amazed Derek.


Great coaching. I am really excited to begin seeing the results of my new Thesis site. Just began a week ago and although I am not seeing what I want to see, I am happy I have made this move. I will be looking for more kernels of wisdom. Thanks.


Can’t see how this can help me, I’m a vegetarian.


Great story Derek and highlights the point well. I’m using Thesis for two sites and love it. The ‘bite sized chunks’ part has just given me an idea for another one so thank you! 🙂



It cracks me up- you ask great engaging questions and everyone (including me) failed to answer them.

I’m new to the blogosphere, but I would say my consistency for writing is what makes me amazing right now. (V for vain, but you asked) Success is itchin’ within me and I’m willing to pay the necessary price to make it happen. 🙂

katinka day

Don’t like the smell of truffles, that’s sacrilegious! 😉 Liked your story, I am one step closer to being persuaded to use your theme. Thanks for all the emails! Katinka


I wanted to start this in forum but since you mention it… I bought a developers license of Thesis and I am very satisfied with it. But I have to say that I am very disappointed with updates. There were only one or two in the last one a half year that I use Thesis and I am wondering what is the team behind Thesis doing lately or in all this time. There are a lot of new theme frameworks available that are as good as Thesis and they add functionalities more regularly. At Thesis you can find that others are selling Admin options updates that should already be implemented in Thesis long time ago. And btw I like Thesis and especially your blog but that are just some thoughts on my mind.

Derek Halpern

Hi Martin,

Thesis 2.0 is being worked on, and will be out soon. It’s been in development for more than a year now, and we’re almost ready to launch it.

If you look at all of the other competitive theme frameworks, you’ll find that Thesis is just as feature-packed. We also have one of the most extensive documentations of any framework. See that here: http://diythemes.com/thesis/rtfm


Just my opinion, but I think you are mistaken.

I have used various other products and to say that “there are a lot of new theme frameworks available that are as good as Thesis” is, I believe, a great misunderstanding.

I have no idea, of course, whether my experience is typical or not, but for whatever it is worth, I have not found anything yet that ranks as well in the search engines for a given niche and promotional effort — which leads me to believe that there are *not* “a lot of new theme frameworks available that are as good as Thesis.”

But again, just my opinion and my experience.


I got the point Derek. It’s really quite simple.

You get what you pay for.

Just don’t add any skins/truffles.

Al Spaulding

Great way to correlate your steak story with blogging. As usual you have that unique way of writing that I enjoy thoroughly. thanks Derek


Susan Branch Smith

Derek, I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I enjoyed your style and great writing skills. Inspiring.