It’s my very first…BLOGIVERSARY!!!! Woo-hoo!!!!
On this day, exactly 1 year ago my mouse hovered shakily over the buy button on my computer screen. Should I buy easypeasyfoodie.com? Should I start a food blog? Was this really what I wanted to do with my life? I had spent months reading about blogs and a few weeks reading lots of food blogs (with hindsight I wish I’d spent longer on this) and I knew I wanted to do it, but it was a big commitment – I don’t do things by halves, I either do something properly or not at all.
I clicked…and that moment, quite literally changed my life…and definitely for the better.
And now here I am a whole year later and I am so excited because my blog is now 1!!!
I have had so many ideas buzzing round in my head about what I can do to celebrate my blogiversary, but I kept coming back to the idea of wanting to give something back – to the wannabe blogger who might just be, at this very moment be sitting with their mouse hovering over the buy button, debating with themselves if they should buy that domain name and become a fully-fledged blogger (you should!). Or to the newbie blogger who’s wondering if they’ve made a terrible mistake (you haven’t!). I have benefited so much from all the helpful advice from more experienced bloggers out there and I would really like to contribute my help and advice too.
But, still I had so many ideas in my head – best ofs, how tos, top tips, so I decided…all the best birthdays last more than one day don’t they? So my birthday will last a whole week. I will be posting a whole bunch of birthday related content for the next 7 days!!
So…welcome to my Easy Peasy Foodie Birthday Bonanza! Here’s what you can expect…
Today: 10 things I have learnt from my first of blogging
Saturday: 10 highlights from my first year of blogging
Sunday: My 10 most popular recipes from my first year of blogging
Monday: 10 things I’ve learnt about food photography from my first year of blogging
Tuesday: 10 top tips for wannabe food bloggers
Wednesday: How to start a food blog
Thursday: A day in the life of a food blogger
But before I get on and share my 10 things, I just want to say a GREAT BIG THANK YOU! To all of you, the lovely people who read my recipes and reviews, make my recipes, like me, follow me, share me, retweet me, comment on my posts and have generally encouraged me. My first year of blogging has been a total blast and I can wait for the next one to start!
10 things I have learnt from my first year of blogging
1. Blogging is so much fun!
I had no idea a year ago I was going to like this blogging malarkey quite so much, but it really is super fun. I get to do a whole load of my favourite things and call it my job! Plus I get to interact with some of the loveliest people on earth – you guys rock!
Blogging, it turns out, is my perfect thing. I really love writing, cooking, taking photos of my food, marketing (I did a business degree and worked in marketing in my early career), nattering on social media and being nice to people. It turns out blogging encourages me to do all of those things and more.
2. Blogging totally eats your time…if you let it!
Oh. My. Goodness. I had no idea. A year ago, I thought all you had to do was write a recipe, make a meal, take a photo and press publish. I thought blogging would take up maybe a couple of hours a day, a couple of days a week…
Turns out there’s a weeny bit more to it than that. A typical post goes like this: write recipe, test recipe, tweak recipe, make recipe again, take hundreds of photos, not be happy with any of the photos, make recipe AGAIN, take hundreds more photos, spend hours editing photos, type up recipe and accompanying text, edit recipe and text, upload text and photos to WordPress, edit again, publish, Tweet, post on Facebook and Google+, put photos on Pinterest and Instagram, submit to Foodgawker and Tastespotting, spend some time being sociable on social media, reply to comments, link up to various linkies, comment on lots of other people’s recipes and posts, share their recipes on social media, reply to more comments, deal with e-mail, reply to more comments, do more social media…
And I do that twice – sometimes three times a week!
It takes up every spare moment of every day (though I try not to let it encroach too much on family time – see below), but do you know? I love it! I absolutely love it. I just wish there were a way to make my blogging hours longer – I have so many ideas buzzing round my head of things I want to do and I don’t have enough time for half of them!
If any of you have any ideas about how to make my blogging more efficient – please do share!
And if you want to know more about what I get up to on a day to day basis then check back here on Thursday when I will be sharing ‘A day in the life of a food blogger’
3. Photography is most definitely king
Agh I have learnt this the hard way. When I first began I thought all I needed was to take a couple of quick snaps of my lunch and if the recipe was good enough, it would still do well. I have come to realise that photography is basically the advertising for food blogs. The recipe might be AMAZING, but unless you can convey that through clever use of photography, no-one will believe you – no matter how much to try to explain using words.
So I read every book (I can highly recommend Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots and Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling) and scoured the internet for tips (check out Food Photography Tips for Food Bloggers on Cookie and Kate and 13 Tips For Better Food Photography on Charlottes Lively Kitchen) and practised, practised, practised and I got better but still not really good enough…
And so after 10 months of using my little compact camera – I finally gave in and bought a Digital SLR Camera and oh my goodness what a difference that really made. My photos started to look good – OK not as good as professional ones, but I finally felt like I was playing in the same universe as professional photographers at least!
I am really pleased with the progress I have made, but I know I still have a long way to go!
If you want a few tips and hints check out my post on Monday when I’ll be sharing 10 things I’ve learnt about food photography from my first year of blogging.
And if you want to buy the same camera as me – you can get it here.
4. The importance of proofreading everything – but especially the recipes
Once upon a time, I used to be a teacher – I taught English as a Foreign Language. So I know the importance of proofreading – not just once but several times. I used to drum it into my students – check, check, check again! It’s amazing, no matter how many times you check, there will still be mistakes to find.
In the text of a post like this one, mistakes might be irritating, but they are not the end of the world…in comparison to mistakes in recipes – I always feel the weight of the world when checking my recipes…I realise that someone might be making one of my recipes for the very first time, for some really important occasion or just for dinner and there might be a mistake and the whole recipe might go wrong and I might be responsible! So I always make sure I give the recipes an extra check, just to make sure…the thought that someone might have a bad dinner because of a typo keeps me awake at night. Please, please, please if you ever spot anything amiss let me know – I will be super grateful! And sleep better at night!! 🙂
5. My recipes work and are liked by others
This has been one of the best revelations this year. I have lost count of the number of people who have contacted me to tell me that they have tried my recipes and liked them, a number have gone even further and taken photos to show me. My favourite of all were the people who made my Christmas Turkey Traybake for Christmas Dinner saying things like ‘it’s just me and my boy so this will be perfect’ and then tweeted pictures saying it was. It’s truly humbling to know I am creating recipes that people like making and perhaps even making people’s lives a little easier…
6. A blogger must wear many hats
Actually the term blogger is a bit of a misnomer…a blogger is basically running an online magazine, albeit a small one, single handedly. That means a blogger is essentially the Owner, Editor, Writer, Stylist, Photographer, Marketing Manager, Designer, Admin Assistant, and General Dogsbody all rolled into one!
But I think that’s all part of the fun of being a blogger. It certainly stops life from getting boring and draws on all sorts of skills and experiences I’ve had in the past as well as giving me new ones…if I ever have to go for a ‘normal’ job I’m going to have a pretty amazing CV!
7. Success comes if you put in the hard work…
Over the year I’ve certainly upped the ante…working harder than ever before and I’ve noticed the harder I work, the more success I’ve seen. I’m so chuffed with how my little blog has grown in such a short space of time. I’ve gone from getting less than 10 page views a day to getting over 5000 views a month! I’ve grown my Twitter following to nearly 2000 and finally started to work out how to get some likes and follows on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram! They are still growing more slowly than Twitter but still sending plenty of blog visits my way! But the stat I am most proud of is how well my little blog has done in the Foodies 100 chart (kind of like top of the pops for food blogs) I’ve gone from nowhere, to the top 500 in under a year…and when you consider there are over 5000 food blogs in the UK that’s not bad going!
…but Rome wasn’t built in a day
I do get frustrated sometimes that my progress is not faster (!) I think I’m doing well and then I read that someone somewhere got to 5000 twitter followers in less than 6 months and I wonder WHAT AM I DOING WRONG???? But the reality is that comparing how I am doing to anyone else is silly and unhelpful…so long as my blog is plodding along, growing steadily and I’m working hard to improve things day by day – everything’s good. I just need to get my head down and keep going. Blogging is most definitely not a sprint – more like an ultra-marathon and actually as I look around and notice the amazing success that other bloggers are having…most of those super successful bloggers have been around for 5 years or more…I guess it’s true what they say – good things come to those who wait!
8. To focus on what my readers really want
Because that’s the point of a blog really isn’t it? Yes SEO, stats and social media promotion have their place but really at the heart of a good blog is writing what readers actually want to read, so I have to try and think very carefully about what an Easy Peasy Foodie reader would like to read – does he/she have a problem that I can solve? What do I think he/she would like an easy peasy version of? What products would make his or her life easier?
I find it easiest if I actually think of a person (an ‘avatar’ in blog speak). So I have created one – she’s called Sophie, she’s a busy working mum who wants to eat good food – food that tastes delicious and is healthy and food her kids will actually eat, but she doesn’t have a lot of time to cook – after a busy day at work she wants to spend her time off with the kids, not stuck in the kitchen – but she does enjoy cooking so she sometimes likes to cook fancier stuff at the weekend or for date night with her husband Rob…who also reads Easy Peasy Foodie sometimes…
So when I’m dreaming up my new recipes I always keep Sophie (and Rob) in mind…would it be something she would like? Would she think – yes I could do this…or would she flick past it because it’s not interesting/too complicated/the kids wouldn’t eat it/not healthy enough/too time-consuming etc. Sophie’s not a real person, obviously – she’s a composite of several people I know who do read my blog, plus a bit of my imagination. But having Sophie by my side (so to speak! I’m not mad – honest!!) helps me always keep my readers in mind and not go off on any silly tangents!
9. The importance of being social
One big thing I’ve learnt this year is that social media is not all about advertising your latest blog post. I think it’s probably a mistake a lot of newbie bloggers make – I certainly did at the beginning…I’ve learnt social media is definitely a two way street and it’s just as much about bigging other people up as it is yourself. More so probably… I’ve also learnt to ask questions and reply to questions and get into nice little conversations, share other people’s posts that I’ve found and love, comment on other people’s pages and repin, retweet and share. And do you know what, social media is so much more fun when it’s not all ‘Me! Me! Me!’
10. To take some time away from the computer and remember who these small people that keep bothering me are…
One I’m still working on…it is so easy to get suckered into blogging in such a way that is affects your whole life and I end up ignoring the kids and shouting at them when they interrupt My Important Work. This year I’ve learnt that the whole world is not going to fall apart if I don’t reply to a comment or a tweet straight away, but that to turn away from something that is important to me, to give one of my kids my full attention, is something that means the world to them.
I’ve learnt to ignore social media until my kids are at school and I’ve learnt to always do something with them first when they get back from school before rushing off to check if I’ve had any comments/tweets/shares/emails…I try as best I can to make sure I’m there for the school stuff – sports day, assemblies, school trips… And I try to do as little as possible on my blog at the weekend.
I’m sure in the future, when I look back, I won’t regret putting the kids first and the blog second, but I would almost certainly regret putting the blog first and the kids second, and that’s not something I’m prepared to do.
…and to remember to have some fun!
With all the blogging and being a mummy, not to mention keeping the house (relatively) clean and tidy and all the endless (usually school related) admin, it is sometimes easy to forget to take a break and have some ‘me time’ – I’ve tried really hard this year to carve out a few little moments to relax and have some fun – a coffee date with school mums on a Friday morning, an occasional go at the local pub quiz…I try to take the occasional evening off to watch a film that requires absolutely no brainpower (think trashy 80s Rom-Coms…) and my lovely hubby also organises life for me so I can have a shopping day about once a month – I try really hard to focus on clothes and makeup and soft furnishings and not get side-tracked by cookware and food – but it is hard!!
And last but by no means least…in an attempt to have a little ‘me time’ and get fit at the same time I have taken up jogging – yes, yes I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I love it! In 5 short weeks I’ve gone from barely being able to run for a minute to being able to run 5k in 30 minutes! Woo! Useful too – I need some way to run off all those extra calories I am consuming in the name of ‘recipe testing’!!
So there you have it…10 (well sort of 12 – did you notice how I snuck some extras in?) out of the zillions of things I have learnt from my first year of food blogging.
I’m sure there will be plenty more to learn in Year 2!
Thanks again for making my first year of food blogging so much fun 🙂
Right – now I’m off to celebrate…is it too early for cake, do you think?
Oooh…and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for ’10 highlights from my first year of blogging’ 🙂
**Just to let you know, scattered throughout this post are a few Amazon affiliate links – if you buy something from Amazon after following my link, it doesn’t cost you any more, but I will get a small commission – thanks in advance! 🙂 **