Over the past couple of years, I’ve been really putting a lot of work into growing my cooking blog. This blog has been chugging along for years, and quite successfully helping me to get lots of work in social media. But my cooking blog, which I originally started as a bit of a lark, has become more of a serious business over the last couple of years. I am regularly creating original content, working on my photography skills, and exploring monetization options.
The work is paying off. A year ago, I got one of my first big “asks,” and since then, my doorbell has been ringing a few times a week with courier deliveries that include food, kitchen appliances, tools, and cookbooks. I regularly get invited out to eat at restaurants where I am not expected to pay. I pay by Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, and Blogging. I am also starting to have sponsored posts on my blog, which is helping to offset the costs of running my blog, and all the other food, kitchen appliances, tools, cookbooks and restaurant meals that I do pay for.
This is all to the good. I’ve succeeded in accomplishing what I set out to do. And I am developing a new plan to take it bigger, better and further in 2015. Yay! Go me!
But interestingly, I’m discovering some things about blogging, now that I am here in this place where I’ve never been before.
It’s a lot of work. I know this is obvious, and I say it all the time, but it bears repeating. If you want to be a successful blogger, you have to put the work in. That means creating fresh content on a regular basis (2 times a week, minimum, in my case), and not just any content, but good content. My blog is a business, and I treat it as such, and I invest in it, both with time and money.
The Learning Curve never ends. I am constantly reading online about how how to improve my blog, going to conferences, talking to fellow bloggers, learning new cooking techniques and recipes, graphic design, and learning more about photography–learning my camera, lighting, and composition are all things I’m constantly doing.
There’s a lot of pressure. Please, please don’t interpret this as me being ungrateful in any way. The day I stop being grateful for the opportunities that get presented to me will be the day I quit blogging. I love what I do. I really enjoy getting free stuff, and being paid to blog. But it also turns up the pressure. In order to keep this flow going, I need to keep up the posting. And then, once I get the stuff, I need to write about it! It sometimes feels overwhelming. But maybe I’m just not dealing with it well–it’s hard, for example, to say “no” to things (although I have, when they do not fit in with the angle of my blog). Part of the issue, here, is that I am perhaps treating, say, a $3.99 jar of pasta sauce the same as a $399 blender. I think this is something I have to work on and develop some guidelines around.
You can’t write about stuff all the time. Let’s be honest, if you were a regular reader of my blog, and all of a sudden, every single post I wrote was sponsored or swag, wouldn’t you get turned off? Your blog must, must, must be valuable, or people won’t come back. You can’t just create something that is going to end up being a shill for whatever business comes though your inbox. For more on this, check out this article: How the Blogger Killed Herself Off.
It’s a very interesting place to be.
I don’t have the answers to these questions–I’m asking them as a way to process some of this stuff, so thank you for reading.
Like everything else in life, I strive for balance, and that’s what I strive for on my blog, as well. A balance of different kinds of posts, though I hope every post I write provides some value in some way. Success seems so etherial and shimmery–but success can become shackles if you let it. Recently, the blogosphere was rocked when the two authors of the beloved DIY blog Young House Love announced they were stepping away. It just got to be too much.
I will say this–the one thing that keeps me going, day-to-day, is passion. I love to write, and I love to cook, and my endless curiosity keeps me going. There are always more things to write about than I have time or resources to actually do. I’m not running out of material any time soon. And if I feel like the day comes when I lose my love or passion for what I do, I’ll stop. Simply put. Because at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing, not how much money you’re making, or how much stuff you get.
I would love to hear your thoughts on some of these things. Have you struggled with similar issues? And if so, what conclusions have you come to?