I started blogging in October 2018. Here I am after 3 months of blogging reflecting on the five challenges that I am facing as a new blogger.
One day during lunch one of my colleagues showed me a food blog of her friend who had quit her job and became a full-time blogger. That evening I spent an hour reading through her blog and I was really impressed by the content, aesthetics and strategic thinking that went into her blog. Here is the blog that I really admired. www.pipingpotcurries.com
It made me think that I have been cooking for the last 19 years. I love food, I love to cook and above all, I like to cook for friends and family. So, why not document my cooking in a blog? I understand that it is extremely difficult to make money out of a food blog, but at least I can document my recipes and my family’s recipes in the blog. So I started my journey on a Saturday in October 2018. While I have made notable progress in the last 3 months, I am facing many challenges as a new blogger. Let’s review what I achieved so far and the challenges that I have to address this year.
WHAT I ACHIEVED IN 3 MONTHS
I have to mention that I have a grueling day job that takes out at least 12 hrs of my day. So, I can only work over the weekend or during the holidays for my hobby. Luckily this year I did not have any long trip plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday this year. So I could accomplish the following steps during the holidays.
1. HAVING THE WEBSITE UP AND RUNNING
Having been a developer in the past, overcoming the technical challenge of setting up the website was a day’s effort for me. There are plenty of online resources available for it. However, I have to mention a couple of them that I followed.
Food Blogger Pro: I followed the following tutorial to set up my blog
You can also refer to Neil Patel’s blog.
2. CREATING FRAMEWORK FOR PUBLISHING CONTENT
I decided that my first task would be to create a framework where I can easily write-up my content and publish. It needs to look professional just like any other recipe sites. I could gather the necessary theme and plug-ins for my website and create a preliminary framework for publishing content. I started to research the free WordPress themes and plug-ins that I can use. I chose the Juliet Theme and Meal Plan Pro recipe plug-in to get started with posting my first blog – Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
3. STARTING TO PUBLISH CONTENT
Now that I had the basic framework for posting a blog with a consistent look and feel, I need to have recipes ready for posting. But I stumbled into following challenges
NEVER COOKED WITH EXACT MEASUREMENTS
I have been cooking for 19 years for friends and family. But I did not cook with exact measurements. So I had to buy a few pieces of equipment for measuring every ingredient that I use and building the habit of cooking with exact measurement and documenting it.
- Measuring cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Food weighing scale
PHOTOGRAPHING THE FOOD
An honest confession – I am a terrible photographer! I never paid attention to photography detail. I do not have any knowledge of photography with an SLR camera. I use my iPhone as the camera. Also, the styling and presentation of the food are completely new to me.
4. GETTING APPROVED BY GOOGLE ADSENSE
Even though Google Adsense is not the preferred Ad network for food bloggers, I had a target of getting Adsense up and running in my site. The reason being, in order to get Adsense approved, the site needs to look professional with 15 to 20 blog posts. So setting this target helped to make sure my website looks professional and has a reasonable number of posts so that it is acceptable to Google.
5. SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Even though I have my presence in popular social media, I do not like to post on social media that often. So I really had to push myself to create the presence of my food blog in a few social sites. I started with Facebook, creating the Facebook page for my blog. I reactivated my Instagram account and started creating recipe board on Pinterest.
CHALLENGES AS A NEW BLOGGER AFTER 3 MONTHS
- Created Facebook page for Hurry up Mom
- Reactivated my Instagram and renamed it as @hurryup_mom
- Created Pinterest board for Hurry up! Mom
Now I have my blog hurry up! Mom up and running! I have around 20 posts on the blog! I am sharing my posts on social media and I have shared it with some of my friends already. Most of my friends have expressed a lot of encouragement as well and found the posts pretty helpful, which is extremely gratifying. But I have a few major issues.
1. PAGE VIEW COUNTS – NOBODY READS MY BLOG?
My average page view count lingers around 10 views per day. That means most probably only my friends with whom I shared the blog, are reading it. Nobody else is either not interested in the type of recipes that I choose to post or cannot find my blog on the internet through organic search. But do I really care? So I am asking following two questions to myself
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MY BLOGGING?
Hmmm…I started to blog to document my recipes. A lot of time my friends and family asked for the recipe of my signature items. It is easier to share if I have it documented at some place. Also, I wanted to document the recipes of my mom, my mother-in-law, and my family. So I should be happy that I have a place to document the recipes now. But why on the internet? Why am I paying for the domain and the hosting service? Don’t I want other people to find my recipe and try it out? YES, I DO. At least I should give it a try so that other people can try my recipe.
WHAT IS MY NICHE?
There are hundreds of food bloggers and there are millions of people looking for recipes. I cannot reach out to everybody on the internet looking for recipes for various cuisines from different parts of the world. But I can plan to make the blog as a go-to place for the certain type of recipes. There are multiple existing blogs for any niche that I think of. So choosing the niche can be a challenge. But it is essential to establish my own brand.
2. AM I EVER GOING TO MAKE ANY MONEY OUT OF MY BLOG?
It is quite clear that I have to put quite a lot of effort into running a high-quality food blog. It will be great if I can make a passive income from the food blog. Currently, I have Adsense in my blog. Since I have very little traffic coming to my site, I am making almost nothing from my blog. I have to come up with strategies for monetizing the blog.
3. WHAT IS THE CORRECT MEDIUM OF CONTENT IN 2019? IS IT BLOGGING OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Blogging was started almost 15 years back. So it is definitely questionable if a written blog is the best medium for sharing recipes. Nowadays, many of the food bloggers are creating beautiful videos. So I need to explore what is the best medium for blogging in 2019 and onwards.
Photography is a very important part of blogging. Nobody would like to read a recipe blog without seeing an enticing photo of the food. I had submitted my recipe thrice in the food porn site foodgawker.com and it got rejected all the time as the photo did not meet their standards. So at this point, I am struggling with taking high-quality photo of the food and I need to learn food photography.
5. PROPER USAGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
At this point, I have a presence in the main social media platforms. But I am not able to use those platforms to attract readers/ visitors. So I need to learn to use social media tools and best practices to increase the followers.
A PLAN FOR CORRECTIVE ACTION FOR OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES IN 2019
1. FIND THE NICHE
I need to find my niche. When I am trying to find my niche, I am not sure if I should stick to my roots or lifestyle or any kitchen gadget or any specific diet. Another important factor can be what kind of recipes people are looking for on the internet.
2. GETTING MYSELF EDUCATED BY EXPERIENCED BLOGGERS
There are hundreds of food bloggers and there are millions of things to learn from them. I am sure most of them have gone through the learning phase that I am going through. So I need to make a network with the fellow food bloggers and learn from them. I am also planning to take membership of Food blogger Pro and learn from their resource.
3. LEARN BASICS OF FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY AND GET THE CORRECT PROPS
Food photography is a special genre of photography. I need to learn the tricks and tips of food photography. There are many online resources for learning food photography. I have started following some of them and I am trying to learn from them. It is also important to have the correct pieces of equipment and props for capturing the food. So I am planning to get those spending a minimum amount of money. Here are a couple of good resources for food photography.
4. LEARN BASICS OF SEO AND FIX SEO FOR THE SITE AND FOR THE POSTS
SEO (Search engine optimization) is a big part of building traffic for a blog. I need to learn how SEO works, what are things that I need to implement in my blog so that my blog appears in the first page of Google search result. I also need to implement a suitable plug-in for SEO. At this point, I am exploring the Yoast SEO plug-in
5. LEARN TO USE AT LEAST ONE SOCIAL MEDIA PROPERLY FOR PROMOTING THE BLOG
I am planning to spend time on at least one social media platform to learn and use it effectively. Social Media platforms are probably the best marketing tools for bloggers. I would like to use at least one for spreading the words about my blog.
While I am happy that I have successfully started my blog, I am struggling with many challenges and I target to overcome these challenges with learning and implementing the learnings in my blog. Please wish me success in my journey.