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What Food Bloggers Really Do

So tomorrow is my “blog birthday” here on The Recipe Rebel

I was debating whether to call it a “blog birthday” or a “blogiversary”, as both terms are used in the blogisphere. I decided that blog birthday makes more sense, because The Recipe Rebel first came to exist on March 8, 2014.

But, that’s not totally true.

I started this blog about a month before I announced it to the world. I published posts as one would normally, but no one knew it existed (not even family or friends), and I didn’t promote it at all. Every time someone happened to stumble on my site, I’d be completely shocked.

Once I hit the 10 post mark, I felt like I had enough posts to warrant telling people about it, so I started a Facebook page and introduced it to friends and family.

It was a Saturday, and I sat and watched as the number of Likes climbed slowly. From 10 to 20 to 65.

And now over 10,000.

But I’m not really into numbers.

I feel like there are a lot of people who don’t realize everything a food blogger does. Before February 2014, I was one of these people.

I had read all kinds of articles about blogging, but until you jump right in, you really don’t know.

So I thought it would be fun to show you a little “before and after”: because my perception of blogging has changed in so many ways! After I started, I grew to love it more and more, and I often find it difficult to stop – to turn the computer or iPhone off, to stop experimenting with recipes and cooking techniques, to just go to sleep at night instead of dreaming up my next crazy concoction.

cover image for what food bloggers really do including laptop in front of woman holding a cell phone at a desk

Here is what I thought a food blogger did:

  1. Cook food
  2. Take photos
  3. Write stuff
  4. Post it online
  5. Tweet
  6. Post on Facebook
  7. Take terrible iPhone photos of everything you ever put in your mouth and Instagram it
  8. Pin like crazy
  9. And, inevitably, get thousands of offers from brands wanting to pay you money and send you boxes of free stuff

As it turns out, here is what a food blogger actually does:

  1. Cook food at unreasonable times of day to accommodate fading light
  2. While cooking, participate in Facebook groups, pinning parties, twitter parties, respond to emails, and try to keep your kids alive, if you have them
  3. Lose track of measurements or cooking times because of excessive pinning, tweeting, instagramming, facebooking
  4. Nearly pull your hair out over failed recipes and send them to your husband’s coworkers to eat (thanks guys)
  5. Worry about the fading light, because the recipe that was a success took longer than you thought (or you happen to have a toddler and a newborn)
  6. Take 412 pictures of cake (you bet I did), trying to get just the right shot
  7. Narrow it down to 148 pictures of cake
  8. Choose a few pictures good enough to edit to use in a post (or if you’re unlucky, decide you don’t like any of them and start all over at Step 5)
  9. Write post: try to figure out how to talk about food so it sounds appetizing and be as funny as Karen so you don’t bore every single person who might stop to read the words you write
  10. Understand that absolutely no one (besides your mom) is going to stop and read what you write, so you are basically wasting your time
  11. Strategically place keywords so that Google will love you
  12. Continue tweeting, facebooking, pinning, instagramming – and Google+, so Google will love you
  13. Stay up late trying to get tomorrow’s post ready
  14. Manage the backend of your web site, and be proud of yourself for knowing words like “backend”, “plugin”, “embed” (okay so I ran out of words you might think are impressive…..)
  15. Complete updates and pray that you won’t break your web site
  16. Install all kinds of plugins so people will think you know lots of web site type stuff
  17. Copy and paste code and pray that you put it in the right spot so that you won’t break your web site
  18. Respond to comments: some of them nice, and some of them terribly, horribly mean
  19. Try not to break down into a blubbering mess because someone made your Oven-Fried Chicken recipe and it didn’t work for them (and maybe even spend hours testing alternate methods to try to give your readers the best possible outcomes…)
  20. Understand that just because you share so much of your life online, doesn’t mean that everyone is going to like you
  21. Spend time every day getting to know other bloggers, reading other blogs, commenting on other blogs, bouncing ideas off other bloggers – because they’re the only colleagues you have online
  22. Understand that you cannot do this alone: you need people around you who will stop you from flinging the computer across the room; you need a network of other bloggers, because without them, you have no one who understands what you’re going through; you need readers, because – just because you do.
  23. Check stats to see if anyone actually cares about your tiny little corner of the internet
  24. Try not to forget about your offline life: spouses, kids, friends, parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents.
  25. Check stats.
  26. Check stats.
  27. Check stats.
  28. Try to find sponsors so that you won’t essentially be working a full-time job “just for fun”
  29. Know that even if you don’t make a single penny, you could never give it up because, hey, it is actually kind of fun!
  30. Tweet, pin, Facebook, Instagram, Google+
  31. Sift through and respond to emails
  32. Realize all of a sudden that a year has passed, and it’s been the most rewarding year of your life. Because you’ve met people who have helped you along the way, you’ve met readers who have enjoyed your recipes, and occasionally someone even reads the words you write.

You didn’t read any of that, did you? 😉

Now, everyone’s list is going to be different. And any of the challenges that I’ve faced have been more than made up for by the fact that I get to play with my food, and have people who totally encourage my overuse of chocolate.

This is a post to reflect on what I’ve learned in my year of blogging, and to try to show you some of the things that happen behind the scenes.

And because you know I’m not about to let a blog birthday go by without any cake, come back tomorrow for my Snickers Cheesecake Cake recipe!

Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

  1. Glaiza Villanueva-De Leon says

    I’m glad I stumbled upon this blog! I was laughing while reading this. What you said are very true!!! I usually get curious when I see unique and witty blog names which says a lot about the blogger and what it’s all about. As a first time visitor, I can say that I’m already a fan! From the blog name, to the about page to this post, I enjoy reading your blog. There are times when I also do not follow some instructions accurately but the cupcakes still turn out edible haha. I’m going to check out more of your recipes! 🙂

  2. Po @ Frost and Serve says

    What have I got into, thinking about starting a food blog… @.@ But I really appreciate your post! I totally agree that when you love something that you’re doing, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you put on it. Thank you for being an inspiration!

  3. Ana \ Espresso My Kitchen says

    Ashley,

    I just found your blog and love it! This was such a great post and soooo true! As a new food blogger with a full-time job, I have come across a lot of frustration, sleepless nights and a lot of cold dinners, there is soooo much to learn, but love it!

  4. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Ashley! I’m new to your blog and you are already one of my favorites! Recipes are recipes – it’s the person and personality that make me want (need) to make a recipe! I love your commentary and that you share your personality. It’s like listening to a friend talk. Keep doing what you do, because you are GOOD at it!

      • Dorothy Dunton says

        Hi Ashley! They are not just words – they are “thoughts” from my heart. If something comes into my head or heart, it comes out my mouth! 🙂

  5. Mike says

    Ashley,

    I read every word of it and found it most enjoyable.

    Yes, if one is going to do something well, one must be committed and willing. Re your 412 photographs: I count myself a serious and somewhat accomplished amateur photographer. I find the pictures you post to be quite well made. Those that accompany your recipe for Grandma’s Hot Fudge Sundae Cake are close to spectacularly good. Back in the old days, when I shot Kodachrome film, I would be pleased if one, maybe two shots taken with a 36-exposure roll of film turned out well. Again, if one is going to accomplish something well…..

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Mike! I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s true that it takes a lot of effort and practice — there’s still a lot I can learn but I think I’ve come a long ways!

  6. Nora says

    Hahaha! How come I didn’t see this post before? I lol’d a bit too loud reading your list and woke my husband since I’m up at an unreasonable hour. Had to get tomorrow’s post finished 😉

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