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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Reader Interactions


  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


    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


    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 😉

  7. Claire | Sprinkles and Sprouts says

    Everything you have written is so very true.
    I have been blogging for 10 months and I still love the food and the writing, but I struggle with pushing it and promoting it. There is only so much tweeting, pinning and facebooking you can fit into each day.
    Thank you for posting this, I feel better knowing that others go through the same daily struggles of a blogger.
    Your blog is beautiful and I tell everyone about your mini wonton quiches. I love them!
    Happy Birthday 🙂 x

  8. Neeli says

    Hi Ashely, I just discovered your blog from another food blog and wanted to add my two cents. I just started a new blog, posted a recipe, but decided to take down the recipe because I wasn’t ready to go public yet. I had no idea how much work actually goes into food blogging. The one thing that I don’t want to do is join social networking sites to promote my blog because I honestly am not into social networking. I’ve read that in order to have a successful blog, that it’s a good idea to join several social networking sites, but I feel that it takes away so much of a person’s time. I have a 10 year old daughter and a fiance, and I don’t think that they would appreciate my being on social networking all day. I will say that it’s great to be able to promote your blog through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc, but I have no interest in these sites. I know that some people may say that this is the way to go, and I don’t knock people who join these sites, but it’s not for me.

    It’s exciting to share your recipes with people and a blog is a great way to do what you love and make money at the same time. I’ve discovered some awesome food blogs and have saved so many recipes that I want to try. I believe food blogging can be fun and rewarding, and even better when people like your recipes and give good feedback. I don’t have an expensive camera, and am learning how to take decent pictures, but I have had to stop and realize that I am learning as I go. I’ve put pressure on myself because there are so many great blogs out there with beautiful pictures, but not everyone is going to start out with a dSLR camera. I want to take my time, learn as I go, and most of all, stay true to myself and allow who I am to come out in my blog.

    • Ashley says

      Hi Neeli! I think if you can stay true to what you feel is right for you, then that is always the way to go, regardless of what other people are doing or saying. It is definitely important to know what your priorities are. I spend a lot of time with my 3 year old cooking and baking, and I spend a lot of nap times and evenings on the computer. It leaves me with little down time, but I love blogging: I love writing, I love food, and I love photography (I actually had a DSLR before I started blogging!). Don’t get me wrong though — my first photos were still terrible! All that matters is that you do what you love because you want to, not because someone is telling you to or because of “peer pressure” or competition. Thanks for your comment!

      • Neeli says

        Congrats by the way on your blog’s one year anniversary, I meant to mention that in my first post. I bake with my daughter, and in fact, she has given me a lot of good food ideas for my blog. I really appreciate your comments and thank you for the kind words. I believe food blogging can be very rewarding and I wish you the best of luck.

      • Ashley says

        Thank you! It is so fun to get the kids involved! I can only hope my girl will always like it as much as she does now. 🙂

  9. Carol says

    This post is absolutely awesome. Never has anyone described blogging so well. I can so relate so many of your points but especially to wondering if anyone is ever going to read what I write. Oh and I am a complete stats addict. If I dont stop myseld I will check them like 50 times a day. Lol. Thanks so much for a great read.

    • Ashley says

      Thanks for reading Carol! Lol. It is crazy how much time you can sink into it, and it can drive you crazy but you can never leave it!

  10. Michelle @ Modern Acupuncture says

    I most certainly did read that! Love it. Your site is wonderful. I hope you don’t let the occasional negative comments get you down. I don’t have a food blog, but I do blog – and EVERY SINGLE TIME I update my site add code, I totally pray-pray-pray! that I don’t break my website, too! Well said 🙂 Very enjoyable read!

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Michelle! Its scary stuff! Lol And yeah, I’ve realized not everyone will like everything and that’s just the way it is 🙂

  11. Annie @Maebells says

    I have read this like three times in the past few days! haha! It is so true! I had NO idea what went into blogging. Sometimes I still have to answer that awkward “so what exactly does a food blogger do…?” question and it kind of makes me want to scream. We are a one woman show! I don’t think anyone except bloggers really understand the gravity of what it takes to keep something like this going AND growing!

    • Ashley says

      Haha, I was wondering if everyone would agree with me or be all like, “we don’t know what she’s talking about.” Lol. Thanks Annie! I’d been thinking about writing it for a long time!

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