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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. 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

  2. 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. 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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!

    • Ashley says

      Lol. It’s not like all the fails are inedible…. they’re just not PERFECT. The most embarrassing part is he works with a lady who used to own the bakery in town… so I hate doing it sometimes but I don’t imagine the baby weight is going to fall off if I eat like 8 dozen cookies a week! lol

  6. Jess @ On Sugar Mountain says

    You pretty much hit the nail on the head! I’ve been at it for almost 4 years and dude it’s awesome but also exhausting. But totally worth all the taste testing. 😀 Happy Blogiversary Ashley! Can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

  7. marcie@flavorthemoments says

    Ahh, the day in the life of a blogger. It’s beyond busy work, but somebody’s got to do it! It is fun, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you this year, Ashley! You’ve done an amazing job and I can’t wait to see what you cook up this year!

  8. Kelly - Life Made Sweeter says

    Haha loved reading this! So true especially with trying to not neglect our loved ones 🙂 I had no idea blogging could be such hard work and take up so much time but yes so thankful for great blogging friendships 🙂

  9. Shinee says

    Ashley, this is such a fun post. I loved it! Happy Belated Birthday, The Recipe Rebel!
    Thank god I’m not the only one who multitask while testing recipes! I’m so guilty of that, and I’m working really hard to change that! I’d also add RUNNING to burn off all the chocolate treats that I’ve been tasting. Hahaha

  10. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom says

    Ashley, oh my gawd I love this. . yup, you’ve captured everything here brilliantly. . “Lose track of measurements or cooking times because of excessive pinning, tweeting, instagramming, facebooking..” haha yes!!! now I scribble things down as I cook and test. . and you know, I didn’t check one stat at all in my first couple years of blogging. . I just blogged. Now, yes, I check a few times a day. I hate it. but I can’t stop. great post!!

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Alice! I have s notebook I scribble things in too, but sometimes I get in the cooking groove and forget! Lol. Thankful for willing taste testers 🙂

  11. Neli @ Delicious Meets Healthy says

    Happy 1 year blog birthday, Ashley! I recently found your beautiful blog and started following you on social media. Loved your post and every point you make is SO true. I did’t realize how much work food blogging is until i started my own blog couple months ago. But like you say even though it doesn’t bring in enough to replace my full time job, I can’t quit blogging because it is actually fun. 🙂 And i wish I can make it my full time job!
    Do you mind sharing how you reached so many followers on social media for just one year? That would be of great help to those who are just starting out or those who need advice how to grow their readership.

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Neli! A couple months isn’t that long — I think you’ll be surprised where you end up in just one year! A lot of social media growth is from networking. Just joining blogging groups on Facebook (you can search them — there are tons!), and sharing other bloggers’ stuff, and they’ll often reciprocate. Those are super important relationships to have! I didn’t realize that for the first few months, but it is awesome to have people who know what you’re going through!

  12. Jess @ Sweet Menu says

    I love this Ashley! I’ve been blogging about a year too and it has been such an exciting and fulfilling journey but I have realised firsthand what a complex beast blogging is. It has given me a true appreciate for other bloggers who have ‘made it’ but best of it, I have learnt (and am still learning) so many new skills, like food photography and managing social media. It is always so hard to describe to others how much time blogging takes which is why having blogging friends is the best! Happy blog birthday! x

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Jess! It’s crazy how much time you can sink into it if you want to. Your photography is always gorgeous!

  13. Mariah @ Mariah's Pleasing Plates says

    This post had me laughing Ashley! Everything you said is SO true! Somehow we all still do it and love it though. I am proud of all your hard work! Your blog is beautiful! xoxo

  14. Stacey @ Bake.Eat.Repeat. says

    Hahaha, I loved that Ashley, and I read it all. You were basically writing all my thoughts about blogging! Luckily I have a web designer husband that can help with the “breaking the website” part, but everything else rang pretty true. It’s basically a full time job that you don’t get paid for, and yet I love it! Happy blog birthday! Also – I didn’t tell anyone about it for 7 months, so you did much better than me! 🙂

    • Ashley says

      Whoa — 7 months?! That’s crazy! And I’m totally jealous that you have a husband that actually knows stuff. My husband knows a very little bit, and only what he absorbs from my spiels. Thanks Stacey!

  15. Gayle@Pumpkin 'N Spice says

    Happy blog birthday, Ashley! I LOVE this post! You summed up blogging so perfectly! I live each and every one of these aspects on a daily basis (except for the kids part). Blogging is so much more work than I thought it would be, but SO worth it. And I wouldn’t change a single thing! Have a great weekend!

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Gayle! It’s a hard life… especially the taste-testing… and I didn’t even include that in my list! I’ll have to update it. Lol

  16. Jenn says

    Read it all! And it sounds exhausting. But you are wonderful, and I am always creeping on your recipes. Maybe I’ll actually have time to make them when the kids are in school – or graduated. Seriously, how do you do it? 😉

    • Ashley says

      Haha Jenn! I have some pretty easy ones… 😉 Thanks dear! Oh, and, mostly I just neglect the children 🙂

  17. Jeanine says

    Happy Blog Birthday!! I’m very impressed with what you’ve accomplished in a year – you should be too! And I did read the whole list – I’d say very accurate! 🙂

  18. Jim D says

    Hi Ashley,

    I actually did read all of the post – and as someone new to blogging, I appreciate it very much. Thank you for sharing!

    I started last fall and published 5 posts before I told anyone about my blog. After 3 months, my stats are still quite low…but I’m just trying to have fun and get better at what I’m doing rather than measuring myself against successful blogs.

    Happy 1 year anniversary! I need to spend some time browsing your site because it looks like you have some great recipes!

    • Ashley says

      Thanks Jim! And thanks for reading 🙂 3 months is still such a short time — you’ll be surprised what a few more months can do!

    • Neeli says

      Hi Jim, I agree with you about not measuring yourself against successful blogs. That is something that I had to stop doing as well because it’s not healthy to do. I’ve never been the jealous type, but I have felt that I won’t get to the level of success like some of the big food bloggers. Self-doubt creeps in, but I am learning to shut it out and believe that what I am cooking will be well received by others. Some people will like your recipes, and some won’t, but I will keep doing what I love to do and stay positive.

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