Four years ago today, I decided on a whim to start blogging.
Since then, I’ve cooked up nearly 300 recipes, from kitchens in the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Maryland, and now, Hell’s Kitchen. I’ve taken this blog with me on trips to Detroit, Buenos Aires, Kolkata and Paris, and it’s taken me to Mexico and San Fran. In the 1,461 days since my first post, I’ve also learned how to like avocados, and I’m slowly coming around on fish and *gasp* tomatoes. Aside from a few different birthdays, I’ve finished grad school, gotten my first (and second) full-time job and worked at a few different places, and just generally have moved from the wildness of my early 20s to embracing my 25-going-on-57 mentality.
Along the way, I’ve learned a few things. I’ll spare you the life lessons (namely: if you discover that your stomach can no longer handle spicy foods, stop feeding it j-chips), but here are some blogging tips I’ve picked up that have helped me immensely.*
1) A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s a horrible cliche for a reason — a good picture, especially on a food blog, is the most important part of any post. You don’t need a fancy camera or tons of equipment, just a good eye for food styling and good natural light. (This is a big challenge for me: the lighting in my tiny kitchen is abysmal and I do most of my cooking long after the sun has set, so it’s hard for me to use natural light. I also need to work on my food styling, since space limitations force me to use some very awkward angles to take photos.)
2) Find your unique voice. It’s a blog, not a term paper. Most people phrase things in their specific way and have their own go-to words (or gifs) to describe things. When blogging, try to make sure your own voice comes through in your posts. One trick I often use to make sure a sentence or paragraph sounds “like me” is to read aloud: if you’re tripping over words or something sounds off, it’s probably not your voice. (And yes, this is why I write a million run-on sentences.)
3) Keep it real. Much to my chagrin, there are good days and bad days, both in life and in the kitchen. It’s totally okay to admit when a recipe doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it to, when things are stressful at work, when you ate 6 cookies and wrecked your diet, when that new thing you’re trying turns out to be way hard, etc. More often than not, it’s cathartic to write about those bad moments, and you’d be surprised at how supportive friends and family can be when reading about your mishaps.
4) Try new things. Whether it’s writing about new content in your posts, choosing a new lens or background for your photos or even redesigning the look of your blog, be flexible in your approach to blogging. When I first started posting, I didn’t cook much, and instead focused on eating out and interesting artisanal food in NYC. Once I was hit with the cold reality of paying my own bills, I started cooking much, much, much more, and this blog adapted. When I decided to detox for a week, I tried posting daily (a far cry from the … whenever I can schedule I usually follow). It’s fun to switch it up every now and then, both on the writing side and the reading side.
5) Have fun. Blogging is my hobby, not my full-time job. I don’t really make any money off of it, and probably never will. But for me, that’s totally ok. I enjoy it, and if I didn’t, I probably would have dropped it a lot time ago. If you’re not having fun with your blog, you should figure out a) why and b) what you can do to make it fun. Because why would you want to spend your free time doing something not fun?
The last one is definitely the most important — if you’re not having fun, there’s no point in blogging. On that note, thank you to everyone who has read, left a comment, pinned, tweeted, gchatted me about a post, sent me a recipe for inspiration, and just generally supported me over the past four years. It would not be nearly as fun without you!
*Full disclaimer: I am no expert when it comes to blogging — this is just a hobby and there are plenty of full-time bloggers out there who know much, much more than I do. These are just some tips that have helped me, but by no means are a “recipe for success.”