At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to go ahead and say: WHERE DID THE TIME GO?
I started my food instagram back in summer 2014 to explore my budding culinary interests. Having recently returned from a “pinch me this can’t be real” kind of semester in Paris, I was feeling especially well-fed and inspired to document all-things food. Soon after, I took the plunge and created this very blog, which is arguably what I’m more passionate about. I was an English major, after all.
This summer marks two years of life for one taste at a time – two years of posting about everything from recipe experiments (most of which failed) and no-carb-left-behind travel experiences to issues of food justice and overall wellness.
Although it’s been two years, a big part of me still feels like a novice when it comes to the whole blogging thing. After all, it took me around a year and a half to commit to actually purchasing my own domain – a delay I attribute to a fear of monetary commitment (once you pull out the credit card, there’s no turning back) and an embarrassing lack of technological know-how.
And yet, here I am, desperately hoping the “terrible 2’s” doesn’t apply to blogs.
But in all seriousness, I’m filled with nothing but gratitude for my experiences over the past two years and thought it was about time I put pen to paper – or rather fingers to keyboard – and share some things I’ve learned.
1. To become a better blogger, you have to blog.
Occasionally, a wave of nostalgia will hit and I’ll scroll back to old posts. Whenever this happens, I’m more than slightly embarrassed. What was I thinking and why didn’t anyone stop me? But then I think about how much my style has changed and how much more willing I’ve become to try out different recipes and experiment with unfamiliar ingredients.
So although this one may sound obvious, it’s important to point out that the best way to improve is to jump in and start blogging. Sure, it’s important to come up with a defined theme, select a layout, and read a whole slew of your favorite sites for inspiration, but at some point, you have to start – however over your head you may feel.
2. Photos are your best friend.
Don’t be shy when it comes to embedding pictures because I’ve found that the more images I include, the more traffic I receive. And because I’m not hoping to make blogging a full-time career, I don’t spend 2930502395908 dollars on fancy cameras or lighting props. Remember, I’m technologically challenged. But more importantly, my iPhone works just fine.
Some photography tricks up my sleeve…
- ALWAYS opt for natural light.
- Don’t over-filter. Aim for a healthy balance between #nofilter and unrealistic.
- Use VSCO Cam to filter your photos.
3. You can’t blog alone.
Sending out thoughtful, well-crafted, and interesting content into the blogosphere won’t mean much if it isn’t read. At its heart, blogging is a communal act, so you’ve got to give some love to get it in return. And no, this doesn’t mean thoughtlessly scrolling through someone’s blog or instagram feed and “liking” 99% of their posts at once. No one appreciates that. Rather, it’s about spending time to read what someone publishes and reach out by emailing, direct messaging, or commenting when appropriate.
I’ll be the first to admit this was not something I understood when I started blogging, and I’m still working on it. But thanks to bloggers gonna blog, I’ve got a group of fierce, like-minded women who support each other while navigating the food and wellness blogging space and remind me everyday about the importance of community.
4. Quality over quantity.
This is a highly contested topic in the blogging world. But in my opinion, quality always wins.
Don’t send out content just for the sake of putting it out there. I prefer to publish one well-thought-out, grammatically sound, and researched post a week rather than three average posts. Remember – your posts are a reflection of you and the brand you are trying to cultivate. Fewer quality posts may get you a smaller readership, but it will be a loyal one.
5. It’s okay if you have a love-hate relationship with social media.
I definitely do.
I have no doubt that my creativity, inspiration and growth is due to the steady stream of content I consume everyday in the vibrant Instagram world. It has not only made recipe hunting easier, but has also changed the way I think about what I’m putting into my body. And I would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact that Instagram has also introduced me to various food start-up groups, organizations and bloggers such as Umi Kitchen (a platform to deliver home-cooked meals), Phoodieur (a visual restaurant app), and the aforementioned bloggers gonna blog.
And for all this, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the app.
Yet, I’ll admit I’m tempted more often than not to step away from it all and delete my Instagram completely because despite how dynamic of a community I’m convinced I’m a part of through this social media platform, it pales in comparison to my off-screen one.
I tell myself I couldn’t care less how many likes my photos get. I try to ignore the sting of an “unfollow.” And I convince myself it’s not the end of the end of the world if I don’t post for a day.
I tell myself all of this, but still occasionally get caught up in it all. I tell myself I don’t care, but the thing is: I do.
And at the end of the day, I resent the fact that Instagram has such a hold over me because “insta-fame” (whatever that means) was never the point. Far from it, actually.
I’m passionate about food and cooking because it brings people together. It’s the vehicle by which traditions are created, cultures are celebrated, and communities are fostered. I envisioned one taste at a time as a creative manifestation of the people and values I hold close to my heart, but the ironic thing about Instagram is that, for the past two years, I’ve been on a mission to carve out a spot for myself in this vast online community without realizing how wrapped up I had become in the “likes” and “follows” nonsense of a filtered world.
Am I going to delete my Instagram any time soon? No. Realistically, probably not. Social media is such a pervasive part of my generation that to abandon it cold-turkey wouldn’t be a sustainable way to navigate a problem I don’t see going away any time soon. Plus, I do believe social media can be genuinely “social” and play a positive role in my life, if approached correctly (see #3).
But if you don’t see me on there for a day or two, you know why.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
- What are some things you’ve learned from blogging?
- Where do you stand in the “quality vs. quantity” debate?
- Do you have a love-hate relationship with social media?