Today Sprinkles and Sprouts turned one.
It is a year ago today that I wrote my first blog post.
I have certainly learnt a lot in 12 months, some of it good and some of it personally damning. So here in no particular order are the random things that come to mind when I think of 'what I have learnt in my first year of blogging'.
p.s I have had a couple of glasses of champers to celebrate my blogiversary. (Not on the list but it probably should be, is the fact that I am not cool enough to use the term blogiversary 😳 soooo blaming the champers!!!!)
- My self doubt and internal criticising voice battle daily with the happiness I get from hitting publish on a post and recipe. But the knowledge that people do enjoy my blog and use my recipes has given me the ability to tell my negative voices to shut up occasionally
- There are 58,906,782,278 blogs out there that are more popular than mine, that get more traffic than mine, that post more regularly than me....if I compared myself to everyone I would be a gibbering wreck in the corner. I am not the best but I am enjoying what I do and that is priceless. (disclaimer: I made that figure up!!!) p.s I do judge myself and some days I think "Pah I might as well give up...who is reading this". Then someone will comment and I get restored again.
- Blogging is hard work and no one (without a blog) really understands how much work it takes. And you have to be okay with that. You have to accept that people think it is easy. I am sure for some people it is really easy, for me it isn't. I am just not that person! I make a mess whilst cooking, I struggle to get the perfect photo and I re-write things far more often than I should. Add to that navigating social media and SEO and I am working harder than I did when I had a full time job! But I love it. (Please don't judge me for this one, I know I sound like a pompous idiot with this point!!)
- Following on from that is, when you work on a computer and at home, you will totally lose track of time and have no idea if you have just drunk 4 cups of coffee in half an hour or if it has taken you all day to get the quantity of salt right in your recipe!
- The world of food and recipes is a surprising place. You cannot predict what will go viral and what will just be a low level post. My Peri Peri Chicken is my most viewed page ever!!! Every day it gets at least 10 times as many views as anything else put together! It is a great recipe and one we love, but it isn't my favourite. I want to shout at the world and say go check out my breaded brie. That recipe is love on a page.
- You will get addicted. I love my blog, I spend far more time than I should on it, but I am okay with that, who needs to dust
the skirting boardsanyway!!!!
- That I have integrity. I read a post about how much food is wasted by food writers. It almost made me cry. I was upset and disgusted in equal measures. I may not post every day and I may not post ground breaking recipes that the whole world can get excited by, but I know that I post recipes we enjoyed, recipes that got eaten and food that fed my family and friends. My food is alway food we are eating and I never ever see that changing. I am currently writing two new cook books and Stew has been living on soup lunches for 2 weeks. He can't wait until the burger cookbook starts!!!
- I am not the uber efficient blogger than others appear to be, and I am just about okay with that! Nearly every post you read about keeping your head above water in the blogging world, suggests being at least a week/fortnight ahead of yourself and scheduling posts so you are never working to a daily deadline. (I even read someone who advised getting a month ahead!!!) I am not that organised!!! Now this isn't something blogging taught me, I already knew that I wasn't an organised systematic person, which given I studied science at uni is surprising, but it is just who I am. I cook a meal, take photos, write a post and then publish it. This is usually all within the same day, two days at most. That is how I work, I have accepted that. I do have a post scheduled for September as it is going live on a special date and I wanted to make sure nothing stopped that one. But as a rule I don't schedule.
- Only blog something you believe in. I made a recipe for Hawaiian chicken meatballs, I took photos (which were great!!!) and fed them to my family. They were a big fat disaster!!! No one enjoyed them. I tried to write a post about them, telling myself that someone might enjoy them, but it felt fake and I felt like a liar, so the post and photos went in the trash. I couldn't say we enjoyed it so why would I share it. Since then if it isn't scrummy and family pleasing then it doesn't get a look in. Except risotto, as my family are just wrong on that one!!! Risotto is my food heaven, but I can't cook it and serve it to my family, which in turn means I have little to say about each recipe. So my risotto adventures are slowly being compiled into an ebook, where the pre-amble can be cut to a sentence or two.
- Inspiration can strike at any time so I keep a notebook handy, then I won't wake up and spend the day trying to remember what I was thinking in bed. I have also learnt to keep the notebook away from my kids, as they love to colour!!!!!
- In the past year I have started following and reading far more blogs that I thought possible, and my overriding thought is: I hate pop-up boxes. So I am happy I still don't have any on my blog, it might affect my subscription sign up rate or my Facebook likes, but at least I know I am not annoying anyone. Oh my goodness those pop ups make me cross, even worse are the pop up page covering ones. And don't get me started on trying to navigate a blog with them if you are on your mobile!!! I am happy to say I have resisted pop-ups 🙂
And finally what I haven't learnt:
Dont take criticism personally. Sadly I have still not learnt this one. Maybe in another year it will be top of my 'things I have learnt list' but this year it is still a work in progress!
And finally (I know I already said that!!!) The most important thing I have learnt is this is just a little space on the internet that a minuscule (sub-microscopic in fact) proportion of the world reads. It is important to me, but it isn't important. Not really. What is important are my family and that will never change.
Oh and one more finally!!!
Never write a blog post that has no pictures, as quite frankly it will look boring and there is a huge possibility that people will get bored with a page full of words. So if you are reading this sentence, thank you for sticking with this word heavy post. Pour yourself a glass of champagne and celebrate with me.
Cheers, here's to the next year
Paul Hayes says
Firstly, congratulations! I was a bit surprised to read that your site is only a year old - you've achieved something that takes a lot of bloggers many years to accomplish. I love your blog because it feels real and is serious about food without taking it too seriously. It's not packed with endless brownie, smoothie, paleo, quinoa, kale, cupcake craft projects. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom. My site is only into its sixth month it's a steep learning curve and I have a long way to go. I couldn't agree more about integrity: I make and photograph real food in real time, which is a constant source of amusement for dinner guests. I can't and will never waste food! Oh - tell your internal critic to pipe down. Do what you do knowing it's great!
Claire McEwen says
"it feels real and is serious about food without taking it too seriously" is exactly how I feel about food. I love food and cooking but at the end of the day it is just dinner and that really means getting something on the table and filling up my family. So thank you so much for your kind words, they really did make my evening 🙂
I would never have known your blog was only 6 months old. I love it! And your tip about having a bowl of vinegar by the stove whilst you roast cauliflower is one of the greatest kitchen tips I ever read!!
I am so glad it isn't just my guests that have to wait for a photo. We had friends over recently and got to dessert just before midnight (due to too much talking earlier on in the evening) but I still needed a photo! So everyone had to wait, sadly they were disastrous! But I am blaming the Viognier rather than the photographer 😉
Have a great weekend
Marie @ Not Enough Cinnamon.com says
Happy Blogiversary Claire! I couldn't have said better myself. Blogging is a LOT of hard work, and most people really don't understand that. Blogging is not just about cooking yummy meals and have fun in the kitchen. Honestly, I think the cooking part represents only 30-40% of all my work. The rest is marketing, technical stuff, monetization/ad management etc. I also find it very hard not to compare myself with other bloggers. Too often I get the feeling that I'm not doing enough, and that I should always be doing more, more and more. But at the end of the day, I just try to focus on the fact that I'm very lucky to be able to do what I love 🙂
I wish you a lot of success in the years to come!
Claire McEwen says
Thank you so much Marie.
And you are completely correct, we are so lucky to do what we love. I must remember that when I get stressed by why a plug-in isn't working the way it should x
Suzy @ The Mediterranean Dish says
Clare, congratulations! What a milestone. And thank you for your refreshing honesty in this post. Keep on keeping on; you have a great blog. Cheers!
Claire McEwen says
Thank you my sweet friend. And cheers x
Vicki @ Boiled Eggs & Soldiers says
Happy Blogiversary, congratulations! I've only been going just over a year and I completely agree with everything that you have said, I've got scraps of paper everywhere with recipe notes scribbled on them. My family are my testers too and any excess gets spread amongst friends and neighbours. I look forward to seeing what you create in year 2! x
Claire McEwen says
Thank you Vicki.
I am just starting to feel 'part' of the blogging world.
Well done for making it to the year mark...
Onwards and upwards for us both x
I agree with everything you said! Especially the food wastage part, we eat everything (or at least store in the freezer) I cook, even if it doesn't look the best, which sometimes it doesn't. But that's life isn't it!
And I regularly feel a bit down about how many other brilliant blogs there are out there, but you know what? At the end of the day, your lovely recipes are out there and people everywhere eventually will click on them and like them.
Happy blog anniversary and keep on keeping on 🙂
Claire McEwen says
That is definitely life, I wish I could work out how to make my brown rice and lentil dish look appetising. It is just a bowl of brown but it tastes so good.
I love your blog it such a wonderful mix of food and life.
Thank you for the birthday wishes xx