Every year in January (for past 5 years), I take some time to reflect about blogging and share my thoughts (here’s last year’s). This past January 1st, Just One Cookbook became 5 years old.
There are so many things that I’ve learned from blogging, yet I’m still constantly learning each day. Today I want to share 5 lessons which I learned from 5 years of blogging.
Lesson 1: Not able to respond to every email
Even though Mr. JOC has been telling me for several years now, it took me 5 years of blogging to realize that I was chasing the impossible.
The number of emails I receive each day grows as time passes by. I tried my very best to respond to all my emails. However, as a result, I am spending more time at the desk than I was in the kitchen.
Trying to reply to every comment and email dug myself into a hole because I wasn’t spending enough time to create new recipes, and I sort of lost myself between my desk and the kitchen.
At the end, I accepted that I can’t respond to everyone and I need to be more effective with my time if I want to create more recipes. It’s very difficult because if someone takes the time to let me know they enjoy my recipe, I want to reach back out as well.
P.S. Some suggested a virtual assistant might help, but I can barely manage what’s going on in my family right now. Yikes! Adding one more person to my responsibility will most likely add more stress… One thing at a time.
Lesson 2: Allocate time for creativity
From my Lesson 1 experience, I learned lesson 2. You need to set aside time and space for your creativity.
Food blogging is very interesting occupation: it requires you to wear many hats. You have to be a:
- recipe developer to make delicious recipes
- food stylist to make sure the food looks perfect in the photos
- food photographer to take the gorgeous food
- creator of videos to film and edit how to cook the recipe
- a writer to tell a story behind the food and write a recipe
- web savvy to fix your blog related issues
- a secretary to keep track on everything going on
- customer support rep to help the readers with cooking questions
On top of it all, the contents need to be entertaining and everything has to work in order to create an identity on the web.
When I realized that I was in slump, I tried to block out time for my creativity outlet. For me, it was to get my cooking mojo back. So I allocate my mornings when the kids are not at home for developing recipes, and use the night time when the kids are sleeping for a desk job. It’s also the quiet time when I can write a post.
Lesson 3: Take step-by-step pictures
One of the most common feedback I receive from readers is that they LOVE the step-by-step pictures. Now if you’re a food blogger, you’ve probably encountered discussions talking about step-by-step pictures. I learned that most bloggers discourage putting step-by-step pictures for every single step.
Somehow, that never applied to my blog. My readers often tell me that how helpful step-by-step pictures are. For those of you who try making Japanese food for the first time, I hope my step-by-step pictures help confirm what you are doing is correct. I know I really appreciate it when recipes I am not familiar with share step by step images – such as dessert and bread recipes!
Lesson 4: Talk with Japanese accent
Next two lessons came from my experience with making videos for the past 2 years. For all these years of living in the U.S., I wished that I could speak English without a Japanese accent.
My American friends would say “oh but your accent is cute!”, but I rather wanted to be a cool bilingual who could speak both languages perfectly.
Well, that didn’t happen and I still struggle speaking and writing in English (I have accepted that I am not good at languages in general).
So you could tell how worried and terrified I was when I
was forced by Mr. JOC have decided to appear on my YouTube channel. Me speaking in English on YouTube? No, thank you!
However after many videos and encouragements from friends and family, it starting to give me some confidence and I suddenly felt more comfortable about speaking with my heavy accent on camera. So please forgive me if I can’t say “fry” and “fly” collectly. 😉
Lesson 5: Smile while talking
Seriously, I don’t know how many can do that!
While filming, Mr. JOC keeps reminding me to smile every few seconds while I’m talking.
I concluded that it is physically impossible for me. I look at awkward footage of myself trying to speak while smiling…. any tips???
Maybe it’s because English is not my native language. My mouth is very confused when I try to speak English and smile at the same time! I’ll try to do better this year so it appears more natural in the videos.
I hope you enjoyed reading 5 lessons that I learned from 5 years of blogging! I look forward to your comment below!