10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Blogging...
...Not that it would have made a difference if they did anyway, as always I'd have to learn it myself, the hard way. It's been exactly a year since I entered the blogosphere and oh my, has it been a whirlwind of a journey! Believe it or not starting a blog was never on my to-do list. The opportunity just fell into my lap and I figured I could either run with it, or let the momentum die down. I'm not the type to shut the door on anything so I decided, what the hell, lets do something with all these great meals I keep going out to feast on; all these recipes i've perfected and stored away on post-its in my kitchen drawers; all these pictures i've hoarded of events that i've catered; and all the eccentric stories of chefs that i've learned from and worked with. And so melangeme.com was born; and I cannot tell you how much of an eye-opening experience it has been.
But yea... A little heads up would have been nice; and here's a few things I learnt along the way:
1. The Blogosphere is Indeed a Whole Other World.
There's a reason they call it the blogosphere, and setting up my website was an absolute nightmare! I'm not very tech-savvy in any case and ended up getting stuck at the 20 second mark of a 10 minute long youtube tutorial. Webhosts? Domains? Wordpress.org or Wordpress.com? Customized themes? Plugins? 10 minutes my foot! It took an entire month and switching between at least 50 themes before finding one that I was happy with. And if it weren't for a very good friend helping me out, none of it would have been possible - you know who you are! Point is there were definitely times where I wanted to throw my laptop against the wall... or out the window... or flush it down the toilet.
2. Numbers Suck
Just when you thought you were done. You have to download google analytics and track your stats *eye roll* including SEO, number of hits, traffic, demographics, bounce rates, spam, media kits - the blogosphere needs its own dictionary. seriously. It's easy to get caught up in the numbers, but producing quality posts that you're happy with is much more important. There comes a point where you just have to focus on that and let the rest fall into place.
3. People Often Don't Know the Difference Between a Food Blogger & Critic.
"I only do positive reviews" is something that everyone found strangely difficult to understand when I started out. Firstly I really don't like the word 'review'. It's not at all what my blog is about and I don't think I have any credentials to go out and 'review' restaurants. I know good food. Yes, for sure. And I know how to make good food. Yes. But that doesn't make me a food critic, nor is that the direction I wanted to take my blog in. I only wanted to write about my 'favourite eats', those truly exceptional dining experiences that give me something to write about. Otherwise, it just becomes a monotonous blog post about the list of things I ate at a restaurant. With no passion, or excitement for the experience. You can't write a blog post just for the sake of writing a blog post.
4. Social Media is Life.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest, Insta-stories! Ahh! When will it end people?! My phone battery runs out 5 times a day and I am always over my data allowance! But unfortunately no one else is going to promote you, it's something you have to do yourself and it's really awkward sometimes but absolutely necessary.
5. Pictures are Key.
"WAIIIT! ... Don't eat anything yet!!" Is something my friends are too used to hearing when our food comes to the table, as they pause with utensils in hand. Your plus 1s are guaranteed to have a very successful future in hand modelling when you're done with them. Manicures and jewelry are always on point.
You also become absolutely shameless in restaurants. Standing on chairs, putting dishes on the floor, stealing props for your shot, photographing other table's food, asking people if you can borrow their limbs for just one picture or if they can raise their menu to block the bit of light forming a shadow in your view. Yea... Shameless. It's a wonder my friends still agree to come with me to these tastings. That's when you know they love you no matter what! Especially when you drag them into 45 degree heat with food in hand so you can get that natural light. Although my dad was happy the DSLR he bought me as my graduation present was finally coming into good use!
I joke about it but I actually love styling these pictures. I never thought I would but there's something really creative about the process and without meaning to, you start to develop a certain style and personality that's evident across all your pictures. You also never look at props the same again. I've officially become aesthetically obsessed! I can spend hours in antique stores looking for the perfect plates and kitchenware. #nerd. I know. Don't even get me started on uploading and editing. Thats is a whole other ballgame in itself. Snapseed and VSCO C6 filter for the win!
6. Stick to Your Guns.
Once the invites start pouring into your inbox, it's very easy to get lost in them. I also never thought I would spend so much time emailing considering i'm a pastry chef! Initially, thinking you have to network, you start attending everything that comes your way, even if it doesn't really pertain to your blog... Really not the best idea. Because then you're obliged to post about it, and ultimately it's your credibility on the line. At some point you just need to put your foot down, go to the events that you really want to go to and produce quality work. Everything else follows. Especially in a place like Dubai where there's a new restaurant opening literally everyday, you can't be everywhere, all the time.
7. Learn From the Best.
One thing I really love about blogging is being a part of this amazing community of foodies. I've made some really good friends all of whom have been extremely supportive, we all have our own direction and niche when it comes to our work and it's downright foolish not to learn from each other.
8. It Really is a Full Time Job.
It is extremely time consuming! Each post takes me a few hours to perfect, if not more. And all the outings are never less than a few hours either, it's harder to balance with your day job than you would think. It doesn't feel like work because you're enjoying it but it sure does take long.If there could be more hours in a day, that would be terrific. K thanks!
9. You Will, From Now on, be Your Social Circle's Food Guide App.
...Even if they're not in your social circle actually. Even if they're just acquaintances who never message except to ask which restaurant to eat at. Or family members coming to town for a few days and want a food tour planned for them on arrival, you are officially people's "google, for food"... Deal with it!
10. Writer's Block is a Real Thing... And it Will Happen.
You can't be inspired all the time, it's not possible. Don't panic, it's normal and it will pass. I promise.