9 years! That’s how old this blog is today. That means an astonishing number of posts, a fascinating amount of images and a magnificent quantity of recipes, mishaps, experiments in my kitchen. When I think about my shaky, timid and naïve debut into the blogging world I cannot help but giggle and look back in amazement at all that has occurred since February 2006!
Last week I read an article on Problogger.net “5 ways to make your blogging life easier” and thought to myself
“Hec if I read this article back in 2006 I probably 1) would have done a lot of things differently 2) would have never started blogging!”
The article overwhelmed me! While I am sure in the blogging jungle of 2015 it is important to follow several of the tips in the article down to the T, the blogging world I come from was very different. There were not that many rules to follow, functions to control or followers to engage across the various social media platforms - there weren't that many. The food blogging community was small and we usually hung out on Flickr groups or actually on each other’s blogs, commenting and interacting or we went to and took part in virtual events. Those were the days (*I hear my own voice mutate into my mother’s*)!
9 years later and I am reading posts about blogging burnout: feeling overwhelmed, statistic tracking, post performance, reader expectations … the list is long. While some of these have always been blogger concerns, they were not major issues that caused a breakdown back then.
Over the years as food blogging became hot and trendy, firms realized that bloggers were the reliable voices and their blogs, the platform to market their products. The era of advertising, sponsored posts and product promotion was here. The pressure on the bloggers was substantial – the requirement of more traffic, more readers, more followers to place the products accurately – the more active they were meant the more interest they would generate from companies and of course more traffic and followers meant the blog was increasingly successful. All of a sudden you were measured by your blog statistics. I remember at a blogging conference I was speaking at my co-presenter was asked rather directly “What are your stats?”
Then came the stage of the book deals. The more successful a blog was, the more interesting it became for publishers, agents, and PR companies. All of a sudden bloggers became entrepreneurs and operated like a major corporation. Marketing plans were devised, finance reports were analyzed, statistics were evaluated, web designs created – the professional bloggers nowadays often require the skills of a web designer, marketing guru, finance tycoon and also write well, photograph stunning images, have a unique voice and well …. look good, stylish and magnificent while doing it all. Bloggers are required to strengthen their online existence to really stand out.
Yes! - To all of the above – if the blog is your main source of income and as a blogger you earn a living out of it. If this is the goal a blogger wants to follow, then, like any other employment, you need to put in your power, energy and talent into your job. I know of a very, (very, very, very) small number of people who actually manage to pull off all of the above so well … even the looking good, stylish and magnificent part (Please take this with a pinch of salt).
For me I never wanted to “be a blogger” – it was never a job description. Certainly not when I started back in 2006 and even less when blogging developed into what it is today. See – “I am a blogger”!
The difference: when I blog I do not have any marketing strategies or finance reports on my mind. I blog out of pure passion and for the sole purpose of being creative and to have fun. I’ve always seen it as a hobby and a hobby is not supposed to add to my stress or put pressure on me. Yes, I have mulled over things like traffic and the depletion of reader interactivity. I do think about improving my social media performance and how to optimize my blog to make it more reader friendly. I think about these things not to shoot myself into blogging stardom but to make the space a better experience for my readers and followers.
I think over the 9 years that has always been a constant and I doubt it will ever change. I do not take on sponsor posts because it is not what I want to do nor is it what What’s for lunch, honey? is about. My sponsors are usually workshop related who generously support my endeavors in giving back to the community what I learnt over the 9 years. My ad banners make enough money for the upkeep of the blog and I do not accept any paid written content on the blog.
I am swimming against the flow I guess. My 9 years of blogging has provided me with many other creative opportunities but the root of these have always been being creative for my hobby, for my blog. I developed my photography and today I am able to work more professionally. I became confident enough and aspired to teach what I had learnt and share my experience. I am doing this without any professional blogger skills, without any fancy marketing plans and without the pressure. While What’s for lunch, honey? has opened doors for me – it does not make mega big bucks. I earn part of my living from my freelance photography and styling jobs and over the years it has increased to be able to live from. When I come here I do so to unwind. I am a blogger and I do not see that changing anytime soon.
I have followed 4 personal rules over the past 9 years – 4 elements that keep me motivated and keeps What’s for lunch, honey? going strong.
- Personality and Opinion
I strongly believe that a blog should reflect the personality of the person behind it. Bring fun, humor, conversations, ideas and thoughts into blog posts. I see my blog as an extension to my home and when I invite you to spend time with me, I want you to have fun here. You are my guests, my friends and as a host I want you to have a memorable experience while you are here. A unique voice is what makes a blog personable and engaging. Having opinions and sharing them with readers and followers is valuable and a key component of creating that unique voice. Posts are not news stories – they are like our journals or like animated conversations with our girlfriends.
I enjoy reading blogs that provide informational tidbits within their posts or reading a post dedicated to a specific topic. Be it a Ramen 101, Pavlova making tips, how to preserve and make jams, jellies and chutneys, an entire food guide or travelogues, it’s important for me that my readers consider my posts valuable and interesting and come back because I can bring something useful or share interesting facts, stories on specific topics. This adds to the unique voice and makes you a dependable advocate on the specific topics you blog about.
My friends Sally of My Custard Pie and Jeanne of Cooksister do it particularly well.
I admit this takes the most effort but it is one of the most valuable aspects of blogging that has given me so much throughout my blogging years. The strength of a blog comes from the community that evolves around it and friendships that are derived from it. Being part of the community means taking part in discussions that are a result of the posts. If comments or questions are left on the blog respond to them. Leave comments on the blogs you follow and share their posts via the various social media platforms. If you receive emails with questions or queries respond to the person. As I said it is hard to keep up especially when time is limited but responding even at a later date is meaningful.
- Regularity / Reliability
When I first started blogging publicly I was under the opinion it was important to feed my blog daily or 3-4 times a week. I soon realized this was exhausting and for several years I have been posting once a week – every Wednesday. I find this is manageable for me given my time schedule and it makes me actually look forward to working on my post for my weekly presentation. My readers have come to rely on these regular weekly posts and just like me also look forward to the latest from my side. If I tend to miss a week or two I receive emails asking me if I am doing alright. I kind of like that and knowing that I am missed motivates me and feeds my passion. If readers can't rely on you to post regularly with new content or conversations, they'll look elsewhere for the information.
These 4 aspects have guided me over the 9 years to keep my blog and my passion alive. I am glad you are here to celebrate this with me. It’s time for cake!
This tangy and fruity cake is infused with incredible flavors of vanilla and citrus, dense, moist and slightly crunchy with spelt semolina adds a grand texture. Finally the kumquat marmalade is sublime, sweet and so more-ish!
Recipe: Vanilla Infused Kumquat Marmalade Semolina CakeMeeta K. Wolff
Serves: 8 to 10
- For the Kumquat Marmalade
- 120g kumquats, washed, sliced and pitted
- 250g muscovado sugar
- Juice of 2 oranges - reserve zest for the cake batter
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- For the cake
- 115g butter, room temperature
- 150g muscovado sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- 60g spelt semolina
- 85g all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a small saucepan dissolve the sugar in the orange and lemon juice over very low heat, once the sugar dissolves turn the heat up to a rolling boil. Add the kumquat slices and the vanilla pods (without the seeds), brush the sides down with a pastry brush dipped in hot water, do not stir whist the marmalade is boiling. Reduce the heat to low and cook the sauce until thick and glossy, if you have a sugar thermometer then simmer until the sauce reaches 102°C. Let the sauce cool down slightly before pouring it over the cooled cake.
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Butter a 23 cm spring form cake pan. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until fluffy and pale. While the mixer is running, add an egg and wait for it to be incorporated before adding the other. Add the grated orange zest reserved from the glaze and the vanilla seeds and combine well.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the semolina flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, to the batter mixture and mix until all of it is incorporated. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
- Spread the kumquat slices on top of the batter, allowing any excess glaze to drip from the slices. Reserve the remaining glaze.
- Bake the cake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature 175 degrees C and bake the cake for 35 more until the cake is an even golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack until warm, not hot. Then, using a wooden skewer, poke holes all over the surface of the cake. Pour the remaining glaze over the top using a pastry brush. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature on a wire rack before unmolding.
I celebrate you, my readers, followers and friends, for being a part of my life and part of my space for the past 9 years. From you I have learnt so much and have loved sharing so many memorable moments. THANK YOU!
If you loved this cake I am sure you will also like ...
- Jeanne’s Clementine and cranberry upside-down cake
- Asha’s Orange pound cake
- Deeba’s Fresh Peach Streusel Coffee Cake
- Denise’s Raspberry tarts with almond cream
- Valeria’s Membrillo cake
Don’t miss your chance to sign up for one of the upcoming workshops this Spring! Join me for an awesome, fun and hands-on food experience!
|Vienna, Austria |
17-18 April 2015
Details & registrations
|London, UK |
1 - 2 May 2015
Details & registrations
Enjoy these cakes from What’s for lunch, honey?:
|Apricot Saffron Cake||Cherry and Roasted Almond Marzipan Tart||Sticky Toffee Apple Cake|
All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2015 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First