Two Years of Blogging – Things I’ve Learnt Along the Way

I nearly missed it, but I realised earlier on this evening that it’s my blog’s second birthday!

Back in November 2010, when I started writing this blog at home as a hobby, I had no idea where it would take me. I knew that I enjoyed writing and that food was a topic I’d never tire of writing about. I hoped that my blog would be a creative outlet, a place to share some thoughts and recipes.

E Cookins

I’ve learnt that it definitely takes time to get settled in, to find a style, to write to a length that feels comfortable, to figure out what it is you want to write about. There’s certainly no harm in trying different things. There’s no set formula to blogging and there’s plenty of room for us all.

I know that many of my readers are bloggers, too, but if any of you don’t write a blog and are tempted to, I say, don’t hold back! Bloggers are demonstrating that they are a force to be reckoned with and new precedents are being set in the world of online publishing, writing and blogging every day.

About the same time as I starting this blog, I also started a Diploma in Food Journalism and over the summer, I finally finished it. Although there are many classes and courses to explore out there, this diploma gave me a really good insight into writing professionally. Modules focused on feature writing, interviewing, reviewing, writing press releases and touched on the legal elements of journalism. I couldn’t have asked for better support at home and also had a fantastic tutor in Jo Wiltshire.

My adventures in Polish food are also taking on a life of their own! As you may have noticed by some of my posts and recipes here, my Polish food heritage is something I love writing about. In August, Delicious Magazine published one of my Inheritance Recipes along with a recipe for Pierogi – Polish dumplings – Holly, a blogger in Scotland, even made them! I also took part recently in a shoot for a second feature, which should follow over Christmas and the New Year. I’ll keep you posted!

My_Inheritance_Recipe

I have been asked why I don’t exclusively blog about Polish food and I suppose the answer is because there is just so much that I want to write about. However, at this year’s Food Blogger Connect, Sumayya who writes at ‘Pukka Paki’ gave a great talk on the topic of niche blogging. It’s something I’ve given lots of thought to, as well as regularly taking a step back to look at the content I write. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start a new blog soon to give my Polish recipes a place of their own.

I’d love to know what you all think about which direction I should go in.

By chance, I read a wonderful article yesterday called A Brief History of Food Blogs in America, and I suppose it made me realise that blogging is a creative journey and that often, when you start a blog, you end up in a completely different place from the place you started!

If I had to summarise, after two years of writing this blog, here’s what else I’ve learnt so far:

  • Pick a blog name you’re happy with….this still bothers me!
  • Put forward ideas yourself instead of waiting to be found or approached.
  • Trust your instincts and make judgement calls – learn how to value your time and don’t sell yourself short.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn things down if they don’t fit in with your blog purpose (more on this to come!)
  • Remember that as a blogger, you are your own editor. This means that you can write about what you want to write about, but my own view is that it will help you in the long run to have some boundaries and ethics in place, too.
  • Read as much as you can. Keep on top of what’s out there. Find a mentor or someone who inspires you and be open to ideas or even criticism.
  • Have something new to say – it is very easy (and I have done it plenty of times myself) to follow the crowd, but in order to really stand out it is worth taking a risk sometimes; push yourself, go against the current and try something new.
  • Read this book and accompanying blog – Will Write For Food by Dianne Jacob – it really is the best book out there on food writing. I read it before I started blogging and regularly refer back to back it. It has even helped me shape my first cookery book proposal…

For now, I’m going to carry on as I always have. Sharing recipes as they happen, writing about things that might be useful to my readers or that inspire me and enjoying more of the community spirit that writing a blog generates.

Plum Muffins

Simple and Season will be back home this month – thank you to all my recent hosts including Urvashi, Laura, Fleur, Katie and Nazima (as well as Solange and Clare for Family Friendly Fridays) for doing such a wonderful job of welcoming new participants as well as those of you who have been staunch supporters from the start.

Rather than a recipe this year, I had to share a quote that really inspired me recently, via the exceptionally talented Fiona Humberstone at The Flourish Studios on a recent branding masterclass.

Flourish Blog Quote

Original quote from a speech by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Thank YOU all for your support, encouragement, thoughtful comments and friendship. Here’s to many more posts and recipes!

 

Comments

  1. says

    Happy Anniversary Ren and many congratulations on your achievements! Your blog is a joy and so inspirational If only your blog and advice had been available to me when I started ! Great advice, especially re the name, that is something I wish I’d done differently. Good luck!

  2. says

    What lovely sentiments Ren. Your blog was one of the first I started following when I was thinking about starting my own. I love your written voice. It’s warm and friendly and I always want to eat your food with your gorgeous photos that are getting better and better. Congratulations on your second anniversary. I wonder what your third year holds in store xx

  3. says

    Happy anniversary, Ren – and congratulations on all you’ve achieved so far. It has been great to meet you a couple of times in the past year and I hope to do so again before long…I, too, adore Dianne Jacob’s book & her blog & site. I bought the original ‘Will Write for Food’, years ago, and then the updated version too…like you I gain inspiration from her wonderful insights over & over again. And we have the amazing Fiona Humberstone in common too – Flourish have recently designed the brand image for my new venture (more soon! ) and I couldn’t have wished for a better company to do so…
    Would love to learn more about Polish cooking and your heritage. Long may you continue making my mouth water!! Rachel x

    • Ren says

      Thank you Rachel – lovely comment, too and yes, Dianne is really inspirational and always so level headed. I can’t believe we have Fiona in common, I’m so excited about that. I really can’t wait to hear all about your new ventue, no doubt Fiona will feature you on her blog – keep me posted – tell me more! xx

    • Ren says

      Thank you so much Matt for taking the time to stop by and leave such a lovely comment. It is so very nice of you.

  4. says

    PS Re niche blog – I would extend the existing section of Polish Heritage recipes and make it a regular event in your blogging calendar. Sadly no day of the week starts with P! But like Simple and in Season – it should be something to expect regularly. My two penny worth anyway.

  5. says

    Such a wonderful journey Ren and such wise words along the way. I’ve pinned that last quote and derive so much pleasure from reading your blog, meeting you in person and inspiration from the way you’ve approached blogging (and life!). Our paths crossing has definitely been a milestone on my own blogging journey. Many congratulations – can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

    • Ren says

      Thank you Sally, annoyed I didn’t manage to get to Dubai again this year! But at least we saw some of eachother in London. I love your blog too and following your Middle Eastern adventures x

  6. says

    If I have attained half of what you have by my two year mark, I shall be a very happy bunny. I look forward to reading your thoughtful, insightful and truly special posts, always saving them for when I can read them properly on a big screen (I don’t do that for everyone, believe me!). I also look forward to watching your blog grow and change with you, whether with a new one of Polish treats (I love the big flavours and use of seasonal, affordable ingredients) or a dedicated blog within a blog of your eastern European heritage. As for the book proposal, I wish you every success with this exciting adventure. Signed copy please?!

    • Ren says

      Wow, thank you Kellie, a proper big screen read! That is very special in today’s read and run environment! I follow many blogs via my phone and often forget to go back and comment, I think reading blogs on a proper computer screen reminds you to comment more and I certainly love reading yours :-)

  7. says

    Happy 2nd year blogaversary Ren!I love reading your blog and the journey you have gone on over the past couple of years. I think you have achieved quite a bit more than most bloggers in just 2 years but it is always good to have someone like you around to inspire us as well as share your cultural past with. Please keep doing both, however you chose to do it! xx

    • Ren says

      Thank you Laura, I really enjoy the community atmosphere of blogging and I love taking part in the challenges and keeping up with you all! I think you have found a great blogging balance. and you never seem to let it overwhelm you. x

  8. says

    Happy anninversary Ren! Love reading your blog – you’ve got the balance between great writing and photography just right.

  9. says

    Thanks for the mention Ren, what a wonderful post! I think i should revisit my journey too so much has happened since I Started blogging! you’re wonderfully inspiring!

    • Ren says

      Aah thank you Sumayya, I’ve read your post two or three times, popping back over to check whether I’ve left a comment!

  10. says

    I like your blog as it is – a good mixture of lots of different things. Having a blog exclusively about Polish food would be less attractive to me, though I like to see some Polish recipes from time to time, and I’m very interested in what you write about your food culture. But my point is – I’m intereted in lots of food cultures, not just Polish ones. I look forward to reading your first cookbook! :)

    • Ren says

      Thank you Mark, I always appreciate your advice and comments – they always provide food for thought!

  11. says

    Happy blogaversary Ren! It’s funny how blogging has a habit of taking you places you never expected to go :) After 8 years I can honestly say I think I get more out of it now than ever before – and I have met the most amazing people along the way. Love your advice – the one about the name is often overlooked, but the right name is worth its weight in gold. Here’s to the next 2 years!

    • Ren says

      Thanks Jeanne, wow, 8 years is really a long time, you must have had one of the first non-US blogs then, surely? I thought the US timeline piece in Saveur was so interesting. I had no idea that David Lebovitz began posting in 1999! I think you are one of the few people whose blog I read that I haven’t yet met in person! We’ll have to recitfy that?

  12. says

    Happy anniversary Ren. I note we started our blogs around the same time but you’ve certainly been rather more focused than me. I’ve certainly had some of the same thoughts and doubts about my blog – particularly point 1! Your advice is so helpful. I’ll be checking out some of the interesting links you’ve given in this posting. Thanks for the inspiration and well done on the successes you’ve had so far.

    • Ren says

      Hi Evie, wow, two years for you, too. I really like the same of your blog! At least it reflects you in some way. The very best thing about blogging is being able to set your own pace, there are weeks when I post less frequently. Kepe going!

  13. says

    Happy 2nd blog birthday – really enjoy reading your blog and your photos are fabulous! Dianne’s book is on my list to read, my list is long!

  14. says

    Happy Birthday Ren! May FF continue to go from strength to strength. From my point of view, whilst I really love reading about the Polish cooking, I’d be sad if you stopped posting the other stuff too. Whether you choose to maintain both here or split to two blogs, one for Polish and one for the rest, is a difficult choice. I get the idea of niche blogging, and I believe it’s a good route to higher readership numbers for that specialised content, but if you’re blogging to share everything you want to share, it might feel restrictive. Having two blogs would resolve that, though, I guess!

    • Ren says

      Thanks Kavey, you always give very thoughtful advice. I’d be sad if I stopped posting other stuff, too, so perhaps I will just continue as I am doing, or eventually move them across somewhere else – but then I’d have to split my time! Looking forward to reading your posts on Japan x

  15. says

    Happy Blogoversary – keep up the good work. I always say that whatever it is, a blog, a business, a hobby it is only a vehicle for the journey. It is all about the journey and the fun you have getting there so enjoy! If you don’t have a dream you will never have a dream come true!
    Thanks for all your support with my blog and my journey.
    xx

    • Ren says

      Thanks Heidi, I love your quote too, I remember you saying it in the car, If you don’t have a dream, you’ll never have a dream come true! Onwards and upwards for you, as well. And I saw that your daughter started a blog too, good luck to her!

  16. says

    Blogging is about sharing and being true to oneself, that a few of the reasons why I have enjoyed reading your blog, thank you for being on the blogosphere x

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