So I warned you a couple weeks ago at the onset of this Let’s Talk series that I was going to talk about anything and everything. And today’s schpeel would most likely be considered one of those “anything and everything” posts. If you’re usually here for recipes and tips, this post might not be for you so feel free to check back Monday for the most amazing dessert bars on the planet.
But for the rest of you (hi, mom), this Let’s Talk post is up close and personal. And truly, I wish I had you guys right here in my kitchen sitting on the island stools and chatting. Keeping me grounded and laughing.
Lately, I’ve really been thinking about why I blog. The reasons why probably don’t matter a whole lot to anyone else but me. However they actually impact the look and feel and face of my blog quite a bit. So can we say they really affect all of us? Yes, let’s say that.
Eight years ago when I started this blog, I truly had no intentions of still blogging in 2015 – it wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I didn’t know that my blog would start to get comments from random readers across the interwebs or that I would move from mykitchencafe.blogspot.com to www.melskitchencafe.com or that I would go from 10 pageviews a month (again, hi mom) to over 2 million pageviews a month or that I would look back and realize how truly terrible my photography was when at the time, I thought I was a budding food stylist (ha!). I mean, none of that was even on my radar. I really just wanted to make food and share the winners on a real, live food blog instead of boring all my family members by posting them on our family blog (which, by the way, am I the only remaining person on the planet that still has a family blog? just curious).
And on a personal level, blogging has seen me through quite a bit: four major moves (from Utah to Wisconsin to Minnesota to Idaho), two new babies, a bout with cancer and subsequent radiation, two major health-related surgeries thrown in there and lots of other personal ups and downs.
Through it all, this little food blog has grown and morphed and changed beyond my wildest expectations over the last almost decade. When I first started, there were only a handful of food blogs widely known and even then, if you said the word “blog” most people thought you were swearing at them. Now, there are thousands and thousands of food blogs and new ones starting every day.
Entering the food blog world when I did was sweet timing and I’m grateful for it every day; I think it plays a big part into why my blog has grown (new social media avenues don’t hurt either). But as my blog has grown, it’s taken on some new challenges and I’ve had to really stop and ask myself why I blog.
What started out as 100% a hobby (I posted whenever I wanted to with literally no thought to anything except for which really bad picture to choose to post with the recipe) has evolved into something that takes a lot of time. Lots and lots and lots of time. I average about 40-50 hours of work on my blog each week and while this is a choice (no one is forcing me to do it), it definitely sometimes feels overwhelming. As most of you know, I have a large-ish, busy family (+ a cat, a dog, two cows, and 11 chickens if that matters at all).
These faces are and always will be my first priority. I try my very hardest to avoid the time-sucking computer/social media work while my kids are awake since I don’t work outside the home and several of them aren’t in school full-time yet (and of course during summer, all their blessed souls are home) which means if at all possible, blogging tasks are relegated to afternoon naptimes (when I can structure my older boys’ time for quiet activities while littles nap) and kiddo bedtimes (hence the reason I stay up way.too.late). Although they do get a lot of hands-on chances to help cook in the kitchen (we’ve talked about that before remember) since all the cooking and baking is done during reasonable daylight hours.
Blogging is more than just food, though – it’s website functions that break, keeping up with social media (blah, totally a subject for another time), paying hosting fees and putting a lot of money into development and design and fixes, hiring an assistant (my cute sis – she’s awesome!) to help keep up on the hundreds of comments and emails I need to respond to each day and manage the aforementioned social media tools as well as many other projects. It’s the highs of really positive comments and the lows of mean-spirited ones.
And sometimes, you guys, I want to stop. I want to stop blogging and just read novels 40-50 hours a week instead. Or maybe exercise more. Or sew? I think I used to know how to do that. Or wait…sleep. I’d like to sleep.
But every time I have a little crisis (my husband seriously deserves a therapist’s salary for talking me off the ledge each time), I go back to why I started blogging in the first place.
To share my tried-and-true favorite recipes with the world.
I know that sounds cheesy and a little trite but it’s so, so true. And every single time it’s what causes me to recenter and realize that even though there are a bajillion other things that go into this blog now that it’s grown, that – THAT is the reason I’m still blogging.
Other food blogs will come and go. Many of them will surpass me in numbers and social media followers and revenue and cookbook deals and sponsorship opportunities and all the other things that come along with blogging. And I’m not going to lie, the overachieving, perfectionist side of me struggles with that sometimes. But every time I decide to go down that route (finally say yes to a publisher, start working with more companies to promote their stuff, burying my face in social media and never resurfacing just to get another “like”), it doesn’t take long (I’m talking mere hours) before I’m completely miserable. It’s not me. It’s not how I blog. To business-savvy, eagle-sharp minds, it’s stupid and naive – I’ve had more than one fellow blogger and family member and acquaintance tell me I’m shooting myself in the foot by blogging the way I do – for not capitalizing on more opportunities and that I’ll never get ahead.
Is it bad to admit that I’m ok with that? All I ever wanted, actually more than I ever wanted, in blogging I have right now. Call it unmotivated or unambitious or what you will. I call it staying true to my roots.
I have loyal readers who are so dear to me, it’s unexplainable. Your comments and stories and wittiness and recipes (ah, I love the recipes you send me) make all the endless work of blogging worth it and totally counteract the minor instances of negativity that come through.
And there’s the food. I love food. I love good food. I don’t post a recipe unless it rocks. No filler recipes. No content just because. I only post because if I didn’t, I’d explode from having to keep that ridiculously awesome recipe to myself instead of sharing it.
At the end of the day, just like eight years ago, it’s still about the food. But amazingly and kind of crazily, it’s also about the people who come here – you’ve made this a community. Maybe just to me, I don’t know, but as awkward and socially problematic as it sounds, you are a very bright spot in my day and have become some of my dearest friends (even though I haven’t met many of you) and I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you.
This is not all to say that in the future I won’t decide to take opportunities that come my way or that little bits and pieces of my blog won’t change. There are some exciting things in the works as I speak, in fact, but those aren’t the aspects that drive and motivate me to keep blogging.
No, really, phew!
Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. You certainly deserve some type of reward if you really truly made it to the end of this post. I try to keep super personal, weirdo emotional, blogging-specific things like this out of daily posts because for the most part, I know you come here for great food. And I’m totally ok with that. I love it and don’t intend to vomit up all my feelings all of the time.
But I guess today I just wanted to make it known, even though I hope you know it just from being here day after day, that I value sincerity and realness and that’s what I hope to convey through blogging. I don’t have ulterior motives. Sometimes I don’t even know what tomorrow holds for blogging let alone the next five years.
I just blog.
And I’m so happy you are still around.