10 things learned from 5 years of food blogging
As I swing my bag onto the table, sit down and lean to pat the dog who is scurrying around my feet, my eyes fall upon an envelope covered in exotic stamps. The long drive is forgotten in my excitement to open this slim parcel which has reached my home in Dubai from Australia. A thin plastic bag is inscribed with a name – Priscilla’s offspring has arrived.
Next morning, I’m waiting at the supermarket door as it opens and head directly to the organic, strong, white bread flour. Back home I measure and weigh flour and water into a bowl, stir in the pale yellow granules and I wait. A mysterious gift which has been plucked from the atmosphere that surrounds Celia and combined with some flour and water will be resurrected in my own Dubai kitchen.
My Custard Pie started five years today; half a decade, one-third of the time we’ve lived in the UAE. I can’t remember life without blogging. It’s part of my daily routine, in my blood, and now I’m rising to a new challenge with this sourdough progeny of Priscilla and hope that Prudence will become as central to that same calendar. Alive, exciting and unpredictable… yep that’s a metaphor…
5 years ago
Looking back, cringing, on those first few posts I’m glad to see some constants from the start – bread, cheese, shopping local and, er, Jack Daniels. My head has been turned by some amazing food experiences over the years – truffles, oysters, champagne, gold cocktails and all that malarkey but good bread and cheese is my lunch almost every single day.
4 years ago
This is when my world really started to expand and I started forging friendships online and off that are still lasting today and enrich my life. Sorry if this is starting to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech. The Fresh from the Oven baking challenge was something to look forward – I really miss that event. Recklessly, I joined Joan’s culinary tour round the world on Foodalogue. A bunch of us went to the fish market – little did I know how this group including Sarah and Arva and the rest of Fooderati Arabia would become so dear to me and central to staying sane in this mad city. Maybe the seeds were sown then for Come Dine with Me? Was life less hectic? How did we fit it all in?
Bread baked in 2011 – cheat’s sourdough, Khrushchev dough, challah, a quick white loaf, hot cross buns and hot choc buns, tomato and basil focaccia, a white sandwich loaf, courgette cluster bread, Roquefort and pear fougasse, panettone, and a garlic, herb and parmesan festive wreath.
3 years ago
Diving into the back streets of Dubai with Arva was the start of my serial food tourism in her footsteps. I collaborated with Meeta on a food photography course… twice, went to my third Food Blogger Connect in London and had tea with Diana Henry (plus met Antonia Carluccio and cooked with Georgio Locatelli). After passing my WSET Advanced exam, wine started to creep into my posts a bit more regularly.
2 years ago
Life seems to have got a bit crazy and while there was a lot of eating and drinking, there wasn’t as much cooking going on over on My Custard Pie (although I cook from scratch nearly every night). I published a quick post with dodgy pics which has turned out to be my most popular ever (there’s a lesson!). Books have always provided an escapism for me, so maybe no coincidence that my cookbook review section swelled. Veggie teen wrote a guest post about being a vegetarian visiting Mongolia (proud parent). It was an amazing year but a bonkers year.
1 year ago
This was the year of sifting through opportunities and trying to focus on my own priorities rather than everybody else’s. I got a lot better at saying no and yelled YES to some pretty amazing stuff. Visiting Georgia and India opened my eyes in so many ways. I added another title “Food Sourcing Contributor” on Food E Mag which is a joy to write for. It was a mixed year with one very sad thing that I still can’t bring myself to talk about here, but found solace in bread making.
Bread baked in 2014 – on the blog a solitary no-knead loaf.
What to expect in the future?
Where am I now? Still wandering down the path lead by a trail of crumbs in a slightly random way, following any topic that may prove interesting. Just for the record, there is no money earned directly from my blog, in fact I pay wordpress.com a small fee NOT to put ads on it. This is my little space of the internet which brings me joy, escape, a creative outlet, a place to converse with like-minded people; I enjoy many blogs which bring in loads of dough, but I’ve taken the decision to keep distractions to a minimum. Off the page, so many opportunities and experiences (paid and unpaid) have risen because of it.
Are you thinking of starting a blog or an existing blogger? Or perhaps you wonder what motivates someone to commit hours (days, years!) of their life to pouring thoughts out about food into the webosphere on a regular basis:
10 lessons learned from 5 years of food blogging
- Be focussed. Always keep in mind why you are doing this blogging thing (and be honest to yourself about the answer).
- Don’t get distracted by the numbers, followers, fans. Social media is an effective way to connect with like-minded people, exchange views, keep your fingers on the pulse, and introduce your blog to a new readership but chasing numbers can take your eye of point No 1.
- Be inspired but not overwhelmed by shiny new and impressive blogs out there. Don’t compare yourself or imitate. Try and develop your own style.
- Be genuine. That saying about food, “You are what you eat so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake” applies to blogging too.
- If you don’t get a thrill every time you post, don’t do it. Blog about something you care deeply or passionately about.
- Always disclose free stuff – people see through it (and in some countries you could fall foul of the law).
- Free food, stuff or ‘exposure’ will not pay the bills. Even if blogging for business is not your goal, think before you accept something, consider the amount of time and effort it takes for you to get to and event, pay for transport, write about, cook with it … You could be dedicating that time to something you enjoy more, write about a topic more interesting to you and your readers, or improve your blog.
- People in food are generally lovely, generous people. Be open, honest and generous and you’ll fit right in.
- Interesting food blogs are written by people who live interesting lives. If you are spending more time writing, promoting etc., than eating, cooking, drinking, then you’ve got the balance wrong.
- Enjoy the ride, keep an open mind and you never know where this blogging journey might take you.
Bonus tip: Learn to use your camera (even the one on your iphone). Your food should be a visual feast and it’s a skill you’ll have all your life.
Five years eh?
Had to share as David Bowie was my first love once upon a time. Indulge me – it’s my blogiversaire.
Wondering about the impact of wheat on our lives or if your relationship with bread is not as rosy as mine, please listen to this podcast about heritage grains. Must listen for all bread bakers too.
Thanks for reading, commenting, supporting. I want to give something back to you for being here for the last five year and I can’t wait to announce the first thing up my sleeve in the next couple of days. Of course it involves food.
P.S. If there’s anything you’d like to see on My Custard Pie — anything that I might be able to help you with or something you’d like to see more (or less) of, please drop me a comment or an email.
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