My First Year Blogging…
was a struggle. Let’s back up to the day I started Chocolate Covered Cheetah… I literally woke up that morning and was like “I’m going to start a blog today”. Don’t get me wrong, I had dreamt about starting a blog, but up until the day I actually started it I had done ZERO research on how to go about doing it. I thought, “tons of people do it it can’t be that hard”… I decided on a name, picked a host, bought a domain, picked chocolate chip cookies as my first recipe and then realized it was NATIONAL COOKIE DAY! Somehow, in my mind, because it was national cookie day I had to get my post up THAT day, it could NOT wait. I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, took some horrific photos of them at NIGHT (I have since re-done the photos) and cranked out a blog post.
I would not suggest this approach to starting a blog. The only benefit of starting this way is just that, you start. A lot of bloggers will say hitting publish on their first post was the hardest part, clearly that was not the case for me from a literal perspective. However, I struggled my whole first year because of it. I was just fumbling around, blogging about this and that and not really putting a ton of effort in because I didn’t know how to improve and I didn’t have a plan. I felt as if I was alone stranded in a canoe without a paddle in the middle of a giant blogger ocean. I had found myself almost no blogger resources, I wasn’t engaging with other bloggers and I wasn’t having any real success.
At about the 11 month mark I started feeling really defeated. I was comparing myself to other bloggers who had been blogging around as long as I had and I felt like they were having so much more success than I was. I seriously considered dropping the blog altogether and just continuing as an Instagram account. But I thought I would give it until the end of the year to make any final decisions. In early December, lucky for me and for Chocolate Covered Cheetah, I stumbled upon Nicole Culver’s Food Entrepreneur Summit which was beginning on January 4th. I was a little hesitant about signing up since I wasn’t sure if I was going to continuing blogging, so I didn’t know if I should invest any more money into it. Ultimately, I decided it could be just what I needed to get me on a course to success. Signing up for the Food Entrepreneur Summit was hands down the best thing I did for my blog. It started my year off right in regards to blogging and the value it had on my mindset is invaluable.
Food Entrepreneur Summit:
I learned so much during the Food Entrepreneur Summit, Nicole interviewed many successful bloggers about different topics related to blogging. Each day of the 7 day summit she would release 2-3 videos in the morning, you listened to them on your own time and then later in the day you could post questions in the Facebook group and the speakers would answer. Nicole was so supportive throughout the summit. She would do Facebook live videos everyday to check in on our progress and would respond to questions via email or Facebook within minutes.
This was the first time since I started blogging that I felt like anyone (besides my family) cared about my blog becoming a success. Blogging can be really lonely and overwhelming, especially when you work hard on a post and it gets 7 views… knowing that their are other bloggers out there who are struggling through the same sorts of things you are makes you feel at ease. During the summit I had the chance to ask questions, get advice and learn about so many things I didn’t even know existed. If you are a food blogger that is just starting out or who has been blogging for a while and are feeling stuck, I highly recommend signing up for the Food Entrepreneur Summit Self-Study Program. You get access to the same content and resources that I did back in January when I participated in the summit live. If you have questions about specific content covered or knowledge gained I would be happy to talk to you about in more in depth! Drop me a line in the comments below!
Blogger to Business Support Group:
After the Food Entrepreneur Summit ended I knew I needed a place I could go to ask questions, get advice and continue learning to keep moving in the right direction. Shortly after it ended Nicole invited me to join her Blogger to Business Support Group, a Facebook community where I have daily access to Nicole and a network of other bloggers struggling with the same things I am. Just seeing the questions other bloggers post and being exposed to different ways bloggers create success for themselves has been so helpful and eye opening. I now have blog posts planned out in advance (a novel idea I know, hehe), brands targeted that I would like to build a relationship with and a restored passion for blogging.
I cannot say enough about Nicole Culver. She really, truly cares about every blogger she works with. She fosters such a wonderfully supportive community of bloggers. No matter what level you are at you can feel comfortable posting questions and know you will get a quick and thorough response. Nicole cares so much about the bloggers in the support group that she is now running the group on a waitlist. She did not want to overcrowd the space and not be able to have a personal connection with every blogger. If you are interested in being put on the waitlist for the Blogger to Business Support Group you can do so by going here. I would also encourage you to browse her website for other blogger resources, she has so much to offer!
Building Connections With Local Bloggers:
Through the Food Entrepreneur Summit I had the chance to virtually meet a ton of bloggers from all over the country. But the best part was I also got to connect with a local blogger, Kat from the blog Crunchy Kat! Kat and I made plans to meet up after the food summit. The online connections over Facebook, Email and Instagram are great, but actually getting to meet people face-to-face makes such a difference! Since meeting Kat she invited me to join her Instagram pod where I have been able to meet and connect with even more local bloggers! Again, being part of a community makes such a big difference when it comes to blogging. The food blogging world is still relatively new and constantly evolving! You need other people to keep you in the loop and let you know what’s what!
The Chopped Podcast:
About a month ago I discovered The Chopped Podcast, a podcast made for food bloggers by Marly from the blog NamelyMarlee. When I was participating in the Food Entrepreneur Summit I was listening to all of the lessons while I was running and I loved it! I feel so much more productive when I listen to a podcast while I am running, so when I found The Chopped Podcast I was psyched to start getting in some more blog personal development during my workout! This podcast is a fantastic and FREE resource for food bloggers! It is set up similar to the way Nicole interviews bloggers just without the follow up action items for you to implement. There is so much going on in the blogosfere it is hard to keep up. Listening to The Chopped Podcast is just another way I am keeping myself educated about how to continue to grow my blog.
Deciding What Kind Of Blogger You Want To Be:
Niches are all the rage in the blogging world right now. Since the number of people writing blogs has increased exponentially over the past 5 years, they say you need to have a niche to be successful. I don’t have a narrowed down niche and I have decided that that is ok, at least for now. My goal now is to focus on getting 2-3 high quality posts up each week, grow my audience and continuing improving my content and photography.
I differ from a lot of bloggers out there who are trying hard to make blogging their full time gig. I love my “day” job way too much to give it up and take on blogging full time. This means my time is limited, but I don’t have the added stress of needing my blog to make money every month or replace an income. Its a lot of sacrificed weekends, late nights and early mornings, but for me it is totally worth it.
In the past 3 months I have come to love blogging more than I ever thought I would. I feel very fortunate to spend all of my days doing things that I love. If you are a new blogger, or a veteran blogger struggling to get to where you want to be I hope you will look into any or all of the resources I have laid out above. These are just a few things that I do that have been working for me. Something that has become clear to me over the past few months is that the whole food blogging world is a community of people who love food and sharing with others. So many people are offering resources to help other food bloggers. If you look around you will find what you need!
Tune in Wednesday for some tips on how I took my food photography from dismal to delightful! And I have a giveaway I think a lot of you will be excited about!