Blogging Challenges – 1 year of Professional Food and Travel Blogging
Ugly Truth and Reality
Confession time: I am a Food and Travel Blogger and I have nightmares!
Last week I had a few failures on my blog so I thought to share my current thoughts about blogging. It’s more like talking to myself and a future reminder. This post is not about sugar and positive vibes, it’s about the ugly Truth and Reality and blogging challenges.
Do you wish you had a blog? Wanna be a successful blogger? Think that it’s just an easy, piece of cake? Do you think that Travel Bloggers just have only fun traveling around, taking nice photos, and having endless time in the sunshine? Do you think that Food Bloggers just only eat in nice restaurants, make nice recipes, and blog happily about them? Are you ready to face lots of Blog Challenges?
As a Food and Travel Blogger, I can honestly tell you that:
Sorry to dissapoint you, BUT you are wrong. Blogging its a real job and its HARD! Really hard. Yes, anybody can do it but 90% quit in short time! In order to succeed you HAVE to be that lunatic, weirdo, loco person. Otherwise you have no hope as a Blogger. Simply as that.
To be honest, if I knew blogging is so hard I would think twice. Yes, it’s true or maybe I am really tired. I wish somebody has told me that I will have nightmares about how to blog, how to do it right, how to be successful, and how to make it work.
Blogging Challenges – What is Blogging?
“A blog is a frequently updated online personal journal or diary. It is a place to express yourself to the world. A place to share your thoughts and passions. Really, it’s anything you want it to be. A blog is a short form for the word weblog and the two words are used interchangeably” For more, you can click here.
I am a Vegan Food and Travel Blogger and I blog about my favorite recipes, travel, how to travel as a Vegan, Vegan in various countries and related stories. I write only for things that I love and I try to be authentic to my readers. Both in English and Greek. Sounds fun and easy, right? Ha! Keep on reading.
How it all started
My profession is Mechanical Engineering. During my 9 working years in Qatar, I used to cook a lot but during the last 2 years in the Middle East, I got really obsessed with desserts and Greek cuisine. I start delivering all my creations to my friends and colleagues. I also studied a Chocolatier course and in the end, I started a part-time catering business and opened my first blog named “Maninas Goodie bag”. All in Qatar.
Fast forward, I decided to quit my Engineering job, close my business in Qatar and start traveling. After 20 years in the corporate world, I was in desperate need of a change. My Journey started in Cambodia, and continued to India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Germany, Ireland, and a few months in France. Up to then, my blog was just for fun, part-time and I did not take it seriously. I was only posting once a month and even less.
During my presence in France and during a course in Plant-Based diet and Photography, I decided to change my niche, change my blog name, change the web design, and become a full-time blogger. I spent countless hours making my blog live, all by myself. To buy the domain, host, choose a theme, and most important install the theme. Oh, what a nightmare! Finally, I got my first proper post to live and start blogging regularly. I reached a point where I was not sure whether I am doing it correctly, so I reached a Professional in Ideadeco.
After 1 year of blogging, I feel that I have to clear out some things for anyone who wants to be a successful and professional blogger. I am way far from that.
Blogging is NOT free
You pay money for the domain, the host, the theme, and if you can afford Photographer, Developer, Translator, or Virtual Assistant to help you with all the tasks and much more! Trust me. It’s way too expensive to hire someone full-time. Personally, I can not afford it.
You will also need a good laptop, camera, lens, cards, and a tripod. In addition as a food blogger, you will need props (lots of them), lighting (in case you are doing your shooting at night), backdrops, and the food ingredients of course.
Blogging Challenges – The Reality of technical Skills
As a Blogger you need to learn a lot. Be a
- Web designer,
- Food Stylist,
- Recipe developer,
- Graphic designer
- and most important be an SEO expert if you want to rank high in Google. I
HATE SEO.(now a year later, I LOVE it!) If you are into blogging you can obviously feel my pain!
Moreover, it’s useful to have:
- Grammar skills,
- Writing skills,
- Networking skills,
- Be a social media expert,
- CSS and HTML skills,
- Photo-editing skills,
- Video production (in case you have videos on your blog) and
- Marketing skills.
Blogging Challenges – More
I have learned a lot of things on my own. Various free and paid classes and have read hundreds of articles. I am still learning. There are TONS of attractive prices out there. Choose wisely! Some of them wore a waste of time and money, and some of them really useful. A course that REALLY helped me with blogging and I regret that I didn’t take it earlier in the Blog Village course. I haven’t finished it yet. There is all the useful information that you will need about blogging. I would have saved hundreds of hours of searching by myself…Highly recommend it!! I am not trying to sell anything here, it’s really what I believe. Trust me, you will thank me afterward!
The Reality of Photography
You have to be a professional photographer to run a blog. Wrong! You can start a blog without any photography skills as I started. Despite the fact, that I loved everything about Photography, I had 0 knowledge! But if you want to run a successful blog you need to obtain Photography skills and be as professional as possible! It’s hard, money, and time-consuming. Tell me about it.
You need to discover how to use natural light, learn how to work with your camera modes & settings, learn the fine-tune exposure, discover how to compose the photos, tell your story with light and the list goes on…
iPhone 4s was my first photoshoot gear. I just knew basic Photography but I had no idea about food styling, props, and lighting. I start reading online articles, and bought books but I was not satisfied with my phone photos.
So I decided to buy a Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera with a 35 lens for close-ups and an 18-105 lens for distance and I attended a 2-day Photography course in Ireland. I start experiencing the different parts but my progress was quite slow, especially with food. The various functions of the camera got me crazy! So I decided to take another course to improve it.
The Food Photography Book by Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats really helped me and cleared out a lot of my questions!! It’s only US29, with 30 days money-back guarantee and 180 pages with everything you need to start taking great photos! I am still progressing and I can’t say that I have mastered Photography yet. Do not forget that light can be your friend and enemy as well. Remind me of those foggy days! Key to success? Practice, practice, practice!
My next mission is to buy a tripod as it is a MUST gear for blogging.
The Reality of Videography – Blogging Challenges
Videography is another pain of blogging life. Honestly, I find it even more challenging than Photography. I find my camera too big for video purposes so this summer I purchased a GoPro Hero 5 Session to enhance my travel experience. Very easy and very fun to use indeed. It fits in your pocket! Love it!! It’s great for underwater photos and daytime but not so good for night shots.
The Nightmare starts with video editing! I just use the iMac video editing on my MacBook Air and so far I only made very few videos. I find it too time-consuming and complicated. Cut the videos, edit the videos, add the graphics, add music, and the list goes on. I really admire all of you talented Videographers out there! I hope one day I will master this art of blogging. Not yet. I still have a long long way to go.
The Reality of Social Media – Blogging Challenges
You need to have accounts on lots of social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, Google+, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and most probably a few more that I haven’t figured out yet. You need to be active in ALL of them. Some of them work great for SEO as Pinterest and Facebook and some of them, do not. I am still struggling to find the secret.
So is on Facebook. I have joined dozens of groups where I post regularly. You get addicted!! Except for the posting, you have to join group discussions, engage, post comments, and share your posts. There is no short way. You have to follow this strategy if you wanna succeed, so people start engaging with your blog and your social media. It takes LOTS of hours. There are days that I spent 6-7 hours on social media only. Yah true! I noticed that if I do not post regularly in groups, my page views suck.
My traffic comes mainly from Facebook, the rest is limited. There are some scheduled programs out there, to limit your time but so far I haven’t been involved much. I only use the free version of Boarbooster for Pinterest. Oh, did I tell you that I hate Instagram? I used to love it but lately, I feel that it does not go anywhere.
The Reality about people, friends, and family
During my first months of blogging, I was too excited about it. I was keeping talking about it, even with details ALL the time. The reality is that nobody cares and few of them really understood what I was talking about! Sorry to drop you from your cloud, but it’s 100% true.
In addition, not everyone is going to like your food, your travel experiences, or your blog wins. Do not forget about jealousy and bad intention. Yes, these people do exist. Sorry. Lots of them will try to bring you down, criticize you, send you bad comments or behave like assholes. Let me tell you about a personal experience.
My own blogging challenges – obstacles
At the beginning of my part-time catering business, I got a rude comment from a close friend “What are you trying to do? Nobody is going to buy your food, you are nuts!!!” The result was that I got so obsessed with my work that I made a successful part-time catering business for 2 years. But no matter what:
DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM!
INGORE THEIR IGNORANCE AND THEIR RUDE COMMENTS AND
Share your success and struggles with other bloggers or people related to certain things. Welcome to the blog loneliness!
The reality of real-life of a Food / Travel Blogger and Multitasking
I honestly thought that I will make some recipes and post them on the blog. I honestly thought that I will travel to my favorite places and blog about them. Well, it’s more than that.
Food Blogging in English and Greek – Recipes (without videos!) – Normally 8 -10 hours (What???!!)
- Recipe development and Inspiration.
- Cooking and photo-shooting are the steps in the procedure. Each step is separate from styling. (Most of the recipes are a trial of 3-4 times until perfection)
- Final Food Styling and Photography.
- Cleaning the kitchen mess! (my worst part!)
- Choosing the photos and Editing the Photos.
- Proofreading and corrections
- Sharing to social media and promoting it to platforms.
In case the recipe is a failure like my recent disaster you just forget everything and head to the nearest bar! 🙂
Travel Blogging including Food destinations (It’s not all sunshine, sunbathing and cocktails, sorry)
- Make a plan for flights, transport, hotels, places to visit, etc.
- Travel to the choice of your journey (the fun part!)
- Communication with restaurants, cafes, museums, travel agents, etc.
- Choosing the photos and Editing the Photos.
- Proofreading and corrections.
- Sharing to social media and promoting it to platforms.
In both cases, there are other tasks also. Answering emails and comments, dealing with potential clients, and much much more! You may start producing a recipe or documenting a journey and other urgent stuff comes up. You move to your computer for a few hours, continue with the recipe, and at the same time, you talk with your new neighbor. He invites you for a drink but waits! I can’t! I have to finish up this urgent post!! Urggg! You may also, spend a whole day in front of your computer or even weeks. True! The Queen of Multitasking!
The above tasks are the minimum requirements for a good running blog. If you want to earn money from your blog, there are other things that you have to do. Connect with sponsors, pitch to hotels, put up ads, and much much more. It takes time, and lots of effort, and it will NOT work overnight.
The Reality of Google – Blogging Challenges
Google is the King and your “Boss”. Why nobody told me that Google rules the network world??? If you rank high in Google, readers will find you and everything else follows. But you need to MASTER SEO!! Either you learn it by yourself or you pay someone to do it for you.
At the moment Areti from Ideadeco handles my SEO and recently started studying it. (I consider myself quite experienced in SEO now, and I do it myself). Hence, you need also to set up Google Analytics to be able to check your blog posts’ progress, readers’ statistics, etc, and Google search console.
The Reality of Blog Income
In my 1 year of blogging, I earn 0 on my blog. I spent countless hours to reach up to the point that my blog is now. Most of all, I am still learning. Sometimes everything seems Chinese to me! In order to keep this full-time blogger lifestyle, and until you start earning money from your blog you need savings! Otherwise, it’s not possible. It may take years to earn a decent income. To be honest I am not planning to maintain this lifestyle forever. I miss my job, I miss interacting with people at work and I need money to survive. I urgently need to go back to full-time employment until my blog starts making money.
The reality of why I blog
Who said I hate blogging? Well, this statement has a glimpse of the truth. There are moments, days, and weeks when I feel exhausted. I frequently feel like quitting but reality stops me. I have spent so much time, reaching up to this point and learning things that I feel sorry for my blog itself. The blog is my own creation. The blog is my own business. I designed it myself, made it from nothing, from the beginning, with 0 knowledge. Hence, I am so proud of sticking with it. Really!
Blogging offers me learning experiences. I want to learn everything about it. Even the most difficult technical stuff. Blogging has sparked my imagination and creativity. It makes me more confident about myself, every single day. Moreover, shows me how to share my thoughts and inspire others. Through blogging, I have met so many wonderful people.
Whether it’s blogging or something else,
follow your passions. Even if you fail at least you tried!
The most important.
Respect your readers, your blog is NOTHING without them.
**Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. There are all the products I love and recommend. Thank you for your support!