It’s worth it even if you don’t monetize your blog because the skills you develop mean something in the real world.
That sounds like a lot of work to me.
That’s what a friend of mine said last week at lunch when I told her about how I haven’t blogged lately. I griped that I didn’t have the time or energy to figure out what to write about, take photos, make videos or promote on social media when I had real work to do.
It got me thinking. She’s right. This blogging IS work. It’s a lot of work! I started DeathbedFood in 2011 because I thought it would be a fun hobby. I quickly realized it took a lot of work to have only occasional fun.
And then there was the additional anxiety of wondering about why people don’t love me and worrying about if I’d ever have enough followers to attract advertisers to “monetize” it. Sometimes I drifted into the dangerous territory of fantasizing about achieving fame by having the New York Times feature me as someone who sits on her couch in Lulu yoga pants making a living from posting about Pop-Tarts (which I have).
Alas, DeathbedFood’s Google juice has never been high enough for any of that to happen. Still, I think I’ve gotten something much more valuable (and completely unexpected) from it: developing skills in writing, social media, photography and video. Skills it turns out that have real value in the real world.
My writing at the beginning was questionable, filled with lots of “it was DeathbedFood” and too many “flourishes” as the teacher from a UCLA writing class later pointed out. I became better with practice and by studying great food writing like Jonathan Gold’s “Good (Food) Writing” and Sam Sifton’s “Last Meal Worthy” review of Per Se. I even became brave enough to dabble with humorous pieces like my “Memorial Tribute to Bandera Mac & Cheese“.
While I’m not a published writer outside of this blog, my improved writing skills have paid off in terms of being able to crank out posts and marketing materials for paying clients.
Social media is organically part of the deal that comes with being a blogger. In 2011, I barely had any apps on my phone and knew little about it. I experimented with Twitter for work, blogging about the #marketresearch world I inhabited at the time. One day, after tweeting about a butterscotch creme brûlée, the idea of a DeathbedFood blog was born and social media became a big part of my life.
Because of my market research tweeting, I took to Twitter as toast takes to avocado with @DeathbedFood. In short order I attracted 3,000 followers that included celebrity chefs, food writers, restaurants and foodies from all over the world. I even won recognition as “One of the Top 5 Foodies to Follow in LA on Twitter” alongside Krista Simmons and Eater LA!
I leveraged that experience to helping clients develop and manage social media campaigns including work for Farina Kingsley, as Asian culinary instructor and multi-time cookbook author. Though blogging for her, I had the opportunity to travel the world and deepen my knowledge about Asian food – like learning about the Spice Market in Old Dehli.
I also learned about smacking lemongrass when Farina attempted to teach me to cook:
In 2011, I posted cringeworthy iPhone photos that were taken with flash in dark restaurants and posted without any correction.
For years, I’d try to correct them in Photoshop only to be asked afterwards, “Did you correct these?” I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m not asked that anymore.
I started out making guerrilla videos of chefs at food events. My two favorite DeathbedFood videos are Andrew Zimmern in the kitchen talking about the food scene in LA:
… and, my most popular video, Giada talking about her DeathbedFood:
… and the film preview for the RAMON RISING documentary:
That video and other promotional work resulted in increased awareness of Dr. Resa’s story and his speaking engagements. This month, the Cesar Chavez Foundation asked him to keynote their 2019 Legacy Awards gala which resulted in sizable media coverage, donations and even more awareness.
So to all you bloggers out there who aren’t “monetizing” your blog, don’t let people drag you down. You are gaining skills that have real value in the real world!