It’s been two years since I’ve started this blog, Fit Mitten Kitchen, and I thought I would share some real talk with you on what I’ve learned this past year. I am technically into my first full year of blogging full-time. It’s been quite a ride and I’ve learned a lot about what blogging full-time looks like for me. Everyone is different, but I am sharing some big truths about blogging full-time. So whether you’re a curious reader, or a fellow blogger I hope you enjoy this post!
It’s hard to believe it has been two years ago already since I started Fit Mitten Kitchen! I remember gearing up to start the blog and writing down countless blog names while cross-checking domains. Names like “Ashley’s Fit Kitchen” and “Ashley’s Clean Kitchen” were in the running, but after checking with my best friend who really knew their shit –AKA Google– those two were out. And obviously Fit Mitten Kitchen won.
I officially bought my domain in April 2015, and then checked again with the “best friend” on “how to start a food blog”. Looking up photography resources, designing my logo, learning WordPress and the foodie theme, etc. all came before I hit “publish” on my first blog post. And what a nerve-wracking thing that was! I mean for someone who is an introvert and doesn’t feel the need to share every single detail of their life with even some of the closest people in their life… and then to start sharing tidbits of life with the world wide web. Uh, come again?
Well, it happened and it is still happening. It still feels a little weird sometimes. But had I not started sharing certain things about myself, there is no way I would have made the connections I have made thus far.
I can honestly say I didn’t expect to cultivate so many awesome relationships from blogging. I had a few bloggers I connected with and truly admired before I started my own blog. And then as time went on there were several new bloggers I started to connect with on a weekly basis. And several of those people I chat with almost every day. I’m pretty sure without them, my closest friends, and Drew, I would lose my sanity. Because in case you didn’t know – blogging is HARD. Like, running your own business kind of hard. Oh wait, that is what we are in fact doing. Blogging full-time and running Fit Mitten Kitchen as a business has been nothing short of amazing. But I’ve also learned quite a bit this past year. So with that I share with you:
3 BIG Truths About Blogging
1. Blogging is not for the faint of heart (AKA: burnout)
I think when we (bloggers) finally hit “publish” on the first blog post, we have a feeling we know what we’re in for. We’ve heard the stories about those who have started blogs and quit – whatever the reason may be– but are bound and determined not to fall into that category. “I’m going to make this work”, we said. “…No matter what”, we said.
Yet for whatever reason even though we knew what we were getting into, it often comes as a surprise when burnout hits. And it will come… multiple times. Unless you’re a crazy blogging god/genius/freak then please teach me your ways.
For me, I found that each time I felt burnout coming on it was time to slow down with the blog. It was time to refocus my energy, reflect on my “wins”, and even take a full day off from blogging and its entirety. And sometimes it’s not that you even want to take a break, but you NEED to take a break. Burnout is real. I’ve hear from several other hugely successful bloggers out there that have struggled with feeling the pressure. And everyone is different. The burnout threshold is different for me compared to another. But what is important is recognizing that burnout is happening. Then taking the steps to get back in the game, if that is what you want, of course.
2. It’s Okay to Take a Break
Basically a continuum of burnout, but it really is okay to TAKE A BREAK. The world goes on.
You know that thing that happens outside of the internet? You used to be so involved in? It’s called LIFE. And life goes on when you decide you can finally take a break. The internet will be there when you come back. You don’t need to apologize for going MIA, or apologize for missing a scheduled blog post date, or apologize for anything related to you taking a break.
Sometimes you get so caught up in the hustling game that you forget you’re human. You really can’t go full speed ahead forever without hitting a wall at some point in time. And then one must take a break. Whether that break is a day, three days, a week, maybe even a month. Because when you’re feeling rundown and exhausted day in and day out, you have to ask yourself if you’re truly providing the best content for your readers. When you focus on your readers, I think it is easier to take a break because you know it serving not only you but also them. So for me, when I take a break (even if it is a day or two) I try to do it strategically so I can come back with a plan (for content) that is well thought out and purposeful. Because if you take those breaks but don’t do anything with them, you may find yourself right back on the track to burnout. I myself will admit I could do a better job of this.
3. You can’t do it all
When you find yourself blogging full-time, creating products for your audience, and/or providing services to brands, you are running a business. And you will soon learn you really can’t do it all. Between the blog tasks–recipe development, photography, invoices, taxes, etc.– and oh you know, actual life stuff like cleaning, laundry, dishes not from the blog… it is OKAY to ask for help. Ask your partner (if you have one) to help with bills, or grocery shopping, laundry, etc. Just ASK. I feel like as women we tend to think not only that we can do it all, but that we have to do it all, and that is just not true. Ask for help.
And then when it comes to the business side of things, there will come a time when you realize you really can’t do everything it takes to run a blog on your own. For the past two years I have been doing everything. I am completely a one-woman show (except for when my husband offers to do my dishes in which I am extremely grateful for). But pretty quickly here I am going to need some help with the business side of things. I am not entirely sure what that person is going to do yet but some business tasks will be alleviated in order for me to continue creating the best possible content for you.
So basically all of those big truths I’ve learned in my second year of blogging are related 😀
RANDOM FUN STUFF!
Growing your Instagram
I hear from a lot of you asking how I grew my Instagram to over 80,000 in two years. Honestly? I have no secrets. I know that is not what you want to hear. But everything I’ve done to grow my Instagram has been on my own time. I don’t use special tracking tools, or bots, buy followers, play the “follow for follow” game, etc. Growing any social media account takes time and energy. But if I were to give you some big tips I would tell you to focus on:
Quality Content. Invest time in learning what a good photo looks like. You must be able to draw people in with the image. And then people will be looking to see what you have to say.
Authenticity. Don’t be like someone else. If you’re essentially copying someone else’s account, people will notice. Be yourself, find your voice, engage with others and build an authentic community that you enjoy interacting with. Don’t buy your followers. Your followers are real people, not numbers.
Consistency. Find a consistent time to post each day. From my experience I started to see a big jump in my growth when I posted consistently three times a day: morning, lunch time, and night.
Engagement. Interact with not only your followers on your own pictures but on their account too. Take the time to visit their account and if you see something you like, take time to comment! Again, I will repeat myself: build an authentic community that you enjoy interacting with.
My favorite recipes from this past year
I couldn’t NOT share some of my favorite recipes that were created this past year. It’s hard to choose favorites but these were the first few that came to mind 🙂
I started my blog to share my love for healthier recipe creations in hopes to inspire you all. And it has been an amazing two years of doing just that: making healthy, fun food and hearing from you! I would not be able to do this whole blogging “thing” without you! I can’t thank you enough for coming by to my little corner of the interweb and hanging out with me. And of course making my recipes. It NEVER gets old hearing from you that you have made something from the blog, so please let me know!