Hard to believe it, but I have been blogging for seven years!

(Edit:  Thanks to David Burger from the Salt Lake Tribune for this nice feature about me, and how fun that he timed it to come out at the same time my blog was having a birthday!) 

Kalyn’s Kitchen is turning seven years old today, and I almost missed the party.  For some reason I was thinking Wednesday was my blog birthday, but then I started writing this and realized it was April 24, 2005 when I sat down at the computer and wrote my first post.  That’s how this whole blogging adventure got started!

For my birthday post I’m going to take the day off from cooking and reflect a little about blogging.  Last year I posted Six Life Lessons I’m Learning from Blogging, and this year after reading posts asking If Food Blogs are Over and Can You Make a Living Writing about Food, I decided to share Seven Things I Know About Food Blogging.  I don’t consider myself a blogging expert, but I know what I know!  Of course, opinions about all things related to blogging are widely varied, so these thoughts may or may not resonate with you if you’re a fellow blogger.  For readers who are not bloggers (i.e. normal people!) I hope you don’t mind having the focus on the mechanics of blogging for a change.  And for everyone reading this no matter what it is that brings you here, thanks for visiting, and please chime in with your thoughts in the comments!

#1  Being Useful is a Good Path to Blogging Success

There are all kinds of food blogs, including funny blogs, quirky blogs, passionate-about-a-cause blogs, family-oriented blogs, all-about-me blogs, food-as-art blogs, and many more.  I firmly believe there’s a place in cyberspace for every type of food blog out there; however if your goal is to have a food blog that people will return to over and over, you’ll have more luck with that if your blog focuses on recipes and/or information that’s useful to others.  I feel lucky to have learned this lesson early in my blogging career (thanks Elise!) and being useful is something I’ve consistently tried to focus on with my blog.

#2  Nothing Matters if the Food Doesn’t Taste Great
I’m always puzzled when I see a blogger posting a recipe and then saying they didn’t really like how it turned out.  If someone is going on the internet to find recipes, chances are they’re hoping for things that are better tasting than they could dream up on their own, wouldn’t you agree?  Food blogging can be frustrating; I sometimes make a recipe four or five times to get it to turn out.  Even then I don’t always get it right, and when I’m talking to friends or my cooking assistant/nephew Jake about recipes that are not keepers, we label them “not blog-worthy.”   Those not blog-worthy recipes don’t ever see the light of day on Kalyn’s Kitchen.

#3  Food Photos Need to Make Your Readers Drool
I started my blog before I entered the digital camera age, and I still don’t consider myself to be a good photographer compared to many bloggers, but oh how I have improved!  Back in the early days of the blog I had some photos that were truly gruesome, and for years I’ve been re-cooking one or two of those recipes each week and re-shooting the photos.  (It’s not all bad, because I get to eat the food!)  Now I can usually get a photo that at least makes the food look appetizing (which is all I’m really aiming for.)  I’ve also learned the importance of step-by-step photos in recipe posts, since I realized how people who are learning to cook are helped by seeing how things should look every step of the way.  I’m grateful to the fabulous food photographers who share their skills through workshops, books, and blog posts, and learning more about photography is something I’m excited about doing for a long time to come!

#4  Search Engine Optimization Really Does Matter

Content is the heart and soul of blogging, and all the search engine optimization in the world won’t help if you aren’t writing good quality content that people enjoy reading.  But if you’re sharing good recipes or writing good posts and not that many people are finding them, you may need to be paying more attention to how you write your posts.  In simple terms, for recipe bloggers search engine optimization means writing your posts in the way that best helps search engines to find them.  The most basic part of that is making sure a recipe post includes the same words that people might enter into a search engine if they were looking for that particular recipe.  (Now you know one reason I use recipe titles that are so descriptive!)  Here’s a lot more about SEO For Food Bloggers if you’d like to understand this better.
#5  It’s Important to Stand Out from the Crowd
I feel incredibly lucky that from the day I started my blog I was focusing on a niche that would ultimately help people find my site (even though at the time I didn’t know I had a niche or how important it was!)  My passion about the eating principles of The South Beach Diet evolved naturally into my blog becoming a resource for other people who wanted to eat that way, and although not everyone who reads this blog cares about SBD friendly eating, it’s probably the one thing that defines my blog more than anything else. Having a passion that helps my blog stand out from the crowd is a win-win I’m hugely grateful for, and I’m now hoping my passion for healthy slow cooker recipes might create a natural niche for my new blog.
#6  The Golden Rule Applies to Blogging
I’ve had some fun opportunities to speak at blogging conferences, and one thing I’ve always talked about is what I call “Good Blogging Karma.”  I firmly believe that the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you) applies as much to blogging as it does to every other part of life.  Building up Good Blogging Karma means doing things like giving link love to other bloggers’ recipes in your posts, following referral links to thank people who mention you, giving credit for recipe inspiration, generously promoting the work of your fellow bloggers through social media,  sharing your knowledge when asked, and generally being kind and generous with readers and fellow bloggers.  I was raised with the Golden Rule as a guide (thanks Mom and Dad!), and this is something I’m always trying to be conscious of.
#7  Social Media is Changing Everything
Who could have imagined a few years ago that brilliant web developers would invent a site called Pinterest and thousands of people would find food blogs that way, or that RSS readers would become less important as people by the droves started following blogs through Facebook?  Social Media sites like these (as well as Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, and many more) are making the web all about connections in a way it never was before.  Even if you’re not interested in spending all day on Facebook or Twitter, if you’re a blogger you need to make your site friendly to people who want to share things through social media.  I resisted adding the social buttons at the top of my posts for a long time, but now when I visit a blog I’m always happy if it has them, and I’m grateful to everyone who uses them on my blog to share things they like. 

What do you know?
So those are seven things I know about blogging.  But one more thing that I definitely know is that it’s the other people you connect with that makes blogging so much fun!  Whether you’re a fellow blogger or a frequent blog reader, I’d love to hear in the comments about things you know about blogging.

Thanks to Rand and Jennette!
I want to express a huge Thank You to my brother Rand (who does the monthly headers and graphics for the blog) and my web designer Jennette (who does everything techy that I can’t do myself!)  Kalyn’s Kitchen definitely would not be the same without them.

Other Birthday Celebrations from the Past:  
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns One
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Two
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Three
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Four
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Five
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Six

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