HAPPY ANNIVERSARY KOOKS!
We can’t believe it’s been a year since we launched Two Kooks in the Kitchen at the end of March, 2016! We’ve learned, we’ve struggled, we’ve laughed, we’ve raged in frustration and we’ve watched in amazement as people have looked and re-looked at out blog despite the fact that there are apparently over 250,000,000 blogs out there.
When we finally took some time to reflect on the past year, we realized there are new realities for us new food bloggers. Here’s a few:
1. We haven’t had a hot meal in…well…a year
As soon as we gather the ingredients for a recipe, the photography begins. We’re not talking 5-6 pics. We’re talking anywhere from 50 – 80 per dish or more with light adjustments, plating and re-plating, rearranging the props, etc. By this time, we’re feeling guilty because our husbands are waiting patiently (usually) in the wings for dinner. When all is said and done and ready to enjoy, the dish is at best lukewarm. Thank G_D for microwaves. Sorry hon!
2. Blogging – a little side hobby? Ah, more like a full time job!
When we first committed to doing Two Kooks In The Kitchen together, we had no idea what it would take. We figured a few hours a week to throw up a couple of recipe and restaurant posts. Boy, were we off. Apart from having to learn all the website designing, building and maintenance from scratch, each post initially took at least 6 hours (now a bit less). This doesn’t even include all the background research or double and triple tries for some recipes. We try to post at least 3 times a week which involves researching ideas, creating new recipes, cooking, visiting restaurants, photography, photo editing, writing, editing and posting on social media – not to mention needing to coordinate with each other on pictures, edits, timing etc. A small hobby this is not.
3. Photography lights and other props permanently live in our dining rooms
We’ve learned from the experts that natural light is best, but eating at 4 PM in the winter is generally not an option. So we set up special lighting which mimics natural light and helps get that perfect shot…but who wants to bring it out and put it away each meal? You might ask, why not cook during the daytime? We do. Sometimes. But we also try our best to have a life outside the blog, so we photograph a lot of food in the evening and we now both have dining room-slash–photo studios. Hopefully, our pics are improving…
4. We don’t go back to the same restaurant twice
[Jenna – the restaurant reviewer:] As much as I would love to go back and have another delicious meal at a restaurant I thoroughly enjoyed, it is challenging to justify it when I could be checking out a new restaurant to blog about. Sigh…perhaps one day I will have that incredible slaw again…
5. Our friends have to participate – like it or not
[Jenna] Guilty as charged! If I find myself in a dark restaurant that I plan to blog about, the lighting typically doesn’t cut it. So with pleading eyes I look to my friends and family for a bit of light support from their iPhones. It can literally make or break the shot. And of course we always ask our friends and family for ideas and what they want to see.
6. It can be all consuming, but there is an upside
Yes, blogging takes a ton of time and effort and energy – there’s so much to learn and never enough time to learn it all. Yes, there are disappointing days when one of us posts a recipe or restaurant review she’s worked hard on and thinks it’s pretty good, only to find that not too many others think so. Yes, there’s frustration when you think you’ve come up with a creative idea for a recipe only to find out through Google that you’re not the first one with the idea – or even the second. And yes, there’s anxiety when the number of visitors to our site go down for a day or two and we can’t figure out why.
On the other hand, it is really satisfying…
- to hear about people using our recipes – and liking them
- to see the majority of our visitors (68%) coming back for more
- to have a restaurant re-post our review on its facebook page
- to see that most people now are landing on our site through a Google search
- to have many followers of our faceback page visit our website
- to learn so much more about cooking (we research every recipe to make sure the techniques are accurate and to get as many tips as we can; and look up measurement conversions to make it easier for our readers)
- to be learning so many new things – a new [blogging] industry/business, photography, social media marketing, recipes and website development/management.
- and most of all, it is incredibly satisfying and wondrous for “me and my kooks”/”me and my mom” to be doing this together. Damn cool. Very special.
7. We are learning what viewers like, but potato knishes? What’s up with that?
We regularly track what viewers are interested in. Shockingly, our Super Easy Potato Knishes recipe has been viewed more than double any other recipe or post. In the last few months, not a single day goes by without several knish viewers. Huh? Not that we’re complaining, but what does that mean? [psst: we’re on the first page in the Google search if you search for ‘easy potato knishes’!]
8. We have a gazillion more things to learn
There are thousands and thousands of food blogs out there. Every niche imaginable. Many with amazing recipes and beautiful photos and offerings. So why would anyone want to come to our site? And keep coming back. That’s the learning curve – with many parts – recipes, technology, restaurants, photography, creativity, marketing and more. We’re working on that.
9. Our step count has increased significantly
OK, a small point, but this is a bonus. Both of us wear trackers to count our steps. Making a recipe for the blog, particularly when you photograph process steps, calls for a ton of back and forth from the kitchen to the photography (dining room) table. You can’t believe how many steps add up for that. We’re talking 1-2 kilometers (a mile+) per dish!
10. We like it, we’re growing and we want to keep going
We just had this discussion. Do we want to continue? It’s been a year, our blog is still pretty small and it takes takes a big chunk of energy and time. But we are growing – we’ve almost tripled our views and have 5 times more visitors per month compared to our first month. After a two second pause, we both said YES! We’re going to rethink a few things, refocus, relook at where we can improve, reach out to hear your interests and reset our goals. Stay tuned… Hope you’ll stay with us. Here’s to a great year 2!
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