Recently, I started a search for new contributing writers. (I’m still working my way through the applications.) As part of that process, I asked if the applicants had any questions for me. Most of the questions pertained directly to the contributing writer position, but a few were more general.
I thought there might be others out there who have the same questions, so I’m answering them in this post. If you aren’t interested in any of this, don’t worry. We’ll be back with new recipes and foodie things soon!
What inspired you to start this blog?
In 2008 my family went to Disney World. On that trip, we rented a house and my mom cooked and froze food. She and Dad packed it all on dry ice and drove from Indiana to Florida in August. I documented that trip, including our food experiment on a forum I was part of.
The process of writing and getting feedback was a lot of fun. (The food worked out too, you can read more about it here.) Not long after that, I decided to start a food blog. I’d been reading a few and enjoyed them. I had a poetry/writing blog that was fun, but I wanted to try my hand at something different.
What is your blog’s purpose? My favorite quote is “begin with the end in mind”. What do you potentially want to create with this blog?
Beginning with the end in mind is a tactic that works well. I wish I could say that’s what I did with my blog, but it isn’t.
I started it just to experiment and have fun. I saw food blogs with photos and wondered if I could do the same (yes, but the photography was a lot harder than it looked!). It was fun to find a new community of people online who also liked recipes. There was a challenge in learning the tech side of blogging. And there’s a satisfaction in finishing a post, putting it out there and hearing back from others.
Now, after 5 1/2 years of blogging, I do have an idea of what I want to create. I want my site to be a source of recipes, ideas and inspiration to help families get dinner on the table every night so that they can connect with each other over dinner.
Is the blog an outlet for you or an outreach to others?
The content of the site has to meet the needs of my readers. If it doesn’t do that, then there’s no point.
At the same time, the blog is also an outlet for me. I love to see it growing. I enjoy the skills I’ve learned through blogging. It’s very satisfying. And the extra income has been a blessing to my family. (More on that below.)
Do you ever feel it’s difficult having time to write posts while raising kids?
Yes! When I started my blog, I still had four kids who were homeschooling. Now, two have graduated, but I’ve still got two homeschooling. I’ve never had babies or toddlers while blogging, but kids at home during the day can be very distracting. Not to mention the hours required to homeschool.
I’ve tried different things over the years to get my blog work done. I usually start working right after we finish school in the afternoon. Lately I’ve tried making better use of my mornings, getting in an extra hour or two of work before we start school.
What is the biggest challenge you face with running your website and how do you deal with it?
My biggest challenge is just getting it all done. I want to keep this as a micro-business that only requires part-time hours from me. That means I need to be very efficient in my work. It also means finding others to help. I have a virtual assistant who schedules and sends all the emails for the Weekly Meal Plans, as well as uploads all the plans to the member page. She does a few other things for me too. I’ve got two writers who put together the Slow Cooker and Traditional Meal Plans with all the printables for those. And I have contributing recipe writers, which saves me from having to create 2-4 new recipes each week all on my own. Some weeks I’m able to be that prolific in recipe creation and other weeks I’ve got nothing. Having recipes from contributing writers keeps me sane and brings more recipe ideas to you.
Does writing enhance your experience or turn it into a chore?
I like to write, but sometimes I feel that I’m not very good at it. I used to do writing practice and dabble in poetry and fiction writing. Both of those have fallen away now that I’m busier with the blog. I like the opportunities to write about something other than food for a change of pace.
Is money a factor in why you do this or just a bonus?
Money is a bonus factor. If I didn’t earn any money, I would still have a food blog. I enjoy sharing recipes.
However, that blog would be much, much different than this one. I’d need to have free hosting, a free design and no paid help. There would be a lot fewer recipes,no Weekly Meal Plans, no e-book and no consistent schedule in posting. And most likely, you wouldn’t be reading this now or have found any of the recipes. All of that takes a lot of time that I wouldn’t be able to justify if it didn’t also provide an income.
The money I earn has been a huge blessing to my family. Until my blog started making money, we were a one income family and had been ever since our oldest was born 22 years ago. The fact that I can still be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool while making enough money to pay for college tuition for our kids is a huge blessing. And I love that the income from the blog also provides some work for other people too, benefitting their families as well.
Obviously you love to cook, but what’s your favorite thing to eat?
Ice cream. Homemade or good quality hand-dipped. But I also love a soft serve hot fudge sundae. And milkshakes. Really, anything having to do with ice cream is my favorite!
I also saw you like to read. What’s your favorite book?
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. I’ve read it several times and sometimes pick up a copy and choose a chapter or two at random to read. It’s comfort food in book form.
Before I end this post, I just want to say how wonderful it was to read through all of the applications for contributing writer. Everyone was interesting, talented and excited about cooking and feeding their family. I’m amazed by what a lovely group of people is represented in those applications. It’s made choosing a few new writers very hard!