I am a member of The League of Fabulous Women Manchester and amongst other things I have also recently become a foodie blogger. I love going to quality restaurants and bars and discovering new and fun eating and drinking venues. So my blog is about giving people the heads up on all the cool places in Manchester that in my opinion are worthy of their valuable time and money.
I want to tell you some of the highs, the lows, and the I don’t knows of my blogging experiences.
Dining out, enjoying cocktails and networking is my favourite pastime. Then again who doesn’t enjoy food, cocktails and socialising? However, in my case, the term enjoyment is an understatement. But for me, simply indulging in cocktails and dinner with good company then sitting up late into the evening on my laptop in the bedroom writing up my thoughts on the experiences (while enjoying a glass of wine or two perhaps) was no longer enough. I wanted a way to formalise and share my thoughts.
Back in January 2016 blogging came up during conversation with a friend, and I know it’s hard to believe, but, at that point blogging was a worldwide trend that I’d never heard of. Where had I been hiding you might ask?! So let me explain a little about myself – back then I was someone who’s Facebook and LinkedIn profiles were less than two years old. (Needless to say my twitter account is still work in progress) Blogging piqued my interested though and the connection was made in my mind. It could be a useful tool to convert my passions into more and connect with others.
Starting out as a blogger
Full of enthusiasm and my WordPress account set up, off I went. No plan of action, to say I was unorganised and rushed is no exaggeration. Totally the opposite from my usual working patterns, management background and usual ethos of organisation a key. Needless to say, unhappy with the initial results I decided to permanently delete the first blog I created and start over. Further disaster struck when the realisation occurred that I could no longer use the same blog name. This first attempt left me feeling deflated, exhausted and frustrated and I felt that my time was wasted. Potentially my foodie blog career was over before it had begun. But I’m happy to say that my passion came to the fore and I decided to have another go. This is a common experience with first time bloggers, so if this is you too – take heart.
Learning from my previous mistakes, the second time around I’d a strategy. I organised, brainstormed the name, and planned the theme, layout and design. I did due diligence on important factors such as copyright of the images I used. My tip is to invest in a white board. I find mine great for brainstorming and for visual to do lists.
With the first url lost in cyberspace for good, I’d to go back to the drawing board, but this proved to be a blessing in disguise and the fab blog name of forkwardthinkingfoodinista was born.
Research & tutorials
Educating myself about the WordPress platform was key. There are plenty of free useful online resources such as web based tutorials detailing how the system works. I found tutorials from Bluehost.com particularly useful. I recently found out about the WordPress Blogging University where tutorials and networking with other bloggers are rolled into one. This will be my next avenue of exploration.
Keep the design simple
I opted for the pen scratch theme, as I wanted a clean simple blog style; nothing too techy. Things such as contact info are important basics in the information architecture and design, which can easily be overlooked in a whirlwind excitement of the setting-up experience. Don’t be blindsided by too many whizzes and bangs and busy design templates or themes. Think through carefully what are your fundamentals and must haves.
Consider your writing style
Blogs are created for various reasons and if you are not looking to reach the masses then carefree writing is just fine. However, to gain not just followers, but loyal readers the content must be fresh, engaging and interesting. You should look into writing for seo too. There are plenty of useful online articles for beginners. In just under two months, I have managed to gain 180+ followers. My first review of Quill restaurant gaining 70+ likes from my lovely loyal readers. Furthermore, my second review of the Spinningfields Alchemist restaurant gained success and Living Ventures as a whole have featured it on their newsreel. Achievements that I am proud of considering that I was a blogging virgin less than two months ago!
Networking is key to get your blog launch off to a flying start. Do not see fellow blogs as competitors. They are a great resource with the majority willing to share their advice. One lady-blogger Debs was an amazing contact and I feel lucky to have made the connection. Take time to build authentic relationships with fellow bloggers and be genuine. Start a diary of useful contacts, as you can soon end up with a lot and the last thing you want to be doing is working your way through the office waste paper bins, trying to find the screwed up piece of paper with that golden contact on.
Building industry contacts is a useful tool. However, this is no easy task. My advice is this will take time – so be patient. Initially reach out via email and do follow up if you receive no reply. With any contacts made face to face ensure contact details are swapped and follow up with an email or call. Furthermore, just because you write a review on a restaurant it may not necessarily mean that they will be interested in helping promote your foodie blog . Do not take this personally, if you are passionate about what you are writing about the process not only improves your writing skills, but adds to your publishing resume.
You don’t need expensive PR to start with. Draw on your existing networks and ask for their help. Family, friends and social media are all useful places to start, as the beauty about WordPress is that you can like, comment or even just take a peek, so you needn’t be a blogger yourself to engage. Meetup.com of which I have been an active member for several years where members attend social events to network and importantly have fun. This is where I first came across The League of Fabulous Women in Manchester an inspirational networking group that connects like-minded individuals. A place for women to share and learn from the experiences of others, work together to enhance career prospects, build friendships, share travel, hobbies, fitness, shopping, lifestyle recommendations and have fabulous times.
As for the future hopefully, I will be able to combine my new found passion for marketing and social networking with my existing passion for management. This exciting journey started just over two months ago, I would like to thank my new followers, supporters and TLFW. Where this journey will take me I do not know, but long may it continue.