Coming Up with the Project Proposal Idea
I love following blogs where they try new things and post about their adventures (Love Taza, Loverlygrey or The bucket list family). I have always envied those people and their blogs and thought that would be something I would love to do. While coming up with my project idea, I had the feeling that I wanted to do some kind of lifestyle blog, but I had a few things stacked against me. The first thing about these bloggers is that they had money before their blogs became so successful. Yes, they do make money blogging, but they had a safety net. The Bucket List Family dad sold his app for millions of dollars, so if they ever run out of money, their “safety net” is pretty big! Besides the money aspect, they had pretty exciting lives. I don’t know about you, but raising three littles in NYC or swimming with sharks in Bali isn’t something in my normal day. I was at a loss for choosing something I could blog about that people would actually take interest in. The main reason I struggled to find a topic though, past all of these other essential components to making a blog successful, was FEAR. I hate the feeling of not being good at some things and ultimately “failing”. I was terrified to even take this class. Before the semester started, I was constantly emailing my professor to let him know my concerns regarding technology and not being able “to get it”. Thank God he calmed me down and encouraged me “to at least try it”. Those words got me through not only the class, but also when it came to choosing my project. I thought “I’m not a good cook, but five weeks ago, I wasn’t a blogger and here I am writing a blog. Just try the cooking blog idea.”
Blogs not Wikis
Like I mentioned in my project proposal, I wanted my project to be more of a personal preference, and not so much a collaboration piece. I wanted my blog to feel open enough where people could comment on my posts and share feedback, but I wanted to be the sole contributor. I’m still not as comfortable with wiki as a thing yet. I am way better since learning about them, but I still don’t know if I’m totally on board with the collaboration piece on something I write. I know there were many guidelines and procedures to prevent chaos on wikis, but I still feel like it takes more of me letting go than I’m used to (or ready for).
My Cooking Blog
Blogs can be so neat and organized, but the process isn’t so clean cut. It isn’t always a perfect package tied up with a pink candy floss bow. Sometimes there were times where my posts just didn’t seem to come together the way I wanted them to. It took me DAYS to figure out how to create pull down menus into weeks for my blog so it wasn’t just one long blog. Every step in the blogging process involved me learning a new skill set. Even after weeks of working on this project, I’m still learning new tricks and skills to add to my blog. I also noticed that my blog took on a life of its own. I knew from the beginning I was going to organize my cooking blog into weeks, and a theme of the week, but unintentionally, the day to day work started to follow a schedule. I would give a quick post about what my theme was for the week, then I would have a post on the history/facts about the meal. I would continue with a step-by-step recipe and lastly, I would post a review on the recipe. I don’t think I recognized the pattern until about week 3. By then, I thought it had a good flow, so that’s the pattern I followed.
Things I Changed from the Proposal:
I said in my blog, I would give nutritional facts. I didn’t exactly keep up with this aspect of the blog. I did share facts about the ingredients I chose to use in the reviews of the recipe. I also gave a comparison of turkey burgers vs hamburgers, and gave facts about types of eggs you can buy, but I didn’t really break the meal down into nutritional facts. Many of the blogs I follow don’t do this, but there are tons of sites that do. I don’t know if I would have done this part differently. I wanted to make the blog more about the meal as a whole, and I think finding those facts out would have maybe bored the reader or bummed me out (I don’t think I ever want to know how many calories are in my Bufffalo Chicken Dip. There is literally a whole bottle of Ranch dressing in it :/)
This is one thing I noticed I didn’t do, and I’m actually bummed that I didn’t do it. I said in my project proposal, I wanted to create a “spotlight” post about something I wanted my audience to check out (blog, podcast, cookbook, video). In my review, I would talk about the recipe as a whole and where it was from, and I linked to everything I used, but I didn’t go into detail about the source itself. I wish in my weekly recipe reviews, I made a heading about the actual site (was it easy to use, did it have good reviews, what else did it include, how was it set up for the audience). My blog was more about cooking and giving recipes, but I wish I put more work into sharing where I got them.
Going from one recipe to two:
In the beginning of the blog, I was only making one meal a week (Pasta Week, Turkey Burgers). That was the original plan, but the crock pot week changed that for me. The plan for the blog was to create meals, but by week three I started getting followers, and I got way too excited not to share my famous Buffalo Chicken Dip with them. I didn’t want to incorporate a recipe without any sources besides saying it was my friend’s recipe, so it turned into a two recipe week. Some of the recipes were not from a cookbook or website (brownies, egg bake), so I made sure that at least one recipe per week had real sources I could reference to.
I thought I would keep my blog roll for all the places I got my recipes, but I realized something: not all websites are created equal. Even though I used other websites for my recipes, there were some websites that I ended up not being a big fan of. I wanted my blog roll to show the blogs or recipe sites that I would actually use on a daily basis. I wanted it to be a true tool that I would use past this project.
What I’ve learned/ What’s next:
I feel like every week in my reflections I sound like such a cliché, but I have LOVED this project and this writing process. I will be the first to admit I was dreading the project since the day I read the syllabus in the beginning of the semester. However, I have experienced nothing but happiness at my own personal achievements. I’m sure there are many people who would look at what I created and not see what all the fuss is about, but what I created is a BIG DEAL to me. I have learned so much about cooking, researching, and using a new kind of writing format. I felt like this class, especially this project, was designed to make us take responsibility for our learning. Our professor was there to help and gave us SO many helpful tools, but it was our job to use the tools to figure it out on our own. Nothing was just handed to me; I had to work through some of the issues that came up. It made me feel like when I am teaching a new concept to my class. I get the deer in the headlights look from some of my students, but the more we are talking and working on it, I will see a “light bulb” go off in a kid’s eyes. I know before I even look at their work that they know what they are doing. It’s that overwhelming pride in my work that made me want to do my best on this project. After the first two weeks, I have not really felt like this was an assignment. I found joy in cooking but also in the researching part of it too. I have learned so much not only about the process of cooking, but about the food itself. I catch myself bringing up facts about what I’ve learned into conversations with friends and family. I also realized I love blogging, and plan to keep up with it. I want to get more themes on the blog, but also add to the existing themes. I have found it therapeutic to write about an idea and share a piece of me with the world, even if “the world” I’m writing for is my 7 followers. I feel like I am connected and a part of something and I really like that feeling. I can’t answer what will happen in the future with my blog, but I don’t think I will give up on something that has made me feel empowered to share my writing. I keep thinking about the saying, “What if I fail? Oh but darling, what if you fly?” I think this sums up my experience perfectly. I was so scared to fail, but when I let go of my fear, I learned that I could accomplish things I only dreamt about doing. (SUPER CHEESY, I KNOW, BUT THAT’S HOW I FEEL).