Four years into blogging (as of tomorrow!), I have a confession to make: sometimes I ask why am I blogging and forget what I’m doing here. For a while I thought this was a photography blog. My posts revolved around my pictures, which I was spending lots of time trying to improve. Then, it was business. I looked for ways to monetize, testing ad spaces and selling statistics. It’s been design-focused, while we’ve changed the layout and header more times than I care to count. It’s also been about food and about compiling more original recipes, since everyone says that’s how to stand out.
But while I was home in Chicago, spending an evening with Jacqui, a friend whose perspective on blogging has always been authentic and grounded and right, we got talking about blogs and about writing, and it hit me: somehow, in the last few months and years of changing styles and formats and direction, I’ve forgotten the heart of this place.
Because no matter why you start out blogging—to practice your art, to build community, to tell your stories—it’s not long before you start to feel pulled towards another goal: to be noticed. All bloggers want to be noticed; all writers want to be read. There’s nothing wrong with that. And you look around and there are bloggers getting endorsements and bloggers quitting their day jobs and bloggers with fan clubs the size of celebrities’, and you think, does what I’m doing matter at all? It’s basic human nature to want someone to care about you, to want to be known; and listen, as any blogger would tell you: keeping up a website takes work and time, but for most of us, instead of getting a paycheck at the end of our work days, we get the satisfaction of knowing other people who like what we do, too.
But see, here’s the thing. When this secondary goal of getting noticed becomes the primary goal for why you blog, something changes about your work. It does. Maybe it changes by helping you focus and raise the quality of your work; or maybe it distracts you from getting the real work done. For me, the biggest difference between blogging because I love it and blogging for recognition is this: I forget what I’m doing here.
In “The Supper of the Lamb,” Robert Capon says this:
“The world may or may not need another cookbook, but it needs all the lovers—amateurs—it can get.”
I look around at all the talent in my Google Reader, and then I look at my site, and I think, you know, the world doesn’t need me to copy-cat the cool kids. There are hundreds of gorgeous food blogs, millions of quality cookbooks, always someone who’s doing it better. That’s not where my talent lies. This site isn’t about the layout or the logo or the way things are organized. It’s not about the photos, not really, even though I know photos are good. It’s not even about the food, much as I love it and even though the posts have recipes.
This site is, and should always have been, simply, about our life, told through food.
Maybe that includes ads, maybe that includes promotions; maybe it doesn’t. Because maybe it doesn’t matter either way. Maybe, what I’m seeing now, standing on the cusp of four years, looking ahead at the next, is that what matters, really, is the passion and love behind it, with or without recognition, with or without acclaim.