Nashville in March

Hi, gang. Happy Sunday. I know, since last April, we’ve been keeping our chats mainly Tuesday and Friday affairs, but I hope you won’t mind my coming in today with one extra post because, mostly, I’ve got something extra to say. I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging.

Nashville March Trees

Thing is, I’ve been blogging here at Food Loves Writing since 2008. Some of you have been reading here that entire time (Hi Jacqui, Kim, maybe Lan?); some of you found me through another site (like the beauties Not Without Salt, Honey & Jam, Cranny and Me); some of you had a friend who recommended the blog; some of you get nutrition consultations from my husband; some of you just came here for the first time today, through a Google search or Pinterest picture. In every case, hello. I feel honored that you’re spending a few minutes here, and I hope you’ll stick around long enough to say hi. I really like it when you say hi.

bridge

So when I say I’ve been thinking about blogging, I guess what I mean is that I’ve been thinking about the value of blogging. As in, Is blogging valuable? And of course, yes. When I recite to myself the long list of intangible benefits that come from this beautiful online community you and I share, I can’t deny its power.

forest

Today, just about an hour ago actually, I was talking with my friend Joanna on the phone. Joanna lives in Iowa. She’s a magazine editor. I’ve mentioned her here before. I love Joanna. Joanna is the kind of person that breathes fresh air into a room. She’s big smiles and deep thoughts and disarming vulnerability, and when I tell her about some struggle I’m facing, she empathizes and thinks and then pulls out off-the-cuff advice that is both encouraging and the sort of thing to make me stop. And I wouldn’t know her if I hadn’t had a blog.

trees and tim

While I’m typing this post to you, in the other room right now, Tim is sitting on our sofa, legs stretched out on one of our T.J.Maxx tufted ottomans—the first big purchase we made in married life. For lunch today, we ate leftover roasted vegetables in beef broth over a two-hour conversation about the differences between grace and law and how to apply those realities in life. Yesterday we pointed the car northwest and ended up in Clarksville, a sleepy town with antique stores and a shopping mall and the beautiful Dunbar Cave State Park, which is where most of the photos in this post are from. And this man I share my life, and this blog, with today? I wouldn’t even know him if I hadn’t had a blog.

Nashville hands

The blog community is wildly enriching! My friend Holly, whom I met through blogs this year, talks with me about this almost every time we talk. And while we trade book recommendations or discuss hard questions like what makes us dislike people, I look at this girl sitting there, across from a table or in a living room or at a coffee shop with me, and I think how this easy conversation, this thought- and perspective-changing interaction, was only made possible by blogging.

water and tree

In fact, there are few things in my life that haven’t been shaped, at least in some part, by blogging, from my job to my book club to the four-by-six-foot paper photo of me and Tim hanging in our bedroom (tutorial here!). Blogging changed my life. Blogging changes my life. And I’m so grateful for it, saying I’m grateful for it sounds cliché.

tim in the water

But here’s the thing: Blogging takes time. Blogging takes discipline (even if that discipline only means coming back here again and again, with months in between). Blogging connects you with kindred spirits, yes, but, unless you go super pro about promoting products and using affiliate links and charging for sponsorships and posts, blogging doesn’t make (much) money.

And this is something I’m wrestling with right now. I’m wrestling with the very real needs of my little family and our little future and how I can and should contribute to it. I’m wondering if spending 10 hours a week (give or take) on this beloved space is a wise investment when I could be pitching articles or creating products to sell. Or to put it another way, I’m wondering if there’s a way to also bring in a (small) income from a space that’s already brought me so much non-monetary blessing. I’m wondering if that’s fair to wonder. I’m thinking about a TED Talk I watched last week and how the future of the arts, from music to blogging to authorship, could be becoming more and more deindustrialized as people believe in supporting crafts they find valuable, and I’m wondering if that means anything for me.

I guess I wanted to tell you all this, today on this Sunday, to explain part of the reasoning behind our new Etsy shop and the ebook and the sidebar Lijit ads and the Amazon affiliate links we have now. We’ve tried other things that didn’t feel right, so this is where we are now. I think some of you feel these same things, and I want you to be encouraged that it’s normal. I also wanted to put this out there, to the community of people who have always made it safe to be vulnerable, in order to ask you for advice. I know in the audience of readers this site has, someone’s got to know something about a more efficient, yet non-gimmicky way to keep this place running for all of us, so I welcome your ideas.

I love having you out there, reading. I love even more when you comment or email or stop me at a coffee shop to say you like the site (Hi, Sandy!). And I love knowing I can come here and chat with you and let us both feel a little more known.

Thanks for letting me make this little interruption, guys. Our weekly schedule is still on for the rest of the week, but the Tuesday/Friday posts may be a bit abbreviated this week.





Oh, and also, PS, speaking of the Etsy shop, we have a new 8 X 10 print available, hand-lettered and printed on cardstock, with a quote that I’ve been meditating on all week: “To create is to reflect the Creator and delight His heart.”
Create-8x10

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 54 Comments

  1. Lan | Angry Asian

    hi shanna, yes, i’ve been reading you almost since the beginning :) and i have enjoyed visiting your space.

    i have also been thinking about the value of blogging lately. for a number of reasons i’ve been unhappy with blogging, specifically, my blogging and i’ve pinpointed it to when i put up ads, when i thought more about the # of views i was getting a day, when i did reviews etc. *this* type of blogging just does not work for *me*. it turns it into work, into a pressurized competitive environment that makes me less creative and more detached and calculated. i already do that 40+ hours/week with my Real Life job, i don’t need any more when i’m blogging.

    i don’t know how to help you with a less gimmicky way of keeping your space running and lucrative, tho truth be told, i don’t think what you do is gimmicky, or insincere. i think it helps that i follow you on so many social media outlets that i have seen the behind the scenes process of your art-ing (it’s not a word but hopefully you’ll know what i’m trying to say…) so i know it is coming from an earnest heart.

    i will ask, why do you feel like you have to explain why you have ads, or are doing an etsy shop or have affiliate links? you don’t have to justify yourself among friends. :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Lan, Thank you for this. I always have a special place in my heart for first comments, maybe because they’re the ones to “break the ice” and get people talking the way an especially friendly person does at an awkward meetup, haha. But when I went to bed last night, thinking about your comment and about the years of blog friendship it represents, I felt very blessed indeed.

      I relate to what you said about the “pressurized competitive environment” and how it turns off the fun, beautiful side of creative work and how that somehow pushes things into this calculated world that necessarily feels less sincere. I found I don’t want to do that sort of blogging, either, even if it may lead to more online income… it sort of ruins the whole enjoyable part of it and changes the way the space feels to you and to your readers. I just wish there were another way! And other times, I think how weird it is to wonder if there could be another way! Ah, I don’t know.

  2. Harriet

    I just flicked over to your site to search your links for something interesting to read, only to discover a fresh post, yay!! I always quite like these reflective posts about why we do what we do and how to do something better or different. I’m in my last year of study (hence why I was looking for something interesting to read that wasn’t a textbook..) and I’m constantly thinking about why I do what I do, what I want to do, how to go about it and why perhaps I plan and think too much without just trying to live and be. I never found a suitable medium for these conversations until I started reading and writing blogs.

    I guess there comes a point when our attitudes to what is produced on the internet have to change – I think the online music industry has felt this for a while. When so much time and effort is put into online material I think its perfectly reasonable for the producers to receive monetary compensation. Bloggers, I guess, are also lucky in that there are so many other positive community and networking compensations.

    This is a long comment but really I just wanted to say I enjoy everything you write and I can sense the effort that goes into each post. And for this I thank you for giving me interesting things to read and think about while I put uni text books to one side for a while.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Harriet, I smiled reading your comment because I so relate to it. 1) That’s what I loved about blogs, too, when I first discovered them, and 2) I have the exact same feeling of “ooh! a new post!” with my favorite blogs, so it kind of delights me to think someone else would feel that way about this one. Thank you.

      Thank you also for your thoughtful perspective on compensation and blogging and the music industry — I’m still mulling these things over, but I think maybe the conversation needs to begin by recognizing blogs we love as valuable (at least, for me, it does) in the same way any entertainment we love is valuable. Sometimes I think we’re prone to see free things as lesser in value — like online music or like beautiful blogs, of which there are so many! And maybe that’s OK, and maybe it’s not. Either way, it’s definitely a topic on my mind. Thanks for chatting about it here!

  3. Raging Cravings

    Hi Shanna,

    As a fellow food blogger, I understand where you are coming from about the value of blogging and how to keep going, especially although it’s rewarding in other ways, blogging brings in so that is tangible. You’ve spent so much time nurturing the site, creating content for readers and you deserve something in return to keep on going.

    Your e-book is great, but you could also crowd-source a cookbook or another e-book where you get people to contribute to a project and then if it reaches a certain sum, you get it made/written/printed. (Of course it may not be right for everyone)

    I agree with Lan (above) that you don’t have to explain why you are doing ads or creating an etsy shop or have affiliate links. It’s part and parcel of extending your blog and brand and your readers should understand.

    Good luck!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Thank you! What feels hard for me, I think, is that no one enjoys this blog more than I do, haha. : ) I’m putting work into it, but I’m getting blessings in return, no question… and then I think, man, this thing I love takes so much time and is that OK? Because while we value our work because we get paychecks or value our time relaxing because it’s not hard, what do we think about the hobbies and side projects and passions that we lovingly pour ourselves into, sheerly because we love them, but don’t earn money in return. I mean, it’s work, but it’s good work, but it’s unpaying work. Maybe it’s a little like guys who are super into sports? Or runners who can’t wait to do their next marathon? Their hobbies are a sort of work, albeit unpaid, but they love them… at what point does that merit an income and at what point does it not?

      The Internet has opened so many interesting questions like these, questions that would not have been questions for my grandparents’ generation or even my parents’. It’s fascinating!

  4. Liz

    I am a new and tiny blogger that often finds that when I click over to your blog, you have the exact post I am needing that day. It has happened multiple times, and this time is no exception.

    I just today went to my first “blogger” lunch for this website I’m writing for and I’m feeling this exact question, “what is the value of blogging, and specifically, what is the value of me blogging when I’m not an expert and I don’t have tons of time and I don’t really want this to become a place of work?” And honestly, given that my blog has approximately 4 readers (who are probably my family and fiance), sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it to push forward and claim my tiny space of the internet. I really don’t know. And I’m conflicted because as much as I don’t want to worry about having an audience, I’m writing a blog versus a journal for a reason – to build some kind of community.

    I’ll also agree with above sentiments that I don’t consider you “gimmicky” at all. I think Amazon affiliate links and an etsy shop are a reasonable way to make some money from something you’re investing time in and you don’t have to justify them. This is your space, you’re not putting up huge ads that contradict the message or feeling of your blog, so I think they are as sincere and genuine as you are. So thank you for tackling this head on and openly – I think you have a lot to offer so I hope you stay in this space, even if for some reason you have to scale back.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Yes, Liz, exactly! We blog instead of journal for a reason. Even if we don’t want to be famous, we want to have someone reading. We want community. YES.

      And let me just tell you, in response to your first blogger lunch? I so know. I was recently part of a network that was very numbers driven and found myself regularly thinking, these people are super smart and know how to drive up traffic, but the things you have to do aren’t things I want to do. So maybe I’m not a numbers person, I realized. Maybe getting tons of people to come here for recipes won’t work because this site is only secondarily about the recipes and because I much more value the connection.

  5. sarah kate branine

    I wish I had realized this post was here about an hour ago. I would’ve made myself a chai, which you know I would have deeply regretted two hours later : ), but anywho, I would have gone ahead and sat down to write you a long email. Because I owe you about five. But, since it is late and I should be a good girl and head to bed so that I can attempt to be a loving mama and wife tomorrow, I will just say this for now: keep on keeping on. We need your voice. We so need your voice. And, love to you.

  6. Madison

    I have been chewing on some very similar thoughts for the last couple months. I suppose part of it is because I am busy and pulled in many different directions and in part because I’ve been blogging for 3 1/2 years and wonder, similar to the dating days, where this relationship with my blog is going.

    In a world full of blog stats and ad traffic and monetizing your site, it seems like everyone is blogging in such a hyper competitive way that I get caught up in the feeling that if I am going to invest so much time and energy into a blog which really is just a side project and hobby, that it should pay off in some way or that I should someday become a huge and popular blogger.

    I guess I’ve just been examining my intention behind blogging. Am I still doing it because I love it and because I want to chronicle my life in and out of the kitchen? Or am I doing it because I want to make money, connections, or attention? At the end of the day I still love the community and the process of blogging, but it can be a discouraging endeavor at the same time. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for sparking great conversation, Shanna!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I think it does make sense, and what you wrote is exactly what’s kept me blogging for so long, because I’ve thought, well, blogging isn’t about making money anyway, it’s about community! But in my current life season, I’m facing a very real sense of needing to make money from the work I’m pursuing. Even as I write that, I think, ew. It’s kind of an uncomfortable thing to say, but it’s true. And if I move blogging strictly to the hobby-without-income pile, along with, say, watching movies or hitting up Goodwills, I have to give it less time because it can’t be a priority right now. Which is OK, but it’s a new thing for me to realize. So I’ve been thinking, well, maybe I could find a compromise that allows me to keep blogging as much as I am while also making a few hundred dollars. Or maybe thinking through these things will mean, no, actually, it’s time to step back. I’m still thinking.

      Thanks, as always, for your thoughts here, Madison! Glad you’ve entered my world through blogging, too.

  7. Kathryn

    I know I’ve struggled with similar thoughts in the past – is this really anything more than an expensive hobby? Would could I do in the time that I otherwise devote to blogging? Would I have more time to devote to my relationship, to my health, to doing chores if I didn’t blog? The answer to all of those is probably yes (particularly to the latter…) but then I think about how much the blog (and reading other people’s blogs) has given me and I realise that I might have more time without it and without this community, but I wouldn’t be half as happy and fulfilled.

    But I know that I’m so lucky to have a job that means I can keep blogging as a hobby and don’t have to force myself to ‘monetize’ (oh what an awful word) anything. That makes it easy for me not to have to worry about how many page views I get or whether what I’m saying is ‘on brand’ or if I’ve found my niche. My blog is basically one big self-indulgence and, at the moment, I’m okay with that. Ask me again in a year or two when circumstances will most likely have changed and I will probably have to reassess.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think there’s anything gimmick-y about the way that you’ve gone about earning some income. Even if this place was plastered in banners and pop ups and videos that started playing a terrible jingle as soon as I opened the window, I think your genuine spirit would still shine through.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Exactly. Those are my questions. And what you said about its being a sort of “self-indulgent hobby” – YES. That’s exactly what I’m trying to say. I’m saying, so I know I love doing this, but does that make it worth X number of hours? And I feel like it’s a hard question to ask and even harder to answer.

      My friend Jacqui told me today that there are 186 hours in the week, so why not spend 10 of them doing something I love. It made me smile. The problem for me, of course, is that I love doing a lot of things, haha, most notably laying on the sofa doing nothing at all. Sigh. I wish life could just be about pursuing things you love and picking apples from the backyard for dinner and not having to think grown-up thoughts about income and taxes and imaginary future children.

      Thanks for thinking through this with me, friend!

      1. Kathryn

        I think there’s a difference between ‘cost’ and ‘value’ which is sometimes easy to forget. When we have a new project at work, we have to take it to a committee to get approval. One of the questions is the cost of the project to our client which is easy to calculate. One of the other questions is the value of the piece of work to them which is *much* harder because it can be impossible to quantify. That’s why I find it so hard to say that blogging is worth ‘x’ number of hours because the benefits are so intangible. Not that that really helps much but I do think it’s a good distinction to draw.

        As for the rest of it, there is nothing more I like on the world than lying on the sofa and doing nothing. Here’s to more of that!

  8. wesley @ the way home

    Girl I’m so glad to see you monetizing some things from your blog, you deserve it! And I’ll reiterate what basically everyone else has said, that there isn’t an ounce of insincerity in your body and we can all tell that. I think the ads are perfectly fine, and as I’ve told you several times the Etsy shop is great and I think you could easily keep expanding that. I also think a cookbook would be a fabulous idea! Particularly if you illustrated it yourself :). It seems like many food bloggers have been successful with cookbooks, because they already have so many people after their recipes. And even if you can get them on the blog, there’s something about having them all together in pretty binding. Or I was also thinking that for your Etsy cards you could go back and find some gems from your own writing (if it doesn’t make you feel too pompous) and use those quotes instead of L.I. Wilder. I know I find little sentences of yours all the time and want to put them in my pocket for later use. Or how cute instead of a cookbook would it be to do little illustrated index cards with a bunch of your recipes on them and sell them on Etsy? Alright that’s enough brainstorming on my end. Keep at it Shanna, I love what you’re doing.

  9. Zulejka

    Hi. I love your writing.

    I’m thinking about it as well, the value of blogging. I think it’s a good idea to try and get something out of blogging, it’s nice to have somewhat of a balance between how much you give and how much you get… And sometimes that means money, too:)

    I have a blog in Slovene for a few years now, but I recently decided to write in English, too, and maybe reach some more people. I don’t know how that will go, it would be nice to get a reader or two for starters;)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Zulejka, Your site is beautiful! I love that you’re reaching out to a wider audience as you seek a blogging balance. You are definitely not alone! Thank you for saying hi and thank you for your kind words.

  10. Kasey

    Shanna, I can very much relate to this post. Heck, I write this comment as I am WEARING my baby, standing at my kitchen counter (my new ‘standup desk’ situation). Blogging takes TIME. Quality blogging takes A LOT of time. I struggle with how much time I can devote to my space, but even as I’ve managed to bust out a few posts in between taking care of the baby, I struggle with the idea of what will happen when I go back to work. I think we all need to ask ourselves what makes us happy but we also need to be realistic about the needs of our families – both emotionally and financially. I know that for us, expanding our site into a business has been the best decision. I think what you are doing is smart. You create wonderful content and you should never, ever apologize for having ads or using your blog as a jumping point to something bigger. We’re thankful to have you here, and we’re rooting for you as you take on new projects! xoxo

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Kasey, I loved this comment so much. I picture you in your kitchen in San Francisco, WEARING your baby, an image that makes me smile right there in itself, working on your computer, and I feel so in awe of all the people who juggle so many tasks and wear so many hats in this community. It makes me even more grateful to be a part of it. And I so appreciate your perspective on the financial aspects of blogging and love the way you and Matt have made it work for you. You’re an inspiration, and in more ways than one.

  11. Felicia @ Dish by Dish

    Hey Shanna, its me again.

    I think Lan is right (first comment) on the fact that there should be no need for you to explain what you want to put on your blog (ads, or etsy shop, ebook banners). Firstly because whatever tremendous effort you put in every blog post is reflected in the deep thoughts and kind words and constant encouragement that every reader of FLW gets.

    I’ll be honest. It wasn’t until last year – that I started writing my own blog and reading all these other wonderful blogs like yours (whose every fresh post breathes life and new perspective into my thoughts and way of reflection) – that I realized authors and larger-than-life bloggers are actually very much human and vulnerable too. It’s terribly humbling to see how you’re willing so share so much of your life and its nitty-gritty details with the rest of the world, simply because there is a point of lesson and learning you’d like us to grasp and take away.

    I’ve realized that even with a small space like mine where I write (but not as much as you do), blogging as taken up so much of my time and effort – but at the same time, we reap what we sow – and with the efforts sown into building blogging friendships, journaling down what are our precious thoughts and sharing them to spread love and kindness, we harvest a community of love, and beautiful relationships, that as you so aptly mentioned, only could have come because we first decided to lay down the foundation and blog, one word at a time (writer’s block or not).

    thanks for your lovely thoughts! and if you do write another book, I’ll be sure to buy it! I’ve already read your first ebook thrice!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I know what you’re saying, Felicia, because I’ve felt the same thing, this sort of “Oh!” moment where I’ve realized some far-off-seeming person is just a regular human like me, someone who has to eat and sleep and talk and work and so on. That’s one of the things that I found most fascinating about the TED Talk I linked to in the post — the speaker talks about how artists in previous generations weren’t these untouchable celebrities; they were often out amongst the people, sharing their work face to face. I like the thought that our culture may be returning to that. I wonder if blogs will pave the way.

  12. Katie (The Muffin Myth)

    Ah yes, this is something I think a lot about. Like you, I have hesitated to take steps to monatize my blog. Part of that is inherent laziness (in order to get ads would have to go self hosted, if I go self hosted I have to worry about things like security which I’m frankly not interested in) and part of it is that it doesn’t seem genuine. But, because I’ve spent (so far) eight years of my life studying food and nutrition, and I write about just that on my blog, I have been brainstorming ways of using my blog as a bit of a launching platform into my nutrition world. I think what you’re doing with your etsy store and e-book is really brave, and a stellar example for the rest of us. So, thanks for that. Stick with it :)

  13. Holly

    Sigh. Such wonderful thoughts on this most fascinating topic. The more I brush against creative practice, the more I feel that there need not be a clear-cut answer to why we do it. And if there aren’t days where it feels silly, we might be doing it wrong. The challenge of making money is a conundrum though… why can’t the most creative and meaningful practices pay the most?! haha.

    Conversely though, investing time into a place that cultivates creativity and friendship seems valuable to me, if only to revel in simple joys with people who find joy in the same things.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Indeed! I like the phrase “cultivating friendship” especially. I was telling Tim that one thing I like about you is that you go straight for relationship, not just like, hey, let’s know each other but let’s actually know each other! and talk about valuable things! I think it’s a friendship life lesson that is also a blog friendship life lesson, and you do it well.

  14. Erin

    I think these are things all bloggers think about. (So yes, normal.) There are multiple times every month, especially months where life is so busy in other areas, when I think “is this worth it?” There are times when I feel frustrated, when I’m not sure I want to carry on, and then I make something else that is delicious and that I want to share. I don’t feel that my blog has created a community as big as other people’s blogs do, but having the blog improves my life simply because it challenges me to think about the things I am cooking.

    Also–I agree with what Kathryn said in an earlier comment: your site could be absolutely covered in ads, and your honest spirit would still shine through.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I love the phrase “want to share” and want to find a way to feel that more often. Maybe that is key to this discussion, in fact—the idea that when we are doing these sites for the sheer delight of it, we ought to ask ourselves from time to time if we’re still delighting. Good thoughts, Erin. Thank you!

  15. Emma @ Poires au Chocolat

    This is such a valuable post, Shanna. With all the switches and changes that have happened in my last year or so, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the value of blogging and if it is work or play (and if that distinction makes a difference to my creativity and stress levels). I decided years ago that I didn’t want to earn any money or take any free things or advertise or whatever – and that blanket no policy has served me really well (though there have been moments where I’ve wondered why I don’t try and make money from such a time-consuming thing – but then so many opportunities have come out of it, including some paid ones).

    I know I’m incredibly lucky in my current situation to have less financial pressure and the luxury of time to spend on my blog and on other freelance projects. I find the pull is always between what time is spent on what, which recipes go where. I really struggled with this last year when I was writing a book proposal and trying to work out the priority – which place does my exciting idea go? Now I’ve decided that when I come to write again (which, hopefully, will be later in the year) that I’m going to officially split my months into parts, and any idea that comes or is developed in the first part goes to the blog and the second part to the book (within the parameters of the idea, but you know what I mean),

    I think the best thing I’m learning is to value the time I spend on the blog, to know how important it is to me, and how good I feel when I finally press publish on something I’m proud of. It is hard work, it is a lot of time, but it is worth it. I love this line from your new post: “These aren’t things you don’t want to do, but they require effort, and so when you exert the necessary effort and then finish the task before you, it’s a tiny victory.” It sums it up perfectly.

    Apologies for the essay!

    P.S. Just bought a printed copy of your book – so excited to get it.
    P.P.S. Wish my blog would send a nice man my way!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Yes, Emma, that sense of prioritizing what to do when is HUGE to the freelance lifestyle and it’s what makes it possible for me to work from home and get necessaries done each day. That’s a smart idea for your writing. It’s funny though because, in my case, over the last three years I’ve noticed myself developing this increasing sense that everything I do needs to be profitable, as a result of prioritizing my tasks. Sometimes I’m all Productivity! Do! and that’s probably why I’m always talking here about slowing down and thinking.

      Anyway, I think I’m rabbit-trailing here.
      Also – I loved your PSes (thanks for getting the book! hope you enjoy!) and have to say, really, that when you put your voice out there authentically, it only makes sense that someone else who shares your perspectives would find it. That’s what’s so amazing about this blog world. You never know who you’ll meet. : )

  16. Alicia

    Hi Shanna! I’ve been blogging for about a year, and already ask myself similar questions. I would love, love, love to devote more time to our craft, but it’s difficult balancing a full time job with a part time photography business, and other life responsibilities.

    I don’t think your Amazon.com ad or Etsy store is gimmicky at all. It’s an extension of you and your beautiful work. Congrats! :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Exactly, Alicia. It’s difficult. And I know in my head I have to prioritize what’s most important, if only for my own sanity, but I so want to keep this space (probably also for my own sanity) that I keep wanting to articulate why this space is important and worth prioritizing. Still thinking through it.

  17. Lea Helen

    Hi Neighbor!
    I am a Nashville reader who just found you today via honey & jam. I am delighted! As a member of the old school (those of us who remember when computers were bigger than our cars and before Al G. invented the internet) ;), I am struggling to keep pace with my ever-changing world. What drew me in was your post on blogging and why one should do it. I have been waffling for a year now, and it was nice to hear some of the pros/benefits from a long time blogger. Thanks!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Well, hello, neighbor! I love Hannah’s site, so I can see you have good taste. : ) So glad this post encouraged you — I hope you do take the plunge and try blogging. It’s such a fascinating and inspiring practice, and it will change you, one way or another. Would love to hear how it goes for you!

  18. Laura

    Ah, I think about all of this stuff… like all the time! Running a blog that you can take some pride in eats up A LOT of time. And I only post once a week! I can’t even imagine how you guys do it. I’ve wrestled with the idea of advertising or sponsored posts, but it’s hard. There are so many competing ideas on that in my mind. I love that you talked about your (very tasteful) monetizing so directly. Dollars are as real as the creative impulse and they help make any creative project succeed a little bit more. Happy that you guys are here :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      YES. I feel like most bloggers, especially food bloggers, have to relate to this because pulling together posts really does take a lot of time! I understand what you mean about competing ideas, too; I feel like I’ve gone back and forth a lot. Thanks so much for your comment, Laura. Means a lot to us.

  19. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    Though we can gain perspective on any subject from many sources, including comments, the truth is inside yourself Shanna. There are many ways to organize your time, your effort, etc., but only you understand what it means to write this blog.
    And the same goes for all of us. Whether you should or shouldn´t have ads here, I think the truth is somewhere in between a shiny-loud-not-a-single-blank space kind of blog and the blog of your dreams. Balance is the key, but doesn´t that apply to every single thing?
    Follow your heart girl! You probably already know where the middle ground is. And you´re a sensible person, that is obvious from the way you write. So keep on being yourself, ads or no ads. That´s what will attract readers and keep you happy at the same time.
    But isn´t this a great support group? There are amazing people behind food blogs. And we all understand whatever the other needs to do.

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  21. Vicki

    I continue to still be on the fence about starting a blog because of the value I would gain – not the money but the satisfaction of contributing something in a very crowded field of voices. Yet I know if I ever made said leap it would make the writer in me happy to get back into a form of feature writing and not have to filter my words through rounds of review like I face in my day job.

    I think it is fabulous you have been able to blog for so long. As you mentioned, so many positive things have come out of your experience. But I know all too well trying to make plans for those imaginary future children and how scary it is to make real plans now before their arrival. In the end, you have to do what makes you happy and if that means cutting down how frequently you blog I’m sure you’re adoring fans won’t mind. :)

    Now on to freelancing. I highlly recommend any of the freelancing books written by Kelly James-Enger. I interviewed her many times when I used to work at a community newspaper in Downers Grove. You’d love her backstory: a lawyer who left her career to become a full-time writer without knowing anything about the business! She actually wrote out her first article and sent it to a magazine because she didn’t know you’re supposed to send a pitch first. She’s also found time to do side jobs too like working at Trader Joe’s or training at the Y – all while raising two children. I have her first two books and found them very helpful: Ready, Aim, Specialize! and Six-Figure Freelancing. Good luck!!

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  23. Becky

    Hello Shanna,
    I enjoyed your blog and I’m here to tell you I wish I could write like you do.Thank you for inviting others into your life and sharing your thoughts and experiences about food. Today you have reminded me of times spent in my grandmas kitchen in Ohio, a used book store in baltimore, and walks in the woods in North Carolina. Please keep blogging along with your other endeavors. Thank you again for sharing.
    Becky

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh my goodness, Becky. Thank you. I love the thought of your reading at your computer screen and my writing here at my laptop and being able to connect through words typed on webpages. It’s my favorite thing about this blogging world. Honored to have you reading here. Thanks for saying hi!

  24. Kim

    I’ve blogged three times in the last week, and it had been about a month in between posts before those posts. Whenever I have thoughts about what it means to “truly” be a blogger, or to be a “good” blogger, or to blog “enough”, I remind myself why I put those quotation marks there. Blogging is what you make it — of course, there are the “if I only had the means, I would ______” thoughts, and of course (as you pointed out in another post) we want to be and do everything, all the time.

    But I view my blog as a fun little corner of my world. I love to share things and get feedback and advice. I love to give things away when I’m afforded the opportunity. I love trying out new products when they’re sent my way. But I also love stepping away and forgetting about it for a while, when life gets too busy and I’m too busy living it.

    I, too, am grateful to my blog for the friends I’ve made and the connections we’ve shared over the years. Sometimes it’s hard to believe there are these internet friends, some of whom I’ve never met, that have been a part of my life for so many years. Our blogs have morphed and shifted as have our lives, and it’s so wonderful to still be here for and with each other. We often write about different things, at different speeds, and with different opinions, lifestyles, and photo quality ;) But what remains is the friendship, the trust, and the listening and sharing. And that is worth celebrating.

    So much love.

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