The Toasted Pine Nut turns 2!!!!
Two years ago I dreaded the question, “So will you start working?” Obviously, I didn’t scream at them in a postpartum hormonal rage “I AM WORKING DAMMIT.” I knew what they meant. Will I return from my pseudo maternity leave and start on my path to the 9-5 business casual world. It was a question that brought shudders and left me speechless. I didn’t know. I couldn’t even fathom it. I had a 2 year old, a six month old, and a law degree I was pretty unexcited about.
I played around with the idea of blogging but didn’t take the plunge until two years ago today. I didn’t know what would come of it, but I had some ideas. My first year of blogging was hard, there were a lot of growing pains and a lot of figuring out logistics. My second year was one of growth and excitement. I thought it would be fun to recap and reflect on this past year and share some lessons with you!
I want to thank you guys for being a part of this journey, for allowing me to create, be silly, and inspire you to eat really yummy food 🙂 As much as this has been such a learning experience, I am so happy to have taken the leap of faith, and couldn’t be more thankful for your support.
Find Your Tribe: The number one thing I tell people when they ask for “how to start” is to find some fellow bloggers in the same point at their blogging career and support the heck out of each other. This is hard, I know. I went the first year of blogging not doing this, or only half-heartedly doing it. Once I made that switch to investing in others, supporting them through comments, or direct messages, that’s when the relationships began to build. It’s so much more fun to have a community you surround yourself with, someone to ask questions or bounce ideas off of. I’m telling you. Once you find that community, once you start having fun and enjoying what you do, that’s when you begin to grow.
Treat Your Blog like a Business: I mean it. Day one. Get a business checking account, get a business address, brand yourself to no end, and trademark that shiz. I waited until recently to do this. But, there’s a switch that happens. When you begin treating your blog like a business, it becomes a business. You start working for it like a business, and you never give yourself that “oh it’s just a hobby” excuse. People will take you more seriously when you have your business pants (or lady skirts, your choice) on, then if they’re getting those hobby vibes.
Not literally business pants. You know what I mean. Yoga pants for life.
Insert Yourself: This is one of my BIGGEST lessons ever. If you read nothing else, read this paragraph. So many times people come up with a blog post, come up with a recipe, come up with an idea. They’re so excited about it that they just throw it out into the world and hope for the best, hope that someone will recognize the awesomeness and things will start snowballing. It rarely works like that.
People go about their day. They have a schedule. They have a routine of websites and apps they check. Chance are, there aren’t many people that will happen upon your blog. This is where I say, INSERT YOURSELF into their lives. You need to put yourself out there to be seen. It’s hard, I get it. There’s rejection. I get it. Insert yourself by commenting, marketing, advertising, aligning, and SHOWING people your awesomeness. Don’t wait for them to notice it.
Ride the Waves: There are waves of growth and then there are lulls. I don’t know how it is for everyone, but that’s how it is for me. Don’t freak. When you feel a lull setting in, there is a moment of panic because you don’t ever think the wave will rise again. It will. The lull is your opportunity to work you booty off. To make killer content that you’re obsessed with, to approach brands, to schedule posts. For me, when I get waves of growth, I invest a lot of my energy responding to the new readers, appreciating their comments, and at times it’s hard to manage.
The best thing you can do is remain consistent through those highs and lows. Don’t back off just because you’re in a lull and you’re feeling kinda poopy about it. Conversely, don’t back off because you’re gaining a ton of new readers and you’re feeling pretty damn good about yourself. Just be consistent and authentic and ride the waves.
Organize and Plan Ahead: This is where you all roll your eyes and say “duh.” I know I know. But for reals. There are weeks where I sit down and plan my meals and posts and then make a shopping list. And then there are weeks where time gets away from me and I have no game plan. It’s so important to have a game plan. Even if you end up switching it up last minute because you went to the farmer’s market and impulsively bought persimmons and have a crazy awesome idea in your head. Having a game plan makes everything run smooth and keeps everything consistent (see above). It’s not the sexiest part of blogging, but it’s noteworthy for sure 😉
You Might Make People Uncomfortable: TRUTH. So this is kinda a weird phenomenon that happened when I started telling people I’m now a blogger. Maybe other entrepreneurs can relate to this. Before The Toasted Pine Nut, I had a very clear and predictable path that was seemingly apparent to everyone around me: have babies, return to law at some point.
So when you tell them you are starting a new path and seeing where it takes you, they get confused. They also get kind of uncomfortable because you no loner fit into the box they had you in. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just how the human mind works. It’s uncomfortable for them to know you’re not following this idea that had of you. Some people will be 100% on board with your decision, some people won’t. Soak in the people on board and don’t pay much mind to those that don’t. They come around down the line 😉
YOU Might Get Uncomfortable: Rejection rejection rejection. Turns out, I take rejection well 🙂 I’ve probably sent a million (ok exaggeration) emails to brands and have been turned down. That’s ok!! I don’t see it as a rejection, I see it as a “not right now.” The timing is off, your blog may not be where it needs to be for the brand to consider you and that’s ok. Pursue other opportunities and you’ll get there. Play the long game and don’t harp on short term hurdles.
On the personal side, there may be rejection from peers. Not everyone is going to understand your blogging, and that’s ok. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have some solid friends that support me and my passion. You need to live your life, you know what you’re doing and what your goals are. As long as you are 100% with yourself, it doesn’t matter if other people don’t get it.
Failure Can Be Good: Some of my recipes have been flops. I’m talking FLOPS. You live, you learn!! From that flop, you are learning more about the process, more about the ingredients, and your end result will be that much better. It’s easy to get down on yourself when a recipe doesn’t work out. Reframe it as a learning process because every single experience, even failures, can teach you something.
Quality over Quantity: In my first few months of blogging, I felt a certain pressure to get as many blog posts out as possible. I felt that quantity would give my blog more legitimacy. I’m now going back and revisiting old recipes that I rushed with and am making them perfect.
I look at my blog and brand as a castle (something I heard Bjork from Pinch of Yum mention) and every piece of content you produce is a brick for that castle. You don’t want a castle with some ugly, imperfect spots. You want a castle with shining, glowing bricks that you are in love with because you built that brick and it’s exactly how you want it.
On any given day a random person may end up on your blog and may make a recipe. Make sure that no matter what they land on, they’ll be as obsessed as you.
Be Kind: The intertubes can be cruel, man. Always be kind. Always give people your best.
Thank you so much for reading!! Love you all!! xo