Last spring, I had the distinct honor of participating in Round Three of Adopt A Blogger, an amazing program organized by Kristen (of Dine and Dish) that pairs "newbie" bloggers with experienced bloggers for a three-month mentoring period. It's hard to believe that I was the newbie, emailing all of my questions to my mentor, Sara Rosso (of Ms. Aventures in Italy). Well, Adopt A Blogger is back for Round Four and, this time, I've taken two bloggers who are relatively new to the food blogging scene under my wing.
Jenny from Newly Wed and Well Fed
Meet Jenny from Newly Wed and Well Fed. She's already one step ahead of me and has already announced that we've been matched! When I asked Jenny what she wanted to focus on in terms of content, she wrote:
I'm definitely still struggling on what I'd like my blog to be, as I don't really have a focus.
I felt exactly the same way when I first started blogging. It was incredibly overwhelming knowing that I was throwing myself out there without any real plan (or desire) to focus solely on one topic. In the end, I didn't carve out a specific niche and kept everything pretty general. Here's my response to Jenny:
Since you're still new at blogging, it's perfectly okay that you're still finding your voice and settling on your focus. I like to write about a bunch of different things and to keep it general in order to appeal to a broader range of readers. But, over time, you may find that one area - ie. sustainability - has really captured your interest and you'll modify your blog to reflect that. Absolutely fine! For now, just keep writing about what you're passionate about. As long as you love it, you'll want to continue writing and it'll show in your posts.
If you have a blog, is it focused on one particular topic, or is it more like Taste As You Go, featuring a little bit of this and a little bit of that? What kind of advice can you offer Jenny while as she continues to map out her plan?
Stephanie from Juicy Fresh Bites
Now it's time to meet Stephanie from Juicy Fresh Bites. While Jenny is still figuring out how she wants to focus her blog, Stephanie, who is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Dietetics, has already dedicated her blog to healthy living. She and I had the opportunity to exchange a few lengthy emails full of questions and answers, and one of Stephanie's main concerns is how to use social media in order to connect with other food bloggers:
I would love to know more... about exploring Foodbuzz and Twitter. I've signed up for a Foodbuzz account but I just don't know how to use it effectively. Same thing with Twitter. I've looked at a few websites that give a brief introduction on Twitter, but none of them really tell me exactly what to do with it. So I guess I'm kind of lost - there seems to be a lot of tools available for me to connect to other food bloggers, but there isn't a simple set of instructions that teach me what to do exactly, so I'm clueless as to where to start and how to start building my social network online.
Blogging can be overwhelming enough, what with figuring out a design, a concept, the content, and how to incorporate photos, videos, etc. It's a wonder any of us more experienced bloggers have time to actually engage with one another via Foodbuzz or Twitter or Facebook or any number of other websites set up to help their users connect with more people. Here's my response to Stephanie:
I wish I had a formula to give you in terms of how to make Foodbuzz and Twitter work to your advantage... just stay engaged. Twitter is one big conversation... that's going to depend on how much you want to share and respond and how much time you want to put into it... I admit that I was way more involved with Foodbuzz when I first started out because I was meeting so many new people and trying to gain some ground. But when I felt comfortable with my "voice" and my presence on the web, I pulled back from Foodbuzz. With that said, [I think Foodbuzz] is a great "starter" site [where] you [can] begin [your] networking.
When I started Taste As You Go, I didn't have a Twitter account. And when I finally signed up for Twitter, I didn't associate it with my blog until much later, using a different username at first and keeping my updates protected. Eventually, I changed the username so people could make the connection between my Twitter account and my blog more easily and I took the shield down from my updates and made them public. I think that was one of the best decisions I've made as a blogger thus far, as being active on Twitter has really given Taste As You Go more exposure. Of course, Twitter isn't for everyone.
Do you have advice for Stephanie as to how she can use social media to connect with more food bloggers? Which sites are you active on and how active are you?
I'm really excited about being able to participate as an Adopt A Blogger mentor now and hope that Jenny and Stephanie will be able to walk away with some valuable knowledge and advice. Can't wait to see what unfolds for both of them over the next three months!
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