I created a blog! As blogging milestones go, I think that one is the most important. Technically, I registered the domain and the established the thing at the end of October. November 2017, however, wraps up the first official month that getNOMSblog has been live. My goal is to post a blog update at the end of each month as my way of chronicling my trip around the blogosphere. I’ve learned a lot this month and am enjoying the ride so far! I’ll talk about those lessons in my updates, and describe any mistakes I make (and I’m sure there will be plenty). Hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate some successes as well!
The idea is to be able to look back at some point and see how far I’ve come. With any luck, the experiences I record here will be able to help other new bloggers as they get started; hopefully not as too much of a cautionary tale. Not to be completely altruistic, perhaps even an experienced super blogging pro will read my ramblings in these updates. This person may even have pity and grace me with some advice, tips, tricks or answers to the world’s problems. A wise man heeds the council of experience. It seems to be like much of blogging is simply learning from one another.
“No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” ~Hunter S. Thompson
I’ve read a ton of blogs and have toyed with the notion of starting my own for quite a while. The busy-ness of life always seemed to get in the way. Sometimes, though, things have a way of uncluttering themselves and presenting new opportunities that you may not have expected. I thought it would be appropriate to talk a bit about that in this first update post by way of laying the foundation for the story of getNOMSblog. With any luck, that story will end up being a long and interesting one!
When Life Hands you Lemons
Before I was a blogger, I was a Service Manager at an IT company in Nashville, TN. I started at the company almost 12 years prior as a lowly Help Desk jockey. Answering phones and assisting people with password resets; rebooting their computer and getting their email to work properly; these made up my life at that point. A few thousand books and a bevy of technical and managerial certifications helped me work my way up. Eventually, I became the company’s brand new Service Manager; a vital role that would take charge of things like operational process improvement, establishing new tools and helping to create strategy that would keep the company right on the cutting edge.
It seemed to be going well; that is, until the day I was informed the company no longer needed a Service Manager. Severance package in hand, I was sent on my way into the cold, cruel world. Never one who pretends to understand the logic behind most corporate activities, I chalked this up to one of those mysterious things companies sometimes do to improve their bottom line and I started looking at my options.
I have a great resume. Seriously, I look fantastic on paper! The job that my resume had me set up for, though, just wasn’t where my heart was. Nearly 12 years at a desk, confined within a cubicle, that was situated in a jungle of cubicles had been enough. My sweet wife knew that too. She knew that I’ve always dreamed of owning my own food business; a food truck, restaurant… something that would allow me to feed people. You see, I love to cook, especially for others. That first night I was half way through my third online job application when she asked me to hit the pause button. She challenged me to take some time and really think about what I wanted to do.
To make a long story (full of my deliberation on the subject) short, she convinced me to open a small catering business. Just like that, we were new business owners. As I got this under way, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about opening my own business. Jumping into full research mode, I found that there’s a ton of information out there about starting your own small food business. The problem is that a lot of it is incomplete, disjointed, confusing and lacking in real world, practical experience. It was frustrating.
Finally muddling my way through the twists and turns of creating a business name, getting a license and all the rest, I was ready to start cooking. Except…. not really. Evidently, you have to advertise if you expect people to know about your business. I set about getting business cards, designing a flyer and a menu and telling people what I was doing. I also turned to the granddaddy of advertising; the internet.
Well, maybe the internet is not so much the granddaddy. Maybe it’s the crazy great uncle who always seems to have an answer for things, even if it’s not the right one. He’s always ready with an off color joke and if you spend too much time with him, you start to become a little weird yourself. Anyway, I started plugging away on social media and finally spun up a little corner of the web to call my own.
To Blog or Not to Blog
Every business nowadays has to have a website, so I set about creating one. This, at least, was something I knew how to do! So after setting up thepotstillgrill.com creating a menu, figuring out pricing and the million other things that goes along with such a venture, I decided I could also try blogging. It would be a way to advertise the business a little, a platform on which I could chronicle the trials and errors of my efforts, and an excuse to get back into writing; an old love of mine that I have neglected for too long. It’s not that I magically found more time on my hands after losing the career I had been working so hard for, but somehow I felt like I had more creative energy. It felt like I’d opened a new chapter in my life full of blank pages, and that I had gotten my hands on one of those really good pens; you know the kind that writes so well, you just want an excuse to draw with it or write something down? It was like that. And here I am, using that pen… figuratively speaking.
One of the first things you learn when you start researching what to blog about is that you need to find a niche. Since I was starting a catering business, food seemed obvious, but I wanted to expand on that. There are tons of great food blogs out there, but what did they lack that my experience, beliefs and passion may be able to provide? I started by figuring out why I wanted to write about food. I wrote down my thoughts and studied them to see if I could figure out what the common thread might be. Here are my actual notes from that day:
I know! My penmanship is awful. I didn’t jot these notes down with the intention of publishing a picture of them, but there they are anyway; a thought process in my flowing, third graderesque style of script. Don’t judge! They say people with bad hand writing tend be be very smart! Anyway, below is the typed version of it so you can actually read it.
Do you see what I saw in those ideas? A blog about people, their relationships with one another and the food that they share. I decided to write about the people who own restaurants and participate in food charities. It wouldn’t be complete without writing about those home cooks who rock out some NOMS for their family and friends. These people all have stories to tell, recipes to share and experience that we can all learn from. In addition to stories and recipes, I wanted to add a resources page to the getNOMSblog that may assist small business owners and bloggers to get started. That page will continue to grow as I discover new resources to post. On top of that, as the people I interview for the blog tell me about the resources they have found valuable, I will add those as well. In fact, if you’re reading this and you have that one book, blog or website that has helped you in your business, a food charity or as a home cook, I would love to hear about it. Please feel free to contact me with that information.
After I determined what to write about, I took a lot of steps to educate myself about the world of blogging. There are a lot of nuances, and I mean a lot! I’ll talk more about those in future blog updates. I’ll tell you what I learned, how I dealt with various problems and how to avoid some of my mistakes. It seems daunting. I’m facing a lot of potential growth and work, but it’s a cool challenge. Right now, I’m focused on creating content that people want to read, and on getting traffic to the blog.
For now, I’ll add a couple sections that I intend to include on every blog update going forward; a Traffic Report and Content Growth. I’m excited to learn more about creating additional traffic to the blog as I add content. There are a number of tools out there that a blogger can leverage to build traffic; social media, guest blogging, commenting on other blogs, shamelessly begging their friends and families to share their page… that sort of stuff. I’ll touch on these and more in upcoming blog updates.
October: 41 site views
November: 140 site views
Total Site Views: 181
Email Subscribers: 4
Total Blog Posts: 4
Total Blog Pages: 11
I have looked into and considered monetizing the blog, but I’m nowhere near ready. You may see some Amazon ads on the blog, and a few links in the Resources section. Those are mostly experimental. They live on those pages as the result of my tinkering and learning the process of adding them. If you would like to support me, however, and need any of the products that I’ve linked to my pages, please click through the link and buy them that way. If you purchase the product after clicking on it from my page, then I get a small commission for it. This is called affiliate marketing; something that I have a great deal to learn about! So more on that later. If, by chance, I do monetize the blog and actually start making money with it, I’ll post the steps I took on my monthly blog update posts.