My blogging history

In just a few months time my blog will be celebrating it’s 5th birthday! Over the next few months you might find a few retrospective posts popping up and me getting a little bit nostalgic now and then… You’ve been warned! O and this is a fairly long post too.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Five years in blogging | insimoneskitchen.com

I’ve been blogging now for a little under 5 years. I didn’t start right at the beginning of the world of blogging but still, I’ve been around for a while. While there is a big difference in blogging between the US and Europe, it seems that the blogging bug has now fully hit the Netherlands as well. I am part of a Dutch foodblogger group on Facebook and the amount of food blogs that keep popping up is amazing really.
When I started 5 years ago I was one of the few here that had a blog and as of today there are only a few Dutch bloggers that blog in English. (I like my world to be a little bigger then our tiny country, even though there is something to be said for blogging in your mother language for sure)
And over the course of the last couple of weeks I’ve come to wonder why people start a foodblog? Why is it all of a sudden a big thing? Why do new blogs pop up on a daily basis? What is the reason it has gone from slightly weird to popular in the space of maybe a year or so?

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So that is my question to you; why did you start a foodblog (or other blog if you have one)?

When I started I seriously had no idea. I had heard about blogging before and had always found it intriguing. From the moment I could write I have been writing diaries and stories, so for me blogging almost felt like a natural extension from paper to digital. However, those first posts…. What do you write about when you don’t even know really what you want to share with the world? I had just started my own company and as a photographer it is crucial to be out and about… You have to have a presence on the Internet and social media or you might as well stop and find another job, so that was my reason for starting. I figured I could write about shoots I had done, making it some sort of online advertising for myself. Very quickly it turned out that was sooooo boring…. Remember that I started out doing portraits and weddings and product photography and part of the problem was that I couldn’t just go and post people’s pictures without their consent, so I ended up posting boring stuff. But then I discovered the world of foodblogs… What’s for lunch honey, Life’s a feast, Tartelette, Kayotic Kitchen… Those were a few of the very first foodblogs I came to know and I loved it…. Food, I could write about food!! The name of my blog changed from Junglefrog Daily Adventures to Junglefrog Cooking, I switched blogging platforms from typepad to WordPress and I started to write about my cooking adventures…

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And at first that was boring too. The pictures were horrible but overtime my skills grew in both the photography and the cooking part. I felt that the foodblogging community was a fantastic one; I made many new friends along the way, both digital as well as in real life. I went to blogging events like Foodblogger Connect and Plate to Page… Both in their own way were a total eye opener for me.
Like everyone else I also – at one point in time felt the need to explore my blog commercially… Heck there were bloggers out there, like Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen, who made a small fortune out of blogging, so why should I not do that too? I’m pretty sure that most of us had that thought at one point or another… But I also quickly found out that I those flashy ads on my blog are annoying, plus they only made me something like 20 bucks a month. Was that worth all the annoying popup stuff?
No. So when I had my blog being redesigned by Purr Design a year or so ago, I figured it was time to get rid of them.
Ads maybe make sense when you have a lot of visitors but I’ve never been a hugely popular blog. I get visitors (and I love you all!!) but the numbers are nowhere near my fellow Dutch blogger Kay.

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There has been a time too when it frustrated me to no end… What was I doing wrong? Why did I not have thousands of visitors a day?? Don’t we all have the obsessive stat checking period at one point or another? But the fact of the matter is that there are so many gorgeous blogs out there it is becoming harder and harder to be noticed and I’ve stopped worrying about it.

Essentially I blog because I love it. The ‘ pressure’ to post something new a couple of times a week makes me more creative, it makes me do stuff I wouldn’t normally have done, like make my own cheese or make steamed rice cakes. I’m also not afraid to show my failures as that’s what we all have. I also think it makes me a better photographer too. Shooting for a client is very different to shooting for my blog. I have full artistic freedom in both styling and plating and sometimes that results in pretty little surprises (and sometimes in horrible mistakes!)

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In terms of commercial exploitation; I’ve given up the hope of ever being a full time world famous
blogger who becomes a millionaire just by writing a little piece a few times a week. ๐Ÿ˜‰
I do cookbook reviews for which I – sometimes – get the book for free and I might do the occasional product review if it happens to be something I feel is relevant for me and my blog and I would travel the world to write about it, if someone would ever ask me… ( haha)

I do not accept guest posts (unless I ask the blogger myself), I do not accept link-exchanges and I don’t do flashy ads or stuff like that.

But then again I might just change my mind at some point in time as that is what we people do right? I’ve registered for the Blogher ad network so you might see a few ads here and there in the future. Who knows…. And that’s fine. Earning money with your blog is fine, but I don’t think it should be your driving force. It should not be the reason you start your blog right?

I’ve seen way too many blogs popup lately that just steal content from other blogs, plaster the blog full with ads and post 12 times a day… That creates traffic and therefore income but that is just a ridiculous way to do it…

So tell me; what is your reason to blog? Why do you keep at it, even when you might not have the traffic you would like to see? What is the magic ingredient that makes you a blogger?

Simone van den Berg

Food- and travelblogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Loves to taste good food the world over. She also loves to share travelstories, delicious recipes and ok, cat pictures too. She sometimes feels the need to get really healthy for a while, always mingled with periods of insanely delicious sweets and other decadent treats. Lives together with Tom and their two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer

38 comments

  1. And I for one an happy to have met on on this crazy food blogging road! Our friendship has developed so wonderfully and am thankful that we found each other. Like you I have learnt so much from blogging and it has been such an awesome door opener for you. I look forward to work with you one day!

  2. What a beautiful retrospective blog you have written. I started blogging to document what happened in my garden. Like a daiy to see when I can harvest fruits and vegetables. To remember that I have to sow the broadbeans in February. To pick that tasty recipe again. And recently to share my new hobby (taking foodpics). A blog grows and changes gradually …

  3. I thouroughly enjoyed reading this post. Like you, I’m a longtime blogger and I have given up the hope of becoming a world famous blogger… ๐Ÿ˜‰ I blog for my pleasure and try not to stress too much about it. And if something comes up my way, then that’s great!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. When I started blogging, a little over 3 years ago, I had no clear idea of what a blog was, I just wanted to write about food and share recipes. It was also a way of keeping in touch with friends from my home, Greece, since I have moved to the Netherlands at the time. I blog in both English and Greek and even though it’s difficult sometimes to find inspiration and keep at it, it’s part of my life. I love my little space in the enormous world of the internet.

    I love the work you do on your blog, Simone. You shouldbe proud of yourself, even if you are not what you’d call a famous blogger. Who cares about titles! You do a fantastic job and your readers appreciate it.
    Plus, you’re one of two blogs written by a Dutch that I follow. The other one is Kay. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • O haha… see that is good to know that you follow both Kay and myself… I’m honored! And thank you too for being such a loyal reader! Sometimes it is hard to find inspiration and sometimes the inspiration just can’t stop to come!

  5. When I started blogging (nearly nine – YES, NINE!) years ago, nobody knew what a blog was. There were few enough food blog worldwide that we practically all knew each other; there was no interest in us whatsoever from PR people or advertisers, so zero free stuff and zero financial opportunities; and as an added “bonus “, all your friends thought you were a weirdo who was obviously going to meet dangerous freaks online ๐Ÿ˜‰ I started blogging because I loved writing. Nine years later, I still do it because I love writing and now I also love food photography. There is something indescribably satisfying about creating something beautiful in your own kitchen and sharing it with the world after a day at a totally unrelated office job. Blogging has fulfilled creative impulses I did not even knew I had and I do not think I could stop now. I love the feedback from readers and I still get a thrill from seeing my words and pictures on the web. These days, I do get free trips and free meals for review, although I am still not running ads, and I count many bloggers among my real-life friends (you included!) – but the main reason I do it is still because I simply love it. Happy blogaversary!!

    • O thanks so much Jeanne! As a matter of fact; my friends (who all seem to be non-digital) still think I am a little weird for writing a blog and they think it is just weird that I am sharing all this information with ‘virtual’ strangers but I’m pretty sure that without blogging…. what would I do with all that spare time!?? (o well, read a book might be nice once in a while..lol)

  6. Great post Simone and congrats on your upcoming anniversary! When I get down about not having 1 million readers (;) ) I remind myself what a blog actually is. It is a diary, just that we decided to share it. So really, as you ladies already said. I write for me. Once day I want to write a book and thought it would be great to have a place that already logged alot of the life events. It is also a way for me to create my own cook book. All recipes I post I have tried and loved the result. If noone else comes, who cares, I go back regularly to my site to make dinner or a sweet treat ๐Ÿ™‚

    • God, imagine having a million readers… The pressure to perform would be enormous! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But yeah, I write because I love it and I love all you readers who come here and read my ramblings and are kind enough to comment. And even if you don’t comment I still love the fact that I have visitors on my little virtual space! And I use my own site almost daily to find recipes I once made! No idea what I would do without that!

  7. What an honest post. I started my blog just over two years ago because I loved writing and baking and wanted an outlet to try new bread recipes for. Since then I’ve met some wonderful other bloggers and fallen in love with photography too. It’s such a fantastic community to be part of and so amazing to have a record of my favourite recipes all in one place ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. This month marks three years for me. It was a friend that encouraged me to start a blog to catalog and proof recipes for a cookbook. As our daughters transition from our home to college and their own places, it has become an anchor for them, a place to reach for the familiar recipes of ‘home’. A few pennies come in from lesser obnoxious ads, but I blog because I love it. I love sharing good food with friends and family–when someone asks for a recipe I can give them the blog address and they can retrieve it as many times as they’d like. The blogging buddies I have come to know and love is icing on the cake. Each of these things keep me going at any given moment.
    I wish I were a photographer that likes to cook, or even a cook that likes photography. I LOVE to cook and though the photography has stretched me considerably and forced me to look at food differently, it still feels awkward and clumsy. Still trying to find the balance of both rather than pouring all my creative energy into a recipe and then scraping together enough reserves to stage, light, plate, and ‘get the shot’. Oh, and then we eat. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Simone, it is blogs like yours that have helped me grow, given me insight and inspiration through your photography and the way you experience food — Thank you. Happy Anniversary! And congratulations for knowing who you are and being content with where you are as you strive forward, that is no easy feat.

    • O thanks so much Judy. That means a lot… ๐Ÿ˜‰ And yes I can relate to the photography part even though I am a photographer that cooks and vice versa, but I also – at times – struggle with finding the patience to make a decent shot! (which you can clearly see if you browse through the blog..lol)

  9. Simone,

    I love your blog and I have been following you ever since I have found you. I adore the recipe and the fabulous photography!! Each post is a treat – Thanks for sharing !! All the best to you!

  10. FIve years! That’s quite awhile – congrats. I started a food blog as a hobby because I like to cook and eat, and read about cooking and eating! I have loads of dishes I’ve created myself and never wrote down the recipes, and found I was beginning to forget things I had made year earlier, so this is one way of recording recipes (it also makes it a lot easier to share recipes – when people ask for a recipe, I can just give them the appropriate URL). Plus in writing about specific dishes, it forces me to sort through all the pieces of miscellaneous information I might know that;s relevant to a particular dish, and put it into some sort of logical order. All of this remains true for why I blog today, but what’s a bigger driver now is part of what you said – it inspires/forces me to try new things that I might not otherwise have done. Second, I’ve discovered I really enjoy photographing food! My early photos were horrid. Most of my photos today are OK, but just OK: there’s still huge room for improvement.

    On another subject, I found your thoughts on ads quite interesting. I’ve thought about ads (who doesn’t?) and my traffic is decent enough I could make a bit of money, although nowhere near enough to compensate for the time I put into the blog. But that would turn it into a business, and I worry I’d start writing more about things that increase pageviews rather than what I want to write about. I like desserts and sweets and do write about them, for example, and they certainly draw traffic. But I’m really more interested in things like Belgian endive, for example, which isn’t popular at all! Like you, I may change my mind at some point, but I kinda hope not. Anyway, really enjoyable post – thank you..

    • You know some ads really don’t hurt to be honest. I just had the wrong ones on my blog and as soon as I opened a page they jumped at me, so I forgot to look at what matters. I also don’t really like blogs with a lot of flashy ads and since I was making really only that 20 bucks I figured why bother… On the other hand, if you choose the ads wisely and they don’t interfere with your gorgeous content then it doesn’t hurt to earn a bit on the side. It will never make up for time spend as you say but it might overtime help to buy a few ingredients here and there… ๐Ÿ˜‰
      O and I love Belgian Endive… Quite popular here! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Happy early blog birthday! What a beautiful collection of images! I completely agree with you about blogging for the love of it – your passion shines through :).

  12. Congrats on blogging nearly 5 yeras! That’s huge news! I only know you 1 or 2 years & really love your blog, your personality, your cool humour & great fantastic pitures too!
    I also am a big fan of your tips on photograhie etc! ๐Ÿ™‚ I also love your travelling posts a lot!,…Who wouldn’t ?????

    Keep on blogging, jst like yo do it daily! You rock, power woman! xxx

  13. Enjoyed the read. Recall we are the same age. ๐Ÿ™‚ August 2008 for me. I believe we have the same sensibility toward blogging… you are a better photographer, though! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I don’t do any advertising. I do have you on my favourite links page. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Other than that, I have the same resolve.
    Locally, there are a great deal of perks. Invited to all sorts of openings and media events. Those are fun. Still, my greatest focus is on cooking regional Alberta prairie food at home and in developing real relationships and conversations about food with my readers. There is just not enough of that happening. I continue to work at it.
    Also, the traveling and food I experience while away is an important part of my site as I do bring ideas back home to my kitchen.
    I think that is also why I enjoy reading you. You do the same.
    XO
    Valerie

  14. Congrats Simone on (almost) 5 years of blogging. I only start to follow your blog recently, but boy am I happy I did! Every single post inspires me! I started blogging a little over a year ago. My blog is about Italy because I wanted to share my love for this country with others. Must admit that this blogging world is fabulous. Now after a year I work an hour a day less, so I have a bit more time to cook once at home ๐Ÿ™‚ This made me re-discover my passion for cooking and photography and that’s why my blog’s changing as well after a year. Would love to become a good food photographer….And if my photographs change over the next year(s) as they did for you (as you wrote) I can only be VERY happy ๐Ÿ™‚ Ga zo door Simone! Ciao…

    • Thanks Letizia… Glad you found me and I sure love Italy too ( and since we’re planning another visit to Italy next year I might have to pick your brain a little for cool places to go to! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Congratulations Simone! Has it been 5 years already? Wow! I remember meeting you on Flickr all those years ago! Whilst I have never physically met you (I’m hoping one day!) I find that it’s you that makes this blog rock. Your natural, down to earth style and gorgeous pics also make up a part of that but every time I read a post I get a friendly, familiar vibe that brins a smile to my face! All the best and wishing you another 5 years! Cheers!

    • O thanks so much Peter! Yes, that’s true we ‘found’ each other on Flickr first. I hardly ever post anything on Flickr but I might have been on Flickr before I started blogging… Can’t really remember the order of things ( getting older I guess.. Haha) And we will meet one day!

  16. Simone I think you should take great pride in how you’ve grown over that five years. Your photography is very beautiful. I’m about to hit a ‘first’ anniversary. Such a long way to go. Such a lot to still learn. But even in those first 12 months I’ve made connections with people around the world that I would never have believed possible before. There are so many genuinely lovely people in the blogging world, that’s one of the things I enjoy most and often times most of that happens away from the blog in backroom emails ๐Ÿ™‚ When I started out I wouldn’t have listed ‘friendships’ as a possible outcome. It wouldn’t have occurred to me but what an unexpected gift it’s been. xx All the best for the next 5!

    • First anniversaries are very special too..:) And it’s true; I wouldn’t have thought I would get s many new friends through blogging either, that is one of the wonderful surprises that just happened!

  17. I’ve always loved your blog, Simone. Congratulations on such a wonderful milestone. I have often asked myself the same question – why did I start blogging? In some ways, I almost feel as though I had to! Writing was something I always did (though prior to the food blog the writing I did for money was analytic (ahem, boring) and the writing I did for fun was on a small personal blog), and cooking and creativity were passions that married well with the format. I’m glad it brought me to you; the work you publish here is always a source of inspiration, I want you to know!

  18. Simone, congratulations on the 5th anniversary of your blog, a wonderful blog with beautiful photographs. I have always admired food photography and it was when I was working on a food calendar for a charity with a friend a few year ago that I bought my first DLSR camera and discovered how much I loved styling and taking photographs of food! So next step was to start a blog and use this as a creative outlet for cooking and photography, learning as I go… the writing part I struggle with! My family and friends are not into blogs and cant really see the point, but happy to try out new recipes! Well they will just have to get used to me blogging into my nineties! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • O boy, won’t that be fun if we are all still blogging in our nineties?! My blog will be something like 50 years old…. Now that will be an anniversary to celebrate! Lol… We can all write about the new trend in old people’s homes… Haha. Not sure how popular that is gonna be but who knows what will happen over the next decades?

  19. Happy Anniversary, Simone! I am thrilled that I have been a part of your story, that I have met you, gotten to know you and become a friend! You never cease to amaze me: your stunning photos (I LOVE the top photo here of the roasted root vegetables), your stories, travels and amazing recipes! You inspire so many of us! Keep on going, baby, we are on this trip with you! XOXO

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