Recently, I revived (and redesigned) my Hey, Adam Roberts blog, the blog I created when, two years ago, I got my first job as a TV writer and decided to throw in the towel as a food blogger. I wrote a post called “Blogging in 2017,” linked to it on Facebook, and suddenly got this huge gush of support from readers who’d been crouching in the dark, waiting for just such a dispatch. Turns out, people missed my blogging voice. That was very nice to hear. I resolved to keep blogging on Hey, Adam Roberts.
The next post I was going to write was, in fact, a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro soup. I was all set to type it up and everything and then I remembered something: I have a food blog. A blog that I created (back in 2004!) to share just such recipes and cooking experiences and all other things related to food. Why would I put a recipe for Pappa al Pomodoro soup on a not-food blog? That wouldn’t make any sense!
For as long as I’ve been a food blogger (more than a decade), I’ve been an open book; sharing major life events as they’ve happened–moving to California, getting engaged–and pretty much treating you, my faithful audience, like a close friend I could trust. Then, sometime around October, something happened that I didn’t feel comfortable putting out there because I didn’t understand what was happening while it was happening and now that it’s happened I still haven’t quite processed it. To make it brief, food blogging as a career (at least for me, but others too) became impossible.
Dear Me of Ten Years Ago,
Let’s see if I can remember the moment. You’re in your room of the apartment you share in Atlanta, Georgia with your friend Lauren, avoiding the stack of law school homework on your desk, and trying out potential blog names on Typepad. A week earlier, you posted a question on Ask Metafilter: “How do I become an internet phenomenon?” You asked that question in a manner that was both tongue-in-cheek and sincere. In a few months you’ll graduate law school, and then what? A career as a lawyer? Litigating toxic torts for the law firm where you spent your previous summer in L.A.? The folks on Ask Metafilter offer advice, but this nugget from Aaorn stands out: “Having a single, narrowly-focused topic (assuming it’s an interesting single topic) will draw people more consistantly than a hodgepodge of random things that interest you.” Until you read that, you considered just doing an Adam Roberts blog with bits about musicals and books and the occasional recipe; but, really thinking it over, you realize that food–a subject that’s fascinated you ever since, two years earlier, you started watching Sara Moulton and Mario Batali on the Food Network–is something you’d enjoy blogging about on a regular basis. You type the words “amateur gourmet” into the HTML box and hit publish. A few minutes later, you write your first post–“The Birth of An Amateur Icon”–and send it out into the ether. You then frantically wait for your first comment. It comes from your friend Josh who, along with his wife Katy, urged you start the blog in the first place. Katy, I’d soon learn, would be my first troll, with comments like: “OMG!!!! You are HILARIOUZZZ!!! Are you singel seriously because I LOVE GUYZ WHO ARE FUNNY AND ALOS I LOVE FOOD!!!!”
Nine years ago I wrote this and my life changed. Thank you all for continuing to make this blog a place where I can share recipes, tell emotional stories, make cartoons about trips to fancy restaurants, write songs, reenact the fall of Saigon from “Miss Saigon” with eggs in my microwave and procure advice about where to eat when I travel. Without you there to cheer me on, I’m not sure how far I would’ve gotten. So thanks for making these nine years so much fun…you’ve allowed me to support myself doing something that I love. This is your celebration too.
It’s been seven years exactly since I wrote my very first post on this blog. Usually, when an anniversary comes along, I use the opportunity to share my favorite posts from the archives. But this time I’d like to turn the tables…I’d like to learn all about you nice people who read this blog everyday. So, in the comments, tell me: What’s your name? Where are you from? What did you have for breakfast? How long have you been reading The A.G.? Do you remember how you found it? What’s been your favorite post? What’s something you’d like me to blog about over the next seven years?
Thanks for being such loyal, dedicated readers. If it weren’t for your reading/commenting, I wouldn’t have made it this far. Here’s to another seven!
On February 5th, 2004, I wrote my first Tweet. This was before Twitter, so it wasn’t an actual Tweet, but it may as well have been: I’d just gotten the news that CNN was coming over to my apartment to do a segment about my Janet Jackson Breast Cupcakes. I wrote a post called BREAKING NEWS!!! that said: “CNN IS COMING OVER TOMORROW TO DO A STORY ON MY JANET JACKSON BREAST CUPCAKES! THIS IS NOT A JOKE! I REPEAT, CNN IS COMING OVER TOMORROW! THE STORY WILL AIR MONDAY NIGHT!”
Granted, this was 32 characters too long to be an actual Tweet, but the spirit of it was certainly Twitteresque. In fact, the spirit of my blog, in general, before Twitter was so Twitter-like that now that Twitter’s here, it’s hard to know what’s blogworthy and what best belongs on Twitter.
I received a touching e-mail this weekend from a reader who finds herself in the same situation I was in three and a half years ago: namely, she’s a third year law student, she hates the law, and she wants to be a writer. She’s just started a food blog and wants to know how to make it popular. “How did you become so widely read?” she asked.
I told her I would answer the question on the blog, and it’ll probably echo many of the points I’ve made previously in this post and this one. But it’s always good to re-explore a subject, and especially after this weekend’s coverage in The Wall Street Journal, it’s as good a time as any to offer advice. And so, without further ado, here’s my take on how to make your food blog popular.