The beginning of January always means lots of reflection and extra workouts for me (making up for all the ribbe and pinnekjøtt I ate with my in-laws – ha!). Lucky for you, dear readers, this always means we get to take a walk down memory lane and reflect on what I learned over the past 12 months.
What I Learned: Writing Recipes Doesn’t Suck
I’m going to let everyone in on a little blogging secret of mine, about 2 years ago, I really hated writing recipes. This is of course why, after 4 years of blogging, I had very few recipes on the blog which used to be over on Blogspot. Yeah I know – I said it. I really hated writing recipes, but I guess what I should say is that I hated recipe testing, making each recipe once each in US customary measurements and metric, then analyzing and writing down the results.
Doing all the hard work that makes food blogging a real food writing job used to give me the hee-bee-jee-bees. But, I made a pact with myself to do the hard work of recipe writing like a proper food writer for the last 3 month of 2013 as personal challenge, and to my surprise, it actually didn’t suck all that much.
Here are a few of the most viewed recipes in 2014:
Sidebar: If you haven’t gotten a copy of the print version of Thanks For the Food the cookbook, head over to Amazon and get one delivered to your door! If you live in Stavanger, Ostehuset has copies in all three locations.
What I Learned: Getting paid for blogging doesn’t mean selling out – it actually means working with people who respect what you do and more money for cool blogging projects
Somewhere along the way, I sort of got it in my head that bloggers that made money from blogging were icky and untruthful. I really did. I thought they were all snakeoil salesmen in disguise, hocking coupons and discount codes for unhealthy food products while they lined their pockets.
I had placed myself on the pedestal of “food blogging”, because I hadn’t decided to monetize my blog yet and because at the time, I could absolutely care less about page rankings, SEO, site design, user experience, social media and everything else related to the blog. I was just blogging for fun and was really happy to have something in my life that I enjoyed.
Then it sort of hit me (thank you CopyBlogger!), that I wasn’t writing enough about what you guys wanted to read, I was writing for myself and my own needs. Boo! Thinking about the quality of my writing and who I was really writing for lead me to understand that monetizing my blog could open up doors to help share Norwegian cuisine with a wider audience. So, I was swayed, to redesign this blog, place a few adverts on the site and really up my writing game. The emails I get and the site stats I see, tell me that you guys like all the changes over the last year and that no one seems to mind a few ads here and there!
What I Learned: Monetizing Isn’t About Being Creepy and It Isn’t All About Adverts
I also learned that monetizing this blog is about more than just placing adverts in sidebars and footers. Monetizing also meant things like writing an eCookbook, writing a print cookbook, writing/blogging for others about food-related and other topics, product testing, consultancy work and a few other ways to generate a bit of income.
Monetizing means using the knowledge I have gained in the last years running this blog (about social media, user experience, content marketing, all things related to Norway and etc.) as a means to support running this blog. I’m really pleased at how everything has turned out, and even more pleased that I found a way to monetize this blog which didn’t make my skin crawl. Or wasn’t creepy. At all.
What I Learned: Guest Blogging is a Great Way to Write about all aspects of Life in Norway
One of the best things I learned this year was that writing on other blogs can be a fun, non-smoozy way to network that gives me a chance to write about Norway-related topics other than just food. I’ve had a super duper time writing for Life in Norway and Norwegian American Weekly this past year as well as a few others. Here is a list of some of the best things I wrote in 2014:
What I Learned: Blogging Every Second of Every Trip We Take, Sort of Sucks
We travelled a bit this year, mostly to London. In January, we travelled to London and stayed in a new-to-us part of the city, Greenwich, and visited the Greenwich Market. We ate loads, bonded and spent lots of time offline. It was good and I only felt a slight bit of guilt not blogging/instagramming/tweeting every second of it.
We actually relaxed on this trip and during our summer holidays to (you guessed it) London in July. Although, I logged more of our July trip as we went along, it felt a lot less stressful and demanding than my trips have in the past. Travelling is really about getting away from it all, tuning out the noise that surrounds your everyday life and tuning into your travel buddy (especially when he is offering up Five Guys burgers for lunch!).
Moral of the story, just because you are a food blogger doesn’t mean you HAVE to blog everything you do on vacation. Or everything you eat. Or juicy burger you lust after.
What I Learned: Finding a Job in Norway is (Really) Tough
The news media in Norway likes to dwell on all of the obstacles facing international people in Norway instead of focusing on all of the internationals living successful lives here. Bummer, hun? Yeah, it is. They especially like to dwell on the number of folks looking for jobs here who have gotten really fed up – not the ones who got fed up and did something about it like startup businesses.
So in responsive to all of the negative publicity and heart wrenching reader emails I received in January, I decided to summarize all the tips I had for finding a job in Norway. My number one tip? Learn (a little bit of) Norwegian as you go along and find free or cheap hobbies you enjoy doing while you search. This will help show your future employer you’re serious about integrating into Norwegian society and help you maintain balance in your personal life while you search. Finding a full-time job in Norway is challenging for many newcomers, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel!