Thoughts on Blogging

I’m celebrating a birthday this month, my beloved turns 4 in the next few days. Actually, I think it has turned 4 already, but there were some really wacky first posts that I just had to hide from public view, well, let’s just say back then, the blog had an audience of ONE.

My husband.

So, you can imagine the kind of (ahem) writing that went on a blog that I named “Steamy Kitchen.”

eeeehhhh…YEAH. We’ll keep those posts private for now. I wouldn’t want to taint my angelic aura of innocence with that kind of writing out on the loose!

Four years. Four blog years is like 17 regular business years, especially since I’ve dedicated a big chunk of my time to being a pioneer in the turning this little blog that started with an audience of one to now having the reach of millions of people each month.

It’s not easy being a pioneer, to stand up and take an oath of teaching everything I’ve learned (the good and the bad) to bloggers who want to be the same. The oldest food blog that I know of is only 8 years old! So you can imagine at our blogging conference, we’re essentially peers teaching peers, which is fantastic. There’s no stronger community than one that teaches and learns from each other.

I love sharing what I’ve learned in the past 4 years. I love spending hours studying, experimenting, making connections on how I can take my expertise and past business experience and marry that with the blog.

I love what I do. All of it. Okay, not so much the doing business tax stuff…but pretty much everything else, from developing recipes, snapping shots of food to creating strategies to turn my hobby into a dream job and also being on a never ending journey to learn as much as I can.

I teach at blogging seminars because I love building and fostering community. I teach because it’s the right thing to do. I teach because I’m insanely talented in a very narrow area and I’m good at what I do. Outside of the kitchen, I’m a branding and business madwoman rock star.

But there’s a risk to teaching. It absolutely takes guts to stand up in front of other bloggers, have a very distinct point of view and throw out expert advice.

I put it all out there and when I speak, I get so amped and filled with passion that I’m giving 1,000% of myself. THERE IS SO MUCH TO SAY! SO MUCH TO SHARE! Even writing this post, I can feel my body shifting, I’m sitting up on the edge of this chair and every once in a while I’m finding my feet dancing on their own! I want to teach others what’s worked for me and what’s failed miserably for me in the blogging world! Learn from my (very expensive) mistakes!

And the moment I sit down after the last applause, I instantly transform into a student. Diane taught me how to go from using my dSLR on fully automatic to 100% manual control while we shared a margarita in Mexico (oh and that photo of me up there? she snapped that on our last trip to SF!). I’ve learned beauty from Diana. I’ve learned oodles of loveliness from Elise. Ree teaches me sisterhood. Making a difference from Fed Up with Lunch, friendship from Monica and Smith Bites, energy from Kamran Marla and Garrett, creativity from Diamonds For Dessert. Storytelling from Lucy and David. I’ve learned so much from my friends, peers and fellow bloggers.

I may not always agree with what they say, but I nudge aside those thoughts and pluck out the gems. Oh my, are those gems bright and wonderful!

being a gracious teacher and student.

That’s the first lesson in food blogging.

The second? It’s that we’re all different and that’s what makes the community so great. We all blog for different reasons, have diverse talents and will absolutely go in different directions.

Some blogs are an art of expression

Some tell stories through photos.

Some love to snark.

Some love cooking on fire.

And for some, it’s a dream business come true.

Whatever the reason, intention, focus or expertise….it’s all good. As Brooke from FoodWoolf has learned, Diversity is wonderful.

that’s what food blogging is all about.

For me, my passion lies in 2 different spectrums – I absolutely am deeply, madly in love with teaching people how to cook recipes that are well….”fast, fresh and simple enough for tonight’s dinner.” Whether online, in print on television or in a magazine, it’s what feeds my soul.

The other is in the back side of blogging – the inner workings of what what goes on behind the scenes of a food blog, behind the pretty food photos, inspiring posts and great recipes. What drives my insanely fast-working mind is the intersection of blogging and business. Helping others build their dream career in food, whether it’s scoring their first cookbook deal or a regular television gig.

I’m not an expert on writing or being able to express my voice in words – which is why you’ll never hear me teach about either one of these topics! I’m going to share with you something that only a handful of my very close friends know – I have difficulty reading long blocks of text (my mind jumbles all the words together) and writing (I use voice recognition software to write)

While I lack in those abilities, God and Buddha have blessed me with one major talent that I would never trade anything for. It’s the gift of “making rain,” and having abundance in my life. I’m not talking about money, but I’m talking about a deep quest for learning, absorbing, mastering skills, applying strategies and “making shit happen.”

Thank you all for your friendship, love and cheerleadership (yes, that’s a word)

Food Blog Seminars 2011

If you’re interested in learning more about blogging, I highly encourage you to attend a blogging seminar.

Techmunch Austin (March 11)
Food Blog Forum Orlando
(April 9)
Food Styling and Photography Workshop Los Angeles (April 9)
Camp Blogaway (April 29-May 1)
Eat Write Retreat! D.C. (May 20-22)
BlogHer Food Atlanta (May 20-21)
FitBloggin (May 20-21)
IACP in Austin (June 1-4) *I’m giving away a few passes
Evo 2011 in Park City, Utah (July 7-9)
Big Summer Potluck (July 29-31)
Food and Light Boulder, Colorado (August 2-3)
BlogHer 2011, San Diego (August 5-6)
Food Blogger Connect in London (August 12-14)
Food Blogger Camp (next event not announced yet)
International Food Blogger Conference (New Orleans August 26-28; Santa Monica November 11-13)

There are more! See current and past events over at Jenn Cuisine and Namely Marly.

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Comments 77

  1. Donna

    Cheers to you! Your love and passion is evident through with your blogging, recipes, and photos. My husband and I were happy to meet you at the Food Blog Forum Conference in Atlanta last year. You share freely and I admire your beautiful spirit that shines and inspires so many!

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  3. merry jennifer

    Happy four years to you, Jaden. I love that you’ve been so open with sharing your passion with us all. I’m looking forward to finally meeting you in April at FBF Orlando. It’s about time — I’m only 2 hours away from you. πŸ™‚

  4. Lindsay

    You and I were (unknowingly) in the same place at the same time. This week (tomorrow, actually) is L&OO’s 4th birthday as well! Didn’t plan ahead enough to actually do anything to celebrate, but you’re right in that it feels like a major accomplishment.

    Congrats, happy birthday, and here’s to many more years to come!

  5. Kalyn

    Very interesting post, and congrats on four years! (That has to be the equivalent of about 20 years in any other job!)

  6. Denise @ Creative Kitchen

    Congratulations on 4 years!! I know what you mean about early blog postings (and pictures πŸ˜‰ I have been debating hitting delete on a few myself πŸ˜‰

    I’m excited about FBF Orlando, and really hope I can make it happen!! I’ve only been at my food blog for a year and a half, and this would be my first blogging conference!! I really want to meet all the other Florida Food Bloggers! Thanks for setting this up!

  7. Gaby

    First – Happy 4th Birthday to you!!! Happy 4th Birthday to you! Happy 4th Birthday dear Jaden! Happy 4th Birthday to you!

    Second – love this post! You are truly and amazing teacher and so utterly giving with your knowledge and help. I’m blessed to have you as a mentor and appreciate everything you do for this kick ass community of ours! xoxo

  8. Casey

    Hi Jaden,

    Thank you so much for including Eat, Write, Retreat in your round-up. We have created an intensive, hands-on learning weekend with a focus on community building because as you’ve so eloquently pointed out, some of the most valuable lessons come to us when we are working side by side with our peers, sharing insight during late-night chats or over morning coffee. All that and so much more will be available at our event in Washington DC. Thanks for helping us spread the word!

    Casey Benedict

  9. Lys ~ Cooking In Stilettos

    Jaden – congrats on your blogiversary (or however one spells it *LOL*). I don’t think we thank you enough for always being there for all of us newbie(ish) food bloggers. You are an amazing teacher and thank you! You were one of my inspirations when I started Cooking In Stilettos and have kicked us all in the pants when needed. Hopefully I will see you all at a conference somewhere (tho of course FBF is in Orlando AFTER I moved from there *tear*). Again, many congrats and I’m looking forward to many more years of reading Steamy Kitchen!

  10. tea_austen

    Cheering you on for many more years to come. It was a lucky day for us, indeed, when you decided to make that steamy kitchen of yours public πŸ™‚

  11. Fran

    Happy Blogiversary! I’m sure it’s a satisfying milestone You were one of the very first blogs I started following and my interest has never waned.

    Mazel Tov!

  12. Cathy/ShowFoodChef

    WOW, what you have done in 4 years! I’ve been at it for 1 1/2 and I credited YOU as one of my inspirations in my first anniversary on my blog. When I first started I asked you a question online and you immediately responded as if I was the only person talking to you that day, you followed me back on twitter, and I soaked up your passion in the Blogger Forum in LA. Rock on, Rock Star – one of your biggest gifts is how you share your very bright light, nice refection on you πŸ˜€

  13. Ashley

    Such a great write-up. You are a rockstar. Your dedication to this community is inspiring. Continually sharing resources, encouraging others and teaching the invaluable lessons you have learned along the way.
    It’s amazing to see where this blogging world has gone in just a few short years. I started just over four years ago myself. I’m equally excited to see where it will go.
    Thanks for everything you do.

  14. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    Woot! Happy blogoversary! Love how you pointed out that the fact that all of our blogs are different and that’s what makes the food blogosphere so great. I certainly think so.

    Ahem, I’ll be at Blog Her Food in Atlanta. Would love to meet sometime!

  15. Nancy~The Wife of a Dairyman

    Congrats on 4 years Jaden! I’ve been blogging for just over a year and it has truly changed my life. Your blog was one of the first blogs I followed and love it. I hope you’re attending BlogHer11, I am and would love to meet you IRL πŸ™‚

  16. [email protected]

    A very happy birthday to you. What a beautiful and heart-felt post. What an honor to be part of this wonderful message. One that’s important to say and hear. Thank you. You’re an inspiration. Xoxox, B

  17. Kiran

    Congrats on all of your achievements Jaden! You are a great role model, inspiration and amazing food blogger that has a lot more to teach and more for me to learn πŸ™‚

  18. PatriciaW

    Congrats, Jaden. I’m not a food blogger. Books are more my thing, but I love to cook and try new recipes. I love not only that you provide new things for me to try but with all the gorgeous pictures, you make the recipes fun and approachable. Thank you.

  19. Jenn

    Jaden, this was such a lovely post. You really are an inspiration, congrats on four wonderful and exciting years!

  20. Delishhh

    GREAT POST! Loved reading every word of it. I am new (1 year) and still trying to figure things out. I would love to go to one of these events but at this time can’t. Would love to pick your brain for one hour over a margarita next time you are in Seattle, WA. . .my treat πŸ™‚

  21. JulieD

    Thank you so much for all that you do and all that you teach. You rock and you are a rockstar! Congratulations on four years!

  22. Mary at Deep South Dish

    Very cool post – and I LOVE LOVE your photo! Just beautiful.

    Jaden, you are one of the rare successful bloggers that I know of who shares more of herself than any of us really deserve to receive. I see quite a few of the larger bloggers who seem to hold tight to their success secrets, but you pretty much share it all. That shows that you have the true spirit of a teacher and you know that by elevating others, you only elevate and bring more into your own life. I’m just one of those itty bitty bloggers out there among the many, but I sure love you gal!

  23. Carole

    Congratulations, Jaden. You are an inspiration. Thank you for being so generous w/ your time, talent, and knowledge.


  24. elaine

    gosh…after blogging for a year, this is truly an accomplishment. Good for you Girl! I appreciated the times that you took your time to respond to my emails. I owe you much for the tip on the Iwatani gas burner… my wok life sucked before I bought that toy. I have read quite a few of your early blogs too. If you find any good meds for your occasional turret’s, please tell me about them! i have a similar affliction :D… Hope you blog on….and on…E

  25. michelle @ The Domestic Mama and The Village Cook

    Happy birthday, you are an inspiration~you are one of the few bloggers that IS approachable, and is willing to help out us little guys. Weather it’s a follow back on twitter, or a reply back in a comment…things like that matter. I love that about you, you aren’t too “famously out of reach”, you still have time for your fans,followers and readers. Ifully understand the extent of work the business takes, but to be able to maintain a successful blog/book/company AND still interact- it is an inspiration and an admiration from all of us that love you out here! Keep it up Jaden, I truly love that you are so involved and willing to share, and you truly care. It’s just awesome. πŸ™‚ hope to meet ya at FBF in Orlando. (Finally somewhere I can get to!) Thanks for being a part of that one, too!

  26. kms

    yay!! a huge congrats on the 4 years and always being such an inspiration. your generosity and good heart really shine through, jaden. xo!!

  27. Maribel

    I would love to be sitting up on the edge of my chair and find my feet dancing on their own. I love cooking and baking and sharing my experiences with others, but I am a terrible blogger. I hope to one day attend one of your engagements. You are very inspiring and funny!

  28. susan

    happy blog-aversary! what amazing things you have accomplished in just 4 short years! thanks for the lists of conferences. one that stands out for me is the one in DC in May. I am going to try and make that happen for myself! Thanks for sharing EVERYTHING! ps…how’s that ankle?! πŸ™‚

  29. Suzy (Foodie in Berlin)

    First off, Happy Birthday.
    And second, thanks for including some links. It’s always nice to find recommended blogs.

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