As part of March’s focus on blogging and the great Blog Awesome Challenge, I’m going to write a short series of posts centered around how I became a food blogger. Today, we’ll take a look at how I found my niche, including the inspiration behind it.
Writing is something I do in my spare time, as freelance work for the most part. I have an English degree; however, I haven’t always been a writer. I didn’t grow up keeping a journal, or writing stories – and I tried desperately to pen a diary, without success. I wasn’t inspired, I guess, and inspiration is critical when you’re a writer.
During they day, I have a corporate job working for a large, nationally-known insurance company. Up until very recently, my day job involved a lot of driving – as in a two county territory with 37 different offices to visit on a rotating basis. I spent lots and lots of time in the car, which at first seems a little daunting. Friends
would say, “Oh my gosh! I can’t stand my hour commute, how can you stand all that driving every day??!!” I got used to it, and even learned to enjoy the driving. I became an avid listener of talk radio, primarily NPR and its daytime programming, which seemed to offer up some sort of daily theme that included food.
As I would drive each day, I’d find myself wanting to talk more about the food stories once they were done – the related topics, cooking in general, etc. My husband could only humor me for so long. Eating food? Yes. Talking about it all the time? Not so much.
I’ve always loved browsing through cookbooks, reading the recipes and looking at the great food photography (or wincing at the not so great photos). The “Food Network” captures me, and I miss the good ole days when there were actual cooking shows on during their prime-time schedule. My little town, the one that I moved to 10 years ago, is now somewhat of a “foodie mecca” in Maryland, with nationally known restaurants and gallons of charm to go with them.
I needed a place to get all this info out of my head, to share the recipes I’ve loved, and those that I wanted to experiment with. But I also enjoyed talking about food-related topics and didn’t want to relegate myself to “recipes only” writing. I wanted a place to talk about the bad shows on the “Food Network,” and the super cool things young farmers are doing these days.
It was late spring in 2010, and I decided that I needed to start a blog.
My experience with blogging up until 2010 was similar to a lot of what my friends were doing: I blogged about my kids so that family could keep up with them, how they were growing, and all the other cute (and not so cute) things they were getting into. The “real” bloggers I knew, as I’d call them, were mostly mom bloggers. They had fancy looking ads on their sidebars, and they wrote very cleverly about their kids’ escapades. Their photos looked professional, and they didn’t have that pesky word “Blogspot” as part of their web address.
Clearly, I had lots to learn.
I phoned one of my best friends and we talked for a long while about my blog idea. I had a name in mind – (a)Musing Mom – it’d been one that I held in my back pocket for a couple of years, I just was not sure when or where to use it. Through our brainstorming session, she helped me self-discover that even though I was a “mom,” I didn’t really fit into the mom blog category. You know, since I wanted to talk about food, being a mom blogger wasn’t my niche. And the name (a)Musing Mom…well, it didn’t fit, and as fate would have it, the URL wasn’t available either. Ha!
I quickly realized that being a foodie blogger was my niche. Food inspires me, and I bubbled over at the the thought of writing about it! As fate would have it, this time the URL was available and (a)Musing FOODIE was born.
Having a specific niche is liberating and inspiring. The main theme of my posts always centers around food in some form or fashion, which makes coming up with ideas fairly simple. My mantra “eat. read. cook. dine. write.” developed itself over the past couple of years as I tried to hone in on what it was I’d be writing about.
I get pitched almost weekly by various websites (for guest posts, product samples, etc.) and 9 times out of 10 the pitch is spot on, because it’s easy to understand my content. I don’t have brands coming to me asking that I write a review on the latest and greatest in pacifiers, for example.
Because of my niche, I was able to become a Featured Publisher with Foodbuzz.com which also has a foodie ad network and gives its publishers food-targeted opportunities to write sponsored blog posts, try new products (for free!) before anyone else, and other really fun events. Now I have those fancy ads on the side of my blog.
There are times I wish I could write about non-foodie stuff on (a)Musing Foodie – I mean, I’ve got a lot to say, and it’s not always food-related. Sometimes at general blogger conferences (meaning, those not solely devoted to food writers) I feel a little out of sorts – most attendees seem to be mom bloggers, or lifestyle bloggers.
But I’ve grown to love and enjoy being a little different than the rest. If there had to be downsides to having a niche, then I suppose those could be them. But, they’re not a great enough negative to ever regret picking one, and one that’s different than most of my peers. Heck, maybe I’ll just start another blog. I just need to be inspired and find the right next niche to dig into.
What inspires you and keeps your mind racing day-in and day-out? (Maybe this is what you should be blogging about!)
About Liza Hawkins
With her down-to-earth approach to food, and a dash or two of snark, Liza enjoys eating, reading, cooking, dining and writing on a daily basis. By day, she's an insurance professional, by night she gracefully (or not sometimes) barrels through life keeping up with her blog (a)Musing Foodie, other freelance writing jobs, non-profit work, Twitter and Facebook, her kids, her husband, and whatever else happens to fill her plate. Read her blog here: www.amusingfoodie.com