*The pictures above are of my top 10 most popular posts. Continue reading to find out which are the top 5.*
March is a big anniversary month for me. I rescued Samantha 10 years ago this month. I filed for divorce from my first husband 7 years ago. I also got my belly button pierced 7 years ago (it's not so much the fact that it's pierced that's important- I don't even wear a belly ring!- but the story behind that event holds a lot of importance to me). I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago this month. Chris and I moved into our current home 4 years ago in March. It's also 17 years after Notorious B.I.G. (or Biggie Smalls, as some of us knew him) passed away, if you're counting
(I always pour a little out for my homie.)(Not really.)(I love Tupac too, BTW.).
Today also marks the 2nd anniversary of Keepin' It Kind's first post. One month before that first post, I was sitting in a production office for the film Lovelace (I do locations coordination for film when I'm not living the glamorous lifestyle of a vegan food blogger), trying not to cry as I watched yet another farm factory horror video (I didn't want my coworkers to think that the vegan girl who brought her own lunches to work was any weirder than they already assumed). Some days in that job are very fast-paced and 8 to 10 hours is really not enough time to get everything done and some days are unbelievably slow. That day was a slow day and I'd already spent a couple hours on Pinterest (new to me at the time) and was now killing time by watching videos that had shown up in my Facebook feed. I suddenly felt like my life didn't have purpose. I was sitting there, doing nothing meaningful at all, while animals were being brutally tortured and murdered. I was not doing enough. Just being vegan didn't feel like enough. I felt like I needed to be doing something. Anything.
These thoughts began to ferment inside of me over the coming weeks, becoming more powerful and more overwhelming. Meanwhile, I had been finding my happy place in the kitchen. I'd always liked cooking but it wasn't until I became vegan that a new creative, passionate side of me had been released. Cooking was something I looked forward to every night. All week I would plan the big things I would attempt to cook over the weekend. One day, a couple weeks after the show had ended, I found myself at home with nothing to do and all of these feelings and passions swirling around inside of me. So without any knowledge of anything blog/tech/web-related, I bought a domain name (Little known fact: Keepin' It Kind was very nearly called "Blissful Kris" until I researched and found that Christy Morgan's blog was called "The Blissful Chef" and I thought it sounded too similar, "Kind Kris" sounded dumb, so did "Classy Kristy," "Keeping It Classy" was already taken, and so was "Keeping It Kind," so there was only one more obvious choice...). Then I set up a Typepad blog, quit it because it was too difficult, and then started a WordPress blog. The rest is history. Sort of.
Two years later, Chris and I are very proud of how far Keepin' It Kind has come. Chris's photography has improved immensely and I feel that my writing has become (somewhat) more focused and my recipes (somewhat) more polished. Our following has gone from just my childhood friend and a couple of my cousins to, well, way more than that. We've been featured in a lot of cool places and even got a book deal. We've met so many inspirational people and have created such an awesome little community here at the blog (seriously- all of you totally rock. Hard.). The blog has turned from a whirlwind idea to something I'm excited about everyday when I wake up.
We've also learned a ton of things along the way. We've got some more specific posts planned for the future with resources, tips, and how-to's in the world of food blogging, but today I want to share a few basic things I've learned about blogging during this time (and I bet I still have a lot more to learn).
TOP 5 THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM BLOGGING
5. There's 2 kinds of writing: Writing for yourself and writing for your readers. Finding the balance of both is where you'll find success. When I go online, I'm usually looking for something specific and I love finding resources that answer my questions. But I also love personal stories and learning more about who the writer behind the post really is. I think the key is to provide useful information to your readers (in my case, recipes that they'll like along with helpful vegan tips) while also engaging with them. Even if your blog is just a journal, I'll read along if you're funny, or have some sort of inspirational thought, clever tip, or revelation about something you've learned. I love hearing the round-about way a blogger came up with a recipe or even just stories from their life that are somehow remotely linked (or sometimes not) to the recipe being shared. After reading those, I've not only discovered a new recipe or idea, but I've been entertained as well. And once I feel like I know you a bit, I'm more likely to check in with you again (and again and again).
4. Be mindful of the energy you share as well as the energy you take in. Energy is contagious and the energy you choose to have in your life is the energy you will share with others. The name of this blog is Keepin' It Kind so it probably comes without surprise that I try to keep things pretty positive over here. I try to not to even use words like "hate," "anger," "evil," or any other negative wording in my posts because the second I write it, the second you read it, we ingest the idea of hate or anger and even if just for a second, it affects our energy. It's just like when you read the comments on YouTube or Facebook. Even if you don't participate in the argument, just reading someone's negativity brings you down a bit (or at least it does for me). The same goes for reading blogs or articles- when the author is negative, aggressive, or abrasive in any way, I'm less likely to read the whole post. There's always a nice way to get your point across. Always.
The second part of this concept has to do with the energy you take in. There are rare times when I get a not-so-pleasant comment or email and if it even for a second ruffles my feathers, I delete it. I don't let that person's bad vibes affect me. There are situations in blogging that are not the most fun to deal with, like when another blog steals your material and uses it as their own. It happens. When I come across this sort of situation, I will send a polite yet assertive email reminding them of polite blogging etiquette and copyright laws. I've never had a person refuse or argue with me and it's always resolved peacefully (though I know I'm lucky in this respect). I don't ever berate other bloggers and I don't go looking for trouble. Any decision made in anger never turns out well. Plus, I don't like having that "Grrrrr" feeling inside of me and I choose not to invite it there.
3. Building your blog is like building a fire. The more wood you add to the fire, the bigger the flame will burn. It takes time to build your blog (Lord knows I'm still building mine!)- it does not happen overnight! The more posts you write, the more opportunities readers will have to visit your site. The more you add, the more portals you create for people to visit your blog. The bigger your fire will burn.
Quality content also comes in to play here. A post with a poor recipe or bad writing or photography (I'm guilty of all 3. Please don't look at my earliest posts!) is like throwing a piece of paper into the fire. It burns up quickly and after the initial flare, no one cares. Construct a good, quality post with a kicking recipe, engaging writing, and pretty photos (thank you, Chris!!!), it's like throwing a huge log into the fire. It will burn for a long, long time.
2. It's okay to not care for your blog sometimes (AKA Blogger Burn-Out). Ok, maybe you don't dislike your blog, but you're sick and tired of looking at your stats, trying to be witty on social media, and coming up with interesting things to write about, and all you've been cooking recently is actually not cooking but take-out. It's okay to take a step back sometimes. Your readers will not all spontaneously combust if you don't post anything for a week or so. At least I hope not because I'm planning on not looking at this computer for about a week once this book is done... Anywho, like I said, it's okay to take a break. You'll come back more refreshed and passionate about the blog and your readers will appreciate it.
1. Your readers are everything. Except when they're not so nice, but then again, you don't want readers like that anyway and that's a whole other topic for discussion. Responding to all of their comments is paramount. If you can't respond, that's okay, but I feel that it's important to let your readers know that you hear them. And this is coming from someone who has barely responded to any comments in the last 8 months. I miss having the time to talk to each of you individually and I love engaging with you when I can. I do appreciate each and every one of you , though, and I do read your comments and emails and I still get giddy with each one. My readers are absolutely the best thing about blogging and without you, this blog wouldn't be what it is. Thank you for making it an awesome 2 years.
Now, as I bid you adieu, let's close with a montage of the 5 most popular posts in Keepin' It Kind's history, set to the 90's hip-hop classic, Big Poppa* (Just hit play, wait for the ad to end, and then come back and scroll through the pics below. I'm not tech-savvy enough to put together a whole slideshow for you or anything).
5 MOST POPULAR KEEPIN' IT KIND HISTORY
*This song has nothing to do with the pictures/posts but a montage seemed appropriate and also, Notorious B.I.G. representin'!