the just one question project: question two.

the just one question project: question 2.

“If I quit blogging, I’d probably be more successful in real life.”

- Rachael, aka Movita Beaucoup

I echo her sentiment in my heart, because, truth. And that’s what this question is all about, correct? How much time we spend blogging when we could totally be doing other things; things ranging from skydiving movie-going to hanging out at a park looking at trees. We could be catching up on housework, training for a marathon, or sleeping in. But no; we do this little thing called blogging for, and we spend a large amount of time on it, in most cases. But why? Because I’d be more successful at normal everyday things if I stopped blogging, too.

Or maybe I wouldn’t; I don’t know. I go back and forth with it. Certainly I’d have more free time, and probably I’d do more random things and my house would be more organized, but I think there’s truly something about making things and writing about our experiences as a community that makes “real life” that much better, if not a little more pressed for time. We almost write as a group at this point: I know about your days, you know about mine, and we make each other food. That’s pretty great. I get lots of inspiration from what I see reading blogs; inspiration that I wouldn’t see if I didn’t make it a point to get out there and explore the blog world. And not just food, either: I read all sorts of them, from fashion to DIY home (I’m a total secret home remodeler in my mind) to crafts and beyond. Inspiration is truly everywhere in life, but it’s a nice extra layer to add to the ideas I get walking around every day, and it’s not confined to a specific geographic area like it would be if I had to rely on what I see around me.

the just one question project: question 2.

Speaking of inspiration, many of us mentioned inspiration as being a factor in how long it takes us to create a post: 65% of us, in fact. It seems as though we all find it infinitely easier (and faster) to write a post when we’re feeling super inspired, either about a story we’re telling or about a recipe we’re sharing. Interestingly enough, some inspiration can actually lengthen the process: a few of you noted (and I would concur) that although posts which inspire us are quicker to put together, if we’re working on a post which is more personal than usual, it lengthens the creation time considerably. It happens to me, too: I’ve got a post rolling around in my head right now that’s a very personal one, and I know it’s going to take me forever to sit and write. For me, at least, it’s because I want to get it right for all of you: most of you don’t “know” me in person, so personal posts require a history you’re largely unaware of, and a life perspective you don’t know that much about. So I agree: personal posts, or serious ones, do take a considerable amount of time. Let’s look at the numbers:

the just one question project: question two.

Okay, so those numbers are tiny, but as you can see, there are distinct time frames we all seem to fall into. Many of us seem pretty happy in the 1 to 1 1/2-hour range for putting a post together, with the next spike in time falling in the 4 to 4 1/2-hour range; lots of us exist somewhere in the middle of those 2 time frames as well. We’ve got spikes again at the 8 and 10-hour marks, which indicates that although quite a few of us can throw a post together in a few hours, some of us take longer, and that’s okay. As for the days and days/ 1-2 million year time frames, I can say from experience that I fall into those categories sometimes as well. Some of us work sporadically, some of us get distracted by all things interwebs, some of us just like to think things through forever *raises hand* before laying hand to paper (or keyboard). I’ll readily admit that depending on the day, I fall into every single one of those time frames; it just depends on the post. Some of you broke out photography versus writing time, and for those of you who did, here’s an average of time spent on each, per post:

the just one question project: question two.

We spend quite a bit more time on the writing aspect of things than the photography bit, and I think that’s as it should be. My one exception to that is professional food photographers who also blog to get their work out there or as a hobby: they’re probably spending more time on the photos, obviously, so there’s more at stake on that end.

I think it’s interesting that no matter how long it takes us to create a post (and as you can see, the time spent varies wildly), we all can agree that we feel like we’re taking an embarrassingly long amount of time to do it. Why do we do this to ourselves? Who knows. Maybe because we all live in our own little bubbles and have somehow determined the “right” amount of time necessary to post something, but as the results indicate, there really is no “right” amount of time to spend on something except the time which works best for you.

Time for a little clinical psychology regarding our collective Photo Stressitosis:

You’ll see in the comments below that we all seem to have a real love/hate going with photography. I think we all love beautiful photos, but it does seem like some of us would rather poke our left eyes out with forks than deal with photos of food. Indeed, it seems to be a very acute source of aggravation for quite a few of us, and I can say as the objective party that I think all of our photos are beautiful, each in their own way. I think appreciating your own photography is equivalent to looking in the mirror and thinking you look fabulous: it takes acceptance and work. For the record, I appreciate and admire all of your photography skills, because you know what? They’re your signature. You could show me an array of photos from every one of you and I would probably know who each belonged to, and that’s the most important thing; you all have style, and although you may not see it, I guess you’ll just have to trust me. I hate my own photos most of the time too, if you really want to know, but i hate them less often now than years ago. I think they’re generally inferior, but I’ve come to realize that the are, above all else, me. And that’s okay.

A good amount of you noted the balance between your actual lives and your blog lives, and how that plays a role in posting length as well. Some of us have full-time jobs, kids, a combination of both, are trying to start our own businesses, etc. Frankly, it’s astounding that we make the effort we do to put out quality posts, because so many of us have other things to do, some of which we get paid for. We must really enjoy this, people, because the biggest lesson I learned from this question? We set aside what is most likely our own free time to do this. For free, at least in my case, and I know in many of yours as well. That is the very definition of dedication: dedication to writing, to photography, to sharing our lives, to preserving the art of cooking and baking from home. We need more of that in the world: people who really feel driven to do something, no matter how long it takes. And it makes me super proud to know all of you.

So Elizabeth (Eating Local in the Lou) mentioned in her response that she would really like to know what other bloggers do after the posting happens. Lucky for her, so do I, and I actually had a question ready to go regarding that, so I’ll make it the next one. Some of you touched on the “post-production,” if you will, and what you do once you’ve loaded a new post to your blogs. Most of us announce the link on Facebook and Twitter, and maybe pin it to one of our Pinterest boards, while others of us load our photos (in vain, let’s be honest) to food photography sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting. Still others of us are active on other food community-related websites, like Serious Eats and FoodBeast. I personally think that for every food site I know about which I could post to, there’s probably 50 I do not know about. So my question this round is:

What steps do you take after you load a post to your blog? Include things like sharing it on social media (please mention where), food community sites (Serious Eats, FoodBeast, etc) and food photography sites (Tastespotting, Foodgawker, Kitchen Artistry, etc) and any other places (for instance, some of my copycat recipes go to a website which specializes in compiling, you guessed it, copycat recipes). If you wouldn’t mind, share a little about which of those have been the best for your traffic and visibility, and which have maybe been a waste of time for you. Since some of you touched on it, I’d be interested also to know approximately how long it takes for you to do your “post-production,” if you’re being good and distributing your post info to all your normal outlets. 

So that’s a pretty straightforward question for everyone, and one that I hope is fun to answer. I think it’ll be a great way to share information with each other as far as what venues are out there to help get your blog out there in the world, and even more than that, which ones would work best for your own blogs. It’s the beginning of December, so I don’t want to run this too far into holiday plans later this month: let’s make answers to this one due back around the middle of the month, perhaps? Say maybe the 17th or so, with my usual grace period of “whenever, so long as it’s before I assemble the post.”

On to the answers! Last round, Monica (Playing with Flour) totally called me out on not truly answering the question myself, although I tried to intersperse it within the post itself. If you want my “official” answer to Question One, you’ll find it in the comments as a reply to her. This round, I’ll throw my answer in with all the rest of yours. At the bottom, which is my way.

Onward!

Amy, Elephant Eats

“Ok, well I’ll answer this the best I can but it’s definitely just an estimate. After I finish making a meal, I quickly take all of the picture frames, coasters and other crap off the side table that I use as my food photo background…it’s a pain to have to clear it off and then put everything back whenever I photograph something, but that’s what you have to do when you live in a little NYC apartment. Putting the food out and taking the photos takes me about 5 minutes max, since by this point Nate has gotten home and is hungry for the dinner that is now getting cold while I’m snapping away (which is fine since he’s a weirdo who can’t eat food if it’s too hot). Uploading the photos and editing them takes me about 30 min, mainly because I really need a new computer and the one that I have freezes every 3 seconds. I pretty much have the photo editing down to a science, and now that I use my awesome lights (http://www.amazon.com/Lowel-Digital-Imaging-Tabletop-Fluorescent/dp/B0009K50RO/ref=cm_cmu_pg_t) for the photos, I don’t need to adjust the white balance at all! If it’s a post where I’m including photos of people from an activity I did, it will take slightly longer since it’s hard to decide which photo to use.

Writing the post is the worst part as I never know what to say. Sometimes I start it while I’m at work if I’m feeling inspired and have nothing else to do (shhhhh!). This could take me anywhere from 10-20 min, and then adding in the photos (again with my incredibly slow computer), titling them, etc, takes me 20ish min- it would probably take closer to 10 if my computer didn’t keep freezing. I usually set the post to publish the next day so I can’t do my social media stuff right away- so everything up until here totals a little over an hour. After my post publishes, the tastespotting/foodgawker submissions plus posting to fb takes me no more than 20 min.

All in all, it’s really not too bad, but I get so easily distracted that this whole process sometimes gets dragged out much longer because I find something on the internet that catches my attention, etc.”

Kim, Cravings of a Lunatic:

“Cripes, I’m in blog hosting hell and forgot about everything but alcohol. Sorry girl. Can I still answer the other? Cripes I suck. Sorry. *swig*

Okay I have to break this down as I’ve never added it up, and now I’m scared. *swig*

  • Photo sessions – about an hour or less
  • Photo editing - about an hour or less
  • Writing – 2 minutes, kidding, *swig*, about two hours to write, edit and then obsess over details.
  • Grand total= 4 hours (shoot me now, should it take that long)

Don’t even get me started on social media time…is that the next question. *le sigh, swig*

Okay, wait, you’re going to edit this right?”

Nope.

Faygie, Life Tastes Good:

“Photography: I don’t usually spend TOO much time with the photography part of my post. I tend to keep my backgrounds pretty simple, and I generally don’t add a bunch of extras to the pictures, so setup is pretty quick. Sometimes I take just a few shots (especially if it’s something I made that I decided at the last minutes I’d want to post on my blog), other time I’ll take a lot of shots, but it usually doesn’t take me more than a few minutes. The only time it takes me longer is if the lighting isn’t great and I have to move the whole thing to another location, but that doesn’t happen very often since I’ve come to know where and when the best lighting is.

Photo editing: This is the part that is the most fun for me! I’ve never really paid much attention to how long this takes me. It really just depends on the quality of the photos that I’m editing. Sometimes the lighting is perfect, and the photograph comes out great, and the only things I will maybe do to it is crop the picture, and sometimes brighten the colors. Other times the photographs need more help—for example, if I shot them on a cloudy day and the pictures are a little dark, and then I need to play around with lightning the picture and fixing the colors. And then there are times that almost everything is off. In that case, if I really don’t feel like re-shooting (which I usually don’t), then I’ll edit the photo in a way so that it’s more on the “artistic” side, as if the weird lighting and colors and shadows were done on purpose. (FYI, I use ipiccy.com to edit my photos.)

Writing a post: This is, without a doubt, my least favorite part of blogging. I’m very introverted and shy in real life. I always have a million thoughts running through my head, but I’m not always good at expressing them. So sometimes I’ll sit on a post until I can figure out what the heck I’m going to write, aside from “this is good, you should make it”. But a while back, I reminded myself that this is my blog, and I don’t have to write a whole long post for every single recipe. I can do what I want! I even gave myself permission to just post the photographs and the recipe if I wanted to (although I’ve managed not to do that yet!). Once I figure out what to say, though, it doesn’t usually take me too long to write it up (despite the fact that I’m not a very fast typist!). Writing the actual recipe usually takes longer, since I want to double (and triple) check to make sure that there are no mistakes. (And then, of course, there are those Momofuku Milk Bar cake recipes that take almost as long to type out as they do to make…) Once I’m done with a post, I’ll either publish it right away or save it for another day, depending on when my last post was (I don’t like to post TOO close together–since I don’t always post very often, I try to spread them out a bit).

After I post: As soon as I publish a post I immediately hit Facebook and twitter to announce the new post. And sometime during the day I also pin in onto Pinterest (on my Life Tastes Good board).

I’ve definitely started spreading the work out, though, since I started blogging. I used to try to make a recipe, photograph it, edit the photos, write the post, and publish all in the same day (often with a toddler at my feet). Insanity! I’ve learned that if I spread it out it’s SO much more enjoyable. So now I’ll take the pictures either the same day or the day after I make the recipe. I’ll edit the photos in the evening or the following day. I’ll let the photos sit as long as I need to until inspiration for what to say hits (that very often happens late at night or early morning), and then I’ll type it up as I have a chance. Sometimes I’m able to write it all up, including the recipe, while my youngest naps in the afternoon. Other times I have to do it in bits and pieces as I have free time. But all in all I’d say that the average post is done over the matter of 2 to 3 days.”

Emma, of agates and madeleines:

“It takes me more time to assemble a blog post than it takes me to get my truck stuck and broken on a rutted muddy road, hitch a ride back to camp, find a capable logger with a beefier truck than mine, and succeed in being pulled to safety (one hour). However, it takes me less time to assemble a blog post than it takes me to develop a bruise each time I crash and burn on my mountain bike (six hours to two days). It takes me about the same amount of time that I spend bingeing on Gilmore Girls episodes before I start to feel guilty about my actions.

On average? 3-5 hours, if I’m feeling wordy, 2-3 if not.”

Monica, Playing with Flour:

“It’s hard to answer this question definitively because I’ve never kept track and because it varies quite a bit from post to post/recipe to recipe. Taking my best guess, I’d say it takes me – on average – roughly an hour and a half. It really depends but I try hard not to spend too much time on the parts I don’t enjoy very much. For me, that’s photography and styling. I probably spend a lot of time “researching” recipes but I enjoy that so I might be under-estimating the amount of time spent doing it. For now, I’ve opted to skip FB, twitter and a lot of social media because, as much fun as the blog is, it’s more of a recreational part of my life.”

Allison, Spontaneous Tomato:

“In two words: too long!

The real answer: Probably about 7-8 hours.

First I dream up a recipe (which could take minutes or months) and/or make something so many times that I start to add regular favorite tweaks to it, as I gradually make it my own. I’m not counting this time. Then I make the recipe for the blog (i.e., while photographing it). I’m not counting this time either, but I’ve noticed it takes me roughly twice (!) as long to cook something when I’m photographing it than when I’m not. (A true testament to my lack of photography know-how!) Since I try to take photos of my recipes from start to finish—whether or not the step-by-step photos actually see the light of day—my photography time and cooking time are intertwined, so it’s hard for me to estimate how long I spend on the photography itself. Let’s say at least an hour.

Typing up the recipe (using the cluttered, messy notes I’ve jotted down while cooking) probably takes 30 minutes to an hour. It’s often not until days later that I write the content of the blog post—a story about how that recipe has worked its way into my life recently, or an exposition of a certain dish or ingredient and all that I associate with it. This probably takes me two hours at minimum, partially because my perfectionist writing method—whether it’s my blog or my dissertation—could be described as 20% writing, 80% re-reading everything from the beginning and revising it over and over again. (I do NOT recommend this method.) Some posts have probably only taken me an hour to write, but others about more personal topics—like my caprese crepes post, remembering my grandfather—have taken much longer.

Editing photos is probably my least favorite part, and the most time-consuming. Luckily, it’s also the part that I could cut out or cut back on someday, if I ever got serious about learning how to improve my photography. Because photo-editing is so tedious, I often save it for evenings when I’m catching up on The Daily Show and Colbert Report; the multi-tasking makes it take even longer (maybe 2-3 hours per post), but it’s much more tolerable that way. I didn’t edit my photos at all when I first started blogging, but at some point my perfectionism took over, and now it won’t let me stop! (I’ve also adopted the horrible strategy of editing far more photos than I need before narrowing them down and choosing which to include—another method that I don’t recommend…)

Adding the photos into the blog post (and giving them alt text for search engines) takes about half an hour; other finalizing, like creating a printable recipe PDF and including images of related recipes takes another half hour. Posting and publicizing my recipes on Thursday mornings takes about 15 minutes, since I wait until each post is up to insert Pinterest buttons, then post it to Facebook and Pinterest. That’s the extent of my publicizing, aside from sites that pull new posts from my RSS feed automatically. I don’t feel I can justify taking even more time to format/submit photos for aggregator sites like Tastespotting; I’d rather spend that time replying to comments, reading other people’s food blogs, or working on my next post. (But I’m in awe of people who also take the time to promote their posts more after they’re up!)

As a guilt-ridden grad student who is only blogging as a hobby, the amount of time I spend on my blog can be frustrating because I imagined that as I got better at blogging, I’d get faster at doing it; but actually I’ve just added more steps to process as I’ve learned more about it, so I’m still spending just as much time on my blog as when I was a newbie, but creating nicer and more elaborate posts—it’s not a bad trade-off.”

Deb, East of Eden Cooking:

“I spend on average 8 hours assembling a food/recipe post with a short story and photos. I enjoy each and every part of the process but wish it didn’t take me so much time. I can spend more time, if get caught up in some aspect of the story. I have been known to remake a recipe so I can take another set of photos. I can let a post languish while I fret over the story. My workflow includes setting up the photo shoot, food styling, taking photos, reviewing the photos, photo editing, writing a story and the recipe, picking a quote, researching any links and the actual blog update. A food/recipe post with additional photos related to the post theme takes more time. I may travel to a site to take photos. Once home I begin to pick out the best photos to tell the food story. These two additional tasks can double the time spent on a longer post with more photos.”

Stacy, Every Little Thing:

“My blog has always featured recent recipes that I’ve made and eaten within the last week or so. I’ve tried scheduling posts ahead of time and using an editorial calendar but I lose inspiration that way. I want to blog about what I love right now, not the meal that I ate last month. Because of this, I don’t do a ton of prep work for each post.

Also, for better or worse, I don’t test recipes multiple times. If it works the first time, I blog it. If it doesn’t work the first time, I may or may not make it again, but I don’t blog it unless it works (or is such a failure that I can laugh about it!). I never claim to be a professional recipe writer in any way, shape, or form, and with working full-time, I simply don’t have time to test recipes multiple times!

First, I consider meal-planning for our household for the week as part of my blog research, so I’ll add an hour or so for that.

After cooking, it takes me about 15 minutes to photograph (in addition to any photos I took while cooking). I don’t use an elaborate set up and my pictures are on the simple side. I would like to use more props but I just don’t have the time to get it together so for now, simplicity wins! The rest of the tasks include:

  • Editing photos: 30-45 minutes
  • Recipe write-up: 30 minutes
  • Blog post write-up: 30 minutes
  • Social media once post is live: 15 minutes

I am very active on social media all the time, so the 15 minutes post-blog is simply to advertise that post immediately. I will plug it at other times as well of course, and will chat on twitter, post pics on Instagram (that update my Facebook page and Twitter as well), etc consistently throughout the week.”

Dana, Whisks & Words:

“The time I spend composing a blog post varies. I sort of relate it to when I was in college. When I was a freshman, I could wait until the night before to write a paper. At that point, it felt easy to read a few poems, look for some symbolism, write about it, and be done. But when I got further along in my degree, and especially when I got to graduate school, I needed more time. I was making real arguments, tying together sources that weren’t easily mapped out for me in a textbook, coming up with (I hope) original thought, and that needed more time, more care.

It’s like that with blogging too.

Some posts (most, actually), I can dash off in about an hour (which is usually my minimum time spent composing, editing, placing photos, tagging, categorizing, editing again, and doing a final scan for spelling errors and typos, for which my mom will email me immediately to point out my mistakes). But if I’m discussing anything that’s really personal to me, that communicates problems or complicated areas of life, anything more academic, anything pertaining to my opinions about an issue, I need more time. The Internet is perfectly suited to the kind of writing that seizes on a cultural moment with immediacy. We don’t want to wait to find out people’s opinions of Miley Cyrus or a political candidate – who has time to consider gray areas, or more than one viewpoint, or to empathize, or to parse through the ethical swampland of subjectivity? – but I think that a lot can be gained by sleeping on a post when it’s personal to you. For me, the more personal, the more I feel is at stake, the greater the risk, and the greater the need for reflection and time. So those posts take longer.”

Amrita, The Sweet Art:

“It takes me about an hour, or so. I’ve become quicker at photo editing since learning to adjust with my camera’s settings, so the writing is where a huge chunk of my time goes. It also depends on how much I’m writing or how important the topic is to me–I used to be rather hasty with my descriptions but now I spend more time reflecting on how I want to come across. And if my boyfriend is around, I can usually wrangle him into editing my work, since he’s quite an amazing writer and poet.

Of course, a small amount of time is devoted to resizing of photos and adding links–tedious, but important! And then ending with social media postings, which can be fun because you’re getting your work out there and connecting with other people who love and appreciate food as much as you do.”

Sarah, The Cook’s Life:

“How long does it take me to assemble a post? It most certainly varies. When it is all coming together – the photography gods are smiling, the sun is shining and all is good, I can sail through and photograph, type up the recipe, write the actual post and get it out there in an hour. If I struggle with any part of the process – it can stretch to several hours or days.

In my ideal world I would have a library of beautiful pictures waiting for me. I would have the recipes typed up ahead of time. And the words would flow when I was ready to write about any of the aforementioned pictures and recipes. In reality, I am sometimes fumbling with tripods and searching for words and inspiration while my self-imposed deadline is breathing down my neck.

I make it all sound arduous, but it isn’t, most of the time. When I am on the ball, I do have photos ready. And I have typed up the recipe soon after I perfected it. When I am ready to write the post, I have the recipe and the photos as reminders and writing prompts. Usually that does help the words to flow. Those are the posts that I enjoy assembling the most.

To break it down realistically:

  • Photography and food styling: 15-60 minutes
  • Recipe writing (typing, not development): 15-30 minutes
  • Post writing: 10-90 minutes
  • Actual posting: 15-30 minutes”

Willow, Will Cook For Friends:

“Oooh, this is a tough one! I suck at managing my time (or so I’ve found, since I started blogging — I used to think I was quite good at it!) and the time it takes me to assemble a blog post can vary quite a lot depending on, well… everything.

I would say that most of the time, photography and photo editing together take between 1-2 hours in total. Sometimes it’s a bit less, sometimes more (if I’m having a tough day, or the light isn’t good, or the food won’t behave itself…), but generally speaking, I think an hour or two is average. That includes setting up, styling, photographing, uploading the photos to my computer, editing, exporting, and uploading to the web.

The rest of my posts (the writing, and re-reading to make sure the recipe and everything is correct), is harder for me to pinpoint. My general routine is to sit down to write, type out anywhere between one word and one sentence, then get distracted by Facebook/Pinterest/twitter for the next hour. Then I return to my writing, and crank out the bulk of the post, before getting distracted again (Stumbleupon, anyone?). Then I come back to polish it up. Apparently I have the attention span of a fruit fly, so… should I count that as part of the time it takes? I don’t know. It also depends a lot on what I’m writing about, and how inspired I am. Like any writer, there are days where you just have this mental constipation. You try and you try, but nothing happens. Then other times, well… let’s just say things come more easily. (Forgive me for that metaphor, but it really is the best way to describe it.) If I’m feeling inspired, or writing something easy, I can have it done in as little as twenty minutes. If it’s something harder (more personal, longer, or contains a lot of research like some of my Feeding My Appetite For Knowledge posts), it can take all day. Not kidding, upwards of six or seven hours.

Lastly, I would say I spend anywhere between 25-45 minutes sharing the post on social media, or submitting it to photo sites. I don’t always do this right away, but I get around to it eventually. I also re-read the post, and inevitably find another 8-10 typos I somehow managed to miss in my proof-reading, and go back to fix them.

So, in total, I would say anywhere from a couple of hours (for my quickest posts), to around ten hours (for my really, really not quick posts). I guess that means an average of about 6 hours per post. Not including the shopping, cooking, recipe developing (sometimes I make a recipe a half-dozen times before it’s perfect, sometimes I nail it on the first try), etc.. It should also be noted that I post twice per week (or I try to, on Tuesdays and Fridays). I don’t know how some food bloggers can crank out posts every day, or every other day (especially when many of them have young children, or full-time day jobs… or both). I imagine they spend one epic day of cooking each week, and that spread across a few blog posts. I’m not so good at that type of planning ahead, and rarely have any posts waiting in the wings (most of my stuff gets published the moment I finish it). For me, it is more about the quality of the posts, rather than the quantity… when the quality begins to suffer, or I push myself to the point where I’m not enjoying the process anymore, that’s when I know I need to back off. That point is different for everyone, and to those bloggers out there who are more organized or productive than I, I commend you. And I want to know your secret, I really do. I am in awe.”

Rachael, Movita Beaucoup:

“It takes me 8-12 hours to bash out every blog post. My blog has become my portfolio in many ways – I’m trying to get better at cultivating and curating its content. If I quit blogging, I’d probably be more successful in real life. I take about 350 photos for every blog post – this is what happens when you try to teach yourself to do art. Next, I edit those photos, which takes forever, as I have to scroll through 346 useless photos to pick a few I can actually use. Sometimes I re-shoot – this usually involves tears. Once the photos are edited, I second guess myself, and edit again. Then I write up the recipe – I try to make it clear and easy to follow. Finally, I write the post. I doubt my readers come for the food – it’s so easy to find great recipes these days – I think they come for the stories. It’s a lot of pressure because people idolize me and stuff. I write. I walk away. I write again. I edit, edit, edit. (Telling people you almost pooped your pants has to be worded very carefully.) Once I hit publish, I share the post on my various social media channels. That way, my three regular readers are fairly likely find the post with minimal effort on their part. “

Mellissa, I Breathe…I’m Hungry…:

“This question is a little nerve-wracking to answer since there are so many people who participate in this project that I really respect. If I’m taking a lot longer than they are, I’ll feel like a loser because I’m too slow. If I’m taking a lot less time then they are then I am a loser because I’m obviously shirking and missing something important! Oy.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I’ll say that even though you’re not including the cooking/photography in your measurement, that can take from one to several hours depending on the recipe, styling, etc. Then the photo editing takes forever because I generally end up with 100 or more photos of any given recipe that I have to sift through and figure out which ones I like best (also which will work in square format for Foodgawker, Tastespotting, my featured image, etc. – and also which ones will allow room for the recipe title and be most pinnable, etc.) and then delete the junk. Then editing each in Photoshop to show it off to its best advantage (or salvage crappy shots if that’s all I’ve got), add the watermark and any text, etc. That part can all take up to two hours per post if I’m using 4 or 5 photos.

Once my photos are edited I will write the actual post which usually only takes 30 minutes or so unless I’m being really wordy or it’s a sponsored or review post with specific requirements. I then have to upload my recipe into the ziplist format, and calculate all of the nutrition information which takes awhile because for accuracy’s sake I look up each individual ingredient in Calorie King and then add everything up manually. Then I check my links, SEO, Tags, Categories, etc. and make any necessary edits.

After I hit publish, it takes me about another half hour or so to upload submissions to sites like Foodgawker, Tastespotting, etc. and share on Facebook, google+, Stumbleupon, etc.

So after all is said and done, not counting the cooking and photographing, I end up spending on average 3 – 4 hours per post with a few exceptions.

Can’t wait to see what everyone else does and hopefully learn a few things from the rest of you!!”

Jennie, The Messy Baker:

“On average, it takes me a total of 1-2 hours to assemble a post depending on how involved the recipe is and whether or not I’m doing a tutorial. I love to write, but I tend to write in spurts, so it takes me a little longer. For me, photography and editing take up a huge chunk of my time. I strive for photo perfection (whatever that is), so I spend a lot of time rearranging my composition and taking several shots from different angles. Perfecting your straight out of camera shots will lessen the amount of time you spend editing, and I’m all about saving some time. Sponsorship posts take the longest time to assemble. I spend a lot more time on them since I’m being paid by a company. I triple check my spelling, grammar, links, and recipe.”

Abbe, This Is How I Cook: 

“Here is a quick synopsis: The fastest I can do a post is about 3 hours. Usually it is about 4-6. This includes photo editing, writing, and hopefully having time to send out to photo site, which is a real pain in the butt. I hate busy work and usually my photos don’t make the cut. Photography can take me 15 minutes to a half hour which is why they probably never get accepted. My guess is photographers spend more time because they enjoy it. I don’t. I take a whole lot and hope I get lucky. Then I edit. this can take a while, too depending on if my computer is being nice to me. My computer is ancient.

The I write. I write spontaneously and sometimes it pours out and sometimes it doesn’t. The quick posts generally mean that I have made a decision to keep it quick and short. Then I preview and hopefully catch all my mistakes. I then post, check Feedburner, and submit. I’m probably missing a lot but that is it in a nutshell.

Blogging is not quick for me and I think the time it takes is vastly underestimated. I don’t know how folks post every day and have other jobs. Including being a mommy…And some post more than once a day but that to me is a nuisance, at least on the receiving end!”

Ashley, Hops:

“Here’s my process for producing a post:

  • make and photograph the food……..hugely variable amounts of time we’re not going to include in our calculations
  • put pictures onto my computer…….about 5 minutes
  • write text in Blogger’s composer…..about 20 minutes to 1 hour
  • add photos to text using Blogger’s composer……about 15 minutes
  • re-read the preview in Blogger…..about 5 minutes
  • add any relevant tags…..about 2 minutes
  • post it! (or schedule it to post)….about 1 minute

For a grand total of 1 hour and 28 minutes per post, on average.

But let me explain my process a bit more…

I put pictures onto my computer in a single camera dump. This occurs sporadically (sometimes once a week, sometimes every few months. oops.), and I have never edited my photos (oops again). If I did edit my photos, I would edit them as I put them onto my computer or before I started writing a post. And I would edit them minimally, hopefully only adding a few (5-10?) minutes to each post.

When writing a post, I usually write in a piecemeal fashion. I don’t have an idea of what to write before the recipe until I actually sit down to write. Sometimes it takes longer to brainstorm an idea (I want a related and entertaining story) than it does to write, especially when I change my mind about it (which happens quite often). Typically, I rewrite the pre-recipe section 2-3 times.

Sometimes it takes longer than 15 minutes to add photos into Blogger’s composer. It has a mind of its own and there are times I just can’t convince it to put a photo where I want it. I settle for an angry (on my part) compromise with Blogger, putting the photo close to where I want it but not necessarily in the size or arrangement I want.

Things I’d like to change about my process that would add time to producing a post:

  • Loading my photos each week or per recipe to my computer + minimally editing each photo when loaded to my computer….(maybe add 15 minutes per post)
  • Having a print feature for the recipe featured in each post….(depending on what print feature I use, this could entail retyping the recipe, maybe adding 10 minutes per post)
  • Including a link for each post in the recipe archive as it is published….(maybe adding 5 minutes per post if I actually remembered how to properly tinker with html in Blogger)

For me, writing is the biggest time variable and most time-consuming part of any post. I don’t expect this to ever change. But I also think it is one of the essential features of most blogs – it’s the writing that attracts you, makes an impression on you, and lures you back every time. While there are blogs reliant on photos or minimal writing (they’re gorgeous and I love them too!), I like reading and I want to write. After all, my blog is still a creative outlet for me, so I need to write to make it function as such.”

Katherine, Eggton:

“It takes me between 1 and 2 million years to prepare a blog post. I am super slow.

Photographing the food takes me 10 to 40 minutes. Same with editing. Typing the recipe into the blog post and editing it takes me about 30 minutes. The time-consuming part for me is figuring out what to write about. I like to tell stories in the post, and it usually takes me a week or two of honest on-and-off brain-storming to think of what to say. When I finally hit on something, I sit down at the computer and I spend an eternity agonizing over the first sentence or two. When I finally get past the first few sentences, I usually realize the idea was crap and I start the process over again. I repeat this routine, like, 12 times. Once in a blue moon it comes together and I hit publish. Other times I finally write a whole post and I delete it because I worry that it’s boring to other people.

I edit as I write–over and over and over and over again. I don’t do this intentionally, but I think I go back to the top of my post and read from the beginning practically every time I add a sentence. It’s a ridiculous way to do it, but it lets me see if what I’ve written flows from what I already have, or whether I want to change the sentence and go in a different direction.”

Elizabeth, Eating Local in the Lou:

“I cannot wait to hear what others have to say about the time it takes them. For me, the timing really just depends…sometimes the words just flow out of my head, other times I struggle for the right thing to say. Sometimes I can get the perfect photograph right away (or at least a pic that I am not embarrassed of). Id say in all most blog posts take about 3-4 hours total.

What I’m really interested in knowing from others is what they do after they published the post…for instance besides FB & twitter, where else do bloggers send their stuff. Maybe this will be one of your future questions.”

Maybe it will, Elizabeth: maybe it will.

Elizabeth, The Manhattan [food] Project:

“My estimated averages:

  • Photography: 1-2 hours at most (including editing). Admittedly, I’m pretty impatient here and want to eat the food, so I’ve been known to rush the photography a bit. The plan is to eventually get proper photo-editing software again once I upgrade my laptop, but until then I will do my processing on my camera and use the rudimentary options I currently have on my computer.
  • Writing: 1-2 hours when I’m on a tear or want to keep it short, 4-5 hours (or even longer) when I don’t have full inspiration and need to think about it for a while.

Inspiration is definitely a huge factor in determining time, because I’ve written out a really good post in an hour, tops, while others can take up to a whole day’s worth of time to get right. (And by day’s worth I mean a good eight hours, though not eight straight hours.) It also honestly depends on what work demands I have, because sometimes taking a break and writing a bit about something that isn’t work-related helps both my personal and professional writing, but other times I’m so mired in the one that pays the bills that I’ll let the personal side slide. I’m trying to be better about this, because I think when I do introduce more balance I’m a better all-around writer, but real world deadlines are hard to ignore.”

Shannon, A Periodic Table (me!):

My answer to this truly varies: the amount of time to create a post depends entirely on the individual post. For instance, that cranberry sorbet I did a few weeks back? No time. Why? Because bright red things are easy to photograph, even in winter light, and always dramatic against my bare-bones-style back ground you all have come to know and love. I admire all of you who set everything up so nicely and exactly, with plates and glassware and napkins, because seriously: it’s all I can do to rip a sheet of parchment to set my food on. I like it that way, though; for me, it takes the pressure off. That post also had a fairly short recipe and no real step-by-step directions, and the story for it was a no-brainer: it’s Thanksgiving, that’s a cranberry sorbet. Done. Most of my posts take longer: Big Momofuku cake tutorials take roughly an entire day or more (no kidding) to put together. Posts like this take an excessive amount of time, because it’s lots of copy/paste, links, text, graph-making, and thoughtfulness in terms of what points I want to pull out and talk about. Like Faygie, I’m a mom, so I don’t always have access to uninterrupted time, so I take her approach and sometimes spread posts out over several days. This isn’t solid working, but it’s making the thing, then photographing it at some point, then writing notes about my feelings, then actual writing, then photo editing (usually one of the last things I do), then publishing it. I usually post the link on Facebook, but I need to be more regular with posting it to Twitter and my Pinterest board. I need to work on posting it in more places, but we’ll talk about that in the upcoming installment.

To actually answer my own question, it varies. A really fast post can take total 45 minutes to 1 hour, where a more involved post can take upwards of 6 to 7 hours from start to finish. Inspiration is a huge factor for me as well: I can lay words out there like you wouldn’t believe when I’m feeling really inspired about something. If I’m having a non-inspiring day, I couldn’t write a paragraph about truffled french fries to save my life. Words do not flow from this body unless I am feeling it, friends. I’ll echo Stacy in saying that if I don’t write about something I made fairly soon after I make it, the inspiration is gone; not that I didn’t love the recipe, but rather than I feel a disconnect or distance from it at some point. I write in the moment: I actually do my best work while I am making food. As problematic as that sounds (crumbs in the keyboard is never good), I’ve learned to keep several small notepads on my cookbook shelf and keep one on the counter (with a working pen) as I make whatever it is I’m making. I suppose that’s a really dramatic, romantic way to write (it’s like I’m one with the food), but I do my best work that way.

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42 Comments on "the just one question project: question two."

  1. Deb says:

    Wow! What an insightful post! Putting a post together in an hour or two is a goal I find aspirational. (sighing) When I began blogging what I didn’t fully grasp is the interaction of the three main skills needed for food blogging: cooking/recipe, styling/photos and writing. Oh, and blog maintenance. I knew what it would take, but there is so much to learn. This is such an excellent series!

    • shannon says:

      Deb, don’t even get me started on blog maintenance, or all the extracurricular things which go along with blogging: there’s SO much more to it than a simple write-and-publish, i think. and i agree; i don’t know if any of us will ever STOP learning, because there’s always new things to take in, and to try, etc. crazy. And you don’t generally find any of that out until you’re already doing it, so i think we’re all just learning as we go along.

  2. Just as suspected, I suck. Also not a surprise, Kim B wins for funniest response. The one thing I did not see coming was that Rachel Dyer has amassed an entire three regular readers – no need to brag and make the rest of us feel bad about ourselves mkay? Now I have to go console myself with more bourbon because I’m pretty sure I only have two, and one of them is my mother…

    • shannon says:

      Safe zone, Mellissa: no one sucks here. not possible, since virtually EVERYONE said they sucked so it cancels it out, right?
      I know…Rachael’s BIG TIME. that’s like, 60% more readers than i have or something.

  3. Really interesting post today! Loved all the responses. I figure each post takes me about a day, not including cooking time. This includes thinking, planning, writing, photographing, coding the post, social media (at which I suck), and commenting on other blogs (which takes an amazing amount of time; it’s worth, it, though – I learn so much!). I’m a decent enough writer so that takes anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours to write a post (I’m lucky in that Mrs K R is a great editor, and edits everything I write – add an hour of her time).

    Photography used to take the most time, but it’s getting more reasonable. I’ve just started shooting tethered, so so I’m typically taking 50 to 80 pictures per post, down from 100 to 250. The biggest difference is I can see the framing (I crop to a square for the foodie photo sites; plus I’ve come to really like the aesthetics of square crops). In the past I’d take a dozen pictures or so, grab the SD card from my camera and run up two flights of steps to my office. Load the pictures, look at them, and curse. Run down two flights of steps, correct mistakes, etc etc.Now I can see each picture as I take it on a decent sized screen – makes a huge difference. Also cuts down on post production time – that used to take more time than photography (and photography always takes about an hour – but I enjoy playing with things). Now it’s about the same time, maybe a bit less (in part because as I shoot tethered, I begin to do some of the raw conversions, etc as I go).

    Anyway, didn’t mean to ramble – fun topic. Thanks.

    • shannon says:

      John, great comment! You just gave me so much to think about, especially in terms of photography. I enjoy the aesthetics of square cropping, also: it can be more challenging, but definitely gorgeous when it’s done correctly. It’s fun to hear how each one of us does our work, i think: we all have different ways which work for us, and we’ve all improved our workflow i imagine over the months or years to make it work for our own individual needs. I agree with what you said about blog commenting: totally worth it, and such a rewarding way to meet people and learn things, but it takes a good bit of time. I know if i ignore my blog reader for a few days, it fills up and i start to get terrified of the undertaking, but it’s always fun when i actually go to tackle it. Thanks for the comment, again!

  4. Dang, I’m really getting a kick out of this “just one little question project” and I am learning a lot from you all! If anything it’s making me realize there are other “neurotic” (of course by that I mean “normal”) bloggers out there just like me. Thanks Shannon for taking on my question about post-posting next. I can’t wait to hear what others do after they publish!

    • shannon says:

      That’s great to hear! And thank you for inspiring the question for next time: I have a great follow-up one to piggy-back on that one that applies to social media as well, so it was a great lead-in.

  5. I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in using simple blog setups and minimal editing. In looking at those professional bloggers’ sites, I feel as though they must spend hours editing to get photos just right for Pinterest. I just…can’t. I don’t have time nor space in my brain to learn any more about photo editing, so I’m sticking with a 5-minute edit in picmonkey and calling it a day!

    • shannon says:

      You’re totally not alone, Stacy; you’ve seen my own photos enough to know that not everyone goes through big setups for blog photos (mine couldn’t be less elaborate, truly.) :) I envy those who have the skills to make it look so effortless and who don’t spend tons of time for beautiful work.

  6. mimi says:

    now. I’m depressed.

    • shannon says:

      Now Mimi, don’t be depressed! Bottom line, i hope i got across that it takes some of us 1 hour, and it takes some of us 1 week. If you had any idea how far behind i am on writing a few of my own posts, you’d feel MUCH better. :) i think it comes and goes for everyone, but thank goodness there are no rules, and you’re not going to get kicked out of blogging if you take longer than you think you should. :) You’re good.

      • mimi says:

        Like someone said in the post – this is all self-inflicted. Nobody forces me to post as often as I do. There are no rules, thankfully! Great post. Were you a chemistry major?

        • shannon says:

          ha! no, actually, i was not a chemistry major, but i DID enjoy chemistry quite a bit, considering i was an english major. I actually was a teacher’s aid in chemistry my senior year. I like order. and experiments. and i think chemistry and charts and graphs are elegant. i think when you’re a writer and everything is so subjective, it’s nice to have something to counterbalance that. charts and graphs do that for me. :)

  7. Emma says:

    I for one love the time that I spend on my blog. It IS my hobby. I see a lot of people fretting over the time they spend on each post, or on certain aspects of the process – - yeah, sounds like tons of fun for you …..not?

    But it is the way I choose to spend my free time, so no obligations and no pressure, no stress.

    • shannon says:

      Emma, you bring up an excellent discussion point: i think it depends on how people “use” their blogs and also how much they enjoy stress. I’ll use myself as an example. I run no ads, i don’t do sponsored posts, i make no money at this. So it’s 100% my rules, and yet i still stress over some aspects of the process, including how often i post, occasionally suck-worthy photos, and quality of work. Why? because probably most of all, i enjoy challenging myself: it sounds like bad stress/agony when i talk about deadlines and keeping myself on a schedule, but it’s not: i thrive on it. I’m a professional procrastinator: right this second, i’m sitting on an actual REAL deadline imposed on my by an outside party, and let me tell you that i won’t finish up that piece until the 11th hour. Because there’s a part of me that loves being under the gun. So i think the stress *can* be fun, if that’s your personality.
      Another component is that it’s public: i’ll echo movita’s sentiment that she sees her blog as a portfolio of sorts: of her culinary prowess and of her writing chops. I see mine in much the same way, and it has served as a very real online resume, if you will, to those who have asked me to write for them. So i think, for me, that’s why i stress about it (although i feel like there’s a better word for it than stress, which sounds negative); because i want to make sure that i’m getting quality stuff out there. JUST IN CASE BON APPETIT CALLS. :)

      And not speaking for me, but for others, i know some people blog because of a combined love of it and as a way to make a living. so i suppose if you’re trying to make a regular-ish income, or you have lots of obligations to brand promotion, or do regular giveaways, or maybe just want someone to notice you enough to ask you to do a cookbook, i suppose that could create a good deal of (self-imposed, in a way) stress. Although that’s why i don’t do any of that, and i never will. #renegade :)

      you are always fabulous for making me think, Emma. thank you.

  8. Brianne says:

    These are all so interesting! And INSPIRATION. My brain is so fried from school that I’ve had so little inspiration this fall. So few creative things have come out of my kitchen. Add that to the ~4 hours I probably spend on a post and we have…one post a month since September. Gah!

    I really enjoyed reading these. It’s encouraging to learn how we’re all pushing ourselves to pursue this passion of ours!

    • shannon says:

      I feel for those who have brain-draining full time jobs or school: i never even thought to begin blogging until i was out of the 9-5 routine, mostly because i felt like that was the last thing i wanted to do once i finally got home. We all go through those “dark” times in our kitchens where there’s just nothing that strikes us, or everything we try ends up failing or falling short, etc. I hate those times, but i think all of us manage to get through them. I don’t know how you handle it, but i try to respect what the universe is telling me and close up my kitchen for a small amount of time. It helps cleanse the slate. :)

      I’m having fun reading everyone’s answers too; so much fun to sit on all the info all of you provide and really think about it! Good stuff. And i can’t thank everyone enough for their input.

  9. Sharon says:

    I’m still in the WYSIWG school of photography – minimal editing, and no props or styling. Im deeply envious of the glorious photos on other blogs (like many of your contributors), but have to let something go or there would actually not be a blog. Words, on the other hand, get all kinds of craft and attention. I figured out early on that I blog because I love to write and I don’t get to do it enough in my ordinary life. Food is a the heart of so many great stories and moments and emotions. If I can somehow find the words to capture this and record it, that makes me happy. At least for now.

    • shannon says:

      you know what, Sharon; there’s nothing wrong with that school of thought when it comes to photography. i feel for people who don’t enjoy it and spend lots of time on it, because it should be fun. i think my rule of thumb with photography is never try to force your photography into a certain style, b/c it’ll never work. a long time ago, when i first started this blog, i thought everyone had to “stage” photos, and that if i didn’t do it like everyone else, i was never going to make it. I tried, and my photos were GROSS. why? b/c that’s just not my natural style. when i let the whole idea of being like other people go, my photos got way better, because it was me, naturally.
      i think it’s great that you take the time to write because you love it and you don’t get to do that in “real” life: good for you! that’s dedication to a craft, and i dig that.

  10. I love this! It is so cathartic to me to read all these responses… to hear what other people enjoy or struggle with, or what takes the most time for them, definitely makes me feel a little less alone. I think Rachael made a great point about her blog being her portfolio — I think that plays a huge roll in how much time I spend on each post, too, because I know it’s completely public, and a representation of myself and my abilities.

    As for the photography, I knew there were a lot of us who don’t enjoy taking photos (I’m not going to sugar coat it, it can be a pain in the butt!), but I didn’t realize just how many. When I started blogging, I had already picked up photography as a hobby. I considered photography, writing, and cooking/baking to be my primary interests, so I already had a bit of camera experience under my belt. The challenge with blogging, for me, is to balance those things, because my creativity often leans more towards one than the others. Sometimes I’m focused on my writing, and becoming a better writer, so I spend more time and energy on that. Other times, I’ll go through a week, or a month, where I immerse myself in learning about photography, and playing with new ideas behind the camera, or new ways of styling or editing. I don’t always enjoy taking food photos, by any means — it is often a long and tedious process, in which I mutter curse words, change my set-up a dozen times, stand on chairs, break a sweat, and finally throw up my hands and say to hell with it — but even when it is most challenging (and most frustrating) I can step away and look at it as a learning experience. As Rachael said, she takes 350 photos per blog post, because that is what happens when you’re trying to teach yourself something… and to me, that’s what it’s all about. Learning. When I get in a rut, or am unhappy with some photos I worked really hard on, I look back to my early days of blogging and can see the incredible progress I’ve made, and how much I’ve learned. Not just in my photography, but everything. That’s part of what makes it fun.

    That said, I can certainly relate to not wanting to spend the time and energy on something as frustrating as all that. If you don’t enjoy it, there’s no reason to make it any harder than it needs to be — like you said, keeping it simple takes the pressure off. I thought I might be able to add to the discussion, though, by sharing what makes the photography fun for me. As much as I find it challenging, I also find it fascinating to learn about… and to be able to look back and see such clear evidence of my improvement is really rewarding. I also think it is incredibly cool, as you pointed out, that each of us (and just about every photographer out there) has their own unique style. While we were on vacation this last year, I routinely handed my camera off to my husband so he could get a shot of something that struck his eye, and I was constantly amazed that we could look at the same scene and see (and capture on the camera) such different images. It’s like a tiny glimpse into the way people view the world, and what is beautiful to them. I think that might be my favorite part.

    So, do I win the award for most rambling comment, yet? :P

    • Willow I agree so much with everything you said here! I too already enjoyed photography when I started the blog, but had never really tried food photography before. It was surprisingly HARD for me to make food look good in photos! It was SO frustrating for me initially. All of those foodgawker and tastespotting rejections drove me crazy!!! After working for hours on a setup that I thought would make it, only to get rejected time and again almost made me quit blogging. But like you I kept at it and seeing my progress over time was really rewarding. I studied other photos from people I admired, practiced with my camera in manual mode, and read every tutorial and book (plate to pixel was a huge help) I could get my hands on! I eventually started getting accepted regularly (still not always though) on the food sites, and all the hard work started paying off. It’s a constant learning process though and I still have a long way to go. I too love that we all have our own styles, and I hope that others who don’t enjoy the photography aspect of blogging yet will learn to enjoy it more over time. It’s worth investing the effort to improve, because people can’t taste or smell our food – they can only see it through our eyes and cameras. I think it goes back to what Shannon said earlier about what you are looking to get out of your blogging – if it’s a hobby and it’s mostly for you then keep it simple and don’t stress over the photos as you also said, but if you are looking to earn money doing it, then I think it’s important to work on your photography. Maybe a future question could be where most of our traffic comes from – for me it’s Pinterest, which is heavily photo driven, so it’s worth it to me to spend the extra time creating pin-worthy photos.

      I didn’t intend to go on and on – guess I’ll get 2nd prize for the most rambling! :)

      • shannon says:

        Mellissa, i love what you said here: everyone has a different way to get better at something, but it IS a constant learning process and practice ALWAYS makes better, even if it never makes perfect. And boy do i hope people don’t get bogged down in all that Tastespotting and Foodgawker BS: what a downer for me in the first few months of blogging to think that i was the only one who didn’t measure up (thanks, rejection notifications.) And i did: i just assumed everyone else was making the cut and i wasn’t. I learned as you did: googling info, playing with my camera’s manual settings (which sadly i had never taken the time to do, even though i’ve had my camera since 2006), and just noting in my brain when something turned out good, WHY it turned out good and what i did to make it that way. I still am learning: i breathe a sigh of relief when i make something vibrantly colored or textured because I KNOW i don’t have to work hard for it. :) when i make a white thing, or a very un-splashy thing, i know it’s time to buckle up and figure it out. Because i never know what i’m doing until i do it. :)

    • shannon says:

      No, Willow: i think by default that award ALWAYS goes to me. :) although there are some pretty awesome contenders out there for runner-up, you included.
      I’m really, truly thrilled that this is helping everyone; it’s for sure helping me, because photos have been an on-and-off struggle for me. photography was/is a hobby of mine as well, but i had never taken photos of food prior to starting the blog. I was thinking it would be easy; it isn’t. Because vanilla cookies may be delicious, but they’re white discs on film, period, and much less visually interesting than, say, a abstract shot of a run-down turn-of-the-century building. I think i’ve tried to learned what will make the shot or the food in it more interesting without props; like trying to determine how to make vanilla cookies be vanilla cookies, but amplified somehow, or from a different perspective that makes you look twice. It’s an ongoing struggle/challenge, but like you, i find it very rewarding, even if there is cursing and tears. :)
      it is truly amazing what handing off your camera will get you: mom and i share a camera when she’s here (because it’s easier than her lugging it up with her most of the time, or vice versa, me lugging mine down to see her), and you can tell just by flipping through the shots who took what at the end of each visit, even if it’s a shot of the same exact thing. Truly something to be said for having a “photographer’s eye.” When i attended the food conference this summer, i was lucky enough to get a spot in a hands-on photography workshop with one of my local photo idols, and one of the exercises was to all take our cameras (8 of us) and shoot the setup. every single one of us had a different approach and a different way of getting the shot, and each of the shots were very distinct. photography i think is probably one of the most personal things you can do? so unsurprising that we take it so seriously and put so much of ourselves into it.

  11. mimi says:

    fascinating! I completely understand. I was a geologist, actually, up until I had children. A fabulous science. I’ve read a lot of chef bios and many were engineers before they got into cooking!!!

    • shannon says:

      Geology is so awesome! What a cool career to have, just to have all that knowledge. I bet that was fun. :) I believe that about being something utterly different and orderly (like an engineer) prior to getting into cooking and baking: there’s some sort of random common thread that runs between those two seemingly different types of careers, i think.

  12. I feel like I just got TWENTY HOURS OF THERAPY FOR FREE! For zero dollars!

    I can’t tell you how much I love this project. I’m practically sitting here pointing at the screen and nodding, or chirping for joy at finding out that we’re having similar experiences. I take a long time to write, but I identified with so many things quicker bloggers said, too. I’ve always felt really buoyed up by a wonderful community of women, but never more so than right now. I want to say so much more but. . . I’m working on a post tonight! HOW A PROPOS, EH???

    • shannon says:

      i know, RIGHT! let’s all join hands and hug and make up some sort of ceremonious recitation! I feel so good right now too. I get to start my cathartic feelings early, as i read everyone’s incoming emails, so i’ve had a chance to really absorb everything all of you said. and i love it. It makes me really eager to write these posts.

      • Katherine and Shannon, I’m late to the party but man do I agree– this was free therapy for bloggers! (Katherine, I think the most therapeutic part of all for me was your last paragraph– about editing as you write, since I share that incredibly time-consuming habit.)

        Somehow I always imagine other people just sitting down to write perfectly-crafted hilarious or somber or informative blog posts every time; what a nice relief to hear that it takes others just as long to think of/write blog posts. (Well, even though I was one of the longer ones– but still below average if you factor in your 1 to 2 million years…)

        Shannon, since I sent you my answer, I’ve actually been realizing that I probably underestimated how long it takes me to do the WRITING part, because– like so many bloggers pointed out above– there is also soooo much thinking/brainstorming/waiting for inspiration to strike, which of course I forgot to include.

        • shannon says:

          You know, Allison, i thought the same at first, and even still sometimes: someone sits down in their perfectly-appointed office space or nook, stares out the window, and everything comes out in a rush. boom, done. And that’s just not how it happens in most cases. Now i’ll even admit to having days where it DOES happen that way, but most of the time, heck no.

          i think it depends on how everyone answered the question: it’s one of those things where i didn’t want to give too many specifics in the question so people could just let their thoughts flow. certainly the “think” time is almost impossible to estimate, at least speaking from my own experience: something could roll around in my head for weeks before i ever put it to paper.

  13. I’m sad now that I was too scared to answer this question! I’m pretty much lf Amy (quickly cleaning off the kitchen table top shoot a few pics) and half Faygie, introverted and constantly on the verge of posting only pics and a recipe.

    I seriously LOVE these posts, Shannon! It is so cool to see everyone else’s processes! It’s awesome to know I’m not alone in the world!! :)

    • shannon says:

      *folds arms, stares pointedly* I knew you would. although i’ll throw it out there that because we’ve talked in real life a bunch of times about it, chances are your answer would be similar to my own, so you can share my paragraphs. we’ll consider it a joint answer. *hugs* And you pulled from Amy and Faygie’s answers, so look at you: you totally answered the question!

      I like doing them: they’re long, but i never want anyone to feel bad for me for “having to put them together” because it’s not a “have to,” it’s a “want to.” i love it. I feel honored and lucky that all of you are actively participating. It’s so much fun. This morning wasn’t even going to be a “work morning” for me but i couldn’t help but come over here to see what everyone had written in the comments. I’m blessed to know you all.

  14. Monica says:

    When I look at this, I’m struck by what a massive job it must be to pull all this together. Gathering the info, compiling it, writing the intro (not to mention the graphs!) – kudos to Shannon and thank you! You’re amazing to put all this together to help others. And it is definitely interesting to see everyone’s answers and perspectives. Happy Holidays!

    • shannon says:

      Dang it! i should have saved my whole “don’t ever feel bad for me for these posts” speech for you, Monica! :) Seriously, it’s a distinct honor and privilege to let me into your worlds like this, and i would have NO POSTS to put together for this had you not all agreed to help me. They’re so lengthy because so many of you are willing to share you feelings on blogging, and that’s awesome. Happy Holidays to you as well, and thank you for being part of this.

  15. Shannon, you’re a genius for coming up with this series. I absolutely love hearing (reading) everyone’s thoughts and methods. Y’all are so funny! I love that everyone is so relaxed about telling their stories. It’s so nice to have real people telling real stories about how they go about things. See you for the next round, everyone!

    • shannon says:

      Not a genius, just maybe too tired of trying to figure out how everyone goes about this, and too embarrassed to ask. :) i love hearing everyone’s answers too: i always come away from it feeling super blessed i know all of you, and that’s – to me – the best thing about it. See you next round!

  16. Faygie says:

    For someone who has a hard time finding what to say I sure did give you a really long answer!

    It’s nice to see that even the bloggers who love the writing part don’t bang out a blog post in minutes. This series makes me realize how much we all have in common, even if it doesn’t seem that way from reading the individual blogs.

    • shannon says:

      Ha! But that’s totally okay, right? I loved your answer for how detailed and honest it was, and you had loads of good things in there to think about. You’re right: we all have a different approach, but we have lots in common as well. I love that.

  17. Finally finding the time to comment on this! I really love these posts. It’s so nice to see that everyone has an equally hard time finding the time and energy to blog, even if they like it. It definitely makes me feel beter about this whole blogging thing.
    I have to tell you though, what I find to be the hardest and most time-consuming part about blogging is reading and commenting on all the OTHER blogs. I know if I don’t read and comment then my audience will be greatly reduced. Plus I love seeing all the awesome recipes you guys come up with, but it’s like I can never catch up! Like right now i’m weeks behind :(

    • Amy, I have the same problem. Keeping up with everyone’s blogs takes a lot of time, and even though it’s something I enjoy (um, hello? Have you read your own blog lately?) I don’t always have the time to keep up… there are just too many good blogs to read all at once! I’ve actually started making a list of some of my favorite blogs (erm… the list gets bigger every day I remember someone, or discover someone new) and every week I try to go through and read a handful of them. I change up which ones I visit so that, overall, I manage to visit most of them pretty regularly. I know it sounds silly with all the e-readers and feeds out there, but having the list around has really helped. I guess I just get overwhelmed when I look at feedly or whatever and find that there are hundreds of new posts… but if it’s just a list of twenty (okay, thirty… okay, fourty…ish) bloggers, it doesn’t seem like such an impossible task.

    • shannon says:

      Isn’t it nice to know we all struggle and no one’s sitting in there airy, well-lit kitchens with a vintage typewriter just whipping out the posts? it makes me feel better, for SURE. Certainly everyone is entitled to their own set of rules based on what they enjoy with their own blogs, but it does feel good to know that we each have our own wee struggles.
      GIRL, AMEN. and it’s hard to say that in a good way to make it not sound like reading other blogs sucks, because it totally doesn’t, but the TIME it takes is quite something. I still have bloggers that i *mean* to comment on regularly that i haven’t gotten into the swing of yet, and it’s not for lack of loving them or reading their posts, either. To me, it’s like double-dutch: remember that? where you’re like, watching the ropes go, and trying to get in there and jump, but it’s like “hesitate…hesitate…hesitate…wait here i g…nope!…hesitate…” and i can’t get into the routine. New Years’ Resolution.

  18. Malou says:

    hmmm this post got me into thinking and realizing that yes, i’m not all alone about all the craziness of blogging brings about. this is my 4th year blogging and I’m at a point where in I don’t want my blog to be a stressor or be pressured about deadlines or the frequencies of publishing new posts. I haven’t blogged for 3 weeks it’s because i got busy with my fundraisers and all… and for the first time, it feels good. yes it feels good to be ‘free” from not minding that i haven’t blogged at all. the success of my fundraisers made me realize that yes there’s a “real” life out there. yes blogging is just a part of the whole pie… and yes i know how much i convince myself that it’s ok not to blog as regularly as i could, i have to admit, I LOVE BLOGGING and i will always blog. ALWAYS!
    Malou

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