All the Sweetness is turning one... I can hardly believe it! I created this platform to encourage myself to bake regularly and to journal my experiences. Throughout this journey, this hobby filled a creative void in my life and has taught me tremendously. In honor of this first anniversary, I wanted to share with you eight lessons that I have learned about blogging in the last year:
1. It takes some trial and error to find your voice.
Something on which I am still working on. I initially wanted to journal my baking experiments only – hence the name All the Sweetness, but I quickly realized that I didn’t want to restrict myself to food. In fact, I have some new ideas in mind that I will experiment with in the upcoming months. The tone of voice of this platform will remain the same: positive, honest and real. Plus, it will remain visually minimalist and un-perfect.
2. Photography is a technical art.
As much as I love curated content, photography demands proper skills. Understanding a camera on its own is technical. Then comes in composition, lighting and editing. I’ve also learned that shooting in the winter requires some planning. Due to shorter daylight, I can only take pictures in the daytime, which limits me to the weekends because of my day job. I never practiced photography before this blog and I have much to learn. I also made a conscious decision to publish pictures coming from my camera and my phone. I can’t always carry a camera with me to take perfect pictures, and the good stuff ie. the real-life moments, happens spontaneously.
3. It’s a lot of work!
The amount of work behind some articles is unimaginable; there are many steps from the creative idea to the publication. Some posts require a few hours whilst others 8-10 hours, spread out over several days. Food posts are the easiest and fastest to write but the longest to prepare with the baking process and the photoshoot. Writing a blog is truly a choice; it demands time, dedication and passion to follow-through. As crazy as it might sound, one post per week is a big achievement with a full-time job, social activities and ongoing hobbies in parallel. Just ask B about the countless nights I went to bed late to finish an article...
4. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation is your BFF.
English isn’t my mother-tongue language and I am not the best writer. Language arts have never been my strength so copywriting is a cerebral exercise and takes me some time, but I am willing to make an effort. Also, the culinary vocabulary is very specific and technical. I am heavily relying on this grammar book and the dictionary to make it less painful for you to read (not sure if I am succeeding). Eventually, I would like to join an English writing class to improve myself.
5. Food is a specialty.
I am a food marketeer so I am familiar with the industry from a business and strategic lens… not from the creative production lens! My job is intellectual and sadly, not manual. A few things that I’ve discovered:
- You need to test and work with the ingredients. Sourcing the raw ingredients is challenging in a country like the Netherlands, where the baking shelf is limited.
- Planning and mise en place are key. Some recipes need rest time and must be shot over 2-3 days.
- You need to understand the metric and imperial systems to read recipes. American recipes are less precise and prone to failures. Luckily, I’ve always liked mathematics.
- Good kitchenware and equipment will make your life easier.
- A large oven saves you time! My oven is a tiny combi-oven (it can’t even fit two trays), the worst oven for a baker but I’ve learned to work with it.
- It’s difficult to avoid food waste and I feel guilty about it. You can’t always nail a recipe the first time. When I bake something, there is always too much food for two so we offer it to our colleagues, family and friends.
6. Failure is normal.
I only post the final result but disasters can happen in the kitchen. Some shots from behind the scenes:
- The coco choco pop was initially meant to be a caramel popcorn. Except that I burned the first batch of popcorn. I also overcooked the caramel, intoxicated the apartment and ruined a saucepan.
- I baked these blondies for too long and they turned into a rock! It was impossible to cut and too hard to eat.
- I left the lemon pies too long in the oven and the meringue turned into carbon.
- I didn't butter the mold enough and these madeleines crumbled into pieces.
These pictures remind me of the progress that I’ve made so far. Mistakes are good, we grow from them.
7. Do it for the fun, not the metrics!
Obsessing over the numbers is not healthy. We are taught by our society to measure our worth through numbers: weight, height, grades, ranking, salary, likes, reach, comments and page views. While I do check with curiosity my analytics (I am a marketeer after all), I do not make them more important than they are. It is my hobby, not my job! Playing the comparison game is destructive. It’s not a popularity game, so I’d rather focus on the pleasure and fun that I get out from the process. And whenever I receive a comment from a reader, I do a happy dance!
8. Silent readers are not absent.
I have a newfound respect for influencers and publishers. We live in a society of consumption and information overload. Audiences are selective, yet not always engaged. Some readers will ignore posts, some will scroll through, some will read entirely and keep mum, some will read and respond. And that’s okay! This blog has made me aware of my own personal online behavior: I was a heavy but quiet consumer of content in the past. It has taught me to engage more with my peers, to acknowledge their work and to express encouragement and gratitude. It took them hours of their time to produce something inspiring, but only a few minutes of mine for me to enjoy. When one publishes something, one exposes himself and becomes more vulnerable. I highly respect that.
What’s to come this year?
I am hoping to improve some of my creative skills, especially design. No promises. I will also experiment with new content related to personal development and culture. If you have any suggestion or advice, I would love to hear it!
Once again, I can’t thank you enough for your continuous support through every step of this creative adventure. I appreciate you sparing a few minutes of your day to read my blog.
Here's to another sweet year!