Managing a food blog is time consuming – in addition to the actual writing, we spend our time researching, reading, cooking, and of course, eating. And while there are a handful able to live off your blog, most of us do it part time, aside from our “normal” occupation. I used to be one of those with that normal thing going on. Now, I’ve taken on a new challenge: managing my blog (La Cuillère à goûter – The Tasting Teaspoon) while traveling across Europe for 4 months.
Planning Your Content
I have good news! It’s totally doable with a few little tricks. As I was preparing my 4 month trip (August-December), I realized that I would not have time to publish a post twice a week like I usually do. In order to not drop off the face of the Earth, I gathered all the content I had been meaning to post for a while, including recipe posts and restaurant reviews I hadn’t taken the time to sit down and write. I wrote 2 stories per week for the 15 or so weeks that I would be away.
You got it: that’s about 30 posts! The challenge, aside from a huge amount of work, was to make the posts timely, relevant and not just post them for the fun of posting. To make that happen, I realized the importance of a nicely planned editorial calendar that allows me to only post stories about my trip along the way. If you’re on WordPress, the Calendar widget works really great for that purpose. If you’re not already using an editorial calendar, you should, even when you’re at home. It’s an incredible tool to plan your future posts. (Check out this post on The Importance of an Editorial Calendar).
I can already hear you say that writing posts more than 3 months in advance defeats the purpose of a blog because it takes away the interaction with the readers. In my particular case, I disagree. It actually gives me more time to actually respond to the comments and be more active on Facebook and on Twitter!
Having a Solid Social Media Strategy
That brings us to the second little trick, which is employing a sound social media strategy. Even if you're at home, it's important to know what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, on which platform, and to whom. As I am not a fan of automatic posting and I do not plan on transforming myself into a robot, I had to find a way to make the blog live by itself on social media. But it was vital that I still be able to customize each of my posts. That’s when I discovered the SNAP (Social Network Auto Posting) widget on WordPress. When used properly, it allows you to synchronize with your Facebook and Twitter accounts and many other platforms (unfortunately, in order to use with Google+ or Pinterest you have to pay) and program your customized publishing text, picture and links. You can only program it once per post and it's on the day it is actually being published. Therefore, I've found it’s best to republish on social media a few other times afterwards to reach a higher number of readers, as you should always do anyway. There are tons of great tools out there, I strongly suggest exploring what's out there like HootSuite and others to efficiently manage your social media (inter)actions.
Translating Your Blog
Talking about getting more readers, have you ever thought about translating your blog? This third trick might be advantageous for you, especially here in Canada where English AND French are the official languages. My blog is originally written in French and yet most of the people I meet on my travels speak English. It was starting to be a drag, even just to make them remember the name of the blog. “La Cuillère à goûter” usually leaves a big question mark on people’s faces, but “The Tasting Teaspoon” is much easier to remember, pronounce and find online! So I bought a domain name, tastingteaspoon.com, that re-directs to the English version of the blog, which I implemented with qTranslate. It is a free tool, and I translated all the texts myself, but there are some other tools that offer professional translation for a fee. Take a look at the WordPress Multi Language plugin if you’re looking for a great paid solution to run a multilingual site.
Last but not least, when you’re away on a trip, always think about making things easier for you as traveling can already be puzzling. Getting Mobile is my final advice: there are many ways you can work on your blog without having to be physically in front of a desk or a computer. For instance, depending on where you travel, you can very often find the Wi-Fi signal and access it for free. Your tablet or mobile phone can become a really handy tool at that time. Consider installing the Facebook Pages and the WordPress apps on your mobile devices – they are not as user-friendly as the desktop versions, but they can be really useful when you’re on a train heading towards your next adventure (as I am right now writing these lines, somewhere in Portugal).
Caroline Cloutier is the food blogger behind the Montreal-based La Cuillère à goûter / The Tasting Teaspoon. Once the pickiest kid in town, she is now on a mission to taste everything her eyes, and taste buds, fall upon. Culinary adventures, recipes and restaurant reviews await you in a world of infinite discoveries. Bon appétit!
tastingteaspoon.com or .lacuillereagouter.com/en
twitter.com/cuillereagouter & #eurofoodtrip hashtag