BLOGGING 101: How to Create Consistent Content

This is Part 2 of the blogging series that I am writing for you. If you would love to know the basics of blogging, then you are in the right place. If you would love to know step by step how to open up a WordPress account, read part one of the series.

Today we will talk about how to create content and keep it consistent. You have set up your blog and now you are wondering how you should go about being consistent. Consistency is key in developing and growing a blog and I can testify. The rule is that if you are going to post twice a day, then post twice a day…continuously. If it’s going to be once a week then let it be once a week and stick to that. Writing, like everything else, requires practice. If you have already compiled articles/ stories to publish, then your work is reduced by half. If you haven’t any articles written down, there is no need to worry because it is what I will be talking about.

Having a notebook is very important. It helps a great deal to have a place where you can easily jot down everything about your blog. It could be passwords to a plethora of tools and services you have signed up for ( Guilty here!), ideas for future blog posts, and anything else that you think will come in handy later. A notebook helps you have a tangible place for your blog related stuff and it helps you stay organized. Again any notebook will work great. I have a larger notebook that stays home and a pocket-sized one that I keep with me for those days when ideas strike and need to be written down before they disappear.

One you have selected a notebook, jot down ideas. ALL. OF. THEM! The great thing about creativity is that inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. It could happen when you are taking a walk, when you are taking a shower, shopping, traveling and sleeping. Yes even sleeping! Make sure your ideas are in line with your over all theme and purpose. Once you have written down your ideas, start drafting blog post topics and outlines. What you do is decide what days in either a week or month you want to post and then assign each of those days a topic. One effective method I love is using sticky notes to write down potential blog topics and a few general ideas I have about them that I may forget. It looks a little something like this:

This is honestly a game changer and helps reduce the time it would normally take to brainstorm ideas, write blog posts and schedule them. This method is very important for me because it helps me have a glance of the whole month and  stay aware of what I need to be working on so that I stay within my deadlines. You can do this by setting aside another notebook where you paste multicolored sticky notes (or paper) to write down topics of your blog posts. You can generate ideas and plan up to six months of content and then  just work towards drafting and polishing the posts.

Now that you have planned out your months, it is time to draft posts. Having a working schedule will make publishing easier, reduce burnout and, maintain originality. When I started out I was over ambitious and thought posting twice a week would work but after a short while, I had to change my schedule to posting once a week. This allows me to thoroughly experiment with my creations before I posted them and has made it possible for me to publish quality without having burnout. Keep in mind that everything takes practice. Drafting your blog posts days before they are scheduled to be published gives you time to polish them well so you can have well-rounded articles.  The great thing with WordPress is that you can write your drafts and you can keep updating them as much as you want until you feel you are ready to  hit the publish button. For proofreading, grammar, and spellcheck,  I recommend using the world’s best automated proofreader, Grammarly.

Once  you have written your posts and are content that they are ready to be published, you can now schedule them. Your posts will be automatically posted on each scheduled day respectively without you doing a single thing. This allows you to plan for the future and allocate your time to doing other things while the blog is being updated consistently.

And finally,

A great way to make friends in the blogging world aside from social media is by leaving comments on other people’s blogs and liking their posts. Interact with other blogs you admire and your readers. Discover other blogs and bloggers. Comment, like, share views, guest blog, email and encourage each other.  It not only helps the owners of other blogs check out yours but also other commenters will be able to visit your blog. It’s a big world out there and it can be fun.

I hope this part was useful to you.

I will be sharing the final part of this 3 Part Series in the coming weeks. It will be a compilation of all the tools that I have used to blog. From image editors to social media scheduling sites. If you are wondering what tool I am using to create these graphics, just stay tuned for Part 3.

If you have any other questions about blogging in general, let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

NOTE: This post  includes affiliate links. I am only sharing products  and services that I believe in and know will add value to your blogging experience or business. If you decide to purchase a product or service, I may  earn a commission for my recommendations. Thank you for your support!

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BLOGGING 101: How to Start a Blog

This week’s blog post is a little different from the usual food talk. This week I will be  marking 6 years since I started blogging and 4 years since I branched out into food blogging. It is surreal to think that for half a dozen years I have written here. To say it has been a roller coaster ride is an understatement. Starting out, I had no idea that blogging would bring me to where I am now. I get a lot of questions about starting a blog, getting a custom domain, writing and photography. So to celebrate these four years, I have created a three-part series on blogging that I will be sharing each week for the next few weeks. Grab a cup of tea and let’s begin.

I started blogging while in university and half the time I was winging it. I didn’t know what I was really doing. I would spend nights selecting themes that I thought best suited my aesthetic, exploring endless widgets, and waiting for my first comment. Yes, seriously! Clearly I have come a long way from then. Blogging has helped me meet some of the most amazing people in the food industry. I have featured on CNN four times! I have had a chance to develop my food photography beyond my wildest dreams. I have had the opportunity to partner and work with a number of local Ugandan brands and business. And while at it, polished my flavor palate through restaurant reviews. These are things I thought a person needed a diploma in culinary arts, a degree in photography and marketing to be able to do. I still pinch myself whenever I look back at how far I have come. This is not bragging in any way but showing you the many possibilities of blogging. These detailed blog posts will be showing you how to open up a blog for yourself and start blogging because if anything, the world needs to hear what you have to say. Even if it doesn’t, you can always keep a little corner on the internet for yourself to write whatever comes to your mind. At least that is how I started out. I hope that by reading about my experiences and listening to the advice I will be sharing  will inspire you to go start your own blog.

One great thing about learning is that it never ends. Starting out I knew nothing about blogging and was blindly winging it and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Six years later and I  realize there is still a lot I have to learn. With that said, you can take this thing one step at a time and know that it gets better with time and commitment.

When I started this blog, I had no idea of words like niche (actually that is a lie. I knew what niche was but from a business perspective. I never knew that it is something that would become important in my blogging career later on! But I knew very well that I wanted a place I could pour out my thoughts without worrying about space and storage. You see I am an avid journal(er). I have been journaling my life for almost 10 years now and it’s quite an experience to look back. I wanted a place that I could put my thoughts so that I could reduce the stack of physical journals that was growing every year. Yes, basically that’s how I decided to blog in the first place. Fast forward to two years later and I took the radical decision to start food blogging (before I knew it was a thing!). I had to step back and decide what I really wanted to talk about and once I did that, it became easier. My purpose is to talk about food, especially Ugandan food,  in all its forms and create an online voice for our food history and culture. Your purpose may not be food related and that is okay. You need to be able to answer the big why. WHY are you blogging/ WHY do you want to start a blog? It can be as simple as one sentence and as detailed as two pages. Do not feel restricted. Once you have honestly answered that why, it will be easier to write content that is dear to your heart and reflects who you are, content that you will be able to read yourself and enjoy even if no one ever reads it.

Once you have your purpose written down in clear ink, you can then select your niche. Niche basically means your target readers/ audience. Do you want to blog to tech junkies, recipe hoarders (hey!), book worms, fashionistas? Or do you want to be a lifestyle blogger and  write about a little bit of everything? Keep in mind that Your niche should be in line with your purpose. A great way to simplify this is by selecting a major category and then break it down into sub topics that you can always have in mind while creating your content. For example:

This helps you to filter your content. If your content does not fit your subtopics, then you can always go back to your drawing board and restructure it.

Selecting a platform is essential to your blogging experience. You may have to try out more than two to find out what works for you. I started out on  WordPress but due to my lack of knowledge with the complex set up at the time, I  moved on to (Google) Blogger but soon realized it was much more complicated and glitchy and would sometimes suspend your blog without your knowledge. I proceeded on to Blog (which is now no longer available) because it looked chic and pretty (never judge a book by its cover) but I wasn’t satisfied still. So I returned to  WordPress this time with a positive mind and haven’t looked back ever since. I have not had any problems with WordPress for over 6 years now. So the big question is: Which platform do I recommend? Definitely WordPress especially with their unlimited themes and an affordable domain fee.

Now that you have decided to start your blog, here are the steps to creating your first blog on WordPress:

Now that you have opened up your account, start publishing away!

I have been reading A Beautiful Mess for almost 5 years now and I love their content especially the blogging advice they give.This advice has helped me in developing AKIU to what it is now. I even bought my camera after reading their detailed posts about photography gear. They are teaching a course (which you can go to by clicking the link above) that is all about making a living from your blog. If generating income from your blog is one of your long-term goals, then this course is ideal for you.

If you specifically want to grow your food blog, I am highly recommending Food Blogger Pro. I discovered them through their income reports which I think is a great way to show transparency to bloggers starting out on the different ways they can diversify their income streams. I am also a regular listener to their podcast where you get to listen to the advice of so many bloggers who have made food blogging their full-time job. This podcast is seriously informative and has helped me structure my food blogging business.

If you have any questions, leave them below and I will answer you as soon as I can. Stay tuned for part two of the series where I will be talking about creating consistent content for your blog.

 

 

NOTE: This post  includes affiliate links. I am only sharing products  and services that I believe in and know will add value to your blogging experience or business. If you decide to purchase a product or service, I may  earn a commission for my recommendations. Thank you for your support!

 

Classic Matooke Katogo

Ah Katogo! I cannot believe it took me this long to talk about it! Actually I have talked about katogo before here and here. It’s just that I have never talked about matooke (green banana) katogo and I know you are wondering why. Well, as much as it is a popular breakfast dish, it is always a treat in our household because a) I am yet to perfect that soft tooke wrapped in banana leaves  and b) peeling these green bananas is an art in and of itself. So often times I find myself steering clear of matooke altogether. But once in a while the craving hits and point b) is ignored. Now this is the simplest way Katogo can be made. Peeling matooke and throwing them in a pan, adding diced tomatoes and onions and anything else that you think will help enhance the meal and letting it boil till the bananas are soft and tender. Easy! Once you learn how to make this classic katogo, you can then customize it to your liking.

What you will need:

15-20 Green bananas

10 Medium sized tomatoes

1 Large onion

2 Scallion stalks

1 Tsp. Oil + Additional 1/2 Tsp. Oil

Salt and pepper

Observations:

  1. Applying oil to your hands before peeling the bananas prevents the sap from staining and sticking to your hands.
  2. The amount of water you add to the katogo will determine the consistency of your katogo. More water will make it soupy and vice versa.
  3. Sometimes a lot of tomatoes can make the food a little bit tart. If so, add a little bit of sugar to cut through the tartness.

 

Method:

  1. Apply the 1/2 teaspoon of oil on your hands and the knife you will be using. Peel the green bananas. Place the peeled bananas in water to avoid excessive oxidation.
  2. Dice the tomatoes and onions and set a side. Place a clean pan on fire and add the 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the onions and let them cook till translucent. Next add the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes cook till tender and paste-like.
  3. Add the bananas and enough water to almost submerge the bananas. Let the katogo boil till the bananas are almost tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Once they start becoming tender, reduce the fire and let the katogo simmer. Remove from fire  and let cool. Serve with ghee, a side of greens and tea.

Have you tried katogo before? What variation are your favorite?