Darren: Hey, there and welcome to episode 259 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the founder of ProBlogger. You can find out more about what we do in helping the bloggers start blogs and monetize their blogs at problogger.com.
Today is the fourth installment in our blogger breakthrough series where we’re sharing stories from listeners of the podcast in how they had different kinds of breakthroughs in their blogging. Today’s story comes from a blogger who’s relatively new to blogging. She started blogging six months ago using our Start A Blog course, which you can find the link to in today’s show notes.
The blogger that I want to introduce you to today, her name is Libby Hakim. She’s got a fascinating blog. I love the topic of this blog. The title is Cooking With Nana Ling. I’ll let her introduce where the blog idea came from because that is part of the breakthrough that she wants to share today. But I just love this story because it is from a new blogger who’s already got to a point where she’s reaching some of her dreams in being able to give up other work and focus on her blogging. She’s still got a way to go, but she’s well on the way. The blog itself is a beautifully designed blog and just has a great concept.
You’re going to hear four blogging breakthroughs today–just four short ones. At the end of Libby’s story, I’m going to come back and pull out a few of the things that I noticed about it. Libby’s another Aussie, so you’re going to hear a bit of an Aussie accent. You might hear a few words that I use from time to time as well, which is fun and at the end, I’ll come back and share some thoughts. You can find today’s show notes at problogger.com/podcast/259. You’ll find a full transcript there as well. Thanks, Libby. I’ll hand it over to you.
Libby: Hi, there. My name’s Libby Hakim, and I’m from Sydney, Australia. My blog is called Cooking With Nana Ling. You can find it at www.cookingwithnanaling.com. My blog is only six months old, and as you probably guessed, it’s about cooking, more specifically, it’s about home cooking. It’s based around the recipes my Nana Ling—who is my great-grandmother—wrote down in the late 1930s, and early 1940s. I inherited her vast collection of handwritten recipes. The blog is about recreating those recipes, but also inspiring other people to enjoy home cooking.
My breakthrough story isn’t about one big breakthrough moment. I’ve broken it up into four little mini breakthroughs. It was those little breakthroughs that really took me from being someone who is skeptical about blogging, and thought basically, was a fantasy, to someone who can justify spending a day each week on a blog. I’m really hopeful, as time goes forward, that I’ll be able to devote even more of my working week to blogging.
Just to set the scene, before my first mini-breakthrough, I was working part-time as a lawyer. I had two small children, and work-wise, I wasn’t feeling particularly satisfied. It was very difficult to work part-time in the legal profession, but that was something that I’ve trained for many years. It was something I’ve been doing for many years, and I didn’t really feel I had many other options.
During my second round of maternity leave, I’d taken a course in writing for magazines and newspapers. That was going really well as a little hobby or side business, it’s something I really loved writing, and part of that meant soaking up lots of new information. I was listening to a heap of podcasts, and one of those was ProBlogger. I really loved listening to ProBlogger even though I wasn’t blogging. I think I always had that little dream that, well, imagine being able to blog for a living? But that was when I was still in this mindset that blogging was just a fantasy.
One day, I was having a particularly bad day in my legal job, so I took myself off to have a lovely lunch at a restaurant in the Sydney CBD. I put my earplugs in, and I listened to the latest ProBlogger podcast to cheer myself up. As I was listening to that podcast, Darren actually described how he wasn’t really making any money from blogging in the early days, and his wife was the breadwinner. She was the lawyer.
It came to a point though where he had to give himself a bit of an ultimatum, and start making money or actually get a real job. Then he described how he did actually start making money from blogging, and then he started making more money than his wife was earning as a lawyer. That was a real mind shift for me because I’d always just presumed that I would never make as much money doing anything else than I would by practicing law. I think in that episode, he also went on to describe how his wife actually ended up leaving law and becoming a blogger herself.
That was just a massive, massive mind shift for me. I started to think, “Perhaps I could actually make writing and blogging a career.” It did actually take a couple of years, but I did end up leaving my part-time legal job to become a writer. I have my own copywriting and freelance writing business. I was writing blogs for lots of big business, big brands, and I really, really loved that career, but after my youngest daughter went to school, and I had a little bit more time on my hands, I kept going back to that idea that I would love to have my own standalone blog that I could learn from, that I could grow, and I could have fun with.
Then I went into the next hurdle—which I had to go through with one of my mini-breakthroughs—the next hurdle was, “What to blog about?” I had heaps of ideas, but all of them I got sort of tired of after about a week. There was one idea that I actually got to the stage where I’ve built a blog, I wrote some posts, it was about juggling parenting and career. But I was just so tired of that topic by the time I was ready to launch it, that I never launched it, it just drained me of energy. I couldn’t be enthusiastic about going out there and putting this blog out.
The idea for my Cooking With Nana Ling blog didn’t really come from sitting down, and brainstorming topics I could possibly blog about, it actually came to me from an Instagram post. Last Christmas, I remembered I had my great Nana Ling’s recipe books tucked away, the handwritten recipe books. She was very thorough. She’s dated all the recipes, she included all the instructions, and there are literally, hundreds of recipes there that she’s collected over the years. I sat down with those books, and it just filled me with such joy to look through these recipes.
I ended up cooking up a Christmas pudding, and it went wonderfully. It was the first time I’ve ever had success cooking a Christmas pudding. Then, of course, I bragged about it on Instagram, and I also included the page from her recipe book. It just got this overwhelming response. Some actually wonder that I actually had these recipe books, and how lovely it was that I could recreate the recipe nearly 80 years later.
That really was the start of my idea for the Cooking With Nana Ling blog. As I thought about the blog, I just had more and more ideas, and I got more and more excited about it. It just filled me with so much enthusiasm and happiness. That’s how I came across the topic and got past that hurdle of actually finding a topic that I knew I would stick with.
In the early days obviously, you’re not going to have a lot of readers. You need to really enjoy what you’re doing. Otherwise, it can all feel a bit pointless. It’s very time-consuming, so you need to be able to justify to yourself why you’re spending so much time on a blog. Well, I did, at least, because I’ve got two young children. I need to earn money. In the early days and still, I don’t earn a lot from the blog. To have a sense of purpose, and to really enjoy what I do, is really important. This idea just fitted with the rest of my life.
I always enjoyed home cooking. But the few years before I started the blog, I felt like I didn’t get enough time to actually, cook. The blog is also another way of getting me back in the routine of cooking and spending time in the kitchen.
The next two breakthroughs were really about overcoming my sense of having to have everything perfect. The next breakthrough was actually, having a launch deadline. I enrolled in the Start A Blog course with ProBlogger, and that included a launch deadline which was really important for me because I probably would’ve spent the next six months or more getting the blog just how I liked it. I was adding little bits and pieces, always changing things. But to have a launch deadline mean that I can focus on that date and I was very committed to launching the blog on that date. But even though I had that date, I was still feeling really nervous about launching the blog. I felt it wasn’t good enough.
My next little mini-breakthrough—the final breakthrough—came when Darren, actually reminded us during the course that our blogs would look like new blogs, they weren’t going to look like an established blog, and that sounds very obvious. But I was comparing myself to existing bloggers. I was comparing my blog to blogs that have been around for at least a few years. That made me realize, “I just had to launch this thing, and it’s going to look like a new blog.” that finally got me over the line where I actually, launched a blog. I can say now that you have to start somewhere.
Since I started my blog six months ago, I’ve been on TV. I was on the Channel 7 program, and I had celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin visit my house and cook with me. Even to be speaking and asked to speak on this podcast, I just would not have imagined that when I first launched the blog. You just got to start somewhere. I’m really grateful that I just kept going with the idea of the blog and that I may not have had one big breakthrough moment, but I kept going, and all these little breakthroughs led to something that I’m just so excited about.
Just to finish off, I guess my message would be, to just keep that dream of having a blog alive. Find a topic that you really, really care about, and that gives you lots of ideas and energy. Thanks, everyone for listening. Thank you so much, Darren and the ProBlogger team for having me on the podcast.
Darren: Thanks so much for sharing your story today, Libby. That is a great story. I really love the way that you came along that topic. It really connects with a lot of what I have taught in the past about how to choose what to blog about. I’ve been through the process of starting 30 or so blogs over the years, and the ones that fell over quickly were all ones that stole energy from my life; the ones that have continued have been the ones that not only gave energy to other people but also gave energy to me.
I really love that in your story that you did that little experiment in putting that Instagram post up there. Whether you thought that it could become a blog when you put that up or not, it gave you a spark, but it also gave your potential readers, your friends, and family a spark as well. They are the type of things that I really encourage people to take note of, “What’s giving you energy?” If it’s giving you energy, you’re going to be able to sustain it for the long term; if other people are getting energy too, then that’s the perfect storm, really.
I love that also, Libby mentions in her story, that the first breakthrough was one in her mind–it was a mind shift. I really want to emphasize that because a lot of the breakthroughs that I’ve had over the years haven’t actually been about anything that I’ve done necessarily, but it’s a new way of thinking about things; so beginning to treat my blog not as a hobby but as a business, thinking about my readers and who they are—that was a new mind shift—not thinking about myself, but thinking about who my readers were–these types of mind shifts can really have a profound impact because it changes your actions. As you’re listening to this series, I encourage you to listen to the shifts that happen in the blogger’s minds that often precede the change in behavior.
The third and fourth breakthroughs that Libby shared revolved around getting things launched. I love the fact that she did take notice of what we taught in the course–of setting a launch deadline. This is something that I’ve noticed, numerous times, when I’ve talked to bloggers who’ve gone through the full course and have actually, come out the other end with an actual blog is that they do set the launch deadline.
One of the traps that many bloggers fall into is that they spend so long getting their blog ready to launch, that they lose the passion for the blog in the process. That’s something I’ve heard countless times over the years, so get something up. As Libby says there, you don’t have to have it looking perfect when you get it launched. It’s going to look like a new blog. All our blogs, when you first start them, they all look different to the way they are today, they all look different to a more established blog, and that’s only natural. You will evolve the look of your blog. You’ll evolve your writing. You’ll evolve your logo. Just get something online because that will enable you to start writing. That’s often where the energy begins to flow, and that will keep you going through evolving the rest of your blog, as well.
Thanks so much, Libby for sharing today. You can find Libby’s blog cookingwithnanaling.com. You’ll find the link to that in our show notes today, you’ll also find the link to our Start A Blog course which we’ve had so many bloggers go through. I’m just so proud of the fact that we’ve seen hundreds, it’s probably in the thousands now, of bloggers start a blog as a result of that free course. It’s completely free. You can find it at problogger.com/start-a-blog. I’ll link to that in the show notes as well because it is a bit of a mouthful.
If you go to problogger.com, you’ll see our courses tab, and you’ll find a link to it there. It’s completely free. It’s quite comprehensive. It walks you through the technicalities of setting up a blog, but also some of the mind shift type stuff that you might want to think about as well.
What I think is a good foundation, to be able to monetize later, we don’t get into monetization so much in the course, that comes later on. But you’ll set up a blog that not only is technically sound and stable but also hopefully, it will help you to choose a topic that could be profitable later, and could actually, be sustainable in the long term as well. Check out the Start A Blog course. There’s no cost at all, so there’s no harm in giving it a go.
Thanks so much for listening today. Again, our show notes today are at problogger.com/podcast/259. Special thanks again to Libby Hakim.