Thursday, 23 May 2013

Blogging into the great unknown by Bangers & Mash

When people ask me why I write a food blog, I never really know what to say. It’s a strange hobby really. It takes up an increasingly large chunk of my spare time and I make no money from it - yet. Although I do sometimes receive products to review, which is always rather nice.

I’m not what you’d describe as a natural cook. I only really started cooking properly when we had children and I was forced to pull my act together. Yet these days I frequently find myself obsessing about what new meals I can try out to feature on the blog, while it’s commonplace for my family to be waiting at the table while I snap “just one more!” photograph of a dish.

I’m always amazed whenever people ‘out there’ actually read my posts, cook my food and write such lovely comments. But they do. And I love it. That is, I suppose, why I keep doing it.

Just a couple of years ago, I’d have thought you were bonkers if you told me that, in the not-too-distant future, I’d be a fully signed up member of the blogging fraternity.

It all started when I realised I had to get my head around social media. I work as a freelance PR consultant and it dawned on me I was becoming a bit a dinosaur when it came to online communications. As I saw more and more of my PR peers throwing themselves headlong into social media, I decided I must do the same or get left behind.

Initially blogging provided me with content to experiment with. Blogging wasn’t the end in itself. You can’t tweet or post to Facebook without content. But what could I blog about?

One weekend I was telling a good friend how I’d started a weekly meal plan to keep our costs down. She was intrigued by the fact we were eating a much more varied, healthy and tasty diet as a result and I realised that here was the perfect material for a blog.

Normally when I start something new I prepare. I plan. I research. But not with the Bangers & Mash blog. Publishing my first post was like stepping out into a great, unknown blogosphere.

Unlike starting a new PR campaign, I really had no notion of my ‘target’ audience or my competitors. I simply knew what I wanted to write about and that I’d write in my own voice. If people liked it they could read it and follow me, and if they didn’t, well they could go elsewhere.

But I seem to have found an audience for Bangers & Mash. It’s not a big audience but it’s growing steadily. They’re people who, like me, want to cook simple family food which is still a little bit adventurous; want meals that don’t cost a fortune but still rely on good quality, seasonal ingredients.

Perhaps I was a little naive at first but it seems to have worked for me. I didn’t read a single food blog before I started out. Looking back, I remember being surprised to discover there were so many out there. Maybe if I’d known beforehand, I wouldn’t have started. However, I quickly discovered these other bloggers aren’t competitors. Instead I find myself part of an incredibly supportive community.

Vanesther lives in Somerset with her husband and two young daughters, where she tries to live the good life but yearns occasionally for the mayhem and bright lights of the city. You can find Vanesther’s blog Bangers & Mash at and follow her on Twitter at @BangerMashChat.


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