Sunday, November 09, 2008

A truce has been signed

I've worried about you all worrying about me. Don't worry, no mid-life crisis is ensuing! And, here I am, back with my tail between my legs...

I've had some time to reflect over the last week as I made my decision. And I was influenced so much by your calls, emails, and comments. I have really been touched, thank you so much for the props, condolences, understanding, and empathy. I haven't taken the time to individually reply, but I will, soon!

I feel like I want to explain further the events that got me here, for those who care, I can already feel it's going to be a lengty one, bear with me.

I started my blog just over a year ago, and for the longest time had maybe 10-30 people looking at it per day. I was frustrated at thinking I put a somewhat quality blog out there, but it wasn't really going anywhere. Then I found a whole world of these kinds of culinary blogs out there, and realized how far I had to go!

The truth is, at the time I yearned for success as a blogger, I didn't realize all of the work it would take not only to blog {post}, and put it out there, but to actively build an audience. I had no idea the way you, as the blog author, have to DRIVE the success of the blog.

When you put something out there with your brand on it and your name on it, it is going to be judged and analyzed. Beyond it needing / wanting it to be be great, great recipes, great text, great photos -you also crave it's success and acceptance. Do you understand what I mean? Your blog is always going to be judged on how 'successful' it appears.

So I started to be more active in the bloggosphere. I did the things you do to gain an audience. And as the audience came, I realized more and more that I didn't want to do those things -that I didn't like that aspect of blogging, the work you do to gain a bigger audience.

At the same time, it is a bad-drug. If you don't do those things, your blog growth is stagnant, which is depressing after being on the path to success. I've been fighting this battle within myself for so long -which led to last week's post. I hated everything I had to do to build my blog, but feared {knew} that if I didn't continue doing it, I wouldn't continue to grow -and even worse, would regress.

Beyond all of that drama and stress -I also began to realize how fake all of my so-called 'success' was. So many of the comments on my blog began to be laughable, it became apparent that often times people didn't really read the post and just commented on the pictures. With so much fake-ness, you then begin to doubt also what are probably really sincere comments. When the comments and accolades are the only form of payment for all of your hard work and sacrifice -it really sucks that you can't trust them! It's like, what else is there?

I can't point the finger. I too wanted comments and left those same comments that I hate! And I hated that even more. I tried my best to be sincere, and my comments were 95% honest and usually pertinent, but between posting ever 2-4 days and having to return all of those comments, how do you find the time? The answer is you don't. You borrow time from other places or start to skim. I had only started having to do it, but I hated it and it wasn't for me.

Anyway, I thought about disabling the comment feature or even taking my blog private so I could eliminate the things I hate and keep the parts I love -but neither one of those would really satisfy.

In the midst of all of this thought I was privately having, I experienced the final-straw. I made a some-what recent post where I very specifically mentioned getting this recipe from another recipe blog. The owner of that blog came and left a comment telling me that it was a great recipe and looked like something they'd served before. I was floored. I wanted to reach through the computer screen and grab them by the shoulders and shake them screaming 'It IS what you've served before you idiot!! Did you not read where I linked to your blog several times!??'

I've removed the post and please don't try to figure out who it was! And it wasn't you, don't worry. Chances are you've done something similar {maybe without knowing it?} and so have I, {though probably not quite as bad as that}. But the amount of fakeness just hit me like a ton of bricks and it was just over for me, I couldn't take one more second of it.

However, I must give a huge thank-you to my good friend AmyK and comments from my family -especially my sister Nicole who mentioned she would miss the connection she felt with me through this blog. Those and Amyk's comment turned it all around for me. Amy has been a long time reader of the blog and my inspiring her to be a better home cook has always inspired me to be a better blogger! In her comment, she related her sadness at my decision and left me the sweetest list of all of the things this blog has done for her and her family and her skill and confidence level in the kitchen.

It brought me right back to the good old days of my blog when that was what it was. I never wanted to do this blog for foodies, I wanted to do it for home-chefs who need a little help and inspiration. People who are in a rut and need some fresh new ideas. For people who need a little push to take their cooking to the next level. For people who need help building their confidence so that they know they can do it.

So that is what this blog will be. I'm not disabling the comment feature, but please do not comment unless you've tried the recipe, have a question, or are just REALLY excited about it. -This is not going to be a staunch rule, it is just a polite way of telling you I can't play the game anymore. I feel that it is rude to not respond to comments -that is what got me in trouble in the first place. And I will continue to respond to the comments on this blog, but I am taking myself out of the game.

I'm sorry if this comes off as any way condescending. I don't mean it to be so. I don't judge anyone for feeling or seeing this blogging world differently than I do and I really, REALLY don't want this to come off as a slam to other Bloggers. I'm just trying to be real and say at I see it, it doesn't mean it is reality, it is just my reality. I don't think any of you who have commented on this blog are fake, or are intentionally comment-mongers! I'm not sure how to say it better, but I hope you get the true meaning of what I'm trying to say here.

So... I will be taking the break I wanted to and be back to blog when I feel like it and have something I want to post. That is how this blog will roll from now on. I want the freedom to post when I have the time and the desire. It will probably be more simple and the feel of it may change some -as I said, I'm going back to my roots -where I always wanted to be. I'm taking the desire for success out of it right here and now, I'm really just doing it for me.

Thanks again, so much. {Especially to those of you who are still reading this monster!}

51 comments:

Colleen said...

Good for you. I love your blog and was so sad to here you were stopping. As a wife and mother I know there are only 24 hours in each day. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing so many great recipes. My son loves your applesauce and my husband constantly askes for me to make your enchiladas.

VeggieGirl said...

I understand completely - just know that I'll always be a loyal reader/fellow blogger!! :-)

Jessica said...

Glad you've found some peace in your blogging, it should totally be for pleasure! I blog so that my mom and sister can experience and see what I've been up to in the kitchen. If anyone else reads it, enjoys a recipe, or shares a comment - that's just icing on the cake!

Scott and Gaby said...

Hey! I'm glad to see you blogging again! I'm sorry about the recent incident that had you upset and discouraged about blogging and sharing your talent with us. Thankfully, though, you decided to come back and continue with your cooking inspirations to help all of us in the kitchen. And don't worry about replying to all comments - we come here because we like what you write, and we are not expecting you to write us back (at least I'm not expecting it in any way, shape or form, so don't worry). I think the secret is not to treat the blog as an audience game, but rather simply your gathering place for friends and dear ones. You should have fun while keeping it up!!

Anyways, I am excited you're back! I'll let you know whenever I try something new!

frugalisfab said...

Welcome back!

Kate said...

good for you to take some time for you :)
I just found you blog a while back, so I would be sad to see it go away all together! I guess I do have a lot of posts to read through too. Take your time and enjoy yourself :)

Taylor Family said...

Yo Natalie - How the heck are you? Sorry it's taken me so long to reply. My main responsibilities with the blog are pretty much just to look at it, haha. I was way excited to hear from you though. I can't keep track of you guys though. Seriously you've lived all over, I'm jealous. So looks like you're quite the little cook these days. I've been able to sample a couple of my cousin Becky's desserts and they really hit the spot. So any plans to move back to the States and if so you guys should seriously consider the Denver area. Do you still keep in touch with all your USU hommies and how's your sis Katie doing? She always made me laugh.

Daziano said...

I totally understand you... just everything you say is SO true... and how disappointing what happened to you. Anyway, enjoy your cooking, and ENJOY your blogging, whenever you feel like it! I personally have my blog in part as a way to keep my own recipes in a place where I can find them (instead of a piece of paper that always disappears)!!! ;)

D

Gaengy said...

Looking forward to cooking together soon. I need to get some thing for my torch so we can make creme brulee! I have nearly had it a year now! See you soon. Love MOM

Lisa said...

Goody!Sounds like a good plan. I love your recipes but really would miss your crazy funny stories. I still chuckle at your running out of flour story.

Darla~SassyHomemaker said...

You have no idea how many times (ok well clearly you do) I have thought this same thing. I try really hard to be sincere but I know I've done the "how cute" "looks yummy" comment too many times to count. Blarg.

I've also thought SEVERAL times about closing down comments and yet I have not taken that step, I'm just not sure on the right answer for that.

Thanks for taking a stand.

jen said...

yay :)

you know, i think what you're planning will actually make it better. no one likes a fake blogger either. not that you were... just you know, i want the good stuff too not just something out of convenience; although it seems all you've posted thus far has been quality.

and anyway, i think everyone's got to come to a realization similar to yours sometime or another. hopefully they're all strengthened from it like you seem to have been.

have a wonderful monday :)

Emily said...

Wow! I hope blogging won't stress you out so much anymore! I was a little clueless I guess when i started blogging and was shocked when I saw a "blog" fight on another blog over a recipe . . . too bad that something fun takes over sometimes! Everyone understands . . . if it isn't enjoyable for you it isn't worth doing! Good luck on future blogging! Your food speaks for itself . . . great!

Linda F said...

a really thought provoking post, you have expressed alot of what I feel at times too....I have cut right back on my posts as it was taking over my life too! Moderation as always is the key, but I have never been good at that so need to just have breathers from time to time. It is a bummer when you see the stats take a dive, but hey ho, life goes on! :)Still have you on my reader!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I totally understand your point of view and have to agree with most of what you said!

Blogging isn't easy! It is time-consumming and very stressful. Sometimes, it can also become addictive...

Take a break and come back whenever you feel like it! But don't pressurize yourself...

Cheers and till soon again (I hope),

Rosa xoxo

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

In fact, I expressed myseld badly... I totally agree with what you said, but I haven't been disappointed like you! I try not to care much about the negative aspects of blogging, that's maybe why!

Of course, we'll stay blogging buddies :-D!

Cheers,

Rosa

Dee said...

I admire you for sticking to that No Comments Unless policy. Uhm, that starts after this, right?

I need to evaluate my blogging purpose too. Take care.

Stacey Snacks said...

I actually read your ENTIRE post!
No photos, so I actually read the content!

I know what you mean. Comments are like high school, and who is more popular.

Blogging is a full time job it seems lately, but do it for YOU, that is what I do, since I don't make any MONEY FROM THIS!!!! It's an outlet and nice to share thoughts and recipes with others.
You have take the good with the bad, as is everything in life.

Don't stress about it! You are a fun person with a great family, and can do anything you like!

Regards, STacey Snacks

Jullee and Fam said...

I have read your posts ever since I found your blog..and I've tried a couple recipes. When I found your blog I was looking for something easy for a novice in the kitchen but tasty. I tried your labor day burger and it was a HIT! I also tried your PB and chocolate popcorn and I've made it a couple times cause it was so tasty. I enjoy reading your stories and was excited to hear about your vanilla extract and also find out what happens with the construction happening in your backyard.

I know how it gets when you start blogging for everyone else. When I started my blog it was for my family out of state who don't get to see us or my baby. But then I found friends from HS's blogs and sometimes I feel that my life is too boring so I have to do fun cute things or else it isn't worth blogging about. Lame huh!

Whenever you blog I'll read it and maybe try some recipes. I'm thankful to have bloggers out there that post recipes for the kitchen challenged..like me!

Julie said...

Glad you're back, in whatever capacity you want to be back! Just have fun with it!

Hansen's said...

I am so glad you have decided to still post recipes. I hope that you will continue to enjoy bloggine so that I can enjoy your wonderful recipes too! I have learned so much from you.

Katie said...

I am a friend of Ben's...we were on PLC together at USU. I love your recipes and am so glad you'll still continue to post...at your convenience of course. You've made life in our kitchen a little more exciting and much more tasty! You are a great person!

Lauri said...

Glad you're not quitting entirely! It will be fun to see what you are up to, in many ways. Your blog is great but I also understand the addicition that it can cause. We look forward to hearing from you when you feel like it. Still tell your mom hi for me.

Chad said...

Rock Star... great post. Thanks for putting into words what I think all the time. I've stopped posting on other peoples blogs unless I have something important to say.

I too worried about traffic, but I too didn't want to grow my audience with a bunch of people only visiting in hopes that I would visit their blog.

Now I feel like the majority of the visits I get are from people who enjoy my blog. It's a nice feeling for a change.

Angela said...

Your honesty is refreshing. I marvel at the people who can keep up with all the comments and publicity. Part of me wishes I had the stamina to do the same. The other part of me is thankful to have a life and time with my husband. It is a balance and the most important part of that balance is YOU. Congratulations for taking a step toward making this beautiful blog what you want it to be -- or not to be. Brilliant, Natalie. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

I will most definately be taking inspiration from your latest recipe for a new, quieter, more honest approach to the whole world of comments and stats and success.

Grace said...

it's almost as if you've read my thoughts and put them into words. amen. (and i certainly hope i'm not one of the insincere commentators--i may every effort not to be!)

Smylie said...

I want to say I am sorry. I have tried your recipes and have never commented, not because they were not wonderful, but because I never thought about it. I feel lucky to have found a great recipe and make it for the family. I should have commented on how those recipes turned out. I guess I did not realize how important comments are.

Pam said...

I am glad to hear you will be back doing it for YOU. I think all food bloggers have felt the same way at some point.

Looking forward to your upcoming recipes and funny stories.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Okay, can I comment because I'm REALLY excited about what you had to say?

I too wonder about striking a balance between having an audience, and having an audience who cares. I also wonder about the work that comes with gaining an audience.

I started my blog because I'm an attention whore who loves to cook. I wasn't sure my blog would ever have an audience, but it does have a small one. When I see my friends getting over 50 comments on their blogs when the most I have ever had was maybe 16, I wonder what I'm doing wrong. Is my blog bad? Do my recipes suck? Am I just not making the effort to publicize my blog? I just joined Foodbuzz a few weeks ago and I am so intimidated by it that I am not really using its features to publicize my blog as I could be.

I also try to reach out and comment on new blogs as much as possible. When someone who frequents my favorite blogs looks intriguging, I try to make an effort to read that blog, and I will always read the blogs of someone who comes along and comments on mine. It's a lot of work though. I've been wanting to have a better look at your blog for a while and I just commented for the first time(and what a timely comment it is) today. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The upside is that the people who do read my blog, really seem to like it and give me lots of positive feedback. In the end I think it's better to have a small dedicated group or readers than to have a huge group that barely pays attention to your post and comments just to comment?

JLR said...

Natalie, I must admit that I suck at cooking, but I love your blog and it gives me inspiration for when we move back to Canada. Right now with the pregnancy and having to shop at 4 stores for ingredients here in Taiwan, I'm just overwhelmed. But I did make a personal goal to myself to cook dinner every night after we move. My sweet husband does it all now. I'm sorry to hear about everything that happened, but I'm happy you'll continue to blog for yourself. The rest of us appreciate it too!

The Blonde Duck said...

I agree with what you have to say. It is hard when you want to be successful but feel it's taking over your life. I'm kinda like you--I'm a writer who just happened to make friends with a lot of food bloggers! I found they were quite caring and supportive compared to other "cliques." I will be back because Lord knows I need inspiration--my husband's dad had a heart attack and now I've got to overhaul our whole way of eating to make it healthy. Being the good Texas girl I am, I don't know anything not fried or Mexican. So I'll be back!

Michele@Integrated Mother said...

Well, I actually read your entire post - twice! I only recently came across your blog (CutieBootyCakes referred me, I think) so I was worried that you'd stop blogging so soon after I started to fall in love with your blog!

I'm actually looking forward to your posts and recipes. Lord knows I could use some variety in the menu here! The tantalizing pics you post inspire me, so I hope you'll keep those up too!

Ashley said...

Listen, i love the way you roll! I think I have said this before, but you are so genuine and real in your post and you say it the way it is... very admirable and that is why I come back for more. I am glad HG will continue. I can always relate and am glad one of us is brave enough to post about the good the bad and the ugly.

Kimmie said...

"I haven't taken the time to individually reply, but I will, soon!"

???

That's what got you here in the first place! Don't you dare put that pressure on yourself, girl.

Kristen said...

Oh dear... I've been taking my own little blogging break and missed your original goodbye post. I swear, we must be long lost sisters from another life. You took the words right out of my mouth and you did it so eloquently.
Blogging... so many people responded privately to a post I wrote awhile back about the stresses of blogging and it is amazing to me how many of us get caught up in this game and then regret it. Our blogs become a beast instead of what our true intentions for it were. I'm glad that you have put this out there... maybe it will help others to realize that blogging doesn't have to be this way. It isn't a popularity contest. It is something we do for OURSELVES.

I was so close to quitting awhile ago, but I can't. I love my original blogs purpose, which is the exact same as you. To provide a place for family and friends to gather, to share memories and to encourage those people who are struggling to get in the kitchen and give cooking a try.

I am really proud of you. I will continue to read your blog because I love it and I love your style. I hope you can find balance and that blogging becomes fun again. Now that I have reassessed my priorities, it is become much easier for me to blog. I still have the guilt of not visiting every single persons blog and not responding to every comment, but my family and life has to come first. Hopefully, people will understand because I'm sure they feel the same stresses.

Thank you again for putting this out there! You have probably helped so many more people than you will ever know :)

Julie Bonn Heath said...

Hello. I am touched by your blog and your struggle. I wanted to let you know that many people hire ghost-bloggers these days and it helps some with scheduling. For instance, they could post as you and you could do the social marketing to draw traffic. I know this blog is all "you" but many writers can write in a similar voice. Another option is to bring on a columnist who posts a couple times a week, or even for several months as you take a break. I personally ghost-blog for two blogs, and write three as "me". But I wanted to let you know that there are other options when it gets to be too much. Just some thoughts for your thought bank. :) Take care.

Maria said...

Great post!! I am glad to see you are back, but in your own way!! I do love your blog and enjoy reading it. I am glad you are doing what makes you happy again. Blogging shouldn't be a competition or cause stress..it should be fun!! Thanks for your words. I will be checking back in on ya!! Best Wishes to you!

The Blonde Duck said...

It's actually kind of funny you wrote this. Last night as I was doing my daily comment regimen, my husband looked over and said, "Why do you do all that?" I said, "I have to. It's a thing." He said, "You don't have to do anything." I said, "Let me show you this post..."

:)

vanderlinden clan said...

I'm grateful the old Hot off the Garlic Press is back; I prefer the old style of your blog much more than the new image you were slaving so hard to create. I will start reading again and looking forward to the good ole' fashion blog that I grew to love. Good for you.

Satisfying my Sweet Tooth said...

I'm glad to see you are coming back. I truly think you are talented and I love the things you cook. Looks like we have the same ideas about the whole blog thing though. It's a great hobby for me right now and I'm sure one day I'll move on to something else. But I do it for me. Just enjoy it and if it gets to the point where it's not fun anymore, there is no need to keep going, but I sure will miss your humor and good eats!

alexandra's kitchen said...

I love your honesty. This whole blogging-commenting thing is a total game. I love looking around the blogosphere and seeing what people are doing, and 90 percent of the time I don't want to comment, but I do, because for now I'm happy to play the game. I know I will reach your point of frustration at some point too, and I love that you've called us all out! Seriously.

cooknkate said...

Blogging lately has become a Do/Don't issue with me as well and I struggle all the time with wanting to walk away and yet not wanting to disappoint my readers. I know what you mean about those 'fake' comments; sometimes I get them too. I shrug them off, and I vow to never comment on someone's blog unless I am moved to 'wow-ness' over what they are doing. I couldn't imagine commenting on a post that I hadn't read.

I think you're on the right track with your plan- blog when it's right for you. I think I'm getting to that point as well, and if people are put off by it that's their problem. Good luck! I look forward to what's ahead with HOTGP.

Leslie said...

Girl,
You know I support you and your blog regardless of how you run it. I think both of us totally put tooooo much pressure on ourselves, wanting to return all comments being super nice, visiting everyone else blogs. honestly it just CANT be dont if you have a family and a husband that craves attention. Our families and homes need us..not folks in the blogging world. they dont care if our laundry gets done..but is sure sucks when it piles up because we were too busy playing most popular!
When I return to blogging I am totally taking the same approach. I will still appriciate all comments, but there is no way that I am going to respond to everyone by going to that persons blog and comment on something on their blog. i just cant do it anymore. That is not why I started blogging. I dont play the blogging games..like all the weekly cooking contests and nor will I start. the Daring Bakers is all I can do. Blogging will be on my time..by my schedual..maybe I will post 1 time a week or maybe 3...whatever I can deal with. no more pressure of feeling like I need to do this for other people! Its my blog, run by me..not the pressure of others!

Kate said...

Just want you to know I check your blog weekly when I'm looking for inspiration when I get in a dinner rut. Your recipes always look so yummy and I love reading your witty posts. Especially the one about "borrowing" from your neighbor when they were out of town. I was so sad when I read you were taking a break but I could feel your frustration in your writing. I'm glad you aren't stopping just do it when you want to because I love to see what you are making. Keep it up. Your cinnamon rolls were amazing!!

Psychgrad said...

I can relate to what you're saying. I get frustrated with comments that are the same and pretty much say nothing, particularly if I put a lot of effort into telling a story.

Sometimes, I do just want to look at pictures and say the picture looks nice because my brain can't take in any more words. If the topic is interesting to me and I have something to contribute, I'll spend a fair bit of time on reading and commenting. As long as someone who comments does that too (once in a while), that's fine with me.

sara said...

Oh yeah? Well I'm commenting anyway. I have my own recipe blog so maybe that's okay. :)

First off - I found this blog by clicking over from someone's family blog (yours?), which I found by their leaving a comment on my good friend Leigh's blog; the one who is giving away earrings from her new Etsy shop.

Anyway I completely understand what you're saying, about the "blog games," wanting to increase your readership, the time consumption, etc etc. I had my "family blog" first and I noticed that when I had the web crawling turned on, I had a lot of hits from searches on my recipe & cake decorating posts. So I started the separate recipe blog. Wait, I didn't mean to get into my whole life story or anything... anyway after my recipe blog didn't take off in leaps & bounds as I'd hoped (mostly because I don't post on it very often; I spend most of my blogging time with my other blog), I finally came to the reality that my recipe blog is pretty much for me, and my few devoted fans who read me (my sisters and my mom) and if I expect anything more I'm just setting myself up for disappointment.

Anyway I have had fun browsing through your recipes here and I will be adding you to my google reader. Hope you're having a good week!

hot garlic said...

Okay, I'm pretty sure that I reached out to everyone I could comment or email on to thank you all so much for your support! It was sad, yet wonderful to know I wasn't alone in my struggle. I so appreciate the way you all reached out to let me know how it all affects you, or if not, to give me the nudge I needed to get back on this old horse.

I ESPECIALLY appreciate all of you who have left a comment that does not trace back to you -it really pains me that I can only leave you this message here that you will hopefully come back and read, because your comments truly touched me and I so appreciated each and every one of them!

Thanks everyone.

Heart,

Natalie, aka Hot Garlic

puppymomma said...

Natalie,

I was moved by your recent posts. You really put a lot out there and it took a lot of guts. I've shared many of your thoughts at one time or another. And I completely understand where you are coming from.

Best wishes to you!

CECIL said...

Oh!! I am glad you back!! :) I have been falling out off radar for a bit. What's new, yeah?

But anyway, you are so my hero for being so honest about all these blogging business. :) Why you asked, especially I am quite new in food blog. Haha. But everything you said is right on the dot. I started blogging in 2005 actually and it was truly 100% fun and relaxing. It was personal and just me rambling about chemo and oncologist and needles. :) It helped me to think out loud - and for those who read it, they have an idea of what to ask and not. Like, I'd say in my blog 'Please don't ask me how I am doing.' Or 'It'll be better tomorrow' HAHAHA.

And I thought when I started my food blog, it'd be somewhat that way. Until I started to feel bad if I don't blog often. Which really doesn't make sense, it's my blog, right?

But anyhoo..you are just awesome and I am so glad that you are back!

The Duchess of Wessex said...

BRAVO, You!

I have felt the same way MANY times since beginning my blog, (for the same reasons you did - my long distance family & friends) a few years ago.

I will be keeping up with your blog for all the reasons of this post - because you are authentic and sincere in what you blog. You could never be the machine blogger that so many sadly are/have become. In the world of us, "real" bloggers, I wish you continued and tremendous success!

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