MARSHALL - When Marshall resident Carole Jones started a weblog to write about cooking and family life, she thought it would be just a hobby. But after years of regularly posting recipes online, Jones' blog, titled "My Kitchen Escapades," has gained a following and turned into a business opportunity.
"It's kind of a journal of the past five years of my life," Jones said of her blog. The idea behind it, she said, was to show "a day in the life of my kitchen." A typical post will usually include a new recipe, and writing about Jones' experiences as a mother of six.
"I've had people who follow the blog for different reasons. A lot of them are there for the food, but a lot read it for the parenting," she said. Recently, the blog has started generated advertising income for Jones, as well as requests for custom cakes or catering.
Photo by Deb Gau
For the past five years, Marshall resident Carole Jones has been taking her “kitchen escapades” online with blog about cooking and motherhood. While it started out as a hobby, Jones said the blog’s readership has grown into a small business.
Jones enjoys cooking and is always searching for new things to try. But blogging about her experiences was a different kind of experiment at first.
"It was my husband (Don) who first encouraged me," Jones said. After the fifth or sixth time her husband told her she should start a food blog, Jones said, she decided to give it a try. The blog, www.mykitchenescapades.com, will celebrate its fifth anniversary in April.
Jones said the foods she writes about and photographs include a mix of her own recipes and ones from other sources, although she takes care to credit the original sources. She said she also tries to keep things positive and to have a sense of humor about the chaotic parts of being a mom.
"If I have pictures that aren't of food, they're of crazy things the kids do," Jones said, smiling.
At first, Jones said it was mostly family and friends who read the blog, but she slowly started to gain readers, and people who followed the blog on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Jones decided to host advertisements on the blog, which earn revenue based on the number of page views the blog receives. Last July, the traffic took off in a way she hadn't anticipated. A blog post with a recipe for parmesan chicken bake received more than 80,000 page views in one day, Jones said. The post still shows up high on the list of Google search results for "parmesan chicken bake."
"It went huge," Jones said. She may never know why that particular recipe attracted so much attention.
"To this day, I don't know," she said. However, she said forming good connections has been important for the blog's success.
"It's about the relationships," Jones said. On the Internet, interesting stories, recipes or pictures tend to get shared among friends, or linked to on other blogs. For example, Jones said, one of her posts featuring instructions for making homemade ice packs received extra traffic when it was featured on Lifehacker, a blog for do-it-yourself tips.
Good photography is another plus for a food blog, Jones said. She's been teaching herself how to take attractive pictures of her cooking to accompany the recipe posts.
"Pinterest is what has made (the blog) what it is," Jones said. She estimated that Pinterest, a site that allows users to share "pinboards" of their favorite images, accounts for about 10,000 followers of her blog.
Jones said she hopes to keep blogging. She said one thing she especially wants to do is build up a network of local bloggers. While it's great that "My Kitchen Escapades" has started making money, Jones said it's building relationships with other people that really makes it fun to write the blog.
"It's not just about money for me. I just really like sharing my story," she said.