Happy Blogiversary!

One year ago today we started this little ole blog! We never had especially big plans for it. It was always just a simple way for us to record our weekend activities, mainly to help us journal for ourselves all the bits and bobs we had been up to. Also, it was a way for our families (who all live a very long way away from Scotland) to stop in now and then and see the fun things we had been up to.

We wrote our first post on the 24th of September 2011, and expected that probably no one would ever read it. The internet is a very big place after all, and how would anyone even find us?? Well, for the first 5 days we were right, we had about 3 hits (one at least of which was me, accidentally logging in without being signed into WordPress). But then, slowly slowly, we got the odd couple of hits here and there. After our 2nd or 3rd post someone liked us (which totally blew our minds! :D), and by about 6 weeks in, we were getting about 20 hits a day, and the odd lovely comment. We were totally psyched, and totally enchanted with the whole process of making things, getting to write about them, and people even reading our posts! In fact, we were excited enough that we even told the odd family member about the blog so they could have a read for themselves.

If you had told us back then, when we were totally astonished with every hit, that today an average day would be hundreds of hits, we would probably have snorted at you and told you that you must have had the wrong blog!

But, here we stand one whole year later and we are still as totally in love with the process as ever! Very very few people out there who we see day to day even know that we blog – Phil’s family, my family, a handful of close friends … you could probably count them all on ten fingers and ten toes. It has been a steep steep learning curve too! But, I can honestly say we enjoy making every post we write, be it long or short, making or baking, never does a post go out that we are not proud to put our names next to.

So, we thought, that as its our blogiversary, we would skip a tutorial for one post, to first of all say a big big thank you to you all for stopping by every day. You all make us happy campers! Seriously, having a blog means that every day we fill our down time with fun together projects and live life to the full, and even though we would probably still do it if we didn’t blog, it means the world that you all come along for the ride !!!

And, secondly we thought it would be fun to take today to share with you all a quick round up of what we have learnt, what we have achieved and our favourite moments from the last year of blogging! 😀

THANK YOU again. You all rock our socks. 😀

Enjoy! xxx

The ten most important things we have learned in the last year of blogging!

1) To be a good blogger you need to be a good photographer

I know this one might sound a bit obvious. If your an avid blog reader like we were (and still are), you will know that good blogs are usually choca-a-block full of clear and pretty pictures of food or crafts or diy projects. So, I guess 12 months ago we kinda figured that if your project is good the photos will be good too …… urm WRONG! You can have made the bestest best knitting project or cake and if the lighting isn’t good, and the composition isn’t together, and the background doesn’t work with the contents, and photo isn’t quite in focus on the right thing you end up with a big horrible mess of a picture which no one wants to look at. This was a lesson we learned the hard way. Phil is now our photographer in chief. He has basically taught himself from scratch, by reading tutorials, playing around with settings and taking 2500 ish pictures over the year.  Eventually when you take that many they have to get better! 😀

2) The Scottish sunshine is not good for blogging

This sort of follows on from point number one. When we started blogging, I guess we figured that once it got wet and gross and dark out in the Edinburgh winter we could just use the indoor lights to take pictures ….. wrong again! Good photos, especially especially good food photos need lots of bright natural daylight. And there is one thing Edinburgh in winter does not have, and that is bright natural daylight. Seriously …. we are talking about 6 hours of sunlight a day in winter, usually right when we are at work, and more often than not excluded by clouds and rain and snow. The sun also does this slightly maddening thing where it sits right on the horizon and just sort of hovers there. We have tried just about everything including multiple angled daylight lamps with reflector boards but there is just something about artificial light which doesn’t look the same in photos. So, some days, even though we have something ready to photograph, we just have to wait until it is sunny ….. easy to do for crafts, not so easy for cake!

3) People you have never met can be super super nice!

This one is really all about you guys! Our readers. We always hoped people would read our blog, and maybe even find it useful. We always hoped that people might even like it enough to pop back in and look at it again in the future if they liked it. We never ever expected that people would enjoy it enough to leave us the hundreds and hundreds of funny, odd, kind and totally unexpected comments which we have received in the last twelve months. The fact that people we have never met, take time out of their busy days, stop by and write to us how much they liked what we did. Well, that is just lovely. We really do appreciate and read every single one. Which is also why we try our very best to reply to every single one (not always possible, but we always try).  So, thanks!

4) Not all your projects go right

This one is not really a truth about blogging, more a truth about life. We are humans. Sometimes our cakes sink in the middle. Sometimes we accidentally sit on our knitting and pull it all off the needle and then curse and pull it back in frustration. Sometimes we sew the same leg onto a moose 4 times before it doesn’t look like he is going to fall over. Sometimes we make bread and accidentally add 3 tablespoons (rather than teaspoons) of salt and it is inedible…. get my gist? The important thing to remember is that the stuff we do are just projects. They aren’t life and death, they are just cookies, or bread or a crocheted moose. Even though its frustrating when things go wrong and sometimes it means we don’t have anything to post about, the most important thing is to not sweat the small stuff.

5) People search for the funniest things on Google

Many of our hits day to day are from people searching on Google (or other search engines) and us popping up in answer to their query. Usually these are pretty sensible searches like ‘diy Christmas decorations’ or ‘chocolate cake recipe’. But, occasionally the searches are either so odd, or so unexpected that they make us giggle. Here are a couple of our favorites from the last year:

“How do you make a cardboard fireplace?”  — urrm, please don’t! I’m not a fireman but I’m pretty sure that’s a bad plan. Just sayin.

“What do you do with a chocolate lollipop stick once you have eaten the chocolate off it not on the stick craft?”  — well said 😀

“Naughty naughty yummy girls” – hmmm, not sure they found what they were looking for on this blog, lol! Sorry to disappoint, but I’m sure there are a few other websites out their which might be better suited.

And, finally but most oddly, the thing which gives us the most impressions on google is ….. “spooning”….. yep……… not sure there is anything else to say about that, except that maybe some folks really like to spoon……

6) There are only so many hours in a day  (a.k.a we can’t blog every day :D)

Just like our photography lesson, this one was learned the hard way. Phil and I both work full time Monday to Friday (actually, often one of us (me) is more than full time some weeks). Which means that evenings and weekends are our blogging time …. and our sleeping time and eating time and laundry time and cleaning time and food shopping time and visiting family time. You get the idea. In addition, Phil and I both have to take professional exams every few months …. in fact last week I had exams on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday …. and Phil has an exam next Thursday. This means that we also have to squeeze many hours of revision into our already squished downtime. This means that sometimes something has gotta give. Usually, the thing that gives first is getting a post out on time. The thing that keeps us calm about it is that we know that, you, our readers, are patient, and understand, and realize we are busy and will be back asap! Just another reason we love you guys.

7)  Blogging about something takes 3 times longer than just doing it

Fact. To bake a cake on your own would maybe take a couple of hours. To bake a cake for the blog takes about 6 or 7. First you have to time it right so you have sunlight to photograph the process in. Next you have to have a clean and tidy space to photograph.  You then have to make the cake, whilst stopping every step to take a picture or 5 of the process. Then the cake has to bake, and you have to turn it out and take pictures of it again  … preferably with a nice background and plate and even more sunlight (that darn sunlight).  Then you have to upload the pictures to the computer, pick the ones which work, edit them, crop them, watermark them. Then you write your post and recipe, then you add in your pictures, then you label it with tags, categorize it, proof read it, wait and get Phil to proof read it (we always try to proof each others posts before they go out …. sometimes typos still slip through, but we do try!). And finally you can post it. Phew! This isn’t to say we don’t love every step…. but sometimes it takes a while.

8) Sometimes you end up being featured on the most random websites!

When people post links to your website from theirs it is lovely. It means they like what you did enough to let people know, and that it a good thing! What is slightly random is when you log in to your blog, scroll down to have a peek at your referrers to see (I’ll paraphase) http://www.ladies-who-are-very-well-endowed-and-in-their-birthdaysuits.tumbler.com …. so you click through to see who this might be, only to find blush-worthy picture after picture after picture, and then, right in the middle ….. a picture of your ottoman!! Turns out people can have eclectic taste 😀 (Also, did you know Russia has its own version of facebook? Neither did we.)

9) You totally can’t predict whats going to be a big hit

We are always proud of the posts we put up, so we always hope that people will like them, but sometimes people just kinda like ones that we think are really great (that was mainly back in the early days) and sometimes people L-O-V-E posts which we thought were just ok. I think over time we are getting better at predicting what readers enjoy and not, but sometimes you still surprise us by totally loving the most random things (like these Salt-Dough Star Ornaments which gave us some of the biggest hits we have ever had on the blog!) …. and we love that about you!

10) Just do your own thing!

You’ve got to love what you blog about. Especially if it is going to take three times as long to blog about it anyway! And if that is not what other people love, so what?! Just be you. Love what you blog about, and love blogging about it, and people will come and read and maybe even write a lovely comment. Don’t worry about how often you do it, or if it is as good as other peoples. Just do you own thing 😀

Our year in numbers

94433  – hits in the last year!

21522 – number of hits on our most popular post – Nail and Thread State Art Part 1

10000 – average number of Google impressions we make each day

3180 – number of people we have shared the love with and redirected to other fun, useful or down right lovely websites

3104 – most hits we’ve had in one day

1800 – average number of words per post (who knew we were so chatty!)

532 – number of photos on the blog so far

400 – average hits per day

147 -number of different countries we have had hits from including Swaziland, Palestine, Northern Mariana Islands, Rwanda, Angola, Faroe Isles, Iraq, Aruba, Gibralta and Guam. Hi!

84 – number of posts total

33 – average hits per hour.

32 – number of baking projects we have made (and eaten) this year… oopsy.

30 – average number of pictures we take for each post, only 5 – 8 of which get picked
making 2520 photos average this year

19 – number of exams we have collectively taken in the last 12 months while blogging, and working! Yuck.

15 – longest number of days between posts

7 – number of hours it usually takes to make a baking post start to finish

1 – number of times we have almost been eaten by a bear this year and then blogged about it :D.

Our favorite posts and your favorite posts!

Phil’s favorite post – Dried Orange Slice Ornaments

Take a few oranges, a sprinkle of icing sugar and you have on your hands the easiest craft project ever. I have to admit getting a little bit obsessed about cutting perfect slices and in the process discarding and then chomping through a whole lot of orange slices, but a little vitamin C never hurt anyone. There’s also something a little magical about the Christmas tree in the background too 🙂

Sam’s favorite post – Honeycomb Toffee

Sometimes the blogging gods align, and the day we made honeycomb just happened to be one of them! It was a beautifully sunny day (are you getting the idea we are weather obsessed here lol), our honeycomb worked magically and it tasted even better than the pictures made it look! This makes me one happy blogger.

Your favorite post –

As we mentioned earlier, sometimes posts are so popular they amaze us, and our Nail and Thread state art was one of them. It is still to this day one of our most viewed posts, it gets hundreds of hits every day and it is in the list of most popular of all time on Craftgawker. (Which means I probably shouldn’t tell you that we have already updated it on our kitchen wall and demoted it to the spare room. Things never stay still around here for very long :D)

So just in case you missed it, here it is again ….

So just to sign off a final thanks again to everyone. We’re super excited for the year ahead and already have a huge list of projects to share, from pie to cookies, bookbinding to Christmas decoration (almost that time again already :P). Stay tuned…

About Cook Quilt Make and Bake

Hi, I'm Sam, he's Phil. Welcome to our blog where we share our fun down time projects. We're just a young couple, happily cooking, making, quilting and baking our way through life and love. You're welcome to stop by and share the good times!
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10 Responses to Happy Blogiversary!

  1. Ann says:

    Congratulations! Have to say I once made a cardboard fireplace for a school play, but (honestly!) I was not the one who googled you about it. Off to check out the honeycomb toffee recipe now… keep up the great work.

  2. wight book witch says:

    We love your Blog 🙂

  3. grams says:

    Happy first anniversary. you can almost be sure that you will make me smile!

  4. Pingback: Bake and Make: Almond Iced Sugar Cookies | cookquiltmakeandbake

  5. Karen Williams says:

    Have the cutest orange slices in the oven as we squeak…can’t wait to see them in a couple of hours…oh, and have done a lemon slices tray too!
    Will re-post when I am finished! So glad to have found you and will continue catching up with all your other posts….

    • Thanks Karen! We are so happy you found us too 😀 Glad the orange slices worked and let us know how the lemons go! Sam xxx

      • Karen Williams says:

        Well, all done and sort of dusted! The smell has been scrumptious in the kitchen today, and finally, they all have their ribbons and look so lovely…glistening in the candle light in there! The lemons worked well too – just smaller! When I work out how to take pics and get them onto the pooterythingthatismydaughter’slaptop….I will send pics! For now, am snuggled up on settee with Tobythecutestdog, watching tv and so pleased the rain stopped long enough for us to get out for another walk! So sorry you have such bad light up in the bonniest of Scotlands! Tis much the same in north Wales where I come from…but when the sun shines…nothing can beat it!
        best wishes

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