Over the past few weeks I have been revisiting a few of my older posts on BNP and it has got me thinking…
What have I learned since I started BNP 2 years ago?
This post has me evaluating my blogging adventures…
I laugh when I think back about how I thought it was just was easy as bake, blog, and repeat. While yes, that is the very basic outline to a blog, there is so much more to take into consideration:
3. Creative writing
4. Social media outlets
5. Getting your voice heard
6. Recipe pride
7. Consideration of others
8. Baking ability
None of which are in any order of importance. In fact, they must all work cohesively in order to be successful.
I may be strong in a few, but I am definitely still learning and publicly stumbling in many others. So that is essentially what the last two years have been:
A learning experience.
Things I have learned:
1. First and probably the most important lesson I have learned thus far is to be considerate of other bloggers.
When I first started, I faced blogging like I might teaching. In the teaching world, all ideas are up for grabs. Whatever activity, lesson, or center reaches the most student success, you go for it. You copy them because you like them. You see their potential. You are not claiming them as your own, but you are not always putting your own stamp on it so to speak. I used to just copy the entire recipe from a blog I admired, tag them, and recreate the recipe. I might have changed one or two things to give it a slightly different spin, but it was, for all intents and purposes, someone else’s recipe. Someone else’s hard work and dedication. As I now create my own recipes and write down my own experiences, I realize just how much pride I have in each post and how demoralizing it would be if someone claimed it as their own. So now in the blogging world, if I love something enough to put it on my blog, I send my viewers straight to the source.
2. Photography (and Photoshop for that matter) are learned skills.
Practice makes perfect and I must have several hundred of horrid, fuzzy pictures to prove it. When Mr. BNP first got me my Sony NEX-5N, my initial thought was, Ooooh Kaaaay, I have a smart camera that will do everything I need it to with just a click of a button. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The most important rule I have learned about photography is to shoot EVERYTHING in manual mode. When you do that, then you can adjust the aperture and shutter speed. Do not, I repeat, do not think that choosing the Intelligent mode will get you what you want out of your photos. Study your manual. Watch how to videos. Talk with others who have been there. And invest in a good photography light box. This one is mine. Adorama Photo Studio In-A-Box. Photos are important. Add as many great photos as you can to your post. Most people enjoy photos more than the actual post.
3. Writing is the hardest part.
I am a complete introvert. I am shy to new people and new experiences and will most likely stutter or stumble upon my words when first meeting you. Corner me and I am like a turtle crawling back into her shell. Now times that anxiety by ten when I have to write my personal experiences and share my own recipes to the world. Ok, so I know not the whole world. But it is out there for anyone to see. People who like me. People who don’t. People who have just found me. making their first impressions of me. It is intimidating and I am deathly afraid of failure. That being said, I am conquering my fear each week with a new post and that is saying something.
4. Social media outlets and getting your voice heard go hand in hand.
There are so many social media outlets to get your blog noticed that it is hard to choose which one. I am a huge fan of 3 and am constantly updating them; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I do have a Google+ account, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and many more, but I just can’t keep up. Even my Pottermore account is being left in the dust these days. Point is, I have learned that you have to put yourself out there. Introduce yourself. Share. Share. Oh yeah, and share some more.
5. Baking ability, decoration, and background
I have grown so much as a baker since beginning Bake No Prisoners. I attribute my growth to fellow bloggers, decorating classes, and trial and error. There is nothing I hate more than spending time and money on a recipe that turns out to be a total disaster, but those failures aid in future successes. They are necessary. I promise. You will succeed as long as you keep trying.
The background to your photos is almost as important as the baked goods itself. Invest in a few adorable cake stands, bottles, and background paper. Michael’s is perfect for this. T.J. Maxx and Homegoods are great sources too. If you like to order online, check my links page, under supplies.
Now this post isn’t just a long and drawn out blogger’s reflection, I also have an adorable, Girl Scout themed cake for you!
Another perk of being a teacher is that you have an excuse to buy an exuberant amount of Girl Scout cookies. Whether your favorite be Thin Mints, Samoa, or Tagalongs, you have to admit, those Girls Scouts really know how to make a good cookie.
They have a new flavor this year called the Mango Cremes cookie. According to the box, these cookies are “Vanilla and coconut cookies filled with a tangy mango flavored creme.” This sounded like the perfect opportunity to turn this cookie into a cake!
Now the Hubster is allergic to coconut flakes, so I used flavoring in the cake recipe, along with vanilla, but you could totally find a way to add coconut flakes to your cake or frosting.
I used this basic vanilla cake recipe for the base, but cut the vanilla in half and used coconut flavoring in its place. I really like this vanilla cake recipe because it produces a firm cake that is perfect to frost.
This Mango Coconut Buttercream makes this cake! It is thick and creamy and oh so tropical! When I slice a piece of this cake, I pretend I am in the Caribbean somewhere and away from all this cold, dreary weather! Enjoy!
Mango Coconut Buttercream Frosting
- 2 sticks softened butter
- 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon meringue powder
- 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
- 4 teaspoons milk or heavy cream
- 5 teaspoons mango juice
- Cream butter, coconut flavoring, and milk. Add dry ingredients a little at a time. Mix on medium speed until creamy, about 5 minutes.