Where to begin, I have to begin some place…
My name, in case you are wondering, is Joseph, and in fact, I’m not particularly fat, but I thought the name to be apt for this blog, in case you are wondering about that too.
I’ve been blogging for almost three years. I’ve been working online for over five years, and full-time self-employed online for about four years.
I left England, UK towards the end of 2009, and lived in Malaysia (Kuching) for almost three years in all. Then, I relocated to Lapu Lapu in Cebu, Philippines at the end of July, 2012 (personal reasons – it’s a bit complicated, and messy).
Reasons for this Blog
In brief, the desire to create this blog are multiple, but mainly because:
- I have a passion for food, but have not actually done too much cooking (whilst living in Kuching, Malaysia, there was no need to cook at home because the food there is fantastic and it’s so so cheap too. Oh how I MISS Kuching!).
- I often try to avoid cooking at home because I hate washing dishes Nevertheless, I’m now “forced” to craft my own dishes at home for reasons given just below…
- When I arrived in the Philippines I found the food to be erm… disappointing (I’m being polite). Thusly, it’s time to do much more cooking at home because that way I can cater to my own palate and not have to rely on the bland stuff I’m finding here in Lapu Lapu. I just don’t get the food here at all.
- I’m vegetarian and have been for some 24 years and have no intention of changing that. For sure, I eat a little bit of fish now and again – that makes life a bit easier when living in South East Asia since these countries are highly dependent on fish. Otherwise though, the diet here in the Philippines tends to be very meat-focused (along with rice, rice, rice, rice), there’s no escaping it. Gives me all the more reason to do more cooking. Out of the three main staples, my least favoured one is RICE. Oddly enough, in Kuching, Malaysia, perhaps the most popular food was not rice but noodles. As we know, in the western world, potatoes tends to be the most popular, or it was for me since I grew up in the 70′s and 80′s, but potatoes in South East Asia are expensive. I used to live on a farm and got a mass supply of potatoes free of charge so you can imagine how much I grudge paying 20 cents (US) for a small tattie.
- My girlfriend (who is s very beautiful Filipino) is pregnant and I’d like to be able to prepare some healthy food at home when my child gets a bit older. A very good reason why I start learning more about preparing food at home now! You may be wondering why I did not say I’d be preparing food for my girlfriend? Well, I could, but it would always be rice!! Plus, I have a penchant for HOT and SPICY, where she does NOT!
Current Dilemmas and Difficulties
Okay, so business for me of recent has floundered badly. I used to rely on the good graces of Google to make a large cut of my over-all income. Alas, that was not a wise investment of my time or my funds because Google is the ever-changing monolith.
These days, I earn about one fifth of my previous income, and that’s painful, I can tell you! As such, my budget is tight.
I have no real oven to work with – the one that I do have is fit for heating up some French fries or toasting up some crusty bread. It’s very small!
Further, my cooking space is very limited indeed. I’ll be using a small dining room table for almost all my food prep.
But there’s another issue…
I live in the Philippines and the local supermarket, although fairly respectable in terms of the produce it offers for sale, is at the same time a bit limited. I mean, take cheddar cheese for example. Sure, I can get MacLelland cheddar, which is actually rather nice. But it’s like four times more expensive than it is in the UK. Ouch! Hmmm… I decided to try Edam cheese just prior to Christmas as something of a Christmas present to self. Yes, expensive, but cheaper than the MacLelland cheddar. Ooooyooook!! Tastes like waxy plastic. It’s disgusting. Thus, I’m feeding the ferral cats with it, and they seem to enjoy it.
I love cats and used to feed a plethora of wild kitties at my home in Kuching every single day, morning and night. They’d all wait for me to feed them and if I were late, they’d let me know about it. And boy do I miss my Persian puss! I miss, miss, miss her! Yeah, I’m a cat loving softie for sure!
In order to try to make up for a bit of the short fall, I’ve now taken to feeding the stray cats here at my home in Lapu Lapu, Philippines. They’re really scared of humans and I think that’s because the kids around here keep chasing them. Nevertheless, I’ve now got one of them (I call him Twist because he has a blatant twist at the end of his tail) sleeping inside my doorway, and there’s a number of little kittens who regularly feed from my offerings. The kitties will become a oft-times part of this blog since they are an important part of my life here in the Philippines.
Wild Cats Near Our Home in Lapu Lapu, Philippines
Back to the main point however…
Trying to get “stuff” will indeed pose lots of issues so I’ll have to improvise relatively often and see how it goes. In the UK to get pretty much anything you wanted you can go online and place an order with any of the local supermarkets and within a couple of days you’ve got a whole bunch of stuff lining your cupboards and/or larder. Well, here in Lapu land it’s quite the different matter, so it is!
One word comes to mind above any other – IMPROVISE. A good cook can always improvise. Perhaps I should have called this blog “IMPROVISE”. And fact of the matter is, if it were not for the lack of suitable produce, I would not now be so focused on cooking at home. And if it were not for the fact that I’m “having to” cook at home, I’d not have set up this blog. Everthing happens for a purpose after all…
A Quick Word on Success
This part should probably go elsewhere in my About page but no worries… Sorry if the post is a bit disjointed. I’m writing from the heart and my work is not entirely edited…
How can you gain success as a blogger these days? I mean, let’s face it, there are millions of blogs covering everything you can imagine. And let’s face it, there are hundreds of thousands of cooking blogs and websites out there. So how in heck’s name can our blog be successful in the plethora of blogs out there?
I recently read a post by Yaro Starak who is considered as one of the blogging pioneers (he was the first blogger I ever followed, and I spent some of my hard-earned on a couple of his products, including the Blogging Mastermind course). Over the past year, he’s written very few blog posts, but just a week or so ago (from the time I’m writing this) he wrote a post about how much more difficult it is to be successful in the blogosphere. He mentioned names within his own niche – Pat Flynn (I know Pat personally), Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Workweek fame, and there are a few other bloggers who are very successful in the make-money-online niche. At one time I too was relatively successful but not at all in the same league as Pat or Tim. Thanks to Google, I gained some success. And thanks to Google, my business dropped like a bomb, over and over again. Live by the sword, die by the sword…
So what makes a successful blog?
Passion comes to mind. If you don’t have passion for your game, you will really struggle to gain success. I’ve started lots of blogs where I had little to no real passion and they’ve all failed because I lost interest. Unlike a so-called “niche website”, a blog is a work in progress. Very many niche websites are set-and-forget. I have sites that I set up over three years ago. In the previous 12 months I’ve done nothing with them other than update the plugins and the version of WordPress. They still make money regardless. They still get the same amount of visitors today that they did 12 months ago. If I tried to do that with a blog I would probably fail miserably because a blog by it’s nature must be updated fairly regularly.
Cutting edge different. Ah, yes! That’s it! If you are cutting edge different you have a fine chance at success. You’ll stand out. But I bet you are wondering how can you be cutting edge different in a niche where there are a half million or more other blogs? For sure, I scratch my head in bewilderment about this too. I started a parenting blog not long ago but I kept wondering how can I make the darn thing stand out from the rest?
I now realize there is an answer. And it’s something that I’ve been doing all along with my blog at josepharchibald.com.
I will go back to my parenting blog and I will use many techniques that I’ll be sharing with you here in order to make it successful.
I’m me. I’m not you. I’m not anyone else. I’m me. I’m different. I have different desires than anyone else. I have a different perception on life than anyone else. Can’t I share that with you? Sure, you may not find my perceptions appealing, but I bet there’s something you like about me or about how I do things. And that something may be enough to make you come back to my blog for more, over and over. And that something may be enough for you to tell your friends about my blog.
How can you make a blog about cooking any different than the others? Tricky, right? I mean, there’s no doubt thousands and thousands of blogs and websites describing how you make pumpkin soup. And the chances that you or I can come up with a new recipe on making pumpkin soup are pretty minimal. But the way we make our “recipe” different is to add ourselves to the overall experience.
I write different to you, don’t I? I have different experiences than you do. I mean, I don’t have a proper oven for starters. I will struggle to get my ingredients too. I don’t have much prep space either. For some of my recipes, I’ll be focusing on the fact that soon I’ll have a new addition to cater to – my own first child. Plus, the way I see things and the way I do things is somewhat dictated by my past (not least, the time I spent in Malaysia where the food is the best of the best as far as I’m concerned!). My current food tastes have been shaped by my childhood experiences of food. I didn’t enjoy meat very much so I used to use spicy Daddy’s Brown Sauce (HP) to smother the meat “to death” so I didn’t have to taste it. After all, my parents insisted that I eat everything on my plate at meal times and the only way I could do that was to enjoy the food.
Along my journey in life I had a Singapore Indian girlfriend and it was she who introduced me to the delights of Asian spices way back in the early 1990′s. That simply followed suit from my love of spicy Daddy’s Brown Sauce when I was a little kid.
This is what makes my “stuff” different. Along with my “voice”. My personality. I can share very different experiences than you can. You can share very different experiences than someone else can. That’s how we can stand out! That’s how we can be successful in a sea of other cooking blogs! Well, that and a game plan. But more about the game plan to come. I can and will help you with your game plan, if you let me.
As I said, I’m no hot shot cook – very far from it, actually! I once tried to cook pizza and the base was so stodgy and hard that I had constipation for over a week! I mean, if you think you are a bad cook, then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet
Mind you, as far as I’m concerned, my home-made sauces beat any shop-bought sauce I’ve ever had! I like it HOT! I mean, give me some chilli padi and I’m a very happy camper! I love HOT, where very few other people do. Thus, when I cook, I tend to cook for me alone because no-one else can stomach my creations
Cooking is very much down to preparation. I mean, take Jamie Oliver. There’s no doubt he and his “staff” take hours and hours to prep for a single half hour television program. Well, I sense it’s the same thing for me, and for any budding cook too. If you want to find any recipe, simply do a search online and chances are that you’ll find exactly what you require. I know it – I’ve written cooking “stuff” for a number of clients (pro writing is my other thing by the way). Yeah, it’s a bit tricky making the recipe your own unique creation, but the rest of the write-up can be extremely creative and sculpted in your own tone. That’s another reason why I chose to blog about cooking – you can get creative with it, and I love that! I love when I can sit down and write and write, straight from my heart. I can write for hours on end. Take this About page – it’s a case in fact!
There’s another reason why I want to blog a living cook book so to speak. My girlfriend and I both love cooking shows on television. My own passion for cook shows has grown since living in the UK where I’d regularly watch Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall (River Cottage), Saturday Morning Cooks (Anthony Worrall Thompson), and a few others besides. Then, when I came to live in Malaysia, the cooking show passion gravitated towards Asian-style cooking programs which added a very new and exciting dimension to my love of Asian cuisines (although I abhor the concept of shark fin soup!!). And now, fortunately, I can still watch all the UK cook programs and many of the Asian cook programs too. Okay, so it’s one thing watching a cooking program and quite another to actually do the cooking yourself, but the passion can surely grow – it’s there already!
And Finally, Finally…
This is going to be much more than a cooking blog. Oh yeah… I want to explore the make money online philosophy via a cooking blog. The vast majority of folks fail at making money online, and almost everyone fails at making enough online to make a comfortable living. I’ve been there and done that and a bit more besides – after all, I live off the income I generate online. I don’t have any other income to rely on. I fully financially support my partner and have a child on the way, so making a living online surely can be done, if you know how and if you focus and focus and work hard enough at it (although it really does not have to be hard work at all).
My plan for this site is not to make a couple of grand a month. I want to aim much higher. How about 10 grand US dollars per month from this blog alone? Tall order, yes, but I can already see it happening. I have a plan and I plan to succeed!
Nevertheless, although the focus of this blog is mostly about cooking, the focus is also about blogging. It’s the PASSION for BLOGGING that will drive this website, not the passion for cooking! The point I’m making here is that much of the stuff you’ll learn from my work here on this site will be transferable to other niches. For sure, I love cooking (or I love the thought of it ) but just because I can make a great sauce or a delicious ciabatta does not mean I want to share it with the world.
The key to success, and I can say this from a ton of my own experience, is that you have to have a passion for what it is you wish to do. Without the passion, you’re almost surely doomed to failure. Yes, you can outsource your workload, but unless you find an excellent writer who shares your passions and goals, chances are that the project will never meet it’s full expectations. People who locate your blog will soon sense the lack of passion and no doubt will gravitate elsewhere.
It’s all about PASSION and a desire to share yourself and a part of your life with your intended audience.
For more about how to set your own food blog up (and make money from it if you are so inclined), please go here…