Last night I created the last recipe for my Modernizing Markham project. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm excited to move onto the next stage. All I have to do now is make the calligraphed pamphlet-y book and upload the POD/e-book version to various sites. I'm still figuring out how best to approach that (with the caveat that I use free services only), so suggestions are welcome. Since I'm at the turning point with my nearly-finished project, I thought I'd take a second and share a few things I've learned from blogging outside my discipline.
1. What works in one field won't work across the board. Obvious, yes, but definitely some words to live by. I am usually pretty good at attracting readers through social media and getting some interesting discussion going in the comments, but the dynamic was completely different with this project. More people found my blog through oddly specific web searches (despite a social media blitz, I never got much over 50 Twitter followers), and the comments mostly had a different feel about them. I'm not sure if this is true of all food blogs, but most people would just post 1-2 sentence comments with tips or with information on where to order a product. It's very useful, but it was harder to engage readers when responding to those posts. Which leads me to my next point...
2. Engage your readers. I feel like I do an alright job on this blog (although if there's a feature/topic/something you'd like to see, I'd love to know!), but I feel like there was a lot of room for improvement with my other blog. Whether it was from my new-ness to the food/history blogging field, my topic, or something I overlooked, I felt like I could not generate the interest I hoped for. I asked for input from readers (very few people responded to questions in my posts) and tried to offer helpful resources, but I have been pondering on what else I could have done. Possibilities include focusing more on offering resources (those posts did get more interest than others), and expand my reach to spend more time also trying to tie it into book history (I did this some, but it would have been a fun way to draw in more history folk).
3. Keep yourself motivated. After a while, I felt like no one was reading the blog and I had other things going on (moving, graduating, all that good stuff) and so I didn't devote the amount of time to it that I would have liked in the last few posts. I like these posts (and the recipes), but I felt less compelled to add lots of exciting resources and context to the posts. If I do a future short-term blogging project like MM, I might consider setting up a more strictly-enforced posting schedule for myself, keeping an eye out for other projects and resources I can share with readers, and try to network with other bloggers working with culinary history.
You can find more of my thoughts on interdisciplinary blogging here. Also, if you've had experience blogging in multiple contexts I'd love to hear what you learned!