Guest Post: Adam Clarke | LDN Life | My 'Be Bold' Journey

UK Blog Awards 2015 – submission from Adam Clarke,  (nominated for Best Company/Organisation Food and Drink Blog: ).

The theme for UK Blog Awards 2015 is Be Bold, however this is my bloggers story about how I started to Be Bold back in 2013.

Well it’s been about a year since I signed up the then London Life UK blog to the UK Blog Awards 2014 with mere seconds to go before the deadline. I wasn’t particularly confident and not really happy with the name either in truth. My Blogging journey had all started about 7ish months earlier, after years in writing never land. You see I wanted a hobby and I loved writing for the Student Newspaper in my Uni days, so it made sense. Finally I’d happened upon a name that worked for me at that moment in time. Gone were the previous ideas of the likes of Social Beans and even Digital Bread Bin (I’d been drinking) Hazzar! The plan to find a name so generic I could work out what it would be later was a success; the time for prolonged procrastination was over and it was time to get writing.

As time went on I wrote more and more about food and drink, I couldn’t escape it and I loved it, I met passionate people in their kitchens, at Pop Ups and other events. I started to meet others who liked to write about food, mainly via twitter and some started to guest post on the site. So when I came across the UK Blog Awards it was an easy decision to pick the food and drink category, but not so easy to press that button.

Little did I know that pressing the ‘Submit’ button would start a sea of change, not only how I viewed my blog but also what I could do with it. Until I pressed that button the idea of being a blogger didn’t sit that well with me. I wrote stuff sure but was I a blogger? The answer was of course yes but it wasn’t until the awards night that I truly embraced it. At the awards and before that near winning moment I’d mainly cut a lonely figure, I was just taking it all in. aside from a minor cameo as a photographer/selfie enabler in the foyer and chatting to a group of guys in kilts. For some strange reason I’d built the whole thing up as a journey that I felt only I could go on.

But then it happened London Life UK had been ‘Highly Commended’ for Food and Drink along with the Mighty Yorkshire Pudd. At that point there was no going back I was a Blogger and now I was going to say it loud and proud. But don’t get me wrong, I never thought being a Blogger was a dirty word, but I just wanted to write, write about London Life as I saw it when I saw it, what was in a label anyway?

Speeding forward 6 months and a large part of my spare time has been spent doing things that have evolved London Life UK into LDN Life, which I hope you’ll agree is a much cooler name, getting a much cooler logo thanks to a great designer and fellow blogger, changing hosting providers, working out how to do a 301 redirect, looking at how to make money from it and buying and discarding a lot of Wordpress themes and plugins, I could write blogs just about these experiences. While also trying to grow the group of people who write for LDN Life, to the point where I feel I’ve become a bit of a LDN Life bloggers agent. I’ve also had several failed attempts at growing a beard; I will never be a Hipster, Amish of anything else that requires a beard, but I have grown much more comfortable in my London skin, I’m happy with who I am in this city and happy with my blog. I now have the confidence to push on and do it.

Oh and it turns out blogging is actually quite different from writing, especially when you’re in charge of all of it. Editor check, designer check(ish), agent check, coordinator check, PR check, Social Media expert check, advertising manager (still working on that)

The blog now has a Food and Drink Editor and more recently a Music Editor and Arts and Culture Editor and about 8 other people who blog as and when they can. All of them do it for the love of London and the occasional freebie. But the focus is very much still about food and drink, it’s still in my opinion what makes London (LDN) Life go round, the rest is icing on the bespoke artisan hipster popup cupcake.

My tips:
1) A theme/category to specialise in helps but don’t let it stop you if you’re not sure. Chances are you’ll find your niche as you go along, once you do don’t be afraid to rename or start again
2) Start small but be bold, don’t be afraid to ask for things the worst they say is no
3) Don’t be desperate for visitors and don’t spam your friends.
4) Don’t be a snob, unless your blog is about being a snob
5) Be you, even if your blog starts to make money, don’t become a sales machine for the man. You’ll lose the reason people read your blog in the first place and that would be sad.