August 27

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July 2020 Recap

By Mashav Shelef


This month I was focusing on getting the basis for the website up and running. Like everything else, I thought it would be much smoother than it turned out.

I learned that I would sometimes get stuck on something, and I might move to the next thing and get stuck there too, and then again. I realized that I have to feel more comfortable with things being messy, stuck, and not where I want them to be. In times I have to rely on other people to get answers; it takes a lot of patience. I also have to accept the fact that I might work hours on a task just to toss it out the window and start over. New beginnings are so exciting but can be so daunting at times.

Trial and Error for Every Little Decision:

I found that it takes a long time to do the research and eventually choose what services/plugins/themes/courses to use for my business. Trying to get the right fit for my needs means that it can be a lot of trial and error, before landing on the right service or tool for me.

Choosing a theme:

For example, choosing a theme proved quite tricky. After the initial research, I was debating between two options: Generatepress or Genesis with a child theme and the Feast plugin.

I tested Generatepress free version, and even though it seemed fully customizable, I felt like it would require more work to get to a professional-looking website.

So I decided to go with genesis + feast plugin, thinking it would make my life easier to start quickly with a pre-made design and later-on consider getting a designer to tweak it. I gave it a few weeks, but it wasn’t as smooth as I hoped. Changing the smallest thing required CSS coding, and just getting it to look close to the demo had me reading through their tutorials, which I didn’t find to be easy to follow.

Frustrated, I gave it another shot, but the list of things I needed to change got longer. I’ll continue to talk about my pursuit of the best theme for me in next month’s recap.

Choosing and installing plugins:

I also experienced much trial and error with plugins for the website. For the recipe plugin, for example, I did some research to understand what’s important to look for, decided to go with WP Recipe Maker, and started importing recipes there. Before committing to the pro version, I read about Create plugin by Mediavine and decided to give it a go. I loved the interface and the added features they have, like lists and how-tos, so I decided to switch. But I had some technical issues, and I needed the support from their team and Omer (who’s also my admin) until it was resolved. So what I thought would take a couple of hours ended up taking days to finish.

I installed a few more essential plugins; each needed it’s own attention and setup: WP Rocket (for caching), Shortpixel (image optimization), Regenerate thumbnails (image sizes), Grammarly pro (grammar and spell checker), Elementor (page builder that I tried and decided to ditch), Qubely (also didn’t work for me), Create by Mediavine (for recipes and lists, as I mentioned above), Yoast SEO.

Content – Writing the first few posts

I already had a list of post subjects, keywords, and priorities, and I chose the first 3-4 posts to write. It turned out that writing and proofreading take tons of time as well, who knew? The first post took me forever to write, and then edit, and proofread. I was shocked by how long that took (a long 3K words article, but still). So I thought of trying out fiverr.com for proofreading the other three posts that I’ve written. I sent it to two different people to edit and proofread and hoped for the best.

Did it save me much time? I’m not sure. I ran the articles through Grammarly before and after the changes that they sent, and it got a similar score (if not worst!). So I ran it through the tool again. Using Grammarly is like having an English teacher go over your essay and putting their remarks. But then you have to brainstorm on how to make it better yourself and hand it over again and again until you get an A.

Then getting the posts into the WP editor took a while as well. I used the Yoast plugin to improve my headlines, paragraphs, passive voice, keyword density, and everything needed to please the SEO gods. Wow, I had to remind myself constantly that these things take much time now but will get easier and faster with practice.  

A Whole New World of Video Editing

I don’t have much experience with video editing. But I do have a lot of filmed materials to add to my planned posts. So I started researching for the right editing software for me. I looked for something basic and easy to begin with but with enough functionality to add my logo, music, voice-over, text, etc. Adobe Premiere was number one for windows, but it felt a bit too complicated to a beginner.

I’ve found Movavi, which is kind of the Windows answer to iMovie, which I liked. Trying to edit my first video for the Asian Supermarket post, I ran into many issues. Later I understood that I wasn’t sure what I was going for precisely, and it’s a complicated first video to try editing (5-8 shots to combine and add effects).

I decided to try outsourcing that too, starting with a much simpler video, Mango Salmon Ceviche, but I was not happy with the result I got (Fiverr again). Then I found a button I missed before in Movavi: Quick Video, which is like a video wizard. I edited the Salmon Ceviche video using this function in less than 30 minutes, and it was pretty close to what I wanted to do! When I came back to edit my supermarket video, it was much quicker without trying to do the voice-over. Good enough.

About the About Page

The About page is one of the most important pages on a website. I wanted to write a page that showcases my expertise, my journey, and some of my philosophy. I did a little research on how to write it for the readers, and it helped me structure the page. The process got me to understand my vision for the website and put into words what I’m trying to do here exactly.

Naming the Website – The Struggle is Real

It probably took hours of brainstorming and thesaurus searches. I started with a funny, cute name I liked: Layovers and Leftovers. Then I thought it might have some negative connotations, so I kept looking.

I thought about “Make Sure It’s Nicely Tasty,” which is a phrase Chef Antoine was saying a lot when he taught my class back in culinary school. I think it sums up cooking pretty well and life in general, but it’s too long. “Make Sure It’s Tasty” did not sit exactly well with me. My dad suggested “Make it tasty!” which was the leading name for a while, but the domain was taken, and it sounded a bit too aggressive.

Finally, the about page came to my rescue, and as I was reading my ten principals of cooking, I realized that one of them stood out from the others – Always be tasting. Thinking about my whole life philosophy in 3 words, this sums it up pretty neatly. I made sense to shorten it just a little bit more to “Always Tasting” to change the phrase from a command form to a state of being, which resonates with me so well. I went ahead and got the domain and snatched all the social handlers I needed.

Branding:

Now that I had a name, it was time to work on branding for my business. For the design of a logo, I started by using online tools to do it myself. I was not too fond of it. Back to Fiverr, I gave two different designers the task of creating a logo. I needed a color scheme to work with. I used the Adobe Color Wheel to help me choose some colors for my brand. I changed it 3-4 times. Then I sent it to the designers, and they came up with a design. I asked for a few revisions, and I wasn’t content with any of the ideas they came up with.

I went back to trying it for myself. I used Yay Images to look for an icon that might resonate with my niche, and I found something that combines food and travel. I changed my color scheme a few more times to correspond with the icon and used it in Canva to create my logo. Now I had three options, and I sent the results to my board of advisors to get input. They all thought the three options were all too complicated. I was stuck again. More about how I got my final design for my logo on next month’s recap.

Some of the other things I did this month:

  • Connected to different blogger support communities on Facebook.
  • I stared an online iPhone photography course.
  • I got into Amazon affiliate program and used it for the first time in a post, Tahini Q&As post.
  • Designed my first few pins for Pinterest, using Canva. Uploaded to Tailwind app to schedule it to loop.
  • I sent out the first email to my email list for a long time to update on what’s going on with me.

To Sum It Up, This is What I had By the end of July:

I have hit some but not all my goals for the month. I have a name, some of the branding, a host, a website, all the essential plugins, theme that still needs work, four big posts and seven recipes published, support communities, email list marketing started, about page with my beliefs and intentions for the website, photography course started.

Goals for next month:

  • Get the website theme and design ready for launch.
  • Finish the brand kit.
  • Prepare and write social media content to have ready for the launch (pins, FB, Instagram, videos…).
  • Post an ad for a Virtual Assistant
  • Start working on a bait product to get sign-ups for the email list
  • Write another 2-3 posts
  • Get analytics and tracking tools ready and setup, emails with the domain, and contact sheets working.

How was your journey like when you first started your project? Did you stumble into some similar setbacks? Share some thoughts in the comments below.

Mashav Shelef


I’m a trained chef, a food writer, a culinary traveler, a food explorer and a mom. My mission in life is to inspire and motivate people by helping them experience life through food.

Mashav Shelef

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