As I shared a few weeks ago, January is National Hobby Month! According to a couple articles that I read, KrisTV.com says learning a new skill/hobby is among the top 10 resolutions people make each year and MakingMidLifeMatter.com (and others) claim it’s never too late to start a new hobby. I recommend both reads!
I wondered, what constitutes a hobby? There’s a consensus of three basic characteristics: it’s done… (1) in our spare time, (2) on a regular basis, and (3) for our own pleasure, not profit. Sometimes we get so busy with our daily lives that we don’t set aside time for our own enjoyment and recreation.
Hobbies can even be productive, making a little bit of money. However, profit is never the focus of a hobby. However, profit is the main focus of a business. Therefore, in general, the IRS considers a hobby to be a business if it generates a profit at least three out of its last five years – with a few exceptions.
If you want to turn your hobby into a business, LegalZoom.com offers 10 great tips to check out! I also recommend a series of articles I found at SmallBusiness.Chron.com, covering taxes and how to run a small, home-based business as a hobby, among other things.
‘WRITING it is the easiest part. Knowing how to SELL it is the hard part!’ – Gloria Pitzer
FROM THE MIMEOGRAPH machine that I hand cranked and inked, with every 200 copies, came the first pages of our newsletter and the first 200 recipes of favorite dishes from famous places. Actually, I added only a few recipe cards at the time to each of the early issues of the newsletter and these grew from 25 to 50 to 100, finally being concluded with 200 selections as of our February 1977 issue.
Those we offered through the newsletter and on 4 x 6 cards have never been published in one complete edition, so we now  offer this collection to celebrate over 20 years of our continuous publication of our Secret RecipesTM. In most of these 200 recipes I’ve not had to alter the ingredients nor the technique but in some that had no regard for what is considered wholesome, I’ve made a few changes and improvements.
It never occurred to me that the dishes we were trying to imitate would not be of interest to a deserving family of readers, who simply wanted to enjoy dining-in as if they were dining out. From that day, in August 1976, when this recipe enterprise became this family’s only source of income, it was a welcomed challenge to be able to work at it, not as a job, but always is a joy.
People often question my ability to continue at it with untarnished enthusiasm and never having had to deal with what is called ‘writers block’. I can’t imagine a day when I am not writing and enjoying every moment of it. The 200 original secret recipes were only the beginning of what I felt would eventually become a well-described collection of worthy recipes. And it happened exactly that way.
I write this blog, in memory of my mom, posting entries every Monday since mid-September 2018 and trying to fine-tune it along the way. In the process, I’m always learning new things that I want to pass along to others. Here’s a general list of some things I’ve learned about blogging, for anyone else interested in it as a hobby, or making a business from it,.
Create a catchy name for your blog, doing an “engine search” to make sure it’s not already being used by someone else.
Choose a reliable host for your blog and register its name.
From that host’s offerings, create an eye-catching layout/design for your blog.
It’s always best to write about what you know.
Enhance the blog’s readability, using short paragraphs; plus, inserting headings/sub-headings, lists, pictures, and quotes in between for eye-catching appeal.
Create original content – but cite your sources if you reference other people’s work [use links for online sources].
Edit your work – correcting all grammar and spelling mistakes BEFORE posting it.
Engage your readers, using a question/statement and comments section.
Create a social media presence and engage, using several platforms to promote your blog and subject matter with key content/surveys/Q&A’s.
Post your blog and social media comments regularly.
Create an “About Me” and “Contact” information page on your blog-site.
Create an email list*. [*This is key, to getting to know your readers.]
Create or join a few online “communities” related to your subject matter or blogging, in general, by using different social media platforms. Interact with your readers, potential readers, and other bloggers.
Optimize your blog for search engines, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and more… (learn the SEO process for each of them) …using key word tags/hashtags, among other features.
You can monetize the blog in many ways – selling a product/membership/service/ad space and getting sponsored by a brand are the most common. Create a disclaimer page (if you monetize).
Create a “Terms of Service” page (for liability) if your blog provides a service or runs a “store”.
The average speed at which an American adult reads (depending on age and education) is about 200-300 words per minute. I’ve heard that a good blog should be readable in about 7 minutes, suggesting an optimal length of 1,400-2,100 words.
Ideal blog lengths vary, depending on topic, mostly; but also on the target audience and a number of other factors. It’s generally considered best to have about 1,500 to 2,000 words for most articles or posts, according to a recently updated editorial at Databox.com.
Nevertheless, SearchEngineJournal.com recently said that a HubSpot study from 2021 claimed that 2,100-2,400 words is the best length, for SEO ranking purposes.
“What is SEO?”, you may ask – I wondered about it, myself. Optimizely.com explains it best, as simply, “the art and science of getting pages to rank higher in search engines such as Google. Because search is one of the main ways in which people discover content online, ranking higher in search engines can lead to an increase in traffic to a website.”
‘Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ – Mark Twain
Mom’s girlhood “hobby” of journaling turned into her passion for writing, which turned into her “calling” and eventually her legacy. She always said that being a writer wasn’t what she did – it was who she was!
Mom had a special talent for combining food-for-thought editorials with food-for-the-soul ideas, entertaining illustrations and food-for-the-table recipes – all sprinkled with a dash of satire and a pinch of wit – in most of her writings. You can find lists of her writings under the “Cookbooks” and “OtherPublications” tabs on this website.
She, herself, never looked at writing as a “hobby”. To her, it was just a part of her – a reflex she did every day (like brushing her hair) – for about 72 years. Writing brought her many blessings and she said she’d do it all over again if she could.
In honor of TODAY, being National Peanut Butter Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Saucepan Peanut Butter Brownies; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 212). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].