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Woes and joys of part-time blogging

I can’t believe that it’s been a year since I started this blog. During this year I felt excited, frustrated, optimistic and hopeless. Sometimes simultaneously. Looking back I can clearly see the progress I’ve made since my first post and feel a bit proud for myself. But I also know that there are a lot of things waiting in the pipeline. So is it easy to keep going? Actually not at all. But it’s still very exciting!

Never seem to find the time

Like the majority of bloggers out there I write my blog in my spare time. As a result, there is serious competition for my time from the family, friends, Netflix, books, you name it. There are days when I’ve got an idea of a post in mind and really want to publish it as soon as possible but keep postponing writing it up because I’ve just no time. Sometimes I might have a post almost written but it takes ages to complete it. And there are moments, I have to admit, that I just don’t want to write anything because everything I’ve done so far seems very mediocre and irrelevant.

A lot of frustration comes from the lack of time to do things I really want to put on the website: interviews, tasting notes, a dictionary, restaurants and sake shops reviews. I’m sure there are a lot of readers who would be very interested in all these topics. So I just need to dig in my heels and keep pushing forward.

Website development is another thing that nags me every day. I know how I want my website to look like, but my technical skills are not good enough to make it happen quickly. And here I am torn between spending my scarce time writing the content or messing with WordPress to redesign the website. I know that the content is a king and it’s more important to have many good blog posts than to have a sleek website. But I want both.

I need a good strategy to use my time effectively and still to enjoy blogging. On the one hand, I want to publish new posts more often, introduce new types of content, redesign the website and start doing more things besides just writing, like sake events, sake education etc. On the other hand, I’m a bit afraid of pushing too hard and losing the spark. I still want to enjoy my writing.

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

On top of the writer’s blocks, lack of time and other frustrations, I’ve got to battle with my ability to write in good English. You probably have already noticed that English is not my first language. While I think that it’s quite good for day-to-day communication and business writing, it often sucks in terms of writing in an interesting and funny way, which people expect from a good blog.

When I started the blog I was very concerned about the quality of the language. So I asked my teenage daughter, who was born in the UK and speaks English natively, to check my posts before publishing. She was a huge help as she is very good at structuring content, making it clear and concise. But after a few months, I stopped relying on her.

First of all, she’s quite busy at school in her final A Level year and going through a post together usually took 40-50 minutes of her time. Secondly, it slowed down the process as I had to wait sometimes a week before she could sit down with me. Also, my daughter has a different writing style from me so I was a bit concerned that I’m losing some of my individuality following her suggestions.

Another thing that helped me to speed up my posts was a piece of advice which I heard on the podcats by Amy Porterfield. One of her guests was talking about that getting things done is more important than to do them perfectly. So I decided to stop asking my daughter for help and publish the posts as I write them. Indeed, by that time my writing style improved thanks to my daughter’s comments and suggestions so I now feel more confident.

Where, When and How

So when, where and how do I write? I don’t write much at home because there is too much distraction there. I do it sometimes, especially on weekends, when I need to do some research for my posts. So I can use some of the books or other materials. Quite often (just like this very moment) I write on the train. My train line now provides free WiFi in the carriages, which is very handy. My gym is another place I can do some writing. I usually have some time after a class before I have to hurry to the office.

I quite like to write in public places like cafes or big halls like Barbican Centre here in London. You have WiFi, the people around are also busy with something or chatting with each other or discussing something important. It creates a very nice buzzing atmosphere which energises you and stimulates creativity. So I sit there with a cup of coffee and write my posts feeling as a part of the bigger community.

I usually have a few articles in mind and start the draft without paying much attention to the language and even a structure. When I’ve written most of the post and I start editing it, moving some parts around and removing some unnecessary bits. I’ve heard somewhere that writing and editing are controlled by different parts of our brain so it’s better not to mix them.

Looking forward

So here I am, entering the second year of my sake blogging, trying to figure out how to do it more efficiently and quicker and deliver more of interesting content to my readers. I need to develop some social media strategy to boost my followers in all three main platforms I’m currently active: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I also would like to make more videos and probably explore more of LinkedIn.

So I have a plea to make. If you read my blog but are not subscribe, please do! If you like my posts, please share them on your social media accounts, your personal blogs or websites. I would be very grateful for any feedback you have. You can always comment either on the blog or by sending me a message or email. If you would like to read about something, please let me know and I will add it to my article plan. Also, if you come across something interesting in the sake world, please share with me!

I feel very optimistic about this year. I’m sure that the blog will be getting more traction and more people will start reading it. I hope to be able to publish more interesting articles and let you know about the sake I try, the books I read, the food I enjoy and the events I attend. January is almost over and Chinese New Year is just around the corner, which makes a great excuse to buy a bottle of nice sake and have it with friends (telling them about my blog!).



Alex is a London-based sake blogger, podcaster, IWC Sake judge and sake advocate. He is a publisher of the Sugidama Blog website and a host of the Sugidama Podcast. Alex has an International Kikisake-shi (Sake Specialist) qualification from SSI (Sake Service Institute). He sees his mission as expanding the awareness of Japanese sake among as many people as possible and helping the growing community of sake lovers to bring together beautiful Japanese sake and non-Japanese food as a way to build a better understanding between our cultures.

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