High Plains Gastronome Blog by Jim Walter

Two years ago, my wife and I picked up the family and moved to Cheyenne, WY. We love the outdoors, hiking, fishing, hunting and camping. We also have a passion for food and drink, that’s where the blog comes in.

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Please tell us something about yourself. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?

It is a little bit of both. Four years ago I created my first food blog as part of my job. When I left that job, I created a new food blog to scratch my itch for sharing my passion for food.

When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you be online?

The idea came from wanting to put content about Madison County, NY and its farms, inns and breweries out on the web. We had a limited budget and blogging was seen as an excellent way to create content at a reasonable cost. Now that I’m writing High Plains Gastronome, I find it important because I’m creating content and helping to tell the stories of breweries, restaurants and communities.

Did you have someone help making the website or did you do it by yourself?

I created High Plains Gastronome all by myself. It is a free template from WordPress, so it wasn’t completely from scratch.

The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?

It came to me pretty fast, but I regret it now. I’ve kicked around changing it making it simpler, but the quirkiness of it is a good thing too.

What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your website? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?

I use WordPress. I find it to be intuitive and fairly easy to use. Like all CMS systems, when they do an update it can be confusing for a while, but you learn the work around for the things you are struggling with. I think WordPress does an excellent job, and that’s why they seem to be the leader in CMS for bloggers.

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What kind of Theme do you use on your website and what are the “must have” plugins you would recommend?

I use a magazine type theme. The important stuff goes above the fold, the other stories lay out below it. I use Twitter a lot for this blog, so theTwitter plug in on the side bar is a big one for me. I also use a word cloud type menu for our different categories. If you look at the page you can see this food blog focuses a ton on beer. Food and beer in the heart of America is the focus of the blog. We try to stick to that, but of course it is very broad.

How much time do you spend blogging?

I spend roughly an hour a day on it. I try to get three to four fresh posts a week. Some weeks I’m more efficient that others, but I hate to see the blog get stagnant. New content drives page view, that’s a fact.

How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?

I mainly use Facebook and Twitter to promote it. I also try to get other blogs to collaborate with me so we can cross promote each other.

Jim Walter Interview

Is there a way to monetize (make money) through a blog?

There certainly is, but it is not a get rich scheme. I haven’t monetized my blog yet, I’m working hard on getting the page views where they need to be so I can at least try to cover the cost of going premium on WordPress. I do it for fun, so any money that I could make on the blog would be a bonus.

Would you encourage other people to make their own blog/website/online business?

I would, but only if you think you will stick with it. There must be a million blogs out there that have 5 or fewer posts, because people thought it would be fun and realized that they really don’t have a whole lot to say. It’s like anything in life, work hard at it, put out a quality end result and people will notice.

Please give us some advice for new bloggers and for people who are still not sure should they start a blog of their own?

Post to your blog. Once a week, twice a month at a minimum and you will do a better job of honing your voice and figuring out what it is you have to say. 200 years ago a lot of people wrote down their thoughts on a regular basis and printed newspapers to share those thoughts. The internet plays that role today. You have a voice for something use it.

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Photos ©: Jim Walter

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