5th Anniversary Giveway Day 4: Regrets, I've had a few


For a few months in 2006, I changed the banner graphic of the site every month to reflect the season.

There are a couple of things that I wish I had done differently during the last five years as far as Just Hungry was concerned. If you are a newish food blogger, or any kind of blogger, perhaps this will help you avoid these mistakes.

Don't take long, unexplained absences

From about August 2004 to February 2005, I just got too busy with other things in my life and stopped posting on the site for more than six months without explanation. I even got some concerned emails asking if I was okay. This was particularly bad timing for a variety of reasons. When I did come back, I found that the site was almost forgotten, especially in the general food blogging community. My readership was way down of course, and it took a long time to get it back to pre-hiatus levels. I still think that if I hadn't taken such a long time off, Just Hungry would be much better known than it is and so on, but there's no taking that time back now. Anyway, if you plan to make your blog, any blog, grow as much as possible, don't take very long and unexplained vacations from it or people will think it's dead!

Don't change the site design so much

I'm a web designer in my working life (or, used to be...nowadays I do more non-web work, but that's another story). Partly because of that, I kept changing the design of the site drastically almost every few months. This was good for me, but it may have hurt the site a bit. When I changed the design the last time back in early 2007, I even got some emails asking if it was 'the same site'! So the lesson to be learned here is that re-designing just on a whim is not necessarily a good idea! Plus, it takes a lot of time away from actually writing good things for your site. People come to your site for the content, not really for the site design (though I do think that having an attractive site doesn't hurt.)

And also - not necessarily mistakes, but a subject that is not talked about much on food blogs (if they are at all):

The monetization issue, and the hard work of a food blogger

This subject includes some things I did do, some I didn't do, and some things I occasionally get asked about. If you have already decided that you are not interested in making money from your blog, then you can skip this part.

Earning money from a blog is not as easy as some people will make you believe. There are lots of blogs out there that cover this subject in depth (Problogger is a good place to start), but here I'd like to talk about some things specific to food blogs.

First off, if your primary purpose for starting up a blog is to start earning money from it, it's my humble opinion that food is one of the last categories you should be considering. Why, you ask? Well, one of the main ways any blog can start earning some revenue is to place Google Adsense, or other contextual, ads on it. The hard truth is, most food related Adwords (the words that trigger the appearance of contextual ads) are very cheap, and you, the site owner, earn very little off them in comparison to other categories. I have to laugh at those splogs that scrape content off other food blogs and expect to pick up some Adsense money really. They really should be scraping sites about car insurance or something :) (I'm kidding of course - scraping is very, very bad.)

Keep in mind also that maintaining a food blog is really a lot of work. Think about it: A typical food blogger spends lots of time and effort cooking things, photographing the results, and then finally writing up an interesting post about it including a recipe that has to work properly. Or, they go out to lots of restaurants - usually paying their own way, unless they are very lucky and have a sponsor somewhere. Most well known food bloggers invest in a good quality camera to take good photos, not to mention other gear like tripods, macro lenses and even studio setups. Some even go get special tableware and props to display their food to the best advantage. And usually, food bloggers have to do all of this by themselves, or with one partner.

So, you really have to love, love thinking and writing about food to maintain a food blog for an extended period so that its audience grows enough. But let's say you've overcome that hurdle. How do you make money from this endeavor? Here are the revenue sources that a successful food blogger might have:

  • Contextual ads, such as Google Adsense
  • Joining an ad serving group that serves theme-targeted ads, such as BlogHerAds, BlogAds, etc.
  • Affliate links, such as Amazon, where you earn a commission on sales
  • Selling ad space directly to companies with related products or services - this is not easy but can be done, and is probably the 'best' kind of advertising
  • Do speaking, consulting or teaching that is related to your blog subject
  • Publishing a cookbook or other related book

I have done all but the last one. I don't earn enough from either Just Hungry or Just Bento to quit my dayjob (and neither do I want to at this point really) but the revenue is non-negligible. It's now definitely my second job - one that I enjoy a lot, but nevertheless a job. Other food bloggers I'm sure have also done a combination of the above. Quite a food bloggers have published books - the revenue generated this way of course depends on how well the book sells.

One more thing: Whenever you decide to monetize your site, I think it is very important to be sure that you are happy with what is being advertised. For example, I am very happy to have Japan Centre in London as an advertiser, because I was a happy customer before we even got into contact, and their store is a perfect fit for my sites. I would never carry an ad from a company or for a product I disliked, no matter how lucrative the offer may be. I also try to keep an eye on the kind of contextual ads that appear. You want to present content that you believe in to your readers at all times, and that includes the ads.

I've rambled on a bit today, but finally on to today's giveaway!

Just Hungry 5th Anniversary Giveaway Item 4: An eclectic assortment of Japanese craft and knitting books

Please check the giveaway rules in the first post. Do try to remember to keep it to one comment per item/entry, thanks! (I've noticed that sometimes people seem to get impatient and post the same comment twice. I use a spam-preventing tool called Mollom, which sometimes can cause a short delay between the time your comment is entered and the time it appears. So please wait a bit before submitting another comment.) Remember: You need to give me your email address (in the email entry area) where I can contact you if you win, your name (or nickname), and your location (country).


Today's giveway is a bit off track maybe, so I am anticipating less interest in them than the other items (but hey, you never know.) I know that a lot of people who visit Just Hungry and Just Bento are interested in Japanese culture in general, and many are crafters and knitters. I love crafty things as much as I love cooking, and I could extend the day to about 32 hours instead of 24 I'd start up a crafty blog. Anyway, I have tons and tons of Japanese craft (手芸, shugei) books, and these come from my vast collection. (Please feel free to spread the word about this giveway to craft or knitting related sites and so on.) I apologize for the wonkiness of the photos below.

Book 1: Vintage lace knitting book (Lacy Handknits)

This is a book published by Ondori in 1982. The styles are sort of '80-ish but fairly timeless (and I hear '80s fashion is coming back anyway!). A couple of examples:


It has both knitting and crocheting patterns. All are in chart form as with all Japanese knitting books. Sizing is small (e.g. bust circumference around 80cm) though I guess experience knitters/crocheters can adjust them. This is a vintage book, so there is some minor creasing and so on, but the photos are clear and unfaded and the pages are clean.

Book 2: Vintage unisex knitting book (I Love Sweaters! Sweaters For Me and My Boyfriend)

Another Ondori publication, published in 1983. This one is all knitting. Back in the '80s, the "pair look" (where BF and GF would wear matching outfits) was big. So, half of the designs in this book have His and Her versions. Fortunately most of them are not matchy-matchy in an obvious way. The rest of the book has sweater and vest designs for women. Examples of contents:


Sizing is more generous than the lace knitting book - around 85cm chest for women and 100cm for men. All charted and/or with Japanese instructions. The designs are fairly timeless. Again, this is a vintage book, so some pages are a bit dog-eared and so on, but is otherwise in good shape.

Book 3: Clay Sweets book

A Lady Boutique publication, published this year. Deco sweets, or cakes and other sweeties made with clay and used as room decor, phone straps and so on, are very popular in Japan at the moment. This is a book that shows you how to make them! Some examples:


It uses air-drying resin clays (the standard in Japan) but you can adapt the methods to oven baked clays like Fimo. The book is in brand new condition.

Book 4: Beaded Dollhouse: 1/24 scale furniture made of beads

A Boutique Mook (no. 531), published in 2005. This one is rather unusual I think - furniture (chairs, desks, bureaus, potted plants, what have you) made out of beads!


It has beading charts for you to recreate these glittering tiny marvels. The book is in brand new condition.

Book 5: Amigurumi For Beginners

An Ondori booklet published in 2004. It's a beginner's guide to making amigurumi, tightly crocheted little critters. Everything is charted, and is crochet only.


The book is in brand new condition.

So there you have it. Even if you never make anything in these books, if you are as fond of handcrafts as I am you'll enjoy just looking through them!

DEADLINE: Your comment/entry must be posted before Midnight Greenwich Mean Time on Sunday, December 7th.

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for participating! The winner will be announced next week!

Filed under:  site news philosophy freebies

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Oooooh! I want want want want!!!

name: milky-chan

Singapore FTW!!!!!

Thanks Maki!!!! ^___^

I am finally de-lurking after reading just hungry/bento for years, LOL. I love Japanese craft books! Please count me in :)

Country: USA

Oh, the little crocheted animals are too cute!

Also, I completely agree with your observation about changing the site design. I have a friend who loves to redesign her website frequently and while they are always gorgeous, even I sometimes worry I've navigated to the wrong place. =/

Stephanie, WI, USA

I've always heard how wonderful Japanese craft books are, but am too chicken to pick one out for myself. This would solve the dilemma :)



ooh yay! ami-ami-ami-gu-dness! (sorry, cheesy..)
~ julia in the USA

ooh yay!
ami-ami-ami-gu-dness! (sorry, so corny..)
~ julia, USA

This is one prize good enough to bring me out of hiding! I've been reading your blog for ages now- Thanks for having such interesting content, and congrats on your blogaversary!

-Hannah (CT, USA)

They are both my passions! I love to sit & knit away at something & give the item to family & friends. I knit kid chemo caps for a cancer hospital here.
I have a girlfriend who always supplies me with the yarn for any baby blanket I crochet for her. They make nice gifts for a baby shower & they are something pretty & hand made that not very many people do any more!
Keep up the work on your blogs! They are wonderful!

Ilona, Murrieta, Califonia

I agree, even if I end up making nothing, it would be fun to just page through these.

Denver, CO USA

Oh wow, I knit and crochet and am interested in trying my hand at polymer clay craft. This is perfect!

Lis, Singapore

I would love to have any of these books. Thanks again for giving them away!

Laura, United States.

I wanted to ask about what you think about FoodBuzz. On one hand, it seems like a bustling community of food bloggers. On the other hand, I wonder how much effort I need to put into it aside from just posting to my blog. And I know my food blog partner will balk at putting the badge on the site....

I'm really enjoying your series of posts here and on Just Bento!

Yoko, I really have no opinion one way or another about Food Buzz, since I've never used it. You might find some discussion on Food Blog S'cool, or you could try asking on Twitter too. (I do find it a bit annoying that they frame my site and display it on theirs without asking, but I've never bothered to complain about it.)

These books look interesting!


gahh!!! i want book 3 and 5!!!! hehehe nothing like making cute little toys and cakes :D

Miss Tiffie

oo so cute (especially the clay food) =X kind of makes me wish I could eat it... x.x but it's probably not good to eat clay...

Thanks for the bento and giveaways!


Thanks for sharing these too.

San Antonio, TX

Those knitting books from the 80s look awesome!

Zora, United States

I love Japanese craft books! Book 3, 4, and 5 look so cute.

Ara, USA

I'm a knitter, and eater, and recently new reader to Just Bento...hadn't really dug into Just Hungry yet, but I'm loving it! I found Just Bento when a friend sent me home from a visit with a packed Bento that was exactly perfect in size for my journey! I'm hooked now, and my son loves them!

Thanks for what you do!


p.s. I'm in the US

I'll be sooooo unbelievably happy if I get this prize. I've always wanted to learn how to make such adorable crafts! Thanks for introducing me to the books. Location: USA.

Yes, I really love crafts as well! Haha, i have bought so many that my mum sometimes gets angry that I don't even make them!

Elaine, Australia

Portland Or, USA

I would be stoked to check these out!

these just keep getting better. So much fun.

Thanks for the contest.

Queens, NY USA

Those are wonderful!
Vanessa (Dominican Republic)

I've tried amigurumi, with terrible results (mainly stick with knitting). Would love to win a craft book!

I am still considering creating my own blog and I appreciated a lot reading today´s post. Thanks so much! You have so rich experience and everything, it is so pleasant to learn from you.
I would like also to join the giveaway this time, once, handworking is one of my passions :).
karaimame, Finland

Thank you so much for talking a bit on how hard it is to run a food blog. It is a labor of love, but it is still a job nonetheless. Like you said : it is a second job, one that I love, but a job no matter how you look at it.
And those are some really great tips :)

The Amigurumi looks neat!


i love japanese craft books and wish I can spend all my money on them . i just came back from studying in japan and love to make some of the stuff since I wasnt able to bring back any of the craft books i bought due to luggage rerstrictions.

Winter times, crafting times?

Sofie, Germany

I have to tell you, if my name is drawn... burn it! Whenever I am bored (as in this Thanksgiving, my daughter now has a new hat, gloves, and scarf) I knit. Everything. And use... none of it! My husband will thank you for ignoring me.
Side note- Great tips that I keep forgetting about blogging. Except the money one, I don't expect anyone to read mine, much less make money. It's more of my brain dump for everything I'm learning.


Great site! Thanks for the info about food blogging-that was interesting to read.
Jane in Japan

I want this stuff. I knit! I cook! I eat! I make stuff out of beads!

Good advice about blogging, too.

Amber, Mexico

So adorable!

Ontario, Canada

Those are some great tips! I've not thought about having a blog for a purpose (mine is more of a diary), but it's interesting to see how much work it is for people who do. Thank you for sharing!

And obviously the food & craft interests intersect quite a bit :)

Michelle, NC, USA

Japanese crafting books are so kawaiii...

Romana, Germany

Oh Maki! Your give-aways are getting better and better! When I'm not reading, writing and thiking about food, I'm doing something crafty. Especially knitting. Especially vintage knitting!! I would like very much. :)

I forgot to put my location: Leicester, UK. Sorry :*(

The best thing about Japanese craft books is all the pics! YOu don't have to read Japanese to make the projects!

Happy Anniversary (again!) and Happy Birthday to me :-)

cordeliasbs USA

The Japanese sure do know how to craft. We all need to learn from them! :)


Ooooh the things I'd make! :)

The books look excellent, but they are only gonna be admired by me, cos as much as I love craft (the type, I can do with my kids with two "left" hands), I can't knit or crochet..

But thanks for sharing so much about your experience in starting up the blog, I know it is no easy task maintaining it and perservering for so long, even if it's one about your interest.

And.. just in case.. you ever decide to start writing a book ! Sign me up for a copy !! haha.. a pre-pre-pre-order of sorts !

my wife collected these books while we were living in tokyo.

los angeles, usa

i love crafts.

los angeles, ca, usa

Delicious, those sweaters unisex styleeee
Country: USA
I would love to have that before January 2010 ! Maybe I can make a present for 2011 December Christmas !

The SO would love these - find ideas and practice Japanese at the same time

Ooooh, knitting!

(My "bento" blog was first a knitting blog, and, honestly, it's just a catch-all for everything.)

New York (USA)

oh wow, these look amazing. my roommate is studying fashion design and i think she would love the knitting one.

So cute I almost fainted!!!
Québec, Canada

Your website has a lot of great recipes. :D

Name: J
Location: U.S.

It's fine with me if less people want this,

Better chance for me, lol.

Minh, USA

name: scottie
country: canada
i wasn't really gonna enter this draw.. but my dear mother wanted it when she saw me read your blog... HAHA!

omg!! Those books are so cool!!
I've been planning on trying to make some clothes recently, so it's funny that this came up as one of the give away prizes XD

They're awesome!

Thanks Maki-san!

Delaware, USA


I haven't picked up my needles and hooks for years...

more importantly, my obachan would love them! and unlike me, she could actually read them. about a year ago she started teaching me to crochet and knit; it would be such a treat to give her Japanese craft books!

Atlanta, GA USA


Nagoya, Japan

The Clay Sweets book reminds me of the dim sum cupcakes you linked to yesterday.

Fran, Hawaii

You are so darn forthright. Very brave.

I love crafty things. I am hoping to become crafty.

Lily in Las Vegas, NV, U.S.

I really want to learn how to crochet those dang cute toys. I can only knit, and only in a straight line... Some day!

It would be cool if you did a crafty blog. When you get that time machine, let us know. For real.


Maki was right on the dot when she assumed that many of her faithful followers were also crafty people! This is my attempt at getting these nifty Japanese craft books!
Cel, Canada

Maki was right on the dot when she guessed that many of her faithful followers were crafty people! Sign me up for craft books any day!
Cel, Canada

It didn't submit the first time, and I resubmitted it. Sorry!

I've been thinking about making some of the amiguri critters. They are so cute!!

North Bend, Oregon, USA

I have been meaning to learn how to crochet just so I can do amigurumi! Unfortunately I have had too many knitting projects all lined up and ready to go, so I haven't had any time for crochet.

Name: Alison
Country: USA

I love being creative with beads and making furniture out of them sounds like a fun idea to me :)
- Hanne (UK/D)

Maybe I'll start a food blog one day...when I can get some good lighting.

Kristen, USA

Such great giveaways! I have my fingers crossed. Thank you for doing them.

:) alice (United Kingdom)

Thanks for sharing all the wonderful advice with us!


I've been wanting to try amigurumi for a while, and I've been trying to learn Japanese. If I won these books I think it would spur me on to learn more faster!
I just started to follow your site about a month ago and from what I've looked at it's something that I'll be looking at for a long time in the future!

Clay sweets, so lovely. If I make them, it will be hard not to taste!

bonbon, USA

I love the little amigurumi dog. And thanks for all the hard work you put into this blog. Lizzie Canada

Those are some fun looking books!

St. Louis, MO, USA

Those are so cute!

Kelcey, USA

oops, forgot to put country in my first post - but it's USA!

love the books - such fun it was to shop the depaato stores in Japan, there was so much variety and supplies - everything so kawaii ne! thanks!

I love to knit and crochet and do other crafts. I'm teaching my daughter, who would love to learn amigurumi too. Thank you!

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Ooh! :) This seems terribly selfish for me to comment -now- after reading your blog silently for quite a while, but I can't help it... the amigurumi and miniatures are too cute!

Location: The US of A ;-) (Specifically, Wisconsin)

I am not putting in for the drawing, since I have more craft projects than I can handle already - just wanted to say that these are awesome.

Location: US

!!! The craft books are so cute... do you know if they sell English versions?

Oh wow! I would love to learn how to do the Amigurumi stuff...

Sage advice on the food blogging. Please know that we all really appreciate the work you put into both blogs!

P.S. I'm in the US

thanks maki! these look great!

elizabeth, france

Amigurumi book!!
It's been a while since I crocheted and this would be a great way to do so.
- Diana from Okinawa.

hey maki :D it's chubby-chan from australia. i don't know if we're supposed to pick one book, but if so, if i win i'd like the clay sweets book :D maybe, just maybe, it'll help me curb my cravings for sweet things and make me content with just looking at cute clay versions :P

and...ack! it's very true. readers don't like long, unexplained absences...it's SCARY T^T so please don't do it :D also, this post made me realise the long process food bloggers must go through to create a good food blog, so thanks for always taking the time :D

Your site has been a great resource for this beginner - thank you!



I love clay sweets..(and real sweets too!)

Knitting and other crafts is my other passion. Oh...any chance we could shoehorn in a bit more time in your day for you to do a Japanese craft blog? Just kidding... no I'm not...:o)

Kathy in Santa Barbara, CA, USA

I'm really boring and really like doing stuff like this!

WANT! (^^ )

Mary, UK

That's sooo cute!!!

Lafayette, IN, USA