A Fresh Start

Ever since our last website overhaul, there’s been something that’s bothered me about the site, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then, one morning, I woke up with a simple thought rattling around my sleep-addled brain:

“The website can’t be the product.”

What did I mean? Why would I wake up thinking this? And why wasn’t I dreaming about something fun, like training dragons or inciting riots? I wasn’t totally sure. At least not before a cup of coffee and two bowls of Reese’s Peanut Butter Crunch. What I finally realized, though, was that our website had somehow morphed into something that we never intended for it to be.

With so many thousands of posts to read in our archives, so much to do on social media, so many banners to click on, and so many things for readers to sign up for, we’d lost sight of the three reasons we started this site in the first place: To learn to take better food photos, to learn to cook better food, and to tell stories.

Somewhere along the line, we’d fooled ourselves into thinking we were something else altogether; a massive food portal with hundreds of authors, maybe, or a sleazy clickbait site, light on content but desperate to do anything for clicks.

Starting today, we’re taking it all back. We’ve moved to a new, lightning-fast server, that specializes only in running high-performance blogs. Right now, the site should be performing better than it ever has, as we continue to tweak things under the hood. We’re going through the site a page at a time, reconsidering every element, and only putting the things back, slowly, over time, that are absolutely necessary, with a focus on clean design and the best possible reader experience.

There will always be a few ads, and of course, we’d love it if you’d share the posts you enjoy on social media. But other than that, we’re taking a step back, taking a deep breath, and refocusing the site on the things that matter: Tantalizing you with photos of delicious food that you can cook in your own kitchen, right now, with the stuff and the skills you already have. And as a bonus, maybe making you chuckle a bit here and there.

That’s it. We hope you enjoy the calmer, saner FromAway.com.

(Okay, maybe not totally it. If you want to read more thoughts on the redesign, I’ve written a more thorough explanation on ProFoodBlogger.)

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the taco-centric blog "Eat More Tacos," and the junk food-centric "Spork & Barrel." His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

23 Comments

  1. I have been reading your blog for a few years now, and have enjoyed it so much! One of my favorite posts is the one Jillian wrote last year about your day on the sailboat (sounded like such a fantastic adventure!). You have inspired my husband and me to visit Portland this summer, and I am very much looking forward to a great food adventure!

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  2. Statement of Facts:
    1. I’m not publishing detailed recipes on the internet for free
    2. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for trying to make a buck
    3. I’ve made so many delicious meals from your website that I wouldn’t have otherwise

    However, I have felt like recently that there just hasn’t been enough content to justify following on twitter/facebook. I think I’m still waiting on the finale of the sandwich competition from Vegas (unless I’ve missed it). I think the reasons I’ve stuck around is that I’m holding out hope and I know you have young kids, as do I, and that just saps all of your energy.

    Anyway, I guess all I’m saying is that I’ve enjoyed your posts so much, and shared them with so many friends, that I hope we get more. They don’t have to come 3 times a week, but if you are consistent in whatever frequency you’re comfortable with, your audience will be appreciative. Take Marc Maron, he has released a minimum of two podcast a week for 5 years or so every single week. I would suggest setting a realistic, attainable goal. If the promise of consistent content is there, than the ads are not only accepted, but can be considered a cost of doing business, and I’d be more likely to click or participate.

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    1. Hi Jim! Thanks very much for taking the time to share your thoughts. It sounds like you are talking more about the amount of posting we’ve been doing, rather than the site redesign, but I’m happy to talk about that, too.

      When we first started From Away, Jillian and I both worked exclusively from home. We had nothing but time, and we were able to treat blogging as a full time job. I recognize the importance of consistent posting (I’ve written about it quite a bit here), and I do acknowledge that now that I’ve gone back to work full time, and we have a two year old (with another on the way), our time is not our own in the way that it used to be.

      For the first three years of the site, we posted every single weekday, for a total of about 20 posts per month. We never missed a day, even when our first daughter was born (I actually wrote something about Little Caesar’s pizza while Jillian was in labor). While an everyday posting schedule simply isn’t in the cards for us anymore, we have tried to keep up a minimum standard of three posts per week. Sometimes we make it (as we did in May and April), and sometimes we don’t. But we do write as much as we are able.

      The point, I guess, is this: We recognized that there was a problem with the site. Overhauling the look and reconsidering what it is we are doing after nearly 900 posts felt important. And while we may not get a new post out there every day, we do try to give you plenty to read.

      (And I didn’t know anyone cared about the conclusion to the sandwich competition! I’ll write that up ASAP!)

      Also! You should totally follow us on Facebook. It’s where we post links to lots of the writing we are doing elsewhere, as well as links to other content we think you’ll really like. And we DO post there every single day, sometimes several times a day. Give it a try!

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  3. Hi Malcom. Your photo on facebook grabbed my attention as there was a certain familiarity about it! Enjoyed coming across the article in the July Downeast as well.

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  4. Having recently moved from Maine to Nashville Tennessee your blog one of the ways I stay connected to home. I too was missing the conclusion of the sandwich competition! I have also been scratching my head in figuring out where you are. After a cross country trip you are in Living in LA? I love your site and welcome the redesign. Looking forward to more great recipes!

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  5. Glad I stopped by today and saw this post. After reading your blog almost daily for most of its existence (and the one before that you two wrote in Mexico), it had been forever since I had visited. I think there was less of what I liked to read, so I stopped coming here. Glad that you are getting back to blogging in a truer form, and hope that we learn more about your current adventures. I live in Texas and I’ve never vacationed in Maine, but because of you guys, I plan to do that soon. I have now tried my first lobster roll here in H-Town and while it was good, I am ready for the real thing.

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  6. As an avid reader of the site I’ve always found the content engaging and informative. This new design simply focuses more on that. I grew up in Maine and live in New York; I’ve always found your site to be a wonderful snapshot and reminder of how truly awesome Maine is. It’s inspiring and exciting to see everything from the recipes to the focus on local restaurants/scenes. Also, congrats on the recent contribution to Bon Appétit magazine ! Thanks for all the excellent stuff and I look forward to reading more!

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