The Start of this Blog

Why do a Blog?
by Chris Brown, Director of Turpin Smale Catering Consultants

I like to think I’m technically with it but social media had passed me by.

Friends Reunited & Facebook – no interest.   LinkedIn – registered but half-heartedly.  Twitter – nothing!  Blogging – how could I find anything to write about regularly?

It was the need to sharpen up at work – our three man catering consultancy – and the wish to improve our Google ranking that provided the push.  We cover lots of types of catering operations – posh Clubs to humble garden centre cafes; palaces and stately homes and hospitals – and cafes are present in most of them and have become a real source of passion.

I wanted a specialist blog and not just one doing general ‘eat at nice place reviews’.  This was going to be targeted at professional café operators who, hopefully, might become clients over time.

The blog Greatcafes was born on 3rd March 2011 and I used the free weblog publishing tool ‘Blogger’ from Google.  The name was chosen to reflect my specialist subject and to ensure it was not too overt a sell for our own company.  Possibly my first mistake, although trade magazines have promoted the site because it is not too much of an obvious self-promotion.

The site is about the cafe business for the professional operator - keeping up to date with what's new and interesting.  Check it out at

I had read that frequency of blog really matters if you are going to build viewers so I set myself some disciplines.  A blog every working day.  This worked especially when I banked some entries for the days I was boating / sorry, working from home.  Amazingly I was enjoying it and actually had enough to write about.  When, after six weeks, I found myself blogging twice a day I upped the ante to a new blog every day, seven days a week.  Scary.

There’s not much point being a budding author if no one is reading your masterpieces.  This led to a voyage of self-discovery linking the blog to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and our own company website.  Haven’t quite mastered it all – the Facebook page doesn’t seem to automatically update – but the word was out.  Next, mentions in the trade magazines both on-line and traditional print and promoting it to existing clients and on all outgoing e-mails.

Another self-imposed discipline was to always use a photo; so many blogs go on for ages and bore me to tears.  I hadn’t realised that Blogger stores all the photos on Picasa Web Album so again another journey of discovery as I sorted out this route to and from my blog.

I am told that I am giving away all our secrets in the blog and certainly see competitors signed up to receive it.  I hope that the wider world recognises a café expert when they see/read about the Greatcafes blog and it will ultimately lead to more work - the original reason for the site.  Time will tell.

Statistics to date after four months: 4,163 page views with 1,824 in the last month.  Apparently this doesn’t measure the views through Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook so I seem to have created some interest but I have much to learn.  If it gets more work; social media - bring it on!

written up on on 11th July 2011

Feedback since:

Hi Chris,
Just wanted to thank you for your blog and assisting and inspiring us even on the most southerly tip of Africa !!
Kind Regards 
Ian Gersowsky
Co Owner
(021) 790 8008
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"Blogger Chris Brown scooped new category for this year, Blog of Year, with his Great Cafes blog ( providing news and views for the professional operator. One judge commented: "The author of this blog understands that a picture speaks a thousand words. It offers a great combination of good photography and helpful comments and top ideas for any café owner."

"I am just one of your readers through your blog and I just want to express my feelings that how much I loved it. I just had found your web site while I was searching about info how to increase cafe sales and now got stuck for hours to check it out.   Just few weeks ago, I started to work in a Museum Cafe in Istanbul. I have F&B background but still I want to learn more about Museum Cafes to improve myself.  I ll keep on checking your web site to inspire myself."