They say, don't ask for what you really want, unless you're prepared to receive it.
And received it, I have.
It kind of snuck up on me, as I was just having a little fun while getting my Drizzles ready for production. But now, at month 5, with over 50K page views (I know... crazy, and thank you all!) and now averaging over 20K views/month...
I no longer just live, breathe and dream about food, but I think I can now safely say, I'm a Food Blogger...
and I've got a butt dent on my couch to prove it.
And, whether you're a newbie or a seasoned food blogger, here are some tips that I've learned along the way. Hopefully they'll help keep you motivated, happy, and overflowing with creativity!
1) Give me ten to fifteen. For those of you who don't know me well, besides all this foodie stuff, I'm also a yoga teacher, and have pretty much been a die-hard low carber for years. Which means no pasta, no bread, and heck, I didn't even have pastries when I went to Paris (yes, that sounds really weird, but who wants pastries when you can have cheese for breakfast, and lunch, and dinner... and OMG I love cheese!) But these last few months I've felt like the Special K commercial with the little girl at the door trying to entice the woman with a box of doughnuts. And enticed, I was. Seriously. You've heard about the College Fifteen? Hello to the Food Blogger Fifteen.
The solution? Balance. Eat a little, move a little. Eat a lot, join a gym... and go every day. Yup, you will pay the price for that pie.
2) Watch your wardrobe. There are many perks when working from home, like scheduling a dentist appointment without having to ask for time off, being available when your man calls, once again, forgetting his wallet, out of gas, and needing you now. More time to do extra deep cleaning around the house- oh joy. And don't forget all the money you'll save on work clothes.
But, thrifty and lazy are a very different thing. And as I got dressed this morning for my daily trip to the grocery store, I realized I didn't have a thing to wear, now that the weather had turned warm. These last few months my "uniform" had consisted of jeans and my pink fur-lined lululemon jacket. Really. Like everywhere I went. And I shuddered, realizing I had become just like one of Glee's Cheerios, you know... the ones that wear the same cheerleading outfit on every single episode.
The solution? Trade out your sneakers for some sexy espadrilles, your hoodie for a cute top (if ironing is involved, you get extra points), and lip gloss for lipstick (preferably red if you really want to turn some heads). And if you have to, lay out your clothes the night before, even if you're only dressing for your grocery store staff... and your dog. And for goodness sakes, just because you work from home doesn't mean you don't have to shave your legs every. single. day.
3) Get involved. I've found that food blogging is the perfect job for introverts. You can live your passions- cooking and writing, at home, while spending the rest of your time communicating online! Yes, I'm shy. And while no one would know it, I just feel happier expressing myself through writing, photos and design. And I'm thinking that's pretty true across the board, when it comes to food bloggers.
But, just because I'm not an in-person networking queen, doesn't mean I don't like connecting with amazing people. And I mean real connections, which I'm already starting to form. Food bloggers are right up there with Innkeepers- love it! But it takes work. It takes putting yourself out there, and it needs to be a priority. No "waiting for the phone to ring" when it comes to blogging.
Blogging groups are great for connections, plus they also give a weekly or monthly purpose. And don't forget deadlines (which I not only love, but find completely necessary in my life!) #SundaySupper has connected me with some of the most amazing people, who are becoming friends. Plus some of my Google+ groups, including a food photography group, which has helped my blog become even that much more beautiful.
The solution? Treat people that you meet on the Internet just as you would those that might walk through your door if you worked in an office. Take the time to "return calls" and comment back on their likes, shares and plus ones. Return the favor by introducing them to your friends and highlighting their work too. And take advantage of the multitude of free resources available. Ask questions, and be real. I've found that more often than not, people just really want to help, and have good intentions. And if they're don't, don't think twice... delete!
6) Keep a safe distance. For the last five years, I've owned an Ad Agency. I was the only designer, and did it all- from logos, to branding, to website design. And it was my art. And it was from my heart. And while almost all of my clients loved my work, there were a few that just didn't get it... as again, any kind of design really boils down to art, and our own personal taste.
And because of those few, I spent way too much time taking it personally. But these days, I believe all experiences get us to where we are now, and I'm grateful for those times. I have a much thicker skin. And it's allowed me to be my authentic self, even more.
But, it's not just about what others think, but also what we think about our own work. Like when that picture didn't have the right lighting, and your food looked just a little blah. Or when you wondered if you should even be posting today since it isn't nearly as fun, or funny or even clever as the last two that you posted that got "rave reviews."
The solution? Be yourself. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I'd want to be friends with someone who was always cracking jokes, or constantly telling me about their dramas, but a real person. One that can laugh, be silly, be informative, and maybe even have a bad day. A real mix, a real story. And as bloggers, aren't we story tellers too?
Just make sure that before you blog, you've really got something to say, and you're not just trying to make deadline. Spreading yourself too thin never helped anyone get ahead.
And as far as your work... be a little kinder to yourself, and don't sweat the small stuff. If you're not happy with a picture or a post, simply put it on the shelf, or post it regardless. You never know who it will touch. And, even if you never post it, it's not a loss, just another learning experience.
So, what does this all have to do with my Tarragon Chicken Lettuce Leaf Wraps?
This is a recipe I developed, wrote about and photographed as a Gyro, when I was first starting out.
I like this version (and photograph) better... and see? Not a loss, just another lesson.
Food blogging is about learning and growing. It's not just about putting it out there and moving on, but also perfecting one's craft. And now, these are one more step closer to perfection- YUM!
Tarragon Chicken Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Spicy Greek Yogurt
For the Chicken:
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 c. white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1 Tblsp. fresh tarragon, roughly chopped
Red onion, sliced into thin half moons
Salt & Pepper
Seasoning of choice (love my Parisien!)
For the Wraps:
Lettuce leafs, washed and dried well
Garlic Greek Yogurt Sauce (Click here for the recipe from previous blog post)
In a large skillet, add the chicken pieces and red onion to about 3-4 Tblsp. oil over med. high heat. Season with salt, pepper and Parisien. Once almost cooked through, add in the lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to thicken for a few minutes, and add in the tarragon at the end. Once chicken is cooked through, remove from heat.
Add into lettuce leafs, drizzle with Greek Yogurt Sauce and enjoy!