Congratulations to Charlotte who writes the food blog Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen. Charlotte loves experimenting with food, creating new recipes and cooking delicious and (mostly) healthy food for her family.
Over to Charlotte…
What inspired you to start your blog?
I left my job to become a stay-at-home-mum in 2013 and after about a year at home with my two boys I realised I needed a new challenge – something to fill a bit of the gap that work had left but without the pressure of actually going out to work. I’ve always enjoyed cooking but have a terrible memory for recipes, so I thought a food blog would be a good idea as a place to store my recipes in one place so I could always find them. It’s just grown from there!
Has your content changed much since you started? If so, how?
I don’t think the content has changed hugely, although I’m now learning how much (or little) of my life I like to share alongside a recipe and finding more of a writing style I feel comfortable with. The thing that’s changed most is my photography, although I’m pleased to say that I’ve removed most of the evidence by going back and retaking the absolute shockers.
What have your learned since starting your blog?
The biggest thing I’ve learnt is what motivates me in life, which is learning to do new things and doing them well. I need a challenge and goals to reach and blogging gives me that. The great thing (but also really frustrating) about blogging is that you never know how to do everything, as soon as I’ve reached one goal, it’s straight onto the next one.
I’ve also learnt lots of practical skills like coding, photography, social media, how to spell broccoli (thank goodness for spell checkers) and that there are less calories in meringues than I thought J
What has surprised you about blogging?
Just how lovely the blogging community is – everyone is just so friendly and welcoming. It’s been brilliant.
How do you balance blogging and real life?
I’m not sure there’s any difference any more! I have to admit that blogging takes up a lot more of my life than I ever could have imagined when I started. I‘m pretty sure if I’d realised how much then I may not be doing what I’m doing now.
As a stay-at-home-mum my family is always my top priority and so I fit my blogging around them. I do try and set aside time for my blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays but there’s always a lot of interruptions from little people.
What’s the best thing about writing your blog? And the worst?
The best thing about having a food blog is getting messages from people to say that they’ve made one of my recipes and enjoyed it. I put a lot of effort into getting them just right and this makes it all worth it.
The worst thing is that I’m a bit of perfectionist, I’ll spend ages on a post and then decide it’s not good enough and start all over again. It can be very frustrating if I’ve got an image of how something should be and I can’t get it how I want it, and knowing it’s so public means I just don’t want to compromise (I’m getting worse and worse at this).
What advice would you give someone starting a foodie blog now?
Get out there and chat to other bloggers, they’re all so friendly and helpful.
Also, to be realistic and don’t expect overnight success. There’s so much work that goes on behind the scenes and it’s easy to go into it thinking “I’ll write a few recipes and take a few pictures and people will come”. That could happen, there’s definitely an element of luck involved, but for the most part blogs are successful because their writers have put a lot of effort into making it so.
Finally, to relax and be yourself. I only write posts that I feel like writing and only take opportunities from companies that I’m excited about. If I started to write things because I thought I should rather than because I want to I think I’d quickly fall out of love with what I do.
Has blogging brought you any amazing opportunities or experiences?
The best experience I’ve had by far was attending Blog Camp at the River Cottage last year. It was such a brilliant day and so lovely to finally meet some of the bloggers I’d been chatting to online for such a long time.
Which have been your most popular posts?
My most popular post is my Vanilla Birthday Cake. I only posted it on the blog for my own benefit as I always use the same recipe and it saved me having to go and get the book out. I never really expected anyone to look at it and I’ve been really surprised at just how popular it’s been. I get so many comments and questions that I’ve ended up writing a post with all the FAQs to save people scrolling though all of the old comments to find the answers.
And which are your personal favourites?
My favourite posts are all ones that I look back on and feel proud, although all for different reasons…
Firstly my Birthday Cake for Daddy and Easter Nest Cupcakes. I don’t feature my boys on the blog very often because when I’m cooking with them I just want to enjoy making a mess rather than stressing about pictures (it’s also impossible to get them to stay still for long enough). I’m proud of everything they do so it’s impossible not to look back over these posts without a big smile.
My Summer Berry and Custard Tarts because I look back at the pictures and feel proud of how far my photography has come since I started.
My Yorkshire Puddings because my Mum made them and has now ditched Delia’s recipe for mine.
And finally, my Building My Blog series, a monthly update on what I’ve been doing to grow my blog. I found similar posts really useful when I was starting out (and still do!) and love getting feedback from others that have found them useful. It’s great to write something in a post and a few days later seeing someone trying it out.
How does it feel to be chosen as Foodies100 blog of the month?
It feels amazing. One of my early blogging goals was to get into the top 100 on the Foodies 100 chart and now I’m blog of the month. I’m still smiling just thinking about it.