A big congratulations to Claire who writes the food blog Foodie Quine, she is this month’s Blog of the Month! Claire is a passionate Aberdeen based freelance food writer, blogger and cookery demonstrator.
Over to Claire…
What inspired you to start your blog?
I’ve been blogging since August 2012. It was suggested by one friend in particular that I should share my ongoing adventures in food on the interweb. Bet she wishes she’s kept her mouth shut now! (Seriously Julia, thank you for the nudge in the direction of what has become my new career. I owe you big time.) Foodie Quine started out as a way to catalogue my personal adventures in food, it was, and still is, all about my passion for the subject. I never set out with the aim of carrying sponsored/paid for posts and knew very little of their existence within the blogging world. I aim to communicate, share, inspire and be inspired through my blog and I hope that shows in my content.
Has your content changed much since you started?
I sincerely hope that it has! To begin with my blog was really just a personal diary and an extension of my existing social media addiction and photos of my dinner! Looking back now at some of my early posts I’m completely embarrassed by them, the photography in particular. Although some make me cringe they catalogue just how far I’ve come, so for now I’ve chosen to leave them all and not delete any. As my blog has developed so have the opportunities for commissioned recipes and sponsored posts. This is something that I have embraced in order to turn blogging into a career but I also continue to produce organic posts. When it comes to the crunch I’d rather say no to an opportunity than compromise my content, alienate my readers or sell my soul.
What have you learned since starting your blog?
I’m sure I must have learnt lots but it feels like I still have so much to learn. I’m a bit of a technophobe so HTML and SEO are my idea of hell but thankfully I’ve picked up just about enough to get by. Working with PR’s and understanding the value of my blog has been a steep learning curve but I’ve become much more confident in pitching to brands and saying no to working purely for exposure when everyone else in the chain is being paid. In terms of my design and logo I’ve been lucky enough to work with Mimi Hammill who completely overhauled my previously non-existent image and gave me a consistent look and colour scheme that has helped to build a recognisable Foodie Quine brand.
What has surprised you about blogging?
The friends that I’ve made and the support that I’ve received. There is an amazing community of food bloggers out there many of whom I feel lucky to now have as my friends and colleagues. Last year I spent a fantastic day at River Cottage HQ with a fab group of Foodies 100 bloggers. It was a brilliant opportunity to meet a large number of folk in real life that I felt I already knew online and I had to pinch myself that the whole experience was real.
How do you balance blogging and real life?
Blogging has pretty much taken over my life. It’s my full time job 24/7. I now describe myself as a ‘Freelance Foodie’. Basically I’m a blogger, food writer, cookery demonstrator/tutor and I also run outdoors food and foraging events for adults and kids. Plus anything else that comes along! Officially going Freelance and being self-employed was a wee bit terrifying (and I don’t just mean doing my tax return!) but it also gives me lots of flexibility which suits my family life.
What’s the best thing about writing your blog? And the worst?
The best thing is being my own boss but it’s also the worst thing! Motivation can sometimes be tricky and it can get lonely working on your own and not having someone to bounce ideas off. Procrastination and social media addiction are my biggest downfalls. My geographical location in the North of Scotland also makes things tricky, as much as I’d love to attend events in London it’s seldom possible or practical. In terms of workload it’s either a feast or a famine which can be scary.
What advice would you give someone starting a foodie blog now?
Do it for yourself. Don’t get into it for what you think you might get out of it. Be true to yourself and just keep doing more of what you’re doing. It will take time for you to find your blogging voice so be patient and don’t expect opportunities to come knocking from the outset. If you stop enjoying it, stop blogging or at least take a break to recharge and reassess.
Has blogging brought you any amazing opportunities or experiences?
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to meet some amazing people and have some fantastic experiences all because of my blog. A couple of highlights would be cooking breakfast on the shovel of a steam train, hosting a Q&A with GBBO finalist James Morton, learning how to make iconic Aberdeen Butteries and spending a day in the life of Nick Nairn Cookschool. I’ve absolutely loved being a regular contributor on BBC Radio Scotland Kitchen Cafe and Garden and would really like to do more radio work. The blog has also brought me a platform for my food education work with both kids and adults which is something that I am really passionate about.
Which have been your most popular posts?
By far my most popular post is my recipe for Irn Bru Pulled Pork. It seems to have hit a real cord with readers both in and outwith Scotland. I’ve had such good feedback from it and folk are always telling me that they’ve made it and sharing photos. Same goes for some of my Tunnocks Teacake Recipes. I reckon I’ve carved out a wee bit of a niche for quirky Scottish recipes. As a family we love glamping and staying in unusual places and my posts about those have also proved to be very popular. It’s lovely to hear of people booking stays as a direct result of reading about somewhere on my blog.
And which are your personal favourites?
As a self-confessed Gin addict it would have to be my visits to Caorunn and Inshriach Distilleries. Both of those were pretty special as they aren’t open to the public. I also have a soft spot for the posts which catalogue the evolution of our Christmas Gingerbread House over the years.
How does it feel to be chosen as Foodies100 blog of the month?
I’m fair chuffed! It’s always lovely to be recognised for your work and to realise that someone out there other than my Mum is reading my blog. Thanks for choosing me to be the July 2016 blog of the month and for the continued support and opportunities that Foodies 100 provides.
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