This month’s blog of the month is Camilla who writes at Fab Food 4 All. A mum of two, Camilla shares her tried and happily tested recipes she has developed, adapted or been given over the years and that her family love.
Over to Camilla..
What inspired you to start your blog?
Back in 2012 my techie husband suggested I start a food blog using WordPress as he knew how passionate I was about cooking. At school I won the prize for Home-Economics and after doing A Level Home-Economics I had fanciful notions of becoming a cookery writer but it never came to pass. After reading an article about blogging entrepreneurs in Good Housekeeping it gave me the final push to start my blog and with absolutely no clue about anything I just threw myself into it one day with hubby driving the technical side. After my first post I was totally hooked, I had finally found an outlet for my knowledge, skills and creativity.
Has your content changed much since you started?
I’d say my content has on the whole been about budget friendly family food with a splash of Danish influence from my mother and still is. As I’ve got busier though I think I have tried to do more quick and easy dishes as we all want to eat great food and not have to spend hours in the kitchen after a day a work. I have also become well known for my jams which I started making a year into blogging and just got hooked. The other change has been in my styling and photography, in the early days I uploaded pictures straight onto the blog and shot them under the light of my cooker hood. These days I have a studio set up in my dining room with a professional camera and lighting and I am constantly striving to improve. I do cringe at my early shots but they are a reminder of the progress I have made over the years.
What have your learned since starting your blog?
Bloggers are really lovely helpful people. Before I even embarked on joining any social media I remember reaching out to a blogger via e-mail with a technical issue I had. She was so lovely and helpful and encouraged me to join Twitter and Facebook to increase my following. I blogged for three months in total absence of any social media and taking her advice was a real turning point. I joined Twitter to start with and took to it like a duck to water, I followed every food blogger I could find (worldwide) and was soon chatting to and learning more from all these fabulous people. I was also able to publicise my blog posts which increased my traffic.
One big lesson I learned with regard to Twitter is to never to get involved in confrontation, there are people who enjoy this and my answer is just to be nice or humorous back (or simply ignore).
What has surprised you about blogging?
How you never stop learning. New technologies keep coming along and you really have to be on the ball. You can be using using a piece of software or a social platform and someone will say, “did you know you could do this on it?” or you will find a solution to a problem yourself and kick yourself that it took you so long to realise!
How do you balance blogging and real life?
I’m still working on that one as I have become a bit of a perfectionist workaholic.
What’s the best thing about writing your blog? And the worst?
The best thing is having an idea, creating it, posting it then seeing the lovely feedback from readers when they have made your recipe and loved it, always such a thrill. The worst thing about blogging is never having enough hours in the day. As a blogger you have many hats and have to divide yourself between the many roles in your “firm” whether it’s recipe development, cooking, food styling, photography, stock control, marketing, sales, accounting, social media or PR – there are a lot of balls to juggle. So when I get almost daily invites to events I have to decline them on the whole as have commissions for clients on and off the blog that I have to prioritise.
What advice would you give someone starting a foodie blog now?
I would say the most important thing on a food blog is the food, so make sure your pictures are well lit (day light is king but failing that a couple of lights & reflective umbrellas work well) and the full width of your blog. Tiny little pictures just don’t do food any justice. Look at other food blogs and learn from them and engage with them. Blog about what you are passionate about and if you can come up with a unique spin on a recipe or solve a problem for your readers then you have the recipe for success!
Has blogging brought you any amazing opportunities or experiences?
I do enjoy going to the local food festivals including the BBC Good Food Festival at Hampton Court and it’s always lovely to talk to well known cooks and chefs (too many to mention) because as a food blogger I feel more confident to do this. A couple of years ago I met Lisa Faulkener and Druv Baker and I was over the moon when they said they knew of my blog! This year at Hampton Court I was made to stand up in a tent full of people by Paul Hollywood when I was the only one to not agree that the right person had gone in week one of GBBO! About five minutes of ribbing and banter ensued when I said it should have been Candice (well I couldn’t actually remember her name after one episode) who left. I was made to explain my reasons and following her win on Bake Off I can see why he went on the way he did!
I also love the opportunities I get to work with different brands creating recipes with ingredients I may never have used or heard of before, thus broadening my creative horizons. I like coming at a recipe development from a completely different angle and although I’m often late for crazes I’ll jump in and put my own unique stamp on it.
Which have been your most popular posts?
My most popular post is my easy blackberry and apple jam which Googles at No 1. The reason it does so well is that I simplified the making of this jam because every recipe I came across used two pans and I thought this was ridiculous (plus I was tired after an afternoon of foraging) so I set about using one pan and staggered the cooking of the fruits. My second most popular recipe is damson jam which again I put my own spin on after gathering damsons from my parents’ garden.
And which are your personal favourites?
I love the Halloween smoothie bowl that I created recently in the shape of a pumpkin, it’s only the second one I’ve ever created! I’m always filled with joy when I Google a recipe idea and it doesn’t already exist (on Googling now I see it’s in the top spot). I’m also very proud of my Welsh lamb moussaka burgers which are quick and easy to make but have all the flavours of Moussaka, we have these all the time now! My favourite dessert post is my rhubarb & blueberry tarte tatin which I made in the pattern of the Union Jack in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday this year. It looks impressive but is really easy to make!
How does it feel to be chosen as Foodies100 blog of the month?
It feels fabulous to be chosen as I feel like my blog is in a really good place right now so it’s lovely to be acknowledged by Foodies 100. As soon as I joined I just wanted to climb the chart and do better each month so I am thankful to have had the incentive to constantly improve and up my game. Little did I know when I started on this blogging journey that my hobby would become my full-time job and I’m so very pleased it did!
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