This month’s Blog of the Month is the amazing Rhian from Rhian’s Recipes. She’s going to share her world of gluten-free and vegan recipes with us. Over to you Rhian…
What inspired you to start your blog?
In 2015, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and when my doctor recommended that I cut out a whole host of foods that were aggravating my symptoms, it came as a huge shock. Being diagnosed with a serious chronic disease aged 21 and having to take 10 pills a day paled in comparison to the realisation that I would never again be able to eat whatever I wanted. The biggest hurdle I had to overcome was the inevitability that food would be an inherent part of almost every social situation: time and time again, I found myself sat with an unappetising piece of fruit watching others eating a decadent chocolate cake or luxuriously creamy cheesecake. I found the experience isolating, and strangely enough, I found it even more alienating than being ill. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to recreate those foods I missed, in a way that would suit my new diet. As I started making my own recipes, I felt a compulsion to share them with others in similar situations. I started my blog because I wanted to banish the feelings of overwhelm, frustration and isolation that come with leading an alternative diet, and wanted to create a community where those people could feel at home.
Has your content changed much since you started?
Yes, I started out by just posting random recipes that I liked, without thinking about what my target audience would be searching for. Nowadays, I focus on posting easy recipes for basic foods that people would want to know how to recreate to fit their dietary requirements. I also make a conscious effort to create recipes that people will actually want to make and that will turn out great for them.
What have you learned since starting your blog?
The biggest learning curve for me was understanding what my audience was looking for and how to create content that they would really love. This is definitely not something you can learn overnight, and for me, it took about a year of consistently creating new content three times a week for me to fully understand what type of recipes would resonate well.
What has surprised you about blogging?
That there are no secrets or tricks for how to turn a hobby blog into a full-time business. I used to think the ‘famous’ bloggers knew something I didn’t or that they did something special to get where they were, but I’ve realised that the only way to grow an online presence is by working really hard to consistently put out a lot of content and continuously looking for ways you can improve.
How do you balance blogging and real life?
To be completely honest, not particularly well! It’s so hard for me to step away from my blog because I really love what I do and feel so motivated to always be working. But it is so important to take time off, so I am increasingly trying to set aside time to relax. I think it’s also crucial to take time away from social media as it can get quite stressful feeling like you always have to be ‘on’.
What’s the best thing about writing your blog? And the worst?
My favourite part is definitely the recipe development – I love experimenting with new ways to make things and vegan and gluten-free baking is such a fun challenge! The worst part is probably all the behind-the-scenes admin like dealing with technical problems, doing your tax returns, keeping on top of the book-keeping, basically all the boring stuff that doesn’t get posted on Instagram!
What advice would you give someone starting a foodie blog now?
Food blogging is increasingly competitive so you really need to find a niche and stick to it. You also need to make sure your content is going to be really helpful to people. If you’re really solving a problem for people, they will come. It’s also important to blog about something that you really love and that you would enjoy posting about even if you weren’t getting any traffic or money, because you will need to consistently create a large amount of content for what will seem like a very long time before your blog will take off, and if you don’t enjoy it at the beginning you will soon become unmotivated and will be tempted to give up.
Has blogging brought you any amazing opportunities or experiences?
By far the best experience for me has been seeing so many people making my recipes. I still can’t believe complete strangers are actually making my recipes and it makes me so happy when they share photos of their creations with me. Being able to help people who are struggling with what to eat because of dietary choices, food allergies or intolerances has been so rewarding and motivates me to keep working hard.
Which have been your most popular posts?
My baking recipes tend to be the most popular, especially my Gluten-Free Vegan Blueberry Muffins and my Gluten-Free Vegan Bread. In terms of savoury recipes, my Tofu Satay Curry has got great reader feedback – and it’s what I usually make for friends when I have them over!
And which are your personal favourites?
I was really happy when I made my Vegan Stretchy Melty Grilled Cheese because I randomly thought I could use mochi (a Japanese sticky rice cake) to make vegan cheese because it becomes stretchy when melted, and somehow it worked! I also like my Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe because it took me a long time to work out how to make a gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar free sponge cake. The buttercream frosting is made with sweet potatoes, but nobody can ever guess what it’s made of!
How does it feel to be chosen as Foodies100 blog of the month?
I was so shocked and happy when I got the email – I’m so honoured to be chosen and it’s so humbling to be in such great company!
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