Top 13 Takeaways From The Tuesday Thirteen
The Tuesday Thirteen
Every Tuesday for the last few months, I have interviewed a special guest in the food business for my series The Tuesday Thirteen. From chefs to bloggers to editors and tv personalities, this was a good bunch! I look forward to bringing you a new round of personalities in the next couple of months. Now, I want to take a minute and review with you my favorite takeaways and if you have any, I would love to hear them! In case you missed any, here are the 15 interviews:
1. Recipe development can be complicated and is unique to each cook. Go with what moves you and get inspired by what is around you.
Ally – “Recipe creation for me is instinctive…I’m not afraid to try new combinations, spices, herbs…I’m not afraid to make mistakes…some of my best creations have come through blunders and mess ups.”
Marla – “Often I come up with recipes based on ingredients I have on hand. I like to work with seasonal ingredients. I also look ahead at the trends that are going on for holidays, special flavor combos, travel inspiration”
John – “I start by flinging myself off somewhere with a note pad and credit card to learn all I can about a particular cuisine. I make notes, eat everything and barge my way into every kitchen I can to see what’s going on.”
Heather S. – “Sometimes I start with a base recipe and replace and adapt. Other times I pretend I’m on an episode of Chopped and just pick some ingredients to see what I can come up with. Other times I’m trying to recreate something that I tasted years ago…or something that somebody else remembers tasting.”
Georgia – “Unless I know the recipe well already, I’ll search for what I want to make and see how other people did it. Then I’ll proceed to make a big mess in my kitchen and do it my way. Learning by trial and error (or success) is the only way to go!”
Marc – “I think one of the foundations of cooking is learning how to build umami in a dish. Whether it’s taking advantage of the Maillard reaction to brown meats and vegetables, or making a great stock, umami is like the difference between seeing in 2D and 3D. Beyond that, I’m a believer in throwing firm rules out the window.”
2. It’s all about social networking! It is it absolutely necessary for blogging, but who reigns king? Seems that it depends on you and where your readers like to hang out.
Ally – “Definitely my favorite social network is Facebook…there’s such an active and incredible foodie universe”
Marla – “I am hopelessly in love with everything Pinterest!”
Aida – “Right now, I’m all about Pinterest and Instagram because the visual communication and simplicity of the platforms draw me in.”
Dianne – “I love Twitter and Facebook. I love having a virtual community of like-minded people to connect with.”
Kelly – “I’m a HUGE fan of Twitter and use it every single day!”
3. We all know that photography is important in food blogging. It may be worth investing either time, money or both to get to a level you are comfortable with.
Marla – (On photography) “I did not attend school for photography. When I started my blog in 2009 I actually shot really bad photos with my iPhone. When I realized that food photography (and all photography) was a passion, I took food specific photography workshops. I practice my craft daily and I am always learning.”
Marla – (On equipment) “I use a Canon 7D camera with multiple lens. My all time favorite lens is my 1.2mm 50mm.”
Georgia – “I taught myself how to use a DSLR and learned more about photography along the way. I currently have a Canon XS, which I love, but the decision on whether to invest in a better camera is just a matter of how important good photography is to you and what you want to convey through your blog.”
4. Time, honesty, loving what you do and hard work seem to be the foundation for success. What has led to the success of these entrepreneurs? Let’s hear it from their own words.
Marla – “I love what I do. I stay on top of trends. I take the best pictures I possibly can and I fully enjoy our fabulous online community. Drive, passion and energy ~ these are my fuel.”
Tanya – “To be honest, I put a lot of time and work into my blog, but I completely give the glory for my success to God.”
Tim – “I have a passion for food and cooking, and an equal love for writing and journalism. I think passion is the number one requirement.”
Kelly – “I think you first need the passion for cooking, the drive to really devote your time to keep up with blog posts, learning new techniques and really developing your photos as well as developing a tough skin for those not-so-nice comments that people will sometimes leave. I think the more you push the boundary outside the norm and the more true to yourself you stay, the more following you’ll receive.”
Heather S. – “If I had to say how I’ve gotten where I am, it’s 1) Loving what I do, 2) Social Media. That’s it.”
Marc – “My passion for food. Like I said, there are easier ways to make a living so if I wasn’t as passionate about cooking as I am, the blog certainly wouldn’t be where it is today.”
5. Criticism will happen, but let it roll off your shoulders. Take it with a grain of salt and move on!
Aida – “Cooking is an individual expression and I create recipes to capture my experiences and share the flavors with you. Of course, I hope you enjoy it but taste is so subjective that I could never realistically please everyone.”
6. Blogging Is hard work! Engage your readers and work to improve your writing and photography.
Tanya – (On reader engagement) “Really think about your reader. What are their real needs, real desires? What can you offer to them that they can’t find other places?”
Tanya – (On platforms) “Starting a blog on a free platform such as Blogger or WordPress.com is one of the biggest mistakes. Blogger has quite a few bugs which have taken down blogs for days.”
Marc – “Take better photos. A dish may taste fantastic, but since we can’t smell, touch or taste the food over the Internet, being able to see how good a dish makes the difference between someone reading all about it and moving on to the next blog.”
7. Use your time wisely, and focus on specific tasks in order to stay productive.
Tanya – “I try to stick to trying one thing at a time. To give that one idea some time to show whether it’s worth continuing or not. Ultimately, though, if something isn’t accomplishing what I want it to – it has to go.”
Heather S-G. – “I’ll admit that I have lists galore on my computer, on my bulletin board, jotted on post-its on book covers, and in notebooks. And I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I have two calendars in the room. One for blog/cooking info and one for family info.”
8. Improve your writing. It is clearly one of the most important aspects of your blog.
Dianne – [Bloggers can improve their blog through] “Their writing. I devote a half day, in my one-day workshops, on writing craftsmanship. It’s very satisfying to show people how to improve their writing right away. It’s the ability to evoke emotion from readers, as a result of being passionate about your subject.”
9. Content is king right? To keep it fresh, stay on top of the trends and try things you haven’t tried before.
Tim – “We look at what currently excites us—ingredients, dishes, techniques, trends—and ask ourselves: would this make a good story?”
Marc – “I just do what I usually do and cook food that inspires me. Some weeks I can bang out a handful of posts, other weeks I’m doing non-food related stuff to recharge my batteries.”
10. Having a niche is important. General blogs will get lost in the crowd.
Tanya – “I always recommend to my students that they sit down and write several posts for each area they are interested in. Which area do they still have a passion for after writing 10 posts for it? I also tell them to think of something they love so much that if they blogged about it for years and never made a dime – would they still be happy and find fulfillment in their blogging?”
Dianne – “General blogs were fine a few years ago, but these days I think people will do better if they have a niche. The issue is finding a subject that sustains you over a long period.”
11. If you plan on pitching to a publication, do your research.
Tim – “Study issues from the last six months and get a feel for the parameters of each column, and what type of features we normally run. Don’t pitch us something we’ve already done recently, or something not suited for Cooking Light.”
Dianne – “Prepare a pitch based on a story the publication would publish, not just a subject that interests you. Try to tie it to an upcoming season or event, so they have to publish it quickly.”
12. Writing a cookbook is a long, thought out process. Most take an average of 1 year.
Dianne – (On self-publishing) “If you have huge blog readership or you do a tremendous amount of speaking, you have ways to sell your book online or at events. Otherwise, you need a traditional publisher. The biggest publishers require an agent. Smaller publishers don’t.”
Christy – “There’s never enough [time], because a cookbook is much more than the writing. Developing and testing recipes is a time-consuming process – all of which must be done before the recipes can become part of the manuscript.”
Christy – (On self-publishing) “I went the traditional publishing route because publishing was a big unknown for me and I needed someone who knew a lot more about it than I did! And, self-publishing a cookbook can be an expensive out-of-pocket venture. On the other hand, with print-on-demand and e-books, aspiring cookbook authors have way more options than I did when my first book was published in 2004.”
John – “You need a really strong concept that is easy to understand, unique recipes and an editor who is amazing. For me content is king; clearly laid out, functionally and beautifully. I like books that inspire me and are easy to use. It’s a slow process, about 1-1.5 years, to get everything right and on shelf.”
Kelsey – (On writing) “I would separate my blog recipes from my book recipes by doing book recipes earlier in the week and blog recipes later in the week. It took me about 8 months to write the book. After that I spent a few more months editing and working with my editor on layout and photographer.”
Thirteen. Recipes to try
Tim – “Steven Raichlen’s Fantastic Bourbon Smoked Chicken.”
Kelsey – “I would recommend a Rhubarb Yogurt Cake.”
John – ”Dark chocolate cinnamon and clove brownies - these are quite simply the most rocking brownies on the plant, and trust me I have eaten many!”
Heather S-G. – ”Roasted Spiced Applesauce …. and Pozole Rojo inspired by The School of Essential Ingredients.”
Check out their current & future projects:
Aida – Her new book, Keys to the Kitchen: The Essential Reference for Becoming a More Accomplished, Adventurous Cook (October 24)
Tanya – New blog for mom-preneurs, OccupationWAHM.com
Christy – Third cookbook, Celebrating Home, A Handbook for Gracious Living (September 1)
John – Mighty Spice Cooking Show on The Hungry Network