It’s true, today is my blog’s anniversary (er, blogiversary!) One year ago today, I was sitting in a Starbucks in Jersey City, starting Inspiralized from scratch.
I’m extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’m even more humbled and grateful for all of the attention, love, support and loyalty that my blog has attracted. I couldn’t have done any of this without my followers and those who are my unofficial brand ambassadors, Inspiralizing others!
Now, time to recap the year and get sappy. Prepare yo-selves.
Where do I start? Well, first off, I’ve done a couple milestone progress posts about Inspiralized (which, again, amazes me each and every day):
- You can learn about how I discovered the spiralizer here.
- Check out the first dish I ever made with my spiralizer, which prompted me to start my blog.
One of my posts was a timeline recap of 2013, which, I’m going to continue for 2014:
June 25: Quit my job.
June 26: Went to a local Starbucks and started Inspiralized.
June 27: Started my Facebook page.
July 8: Bought “Blogging for Dummies,” “Will Write for Food” and “Plate to Pixel” which I owe for most of my food photography and blogging success.
July 10: Got an official logo for Inspiralized.
July 11: My first photo submission was accepted on Foodgawker – my Broccoli Rabe Zucchini Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage.
July 18: My first guest post! It was on Hoboken Girl.
August 6: Registered my LLC.
August 7: Moved to WordPress.org and got the blog officially designed and branded.
August 13: Created the Inspiralized bun.
August 21: Selected to be part of the POPSUGAR team as a contributor.
September 18: Reached 1,000 followers on Instagram and ran my first spiralizer giveaway.
September 28: One of my recipes was featured in The Huffington Post.
October 7: Posted my first recipe featuring a spiralized butternut squash.
November 1: Released my first Inspiralized video.
November 15: Released my first Inspiralized cooking video.
November 24: Did my first sponsored post.
November 25: Launched my hard copy limited edition (self published) Inspiralized cookbook.
December 2: Launched the free iOS Inspiralized app.
December 3: Launched the limited edition Inspiralized e-cookbook.
January 6: Discovered that you could make rice out of spiralized vegetables and made a risotto, using butternut squash.
February 8: Did my first in-store spiralizer demo with Williams Sonoma in Montclair, NJ.
February 16: Did my second in-store spiralizer demo in NYC at Williams Sonoma and filmed it.
March 10: The Inspiralized Community launched.
March 20: Signed a cookbook deal with Clarkson Potter (Random House.)
March 25: Inspiralized is specifically featured in The Huffington Post, in a full article.
April 21: Created a FREE starter guide eBook for anyone who joins The Inspiralized Newsletter.
May 5: Udi’s Gluten Free became the sponsor of The Inspiralized Recipe Challenges.
May 8: Announced the sale of the official Inspiralized canvas tote bags.
May 20: Relaunched The Inspiralized Mobile App for $1.99.
June 4: Reached 10,000 followers on Facebook.
June 4: Started Get Inspiralized, a separate Instagram account dedicated to tracking my fitness goals.
June 15: Reached 20,000 followers on Instagram.
Am I missing anything?
Typing out my “timeline” empowers me to keep doing what I’m doing. It’s like posting up progress before and after pictures when you’re trying to lose weight – seeing progress and incremental milestones encourages you to push forward and keep up the good work!
Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t had my ups and downs. Of course, I’ve had many recipe fails, big recipe errors/typoes, unproductive days, and certain times when I just thought to myself, “Is anyone listening out there?”
As a blogger, you put your life out for everyone else to see and when you don’t receive comments on certain posts or you get negative feedback about a particular post, it’s discouraging for sure. But, you learn to take that feedback and harness it and turn it into positive energy and improvements.
What I’ve learned about food blogging in my first year with Inspiralized
- Spend more time on your own content, less time worrying about others. There are going to be better cooks, better bloggers and better business-oriented people than you on the ‘net – don’t let that discourage you, just focus on your own content.
- If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t blog it. If you don’t love the recipe and think “oh, well maybe someone will” – just ditch it. Your readers are coming to you because your blog is an extension of yourself and what you’re passionate about. If you don’t like dill, they can find another blogger who does, but they’ll keep coming back to you because of your focus and they become familiar with what you like. I’ve never posted a recipe with eggplant except for a tutorial on how to spiralize eggplant. There’s a reason behind that: I hate eggplant!
- In regards to my second point: this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try certain foods you normally don’t like. I used to hate gorgonzola (and all blue cheeses) until I made this walnut-gorgonzola pasta: now I love it! That’s the beauty about food blogging – it’s your job to test and bring the best tasting food to your readers.
- Don’t just blog to blog. If you made a recipe and aren’t proud of it but won’t have anything to post if you don’t use it, just don’t post. Your readers will understand and appreciate your decision.
- Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if it doesn’t bring financial success. I have had brands approach me to work together, but since their mission didn’t align with mine, I had to turn down the opportunity (aka the money.) Seek out your own opportunities that align with what you feel passionate about. You’ll feel better about yourself and it will show through your blog – and you’ll keep the readers you want.
- Befriending bloggers helps promote your blog, teaches you about blogging, introduces you to new brands and foods and creates virtual coworkers. Commenting on someone else’s blog, Tweeting to them and giving them a shoutout on your Instagram or Facebook goes along way – right away, that person is going to check you out and see what you’re about, and maybe promote something they see they like – this leads to new followers. Most importantly, seeing what other bloggers do helps you learn about the blogging process. I didn’t know “my ass from my elbow” (as Lu always says), but looking up to longtime pro-bloggers helped me learn the ropes. Just don’t compare yourself to them – use them as a resource and don’t be afraid to reach out for their help.
- Readers are interested in your personal life, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the blog. It’s fun and fine to post up pictures of what you had at brunch, what you wore to the farmer’s market or a new bag you got that you love (especially if your demographic is mainly female.) However, when you start posting more about your personal life than your blog, you’ll lose followers – they want to see the process behind your blog, not your everyday life and shots of you and your friends taking shots. They’ll follow their own friends for that.
- Respond to e-mails from your readers. Even if it’s just a “Thank you for your kind words, have a great day!” that’s fine. It’s important to connect with your readers – they’ll come back and help promote you more to their friends, coworkers and family if they know you care. Some of my happiest days have been notes from readers who I e-mail with somewhat regularly.
I could honestly keep typing, but I want to wrap it up and get to the spiralizer giveaways!
Real quick, a snapshot:
My first Instagram picture
My first Facebook post
My favorite recipe
I can’t answer that! All of my recipes are my little babies! But, if I haaaad to: Bikini bolognese. It’s easy, flavorful and truly expresses the power of Inspiralizing – it’s a traditionally heavy, highly caloric and carby Italian pasta dish made bikini-friendly.
My favorite thing about blogging
When I receive e-mails from readers – I get excited when someone shares their experience with me. It makes me feel special!
My favorite vegetable to spiralize
Zucchini. It’s my first love. And it’s the easiest.
Who I’m most thankful for
Lu and my mother.
My mother has been supportive from Day 1 and has never faltered in her faith in me. She’s helped me whenever I’ve needed her and she always calls me to tell me when I’ve made a typo in one of my recipes. She brags about me to friends and family and she’s always there when I need her cooking advice (she won’t hesitate to tell you the story about when I called her to ask her how to use a can opener back in 2007. I’ve come a long way.)
Lu was the first person who told me I should start a blog about spiralizing. After I made him his first spiralized meal, he dropped his fork and literally told me I had to quit my job and start Inspiralized. I couldn’t thank him enough for being there every step along the way. He’s talked me off the ledge many times when I’ve had a bad day with the blog and he’s given me criticism when I’ve needed it. He inspires me always and the best part about working from home is when I hear the door unlock at the end of the day and I get to see him.
What I’m most proud of
My cookbook deal with Clarkson Potter. Meeting with the publishing team there was the most humbling experience of my life and I couldn’t be more happy to one day be holding the official Inspiralized cookbook, published by the world’s largest English trade publisher!
What motivates me the most
Whenever I get an e-mail from a reader telling me that I’ve helped them reach their weight loss goals, fight off Type 2 diabetes, discover new vegetables, cook nutritiously for their family and helped them eat creatively. That’s my #1 goal – to show people that they can eat deliciously, while still keeping fit, healthy, happy and satisfied.
What my goals are for the next year with Inspiralized
- Grow my following (Inspiralize more people!)
- Write the most amazing cookbook,
- Be more innovative,
- Stay focused.
And again…. thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has helped me make my dreams come true. I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2014 holds in store for me and Inspiralized, and I’m so honored to have you along for the ride!