He describes himself as an IACP-Award winning photographer, award-winning baker, award-winning graphic designer, storyteller, recipe developer, writer and average Joe bon vivant. Phew! But take a stroll through his blog, and you can see why he's winning awards.
As a successful blogger in the competitive food space, he's learned how to navigate the ins and outs of the business, and he's sharing some of that insight with us. From how to remain a sane and motivated blogger to tips for turning your blog into a business, Irvin offers us a sneak peek to what he'll be dishing on at #BlogHerFood15, where he's speaking on the panel Achieving Long-Term Blogger Happiness. Plus, we get to peek inside his fridge. How many dozen eggs does one food blogger need? Apparently quite a few.
How do you stay motivated when you’ve been blogging for many years? What inspires you?
I realize that blogging is just one part of my life. And once I stopped focusing on it as my main source of everything, life got easier. I take breaks. I sometimes don’t make my own “internal” deadline for a post. And sometimes I just decide I need to write a post because I want to write a post, not for any other reason. I also stopped looking at my traffic and analytics every day. That saved my sanity.
Best tip for turning your blog into a business?
Understand what you’re worth. Charge what you think your time is worth, and know that sometimes you’ll get a no. If you can afford it, be willing to walk away from a project. But also do it politely, and offer to help in any other way possible. For instance, if I’m out of a brand’s price range, I’ll send them names of other bloggers who might be a better fit. The brand always appreciates the lead, other bloggers always appreciate you passing their name on, and if/when the brand has more money in their budget, they’ll think of that person that was super helpful to them next time. If the blogger gets approached by a brand asking them for names of other bloggers, I can only hope they will think of me as well. The more we help each other, the more we all rise up together as successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople.
The three things you wish you’d known before you started a food blog?
The thing you will probably fail at at least once when starting a food blog?
There is tons of advice on how to be successful with a food blog. Be on social media constantly, pin all the time, take gorgeous photos, write beautiful blogs posts, promote yourself on all the channels, pay attention to SEO, etc. But in all that, people often forget that a food blog is about food. Inevitably, after writing and photographing and social media-ing the heck out of a post, you’ll find that you wrote “use 12 teaspoons of kosher salt” instead of “1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.” Proofread, test, and make sure your recipes are solid. Everyone messes that up eventually. But understand the recipe should come first.
The biggest misconception about food blogging?
That all we do is eat fabulous and gorgeous food 24/7. Doesn’t really work that way. I wish it did!
Best piece of writing advice you've ever received?
I can’t remember where I read it or who it was, but a food editor of a major newspaper once said that food writers and bloggers need to get the reader out of their mouth. He was tired of always reading about how the food tastes. Instead he wanted to read about what the food made you feel. Did it transport you on a trip? Did it trigger a memory? Did you feel warm and cozy or cool and fabulous? Everyone always writes about how the food tastes, but what makes food writing interesting is how the food makes a person feel.
Biggest influences in writing, cooking, food photography?
The piece of food writing you’re most proud of?
A couple of years ago, I wrote a chocolate cake blog post about being jealous of other bloggers' success. It took me a while to pull the trigger and publish it, but in the end I’m glad I did. It resonated with a number of other bloggers, and at the time I was a little freaked out that I wrote it. Strangely, a lot of the stuff I talked about being jealous of in the post has since happened to me. I’ve gotten a book deal. I’ve talked at conferences (including the honor of being on this BlogHer keynote panel!). But even all that doesn’t mean that the post doesn’t still resonate with me, because for every milestone I get to, I see my peers getting to three more down the road. “Success” is a fickle lover. Every time you get a taste of it, you want more.
That said, the one piece that got selected for the Best Food Writing 2014 book was my How to Boil Water April Fools' Day joke post. I loved how everyone wrote a comment and interacted with the piece exactly like I wanted them to.
Now, some fun stuff...
The five most surprising things in your fridge?
Your stance on…
Your current favorite…
The craziest cooking hack you’ve ever tried?
The “peel all the garlic cloves” by putting it in two giant bowls sandwiched together, banging the garlic around over your head. It did work but was a real mess afterwards, with garlic paper all over the bowls. I’d rather just smash the garlic with the side of a knife. Way easier and faster, with less cleanup.
The three biggest food-centric benefits to living in San Francisco?
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