Meet the bloggers…
Dominic Franks, Belleau Kitchen
Dominic is a cook, food writer and creative event producer. As well as his blog, he also writes a monthly recipe column for Lincolnshire Life Magazine and Good Taste Magazine.He is based both in the small village of Belleau in Lincolnshire and the smaller village of London.
Sarah Trivuncic, Maison Cupcake
Sarah has been writing baking blog Maison Cupcake since 2009. She is the author of Bake Me I’m Yours: Sweet Bitesize Bakes, and won Best Tasty Blog in The BiBs (Brilliance in Blogging Awards) in 2012. A self-taught home cook, she’s produced recipes and online content for Cath Kidston, Le Creuset and Activia amongst others. She lives in Walthamstow, East London with her husband and young son.
Why did you set up your blog?
DF: I’ve always had a passion for food, both cooking and eating, but I had no creative outlet for it and had never thought of a blog until I watched the brilliant Julie & Julia film about the blogger who cooks a page a day from Julia Child’s recipe book. The second that movie ended, I started my blog.
ST: I was interesting in building my own website where I could self-publish. At the time I’d been doing a lot of baking and it became the vehicle for me to write about. So by accident with no plan whatsoever. These days new bloggers are much more calculated and have expectations they can immediately make a career out of blogging. Those of us who started years ago didn’t hear from brands for at least the first few years.
What excites you in home baking right now?
ST: I really hope Bake Off Crème de la Crème will inspire people to emulate more French patisserie rather than sugarcraft-based novelty cakes (equally challenging in their own way). I’ve just come back from Paris where bakery windows are like haute couture fashion shows of cake. Patisserie is a different type of work compared to sponges covered in icing, but I think British home bakers would embrace the challenge if they saw more prominent examples of this type of product in the media and within retail.
DF: I’ve taken it back to basics and I’m cooking a lot of traditional recipes and naked cakes… keeping it simple and tasty. We’re coming up to the Queen’s 90th Birthday and the summer so I imagine there will be a lot of cakes and scones and afternoon tea-style baking!
Which three products should every store have in its home baking section and why?
ST: It’s great seeing supermarkets start to stock things like coconut flour. I like to discover new components from which I can make things from scratch - so, for example, I’m more excited by orange-coloured candy buttons than ready-made pumpkin-themed cake decorations. Basic cake boards are a must and I’d like to see more places stocking plainer cake boxes and presentation bags instead of them always being themed for kids’ birthday parties.
DF: All stores should stock ground almonds, vanilla and yeast.
Are there any areas of the home baking market ripe for development? Why?
DF: Things like home donut kits and other patisserie items - they do this really well in the States.
ST: I think boxed mixes of gluten-free and vegan bakes would be very popular right now. Consumers may not be confident making their own gluten-free and vegan bakes from scratch and these would save them buying complicated ingredients.
How can brands work with you?
DF: I love working with baking brands but I think it’s essential that when they approach bloggers they should have a well developed idea in mind that engages with the audience and involves the ingredient in a creative way. And no competitions where brands get bloggers to compete against each other. This is cheap.
ST: I produce recipes and other digital content featuring brand ingredients either for my site or the client’s. I look for products I can cook with and make something new from rather than anything pre-packaged. Many PR agencies ask me to “review” their client’s latest biscuit but it’s all a bit Coals to Newcastle when I’d sooner work with a versatile core ingredient. I’m currently a blogger ambassador for Bramley Apples and British Lion Eggs, which are genuinely home-grown ingredients with which people can cook from scratch.
What are the benefits to brands of working with a blogger compared with simply advertising on Facebook or other social media sites? Are they at risk of boring or losing touch with their consumers by just paying for ads?
ST: Bloggers may not have the immediate readership stats of a mainstream print magazine but their content may be discoverable for years to come. Many of my posts will achieve over thousands of views over time. These are often viewed upon mobile devices where the reader is closer, with more focused attention, feeling like they know the writer rather than it being some random copywriter in a mag. Added to that we have a niche audience of concentrated demographic returning readers. I think that’s pretty powerful compared with an expensive magazine ad that gets flicked past then chucked in the recycling bin.
DF: A blogger has a natural connection to a ready-made audience so it makes sense to work collaboratively with us. We are the link with a voice that makes it real.
How does your blog model work? Do you generate an income from it? If so, how?
DF: I still consider my blog a passionate hobby, it’s not by any accounts my number one income and I think this is reflected in my style of cooking and the way I don’t have much advertising on the blog. I prefer to work with a brand in a natural way to develop recipes or use ingredients and take a fee for that.
ST: For me it’s mostly publishing new recipes with photography featuring brand ingredients that fit the client’s current marketing campaigns. I help to make this content discoverable through search and social media. I don’t do straight food product reviews - rather, I create shareable new online content showcasing how an ingredient can be used. I negotiate a fee for this work in the same way as a photographer or a home economist would.
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