We can't believe it's been a year since we started Vegan on Board. It's been quite a journey! One year ago we had no idea how to run a vegan food blog, but a lot has changed since then. Come and take a look behind the scenes and see what we've learnt...
Being a great food blogger is more than just being a great cook
On the surface being a food blogger may seem to be all about making great food, then writing about it. But the reality is so much more! You've gotta have a passion for food, of course, but that passion also has to last you through many other tasks:
- Researching what recipes people are looking for
- Refining and testing recipes
- Giving the reader all the information they need to make the recipe successfully
- Optimising your post for search engines so that readers can find your recipe
- Styling the food so it looks good
- Photographing and editing pictures that attract readers
- Promote your food blog via several channels on a day-to-day routine
- Learning about all sort of technical things in order to constantly improve your site
I must confess, that when I used to use a recipe I'd found on someone's blog I never realised the incredible amount of time and effort that went into it!
With so many things to get to grips with, it can seem overwhelming. Take one step at a time and you'll soon realise how far you've come.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
Vegan on Board would not exist without the combined efforts of Sophie and Paul! Team S&P go together like salt and pepper to (hopefully) create a perfectly seasoned blog. We share some responsibilities equally, such as writing and recipe creation. And in other areas we have more clearly defined roles, like Sophie as Photographer and Paul as Chef... This happened quite organically as we became more experienced at working together.
We generally agree with each other on most things, but we have learnt how to share feedback with each other, and get better at taking 'constructive criticisism'. And sometimes we just have to trust each other and let go of some control. At the end of the day, it makes us more productive as a team!
The key to working with a partner on a shared project is to put communication first.
There's a thriving community out there
Through our blog we have connected with food bloggers across the world. There’s so many wonderful people sharing their passion for vegan food and it’s so inspiring to be a part of this vibrant community. We've found the food blogging community to be a very encouraging, helpful and positive community to be in. Food Bloggers Central is a fantastic group to join if you are running your own food blog.
Through our adventures and through Instagram we’ve also connected with lots vanlifers and other vegan travelers. It actually surprised us to find out how many vegans there are also travelling in vans. Many of them, like us, see eating more plants as a way to reduce the environmental impact of their diet and travel.
We also love connecting with people through our recipes. It’s such a joy when a reader shares with us how much they love what they made or sends us a pic of the finished dish on Instagram!
We value social media, not as a promotional tool, but a way to find likeminded people and connect with our community.
Food photography takes practice
When it comes to taking tasty pictures of our food we've learnt a lot in the last year. In the early days we struggled taking pictures in the enclosed space of the van or a busy kitchen. After lots of experimenting, we now always take our pictures with diffused natural light outside. In the short winter days and in the rain, this can be more of challenge, so one of things we will be looking to improve on is working with artificial lighting.
Sophie has come a long way in terms of food styling and developing a consistent image for our food photographs. With our trusty wooden board as a 'dining table', our two ‘love spoons’, a sprinkle of ingredients and the ‘hero’ dish, she can create a tasty looking image whether we are in a boring carpark, or a breathtaking landscape.
Our Number 1 Food Photography tip that we learnt pretty early on is: Never Work on an Empty Stomach!
Writing better blog posts in good time
Obviously we learned how to write for a blog. Not just how to write better, but also more efficiently. For Paul it was necessary to overcome his perfectionism. At first, he put too much weight on every single detail and tried to make every sentence, every phrase and every word the best it could possibly be. Not only is that tiring, it also takes a lot of time! Some of our first blog posts, like our apricot jam doughnuts, probably kept us busy for about a week. Now, we start with an outline that we put together before, and one of us just goes for it. We do of course priotise quality over quantity, but now we try not to let anxiety and perfectionism to get in the way.
Not every word of your blog post has to be perfect. Just perfect enough. The more important part is, that you publish!
Get out, get inspired!
We also learned about another thing that really helps us with writing, as well as getting ideas for new recipes. Although it might be an obvious one for anyone who’s ever had a creative project, it is something we sometimes forget about. It is that most inspiration comes to us when we are out and about. That’s one good reason for us to travel a lot, too. After a while of being in the same place (and especially inside houses), maybe a couple of days, we usually begin to lose energy and momentum when writing. Being active makes you hungry, and that’s always a great inspiration for new recipes for us 😉
Don’t lock yourself in your room trying to finish that blog post! Take breaks! Go for a walk. Take a day off to refill your batteries and clear your head in nature!
Developing a cooking style
I have finally reached the stage when I think that sometimes, just sometimes, less is more. I used to be someone who would always toss in more and more different ingredients in an effort to make things more tasty. Not just one spice mix, but three or five! Now I’ve reached the point where I can truly value a recipe for its simplicity instead of drowning individual flavours in dozens of sauces and spices. Tasty ingredients like wild mushrooms, apricots or fennel don’t need a lot of extra flavouring to shine. A focus on the few things that help amplify their uniqueness goes much further. And always at least a pinch of salt…
But I'm sure I will reach a point where I feel like trying new things, and go crazy on flavours. Whatever you do, challenge yourself, follow your instinct - and have fun! That's the best way to learn.
Experiment, be brave, and make sure you cook and do what you enjoy!
So you can see we've learnt a lot!
We're always learning and working to improve Vegan on Board. After all we've learnt in just one year, we can't wait to see what will come over the next few years! Check back tomorrow to find out what we think the future holds.
This week we are celebrating the first birthday of Vegan On Board with a post each day. Join in on the daily fun to celebrate with us!
What do you think of what we've learnt? Got any suggestions for how we can improve? Do you run a food blog too, share your tips with us!