Okay so today I am very excited because I have for you guys Lee from Fit Foodie Finds. Lee has built an AMAZING blog, filled with a constant stream of healthy but delicious recipes. She was able to turn her blog into a business recently and she’s one of the bloggers I just love to learn from. She has been blogging for a while now and has so much knowledge to share, I thought she would be a perfect Feature Friday for you all!
1.Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I am Lee Hersh and I’m 23 years old and I live in Minneapolis, MN. I recently transitioned from a full-time marketing professional to full-time blogger and small business owner! I own and operate FitFoodieFinds.com as well as a content creation and social media business. I teach yoga sculpt and was recently certified in Group Fitness through ACE.
2,When did you start blogging and how’d you get into it?
I started blogging in October of 2010. At the time I was a Junior at The University of Minnesota. It all began because I had a difficult time finding people in college who genuinely liked working out and eating healthy. I found I had more in common with the bloggers I followed than people at school, so with a little push from my sister…I started my blog with the intent of “showing college students they could easily eat healthy and workout while in school.”
3. How has your blog transformed over the years?
This is a great question. FFF started out as CFF: College Foodie Finds. My plan was to go to different restaurants and tell people what healthy items they should order off of the menu. LOL. That lasted for about -5 days. About 6 months into blogging, I realized I should purchase my domain name and that I actually really enjoyed blogging. That’s when I thought to myself: what if I’m still blogging when I graduate college? …I better change the name now JUST in case! It was the best decision I ever made!
At the beginning of FFF, I posted a lot of my workouts and “recipes” weren’t really a main focus. It wasn’t until I got my first freelance job with Anytime Fitness (through Twitter ←-OMG I know!), that I realized recipe creation was my niche. Things slowly progressed into me LOVING the whole process of designing a recipe, making it, styling it, photographing it, etc. I am a self taught photographer, but the more I practiced, the better I got. I also found, the better my photos, the more shares, likes, comments, etc. my posts got, which is really rewarding as a blogger.
That brings us to where we are today. FFF mainly focuses on recipe creation and food photography. One of my goals is to bring back fitness in 2014. So stay tuned for more workouts 🙂
4. What are some keys to having a successful blog?
Man this is a loaded question! I guess you have to figure out what success means to you. Is that pageviews, comments, likes, shares, etc. For me “success” is helping people live healthy. I love seeing reader photos of their FFF recipes and hearing from readers. Because a lot of my work is doing recipes and photos for brands, having a solid readership is also important to my success. With that said…here are some tips:
1. Clean Layout + Beautiful Imagery: I think one of the reasons my blog is “successful” is it’s clean layout and beautifully photographed recipes. People eat with their eyes and then their mouths. Because I focus mostly on recipes, it’s important that the reader is sucked in by the looks of what I am sharing.
2. Branding/Style: I think it’s important to develop a brand and stick to it. You may notice that I use certain fonts on FFF repeatedly. This is on purpose. I also have a certain style of photography. This is on purpose. I want someone to see a photo and know its mine without clicking on the link.
3. Social Media: Creating amazing content is one thing, but you HAVE to share it. Building your social media following on multiple platforms is extremely important. This is where people notice your work. After I post a recipe I tweet it multiple times, share it on facebook, Instagram it, submit it to Foodgawker and Tastespotting, and pin it on Pinterest. You NEED to be your biggest cheerleader. The more places you share, the more of a chance you have of being noticed.
4. Consistency: Yes. This one is important. Posting on a consistent basis is extremely important. If you post and share and post and share, your readership will grow.
5. Be professional: You never know who is watching. Always make sure you are professional…in your writing, on social media, etc.
5. You are always posting these amazing recipes, but what does a day of eating look
like for you?
Hazzah! Funny you ask this. My eating has changed drastically now that I am pretty much full time baker/chef/cook. I always start my day out with the same thing. Oatmeal with banana and peanut butter and a couple cups of coffee. My day differs depending on if I’m creating things in the kitchen or not. If I am- I really try and strategize by starting early in the kitchen (as soon as the sun is up, so I can photograph with natural lighting). I do this because I am a snacker and I know I’ll be taste testing during the entire process. Sometimes I end up eating three muffins before noon, so mindfulness a big factor in my diet. I try and eat when I’m hungry and what I’m craving…usually smaller meals.
I do try and eat dinner every night with Blake (as long as he isn’t at night class). He is a big meat eater, so dinner is usually hearty. I try and keep my portions smaller than his because I am a dessert fan. My banana soft serve is a staple dessert!
So long story short, it differs every day. I am really trying to focus on mindful eating with an abstract job like mine, but making sure I am getting all of my food groups (it can be tough!).
6. What’s your go to dinner when you don’t have much time to prep something?
Maybe I’m just lazy, but if I don’t have a lot of time it’s either my Strawberry Banana Protein Slammer (which I posted yesterday) or a sweet potato and hummus that I just microwave. If I’m REALLY lazy, I’ll pop over to Chipotle for a chicken burrito bowl or stop at Whole Foods Hot Bar.
7. What are some staples in your kitchen?
Items I almost ALWAYS have on hand are: peanut butter, bananas, frozen berries, Greek yogurt, homemade granola, corn tortillas, frozen ground beef, frozen fish fillets (salmon is my favorite), beans, and almond milk!
8. Your food photography is pretty awesome, when you were learning did you take any classes or what books did you use? Or was it just through practice and experimenting?
I am 100% Self (GOOGLE) taught. I learned from other bloggers (Minimalist Baker and Kath Eats), tutorials, and PRACTICE. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest pinning different styles and later trying to mimic them. The more you practice the better you become.
In college I was in design school for a year and a half. There, I learned the basics of Photoshop, which is the program I use to edit my photos and add text. Minimalist Baker’s Food Photography E-Course was a HUGE help in learning more about photoshop. I highly recommend it!
9. What are some tips you have for shooting food?
1. Natural Lighting is your best friend. I rarely shoot food in the dark and I don’t think I’ve used my flash in years! My set up is right next to a giant window.
2. Know how to use your camera. You can have an amazing camera, but if you don’t know how it functions, it’s useless!
3. Get a 50mm. I almost exclusively use my 50mm 1.8 and I love it!
4. Food Styling is a big deal. Take your time when styling food because it matters!
5. Plain Jane just works. Lately I have been ditching fun fabrics and towels as my background and just been using a white poster board, wood cutting board, and black chalk boards as my props. I feel I get better bounce lighting and the overall focus is on the food!
10. What is some of the best food porn you’ve posted lately? Any favorite recipes?
Here are a few of my favs:
1. DIY Maple Sea Salt Pistachio Butter
2. White Chocolate Cookie Dough Blizzard
3.Itty Bitty Sweet Potato Stacks
4. Chocolate Peppermint Shooters with Homemade Graham Cracker Crumbs
11. What is your next step with your blog? Where do you hope to see it a few years from now?
This is something that I think about EVERY single day. I think my next step for Fit Foodie Finds (this year at least) is to just keep doing what I am doing. I’d love to grow my readership by at least 25% this year. I also want to launch my first e-book. I have big dreams for what FFF could be one day. The Tone It Up girls inspire me like no other and so does Martha Stewart and her entire brand. I want FFF to be more than just recipes, but a lifestyle brand- clothing line, kitchen line, cook books, etc….I’ve thought of it alll!
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share more of my story! If anyone has any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!
Lee THANK YOU for taking some time to share your knowledge with the 9toFit readers (and dealing with my constant emails)! Also, if you guys want to see Lee’s post about blogging as a business ,check it out here. If you are interested in taking your blog to the next level in the future it’s definitely a worthwhile read!