Today we catch up with Melbourne food blogger Lucy from Bake Play Smile, one of my go to blogs for drool worthy kitchen creation inspiration. Everything from salted caramel overload to chocolate delights with lots more in between, including savoury and healthy. In our house though it’s all about the chocolate, the salted caramel and the salted caramel sauce…
Lucy is a trained primary school teacher with a passion for baking. She began her blog, Bake Play Smile, in 2013 and it has since grown into one of Australia’s most recognised food blogs. Bake Play Smile is all about fun, food and happiness.
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I started Bake Play Smile in May 2013 because I felt like I needed a new challenge in my life. At that stage I’d been teaching for a few years and I just wanted a new and exciting project to work on. A blog seemed like a fun way for me to put my love of baking to good use (as compared to just eating heaps and heaps of cake all by myself!). Never-mind the fact that I had NO idea how much work a blog would end up being!!
Tell us a bit about your blog and what we can expect to see in the next 12 months?
The last 12 months have been crazy! I never expected my blog to become my full-time job, but now that it has, I just want to work my butt off so it stays that way!
I’ve got a few eBooks coming out with Lauren from Create Bake Make, we’ve also just launched a website dedicated to Thermomix recipes called ‘ThermoBliss’, and of course we run our Fabulous Foodie Fridays blogger link up. Other than that, we’re working on an eCourse for bloggers – focusing on social media. I love working with Lauren – we keep each other motivated and I always feel so much more inspired after our weekly Skype chats.
I’ve also just started to offer blogger mentoring packages, which is keeping me super busy. There are always 50 zillion other things I want to do… but no time to do it all!!
Do you have a favourite place or dedicated space for blogging?
After working in a classroom, I can honestly say that I LOVE working from home. I thought I’d get lonely, but I don’t really! Our office is at the far end of our house, so I usually just sit at the dining table or kitchen bench when I’m blogging. I really should use our office… but it’s handy working in the kitchen because I’m usually waiting for something to come out of the oven!!
What are your must have tools and resources when it comes to blogging?
Ooh there’s so many things I love – but these three are probably my absolute favourites:
- Google Drive – because I work with Lauren on most of my big projects, I use Google Drive every single day. It’s the best way to organise and share documents. I love that we can be in two different states working on the same document at the same time.
- MailChimp – I use it to manage all of my email accounts and newsletters. I love how quick and easy it is to use.
- ViralTag & Board Booster – being the total and utter Pinterest lover, I swear by these two tools. You do have to pay a small fee for them, but if Pinterest brings a lot of traffic to your blog, it’s definitely worth it!
I have to admit though – I’m completely old school when it comes to my daily lists. I write them in a notebook and then cross them off as I go. There is nothing better than crossing things off your list!
Have you ever experienced blogger’s block and what are your top tips for when it strikes?
No! My blog is about food and I absolutely LOVE eating, so I don’t think I’ll ever run out of inspiration. I have a list about a million pages long of recipes I want to try. Mind you, my thighs probably wish I had writers block so I could give them a break for a while!!!
What have been your blogging highlights and biggest challenges?
My biggest challenge has probably been learning how to actually run a blog. When I started I was completely naïve and really had no idea. I’ve slowly taught myself the techy side of things, but gosh I made a lot of mistakes… which lead to a lot of tears.
For me the biggest highlight has just been seeing people embrace Bake Play Smile and watching it grow naturally. I don’t pay for SEO or anything like that. I love that people get to see my family recipes, have a little laugh with me, and then hopefully come back for more!
In what ways have you monetised your blog?
For the first 12 months, I treated my blog as a hobby and so of course, didn’t really make any money from it. About 12 months ago, I decided I wanted to get serious about blogging and knew that if I wanted it to become my ‘job’ I needed to monetise it. I know that not everyone wants to make money from their blog, but these are the ways I’ve turned Bake Play Smile from a hobby to a job in a year:
- Ads – as my views increased so did the revenue I earn from my ads. I’m currently signed with The Blogger Network who manage my ads for me – and it’s one less thing I need to worry about. Google AdSense is also a great option, we use it on ‘ThermoBliss’ at the moment.
- eBooks – our recipe eBooks sit in the ‘Shop’ section on my blog for purchase. We’re currently working on a whole heap of new ones that will be released in the coming months.
- Blogger mentoring – recently I’ve started offering blogger mentoring packages after I had a few people approach me to help with them with Pinterest, widgets, Facebook etc. It’s also been a fantastic way to get to know lots of amazing bloggers.
- Sponsored posts/working with brands – last year I signed with Nuffnang’s Bloggerati which really was such a great decision. They organise all of my brand work which means that I can concentrate on doing what I love – which is baking… and eating!
Who inspires you and what’s on your Worth Casing list when it comes to other bloggers?
Bloggers really are so amazing and inspirational! I just love anyone who is doing what they’re passionate about, working their butts off and getting incredible results because of it.
What advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about starting a blog of their own?
My best advice would be to run your own race. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Never compare yourself to others because you’ll never win that game!
Celebrate all the little wins and be proud of what you’re doing (because it’s amazing!). Oh and when you’re having website issues at 9pm and you’re in Malaysia on holidays, just have a cocktail and worry about it the next day… DO NOT spend hours in the hotel business centre (from personal experience – it’s so not worth it!).
Oooh one more thing! Try and have a good balance between your blog and personal life. This is one area I’m trying really hard to work on at the moment – it’s so easy to let your blog overtake everything, but life is far more important.
If you weren’t in the business of blogging what would you be doing?
Hmm good question! I’d probably be back teaching full-time… or looking for some other crazy project to work on. I do still love teaching, but it’s just not what I want to do right now. I love the freedom, flexibility and opportunities that blogging has given me, and I wouldn’t give that up for the world. I’m incredibly grateful that I’m able to do something I absolutely love every day – and I certainly don’t take anything for granted!
More ways to CASE Bake Play Smile