Welcome to Social Hour, our new blog series where we will introduce you to members of the Socialix community. Writers, photographers, artists, videographers and social media enthusiasts will share their social media and blogging journeys.
For our first Social Hour installment, we connected with Laura Wright, the master chef and creator behind The First Mess. On her blog, Laura offers culinary expertise as well as candid tales and vibrant photos of her vegan lifestyle. Laura’s simple and holistic approach to natural eating, combined with her ability to capture the vibrancy of natural foods has resulted in a food blog admired and ardently followed by vegans, foodies and wellness enthusiasts, alike.
Do you remember writing your first blog post? What was it about?
I do! It was almost 5 years ago and the recipe was a rustic strawberry rhubarb pie with spelt flour crust. I just briefly talked about why I started the blog and why pie is so awesome. I can’t believe I used to write such brief posts! I tend to ramble nowadays, but my readers seem to respond to it positively 🙂
Do your followers inspire new content and/or recipes?
All the time. Sometimes I’ll casually post a smoothie or basic lunch bowl to Instagram, and a bunch of people will ask for the recipe. My tendency is to think that blog content should be on this higher level–the more unique and unusual the better. But it seems like 95% of the time, people who are getting into healthy eating just want it to be streamlined and natural-feeling. Sometimes when I use an unusual ingredient, my readers will ask for alternative ways to use it, and that becomes the inspiration for another post. Engaging my readers and social media followers has been beneficial to my content so far.
Do you have a set schedule for managing your blogs and social media feeds? Any social media productivity tips to share?
I try to post every week on the same day. Sometimes this gets mixed up because a sponsor that I may be working with wants a post to go live on a certain day, or I’m too busy working on another project. If I can help it, I’m posting my weekly recipe at 3am on a Wednesday. The bulk of my followers/subscribers are North American, so this way they can catch a glimpse of it before they go to work or start their day or whatever. With social media, I try to get out at least 20 pins to Pinterest every day, always with a bit of my own content in the mix. It only takes 10 minutes or so total, but I find Pinterest sends way more followers my way if I’m engaging with it regularly. I post to Instagram every day without issue because it’s my favourite social media platform. Ideally I’ll post to that twice a day. Twitter and Facebook I post to when I feel inspired by something I’m doing, something that’s happening in food media, something a fellow blogger is doing… never on any sort of schedule though. Facebook is the area that I’m trying to improve the most by posting and engaging with my followers more often. Slowly I’m seeing results.
What is the first social media network you check in the morning?
I try not to look at social media or emails straight away in the morning. I usually work out, hang with my dog, and have breakfast before I check any notifications. When I do settle down to checking social, I go to Instagram first. I like seeing those shots of people’s morning routines.
If you could only have one app on your phone, what would it be?
Headspace, which is a meditation app. Everything else could live on my computer just fine.
How do you connect with your followers?
I try to respond to comments on the blog
as often and as appropriately as I can. I receive quite a few emails from followers as well, so I always try to respond to those quickly because I really appreciate people taking the time out of their day. I genuinely love having these conversations surrounding wellness, cooking seasonally, gardening, and just life with all kinds of people that I never would have known of otherwise.
What is the most exciting part of creating The First Mess? What is the most challenging part?
The same answer applies to both: creating content that hits the right note. Like I said before, my tendency is to overcomplicate things and think about them too much. I put a lot of pressure on myself to come up with accessible, delicious, seasonal, and healthy recipes that are easy enough for most people to make with the equipment they have in their kitchen. There are so many factors to consider! And to package it all in a visually pleasing way that people can relate to with a section of writing that contributes rather than takes away… It’s a lot sometimes. Some days it all comes naturally, and other times I say “Screw it,” and start over the next day. Creative pursuits are like that for most people I think. It would be amazing if you could just turn it on and off when you needed to.
Are there any common misconceptions about blogging that you can dispel?
Sometimes I get a vibe that people think I sit in my pyjamas and eat and click around on a computer/navel gaze all day. It’s taken me years of practice and learning to come up with a cooking, photography, and communication style that works–that’s simultaneously true to who I am and what I prioritize in life. I didn’t just wake up one day knowing how to take a decent photograph, how to cook, instruct others on how to cook, how to edit myself etc etc. You need to avoid creative ruts if you’re doing this full time, and the best way to do that is to always be learning, communicating, and stretching yourself in new directions. You get what you put in with this profession, always.
Is there a social media skill or platform that you’d like to learn more about in the coming year?
Yes–Snapchat! I have a hard time with that one. I think it’s just too simple and I’m trying to make it complex by playing with it or thinking about it too much. I need a teenager to hang out with me for an hour and teach me the ropes.