This month I had the absolute pleasure of learning more about the wonderful Sophie Bourdon from The Green Life. Sophie and I actually "met" at an online photography course back in 2015; Sophie had just quit her corporate job, was studying at a holistic nutrition college and was just starting her food blog The Green Life.
A lot has happened in this short time - Sophie has held various workshops, and her recipes have been featured in numerous international (online) magazines. I've been following her journey since the very beginning, and am super excited to share this interview with you today! Read on to learn more about Sophie's journey, what it's really like to be a professional food blogger (including some of the struggles, and successes along the way), and her views on the importance of Pinterest vs. Instagram in the food blogging world...
Sophie, you are such an inspiration - you’ve quit your corporate job, went to a holistic nutrition college and turned your passion for food and photography into a profitable business. All of that in such a short period of time! Tell me a little bit about your journey since starting The Green Life! What opportunities have come through your blog?
Ah thank you, Carla, that is so sweet of you! You know what, this career move was without a doubt the best decision of my life. I’m still pinching myself every day that I get to cook, create recipes, write and do photography for a living. A few years ago, when I was stuck in a job I hated, I would never have thought that living from something I actually enjoyed was even possible. But ever since quitting the corporate world and launching The Green Life, amazing opportunities have come my way. It fascinates me how when you decide to live with purpose and follow your heart, all sorts of magical things start to happen. It’s like the universe is finally saying: “Yes! You got it. Now I can send all the fun stuff your way.”
I still can’t believe that so many people are interested in my recipes and what I have to offer. Ever since launching the blog, I’ve had the chance to partner with amazing brands, I got the opportunity to teach a photography workshop last Fall with one of the photographers I admire the most in the industry, and I got to connect with incredibly talented people from all over the world through this amazing food community. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me!
So, what does a normal day look like in Sophie’s life? How do you manage your time between creating and testing recipes, photographing them for your blog and your other projects?
Time management is definitely something I still struggle at! Because I’m my own boss and I work from home, I get easily distracted. It’s very easy to deviate from my schedule, procrastinate or get caught up into responding to emails all day long. I have to force myself to remain disciplined every single day. I’ve recently started organizing my work in a weekly paper planner and it literally changed my life!
I usually have two types of days: kitchen/photography days and office days. On my kitchen days, I’ll go to the market and buy the ingredients I need for the recipe I’m testing that day. If the recipe turns out great on the first trial, I’ll photograph it right away. It happens sometimes, although most recipes require at least 2-3 tests before I get it right. Some recipes - baking for example - can require as many as 7 or 8 attempts before I’m completely satisfied! Once I’m happy with the recipe, I’ll style the scene and photograph it. I’ll usually shoot the ingredients, the process, and the steps, in addition to the final dish itself. It can take a couple hours from start to finish.
On the days I’m not cooking or shooting, I’ll do pretty much everything else! There’s a lot that goes behind the scenes as a blogger and freelancer, and there’s always something to do. I’ll edit photos, write blog posts, answer emails, plan my content for the upcoming weeks, schedule my posts, do social media, reach out to brands, do invoicing, etc. I never get bored!
What was your biggest struggle in “making it” as a new food blogger?
I think it was (and still is!) believing in myself, and not falling into the trap of the comparison game. It’s so easy to get caught up in it. You start scrolling through your Instagram feed and you suddenly feel inadequate. You start getting envious of other people’s work or number of followers. I think it’s a struggle for anyone doing any sort of creative work. There’s no magic recipe for great content creation. No one can teach you how to be a successful photographer or blogger. You just have to learn by showing up every day and doing the work. And with experience, mistakes, failures and lots of frustrations, you eventually learn and get better.
We’re all on our own journey, and that’s what makes this work so special. There’s always going to be someone who has more followers, who writes better or take better photographs than you. But there’s no point in comparing ourselves with others because we’re all different. We have different backgrounds, skills, and levels of experience. But the one thing that is irrefutable is that we all have something to say. We each have our own voice and we each bring something unique to the table, just by the very fact of being ourselves. I’ve learned to accept that it’s ok if my work is not perfect or exactly where I would like it to be. Now I try to just be myself, enjoy the ride and appreciate how far I’ve come.
A lot of food bloggers focus on Pinterest rather than Instagram. What’s your opinion on that? How can Instagram benefit your blog over Pinterest?
Instagram is by far my favourite social media and the one I focus the most on. Pinterest can indeed be a huge traffic driver, which of course is great. But I just love the community and support that comes with Instagram. It brought me many friendships and work opportunities. I see Pinterest more as a search engine, like Google. People search for a recipe, click to your site, make it for dinner and leave. Instagram followers are a lot more engaged. They look forward to your posts, they comment, they like. There’s a sense of encouragement and support from this community that I just love. I also use Instagram as a portfolio. I try to create a feed that’s both beautiful and a great representation of the different types of work I can do. Many brands reached out to me for sponsorship or photography opportunities because they had discovered me on Instagram. It’s definitely the platform that’s brought me the most!
You’ve grown such a large following on Instagram in such a short period of time! What would be your number 1 tip for fellow food bloggers to succeeding on Instagram?
I think there are many factors that contribute to someone’s success on Instagram. It would be hard to pick just one! Consistency is key. I see many people who have great potential but just don’t post regularly, so they lose momentum and interest. By constantly posting – ideally every day, or at least every 2-3 days – people get to know you and start to expect and anticipate your posts. Developing your own photographic style and trying not to do what everyone else is doing is also very important. There are many people out there doing very similar things. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to constantly push yourself to offer something different. Being authentic and genuine is also crucial. Interacting with your followers, replying to their comments and showing interest is also very important. I still try to reply to most of the comments I get on my Instagram posts. It shows people that you care, but also that there’s a real human being behind the brand.
And what does 2017 look like for you and The Green Life?
I’m super excited about 2017! For the past year and half, I’ve been focusing almost exclusively on creating content for the blog, building my brand and growing my audience. So this year I’m excited to work on more projects and bring The Green Life even further. I’d love to launch my first online course. I’ve also had this idea for a while of partnering with local makers and artisans to start selling products I love in an online store. And of course, I’d love to do more collaborations and in-person workshops. The online world is fabulous, but there’s nothing like meeting with like-minded people in real life!
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