The Kitchen Thyme Blogger Spotlight Series is a way for you and I to get to know and support the wonderful Food Bloggers who share their delicious recipes at Kitchen Thyme.
Meet Susan and Mike from Simply Sundays!
Check out their recipe collection at Kitchen Thyme!
Kitchen Thyme: Hi Susan and Mike! Thank you for being part of our Kitchen Thyme Blogger Spotlight Series! Tell us where you’re from and how you got into blogging?
Susan & Mike: We live in Greenville, NY. It’s a small rural town just about 1 1/2 hours from NYC. I’ve always lived in Orange County NY and my husband lived in Brooklyn until he was a teenager.
We were always trying to think of ways we could share our love of food and cooking but couldn’t quite figure out where we fit. We started blogging as a way to preserve some of our favorite family recipes. We thought a virtual cookbook of sorts would be a cool thing for our kids to have. Once we started writing about our recipes and the stories behind them we were hooked. This was definitely for us.
KT: How did you come up with the name of your blog?
Susan & Mike: Sundays are our family day. We always enjoy cooking and being with the kids. Even though my husband grew up in the city and I grew up “upstate”, we had very similar family traditions, including Sunday dinners with our family & extended family.
It just seemed natural to focus on a peaceful day of the week where we can relax and enjoy the things we love.
KT: How long have you been blogging?
Susan & Mike: We started in 2015 on the Blogger platform and switched to WordPress in 2016 when we found the need for more space and creative options. 2018 was the year that we became serious about blogging and put a lot of effort into the website and it’s content.
KT: Where do you find inspiration to create new recipes?
Susan & Mike: Much of our inspiration comes from our childhood memories of family recipes. We both come from Italian & Irish heritage and cook many of the traditional foods that we grew up with, sometimes with a twist. There’s nothing like the smell of Irish Soda Bread to bring me back to my Mom’s kitchen. And my husband has recreated his Mom’s most sought after chicken cutlets and his Grandmother’s favorite pasta just to mention a few.
My husband is particularly good at eating a dish in a restaurant and being able to recreate it at home. I can say for certain that I’ll never need to order Toscana Soup at Olive Garden because my husband’s version is much better in my opinion! 🙂
We have a “R&D” notebook that we jot down recipe ideas as they’re sparked and many recipes are inspired by what’s in season. We have a list of recipes just waiting to be blogged when Summer veggies are back!
Lastly, we find inspiration in each other. We always joke around that when we’re in the kitchen cooking together, it’s like a symphony. We work with and around each other so well, it almost seems choreographed. Whether one is being the sous chef for the other or we’re brainstorming ideas for a new recipe creation, we need one another to operate Simply Sundays the way we envision.
KT: What are your top 3 favorite recipes on your blog?
KT: What camera and lens do you usually use for your food photos? Do you edit on Photo Shop or another Photo Editing site?
Susan & Mike: We have a Sony mirrorless camera and love to use that for our feature photos because we can get nice bokah. We use our cell phones quite a bit mainly for ease of use and because our pics are automatically uploaded to our cloud.
We use the premium version of PicMonkey right now and have been researching the benefits of PS Lightroom.
KT: What advice would you give to new food bloggers when it comes to taking photos of food?
Susan & Mike: Make sure you have enough light and that you take multiple pics at various angles so you have choices. And also to plan the shots ahead of time. I’ll try to gather props, cloths, etc. beforehand because when the casserole comes out of the oven and it’s hot and bubbly, that’s the minute you want the photo.
KT: Do you have great lighting in your house for photos or do you need to use artificial lighting and filters?
Susan & Mike: Our lighting is not so great indoors so we have both an umbrella light and a stationary light that we use on the countertop.
Our favorite pics are usually taken outside with natural light. But again, being in the Northeast, our window of outside photography is limited.
KT: Are you a part-time or full-time blogger?
Susan & Mike: We’re part time right now but would love to eventually become full time. I have to say, the fact that both of us create, photograph and write the blogs is extremely helpful. We couldn’t do this without the strong partnership that we have.
KT: Do you have a Virtual Assistant that helps you, and if so, what does that person do to help? What tasks do you like to do yourself and which ones do you prefer to outsource?
Susan & Mike: We have a 14 year old daughter that occasionally will help out with Pinterest and other social media, but mainly everything is done by my husband and myself.
KT: What does a typical week look like for you? Do you create recipes and blog posts on certain days of the week? What are some of your daily tasks or routines? Do you have a good blog/life balance? Do you unplug at night or on the weekends?
Susan & Mike: When we first started our blog, we thought we needed new content almost daily. I remember mentioning this on a food blogger webex and everyone thought we were crazy! And it was.
Since we were pushing out so many posts the quality wasn’t what we would have liked and we were starting to get burned out. Once it stops being fun, there’s really no point.
We throttled back quite a bit and now try to focus on 1-2 new blog posts per week. We’re not structured like some bloggers who have certain days to take photos, certain days to write, etc.
We plan out what recipes we’d like to blog in the following weeks and then order the ingredients and come up with a plan of how we would like to have the post look.
We shoot the food photos on one day, sort and edit the pics another day then write and publish later that week. Our main goal is to have a new post at least on Sundays which is our highest traffic day of the week.
We also repurpose some older content which was great advice given to us by a fellow blogger. Sometimes it means updating the photos, but more often than not, it means just giving a refresh with some edits or updates.
Our one rule that we had to institute is no blogging on holidays or during friend/family gatherings. It seems as if it would be convenient to take photos of recipes being prepared for such an occasion, but it adds a level of stress to be done before the guests arrive. And in the event we didn’t finish the food photography before the guests arrive, you now have a gaggle of people standing around with cocktails in your kitchen awkwardly watching you photograph the jalapeno poppers. lol.
KT: How much time do you spend on Social Media each day?
Susan & Mike: We share our posts on our Facebook page as well as on some FB sites that we’re part of, on Instagram, Twitter, Kitchen Time, Yummly, Allrecipes and a bunch of Pinterest boards.
There’s always Pinterest board maintenance that needs to be done and likes, follows and comments for our fellow food bloggers.
All in all, probably about 2 to 2 1/2 hours per day.
KT: What tools/Apps help you to stay organized with your blogging business?
Susan & Mike: We use excel spreadsheets to keep track of what needs edits or when a post was shared and notebooks for most everything else. #oldschool
KT: Do you use any schedulers for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? If so, which ones do you use and how to you organize all of the scheduling?
Susan & Mike: We have dabbled with Pinterest Tailwind but need to spend some more time figuring out how it can work best for us.
KT: What are some Word Press plug-ins you find helpful?
Susan & Mike: Yummly for sure. We get quite a bit of traffic from having the Yum button right on our posts.
KT: What are the main sources of income from your blog? Sponsored Posts? Advertisements? Affiliate Links?
Susan & Mike: We’ve made a small bit of income from Amazon Affiliate links and have just recently added WordPress WordAds.
I’ll be honest, I’m not in love with the ads from WordAds because they are not at all food related. I’m really turned off by blogs that have multiple pop ups and flashing ads that make it seem like a circus.
Our goal is to increase monthly page views enough to work with GourmetAds, which only uses food industry related advertising.
KT: Do you have a long relationship with any particular Brands?
Susan & Mike: Not yet. Our goal is to increase our page views and then start to pitch the brands that we consistently use.
KT: Do you enjoy going to Blogging Conferences? If so, which ones do you recommend for Food Bloggers?
Susan & Mike: Our goal is to attend one of the International Food Blogger Conferences in the next year or two, depending upon location.
KT: Do you have any advice for someone starting a food blog?
Susan & Mike: I would say it’s most helpful to figure out your point of view early on.
Our point of view on the blog is step by step photos with instruction mainly because we’re both visual people.
We feel we can cater to beginner home cooks by having each step broken down and photographed. We can also connect to the seasoned home cook who will likely scroll to the main part of the recipe but still use the photos as a guide.
KT: Do you have a favorite cookbook?
Susan & Mike: The most used cookbook that we own is a Mario Batali cookbook called Molto Italiano. It’s packed with old school Italian recipes along with great stories of Italy’s countryside.
KT: If you could cook with a famous chef or celebrity cook, who would it be and why?
Susan: As intimidating as it would be, I would choose Julia Child. I remember watching reruns of her show with my Mom when I was a kid and to me, she was the first introduction I had ever had to a real life chef.
My husband would choose Emeril Lagasse. His persona is so inviting and fun, you would be learning from his vast knowledge without even knowing it!
KT: Did you get your love for cooking from someone special in your family?
Susan: We both have a love of cooking from various people in our families, but my influence is mostly from my Mother. I spent countless days in the kitchen as her little side kick. During holidays or family Sunday dinners, I was always given a responsibility like slicing the gelled cranberry or pasting cream cheese on celery stalks for an appetizer. Not fancy food prep, but it was the beginning…
Mike would say what really intrigued him most was trying new things. His Italian Grandmother and Aunts always went to the market and came home with something interesting. He would try things like pasta con sarde, blue crabs cooked in tomato sauce, even fresh asparagus and fell in love with food and cooking.
KT: You are constantly working with food. What are a few ingredients you cannot live without?
Susan: If you ask me, I’d say fresh herbs, fresh veggies and cheese. Not together of course!
My husband can’t live without fresh garlic, fresh herbs and a nice glass of red wine!
KT: Susan and Mike, thank you so much for joining us at Kitchen Thyme! Where can our readers find you?
BLOG: SIMPLY SUNDAYS