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 Christine from Sugar Spices Life!
Check out Christine's recipes at Kitchen Thyme!
Kitchen Thyme: Thank you for being part of our Kitchen Thyme Blogger Spotlight Series! Tell us where you’re from and how you got into blogging?
Christine: I grew up in the Carolinas, but I have lived in Maryland for almost ten years. I love to cook, and friends frequently ask for my recipes, so I decided to start a blog to share them!
KT: How did you come up with the name of your blog?
Christine: When I started, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to concentrate on publishing. I wanted to do sugar and spice, but that was taken. However, Sugar Spices Life was not, and I liked the idea of leaving the name somewhat ambiguous. I thought it would give me the option to publish sweets, main dishes, or just chat if I felt like it! A no commitment kind of name.
KT: How long have you been blogging?
Christine: I started in April of 2018.
KT: Are you a part-time or full-time blogger?
Christine: Part-time. I am an Optometrist and I have two small kids, so it’s more of an evening endeavor.
KT: How many recipes do you publish each week?
Christine: I publish 2 to 3 a week. Occasionally I’ll get in a 4th, but that’s pretty rare. I actually have tons of recipes and photos on my computer that I want to publish, but each post is so time consuming, it’s difficult to get more than a few a week done!
KT: After you publish a recipe on your blog, walk us through the steps you take to get more eyes on that recipe. What sites do you submit your recipe to? Do you use a spreadsheet to keep track of where you share your recipes?
Christine: I share my recipes on Pinterest and Yummly. Then, I submit them to Kitchen Thyme, Foodgawker, FoodYub, Fridgg, and TasteSpotting. And yes, I definitely use a spreadsheet! I love spreadsheets and would never otherwise remember what I have and haven’t submitted.
KT: What does a typical week look like for you? Do you create recipes and blog posts on certain days of the week?
Christine: Over the weekend I come up with 3 to 4 dinners that I want to make the next week, and maybe a couple of other things like desserts, sides, and breakfast food. I have a book that I use to create recipes. So, I write each idea at the top of a page, and then I make a list of ingredients that would work with the recipe. When it’s time to make the recipe, I use the list of ingredients to guide me in the preparation – sometimes it takes a few weeks of trying it to get it just right. Once it’s right, I photograph it. Then, after my kids go to bed, my husband and I watch Netflix while I edit photos and write posts. Finally, I have my husband proofread the posts before I publish them.
KT: Do you have a good blog/life balance? Do you unplug at night or on the weekends?
Christine: That’s a funny question because blogging is my ‘unplug’ time. It’s my time to create and relax. So, nights and weekends are when I do my thing! With that said I make time on a couple of nights each week that I spend with friends and family.
KT: How much time do you spend on Social Media each day? Do you use any schedulers for Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Do you have a Virtual Assistant to help you?
Christine: Maybe 2-3 hours a week? I’m so bad at social media! I try to post on Instagram a few times a week, which doesn’t always happen. For Facebook, I have my blog set to post when there are new recipes, but I only login every few months. I don’t have Twitter. Seriously, I’m not great with most social media. But, I do use and love Pinterest! For Pinterest, I use Tailwind to schedule pins and I actively use the tribes – I highly recommend Tailwind as it has been amazing for my traffic. And no, I don’t have a virtual assistant. I’ve tried to talk a few friends into doing it, for free, and no one is interested … weird.
KT: What social media networks/websites give you the most traffic to your blog?
Christine: Pinterest! No doubt. That’s why I focus my energy there. Search engines are second, and either foodgawker or FoodYub is usually third.
KT: What AD networks do you have on your blog?
Christine: AdSense and GourmetAds. I recently added GourmetAds so I’m still figuring out how to use them together.
KT: What are the main sources of income from your blog? Sponsored Posts? Advertisements? Affiliate Links?
Christine: AD networks and Amazon affiliate links. But if cheese counts as income, I recently had a sponsored post where I received 2 pounds of cheese as payment.
KT: Do you have a long relationship with any particular Brands?
Christine: Nope, but hopefully I will one day.
KT: Do you enjoy going to Blogging Conferences? If so, which ones do you recommend for Food Bloggers?
Christine: I have never been to one! I have a lot of interest in checking them out though.
KT: Where do you find inspiration to create new recipes?
Christine: Oh gosh, everywhere! I’ll ask friends about their favorite meals growing up, look up restaurant menus to see what types of things they’re serving, watch Top Chef and Food Network, scroll through Pinterest photos, and check out cookbooks at the library. Sometimes people e-mail me ideas too, and that’s great.
KT: What are your top 3 favorite recipes on your blog?
Christine: I would have to say Churro Cake, Instant Pot Lemon Egg Chicken Soup, and Instant Pot Chicken Mole.
KT: Do you have great lighting in your house for photos or do you need to use artificial lighting or filters?
Christine: I do not have great lighting in my house! And I have a lot of gray walls that give my food a blue hue. Thank goodness for Lightroom. Some days I can get by using the light through my dining room windows along with a few reflectors. The days or nights when that doesn’t work, I use a Lowel Ego light on top of a tripod, and then several reflectors.
KT: What advice would you give to new food bloggers when it comes to taking photos of food?
Christine: Experiment and practice! Look at examples from great food photographers for inspiration and then find your own style. I would also recommend a good tripod with a horizontal arm and Lightroom Classic. Also, be patient. Your photography will improve with time!
KT: Do you have a favorite cookbook?
Christine: Yes … a few years ago my mom put together a cookbook for my family that includes all of our family recipes, and that’s my favorite.
KT: If you could cook with a famous chef or celebrity cook, who would it be and why?
Christine: Bobby Flay. My husband and I watch Beat Bobbly Flay regularly and I’m so fascinated with how often he wins and the praise his food receives. His food must be legit. I would love to watch over his shoulder and take little bites of everything he makes.
KT: You are constantly working with food. What are a few ingredients you cannot live without?
Christine: Butter, sugar, lime, cornstarch, and Nestle dark chocolate chips.
KT: Do you have any advice for someone starting a food blog?
Christine: Don’t give up. It’s hard work, and it takes months, maybe many months, to see a return, but it will happen. Have fun with it!
KT: Thank you so much for joining us at Kitchen Thyme, Christine! Where can our readers find you?
BLOG: Sugar Spices Life