Saturday, January 9, 2016

Opinion: Thoughts on 'Niche' Blogging

I'm sure you would have come across at least one of those articles at some point. The ones that promise to let you in on the secrets to blogging success, how to gain more readers and how to transform your blog into a reputable brand. And I'm sure that you would have read that one of the most important things to do in order to achieve success is to establish your niche.

Having blogged for just over five years now on various platforms, I have come to realise how much my interests and tastes have changed (and undoubtedly will continue to change) in such a short period of time. I have always struggled with the apparent need to find a niche. I consider myself to be a very multifaceted person. This trait can become incredibly overwhelming at times because I am often left wondering what it is I want in life. I don't have any particular, burning passions. All I know is that I'm passionate about learning as much as I can, doing as many things as possible and living as many varied experiences that I can in life. As a result, I have always been at a loss about what my blog is. It's a reflection of myself, but what even is that? I guess you could say that it's an amalgamation of lifestyle, food, travel and book posts. But even then I feel limited. If I wish to post something that veers away from these topics, I second guess myself. But whose to say I can't post whatever the hell I want? I think me being a perfectionist, I still feel that I should establish a niche so my blog can be more ordered and not just comprise of ramblings about anything and everything. So many 'successful' blogs are the case of what you see is what you get. They stick so masterfully to their craft, sometimes delving into their personal lives, but for the most part their content remains 'stable'. It's truly admirable where blogging can take you these days and I say good work to those who have been able to make it a career. But when I think about simplifying my content, defining my 'niche', I just can't fathom it.

The amount of worrying I did in the past may very well have been unnecessarily self-inflicted, but I do feel there is a bigger pressure to be a certain person in the blogging world. That is, to construct an image and be known for posting particular content. Back when I first started blogging, it wasn't really like this. Blogging was a lot more laid back, and when it all comes down to it, that's how I want to blog: when I feel like it and when my words pour so effortlessly from my fingertips as they are right now. Perhaps that's why I have finally come to realise that it doesn't matter what and how I blog. I blog for myself and for my wonderful readers and it makes me so happy. When it comes to that, I say screw the rules!

So, as it stands, my blog may seem to be a bit of a mess. It may just be a reflection of me trying to figure things out and sharing with you little snippets of my life, my interests, my thoughts and ideas along the way. I have wanted to write this for so long but struggled with how to go about writing it and, most of all, being afraid of posting it for such a silly reason that I didn't think it would be something anyone would want to read. In hindsight, the blog posts that I debated putting up (such as this one and this one) are my favourites. I feel that through them I found an integral part of my 'voice'. I will strive to create more pieces I am proud of. I want to continue blogging about food, lifestyle, travel and books, but I also don't want to second guess myself if I ever want to post about more serious topics, whether they be about my personal life or the wider world. I want to achieve a success that is not determined by how well a post is received, but how true, how honest and how passionate a reflection it is of me and the things I care about.

What are your opinions on niche blogging and the topic of 'successful' blogging?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Cookbook Review: The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson

"My hope is that this book will find a nice balance between your coffee table and your kitchen counter and that you will be inspired to cook, eat, share and enjoy colourful healthy food together" --Erin Gleeson
Cookbook author Erin Gleeson seems a jack of all trades. With a natural talent and eye for photography, food styling and watercolour painting, she was able to create a stunning book full of delectable vegetarian dishes. What first drew me to The Forest Feast was, indeed, its impeccable presentation. From front to back, this publication is the very definition of a 'visual feast'; but don't be fooled into thinking that it's just a pretty face.

The Forest Feast is a compilation of Gleeson's favourite go-to dishes that make vegetarian entertaining stress free and will satisfy even the most devote carnivores. As a regular hostess of dinner parties, which take place on the balcony of her stunning forest cabin, Gleeson knows all the tricks when it comes to presenting a jar dropping feast without the fuss.

I have been meaning to review this cookbook for ages as it has become such a staple in my household, even more so now that mum has taken a particular liking to it. Each recipe only uses a couple of ingredients and, even better, require little effort to put together with only 2-4 steps involved. Lately, our household has been feasting on cinnamon cauliflower (yes, it initially struck me as a strange combination too, but its a winning combo), accordion zucchini and fiery red roasted carrots. These and many other of her sides are proof of how much depth of flavour can be achieved with just a few spices. For a heartier main, the veggie roasted gnocchi has become a firm favourite as an easy weekday meal. Even my meat loving father approves.

Alongside sides and mains, The Forest Feast also contains recipes for cocktails, starters and desert. What I love about each and every recipe is the way Gleeson sets them out; on the left side, she pictures her ingredients and her handwritten recipe. On the right, she has a big, beautiful picture of the finished product. These and other added touches, such as her use of watercolors, make the cookbook a delight to read and the recipes achievable. It's not one of those cookbooks where there's plenty of room for error. I never feel disheartened with my end product in comparison to Gleeson's. All these meals can be whipped up no time and never fail to impress. It's the complete package.

Value for money: ****
Recipes: ****
Presentation: *****
Diet adaptability: *****
The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson by stewart tabori & chang. For more recipes and photography envy, visit The Forest Feast.

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