I’m so excited to announce a new series on my blog that I’ve dubbed “Real Women Doing Real Things”! To kick things off, my sister recently introduced me to the amazing blog ChocolateCoveredKatie.com, a blog dedicated to healthy and delicious desserts. In fact, Katie was dubbed “the queen of healthy desserts” by Glamour magazine and her cookbook, The Chocolate Covered Katie Cookbook, debuted on Amazon as one of their top 20 cookbooks of 2015. Here’s what the food mogul has to say about her successes, online criticism and her best advice for anyone who wants to start a food blog.
What was the first thing you ever baked? Was it a “success” as far as taste?
I remember cooking a microwave omelette one day when I was barely tall enough to reach the kitchen counter. I was embarrassingly proud of this omelette and made everyone in my family try it. Then we ate microwave omelettes pretty much exclusively for breakfast the entire next month, and I was convinced it was my destiny to someday be a famous chef.
What one thing did you wish you knew when you first started your business/blog?
I wish I’d been more organized back then. Some of my earliest recipes are still my favorites, but I hadn’t initially archived them, which meant the recipes were getting lost in posts no one could easily find. Last year I went back through hundreds of old posts to categorize the recipes.
What advice do you have for women who want to create a healthy dessert and food blog? Any words of wisdom for newbies?
Choose a subject where you have real passion, and find your own style of blogging instead of looking to see what everyone else is doing. If you’re truly passionate about a subject and are writing from the heart, it will show through in your posts, and readers will get caught up in the excitement as well! I never feel like writing my blog posts is “work” because I get to write about dessert, which is one of my favorite things in the world.
What inspires and motivates you to keep creating your amazing recipes?
Knowing people are actually trying the recipes I post, and seeing their pictures of my recipes on Instagram… it makes my day more than I can ever express through words. The best feeling in the world is receiving a comment from someone who says the blog somehow touched his or her life.
Which are your top three recipes that you created and why?
Black Bean Brownies – I have no idea why this recipe took off more than all the others, but it’s hands-down the most popular recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie, with over 1 million shares on social media. People will come up to me in stores or on the street (or once in the dentist’s office…) and tell me they’ve made these brownies and love the recipe.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Cauliflower is definitely having a moment, with trend-predicting websites calling the vegetable one of the “it” foods of 2016. As a carb lover, I was hesitant to try cauliflower pizza crust at first, but it’s actually really good!
Cookie Dough Dip – This is another recipe whose popularity surprised me. It’s been featured in mainstream magazines, on the news, and it has inspired thousands of bloggers around the world to post their own versions of the now-famous dip on their blogs and on Instagram. No one who doesn’t already know before trying it can ever believe the recipe’s secret ingredient.
What do you consider your biggest blog success? And what was your biggest failure?
My biggest success has been turning the blog into something I can do for a living. Running the blog is something I’d want to do anyway (and something I did before I even knew it was possible to turn it into a job). Blogging for a living simply means I have much more time to spent on the blog. Plus, being paid to bake and eat chocolate chip cookies all day is definitely nothing to complain about…
I can’t really think of a biggest failure. There are decisions where I look back and wish I’d done things differently, but I always learned something from them. For example, I went through an awful redesign process and wish I’d made a different decision. But having to tackle all of the ensuing problems that arose after the redesign forced me to stay up nights and really learn about computer coding. So while it was super frustrating and stressful at the time, I learned an incredibly valuable skill in the process and discovered computer coding is actually something I really enjoy doing!
How do you deal with negative online comments? And what advice do you have for other bloggers who receive online negativity?
People have written conspiracy theories over everything from my eating habits to my dating life, and when they first started, I would read everything posted. (One conspiracy said I was not a real person – that one was fantastic.) It got boring pretty quickly, and I stopped reading after about a year. It’s mostly just people saying I’m anorexic or picking apart my appearance. But some of the comments people leave on my site are pretty funny. Someone left a comment the other day saying I look like a pig monster. Not sure what a pig monster is, but it’s a nice change from all the comments saying I’m anorexic. My favorite comment ever is still the girl who called me a fat slug.
What worries me is that girls and boys with low confidence are receiving online comments and believing what they read. I hope that talking about my experience receiving anonymous negative comments can help them to observe from a third-person perspective how ridiculous the comments are and how they in no way reflect reality.
Who do you look up to when it comes to business and growing your own brand?
I look up to some of my friends who are entrepreneurs and are taking risks and are doing things a little bit differently instead of listening to what society says they “should” do. I look up to people in my life who go above and beyond what they have to do, both in business and in dealing with those around them. And most of all, I look up to people who are trying to make a difference in the world instead of going after what would make them the most money.
Because my blog wasn’t started with the goal of someday having a large audience (or any audience at all!), everything that ended up happening was just a fantastic surprise. It’s like falling in love with a shirt and then finding out when you go to pay that the shirt is on sale. The sale is nice, but you would have bought the shirt anyway! I would write this food blog even if my dog was the only one who read it, because I love every part of running Chocolate Covered Katie :)
For more of Katie’s recipes and words of wisdom, check out her blog ChocolateCoveredKatie.com.