Monday, March 23, 2015

Today's Guest: Samantha Seeley - Blogger, Photographer, Foodie, Teacher

Today's guest is blogger and food fanatic Samantha Seeley, a self-described food-obsessed, camera clutching nerd who has given us Sweet Remedy,  a food and lifestyle blog that focuses on home cooking made with real food and fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. Its pages are graced with almost edible photos of original kitchen creations shot by the author. In June of 2013, she spoke at the BlogHer Food conference on a panel titled Pro Food Photography on the Fly. She covers Restaurant Week in the Hudson Valley and has been published in a variety of publications, most notably The Valley Table magazine. She's currently pursing her BA in Multimedia Production. I have the pleasure of working with Samantha at SUNY Orange, where she will present a master class, "Blogging and Online Presentation for Creative Endeavors: How to Market Yourself as a Working Artist," on Monday, March 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. During this class, she will teach you how to “present yourself digitally in a professional way and how to be seen in the crowd.” A question and answer session will follow. The class is free and open to the public, and will be of interest to anyone using or planning to use social media to further an artistic endeavor, whether writing, art, music, theater, etc. Welcome to Adventures in Publishing Samantha! Please tell us about Sweet Remedy. What got you started?

Thanks for inviting me to meet your readers, Marianne. I started Sweet Remedy as a vendor at the Pine Bush Farmers' Market in 2008/2009. I made cupcakes mainly, but also brownies and cookies. I began the website as a way to let customers know when I'd be at the market and as a way for them to see what flavors I had baked that week. Eventually it turned into a recipe blog, and I started to post everything I made in my kitchen.

Why food?
It inspires me: The aromas, vibrant colors of fresh produce and of course the many tastes. Once I started selling baked goods at the farmers market, the food community drew me in. 

How do you create the recipes?
I start out with an idea or a flavor and take it from there. I have a small notebook that I carry with me everywhere and I write down almost every idea that pops into my head throughout the day. The other day, someone mentioned a person named "Rosemary" and all I could think about was the herb rosemary in fresh baked bread! It also comes down to a lot of trial and error and multiple test runs in the kitchen! Rarely is a recipe good enough on the first try. 

Were you always a foodie?
Not always, in high school you wouldn't find me in the kitchen at all. A lot of food bloggers have cute stories about baking cookies with their grandma. Not me!

Who's your target audience?
My target audience for Sweet Remedy is anyone who wants to learn how to cook. I'm currently working on a video series on kitchen basics. I want to make cooking seem approachable and less intimidating to the novice. For my photography blog, my audience is two-fold: Other photographers looking to learn and magazines, publishing houses, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, etc. It is still in the beginning stages and all will unfold as I create more content.

How do you build your audience?
You have to know your audience before you build it up. If you aren't creating content that they want to read, they won't come back to your blog, subscribe or follow you on social media. The first step is to understand them and their needs and then to promote those posts where they "hang out" online. I also firmly believe in sharing knowledge and teaching someone something new. It doesn't hurt to post on a regular schedule! Also, a lot of time and patience.

Which tools do you depend on to create your blog? i.e software, cameras, cookbooks, websites, etc.
I use quite a few tools for my site:
  •    Self-Hosted WordPress
  •    Adobe Creative Cloud (Premiere Pro for videos, Lightroom and Photoshop for digital images)
  •    Lots of camera equipment: Canon 6D, Tripod, Cables, SD Cards, Flash Drives, etc.                  
  •    Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
  •   The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of     America's Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
  •   Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
This list could go on forever so I'll stop there! 

What is your ultimate goal?
To help people navigate their kitchens and become better home cooks! I also started my photography blog to help teach photography fundamentals. I have multiple personal goals:
  •     Write a cookbook
  •     Photograph food for other cookbook authors, restaurants and magazines
  •     Teach workshops (photography related)
  •     Design online courses
  •     Finish my degrees
Are you doing a book?
Not yet. I hope to have more time for this when I finish up my bachelor's degree. I currently have too many ideas for a cookbook. 

How did you train for this line of work?
I don't think I "trained" for it, I sort of just fell into it. I threw myself into Sweet Remedy head first and learned a lot along the way. I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Production and in turn have taken many design, photography and new media courses. As for the cooking side of it, I've mostly learned by trial and error and now consider myself a pretty good cook! I learned from my mistakes in the kitchen, and try to help others learn by sharing those mistakes

Do you consider this a hobby or a profession?
I have two other gigs which are my main sources of income. I suppose I am walking the line between hobby and profession as I do a lot of freelance work through recipe development and photography. 

I see you're an affiliate. With what company(ies) and how does this benefit you?
I am an affiliate with a lot of companies, most notably Amazon. I receive a small monetary percentage of each sale made due to a link to Amazon from my blog.

What advice do you have for new bloggers?
If you're going to start a blog, have a clear focus and a narrow niche. It's also a good idea to absolutely love what you are going to write about, otherwise you will get bored and that will show through your work. 

Lastly, who gets to eat the delicious food after the photo shoot?
Mostly my boyfriend. Sometimes my neighbors! 

Thanks for stopping by Samantha! I'm looking forward to your class. If you'd like to attend her class, please visit SUNY Orange Cultural Affairs. 

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