Daniel and Suzanne from Diced and Spiced make no exception. They are two culinary aficionados who transformed their passion for healthy food into an engaging blog created with Julia, our WordPress theme. What follows is an in-depth interview for beginner bloggers who dream to kick-off a digital journey, but don’t have the courage (or the know-how) yet. Enjoy it!
What’s the story of Diced and Spiced?
Daniel: Diced and Spiced is a creation of myself, Daniel (D) and my wife Suzanne (S). We both chose to go vegetarian as children. We both grew up passionate about animal rights. I became keenly interested in food and passionate about cooking. It was 20 years ago when family friends started urging me to become a Chef. As I started adapting and developing my own recipes that were free from meat or eggs a few even suggested I should publish my own cookbook. (You might say that idea was the seed that eventually grew into Diced and Spiced).
I embrace Buddha’s mantra “If anything is worth doing, do it with all your heart.” I know we’re still at a very early stage now, but we both share professional ambitions for Diced and Spiced.
Suzanne brings elements to the blog that would never have been there if it were my solo project. She has a keen interest in science and nutrition and puts a lot of insight and research into her “health bites” which feature under select recipes. She also contributes in a big way by writing lifestyle blogs, such as her vegan perfume review. (Definitely not a blog post you’d find written by some guy from Montana). Last year we both finally took the next step in our long term Vegetarianisms and went fully Vegan.
How was the process of this shift?
Daniel: It was actually a much easier transition than we had ever imagined, and that gave us an extra push to go ahead and start our own blog and start to share and to show others like us how easy it can be.
While all the recipes are completely vegan, Diced and Spiced is not only for Vegans or people strictly adhering to plant based diets. I do wholeheartedly believe there will be something for everyone on our site, whether they are looking for vegan substitutions, other parents like us looking for ways to get their kids to eat more vegetables, or just looking for a simply tasty recipe.
How you felt on your early days as a blogger?
Daniel: In the first post on Diced and Spiced, I write about the pressure of starting. I had procrastinated for months because I felt like I needed the perfect thing to start with. Finally I accepted that the first recipe didn’t need to be all things to all people, and after overcoming the hurdle of making the first post, it was a lot easier to make the second, and third, and so on.
Easier, not less work. Some blogs, like ours, are more work than others. Creating and testing a recipe takes time, photoshoots take time. Of course there are all types of blogs out there and many of them do not require that amount of work to create a post. But regardless of the amount of time, effort, or pre-planning that goes into a blog post, I do think for anyone who has a fear of starting that the only way to overcome that is to start. So, that’s where we were coming from and that’s how it fits in with the rest of our story.
What’s your biggest ambition with D&S?
Daniel: We’d love to help people improve their health by showing them simple and creative ways to introduce more vegetables and whole foods to their tables. To make people happy by showing them substitutions and alternative ways of preparing their favourite dishes so they are not “missing out.” And of course to help animals. The average westerner eats 202 animals per year.
On our site there will be something for everyone. Our grandest hope is that visitors to our site will be given the inspiration and courage to use some of the plant based meals we share in place of their usual meat based meals. You could say our loftiest goal is to save lives.
What do you aim to accomplish with your food blog?
Daniel: Of course, it’s always been our ambition that the site is a success. At the moment we’ve not attempted to reap a monetary gain from Diced and Spiced, but progress is measured in different ways.
Sharing recipes with the visitors to our blog has that same appeal. It is giving away something I’ve created for the nourishment and/or pure enjoyment of another.
First and foremost we want the site to be functional, attractive, help our visitor find what they want (whether that’s a specific recipe or meal inspiration), and hopefully entertain them a bit along the way.
Financial success may be a pipe dream, but there is that hope that one day through the introduction of helpful affiliate links and ad placement we could start to see a return on our investment. Breaking even on the ongoing costs would be nice, seeing some reimbursement from our time would be awesome, if at some stage it added up even to a full-time minimum wage job, that could be life-changing.
The most common complaint I hear and commiserate with my fellow Chef/Parents is that the job takes so much time away from our families. There are days when you don’t even see your kids (forget about quality time or bonding). Being able to earn something while working from our family kitchen would be an absolute game changer.
What do you love (and hate) most about blogging?
Daniel: I love having my own space where I’m free to share whatever I want, to freely speak my mind, to create, and to give. My passion for food is at its strongest when I’m cooking for loved ones. I enjoy giving food away far more than I ever did selling it. Sharing recipes with the visitors to our blog has that same appeal. It is giving away something I’ve created for the nourishment and/or pure enjoyment of another.
The only thing I dislike about it is the pressure I feel in between posts. The one thing I’ve always felt perpetually short on is time. Sometimes life gets in the way and I leave it too long between posts. If only I had infinite time I could write better posts, and post them more often!
Which is your current struggle as a blogger?
Daniel: Finding the time. Behind the scenes it takes a lot of time to plan and perfect a recipe, write the recipe, produce the dish, photograph it, write the article, optimise the SEO, publish it, and finally promote it on social media. With all the unplanned things that pop up in between, I have yet to streamline that into a regularly scheduled routine.
It’s an uphill battle. Alarms help, reminders help, determination helps even more. The beautiful thing is, because we’re working for ourselves, there is no penalty for staying still but rather incentive for moving foreward.
Do you have insights about your audience?
Pastry humour aside, I think we really do know our audience, in no small part because they’re very like us. Like us, they are people of differing levels of experience in the kitchen.
Some of them (like us) want to know how to substitute meat or animal products in their favourite dishes. Some of them (like us) are parents who want to find new ways of getting their kids to eat their veggies. Some want to be healthier themselves. Some are strictly adhering to a plant based diet, some are even vegan. And some of them are here just for the good food.
How do you keep momentum on your blog?
Daniel: We have a tradition in our house called “Nation of the Month.” And it’s actually been a great method of keeping momentum. Every month we gather the kids around a globe and one of us spins it. Wherever it lands, we celebrate that country’s culture, customs, and cuisine! We have discovered countless new dishes through the practice.
Naturally, we now share our favourite recipes from each month on the site. We have to post them within the month we’re celebrating, so there is a very organic momentum to it.
What do you appreciate most about Julia, our product?
Daniel: Julia customises very well, and that was a very important factor for us when choosing a theme. Of course being customisable means that we can adjust things to make the site our own. It’s also incredibly important for any site which is going to experience growth. We have big visions for DicedAndSpiced.com, but we knew we would be starting with only one recipe. The options and features of Julia meant we could make the site look great with 5 recipes, or 5000.
Julia is modern, clean, and attractive, and fits perfectly with our vision of Diced and Spiced.
In addition to being customisable, what we love about Julia is the ease and simplicity of it. WordPress is an amazing platform for bloggers, it’s no wonder how quickly it became the world’s most popular blogging software. A good theme like Julia doesn’t complicate anything on the back end, but rather simplifies the blogging experience even further!
On the front end, Julia is modern, clean, and attractive, and fits perfectly with our vision of Diced and Spiced. We especially like the responsive framework. The site looks great on every mobile device we’ve tested on, and it scales especially well through various screen and windows sizes all the way to the full screen desktop.
What are we missing with Julia?
Daniel: I would love to see recipe schema incorporated into Julia. Julia makes beautiful work of recipes written in Jetpack’s [recipe] shortcode. Jetpack assigns recipe schema for name, recipeYield, and totalTime.
It would be amazing if Julia connected the ‘metadots’ for image, author, description, recipeIngredient, and recipeInstructions! You could even go a step further by identifying recipeCategory and recipeCuisine based on the assigned Categories of the recipe. It would be a powerful feature for a theme that’s built for the food blogger, saving recipe authors such as myself a lot of time, and it would be invaluable to the SEO scores of sites built on Julia.
After an intense ping-pong of ideas with the guys and gals behind Diced and Spiced, we thought it would be great to put together a list of takeaways which any beginner blogger could benefit of. Here you go:
- Find a strong mantra around your passions and explore it through the power of blogging (start from your hobbies and core values)
- Don’t be shy in bringing other people on board to contribute to your blog. Their different approach and complementary know-how can expose you to new audiences.
- Write down the mission and goals for your blog and be consistent in writing content in line with those statements.
- Explore ways to impact the non-digital world through what you do on your blog (run workshops, meetups, trainings in the offline as well to create stronger bonds)
- Make your blog truly yours by being coherent in every single action (from the tone of voice of your articles to the photographs you use inside your stories)
- Develop a routine to help you keep momentum and to always have a clear focus with your blog (content calendars, for instance, work great)
There’s no better ending to this interview than the following video from Daniel and Suzanne. Push the play button and hear once again first-hand blogging advice. Now it’s your turn to shape a digital path! 🙏