Today I’ve got another amazing blogger to introduce you to, and if you’re needing a little bit of healthy inspiration to start your week, you’ll definitely find it here today. As you may recall, in January I featured Kate Taylor from the blog Cookie + Kate, and she was the first of several to come in my Foodies to Follow series. Today I’d like you to meet Heidi Larsen, the amazingly talented woman behind FoodieCrush.
I discovered Heidi’s blog a couple of years ago, in addition to her online magazine, also called FoodieCrush. She definitely nailed it with the title, because I’d like to eat pretty much everything Heidi captures with her camera. She’s got a knack for creating vibrant, delicious recipes and her writing is real and genuine. Don’t take my word for it though – here’s what she had to say!
What inspired you to start FoodieCrush?
FoodieCrush got it’s start from my desire to create an online magazine about food bloggers. I have been in publishing for years and at the time had relocated back to Salt Lake City where I was working as a Creative Director at a regional publishing company, creating up to 8 magazines per quarter that featured local hot spots, notaries, homes, brides, food etc. I’d had the idea to do some sort of food blogging magazine, something that highlighted the people behind the blogs in a more lifestyle way. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone and national mags began featuring a lot of food bloggers in their editorial.
That’s when I knew I had to make the leap and jump into doing it even though I had a full time job, otherwise someone else would. But, in order to get food bloggers to trust me, to want to contribute and allow me to feature their work, I had to DUH…start a blog!
At first I simply featured other bloggers and linked back to their sites for recipes but I soon found out about sites like FoodGawker and Tastespotting, websites that aggregate food bloggers photos to direct traffic to blogs. Crap! That meant I had to start creating my own recipes so I could post them there and get more traffic and exposure. But even when posting my own recipe, I loved showcasing other people’s work and linking back to their sites for the recipes. That’s when my two worlds of print and online meshed to create both a blog, and the online print magazine.
You used to be a Creative Director in the publishing industry prior to your career as a blogger, and your expertise in publishing is SO evident in each issue of the gorgeous online FoodieCrush magazine. Did you ever feel scared or hesitant to leave that job for the professional lifestyle you live now as a blogger, recipe developer and content creator?
Oh my word! YES! I’ve always been a person who has worked for others. My husband has always worked for himself. So my role was always as steady Eddie. But after the downturn in the economy, the company I worked for took away all of our benefits, including health insurance, 401K and disability insurance. I was given a 25% pay cut. And the owners were very difficult to work with. There were three of us at the publishing company who were totally ready to move on to brighter endeavors.
Over the course of a year, we started meet-ups where each of us shared our individual talents to help the others. And then, they found their new paths. I was the last to leave. But, I was close, so close, to making the move. After almost 2 years of working on FoodieCrush on my lunch hour, as soon as I got home and late into the night, while working a full-time executive position job and trying to be a somewhat present mom to an elementary age daughter and wife to my super supportive husband, FoodieCrush had gained enough momentum that I felt like I could quit.
My following was growing, I had scored two freelance design gigs that would cover me for two months and had signed on to do recipe development and photography for a client that guaranteed me $800 a month. If I had to rely on that $800, I was screwed. But once I knew I could replace my income for those first two months, I knew I could make it happen.
The food blogging world has changed so much, even over the past couple of years. Who were some of the bloggers that initially inspired you to get started back in 2011?
Before I started down the food blogging path, I was much more into the design and lifestyle bloggers. But once I decided to do FoodieCrush, that obviously changed. I really owe my online career to my friend Courtney who started the minimalist blog bemorewithless.com while we were both working at the publishing company. She shared every single bit of knowledge that she had learned and experienced and led me when I had questions, reassured me when I had doubts and cheered me on when I had success. She’s still my mentor and a dear friend today.
I had also met Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod when I asked her to contribute to the city magazine I directed. I asked her to create some recipes that reflected Utah foods and I photographed them. She was still working full time in the health industry but was thinking about going full time into blogging. She introduced me to many food bloggers, suggesting who would be helpful to connect with. She’s also the one who let me know about the sites like FoodGawker and has always been so supportive and encouraging when I quit my traditional job to do food blogging.
It’s amazing how many food bloggers I’ve come to know now as friends or at least contemporaries, and yet how many more are out there that I don’t even know of but wish I did.
What are some of the struggles or challenges you’ve faced as a blogger?
One of my biggest struggles is an internal struggle I’m trying really, really hard to work on as we speak. I am a bit of a perfectionist, which translates to me being a procrastinator because I want to do whatever I do right. That usually means that instead of focusing on the biggest task on my to do list, the one that might take more time to accomplish, I hold off until I feel like I can give it the attention it deserves. And hold off. And hold off. I’ve always felt I work best at night but over the past month, I’ve flipped my work schedule on its head.
Now, I force myself to go to be early and am now waking up early, around 5:30, and working on my computer for a few hours before the rest of the family starts rumbling about, giving me uninterrupted work time. During that time I don’t open email, I don’t check social media. Instead I’m focusing on the biggest task on my list, the one I need to devote the most time to, and tackling it head on. It’s working! I’ve made great strides, leading to a feeling of more balance and slowly shortening my to do list. I’m also limiting my time—aka distractions—throughout the day on social media and checking email to just two times a day.
Judging by the photos that you take, and those of the other bloggers featured on FoodieCrush, it’s clear you’ve got a knack for photography and art. How much of this was formal education and how much is self-taught? Does it feel like work?
Thank you so much for saying so. For me, one of the most important features of FoodieCrush is to inspire others to get into their kitchens and start cooking after seeing the amazing photographic talents of so the food bloggers featured. For my own photos, I’ve taken a few photo classes over the years, but I really learned what I know from on the job training. I’ve art directed so many amazing photographers in food, lifestyle, athletes, celebrity, still life and more that I picked up so much just from being around them. And then when I took up photography more for myself as a hobby, I asked a whole lot of questions. And I still am!
What’s your biggest kitchen disaster to date?
It was probably when we were having a Mexican fiesta with some friends made through my daughter’s pre-school days. One of the moms was following a recipe on my laptop and making salsa in the blender. She forgot to put the top on the blender and it went EVERYWHERE! Long story short, my keyboard was flooded in salsa and I had to have the keyboard replaced. It was good salsa though!
If you could make dinner for anyone, who would that be?
Of course my husband would have to be there because he’s my right hand in the kitchen. Then, we would invite Anthony Bourdain for his wit and sarcasm and never ending ability to keep the drink flowing, Nigella Lawson for her lilting accent that delivers mad good desserts, Bradley Cooper to stare at from across the table and Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon who would leave us laughing all night long and my dad who is the best dish washer in the world. Party on crouton!
What does a typical day in the life of Heidi look like?
Well, it isn’t the 4 hour work week, that’s for sure! I try to be up by 5:30 and work until 7 am. Then I take our dogs for an hour long walk, come home and either do some weight training or hustle my daughter up to school. Then, it’s a quick shower, put my make-up on in bed while I watch The Today Show, eat a breakfast usually of scrambled egg whites and spinach or avocado toast with cottage cheese and then it’s back to work. I make it a point to always shower, put on make-up and dress for the day. I’m not one who wears their pjs all day.
The rest of the day depends on the day of the week where I can be found doing blog posts, designing ebooks or magazines, shooting recipes or going to the grocery store, again, again and again because I always forget something. Sometimes I meet other local bloggers for work dates or lunches then it’s back to work until 3:30 when I walk with the dogs to pick up my daughter. She does homework, I keep working or we’ll run errands or hustle her to this practice or that one until dinnertime which is when my husband and I look at each other an wonder what’s for dinner and then rock off to decide who’s fixing something – or we throw our hands up in the air and go out for Mexican or ramen.
After dinner I’m usually back on the computer catching up on emails, scheduling social media or flipping through food magazines and cookbooks for recipe inspiration. But, my night ALWAYS ends with my husband running my nightly tub. It’s my meditation time and the one thing I do every single day.
Want a little more FoodieCrush? You’ll find Heidi in all of these places:
- Like FoodieCrush on Facebook.
- Follow @foodiecrush on Instagram.
- Follow @foodiecrush on Twitter.
- Follow @foodiecrush on Pinterest.
- Get answers to a whole bunch of other questions on her FAQ page here.
That’s it for this edition of Foodies to Follow! But now it’s over to you. Tell me:
- For those of you who are bloggers, what’s one thing you wish you were able to do better? For example, is it time management? Photography? Coming up with content or post ideas?
- If YOU could make dinner for anyone, who would that be? I like Heidi’s guest list, especially because Bradley Cooper’s on it. 😉
And last but not least, for all my Ontario readers:
Dr. William Davis, author of the enormously popular book Wheat Belly is going to be doing a speaking tour around various Goodness Me locations over the coming weeks. I’ve got 2 tickets to give away, plus a discount code for you to use if you’d like to attend. Here’s all the details and dates, and if you’d like to attend, just leave a comment here letting me know. I’ll pick a random winner at 6am ET on Wednesday morning and email them right away.
Alternatively, if you’d like to purchase some discounted tickets, feel free to do so here, and be sure to use the code WBESRR to get $10 off.