In the current world of social media, blogging has exploded into a massive commercial and cultural influence. But who are our own local-grown and successful bloggers? Michelle Heffernan reports…
The Food Blog: Andrea Veighey (Waterford Foodie)
Andrea Veighey, who works locally in administration, began Waterford Foodie in March 2016 and is now followed by over a thousand people on Instagram.
Andrea loves trying new dishes and visiting new restaurants, and initially began simply sharing photos of local cafés and restaurants in Waterford. This led her to develop and share her own recipes and Waterford Foodie, a site stuffed with tasty recipes and tantalising photos, was born.
In order to keep her blog fresh and interesting, Andrea likes to cook and photograph at least one meal a day. If she’s dining in a restaurant, she will photograph the plate, often rearranging cutlery and tableware to get the best shot .
“I have received the odd strange look!” Andrea says, understanding other customers can find her food photography strange. “Luckily I’ve a very patient boyfriend and family,” she explains.
“It takes up a lot of free time” the blogger underlines, as she spends an hour or more a day outside of regular work looking for inspiration for new recipes, cooking the food, taking the best photograph, writing blog copy, uploading everything online and replying to her followers.
“You need to keep uploading regularly and come up with new recipes or insights that keep followers interested in your blog”. While Waterford Foodie is a big commitment for Andrea, she underlines that she “thoroughly enjoys it” and would recommend this for anybody considering beginning a blog.
“Be yourself and enjoy yourself” says Andrea, as if you don’t “it will reflect in your commitment to your blog”. She would also advise any aspiring bloggers to aim for originality.
“Followers like to see different material- don’t try to copy someone else’s blog” she says. After Christmas Andrea has many exciting plans for Waterford Foodie, such as live video demonstrations and an attempt to find “Waterford’s best scone”. To follow her fabulous food blog see waterfordfoodie.wordpress.com or follow Waterford Foodie on Instagram.
The Fashion Blog: Mary Cate Smith (The Fashion Horn)
Mary Cate Smith is a tour de force. Journalist, fashion stylist and sartorial maven, she is a monthly columnist with Irish Tatler, and contributes to the Irish Times, U, Stellar, Woman’s Way, The Style Edit and Irish Country magazine and all the while, curating a highly successful fashion and lifestyle blog- The Fashion Horn.
Both in person and online, Mary Cate exudes an unrivalled creativity and class; it’s no surprise that her blog reached the final of the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards on two occasions.
In spite of the accolades that precede her, Mary Cate is remarkably humble of her rise to fashion heights.
“My childhood was pretty bog standard,” she says. “Let’s face it – what are you going to do with a name like Mary Smith? Thank God the Cate came into the mix!”
Comical and self-deprecating by nature, after leaving Waterford Mary worked as an actor for eight years.
Her progression into the world of teaching drama, English and history was a natural one, she tells me, but ultimately, she has truly found her niche in writing.
“When I gave up acting, I felt a little lost. I wanted to do something positive to reclaim my creative self,” she says, explaining how The Fashion Horn came to fruition. “Just quietly writing away about things I was passionate about helped me get my confidence back.”
While Mary Cate emphasises that the benefits of blogging have been “manifold,” she stresses that the commitment involved is not for the faint hearted.
“There’s a ‘mahooosive’ amount of time involved in blogging. If you want the readership, you’ve got to put the work in. It’s really a labour of love.”
For anyone considering beginning a blog, Mary Cate presents many positive pointers. “You don’t need any knowledge of web design whatsoever. You can Google everything or there are loads of YouTube tutorials out there. I learned as I was doing it!”
She advises joining online blogging communities such as the Irish Bloggers Group on Facebook or following scheduled blogger chats on Twitter. Reading other blogs is essential, according to Mary Cate and she says you need to be reading all the blogs in your genre. This has been fundamental to finding her own voice, style and originality as a blogger.
So, what’s in store for The Fashion Horn in 2018? “Oh, you know. Just building a multi-million euro corporation-as you do,” she laughs.
Given her record to date, we reckon the Déise woman’s star is on the rise. Follow Thefashionhorn.ie, or @thefashionhorn on Facebook and Instagram for more of Mary Cate’s sartorial shenanigans, self-deprecating wit and selfies galore.
The Photography Blog: Kieran Russell (kieranrussellphotography.com/blog)
Father of three, Kieran Russell, lives and works in Dungarvan where his passion for capturing his family on camera has grown into a successful photography blog.
“I took up photography as a hobby, just as a means of capturing family moments as the kids grew up” says Kieran, whose blog received a Silver Medal in the Photography category at the Irish Blog Awards.
Soon his subject interest moved from the home to the great outdoors and Kieran began photographing “the many hidden gems in Ireland and, particularly, Waterford”.
His blog features stunning images of the Copper Coast, Dunmore East and An Rinn, to name but a few, as well as useful information such as access points, best times to visit, points of interest to look out for, and of course, some photography tips.
“It’s a great motivation to get outdoors” explains Kieran, who loves the thrill of “finding something new, particularly something I haven’t seen captured before”.
Given that his content is technical and weather dependent, coming up with fresh content is time consuming for Kieran “I will generally require at least four to five visits to a location before I have a body of work that I feel might be worth sharing” he explains.
For Kieran, the writing part to the blog isn’t the hard part; it’s all about getting to know a new place and showing a location from a different perspective. “I don’t think there are many downsides to blogging, if you can find the time”, he says.
Even though Kieran is reasonably IT literate he emphasises that there are many services that do the hard work for you” and running a blog “Is not as intimidating as you may think”.
Kieran pays a yearly subscription to Squarespace, a piece of software that allows him to manage his website and blog, and feels “it’s worth it as it just works seamlessly across all devices and makes the readers’ experience a lot better”.
Coming up with new locations to showcase is difficult for Kieran but he always keeps some ideas on the “back burner”. For instance at present he’s awaiting “some dense fog to capture a particular subject in a local wood”.
In 2018 Kieran plans to share more images of local beauty and perhaps venture north for some shooting in West Donegal. You can follow his adventures at kieranrussellphotography.com/blog or Kieran Russell Photography on Instagram.