Kate Hackworthy is the author of Veggie Desserts, an award-winning blog which takes a very unconventional approach to making desserts. With a keen interest in healthy eating, Kate’s blog contains interesting recipes like kale cupcakes and chocolate cauliflower cake. Being health conscious when it comes to food is quite trendy nowadays but Kate’s blog fills a much-needed gap in the market by offering sweet treats that people can indulge in without feeling the guilt afterwards. Since launching her blog, Kate has won critical acclaim, receiving praise from the likes of Jamie Oliver and Nigella. In this Spotlight, Kate speaks to us about what makes Veggie Desserts stand out from other food blogs, working with PRs and why she thinks Snapchat is the future of blogging.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you start writing your blog? I’m originally from Canada, but I’ve now settled in the UK to raise my family with my husband. We lived on a narrowboat in London for many years, but we’ve now settled on dry land in Somerset. I started the blog after being made redundant while on maternity leave. I had been experimenting with adding vegetables to desserts for a while, and was constantly being asked for my recipes, so that seemed the logical niche for my site. At the same time, I started studying digital marketing, so I was able to put into practice what I was learning.
What’s new onVeggie Desserts? It’s been wonderful to see more acceptance of vegetables in desserts. Beetroot and chocolate cake is now nearly as popular as carrot cake, so readers aren’t quite so surprised by my creations. Kale and Apple Cake with Apple Icing has constantly been one of my most popular recipes and I’ve had so many readers around the world make it. I’ve been adding more recipes for gluten-free and vegan desserts, as well as some vegetable-heavy breakfasts and main meals.
Why should people read your blog? What makes it different? I’m sure I’m the only blog dedicated to putting vegetables in dessert! It’s quite amazing how adding vegetables can allow you to reduce the fat and sugar in a cake. Healthy eating is so trendy at the moment, but people also want treats. My cakes have the added goodness from kale, spinach, parsnips, squash or other vegetables, plus they keep longer with the added moisture from the veg. I think my blog shows how creative you can be with baking.
How do you measure the success of your website? It’s great to see my page views grow, but I really love it when so many readers contact me after making my cakes. I’ve had a reader win a state fair competition with one of my recipes, and others have made them over and over. I’ve had a few people contact me to say that they’re working their way through my cake recipes, challenging friends and family to guess what vegetable is in each one. I think true success in food blogging comes from return visitors and people who love the recipes.
What has been your blogging highlight? I’ve won some awards and been nominated for others, which has been amazing. I also have a literary agent who is currently speaking to major publishers about a potential cookery book. Getting nods from Jamie Oliver and Nigella has also been wonderful!
How do you work with marketers and PRs? I enjoy working with PRs and I regularly develop recipes for brands that I love and I think my readers will love. I’m currently working on some long-term campaigns with brands, so it has been really nice to develop relationships with the PRs and the brands themselves.
How do you use social media to promote/share content? What are the challenges? The ever-changing landscape of social channels can be hard to keep up with. The various platforms all have their place for certain things and I try to think of them all quite separately. I like the engagement on Facebook and the speed of Twitter. I’ve delved into the micro-video sites, but Instagram is still my favourite.
What can PRs do to work better with you? Looking at my blog before approaching me would be the first thing. I understand that PRs are very busy, but taking a few moments to get to know me, through my About Me page and a few recipes, would mean a lot and could save us both time in the long run.
What do you feel about sponsorship disclosure? It is an absolute must. I get asked a lot for follow links and non-disclosure, but I always say no. My site is my livelihood and I won’t risk it.
List three best practices PRs need to follow for better blogger outreach? Check out the blog before getting in contact, don’t ask for nofollow links or non-disclosure, and appreciate the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a successful blog.
What will be big in your blogosphere in the coming months? Video is becoming more and more popular, and PRs are requesting video work more often now, so I definitely see it playing an important part for blogs in 2016 – whether edited recipe posts or on-camera films. Snapchat is getting bigger for food bloggers now, so it’s also definitely a must-have social channel for bloggers. That said, I’ve only dipped my toes into it, but I definitely need to make it more of a priority in the coming months.