For many of us who blog, our blogs were our first foray into writing for a (potential) audience. Some were simply looking for a way to record their efforts (in the arenas of food, craft, poetry, DIY…) for future reference; some wanted a way to share an aspect of their lives with real life friends and family in other towns, countries or even continents; others were drawn to the idea of an outlet for creativity and self-expression. And those motivations continue to be the key inspiration for many. Others have gone on to make blogging (or related activities such as writing, photography, styling and recipe development) their full time careers.
But there are also blogs that are written by those who were already professional journalists; those who continue to write for traditional print publications, but have also embraced the new world of blogs, online magazines and social media platforms.
Fiona Beckett is one such blogger, an established and well-respected journalist who also chooses to publish content via blogs.
Where some traditional journalists are openly hostile to bloggers, dismissive of those who are not writers by career, Fiona is inclusive, encouraging and open with her advice; she’s run popular sessions at blogger conferences and is quick to recognise that blogs have given a voice to some excellent writers and photographers.
Here, she talks to Kavey Eats about her blogging experiences.
Hello and welcome, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your blogs.
Hi everybody. My name’s Fiona Beckett. I’m a food and wine writer and, more recently, a blogger. I’ve been working as a journalist for the past 23 years (I currently write the Guardian’s drinks column) and as a blogger for about the last 10.
I have a ridiculous number of blogs spurred by serial enthusiasms or books I’ve been working on, some of which I’ve regretfully abandoned. The ones that are still going are Matching Food & Wine for which I won an award from the International Wine & Spirit Competition last year, a blog on sleep called A Good Night’s Sleep which I publish jointly with a health writer friend Patsy Westcott and a couple of other ones I occasionally update, The Frugal Cook and Wine Naturally which is about natural wine. “She’s nuts!” I can hear you say, and you are absolutely right.
The topics you blog about are very different to each other, can you tell us how you came to start both blogs?
Well the food and wine one was a natural. I’ve always been interested in pairing wine and other drinks with food. I started as a food writer so I always think of wine in the context of food. Sleep, I admit is a bit more random. I was telling my editor on Twitter he ought to get a more comfortable bed (he was complaining about a bad back) then said in a flip way “I should have been a bed blogger!” It seemed such a brilliant idea that I just did it. It is but I haven’t really got time to devote the attention to it I should.
How does writing content for both differ, and what aspects are the same for both?
The discipline is much the same for both though I rely more on guest posts for the sleep blog. It’s all about commiting yourself to write valuable content.
Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Unless you’re entirely writing for your own satisfaction – and there’s nothing wrong with that – think what the reader is going to get out of your blog.
Does blogging about your chosen topics present any particular challenges?
Er, weight gain (though I touch on 5:2 in the Frugal Cook). I also haven’t resolved completely to my satisfaction the issue of paid for trips and meals. I’m open about when I’ve accepted them but wish I could afford to pay for everything myself. That said blogging shouldn’t be the province of the super-rich.
If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?
Well certainly not Indian. It never does to attempt a cuisine on which your guest is an expert. Probably something Middle Eastern or a classic French daube.
You know I have a sweet tooth! What drinks would you suggest to match with that meal?
If it was Middle-eastern a fruity rosé, if French a generous southern Rhone or Languedoc red. Then I’d treat you to a gorgeous dessert wine with the pud.
Is there a single piece of equipment you couldn’t be without? (It doesn’t have to be electrical)
A corkscrew, obviously ;-)
Blogging killed the newspaper star. What do you think bloggers bring to the arena that differentiates it from traditional media journalism?
I think it’s brought a lot of new voices into food and drink writing which can only be a good thing. And some very talented ones too. I’m amazed at how professional most blogs are these days. The standard of photography is amazing too.
If we were meeting for a meal out, which cuisine or restaurant would you choose?
Well – cue for a quick family plug – I might take you to one my son’s Hawksmoor restaurants – but otherwise I’d suggest one of the new more casual restaurants I like in London. Koya for example or Palomar. And Mission E2 is a great place to drink wine.
What’s been your favourite travel destination thus far and why did you love it so much? Please share a favourite memory from the trip?
That’s a tough one. There are so many fantastic places. I think I’ll go for my most recent trip to Chile and Argentina because we got to drive over the Andes, something I’ve always wanted to do. It should definitely be on your bucket list. (That was an invite from two wine producers Errazuriz and Vina Montes btw)
Where are you going next?
New Zealand – in two weeks time. It’s the first time I’ve been for 15 years – I can’t wait!
If we were to take a trip together, where would we go?
India. I’ve never been and I’d love you to show me around.
What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, drinking right now?
I’m obsessed by the Honey & Co book. Everything I’ve cooked from it is wonderful and the writing is an absolute joy.
Drinking? Sloe gin and whisky (not together). It’s, miserable, cold and I don’t believe in dry Januarys!
What’s the single most popular post on each of your blogs?
I don’t think the sleep one has really been going long enough for that but one of the popular posts on matchingfoodandwine.com has been 20 food and wine pairings to learn by heart – an easy-to-remember guide you can master in 5 minutes.
Can we give a shout out to a post you loved and would like to share with my readers?
Well I enjoyed writing up my experience on how to book a last minute (and I mean the same day) hotel room on New Year’s Eve. It was quite hairy
Thankyou for asking me!
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Enjoyed this interview? Read the rest of my Meet The Blogger series, here.