Anne Mauney of Fannetastic Food Blog Chronicles Her Blogger Journey
Amidst her travels abroad and graduate dietetic studies, Anne Mauney started her current blog, fANNEtastic food. Anne, who holds both a Masters in Public Health and is a registered dietician in Washington DC, writes authoritatively on food recipes and fitness, while also blogging on her latest travel adventures, race recaps, and weekend outings. A quick look at both her blog and our spotlight feature reveals how there's much more to blogging than what meets the eye.
When it comes to blog sponsorships, Anne advises brands to look far beyond surface-level metrics, and instead cultivate a profitable blogger relationship by evaluating a blogger's audience engagement level and precise content alignment between the blog and sponsoring brand. For sponsored blog content, Anne deftly integrates her exercise and nutrition acumen into working with brands like Blue Apron and Bombas Socks. For the aspiring blogger, Anne also shares her tips on food photography and how the art of blogging needs to arise first from an inherent fervor.
Read below as Anne shares a wealth of truly "fannetastic" blog sponsorship tips for brands, blog strategy insights, and her personal take on social media as a leading lifestyle blogger:
How did you get started blogging?
I first started blogging in October of 2009. I had just returned from teaching English in Prague, where I had a travel blog, and I wanted to stay involved in the blogging community, but incorporate my passion for food and fitness. I was just starting my prerequisites and applying to go back to grad school to become a Registered Dietitian, so I decided to start fANNEtastic food as a way to share my journey back to school and to inspire readers to live healthier, more active lives. I started mostly sharing healthy recipes and quick meal ideas, but as I got more into fitness (and running in particular), I started sharing a lot more exercise-related training updates and adventures, too. My blog also incorporates a lot of travel recaps now - it's been fun to have the blog evolve as I have!
What was your first blog post?
My very first blog post was kind of random - it was fall, so I wrote about a cool tea mug that I'd found recently and was loving, along with some random life updates. Here it is if you'd like to see it in all its randomness: I Love Me Some Fall! I remember debating forever about starting a new blog, and finally decided to just go for it, even if I didn't have a super fancy recipe or anything to share for the first post. Sometimes I think you just have to dive in - if you wait until everything is perfectly set up/ready, you'll never start. That advice applies to life in general, in fact.
What was your breakout moment?
I don't think I've really had any specific big breakout moments; I see my blogging career more as a steady, consistent increase in traffic/readership that came from posting consistently and engaging on social media/getting involved in the community. I always tell people that if you blog because you love it, the readers will come - but you can't start your blog with your main goal as making money/getting a ton of followers, because then you'll likely quit before you get there.
Have you ever written anything that’s gone viral?
Not super crazy viral, but one of my absolute most popular posts that does really well on Google is "How to Make Brussels Sprouts Delicious." An inadvertent SEO win, apparently! My 5 Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars are also a big hit - those have done really well on Pinterest (over 9k repins) and are hands down my most popular recipe, followed closely by my super simple Banana & Spinach Smoothie. That smoothie recipe is really old and doesn't even have a good photo - but it's one of those random recipes that really continues to do well! The most popular non-recipe page on my blog is "How to Become a Registered Dietitian" -- I posted that years ago and it continues to do extremely well on Google - it's ranked higher than the official Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics' page on the same topic!
How has blogging changed since you got started?
The main thing that has changed is all of the social media! When I started my blog, I made a Twitter account, but there was no Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Pinterest, in particular, has been huge for recipe bloggers - it's a great way to drive a lot of traffic quickly. Along those lines -- photography is so much more important now than when I started my blog. If you aren't taking great photos nowadays, especially for recipes, they just don't get shared. I am certainly not a pro photographer but I'm proud to say the photos on my blog are wayyyyyy better now than they were when I first started.
Where do you see blogging evolving?
It seems that bloggers are focusing more on quality vs. quantity of posts nowadays - posting less frequently but taking more time on each post. Instagram in particular has also become a sort of way for people to do "mini-blogs" - so sometimes Instagram posts perhaps replace that extra blog post they might have done before.
What’s on your list of daily reads?
Too many to name - I use Feedly and have about 50 different blogs in there. I follow a lot of fellow Registered Dietitians and healthy living bloggers, though - I like those that blend a mix of recipes/tips, and lifestyle/adventures...which makes sense since that's how my blog is.
How do you keep up with social media?
I remind myself that I can't do it all, and that's okay. For awhile I was totally stressing myself out trying to crush it on every channel, and that's just not sustainable. I absolutely love Instagram, so I spend most of my social media time on there, and a little on Twitter and Facebook, but mostly just to share my recent posts. I've been thinking about hiring someone to help with my Pinterest because that's one of those things on my to do list I never make it to -- we'll see. I've learned over the years it's important to know when it's time to outsource/pay someone else to do something you don't have time for. (See also: taxes/accounting...)
If you had more time, what would you do more of?
Travel! I'm extremely fortunate that I get to do a lot of fun press trips via my blog, but I absolutely love traveling and always want to do more of it. My favorite kind of trips are those with a lot of outdoorsy/adventure type activities. The more active, the better!
What advice would you give to a blogger just getting started?
Have fun! Like I said before, start your blog because you love it and genuinely enjoy writing it, not because you want to make it your career. If you're having fun and writing about things you are passionate about, that will shine through and the readers will come. Just be patient! Also, don't feel pressure to post a hundred times a week - but pick a posting schedule and be consistent/stick with it, even if it's only posting once per week or every other week.
What’s your advice to brands looking to build a campaign or partner with bloggers?
Don't look just at amount of followers/pageviews, but also engagement, voice, interaction with readers, etc. I think having a really high quality partnership with a blogger that's a perfect fit and has a loyal following is much better than just partnering with someone who isn't as good of a fit only because they have a huge readership.