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From speech therapist to recipe creator: behind the scenes with Vicky Coates

From speech therapist to recipe creator: behind the scenes with Vicky Coates

Have you ever wondered what Instagrammers and bloggers do outside of the world of social media? In our behind the content series, we are delving deep into the real lives behind the screens and this time it is Vicky’s turn – she is shortlisted for best recipe blog in the upcoming HBC 2019 Awards but there is a lot more than recipes that fill her days. Read more about the series here.

Cleanleanbakes is a one-stop-shop of healthy yet yummy recipes created by Vicky with a passion for creating easy and nutritious recipes to fuel an active lifestyle. She also shares her recipes and lifestyle tips on her Instagram page.

If you could share with us who you are and what’s your mission, what would you say?

I’m Vicky; I created my blog with the aim of passing on my passion for baking up yummy healthy recipes and to inspire others to get baking. I am also very much into my fitness and my blog started through searching for healthy snack ideas that were high in protein to support my fitness goals/ lifestyle. Therefore a lot of my recipes are targeted at those who also want to do the same.

Would you consider yourself more of a blogger or an Instagrammer?

For me, social media has been my main tool for accessing and working closely with brands. The majority of brands I’ve worked with have found my blog through Instagram. From my experience, brands seem to favour working with bloggers who are active on Instagram and prefer this to be their main tool for collaboration.

In the past 6 months I have taken on ambassador roles for a couple of brands and I have loved the sense of community that this brings in particular, none of which would have happened without Instagram.

Therefore I guess my response would be a bit of both, as my passion definitely lies with blogging but I feel Instagram has been the biggest tool in allowing this to happen.

 How do you choose the content that goes into your accounts?

 I would say with Instagram I like to post a snapshot of my favourite meals and snacks that I eat on a daily basis as well as to promote recipes that I feature within my blog. The recipes I produce are all recipes based around things I love to eat and align with my lifestyle. Alongside high protein, there is a big emphasis on Gluten-Free and Vegan recipes, particularly with my snack recipes. This is for two reasons; it matches with what I enjoy eating and I feel this also allows my recipes to be more accessible to a wider audience.

 What is the process behind each post you produce?

 I get a lot of inspiration from platforms like Pinterest and Instagram for my recipes. I then turn this Inspiration into ideas and recipes of my own. I’ll produce the recipe, take the photographs, edit and then upload it to my blog (check out this simple checklist when uploading a blog post). This is then shared through Instagram. When I’m working with brands I’ll do research prior to creating the recipe to ensure that the recipe I create fits their brand and audience.

What has been a career highlight so far?

 My full-time career is working as a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist with children with special needs so I suppose I wouldn’t consider blogging as a career for me (yet anyway!).

With regards to blogging, I have to say my highlight so far is definitely being nominated for the ‘best recipe blog’ with the Health Bloggers Community.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

 For me, it would be saying yes to everyone who offered me products for free in return for posts on Instagram. I was overwhelmed with the pressure of feeling I needed to create content for these brands when in reality I wasn’t being paid for the time to do so. After attending the Health Bloggers Summit and the workshops there, I gained confidence in approaching brands to request payment for such posts. The lesson I learnt from this was although it might be ok to accept some free products here and there, I now don’t promise these brands I will post about their products.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the content you are creating helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

 I hope that through the recipes I create, others will see that it is easy to bake up tasty but healthier alternative breakfasts, snacks and desserts. These recipes aren’t targeted at being low in calories or low in fat or for a specific diet but for those wanting to fuel their body for performance and hopefully give them the energy to want to lead a more active healthy lifestyle.

What is the biggest misconception about social media? What was the practice that has helped you with your strategy?

 For me, I think there is a misconception sometimes that people are doing it for the wrong reasons and just posting in order to promote to others. While this may be the case at times, I have found building a community through social media and truly engaging with my followers has resulted in me being able to build a platform to share my recipes with others.

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None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t say there has been one particular person that has helped me. For me, I have had many people help me in small ways that have truly kept my passion for blogging alive. Some examples of this are those in the Yorkshire Health Bloggers Team who constantly support my blog and created events that allowed me to meet other bloggers and form a network. There have been those such as Rachel (healthyandpsyched) who have been a big influence on me and have supported me throughout my journey and helped me get to blogging events I wouldn’t have previously been able to. I have learnt a lot from these events and I have been able to grow my blog as a result.

What do you think is the most important thing about working on collaborations with other influencers and brands?

I think it’s about being true to yourself/ blog and sticking to your remit rather than being swayed by brands.

I will only collaborate with brands and influencers if I truly love their products and align with their values and beliefs and I feel I can provide my audience with some benefit through working with them. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the brands I have worked closely with and I think that is an important aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Who is your ideal collaboration with?

 I have been fortunate to work with some great brands and I’m currently an ambassador for a couple of brands that I am truly passionate about. However, I would love to produce recipes for some companies as appose to brands such as Waitrose or Sainsburys (learn how to pitch yourself to brands here).

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start in the industry now?

My advice would be to only start a blog if you truly love doing it and it is a passion of yours. Expect that it can take some time for it to truly grow into what you want it to be, but it is very much worth it when it does.


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