In episode 257, Terri talks to us about how before she became a food blogger, she entered recipe contests and learned a lot from those experiences that helped hone her skills to become a blogger.
We cover information on where to find these competitions, what judges are looking for and a few logistics and insider secrets if you’re ready to jump into this world of entering contests.
Write Blog Posts that Rank on Google’s 1st Page
RankIQ is an AI-powered SEO tool built just for bloggers. It tells you what to put inside your post and title, so you can write perfectly optimized content in half the time. RankIQ contains a hand-picked library with the lowest competition, high traffic keywords for every niche.
Bio Terri has been a food blogger for 5 ½ years at Food Meanderings. She enjoys blogging part-time and works in health care (primary care) full-time. Terri and her husband have been together for 33 years and together they have a son 16 and a daughter 14. Terri started entering recipe competitions back in 2010 and won several contests. She desired to share those recipes and other favorite recipes, so that’s how she began the blog in 2016. While her blog started off as a hobby, it has grown into a nice side business today.
- Needs to be original, but also something that’s still attractive to the masses so the Brand appreciates it.
- You have to consider the home cook and the Brand. Often there are ingredients requirements or limitations.
- Study past winners to see what won and why.
- You can make a recipe and ask for anonymous feedback from coworkers with samples to work on honing a recipe.
- Set limits for yourself on how many times to create and hone a recipe.
- Prizes are incentives as well as experience.
- You can earn credibility being published and being featured with Brands or publications.
- Learn to create old favorite recipes with a twist as well as stay on top of coming trends as you develop.
- How you create the recipe and write the instructions and present it is important so it can be recreated by the Brand. This is the same as how you work a recipe for your audience.
Book recommendation: Will Write For Food
Book recommendation: The Recipe Writer’s Handbook
Terri – [email protected]
Click for full script.
257 Terri Gilson
Terri Gilson: HI, this is Terri Gilson from Food Meanderings and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
Megan Porta: Food bloggers. Hey, welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and the confidence that will move your businesses forward. I am your host, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode 257 with Terri Gilson.
Terri is with me today. She is going to teach us why entering recipe competitions and contests makes you a better recipe developer and a better recipe writer and how this whole process works. Terri for five and a half years at Food Meanderings, a food blog focusing on healthy recipes, baked goods enjoyed in moderation. She enjoys blogging part-time and works in healthcare full-time. Terri and her husband have been together for 33 years and together they have a son 16 and a daughter, 14. Terri started entering recipe competitions back in 2010 and she won several contests. She desired to share those recipes and other favorites so that is how she began the blog in 2016. While her blog started off as a hobby, it has grown into a nice side business today. Terri, I love your story. I love how you started blogging and I’m super excited to chat about all of this today, but first, why don’t you give us your fun fact?
Terri Gilson: Thanks, Megan, I’m really happy to be here as I’m a big fan of your podcast. I listen to it regularly and always walk away with a little nugget of information and or inspiration with every episode.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love it.
Terri Gilson: I guess my fun fact is I have a food bucket list, which I’m sure many foodies and food bloggers do, but this one’s not just things I want to eat. It’s something I want to do with food. Could involve anything like digging for clams and eating them, Arctic char fishing, going to Paris and eating some kind of pastry from a bakery. One of the things on my bucket list was building a giant gingerbread house from scratch. I did that back in 2013. You could actually see it on my blog. I put it on my about me page because that’s just a fun thing.
Megan Porta: Oh, okay. I’m going to go look now, but how big is it? How big was it?
Terri Gilson: We called it the gingerbread condo. So it’s row houses and it’s three skinny, tall houses, probably like two feet by two feet. So it’s substantial. When you search for a large giant gingerbread house, that’s probably one of the bigger ones you’ll find online.
Megan Porta: Wow. It is huge. I’m looking at it right now.
Terri Gilson: Yeah. So we did that four days over a long weekend with my kids who were five and seven at the time. I was inspired to do that because I was at the Banff Springs hotel. I dunno if you’re familiar with it.
Megan Porta: I’ve been there, it’s one of my favorite places. I can say this it’s like my favorite place ever.
Terri Gilson: Yeah, it’s wonderful. I live like an hour from it.
Megan Porta: Okay. I’m coming to visit you. I am not even joking.
Terri Gilson: Yeah. So I saw it at the Banff Springs hotel a few years prior to that. They had made a replica of the hotel in gingerbread. I was like, oh my God, I’m going to do that someday. I’m going to make a giant gingerbread house. So I did. But I didn’t do it all at once, obviously. I started small at 20 years before that identikit was a disaster. So I started with my own design and made it quite small and made two mini ones for the kids, their bird houses. They’re in one of the posts. You can look at that too. I worked my way up. It’s baby steps, right?
Megan Porta: Yeah, for sure. Okay. So many nuggets there that I love. This house is amazing. You guys should go check it out. It’s so impressive. How did you keep your kids hands off of that? That’s the only thing I kept thinking was I would have to keep slapping my boy’s hands, if that were me.
Terri Gilson: They were actually really good. They were pretty proud of it. They were involved in the whole process. They actually shingled the roof with Shreddies. They help lay the actual pathways and help with the lamps. Gingerbread houses are actually a lot more sturdy than you would ever know. We broke pieces. I burnt pieces. I put things on upside down, and had to rip it apart. I had to rip the roof off after I forgot to put the lights in. So they’re pretty robust.
Megan Porta: That’s so funny. It sounds like you’re talking about your own house. Just a standard, I had to rip the roof off.
Terri Gilson: Yeah, it was like that.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love this fun fact. I learned that you live close to the Banff Springs hotel. Oh my gosh. I’ve been wanting to go back there. I was there a long time ago. I went on a ski vacation with a few friends. We saw it of course, cause we were in Banff and we’re like we have to go visit that place. We went there and it was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Those experiences that are just ingrained in your mind; the smells, the sounds, that sort of thing. That was what I experienced at that hotel. So ever since then, I’ve been telling my husband, we have to go back. So we’re on a mission to do that in the next couple of years. So I’ll let you know when we’re there. I love that place.
Terri Gilson: You should. It’s beautiful. Yeah. I live in Calgary, so we’re an hour to an hour and a half outside. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half to get there. It’s great.
Megan Porta: Oh, all I have to get my brain out of that because I always get all dreamy when I think about it. So thank you for sharing that love and that fun fact. I also love how you started your blog. You were entering recipes, competitions and contests. That’s how you started to get into this world. So how do you think this has helped you? I love just the idea of pushing your limits as a content creator as a recipe developer. So why don’t you just start talking to us about that.
Terri Gilson: Sure. When I started entering recipe competitions, I realized quite quickly that you have to think outside the box. So you need to make something that’s quite original, but it also has to be something that’s still attractive to the masses because, often it’s a brand that would be sponsoring this type of contest, like a recipe contest. So they want something that people are actually going to want to make and use their product. So you really do have to think about being unique yet appealing to everyone. Something that home cooks as well as judges would like. You often have ingredient limitations. So sometimes you can only use 10 ingredients. Sometimes you can only use five. You have to work with a specific ingredient or a specific product, and you really have to make it stand out well.
Megan Porta: It’s such a balance, right? You have to please both of those sides, so you need to find something that people want, but you have to be unique. So how do you find that balance?
Terri Gilson: I think that you look at trends are really important. I think back to when I was entering contests. Salted caramel was winning everything. It was a trend that I thought was going to be around forever. It was winning everything and people kept on entering it. You have to really also learn about flavor combinations and work with flavor combinations and practice. I think practice is really important. That’s how you get to know what is going to be really popular with the judges. You can see that also by looking at past contests. I would see who won this last year? If it was a contest that is an annual contest or what’s winning other contests. So I think that really helped. Tasting, lots of tasting. Getting your little recipe testers. My kids and also my husband and family and friends, I would bring it to work and say, how does this taste? I’d actually put a piece of paper down at work on the lunch table, drop a recipe there and say, please give me feedback. I want real feedback. I don’t want to, oh, it tastes great. Yummy. I got good feedback because it was anonymous.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love that. That’s such a great tip. Making it anonymous because people are worried they’re going to hurt your feelings or are they actually going to tell you how to change it? So making it anonymous, takes that issue away.
Terri Gilson: It did. It was great. It was a good way to do it. I would recommend it.
Megan Porta: So two questions from there. How much to test, I guess would be my first one. Did you do it once? Twice? Multiple times.
Terri Gilson: That’s a really good question because entering recipe contests also helped me to learn to set my own limits. You can’t be making something five times, which I have to admit I’ve done. I wasted ingredients. I wasted time and it didn’t work out. I just thought, okay, this is ridiculous. I need to set a rule. I called it the third time’s charm rule. If it wasn’t solid by the second time and perfect by the third, I was done with it. I abandoned the idea and I moved on because you could go on forever.
Megan Porta: It’s true. You can. I think we’ve all been there or like at what point should I throw in the towel?
Terri Gilson: Yeah. That’s what I did. Even recently I was working on a recipe for a brand and two times I couldn’t, I was like, by the third time, it won’t be right. So I’m done. I abandoned it. It was sad because I was running out of time. I was going on vacation. But I thought I can’t do this. I have to follow my own rules at least. If I follow any rules, they’ve got to follow my own.
Megan Porta: Exactly. So set the rules at your boundaries and then actually follow them. But I like three. Tops three times and then either move on or dig in. Also, where do you find these competitions? Where were you looking or did they just come to you?
Terri Gilson: Oh, okay. It’s funny because my very first competition, I found it on a food blog. It was just a fun little one. I think the prize was maybe a $15 Starbucks gift card. I didn’t know anything about the recipe contest. I didn’t know at the time it was a huge thriving community where there were actually million dollar prizes and I will get to that at some point. But yeah, it’s a big community. But when I first started, I just started searching the internet and I saw contests on Facebook. Because Facebook had been around four or five years at that point. Then there were a couple of websites, one I just checked last night. They don’t exist anymore, so I’m not gonna mention them. But the best source I found was called Cooking Contest Central. You actually pay a membership fee. I think it’s $25 a year. She may have raised it, but she has everything. It’s an excellent website. If you really want to get into contexting, I highly recommend that you join. I found it really helpful because she sends out new contests in a newsletter regularly. She had run her own contests once in a while. Everything’s there, right? It tells you all the eligibility, it tells you everything you need to know about the contest. It’s divided into categories, like deadline contests, voting contests that are worldwide. It’s just an excellent website.
Megan Porta: Interesting. I have not ever heard of that. I guess I’m just trying to brainstorm in the past when I have come upon contests, which I have, how they’ve come to me. I really don’t know. I think maybe I just landed on them by accident or maybe a food blogger recommended something. I know I’ve entered a handful, less than five in my blogging career. But that is a really interesting thing to ponder. Like how you find those. Are there any other ways, so Facebook, food blogs, and then this Cooking Contest Central. Any other ways?
Terri Gilson: Yeah. Yes, I think that big brands actually put them on. Philadelphia cream cheese, they put on a big one. I’m trying to think of a lot of brand websites, but they often do let you know about them. I follow a lot of them on Facebook, so I see them there. They also advertise them on Facebook. Facebook is where I probably have seen the most come across.
Megan Porta: Are there specific groups or places on Facebook where you see them?
Terri Gilson: No, actually they just come up. I’m also a member of food bloggers in Canada. If there were contests, they would often let you know about contests too, if they were Canadian specifically. Because that’s another thing I was going to mention. Most of the contests are for US citizens. When I started contesting, I found that they were open to a lot more than they are now. I think it has something to do with taxes. So there aren’t as many open to Canadians and they’re predominantly American. There are some worldwide ones, but yeah, and that’s why I stopped doing a lot of it. There’s other reasons too, but that was one of the big reasons. Another reason I guess I would say was a lot of them were becoming more so voting contests, which I found some of them had a bigger focus on popularity than actually making the recipe, judging it and giving a prize based on merit. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of voting contests where voting is only, it’s a small waiting compared to everything else. It might only be 10% of the actual judging. But in quite a few of the contests, there was a big focus on voting. I did a couple of voting contests in the beginning and I wasn’t a fan. I found that I had to go and bug all my family and friends. Vote for me. Most of them had never tried the recipe. Because they don’t live where I live, but it was fine if it was at work and I dropped it off as a taste test. When nobody’s tried the recipe and you’re like, vote for me. It gets a little bit annoying to people.
Megan Porta: You feel like you get to your quota of asking people for that sort of thing. You’re like, oh, I just did that last week. Everyone spent a few minutes of their time. So you feel bad asking a second, third time and then I can totally understand where you’re coming from with that. So we’ve talked about where people can find these. Now, what do you think this can do for the food bloggers business? What are the good points of getting into contesting?
Terri Gilson: For me, I felt like it gave me credibility. I’m not a chef. I’m not a dietician. I’m not a nutritionist. I don’t even have a niche. Basically I do what I want. I do mostly healthy recipes, but I’m not specifically just WeightWatchers or I just do baking, like a lot of blogs out there. So I can say that look, I create really good recipes, as proven by the fact that I’ve won like 25-30 competitions. I think that when you’re looking out there in the vast expansion of the internet, there’s a lot of recipes and a lot of recipe sites. You want to stand out, especially when you’re first getting started. I know when I’m looking for recipes, I go to trusted sites. But what does trusted sites mean? A lot of it’s subconscious. I look at reviews. I look at a number of factors including popularity. But what makes me trust somebody and their site is that they’re going to produce good recipes. Especially when they’re first starting out. So I felt that it gave me credibility. I was also able to say to brands, look, I created a winning recipe. I can create a winning recipe for you. I could give them examples of what I created and what won. So I think that worked to my advantage. I think that if you want to, If you’re starting out, it doesn’t hurt. It gives you good practice as well. It gives you great practice and brands also want trending recipes. They want things that are trendy. I did something for a brand, not that long ago, and they were so happy that the concept I proposed and then created, just as my recipe was being published the same, another big brand was putting it out in stores. It was a new trend. So they love that kind of stuff.
Megan Porta: So this helps you to stay on top of the trends, would you say?
Terri Gilson: Oh, I definitely think so. Yeah. It helps you to stay on top of the trends. You also really learn to build a recipe around a specific ingredient. That’s what you’re doing when you’re working with brands. So if your goal is to work with brands, it’s a good idea to do recipe contests, because it’s very similar. You’re not being specifically judged, but I’ve had to submit concepts to brands before or after I signed the contract. It’s usually the PR company I’m dealing with. But they want to make sure that the brand likes the recipe and it fits within their own branding.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That makes sense. I see this as such a benefit, like you said, if you are looking to do sponsored work. This can only benefit you and not necessarily going into it, looking to be the winner. That would be like icing on the cake. But almost looking for the no. Just seeing it as an opportunity to expand your knowledge and to grow and to get better at recipe developing. Like you mentioned too, building a recipe around an ingredient, which is not easy by the way. It’s hard to do that. So building up that muscle.
Terri Gilson: It is very challenging. Yeah. Also it helps you really have to learn how to sell your recipe too. When I first started, I didn’t have enough page views to get brand work on my own and Food Bloggers of Canada would get these contracts and they would give members like myself the opportunity to propose a recipe concept. Then they would show it to the brand. The brand would decide. I think it helped me get some of that early brand work because I had done a lot of recipe contests and I had really learned how to sell it because you have to have a good description. You have to have a clever name. They love clever names.
Megan Porta: Okay. Talk about that. So what would you use as an example?
Terri Gilson: Let me think. I think the one I would probably use as an example was a few years ago I became a finalist in the Master Chef at home contest Canada. It was for the little potato company. I made potato ice cream. Their little potatoes are called creamers. So I called the recipe, cookies and creamers ice cream. Because it was cooking ice cream. They really liked that. They liked the name. Unfortunately when the $10,000 prize. That’s another thing you have to think about, timeliness. It was fall going into the holiday season. I knew they were going to be presenting the winner on the holiday show. I think it was Maryland Dennis. I made ice cream. So probably not the best choice for winter holiday stuff. But it was the best idea I had at the time. I think it’s important that if you can enter more than one recipe, do it. Read the rules carefully. That is the advice I would give anyone. There is so much information in the rules. You can win a contest, just by reading the rules. Because a lot of people get disqualified because they don’t even read the rules. They don’t enter correctly. If you read the rules and do everything you’re supposed to do. You’ve got a very good chance of winning just by doing that.
Megan Porta: You’re already ahead of a certain percentage. If you just read the rules. That’s a really good point too. I never thought of it, but yeah, just reading the rules, it’s super simple. You mentioned that there was $10,000 at stake for the one contest. That is an awesome byproduct of winning. If you do happen to win money. So that would be a selling point. Okay, real quick, Terri, I’m just going to pause here for a little break, so we will be back in a minute.
Sponsor: Hey, food bloggers. Do you ever get caught up in the confusion about how in the world you are going to make money? Take the free quiz I’ve put together for you that is going to help you get to the bottom of this problem. Go to eatblogtalk.com/quiz to find out which stream of revenue is the next perfect one for you. Your results will be personalized based on your answers, and they will provide you with action steps and resources that will help you launch into monetizing your blogging business in a new way. There are truly so many ways to make money as a food blogger. So don’t waste another second. Again, go to eatblogtalk.com/quiz and get started on your next revenue stream today.
Hey, it’s me again. I am just hopping on here now to talk a little bit about the awesomeness of the Eat Blog Talk mastermind program. Some of you are in it and loving it and getting so much value from it. And for those of you who are not yet in it, I wanted to give you just a really quick testimonial from one of our members. Melissa Erdelac from Mama Gourmand is part of the mastermind program. Here’s what she has to say about it. Quote, Eat Blog Talks masterminds are a total game changer. Where I used to be stuck trying to figure this all out alone, it creates an instant community of support. The best part is that you keep growing. It doesn’t matter what level you are at, a fresh perspective and team problem solving kept my trajectory strong. I cannot recommend them enough. End quote. If you would like to join the waitlist to be in the mastermind program, go to eatblogtalk.com for more information.
Megan Porta: Okay, Terri, we’re back from the break. We were talking before the break about prize money and other prizes being a perk for entering these contests. So you can continue talking about that.
Terri Gilson: You can win a lot of different things like I’ve won just for entering a contest. They drew names and I won like a professional stand mixer, a KitchenAid stand mixer, just for entering. I’ve won a lot of smaller prices, $500 gift cards and grocery cards. I’m trying to think of something else. Oh, I won a digital SLR camera, which is pretty nice. I still shoot with it. I won a Wolfgang Puck pressure oven, prohibitively expensive cookware, aprons cash, lots of kitchen stuff. What food blogger doesn’t want that, right?
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s all great stuff. Like you mentioned earlier, Terry, you’re getting credibility. You can use that line that I created a winning recipe or multiple winning recipes at this place. So that means that I am more qualified to create a winning recipe for you, brand X. So there are so many bonuses here. I can see good reasons why you should do it. You talked about coming up with a clever title or a name for your recipe, but what are some other aspects of the actual recipe that we should keep in mind? What makes a really winning recipe?
Terri Gilson: Okay. I would say that the biggest thing that I have learned is old favorites with a twist. I studied so many winning recipes and the majority of them were an old favorite with a twist. So it’s usually a good way to go. It’s pretty safe. For instance, pierogi potato salad. That was a second prize winner, but it was an old favorite potato salad, but pierogi. Everyone loves pierogi. So it has to be pretty loved as well. Unless it’s a, I guess a brussel sprout contest. You don’t want to be making something with brussels sprouts because it’s not a favorite of everyone’s.
Megan Porta: Any other components of the recipe, as you’re writing it, things you should keep in mind as you’re developing it.
Terri Gilson: This helped me become a better food blogger as well. Realizing they’re going to make this recipe. So you want to follow all those rules, put the ingredients in order of use. You want to make your instructions very clear so that anybody could follow this recipe because the majority of contests, they do make it. You want it to turn out exactly like it turned out for you. Delicious. So you really need to follow those rules. You don’t want it too complicated. You don’t want ingredients that are hard to find. For instance, I said, trends are important. Fennel pollen may be trendy, but it’s not easy to find. What has won in the past? Look at what’s won in the past and study that. Also timeliness, like I said summer recipes in the middle of winter, probably aren’t the best idea. If you’re going to enter it as a third entry, like almost every contest will tell you how many entries are allowed. So you have to pick and choose if you have time. Entr as many as you can. Because the ones that I entered that I didn’t think were going to win, actually won. Which is surprising sometimes and increases your chances.
Megan Porta: That’s a good reminder for us because we all have those recipes that we put on our blogs that we did not expect to take off. We’re like, what just happened? The opposite happens too. So I love that you said that.
Terri Gilson: I would definitely agree with that. I’ve had so many recipes on the blog and I think why is this even popular? I’m glad it is but wow.
Megan Porta: Then I’ve entered a few contests. I remember one, it was a grilled cheese contest and I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m obsessed with them because there’s so much room to be creative. So I entered this one contest and there was a theme. I was positive. I was going to win. I was like, I’ve got this. I know I nailed this and nothing. But then randomly you enter things and you think this doesn’t stand a chance and then you win. So you just never know. That’s the message there.
Terri Gilson: Yeah, you don’t. I’ve got emails and said, congratulations, you won this contest. I’d been like, oh great. Which recipe was it? Because I had no idea. They didn’t even realize I did enter three. One case it was one that I was not going to enter. I thought, oh, this is hideous. I took a picture of it really quickly and put it in there. But then I also study, why some win and why some lose on their own. I think that’s really important. But as you said, you can repurpose them too. I think this is a good lesson. There is this one particular contestor, and I saw her enter this recipe in almost every single contest to the point where I was like, oh, just let that one go. She ended up winning a $10,000 contest with it.
Megan Porta: So she never gave up.
Terri Gilson: Yeah, she never gave up. She thought she had confidence that this was a good recipe and it could win something. She just kept on entering. I thought it was good for you.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s a good lesson too. If you are super confident in something, know it’s a winner, then keep at it. First of all, do you need quality photos for most of these contests?
Terri Gilson: No. You don’t. I was entering initially with my little point and shoot camera before I got an actual DSLR. I think that you should just do your best. They want a presentation on a lot of the recipes. They will tell you in a lot of the contests how much visual appeal is weighted and same with presentation. But they realized that most contesters aren’t professional photographers, especially food photographers. So you don’t have to, but it did help me hone my skills in that area too. It helped me get better at presentation and really make an effort to make something visually appealing.
Megan Porta: This sounds like it really hones a lot of skills. So not just recipe developing and writing, but really everything. How to sell yourself and how to present yourself and photography. If you consistently take photos. There are so many ways that I see this helping a food blogging business. I love this topic. It’s something we’ve never covered before and I never even thought to cover it. But when you presented it, I was like, oh my gosh, yes. We have to talk about this. This is so great. Another question I have is do you reuse your recipes and put them on your blog? Does anyone have exclusive rights? Is that a thing for contesting or do you just do whatever you want with the recipe after you’ve entered?
Terri Gilson: Oh, it’s definitely a thing. So you have to be careful. If you’ve won a contest, you have to carefully read the affidavit you sign. Hopefully before you sign it, you’ve carefully read it like you would a contract. Realize, okay, I’m giving away full recipe rights here, or I’m just giving away the right to sell this again. It’s mostly the right to sell it again. So I put quite a few of them on my blog and I do ask permission, in some cases, if I feel it’s necessary. If it’s warranted, to put the recipe on the blog or use it again. I would never try and enter another contest again, if it was a winner. If it wasn’t a winner, I would go back to the rules.
I’ll give you an example. Taste of Home generally has a rule that they own the rights to that recipe, even if you just enter it. But I’ll tell you they’ve been a pleasure to deal with. A couple of times they’ve contacted me and said that we would like to use your recipe. It was one of the ones I entered in a contest, and we want to put it in this magazine or this publication or whatever. I was absolutely happy with that. I was fine with that and it gave me exposure and I can say that my recipe was featured in Taste of Home, Cookie Swap or whatever. I even said do you mind if I put her in the blog after and use your photo because it was better than mine and they were good. They were great with that. You knew to follow the rules and to ask permission, if you needed to. So I think that mostly I reworked recipes. So if I was going to enter it in another contest, I would rework it. Try to make it into something different because sometimes I thought probably didn’t win because maybe it’s not that great. So I’m going to make it better. I think that really helps hone your skills as well. How can I make this better? I’ve even made some better for my blog because I just looked at and thought this might’ve been okay for that contest. It’s not going to be that appealing to the masses or to my readers.
Megan Porta: That is so interesting. Oh my goodness. I don’t see why so many of us aren’t doing more of this. This is really intriguing. Do you still do it? Do you still regularly enter?
Terri Gilson: Actually, I haven’t in a while because there hasn’t been anything that I felt was really worth my time. The last one I think I entered was the Master Chef at Home where I was a finalist. So if there was something big like that, that came across. Then I would consider entering. I’m finding that because I work full time and I’m getting work now. I don’t have as much time. When you work with brands, you’re guaranteed the money, right? When you are entering contests, you’re not guaranteed to win. So I have to weigh that up. It makes more sense for me to just do the brand work because honestly, it’s the creativity part that is very satisfying for me personally. I get that satisfaction from pushing my limits and using that creative muscle working with brands because it’s so similar, really.
Megan Porta: I can see this being for anyone, but particularly for maybe a newer ish blogger, who is just starting to think about working with brands. This would be a perfect avenue for that person.
Terri Gilson: I think so. I think that’s who this would appeal to the most. It is a fun thing to do and you can win quite a bit of money. So as a hobby, it’s a really great thing as well. Like I said, there’s a big community out there. They all know each other because they go to cook-offs together. Of course, not over the last couple of years during COVID, but I would see the, in the forums on Cooking Contest Central and in all the photos, it looked like so much fun. I was so jealous. I wish that I could be there. But as a Canadian, I wasn’t eligible for a lot of those big cook-off contests. But that’s a whole nother thing, cook-offs right. Recipe contests online are one thing and then cook-offs are another. It looks like so much fun. I was part of one small community one, and it was a lot of fun, but I would definitely look at doing it. It’s on my food bucket list.
Megan Porta: This is so fun. So we’ve given food bloggers some really good ideas about why they should consider this as an option to just hone their skills. You’ve given a lot of great information about logistics, how to think through a recipe that’s going into a contest, what the judges might be looking for, those creative spins on a traditional favorite and prizes are up for grabs. So if nothing else, if you happen to win, that would be amazing. It sounds like you won some amazing stuff, Terir. Is there anything we’re missing that you think food bloggers should know before we start saying goodbye?
Terri Gilson: Also the opportunities that can come out of something like this. Like I got to have a couple of TV appearances. I was flown down to Florida to make my recipe on a show.
Megan Porta: Wow. That’s amazing. You had no idea, right? Like you would never have known that before.
Terri Gilson: No, I never would have known that. Also I was recently contacted to apply for a food network cooking competition show. So that opportunity came out of it. I think for me, unfortunately, the timing of the show and things going on personally didn’t work out, but that’s something I’d still like to do eventually. These kinds of opportunities I think came about because I put myself out there with contests and then that turned into blogging. If you are a blogger getting started or even somebody who is up and running and this sounds like fun. It’s not just that you can win prizes and become a better recipe developer. It’s like lots of fun in so many ways.
Megan Porta: Yes. I can hear it just through your talking. It comes through in what you’re saying that you do find it really fun. I can see it being addicting. I would totally get addicted Ooh. Just get a little adrenaline rush or a high from it almost.
Terri Gilson: You do. That’s exactly it. I get the same kind of feeling when I get contacted by the PR company about doing a recipe for a brand. I get that excitement, that rush and it was the same with winning a contest. So if you liked that feeling, then this is for you.
Megan Porta: I just want to touch on one thing you just said a little bit ago about the opportunities. That is something that we don’t give enough attention to. I feel like we tend to say okay, if I’m not going to earn this amount of money doing project X, then I’m out. But we need to sometimes just look beyond the money and think about the fact that there might be an opportunity floating around that’s tied to that project. You just never know. Like your thing with Florida and the food network casting call. Those sorts of things are just waiting for us to take hold of them. We don’t know that they’re there, unless we do these little opportunities that kind of call to our souls. That calls us and we don’t really know why they’re pulling us in. So if you feel that pull to do something like this, and you’re not sure why, maybe there’s another opportunity just waiting for you. I just wanted to bring that.
Terri Gilson: Yeah, I think so. There were a couple of cookbook opportunities as well that came out of it. One, it wasn’t the exact right fit for my brand and the other was timing again and deadlines. But I don’t know that I would have had that opportunity either without having been doing the cooking competition. So like the blog is one thing and it does give you recognition. But I think the cooking contests really help; they help build credibility.
Megan Porta: Great information, Terri. This was so fun. Thank you so much for bringing this topic to the table. Before you go, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with food bloggers?
Terri Gilson: I’m a big fan of Anthony Bordain. May he rest in peace. He said your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park, enjoy the ride. That’s one of my favorite quotes because for me, it really encapsulates not only my life, but my blog. I try to eat healthy most of the time, but I enjoy things in moderation and I have fun with it. That’s why I love it.
Megan Porta: That’s a great one. Love that so much. We will put together a show notes page for you, Terri. So if anyone wants to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/foodmeanderings. So go check that out. Also go check out Terri and her blog. Where else can we find you online?
Terri Gilson: I am on Instagram at Food Meanderings as well and Facebook and Pinterest. So all of the regular social channels.
Megan Porta: Thanks again, Terri for being here and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.
Outro: We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.
💥 Join the free EBT community, where you will connect with food bloggers, gain confidence and clarity as a food blogger so you don’t feel so overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS!
Want to achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible? Stop by Eat Blog Talk to get the details on our Mastermind program. This transformative 12-month experience will help you accomplish more than you would be able to in 5+ years when forging ahead alone.
Click the button below to learn what a mastermind program is, what your commitment is and what Eat Blog Talk’s commitment to you is.
📩 Sign up for FLODESK, the email service provider with intuitive, gorgeous templates and a FLAT MONTHLY RATE (no more rate increases when you acquire subscribers!).