Fiona Dillon, food blogger, radio presenter, columnist and author, is our second featured speaker for our Follow The Recipe: Blogging and Online Marketing for Foodies event on 23rd July. Fiona recently joined forces with Glenisk when publishing her series of Freddy Buttons books for children and she’s going to tell us a little bit about her journey to becoming a published author today.
- Fiona, what was your background before you turned to growing vegetables, broadcasting and using social media?
I came from the corporate world – having constructed a 4star hotel and golf course with my husband, my life was as far removed from growing vegetables as you can imagine. It was all suits, meetings and working ridiculously long hours – quite difficult with four children.
- What did social media help you achieve up to 2014?
My first book Food From An Irish Garden was published in 2013. I was fortunate to have been approached to write the book, so I have no experience of those endless rejections! I have no doubt that being a recognised blogger with a following on social media was one of the main reasons why I was approached. Blogging and sharing my blog posts on social media had already got me a stream of work writing for magazines as well as local radio slots before my first book came out.
- How did your concept of Freddy Buttons come about and how influential was social media in bringing it to fruition?
I actually got the idea for a name from my mother who loves to knit little teddies (called Teddy Buttons) for children. Feedback told me the name Teddy wasn’t grown-up enough, and that’s how Freddy came about. My experience of growing my own food since 2009 has not only been a huge life lesson for me, but also for my children. I am most proud of the fact that I was able to teach all of my children about food provenance and they have a healthy respect for the food that we eat. After Food from an Irish Garden was published, I just knew I wanted to write something for children so I could share that food knowledge on a wider scale. Once I announced the plan to write these books, social media quickly confirmed that I was doing the right thing and then there’s nothing better than social media for spreading a message.
- I know you and Emma of Glenisk will be talking about your collaboration at the event but perhaps tell us a little bit about how it came about. How did the collaboration affect the production of Freddy Buttons?
Any publisher or literary agent will tell you that “Children’s Books” is the hardest market to break into. For my plan to succeed and if I was to reach children all over the country, I needed the help of a big organisation. I had got to know Emma and Glenisk through my blogging and subsequently social media, and I thought they would be a great fit with my food messages. I sent an email, and the rest as they say, is history…
- I guess we will have to wait until the 23rd to hear more about the process. I have to say it sounds hugely exciting as well as a rollercoaster journey, I look forward to finding out more. To end with, can you give us a blogging tip – something that you find really works for you and perhaps other people don’t know about?
Stop fixating on the number of views/visitors your site has. I really believe that a small amount of the right readers is far more valuable than thousands of the wrong readers. I blog regularly and I am honest and open. I used to worry when my fellow bloggers were constantly raving about the amount of “hits” they had (talk about feeling inadequate!). Nowadays, they can rave away about “hits” while I earn a living now because of my blog. Everywhere I go people know me and when they stop to talk to me, it may be because they’ve heard me on the radio or read my blog/books, but most of the time, they’ve just been watching me on Social Media – how powerful a tool is that!
There you go. If you would like to come along to our evening Follow the Recipe conference and learn about how a collaboration with a suitable business (and social media) can help your dream come true do book your place now.