Location: Tampa, FL
Blog: An Appealing Plan
Specialty / focus: Seasonally inspired recipes + gatherings.
When and why did you start your blog?
I started blogging in 2011 more as a personal diary and a place to showcase my work with private clients. It stayed that way for a few years until around the beginning of 2014 when I started on the journey of writing and publishing my first book, An Appealing Plan – A Year of Everyday Celebrations, at that time I began looking at my blog completely differently. I realized that I needed to look at my brand, as a whole, to ensure my message was clear. Since then, it has started to become a business all on its own.
You’re quite the food and lifestyle maven! What came first…the cooking or event design/planning?
Well, thank you!! Food service is in my blood – I worked in many restaurants growing up and eventually moved into event planning and design so, I would have to say that although I have always been a passionate home cook, it is the love of the gathering that excites me the most. I feel the ability to create an atmosphere, on a large scale or at an intimate table, where people can gather, connect and make memories with friends and loved ones, is one of my greatest gifts.
How would you describe your cooking style / food philosophy?
I like recipes that don’t have too many steps or fancy ingredients that don’t intimidate the readers, or guests for that matter. Food is the great connector of people – “lets grab a drink”, “want to meet for a bite”, “come on over for dinner”- it’s important that people feel comfortable trying my recipes. Like I said, I want people to gather and connect, if they feel intimidated they will just head to a restaurant.
How many hours a day do you spend on your blog? What does your work include?
That’s a great question but a tough one for me to answer because I don’t really see a separation in my life, blog or brand. They are all connected for me, each one inspiring the other – my daily life might inspire a blog post or a blog post might inspire a gathering of friends to help eat the tested recipe. I still work with private clients and that can take up a significant amount of time depending on the project.
I am finally sticking to an editorial calendar which requires me to stay on track with creating content – this has really helped me plan ahead as to the needs of my blog as well as what content I need to create for my partners and publication submissions. I am not sure why it took me so long to incorporate this into my life (perhaps my creative side didn’t want to give in…) but it has been a game changer and actually allows me to be more creative in the long run.
What does my work include… dreaming up tablescapes + recipes, shopping for supplies and that perfect napkin, photo-shoots, editing, writing, following up with partners, pitching new ideas, cleaning up from said photo-shoots, scouting for new locations, writing a proposal for book #2, social media, newsletters and on and on.
Do you do your own photography? If yes, what equipment do you use? If no, who is the photographer?
Yes and no. For my book, I worked with a photographer but I do all the photography on the site. I have always loved taking pictures so this is an easy piece of the puzzle for me but sometimes you need another person so you can actually be in the images!
As far as tech goes: I use a mixture of my iphone and a Nikon D70 – its’s actually a friend’s and totally old school, but I felt I wanted to improve my skills before I could justify upgrading to a full DSL, which I need for shooting videos as well. I always try to use natural light when possible, however, I have a decent soft light box with a daylight bulb on a tripod if I end up shooting later in the day or if we are having one of our famous Florida summer storms. Lighting is so important.
Do you have any help with your work?
Day in and out it is pretty much 100% me but occasionally I am able to recruit my husband or friend as a hand model or photographer. For bigger projects such as my book I have worked with a copy editor and a photographer which was an amazing luxury – I got totally spoiled! I have also outsourced video transcription projects to Fiverr and Rev.co
I still do all my own website work, accounting and social media which is incredibly time consuming but I feel it’s an important part of learning your business from the ground up. It is a goal in the next few months to have a part-time VA to handle more brand outreach and ongoing PR – know anyone??
What are some of the best and worst things about your job?
HA! Today was a good day so the list might be skewed a bit…. Ultimately, I actually enjoy most of my work. One of the best aspects is working with, meeting and being a part of a supportive foodie community. They are THE best people in the world. My other favorite part is being able to work with gorgeous plates, glassware and tableware – it’s my total passion and now people pay me to do it!
What are some favorite party venues in your area?
Favorite party venue, a private home. Period. I am a big believer that we are coming back to entertaining at home more, lingering at our own tables long into the night and I couldn’t be happier to see a return of this trend. I hope that my work continues to inspire and encourage others to do the same.
If you could design a party anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I have dreams of large dinner parties overlooking a tree nursery with white tablecloths blowing in the breeze on a farm table set with white plates and clear wine glasses. I’m not sure where it is yet but I see it in my dreams.
Congratulations on being featured on eHow.com, ABC news, and other notable publications! How did the opportunity present itself to you and what is your advice to folks who would like some media exposure?
Working with the media is a great opportunity to grow your brand, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had. For me they have come through two methods – personal connections and out-reach. Personal connections open doors that may otherwise be locked, but an important piece of advice on this – do not force it, sure you can let others know you are interested in working with so-and-so but let the actual opportunity develop naturally, they are the best fit and usually the longest lasting.
Regarding outreach, this is a constant process and never ending. The main advice I would give is focus on creating quality content and understand what the media outlets are looking for, they are always looking for well-timed quality stories.
What is your favorite healthy snack to eat?
My favorite snack is cheese – any kind at any time.
What’s your latest food discovery?
My latest food discovery just came to me last week! The galette and it will be your new favorite as well. By definition a galette is –
1: a flat round cake of pastry often topped with fruit
2: a food prepared and served in the shape of a flat round cake
Basically, it is a free form pie – the pie dough recipe is the same but the overall feel is much more rustic and creative, just my style. I started by making a Nectarine Galette with Thyme and Gruyere and am totally looking forward to seeing what other combinations I can come up with.
What are some easy no-fail hor d’oeuvres to serve at a party?
When I am entertaining, I always put out a fantastic cheese and charcuterie platter and it is always a hit. For me, it is ideal because you can buy everything ahead of time so it takes almost no time to prepare prior to the gathering and the best part, most cheese taste better when brought up to room temperature for 30 – 60 minutes before serving anyway. The perfect amount of time to quickly finish getting ready, light the candles and enjoy a glass of wine before the first guest arrives. That’s what we call “an appealing plan” in my house.
What is your general rule of thumb on reviewing products? Do you ever post negative reviews or stick to positive ones?
Overall the products must be in line with my brand and make sense to my readers lives, I also try to keep everything in my life positive, including my blogs, so if a product has major flaws I will let the brand know before posting – this way they have the opportunity to correct it.
What are you always looking to feature in your blog?
How important is it for food bloggers to be on different social media platforms? Which one seems to give you the most activity?
Social media is here to stay, no doubt about it. Being on various platforms is an absolute must. But as a smart entrepreneur once said “You can’t be good at everything, but you can be great at some things”, this is the way with social media – you need to pick a few, or even one, focus on the ones that (in this order) you feel the most comfortable on and get the best response from.
Currently the platforms I am most active on are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Yummly and now Periscope. I wish I had the bandwidth to be everywhere but until there are 36 hours in a day I have to be picky. I watch my analytics and adjust my platforms if I have seen a strong trend of referrals from a different source, but only after an extended period of time with higher results. I get traffic from Facebook + Pinterest but Twitter is such fun and I am excited to see how Periscope fits into the mix.
Did you go to culinary or design school? If yes, which ones?
Get ready for this. I went to the University of Delaware for Finance and Economics and enjoyed every minute of it. Well maybe not the finite math part of it and perhaps looking back I did enjoy my electives like Art History and Hospitality-101 just a bit more.
But, the lesson here is that in life you will pivot, you will go down one path then come to a fork in the road and perhaps go down another seemingly unrelated path – for me it was interviewing out of college and realizing that the thought of wearing a blue suit to a bank every day for work gave me hives – and at some point you will start to see that all those electives and extracurricular activities will make sense. It’s all a journey and real life is the best university in the world.
Do you have a book? If yes, tell us about it!
I do! I thought you would never ask! In 2014 I wrote and self-published my first book, An Appealing Plan – A Year of Everyday Celebrations, after launching and over funding a successful Kickstarter campaign, it was a life-long dream come true. Currently, I am writing a proposal for my second book and look forward to going through the process of working with a traditional publishing house as well as launching an e-book in the next year.
What are 3 things you’d like the world to know about Krayl?
- I am happiest when I am in nature.
- I have a dish closet to store my many sets of dishes, but they don’t all fit.
- I don’t mind it when people compare me to Martha.
What are your goals as a food / lifestyle blogger and would be the ultimate accomplishment for you?
My goals are to continue inspiring others to celebrate everyday – please share yours with me by using #CelebrateEveryday. My ultimate accomplishment… I see many more books in my future and in a perfect world, a series of lifestyle product lines inspired by the season and nature for your home, garden and of course your gatherings.
Phew… It is exhausting just thinking about all the things I want to accomplish but looking at the next year I would say for sure at least one more book, more brand partnerships and pursuing more media opportunities just to name a few. And hopefully a few chickens and goats of my own.
Learn more about Food Blogger Krayl Funch on her Chef’s Roll profile HERE.
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