My Kitchen Escapades founder and food maven Carole Jones talks food, motherhood, money and business
Meet Carole Jones a mother of six, wife, business owner, blogger, woman empowerment enthusiast, and your everyday lady who decided to just go for it. Carole started My Kitchen Escapades as a hobby and getaway from the everyday wear and tear. She did not realize her passion for food would lead her to not only become a business owner but to monetize her blog as well. After seeing the positive feedback from her blogs she decided to take success and not just dream it. Check out her exclusive interview with Beaut&Beast where we discuss meal tips, family, time saving recipes, and much more.
- How did MKE start? When I began MKE back in 2008, it was never with the intent of it becoming a career or source of income. I can still remember the first few weeks of my blog when I would have just a handful of views, all of which I could tie to friends and family based on the geographic regions the views were coming from. Over the next few months, as my views increased I realized I had an audience who not only loved my food, but my stories as well.
- Does your career ever get in the way of motherhood? Over the past 9 years, there has been times of both feast and famine for both the blog and my family. My goal is always to try to find a balance so neither becomes neglected and begins to suffer. I have gotten better at outsourcing responsibilities that don’t specifically require ME. That was a hard step because I tend to be quite the control freak but the more I outsource, the better my family functions as well as my business. It is worth the investment.
- For moms on a budget, what are your favorite under 30-45 minutes meals? The majority of my recipes take under an hour because I don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen! Asking for my favorite recipe is just as bad as asking me which of my 6 kids is my favorite. They each fulfill a different role in my life and I love them all for who they are. I can share with you my top 10 recipes since 2008 and let you decide which one rings home for you! (CLICK HERE)
- What are some ways you can monetize blogging? Outside of the standard advertising and affiliates on your blog, monetizing is centered around recognizing yourself as an expert in your voice and focus. For me, it is both food and blogging. Outside of advertising, I work with brands for paid content, consult with new bloggers, and facilitate a food based leadership development program for different companies. Your blog becomes the expert credentials you need to expand your business as you begin to think outside of the blog box.
- What would you say are the top 3 DO's and DO NOT's when your trying to build your blog and brand? THE DO’s 1. Decide what the most important aspects of the blog you want to grow are and then focus most of your time there. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all the different management responsibilities and options there are to a blogger. Focus on a few, master them, then move on. 2. Respond to every interaction with your readers, whether on the blog or on social media. If they know you are there and listening, they become fiercely loyal. 3. Know your limits and look to others when you have reached your limit. I am not a tech savvy blogger but I decided I was going to take care of a tech problem I was having in 2016. I ended up blocking Google search engines for three months by taking care of my own problem. It killed my SEO rankings and I am still working to recover from that mistake. THE DO NOT's 1. Do not compare yourself to any other blogger. Learn from them. Be inspired by them but do not compare yourself to them. If you are authentic, your audience will find you. It takes TIME. 2. Don’t be shy about reaching out to other bloggers or brands to build relationships with them. Who cares if they don’t respond or say no? You don’t need every brand or blogger in your network, just the ones who are a great fit for you. 3. Don’t be ashamed of your path to where you are today. I look back at my early work and literally cringe at my photos. A few years ago, I was tempted to re-shoot all my old photos but decided against it. They are part of my journey and my story. Getting rid of those old, embarrassing posts would not be my authentic voice.
- Six kids. That seems surreal now a days, how do you maintain a level head when juggling your professional roles with motherhood? Honestly, it isn’t as level as I wish it were! I am finally to the stage that all my kids are in school during the day so that has helped tremendously with my work schedule. I also do a lot of work either before they get up in the morning or after they have been tucked in at night….for the 37th time.
- What are some child friendly recipes that a mom can cook with her kids? I have mentioned my love of outsourcing and my favorite people to hire are my own children and my favorite job to hire out is the making of dinner every night. (Yes, that is ironic coming from a food blogger!) From a young age, I have taught my kids how to cook and provide for themselves in the kitchen, both girls and boys. You start with something simple, using ingredients your child loves and build from there. I have a series on my blog called Kids in the Kitchen where you can check out a few simple recipes to try with your own kiddos. (CLICK HERE)
- What are some of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome transitioning from Carole the stay at home mom to Carole the business owner and panelist at BlogHER 2017? There is only one answer to this question. I had to believe that I am good at what I do, something I still struggle with at times when I am feeling overwhelmed or intimidated. I have to own my success and not dismiss compliments and opportunities that come my way because of it.
- You've made a business out of what you once considered a simple stress reliever. Can you give any advice to those tittering on the edge of turning a hobby into a business? The older I get, the more willing I am to just jump off that cliff and go for it. I often wish I had the confidence and bravery at 30 that I do now at 45. For example, I have always loved group exercise classes since I was a teenager but it wasn’t until two years ago that I was gutsy enough to become a certified Les Mills instructor. Let me tell you, I have so much more fun in front of that class with my barbell or spin bike than I ever did as a participant. We spend too much time of our lives worried about failure. Go for it and if it flops, who cares?!?
- Any favorite kid approved cookbooks or cooking guides? I’ve not had anything but bad experience with kid cookbooks. One of my daughters has always loved cooking and cookbooks, but the recipes in those cookbooks are 99% nasty disasters. If you want your kids to get in the kitchen, pull out your favorite cookbook, recipe or food blog and walk them through those recipes together. A cute cookbook won’t get your kids in the kitchen. Spending time with Mom or Dad in the kitchen making food they already love will create a love of cooking in their hearts.
- When readers go on MKE what experience do you want them to have? Why is this important to you? I want MKE readers to be inspired not intimidated by what they find, either in the recipes or the content. I consider myself a fairly simple person who enjoys the basics of life without the need of a lot of fluff and frill. I hope that comes across in both the food I share and the personal aspects as well. Perfection does not exist in daily life, so it shouldn’t exist on my blog or my social media presence.