Secrets of a food blogger and Instagram star
Meet 22-year-old Sophie Fisher. She’s a full-time uni student, WF intern and healthy food blogger with more than 108,000 followers on her Insty @coconutandbliss. Her profile is full of decadent (but totally nutritious) treats that will have you salivating after a quick glance (just take a peek at the pics below). Here, Sophie shares her story about how Coconut And Bliss all began and where it’s headed.
“When I was 19, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. The previous year I was doing full-time uni (enrolled in Engineering and Architecture, a course I wasn’t happy in), working four jobs, as well as trying to juggle social events. I was completely depleted of energy. The next year, I decided to make some positive changes in my life. I dropped down to just one job, started a new course at uni (Media and Communications) that I genuinely enjoyed and had a lot more free time. Around then, acai bowls, raw vegan cheesecakes and zucchini noodles were just coming into trend. I was fascinated by it all so I made a conscious decision to make healthy eating a priority.
I was so inspired by all the health food Instagrams out there that one day I decided to create one myself and name it @coconutandbliss. In my spare time, I’d visit incredible health food spots in Sydney, like Earth to Table and Sadhana Kitchen, take a photo and post it. Within just a few weeks, I had a couple hundred followers. I was already getting excited that it was growing. I’ve loved cooking from a young age and experimenting in the kitchen so I decided to make up simple healthy recipes myself and post them too. Around this time, I’d always get inspo from some of my fave foodie’s Instagram pages – Jessica Sepel (@jshealth), Donna Hay (@donnahay), Lorna Jane (@nourishbylornajane) and My New Roots (@mynewroots).
Within three months, I had 1,000 followers. I would occasionally include hashtags but for me, I didn’t see any real benefit behind it apart from a few extra likes. Meanwhile, this way of eating had improved my health beyond belief. I now had energy and felt amazing.
Reaching 10k was so exciting for me – this happened around six months after I started the account. I had a lot of companies contacting me for collaborations and sponsored posts. As my Instagram grew, I was receiving crazy amounts of emails and messages from companies as well as followers asking me questions (and I still do to this day!). It’s never a drag responding to my emails – I love it!
In all honesty, I never, ever expected my Instagram to take off in the way that it has. It simply started off as a hobby, combining my love of cooking, photography and nutrition. I’m so often asked how I have gained my big following but truthfully, there’s no real strategy behind it.
I now have 108k followers. It’s all about dedication and consistency – I post on a daily basis while maintaining a philosophy that remains true to my brand. My recipes are all vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and refined-sugar free which is the type of food that I love the taste of and makes me feel good. A lot of my recipes are vegan which I guess has expanded my following. Although I’ve never claimed to be vegan, I’ve received a fair bit of negativity from vegan accounts over time. If I ever use an egg in my recipes I can always expect nasty comments. I choose to ignore this and post what foods I enjoy.
Creating a new recipe comes naturally to me. I always double and sometimes even triple check a recipe – you can never be too safe! My favourite part of creating a new recipe is styling it and photographing it. I have an entire cupboard full of props and backgrounds that I’ve collected over the years. I use a Canon 5D camera to shoot all my recipes. I had basic background knowledge from doing photography as a subject in high school but I’ve taught myself everything else since then. There are so many aspects to consider like lighting, shutter speed, depth of field and angles. Lighting is always best around 9am and 4pm so I try to do my cooking around these times. I usually edit my photos on Instagram before posting, altering simple aspects such as brightness, contrast and temperature. This stage is super important – it can make or break a photo. I occasionally use VSCO, an editing app, but only use a small amount of filtering – over-edited photos are a big no-no!
The success of Coconut And Bliss has opened doors to some amazing opportunities that I’m so grateful for. I’ve created four ebooks, two of which are collaborations with my best friend and blogger Hannah (@healthsynergy). Each ebook has been more successful than I ever would have dreamed of. It feels so special when people re-create my recipes and tag me on Instagram! All my ebooks have been self published. They are intense, time-consuming projects, but I love working on the design aspects, like the page backgrounds, font and overall layout. A few weeks ago, Hannah and I released a free e-book called #Nicecream which is getting a great response.
Mega mocha brownies anyone???? These are one of my faves 😍💞 Recipe: 1 cup almond meal 3 tbsp coconut oil 1/4 cup coconut nectar 1/3 cup cacao powder 1 tbsp @picspeanutbutter 2 organic eggs or egg replacement if #vegan 1 tsp vanilla bean powder 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt 1/3 cup brewed coffee 100g melted #raw chocolate Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour into a small rectangular baking tin (approx 10 x 20cm). Bake for 10-15 mins or until a skewer just comes out clean. Makes 8 #vegan #healthy #dairyfree #glutenfree #coconutandbliss #sugarfree #paleo #healthyrecipe
Last year, About Life held a book launch, recipe demo and tasting for one of our ebooks The Ultimate Chocolate and Caramel Collection which features over 35 chocolate and caramel recipes. It was a totally new experience for us and we were super nervous! But once the demo began we found ourselves right in our element.
I’ve been featured in Harper’s Bazaar and have had recipes published in some magazines. I’ve also collaborated with some incredible people and brands. I’ve worked with Donna Hay and I have ongoing collaborations with brands that I love, like Pic’s Peanut Butter and Bake Mixes. I’m also an ambassador for The Source Bulkfoods. Hannah and I have worked at the Goodness Me Box markets at the Grounds of Alexandria and food festivals. We even made over 600 raw ‘snickers’ cakes for the recent Taste of Sydney Festival – they were a massive hit with the crowd!
Hannah and I also got to go to Byron Bay to do some fun things with health cafes and brands. I get to attend launch events for new product lines and books which is amazing for networking and and just meeting new people in the industry.
My Instagram has also opened up other avenues beyond health food – I was invited by Merivale to do a shoot at Ivy Pool with Hannah which was super fun and gave us the opportunity to collaborate with some of my favourite jewellery and clothing brands. Over the past year, I have slowly incorporated lifestyle elements to create diversity in my postings. It’s good mixing it up a bit so my followers are exposed to new content.
My Instagram has reached a point that I do make money from it. Yes, I am often paid for posts but this being said, I only ever collaborate with brands that genuinely align with my philosophy. Just because I’m offered money for a post doesn’t mean that I am going to accept it. If I don’t stay true to my brand, my followers will recognise it. People love hearing about health products but only when it’s incorporated organically into a post – not when it seems super staged and promotional and that it’s being forced upon them. That’s not what I’m about. I’m really selective with the brands that I choose to work with and also research before agreeing to anything to ensure we’re a good fit.
Coconut And Bliss is something that I want to continue expanding. My dream is to publish a hard-copy book. I love coming up with new content and creative ideas that no one else has ever thought of. That’s the fun of it. I’m pretty busy right now collaborating with so many incredible brands but I’m hoping to create a new e-book within the next few months. I want to branch out and include a bit more savoury in the next book – I have such a sweet tooth and I find it hard to branch out from making cakes and brownies!”
Click here to check out Sophie’s ebooks.