Wow. What a night!
On 21 September 2017 the world of health and fitness blogging gathered together to celebrate the best of the bunch with 12 awards, presented by the Health Bloggers Community and award co-founders That Protein.
I was absolutely honoured to be awarded Best Free From & Illness Recovery blog 2017. The whole experience has really made me reflect on my place in the blogging world over one year on from starting The Flourishing Pantry.
Here are a few of my thoughts together with a mixture of professional photos and a few snaps from my phone (hence the variable quality!):
1. I have met incredible people through blogging
Hearing my blog announced as a winner and walking up to collect my award in a room full of people that 12 months ago would have been total strangers to me is a very odd feeling indeed.
Joining the Health Bloggers Community last year felt like a crazy step. Me? A ‘health blogger’? What does that even mean!? But through the community and my Instagram account I have met some amazing people who have encouraged me to continue and grow what I started with my blog to where it is today.
I feel like the community has added another layer of amazing people to my life with whom I can share the highs and lows of this incredible ‘virtual’ experience with.
People talk a lot in the health world about surrounding yourself with a supportive tribe. I know some people really struggle with whether their family and friends get behind their online endeavours. If that’s you then I highly recommend you have a read of Sarah Akwisombe’s honest piece Why Your Friends and Family Don’t Care About Your Blog over on the No Bull Blog School site.
However I am very lucky that my family and friends of many years have been incredibly supportive and positive, if not slightly confused (!) at my new pursuit starting The Pantry.
Being able to go to the awards ceremony with my boyfriend and receive texts of amazement and congratulations from friends and family was just as important as the room of smiley new friends I looked back onto when I picked up my award. Thank you to all of you!
2. The Health Bloggers Community is an amazing support network and I hope to help expand that
Being at an event like the HBC Awards has made me realise what the talented and super hard working Fab Giovanetti’s mission is.
There can be some really disparaging talk about bloggers vs. other writers and reviewers, but Fab and the HBC genuinely supports bloggers for all the good they can add to the world of health and wellness.
Teaming bloggers up with exciting brands who are open to this new way of marketing and promoting their products is really empowering. It’s massive kudos to Fab and the HBC team that the community thrives and attracts global membership and passionate producers and entrepreneurs to connect with it.
Having moved to Dublin recently and without a job as we all know (!) I’ve been thinking seriously about how I can give back and make HBC part of what I do in my everyday life. Watch this space Dublin, but I think it’s about time we got some more of the regular HBC event action that I’ve loved being part of in London. You heard it here first!
3. Follower numbers don’t mean everything
It’s very easy in a world that seems caught up in figures and rankings to think that follower numbers are the most important criteria when it comes to looking at bloggers and online influencers.
But receiving my award with ‘micro-blogger’ influencer number goes to prove that numbers aren’t everything. Staying true to a consistent blogging schedule, writing what I’m passionate about and interested in (and what I want to eat of course!) and slowly slowly improving my photography and social media skills have paid off and this award gives me the drive to keep building on that.
4. In some ways I’ve never felt less like a blogger
Having left my full-time job at the end of July I am still struggling to give myself a title or know the exact direction for the future; how I will use the blog to launch the next part of my working life.
With a 10 year career in a different field and an identity formed around the role I played and the company I worked for (you can read more about it here) it’s a truly alien concept to step into a world where you don’t have those titles to hold on to.
Carla Biesinger of @stomachhalfempty recently sent her monthly email with this paragraph which summarised exactly where my head is at right now:
“I think the life of an entrepreneur is best described as a constant roller coaster: excitement and extreme happiness are quickly followed by self-doubt, worry, and fear that keep you up at night thinking: Am I REALLY cut out for this? What if I can't make this work? What if I FAIL?”
Entrepreneur? Blogger? Recipe developer? Influencer? I’m still working on my ‘lift pitch’ and figuring out what I’m calling myself. But this award has given me a massive confidence boost which I'm so grateful to HBC, the judges and all of you for.
Knowing that what you are doing tapping away on your computer at home is appreciated and now celebrated is really encouraging.
5. Health comes in all shapes and sizes and means different things to each of us
Say “blogger” to the man on the street and ask them to describe what they’d expect. Beautiful? Slender? Toned from a rigorous gym routine? Fashion conscious? Amazing life-changing story that has endeared them to millions?
It is hard, and sometimes I have to confess impossible, to stop yourself making comparisons to other people in an online world. I think naturally that is prevalent in the world of health blogging where content creators are by the very nature of their field focused on feeling great and being body confident.
One of the comments I received on Instagram from a follower when I posted about the award was this:
“Amazing work @theflourishingpantry you should be so proud of everything you've achieved and all the difference you continue to make in the world" @the_wholehealth_doctor
It’s a funny old place to be in and to think that's me on the receiving end of a comment like that after just over a year.
But with the award sitting proudly on my desk I need to get used to that feeling that I'm making a difference.
The next few months for me are going to be about refocusing what the blog is for and what I'm going to do with it as the platform for the future. Knowing I'm considered "up there" with the other amazing and inspiring bloggers at the awards that night make me more motivated than ever to achieve.
A massive thank you once again to all of you who voted for me in the first round and for all your continuing support. It means a great deal and I love continuing to blog with you guys there to share things with and get feedback from.
Read a few others accounts of the HBC Awards from other lovelies that were there: