This month’s spotlight interview is certain to warm both your heart and stomach.  I sat down with super woman, super blogger, and super cook, Marye Audet-White, to learn the backstory of Restless Chipotle’s success.  Her focus is southern food comfort, and Marye’s home state pride shines through the blog in articles like, “Top 10 Texas State Fair Foods That You Can Make at Home.”  The most surprising fact is that Marye home-schooled her eight children (and three grandchildren) over the course of two decades while running a very successful blog.  This interview provides great insider tips into the advantages and challenges of working as a blogger and influencer.  So, brands and influencers seeking sage advice from industry success stories, this one is for you.

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Top 10 Texas State Fair Foods You Can Make at Home

“To me, an influencer has a responsibility to encourage and inspire people to follow their dreams and be the best they can be,” Marye Aude-White


ZJ: What year did you begin your blog and what was the impetus?

MA: I started blogging in 2006. Two of my kids had grown up and left home but often called me with, Hey Mom, how do you make.?I thought a blog with images would give them a little bit of home.

ZJ: You mention your unique selling proposition: “I take hours and try to create simple, doable versions of their recipes. I don’t think that eating at home should be second rate to eating at a restaurant. I think it should be first choice. A restaurant meal should be a blessing for the family cook, not the family diners.”  Has this changed over the years, and what would you say the Restless Chipotle brand’s USP is today?

MA: I think as I have gotten older and lived through a variety of experiences I’ve changed and RC [Restless Chipotle] has changed with me! I still enjoy taking restaurant dishes and breaking them down for my readers, but now I think the recipes I post are more nostalgic and more comfort food oriented. A few years ago I realized that I had an entire collection of vintage and antique cookbooks from the late 1800s through the 1970s that many cooks didnt have access to. Old recipes can’t usually be made without some adjustment because of our “evolved” ingredients so I began to do just that. I think the recipes I post now are things that many of us remember eating at the dinner table at Grandmother’s house.unspecified-3

ZJ:  I read that you began your blog after your job at a media company was terminated.  Can you share a little more about that: what went through your mind, what options you considered, and how you decided to begin a blog?  

MA: When I began blogging in 2006 I was blogging for b5media, a blog network. My blog was called Baking Delights, and I was paid for the recipes and images.  In 2010 the network changed direction, and suddenly all of us were locked out of our blogs without warning! It was frightening because that was a large percentage of my income, although I did have other clients. I started Restless Chipotle so that I could continue doing what I loved but in order to make enough income I took on several more clients so that I was writing 70 articles a month at one point. As you can imagine Restless Chipotle became very part time and didn’t grow much.  I always knew it would eventually be my main source of income and since January of this year, it has been.

ZJ: Who is your primary audience – what are they about, why do you think Restless Chipotle appeals to them?

MA: My primary audience is women from about 35 to 65. Most have children; some have careers, and some don’t.  The thing that pulls all of us together, I think, is a desire for a family oriented lifestyle and wishing that Mayberry RFD was a real place we could pack up our families and move to!

ZJ: Do you consider yourself an influencer, and if so, what does that mean for you- what does that look like in reality?

MA: I think I am.  To me, an influencer has a responsibility to encourage and inspire people to follow their dreams and be the best they can be.  An influencer is first of all an encourager a cheerleader if you will.  As an influencer, my next job is to let my readers know about important products and ways to achieve their goals.

ZJ: The food blogosphere is packed (just like any market).  What do you think has allowed you to make a name for yourself as a food blogger?

MA: I honestly don’t know.  I am incredibly blessed.

ZJ:  Is blogging and influencing your full-time job?  If not, what else do you do? 

MA: Yes it is. I also am the food editor for Texas Living magazine and occasionally write cookbooks for publishers (ghostwritten and in my own name). Mostly I blog and publish my own cookbooks. Bread Bootcamp has been reasonably popular for two years, and I’m getting ready to release an updated version of it in pdf.

ZJ: Do you have a vision for Restless Chipotle in the next 3-5 yrs, and if so, can you share with us what that is?

unspecified-2MA: I am in the process of planning.  Youtube videos, video courses, and more books are definitely in the plan. I am in the process of working out a weekly live stream to answer questions. I think my readers really like the blog overall, so I dont plan on changing it too muchjust allowing it to grow and develop naturally.  Hopefully in 5 years Restless Chipotle will be even MORE Restless Chipotle than it is now.

ZJ: Ok, so I absolutely LOVE your tagline, “channel your inner tart.”  How did you come up with this and what does it mean to you and your fans?

MA: Actually, the tagline has changed to “Southern Comfort Food with a Side of Sass” which maybe is more SEO friendly. The “Channel Your Inner Tart” tagline was actually from the previous blog I ran a contest for readers to come up with a tagline and win an apron. That was the winning tagline. I still love it.

ZJ: What are the biggest challenges you face as a blogger?  As an influencer?

MA: I think my biggest challenge is overcoming my own perfectionism. I get very depressed when I feel like I am not doing the quality work that some of my favorite bloggers are doing. My photography has a long way to go as far as Im concerned. I can get overwhelmed by what I think I should be doing and lose sight of what my goals are.  As an influencer?  As an influencer, I believe that my natural tendency to shyness (yes really!) gets in the way. I can overthink things and get into a tailspin with confidence issues.

ZJ: What are your favorite parts of blogging for a living?  Being a brand influencer?

MA: I enjoy helping people. Having homeschooled for 22 years, I am programmed to teach! I try to share recipes in a way that will help my readers learn a new skill or improve a skill they already have. I hope that the little stories and slices of my life that I share will entertain and encourage my readers in some way. Working at home is definitely high on the list of perks!  Being a brand influencer? Once again its all about my readers. When I am approached by a brand, I consider whether the product is something that will benefit my readers. I love sharing new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new products with them.

ZJ: Can you share a few expert tips for bloggers + influencers who wish to break into the market?  

MA: Be prepared to work. When people find out what I do for a living they often grin and say, Wow, you can make money at that? I should start a blog!”  The truth is that making even a meager living at blogging takes an investment of time. Some bloggers take off quickly and become successful in a year or two, but that is unusual. Most bloggers work at it for years before they can even think about quitting their day jobs. I often put in 80 hour work weeks and during the busy times of the year, I often work 16 and 17 hour days. Learn about SEO and keep up with the changes, take a photography class and continually work on improving your skills, and network with other bloggers in your niche. My biggest mistake was not putting more time into my blog networking when I was working with clients.

ZJ: What is your biggest piece of advice for a solopreneur trying to create his or her own brand?

MA: I have a secret board on Pinterest where I save images that I love. I think building a brand is ongoing I look at the board and ask myself what the images have in common, how do they make me feel? How can I implement them? Restless Chipotle has a fun, kitschy, vintage look to it because thats me. The recipes I post are often inspired by recipes I find in my vintage cookbook collection, and the brand reflects that. To build a brand think about your hobbies, your favorite colors, what makes you happy. By using these things, your brand will reflect you, which is what you want.

ZJ: Favorite Quote?

MA: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time,” Thomas Edison.

ZJ: What do you love doing outside of “work”?

MA: IS there life outside of work? I like binge watching shows on Netflix when I finally take time off. My family is very close-knit and whether were at Six Flags or on a cruise I love spending time with them.

ZJ:  Announcements to share?  
MA: Im currently planning a video series and a new bread book for later this fall.

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Connect with Restless Chipotle’s Marye Audet-White:

 

 

 

 

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