Last year I did a year in review, and so I figured that I may as well make it a bit of a tradition. If you're just here for the recipes, feel free to skip right on over this recap. New recipes are coming soon! 😉
If there's a silver lining to 2020, it's that many people have started cooking more, and others have learned how to cook for the first time. Food blogs in general have seen a lot of growth. If you found me this year, welcome and thank you for following along! And thank you to all my readers who have stuck with me through the years. I really appreciate all your positive comments and kind messages. It really makes me so happy to hear that I've made someone's year just a little better through my recipes.
It goes without saying that this has been a tough year in many ways. And, for me, an interesting one as my first full year of this being my primary job (I started this website as a side gig way back in 2015, and I left my old career in late 2019). My readership and social media following has increased substantially in the past year, which is great, but I guess with the good always comes the bad. 😛 People's frustration has certainly been bubbling over and manifesting in various ways, and it seems like food blogs are easy targets.
One particular incident stands out in my mind. I laugh about it now, but I was actually crying one fateful day in March 2020 (things were escalating quickly and everyone was on edge) when I featured this now notorious Ranch Chicken Casserole on Instagram. It's simple, uses few ingredients, and it was perfect for when stock was low in grocery stores. Or was it?! Many people did not feel that way. Is it the prettiest thing? Heck no. I even admit that in the blog post. People on Instagram weren't AT ALL shy to express just how much they disliked the look of the dish. Some people even announced that they were unfollowing me (why do people feel the need to do that?!). That was my first real experience with internet people en masse directing anger at me, and let's just say that it was eye opening.
Luckily, the good people of the internet have majorly outweighed the bad, but I will forever be careful not to post chicken that looks too anemic. 😀 Or at least I'll try. Oh, and if you have any tips on how I can grow a thicker skin for 2021, please let me know in the comments below. I'm kidding... sort of.
In 2020, readers continued to flock to my other chicken recipes (like my Creamy Garlic Chicken that's been going strong for a couple of years now, and Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo has become a new favorite in 2020). This Ground Beef Casserole was the comfort food that people were looking for.
Some 2020 highlights:
- Salt & Lavender added 147 new blog posts, most of them being brand new recipes, a handful of older recipes were updated/improved enough that I republished them as new (like this refreshing Creamy Cucumber Salad), and a few were recipe roundup posts or info posts like How I Stock My Kitchen.
- This website received over 23 million pageviews.
- I gave the site a little facelift back in the summer to make it more modern. My front page was the old style blog "diary" format, but it's now more in line with current website design best practices and hopefully a bit easier to navigate.
- I did 3 podcast interviews (they're linked in my about me page if you want to listen).
- I finally updated my headshots/did a kitchen photoshoot (that's not my kitchen btw) in early March 2020... just before the you-know-what hit the fan. This was actually my first ever "real" photoshoot (complete with a professional photographer, makeup artist, and some La Marca prosecco for my nerves), and I can tell you that I had a new respect for models after that day haha.
- Started the year at around 160,000 Instagram followers and ended the year with over 280,000. That's a lot of people.
- I took the plunge and learned flash photography halfway through the year. In a nutshell, I used to photograph recipes using daylight, but it's unreliable and can be frustrating when it's not cloudy outside. Flash photography (studio lighting) allows you to control the environment. I'd say my photos have improved/become more consistent, and it's also allowed me to be more flexible (and thus more productive) since I'm not constrained by the weather (especially dark Canadian winters).
- We tried something new and wrote an opinion piece for Flique Editorial about how to survive Thanksgiving 2020 without going crazy during these strange times. The best part for me was having illustrations done for my recipes... that was really fun.
Onwards and upwards:
For 2021 I want to get many more popular favorites on here (think Chicken Parm levels of popularity) with a Salt & Lavender twist but also balance that with some more unique creations that I think you guys will like. I always aim for my recipes to be approachable and relatively inexpensive to make... that is not going to change.
I get a LOT of questions about when a cookbook is coming. 2021 is not the year (I'm sorry!). I am very determined to get as much content on here as reasonably possible, and a cookbook is a huge labor of love that would take me away from that. Never say never, though! I would not rule out doing one someday.
I don't talk about much besides food on here too often, so hopefully you enjoyed this little peek into some of the inner workings of Salt & Lavender. Thank you for following along! If you'd like to see some more behind-the-scenes stuff (ok, it's mostly my cats), follow me on Instagram. Here's to a better 2021!