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Blogging YEAR 4 and 2020

I have 4 years in this game and I honestly can’t believe it. I’m not a rookie anymore and maybe this makes me an old head! 

person standing in kitchen with a bowl of food

I love to reflect on each year of blogging. This year it took me 3 months to finally make the time to write the post! But here goes. 2020 was a challenging year, but I also found it to be one of the transformative. 

2020 will go down as one of the worst years for many people. I personally spent the year continuing to move. I continued to move through uncertainty and adversity because I truly don’t know any other way.

When I list the notable events of the year: Global Pandemic, Black Lives Matter Protests, The Sale of My Home, and The Purchase of a New Home….I can’t believe I encountered all of these events in the same year.

2020 was the longest year that truly flew by. It will be one for the ages.

I’m writing this post on International Women’s Day 2021. So I will start there for 2020. I recall the day vividly.

White Food Bloggers

On International Women’s Day a story broke about white women who planned to boycott Honey Pot, a Black owned business. A Target ad had run featuring the owner and showcasing her products that were new to the Target shelves.

In the ad she said, “The reason why it’s so important for Honey Pot to do well is so that the next Black girl that comes up with a great idea, she can have a better opportunity,” Dixon said at the end of the ad. “That means a lot to me.”

You can watch the ad here.

White women were outraged. Many left negative one-star reviews for the company and said it was racist, it discriminated against whites, that skin color shouldn’t matter, and that the ad was inappropriate.

Isn’t it just like some white women to make something ABOUT THEM?

I shared the story along with my disdain for this behavior on my Instagram Stories. This was early March (again INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY), so I was still going to a local gym studio for my daily workouts. I shared the story on my way to the gym.

When I left the gym I had tons of DMs, mostly from white women who couldn’t believe these other white women. Some made really great statements. Some made statements they thought were ok, but needed some education.

Some were saying they supported the statement and that all women need more opportunities. This is similar to saying “All lives matter,” in response to “Black Lives Matter.”

Black women getting more access to opportunities has nothing to do with white women. PERIODT!

I made this clear on my Stories and the white women understood. Later that night while reflecting on the day, I got angry. I was angry because I had received TONS of messages from white women who wanted to support this issue.

I did not receive a single message from a white woman food blogger, my peers, my coworkers about this. AND THEY WATCHED THE STORIES. (You know I checked). So I called them out. This was the first of many times I have called out white women in the food world who I believe need to do better.

I did however receive a message from a white male blogger expressing his disdain. That struck a cord. It just cemented how often white women just continue on business as usual thanks to that privilege of theirs.

A GLOBAL PANDEMIC

After weeks of obsessing over the news and rumors of what would happen, the world stopped. On March 11, 2020 a worldwide pandemic was declared and later non-essential businesses were shut down. I actually still get goosebumps when I think about that day.

If you had been following me on Instagram at that time, I had been posting every piece of information I learned via news outlets on Twitter for weeks. There had been rumors that the NCAA Tournament would be cancelled, talks of “lockdowns,” and more.

I recall the day I posted about the possibility there would be no March Madness this year, people thought I was CRAZY. I told folks to get those emergency funds ready! What if you can’t work? Are you prepared? Again, FOLKS THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY.

What I didn’t know, is that there was no time to prepare anyhow. Life came at us fast! The day of the pandemic announcement, I was having a normal day. I already work from home, so I started my day with a Peloton workout, then I worked, and I decided to to go for another ride on my Peloton bike.

I did a 30-minute ride and when it was over, I learned shit had hit the fan. The NBA announced it was suspending the season, Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus after making fun of it and touching several microphones, and even Tom Hanks caught the Rona!

I knew we were in for trouble. I planned to go to Costco the next day and stock up on food. I didn’t even consider toilet paper! I shop at Costco regularly for it, so I knew I would be stocked for several weeks. (I thought this pandemic would only last several weeks. We all did).

The next morning I was the first person parked at Costco. I arrived an hour early and I brought my laptop so I could work. 30 minutes later a crowd started to form. I got out of my car and got in line. We were all unmasked. There was no mask mandate at this time.

photo of Costco outdoors

I was surrounded mostly by senior citizens, which was typical for most Costco weekday mornings. It was Thursday. Most people were still at work because the shutdown hadn’t been announced. When Costco opened those garage-style doors, those senior citizens took off running.

I WAS BAFFLED.

So what did I do? I ran, too! I came for food, but I followed them. Where were they headed? For toilet paper and paper towels.

There were none. I was foolish to think Costco would be immune to the outages. They weren’t. My anxiety grew and I loaded up on fresh meat and frozen vegetables. Thank God I purchased a deep freezer in the summer of 2019.

I left Costco and went to Trader Joe’s. I loaded up on dry goods and tons of wine. I came home and we all know how the rest of the story goes.

I pretty much never left….for a year.

How the Pandemic Affected Business

At first, everyone panicked. We assumed display ad revenue would tank. For several weeks it did. I was pretty calm during that time. I have an emergency fund and cushy savings. I knew I could ride out any storm, if there was one.

A couple of weeks after the shutdown announcement, traffic to my site began to soar. More people were cooking and more folks were looking for easy recipes. The increased traffic cancelled out any lost earnings for the lower ad spend.

I decided to use this as a time to nurture my audience. I focused on creating and highlighting easy recipes that can be made with pantry staples. I cooked on my IG Stories pretty much every day. I was actually really enjoying myself.

cajun shrimp pasta with low carb pasta in a cast iron skillet

Because I had more time on my hands I feel like the quality of my work improved. I focused more on making sure a novice can make my recipe from start to finish without any questions. I triple checked the tips I provide in every recipe. I take a look at the instructions with fresh eyes and ask myself, “Can someone make this if they don’t know basic things like how to boil water?”

Fun fact, the pandemic taught me many people do not know how to do simple tasks, like boil water and boil eggs.

I answered tons of questions. Grocery stores were out of just about everything. Everyone wanted substitutes and alternatives and again…many couldn’t do simple things like boil water!

It was the best of times and the worst of times. It was very difficult to manage the stress of hundreds of people asking questions. It was also an important role to take on. More eyes were on my work. I had to go hard or go home (where I stayed 24/7 anyway!).

During a time when many small businesses suffered, I found it to be my best year, yet. That’s a very bittersweet pill to swallow.

People Finally Learned Air Fryers Are The Shit

I had been air frying for 3 years. I was in the game when people AGAIN, THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY! No one was really using an air fryer at that time, but I knew they were the shit and I knew I had to master them. I love fried food. I gave up frying food at home because the smell it would leave in the house and the damage it would do to my waistline.

air fryer chick-fil-a chicken sandwich in a bowl with pickles

So the moment I learned about them I was sold. In 2019, air fryer interest gained some speed, but nothing like 2020. It was like everyone woke up and said we are stuck at home and we need an air fryer.

I knew something was up when people I know personally started air frying. I was thrilled about the increased interest, but of course overwhelmed. Lots of new air fryer owners meant lots of faces with questions.

I created a couple of guides to assist, How to Use an Air Fryer and How to Clean an Air Fryer. These answer the top questions I get all of the time.

More people bought my cookbook, The Super Easy Air Fryer Cookbook!

By 2021, cookbook sales reached a huge milestone. Answering all of those questions was 100% WORTH IT.

person holding air fryer cookbook

George Floyd and Black Lives Matter

The murder of George Floyd broke me. On top of everything we were dealing with concerning The Rona, another Black man was killed in broad daylight and by a white man.

I was tired. I was pissed. I was broken.

The shutdown provided an opportunity for folks to finally open their eyes and see what is going on in this world. And many still have their eyes shut, so I say that with a grain of salt.

The Black Lives Matter protests surrounding George Floyd felt different than all of the others. Because yes, this was not our first time marching and it won’t be our last.

person sitting in a chair with a cup of tea

People were calling out racist behavior and inaction left and right! I was among them because I’m tired. Just like the incident on International Women’s Day, I demanded my white counterparts do better.

I’m sick of the “Just be kind,” “life is candy and rainbows” mentality. I’m sick of white women clinging to their excuses of wanting to make their businesses and social media “a safe place.” What a privilege. It must be nice to carry on, business as usual, when Black people are lying dead in the streets at the hands of white people.

People were called out. Some have done better. Some have not. That’s life.

Blogger Friends

At the top of the year, I started participating in virtual meetings with a handful of like-minded Black bloggers. When the pandemic hit, we started to meet weekly and we still do. I’m thankful for them and I look forward to our chats.

I didn’t realize how much I needed this. No one else in my personal life understands my work. Not fully. No one really understands what goes into the work we create. We understand.

It was also really nice to have this circle of women during the height of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. I really can’t imagine how that time would have gone for me if I didn’t have this group of friends.

New House

In 2019 I decided I wanted to sell my house and buy new one. I wanted a new house mostly because I needed an open kitchen and I needed more natural light. My previous kitchen was closed off and dark. It was impossible to film talking videos in it.

When the pandemic hit, I assumed that if I were to move, I could probably purchase a new house at a steal. I was WRONG. Though the economy was entering recession territory, the demand for homes was through the roof. The pandemic gave people a reason to look at their current situations and homes. Many realized they needed more space, better space, etc.

In Kansas City, the average time on the market was 5 days. Homes were selling within 5 days. I was shocked! I quickly changed my plan from trying to find a steal to trying to find something that met my requirements, which really was just to find something with tons of natural light and an open kitchen.

person sitting at a table with a document

In addition to finding something new, I had the home I was living in to sell. The home values in my neighborhood had increased quite a bit, so I was looking forward to pocketing the proceeds from the sale.

But the entire process was a nightmare. I had obstacles with both transactions, both the buy and the sale. Without boring you with details, I experienced multiple issues with work performed by contractors, all negligence on their part. The contractors had to come back to the homes multiple times to fix issues THEY RAISED.

Hello ANXIETY! I was already anxious because of the pandemic. I had to interact with contractors repeatedly (masked of course), but I HATED IT. I didn’t want close contact with strangers.

person holding wine in a kitchen

If you’ve ever purchased a home you know timing is everything. I had issues that had to be ironed out right before closing (I’m talking hours) for both transactions. For both the buy and sell, I was dealing with stress and anxiety until I finally got to sign the papers to close the deals.

Of course in hindsight it was all worth it. I love my new home, the kitchen, and of course the home gym I created in the basement.

person standing in front of house with a sign
outdoor patio furniture

My Team

I can’t do this alone. I have a team of wonderful women who help with Stay Snatched. In early 2020, I had to fire my general assistant for the same reasons I fired the previous one, she simply would not do the work. She would miss deadlines and provide excuses. This went on for a month or two until I figured out who I could replace her with.

I replaced her with one of my Instagram followers. I couldn’t be happier. I’m writing this a year after hiring her and we are still going strong. Earlier I mentioned how obsessed I was with the news surrounding the pandemic and specifically the NCAA Tournament.

While posting about this, my now assistant and I exchanged messages about it. Once the shutdown happened she informed me she was furloughed, just in general conversation. A light bulb went off for me.

I listen to lots of podcasts and have heard many success stories regarding people who hire someone who’s already a fan of the work. She was already familiar with my recipes, my style of cooking, my niche focus, and she knows my voice and personality from watching my Stories each day. It’s been a great fit.

She handles Facebook Page scheduling, manages my Facebook Groups, Pinterest image creation and some scheduling, email newsletter drafts, and random ad hoc projects. When I tell you she’s A LIFESAVER.

I’ve had a video editor since 2019. SHE’S BOMB. When I first brought her on, it was to do 1 video per week and I would edit the other 1-2 videos. Over the years that has evolved and she edits pretty much every video. SHE’S BETTER AT IT THAN ME and she’s fast.

I also have someone who does only Pinterest scheduling and Pinterest strategy.

Having a team has allowed me to scale and grow my business. I’m down to outsource anything that does not require my expertise.

Vacation

I’m not sure if I know what that word means anymore thanks to the pandemic! My last official vacation was January 2020 in Costa Rica. Every January, I plan a trip to escape the winter cold of Kansas City. I was gone for over a week and it was fabulous.

My last time on an airplane was February of 2020, to attend the Chiefs SuperBowl. Spoiler alert, WE WON! I had an incredible time, all while having no clue this would be my last trip before the pandemic hit.

person at Superbowl in the crowd

I do recall the Coronavirus being a notable thing at the time. When I boarded my flight to Miami for the SuperBowl, I saw a couple of people in masks. I remember feeling like I should have a mask! Even though, at the time the media and officials were saying the masks were unnecessary. (My goodness, we have come so far!)

I did my normal wipe down of my seat and the tray table on the plane with disinfectant wipes. This time, no one glared at me. They finally understood.

I didn’t travel again in 2020. I did take 5-6 weeks off over the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holiday season. I didn’t create any new recipes. I continued to post to my Instagram feed, but most posts had been scheduled in advance. I posted to Stories, but those are natural for me and often don’t feel like work.

It was nice, but it wasn’t a vacation.

What I Would Have Done Differently

I had to go review my Goals Book for this one to see what I wrote down for what I learned during 2020. The one thing I wrote that was business related was that people will always try to copy your ideas and work. There isn’t really anything I can do differently to prevent this, but I move differently as result.

I also understand that people can steal the idea, but they will never deliver it with my sauce.

Major Wins

I’m still the same ole me, yall. Every time I write these posts I highlight how proud I am that I remain true. I can’t be anything, but real. My authenticity is what draws many to me and it likely repels just as many.

I will always be a direct, no-shit-taking woman who loves hip hop music, mimosas, and curse words. I ain’t going nowhere. After spending most of my life code-switching and walking on eggshells to protect the comparison traps of others, I’m done with that shit. I’m never going back.

The largest win for 2020 was the growth of my business. Having more eyes on my work led to a larger audience, more long-term partnership opportunities, and an improvement in my mental health. I love Stay Snatched like it’s my child. Watching this business grow and achieve success has provided so much for my soul.

Future Plans

I just want to keep winning. I want to stay on pace with the current momentum I have. I don’t feel pressured to create new things or chase after “the next big thing.” I want to keep doing what I know works. I’m ready for Year 5.

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Shauna

Saturday 13th of March 2021

I enjoyed reading your story, I pray your blog continue to grow. I’m officially team Peloton since last week and so exited to get into you like you.

Also, I was wondering if you could provide some tips on starting blog and how you do your overhead videos. I’m hoping to start one, with my niche being Jamaican food. But the way my kitchen is set up, I have no clue on doing the overhead videos. One thing I love about your blog, is that the recipe videos are edited down to 2-3 minutes. It makes it so much easier for viewing purposes.

staysnatched

Sunday 14th of March 2021

Thank you! I learned using google and Youtube.

Dana

Saturday 13th of March 2021

I love this! I'm so proud of your success with the blog! You inspire me. Keep up the good work.

staysnatched

Saturday 13th of March 2021

Thank you!

Anne D

Friday 12th of March 2021

Thank you for sharing! I love reading your recaps. Such a crazy year! Your recipes certainly helped make this past year more bearable. I was making your peanut butter cookies weekly at the beginning quarantine and I make your chicken salad 2-3 times a month. I am loving your take out inspired recipes now! Oh, and thank you for sharing your Butcher Box promo - I got in a few weeks before lock down and that was a savior in the first few months! You are awesome and I wish you continued success in 2021 and beyond!

staysnatched

Saturday 13th of March 2021

Thank you so much, Anne!

Tayo

Friday 12th of March 2021

Beautiful and inspiring write up, Brandi! I wish you continued success and more growth in your blog!

staysnatched

Saturday 13th of March 2021

Thank you!

Libby

Friday 12th of March 2021

Congratulations on 4 years of blogging awesomeness! I’ve only been here since mid-2020, but I have definitely sent more people to your IG/blog for recipes than I have for any other food blogger I follow (and I follow a lot!). I love your authenticity and that you are unapologetic for being yourself. Your recipes never fail, and it’s always amazing to see how many variations you’ve tested and can speak to. Literally every time I see an email from you in my in box, I say to myself “I swear she’s the hardest working person on the internet!” Here’s to many more years of blogging kick ass food, Peloton workouts, mimosas, nachos that make me drool every time, and singing along to hip hop in your beautiful kitchen. Cheers!!

staysnatched

Saturday 13th of March 2021

Thank you so much!