A Woman's View: Amanda Orlando, Founder Of Everyday Allergen-Free
Welcome to a new series on Bev's Eye View! This series is called "A Woman's View", a little play on the tittle of my blog (sometimes, I think I am so clever...not). I love career profiles of women who are doing their thing and doing it well. I wanted to do this series as a way to motivate, inspire, and encourage women. Often times, these profiles are of people who have unattainable careers and unrealistic success. I wanted to profile women who are real, inspiring, and doing what they are passionate about! So, lets start with Amanda Orlando!
Name: Amanda Orlando
Current Job/Company: Founder, Everyday Allergen-Free. Associate Category Manager, Indigo Books & Music
Education & School: Human Geography degree from University of Toronto
You have a degree in Human Geography, what made you want to go into the book and publishing industry, along with being a food blogger?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since graduating is that your career journey is not linear. Despite having plans, it’s good to be flexible to opportunities that arise. I got a job at Scholastic after working for one of my professors doing research on American declining cities. I thought it would be temporary but I ended up really enjoying being part of the publishing industry (I’m a very avid reader). It also helped me figure out how to get my book (Allergen-Free Desserts to Delight Your Taste Buds: A Book for Parents and Kids) published which is one of my proudest accomplishments.
As for food blogging, that came about for a few reasons. I got a camera as a grad gift and enjoyed playing around with it. I had this goal that I was going to use the shit out of it [and]become awesome at photography. I had a Tumblr page for a couple years, just for fun. My photography was alright but it was just a hobby at that point. Then I got a book contract and I needed to provide a photography portfolio. Suddenly I just kicked into gear and created this small portfolio of my best shots which they accepted. A few months before my book released I had an anaphylactic reaction to improperly labelled bread that contained dairy. I decided it was a sign and started an actual WordPress blog to write about my experiences and share recipes and photos. This grew over the year (2015) and then in June 2016 I decided to close that blog and re-brand as Everyday Allergen-Free with the help of my close friend Joella. We wanted to create a site that inspires confidence in teens and adults living with food allergies. I’m so happy with this decision.
What is it about publishing and food blogging that you like?
Food blogging: I’ve always been very creative and I get really into things. I can never sit still and I’m very passionate. Photography, writing, and just “creating” in general are things I could do literally all day, every day. It keeps my mind active but also keeps me busy physically. I could start working on an article or a shoot at 7am and still be perfecting it at midnight and that’s totally cool with me. I also enjoy sharing my experiences with others who are in the same situation as I am. I’m always challenging myself to do more, better.
Publishing: The curation aspect of my job is the most fun. I love knowing that the books I choose will be enjoyed by kids and will bring them joy.
You have an amazing website, what are the steps you took to start your site and why did you want to start your site?
The first step I took was to say – I want this, I’m doing it immediately. You have to just commit. It helps to make yourself feel a sense of urgency – if you don’t do this, someone else will. I bought the domain, Jo and I researched the best hosting platform to use (Squarespace), and then worked on the layout behind the scenes. From there we started generating content immediately and booking collaborations well into the future. Within a week the site was live and active, and we were reaching out to brands and bloggers that we wanted to work with.
Where did you get the idea for your site from?
I started looking for sites about adults/teens dealing with severe allergies back in early 2015 when I had that terrible reaction. But my findings came up short. Instead I began following a lot of allergy mom blogs because I felt the need to be part of a community; I needed inspiration. And then it sort of dawned on me that I had been managing my allergies my whole life and that I actually had a lot of experiences to share.
What were some initial challenges you faced when launching your site?
Time! Our main constraint is that we never have enough time to do everything we want to do. We are really good about scheduling though so we manage to make it all fit. Our other challenge is geography. We don’t have an office and Jo and I live in different areas of the city so travel time has to be accounted for. It would be great if we had twice as much time and lived across the hall from each other haha!
What does a typical day look like for you as a blogger and an associate category manager?
My day job is 9 – 5-ish (often later) and does involve some travel. I keep a notebook open and as my blog ideas come to me throughout the day I write every one of them down. EAF is my second full time job and I work at it every night. I do a lot of pre-planning before every shoot; curating the cookbook and recipes, buying ingredients, cleaning, buying props if needed, washing/chopping/dicing so everything looks photo-ready.
On EAF we generally do one collaboration or cookbook review (with a guest in the kitchen) once a week, usually on Thursdays. When I get home from my day job I have to do all the prep I just mentioned, as well as booking future collaborations, long-term strategizing, liaising with companies/bloggers over email, tweaking the site, sharing posts on Twitter and Facebook, and Jo and I spend a lot of time brainstorming.
The actual photo shoot usually takes up the whole night and then I have about an hour of tidy-up after. The next day I’ll do the photo editing which generally takes a couple hours, and then writing the piece which takes a couple hours. I like to post more than once a week so I also squeeze in an editorial post or recipe post mid-week. These could take an hour or ten – completely dependent on the topic and format. This often involves some recipe testing and planning. Jo and I try to go to networking or blogging events to stay in the know. I also do some freelance writing/contributions to other sites and just finished working with my new agent on a proposal for a second book.
I usually wrap all this up by 12:30/1am so I can get a decent sleep. And of course I regularly follow my favorite allergy mom blogs!
What are the biggest challenges you face as a food blogger and an associate category manager?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but time is always the biggest challenge. There isn’t enough of it.
What has been the best moment of your career so far?
My book launch party was probably the most exciting and satisfying night for me. That feeling made me raise the bar in terms of my aspirations. It was also amazing to see my first contribution to the Huffington Post Blog do so well. I wrote honestly about my own personal experiences and it got over 2000 likes/shares/comments. It affirmed that I was on the right path.
What are the perks of your jobs?
In my day job I get to do some travel which is awesome. Visiting places that are new to me, like Frankfurt for example, also gives me great material to write about. I’m also always surrounded by books which is a dream come true for any book lover. Blogging is all perk for me. I love every aspect of it, especially meeting amazing new people and collaborating creatively.
You have a strong social media game, what are your tips for social media?
Our Insta account is really Jo’s domain but I think I still have some wisdom to share. Pick which social channels you like best and focus on those. There are so many sharing platforms and it’s impossible to make use of them all. Post often and at the times you get most traffic. Try to stay on brand! This may mean you have to open a second Instagram account for personal use, like Jo and I did. It may be tempting to share that family photo from your grandmother’s birthday but it might not be of interest to followers of your blog.
How do you stay motivated and inspired doing what you do?
Honestly I’m always trying to one-up myself. Every time I finish a post I think about how I can do it better the next time, or what I can add to the site to make it more appealing. Comments or interactions are also motivating because you get to directly hear what people think of your content or how it’s impacting their life. I’m motivated by the fact that I want to do my absolute best all the time. Having a partner means you can feed off each other’s excitement.
Which other woman working in your field do you look up to?
She’s not in my field, but I really look up to Mindy Kaling as a creative inspiration. She’s hilarious, she created the career she wanted, and she’s so confident. That to me is everything I could hope to achieve.
What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you're doing?
Make the decision and then commit; don’t let yourself put it off.
You can also get Amanda's book "Allergen-Free Desserts to Delight Your Taste Buds: A Book for Parents and Kids)" by clicking on the link!
Thank you so much, Amanda for doing this!!
What do you think of this new series, put it down below!!
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