Nicole Hamaker, Pinch My Salt
“There’s really so much beauty around in Fresno if you go out and look for it.”
Meet Nicole Hamaker. She maintains a very successful blog called Pinch My Salt as a career. It is a food blog that appeals to food-lovers around the world. Nicole has returned to Fresno after spending several years living in Sicily, Oregon and Florida.
The goal of Pinch My Salt is to encourage people to cook more. The blog is Nicole’s way to help people to learn to cook the way she learned. She also shares information with her readers on how they can be healthier and save money by purchasing fresh food at their local market.
THE BEGINNING OF PINCH MY SALT
Nicole created Pinch My Salt in 2006 in Sicily. The blog began as a way for Nicole to share the knowledge she obtained about food and cooking during her four-year stay there. In Sicily, there was fresh food for sale on, what seemed like, every corner. Nicole was inspired to avoid eating at fast food and cooked more. She lost weight and felt healthier as a result of her radical decision.
Nicole says her first year as a blogger was extremely difficult. She had no little idea what a food blog was and spent hours spent hours every day learning about the basics of photography, html codes, and editing. She says she cringes every time she reads her earlier posts due to her bad photography and over-use of exclamation points and smiley faces.
TYPICAL DAY AS A BLOGGER
Nicole doesn’t blog for a hobby; it is her career. She spends anywhere from 8 to 12 hours a day on her blog. On an average day, you can find Nicole cooking, washing dishes as much as six times, testing recipes, shopping, taking and editing photos writing and editing posts, answering emails and social networking. “Luckily,” Nicole says, “most of this work is a lot of fun!”
PROS AND CONS OF BLOGGING
Nicole says the upside of blogging is she has meet a lot of great people from all over the world. She also points out it doesn’t hurt that s can work anywhere she pleases and she gets to work in her pajamas.
The downside of blogging is that the line between work and play get blurred. “This can be a good thing,” Nicole says, “but it’s easy to forget to take a break.” Some days, she even forgets to go outside. She also says blogging also doesn’t yield a lot of money.
ADVICE FOR BLOGGERS
This blog veteran gives the following advice for a successful blog:
Write what interests you and do it well. Nicole says a blogger should spend more or just as much time editing a post than they took writing it. Everyone will make mistakes, but it is hard for anyone to take you seriously as a blogger if you consistently make spelling or grammatical errors.
Be generous. Nicole advises any blogger to link to similar blogs and other articles your readers might be interested in. Nicole describes blogging as a community and says, “The more we can help other bloggers, the better it is for all of us.”
Take decent photos. Nicole urges anyone who wants to have photos on their blog to learn about the basics of photography. No one wants to linger on a blog for long to look at blurry photos.
Invest in social-networking. Nicole says social media, like Facebook and Twitter, gives your readers a chance to interact with you on different levels. Social networking is a great way to link to new posts, but most of your time as a blogger should be spent talking with followers.
FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN TO THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
I asked Nicole how Fresno compared to Nicole’s experience living in Florida, Sicily and Oregon. “If there’s one thing they all have in common,” she replied “it’s that each place had some pretty big negative qualities. but the positives outweigh the negatives.”
Sicily- Nicole says the summers in Sicily are just as hot as the summer in Fresno, but air conditioners aren’t as common. The unemployment rate and crime rate are also very high like Fresno.
Oregon- “Do you get sick of the sun in Fresno?” Nicole asks, “Well, you hardly see it in Oregon.” Nicole says there was a lot of rain in Oregon, but she was surrounded by the most beautiful green landscape. The residents in Oregon, including Nicole, felt as if it was the most beautiful day every time the sun did appear.
Florida- Nicole says the hardest thing to get used to in Florida was the heat and humidity. She found more positive things about Florida, however. The people, she says, were very friendly and she fell in love with the slow-paced lifestyle. She also enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the fresh seafood. “I only lived in Florida for a year,” she says, “but sometimes it’s the place I miss the most.”
OPINIONS ON FRESNO
Several of Nicole’s family members live in Fresno and she found it fitting to move back to Fresno to be closer to her family after her divorce.
Nicole says the downside of Fresno is that it lacks a city-center. She also says Fresno’s food culture is in need of a change. There are a few great local restaurants, she points out, but there are plenty more mediocre ones that have been around for a while. “It makes me wonder why so many people here don’t care about paying good money for poor quality food,” Nicole says.
There are several upsides to Fresno, Nicole says. Fresno has a diverse amount of fresh food, making it a great place to live for cooks. Fresnans are fortunate enough to have access to farmers markets and food stands all year, unlike most places in the country. Nicole loves that she can buy all of her ingredients for her recipes without having to set foot in a grocery store.
Nicole says she enjoys the scenery in Fresno, as well. “There’s really so much beauty around here if you go out and look for it.” She likes to drive and get lost in the countryside of Clovis and looking at the beautiful contrast between old buildings and new art in downtown Fresno.
“I realized there were a lot of great things about living in Fresno I like,” Nicole says, “I think I’m going to stay here for awhile.”
Have a lovely day in Fresno!