Ree Drummond is a blogging superstar, but she is still humble and down to earth. Recently Erin and I got the opportunity to sit down with Ree at the International Housewares Show where she was showing off her gorgeous new cookware line. Last week Erin wrote about how Ree’s blog, The Pioneer Woman got it’s start, and today I am talking about how Ree went from being a blogger to being a blogger/cookbook author/Food Network star.
After three years of blogging, just before her first cookbook was coming out, the Food Network contacted Ree. They wanted to introduce themselves and to see if she would ever be interested in having a show. The timing wasn’t quite right, but she maintained contact with the Food Network. The following year, Ree was on Throwdown! With Bobby Flay. Bobby flew to Ree’s Oklahoma ranch for the event, and Ree’s home cooking beat Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
While you might think that Throwdown! With Bobby Flay led to The Pioneer Woman show, Ree says she isn’t sure that is the case. She doesn’t think that Throwndown! was any sort of audition for future opportunities with the Food Network, but she says that her readers engaged with the event via social media, and that probably helped to grow the Food Network’s interest.
In February 2011 Ree made the decision to move forward with hosting her own show on the Food Network. When the Food Network offered to come to the ranch to shoot, the reasons not to take the chance diminished. Ree says that she couldn’t have guessed that the show would still be on the air years later, and she jokes that she would like the first ten episodes to be stricken from the record. Ree, Erin, and I all bonded over the mistakes we made in our early blogging years, and how we wish some early blog posts would disappear. Then Ree gave us some important words of wisdom:
“When you try something new, you don’t have to be an expert when you start. People think that they need to have a slick website and perfect content, and maybe you just need to have a passionate voice, and let it evolve from there.”
When it comes to blogging advice, Ree was generous. She says that you need to write daily to see if blogging agrees with you. If you have writer’s block, Ree’s advice is to blog anyway. She has turned writers block into the most bizarre but more well received blog posts. In fact, the story Ree shared about how she feel in love with her husband was something she wrote to get through writers block, and it was later turned into a book that became a #2 New York Times bestseller.
Ree has a cookbooks, a blog, and a tv show. That’s a lot of content to create. She says that the busier you are the more efficient you are, and sometimes the more she cooks the more ideas she has. But she does admit to running low on ideas at time. She says that is when she is low on ideas that she loves variations on themes. She will go back and reinvent classics like lasagna, or explore all the different things you can do with chili. “No wheels are being invented, it’s just putting little spins on it here and there. And I think that is how most home cooks are.”
“If I sit back and look at things that have happened, I think: ‘What in the world just happened?’ Because I don’t think I could have orchestrated it when I started. In May of 2006, when I started my blog, it was completely absolutely on a whim, and along the way of course I have made decisions and thought of new ideas and directions as my readership grew. One thing I do recommend is just really paying attention to the people who read you site, and acknowledging them, because you wouldn’t have a readership if people didn’t read your blog. For a long time, in the early days I just listened to the people who read my blog and I think I had a sense of what they enjoyed. And also, if you don’t have the interest and the passion in your subject matter, it is going to be hard to sustain it in the long run. I write about food, I take photos of things I love, I write about my children, my husband, I could do that until the end of time and never get bored with it. I think passion is probably the secret ingredient.”
Huge thanks to the incredibly talented and kind Ree Drummond for her time.