Niki is a  a freelance blogger, recipe creator, food stylist and photographer and IIN Health Coach in training. With over 180k followers on Instagram and her super successful blog, Rebel Recipes, it’s fair to say that Niki is a huge success in the food blogging world.

Niki will be the guest speaker at the HBC Bloggers & Brands Networking event on 29th October 2016. Get your tickets now so you can ask Niki all your blogging related questions and absorb her expert advice.

How did you first get into blogging?

I first got into blogging 18 months ago after years of thinking about it and questioning whether I could do it. It was a completely new world for me but once I’d gotten past the initial hurdle of setting up my blog and social channels, I pretty quickly realised I loved it. But I honestly never thought that 18 months down the line I would have left my marketing job and be embarking on a new and exciting foodie career.

Where does the ‘rebel’ element in your blog name come from?

A lot of people have asked me where the name Rebel Recipes comes from. Firstly it’s because I just loved the name, but I’ve always had a rebellious/naughty side. And in the case of food, I’m rebelling against fake food and faddy diets in favour of real food. When creating my recipes, I love to demonstrate how easy it is to make real food and show that it’s just as convenient and cheap to make nutritious healthy meals as it is to buy a processed ready meal. By making your own meal from scratch, you know exactly what goes into it – no nasties, no unnecessary additives, preservatives or refined sugar. Together we can rebel against the confusing world of diet fads and get back to simple real foods.

Where do you find the inspiration for your recipes?

Literally everywhere! I’m constantly thinking about food and recipes and flavour combinations. But I also get inspiration from cookery shows, Pinterest, Instagram, books, my favourite bloggers, my travels, restaurants, my friends – everywhere.

You follow a plant-based diet – why is this?

All my recipes are plant based, gluten and refined sugar free. This is because that’s what makes me feel great; everyone is different and there’s no perfect or right way to eat for everyone. However, I’ve found that a mostly plant based diet, which is light, natural, and organic where possible, means that I have found a way of truly enjoying food (without worrying about calories or fat etc) whilst at the same time knowing it’s doing me lots of good.

What is your opinion on eating organic food?

I think it’s important to try and eat organic produce and support organic farmers when you can, and I know it can be more expensive but I personally think it’s worth it – here’s a few reasons why:
– Organic means that there are lower levels of pesticides, and no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers
– It’s more environmentally sustainable in terms of management of the land and the natural environment – which all helps wildlife flourish.
– And more importantly it means no GM ingredients, hydrogenated fats, additives like aspartame, tartrazine or MSG. I like to know what goes into my food.

You take incredible pictures of food! What is your best advice when it comes to styling and food photography?

Thank you so much! I have four key pieces of advice:
1. Daylight – I can’t stress how much difference this makes.
2. Colour palette – choose your colour palette and either stick to a couple of key colours. But super colourful also works well on Instagram
3 Frame your photo – style your pics to tell a story. I find that it’s the little details that bring out your personality.
4 Use Photoshop or a good editing app to enhance your photos – it makes all the difference (add light, colour, crop into hide parts etc). If you’re not using Photoshop or Lightroom then these are also pretty good ones: aviary, VSCO, Snapseed.

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What are your must-have props/ pieces of equipment to use when taking your pictures?

I am completely obsessed with backgrounds and ceramic bowls and plates – I love dark wooden backgrounds which produce a lovely earthy/homely feel. And I think that my husband Andy will probably leave if I buy any more ceramic bowls!

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from blogging so far?

That it’s incredibly hard work, you have to be a jack of all trades; writer, recipe creator, photographer, social media expert, constant networker, business developer, accountant etc etc… But being able to work for yourself, on your own terms, being creative and challenging yourself everyday (not to mention the amazing people I’ve meet, brands I’ve worked with and crazy opportunities I’ve had) makes it more than worthwhile.

How do you choose to work with brands, and what sort of values and ethos do you look for?

I’m quite choosy, therefore most of the brands who contact me I can’t work with, unfortunately. Not because they aren’t good brands, but I just really prefer working with brands who have the same ethos as me; i.e. ethical, local, organic etc.  This can pose a bit of an issue as these brands tend not to have the budgets of larger brands.

How do you come up with original recipe ideas? Do you have an official tester?

I’m not sure that any recipe is truly original, as we all get inspired by what we see around us. Having said that, a lot of my recipes are a combination of my old trusted recipes, new ideas and inspirations (see above), and experiments… so they tend to turn out quite original!

Andy is always more than happy to critique my recipes as he has to eat them everyday! I would say that most of the time they turn out pretty good, but I’ve definitely had some disasters along the way!

You took the leap to fully work on Rebel Recipe and freelance gigs: what have you learnt from this experience?

Well I’ve only been freelancing for a few weeks but so far my biggest lesson has been the need to be super organised and to structure my time effectively.  It’s easy to get distracted and answer emails which could wait, to spend more time than you should on social media (which is a tricky one because supporting and growing your brand on line is also very important). And getting the balance between working on current projects and networking/business development. Plus I’m studying for my IIN Health Coach cert so it’s definitely a juggling act.

Is there a recipe you are particularly fond of, and why?

One of my favourite recipes is my banana flapjacks for a few reasons; firstly and most importantly, they taste delicious. They are also really healthy and nutritious, they’re super easy to make (you really can’t go wrong), the flavour combinations are endless and they are one of my most popular recipes on my blog and at my workshops.

How did the opportunity of a book come about? And what’s the process behind it?

There’s nothing confirmed yet, but some agents got in contact with me after the piece in The Independent, which was amazing.  I’m having some exciting conversations so watch this space. It would honestly be a dream come true!