Want to know what goes on behind the scenes of a blogstagrammer? And what that even means? We share behind the content with Emma Gill, a running enthusiast and plant-based food blogger. Be sure to check out the previous articles in our behind the scenes series, too.
More commonly known as Fruits and Routes, Emma is an 18-year-old running and recipe-developing enthusiast who uses her blog and Instagram account to share insights into these aspects of her life. She also uses her platform to spark discussions about mental health, using her own personal experience with an eating disorder to encourage others to get talking and feel less alone in their struggles. All of this is done in the midst of a busy student lifestyle, having just completed her first year studying English Literature and Spanish at the University of Edinburgh.
If you could share with us who you are and what’s your mission, what would you say?
I’m Emma, the 18 (going on 19) year old blogger behind Fruits and Routes. Initially, I started my blog and Instagram to share my recipes and running journey, but now it has evolved into a platform on which I open up discussions about mental health, eating disorders, body dysmorphia as well as amenorrhea and other tabooed topics. I hope that, in sparking conversation, people can feel less alone in their struggles as well as equip themselves better to deal with them. No one should ever feel helpless, inadequate or alone!
Would you consider yourself more of a blogger or an Instagrammer?
That’s a really tough one because I started my blog first and created my Instagram account to complement it as well as drive people to read my blog posts. However, I publish an article on my blog roughly once a week, whereas I share photos on Instagram almost daily. My Instagram captions are also pretty lengthy and have quasi-blog post content… so I’d maybe call myself a blogstragrammer if that’s allowed.
How do you choose the content that goes into your accounts?
Most of the time, what goes on my blog and Instagram is what is going through my mind at that moment in time. Some days, I will feel low, and use my Instagram as a way of counteracting this by sharing positive energy as well as showing that the lows are part of reality. Other times, people will request posts, and if it’s something I’m interested in or think will be helpful and relevant to myself and my followers, then I’ll share. It’s all about providing insightful, useful and valuable content, all while striking a balance between serious and lighthearted (check out this blog post checklist for easy guidance!).
What is the process behind each post you produce?
With my blog, it really depends on my current lifestyle. If I’m at university, then I’ll have less time to dedicate and tend to write when I find the time (usually the night before I post, so on a Saturday). But, if I’m on holiday, then I’ll typically write when inspiration strikes. Sometimes I’ll have a splurge and write lots, other times it’ll take me a while to come up with something.
Once I have a topic or title in mind, though, the words flow pretty freely and I just write, dividing my article into sub-headings for an easier reading experience and adding photos at the end.
With my Instagram account, I have an app that allows me to see what the photos will look like in my feed so I can judge what to post and when. The aesthetic is pretty important to me, so I try to ensure that I don’t have too many of the same photos with similar colours next to or on top of each other.
What has been a career highlight so far?
Probably being shortlisted for the UK & IRE health blogger of the year! I’ve also enjoyed starting to work with brands, and it always makes me feel great when I connect with ones that have a similar ethos and message as me.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Probably falling into a classic trap of being sent a message by a random brand (this one was a fitness apparel one) asking me to become a brand ambassador for them because they “loved my content and style”. Blinded by the prospect of becoming an ambassador and potentially earning some commission, I accepted, then had to order a pair of leggings (fully paid for by me), which upon arrival really weren’t great. I knew I couldn’t promote them to my followers, and had wasted money on them. It was an important lesson to learn, though, because it taught me to always be a bit cautious when a brand reaches out to you. To do your research. To not simply accept something because of money (very important!). And to always stay true to yourself.
When it comes to health and wellness, how is the content you are creating helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
My platforms are about encouraging people to be more in tune with both themselves and the world around them. I combine three of my greatest passions, running, writing and recipe developing, to try to show that things such as running and veganism, which are typically viewed as quite exclusive, are actually incredibly inclusive and can be for everyone. Furthermore, I want to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health head-on, which is why I discuss it in various ways and urge people to talk too. With everything that I share, I always try to be mindful of what impact it could have on others, and how to maximise the positive energy I send out. There’s enough negativity in this world, and I don’t think I need to contribute to it!
What is the biggest misconception about social media? What was the practice that has helped you with your strategy?
Social media has come under a lot of fire recently; it is linked with rising levels in anxiety, depression, eating disorders and a whole host of other mental health disorders. It can also increase levels of loneliness and decrease true human-human connection. However, without social media, I never would have been able to start my blog or Instagram account.
For all its faults, it has also provided me with the opportunity to explore my creativity and create a close-knit community of like-minded people.
I do think we all need to be disciplined with ourselves and constantly manage our relationship with social media; unfollowing or muting accounts that make you feel anxious or insecure, limiting the time you spend on it daily and minimising mindless scrolling time is all key for me.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
As cliché as it sounds, it would have to be my parents. For a while prior to starting my blog, I’d wanted to, but had hesitated and always held back because I was worried what others would think of me/ that I would be seen as copying others. It was my parents who gave me that all important push and they were the only two souls who knew about it for the first 3-4 months. I know I can count on them!
What do you think is the most important thing about working on collaborations with other influencers and brands?
I would say that there are three key things here (at least for me):
Number 1 – disclosing clearly if something is an ad or whether a product has been gifted.
Number 2 – only working with brands/ influencers that you genuinely like/ would work with if there was no payment in it/ reflect your own ethos.
Number 3 – not letting it detract from your own content and style. It’s so easy to get blinded by the prospect of monetising your content, and I’ve seen firsthand some accounts losing their identity because they strived so hard to create content for brands that they didn’t create just for themselves and their followers.
Who is your ideal collaboration with?
A small startup that creates products that I use daily (e.g. nut butter/ protein powder/ snack bars). Due to being relatively small, I would feel a great sense of community as I would probably be working pretty closely with the brand and any other influencers involved. They would have eco-friendly and ethical credentials, with sustainability (sourcing, packaging, transporting) being a high priority. In short, conscious, transparent and kindhearted! As well as selling delicious, nutritious products of course.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start in the industry now?
I would say – ask yourself what is holding you back. Why haven’t you already started? What are you scared of? If you are enthusiastic, creative and committed, then you’ve got all that it takes. You may as well try because if you don’t, you’ll probably forever be thinking “what if?”. If it ends up not being for you then there’s also no shame in that, you can stop/ take a break/ reassess. A word of caution would be not to be in it for the followers, the likes, the money or the freebies. Instagram is a strange platform and their metrics don’t necessarily translate to success. If you enjoy it then I think that’s really what counts!