I love baking and I’ve been a huge fan of Holly Bell ever since I found her on Twitter, talking about her participation in The Great British Bake Off. She was so nice to agree to share some of her interesting stories and advice with us today! I think you’re going to love hearing from a lady who makes a living baking incredible goodies. You can find all of her yummy recipes on her blog, Recipes From a Normal Mum.
In case some people don’t know about your amazing baking blog and business, would you mind giving them a little peek into what you do?
I seem to do all manner of things these days which I am still getting used to! I competed in a BBC TV programme called The Great British Bake Off last year and finished as a finalist. Since then I have been teaching cupcake and bread classes, have had my own BBC radio show for a week, have demonstrated how to ice cupcakes to a rather large audience of Saturday afternoon shoppers and am now working with a couple of brands developing recipes for them, oh and I’m writing an ebook of my recipes too. Who knew that baking could lead to all this?!
In addition to your blog, you’ve started offering classes to help others learn to love baking! What has this in-person teaching (and additional revenue stream) taught you about yourself and your business?
Teaching is an incredibly intense experience. Before starting my business I had only ever lectured to a large audience which personally I found easier. Teaching small groups is incredibly rewarding but also exhausting. I have learnt that I need a lot of sleep before I teach and that being well rehearsed and prepared makes me happier and a better teacher.
You have a lovely collection of favorite cook books! Do you have plans to make one of your own?
I am currently nearing the end of writing a baking ebook. It will have just 20 recipes for a bargain price of 99p! I am using it to test peoples appetite for my recipes. If people are prepared to pay for them then I would dearly love to write more ebooks. As for traditional publishing… if the right offer came along I’d definitely go for it.
You have come such a long way since you started your business (and appeared on the 2011 Great British Bake Off). At any point were you worried it wouldn’t work? And what helped you push on to get where you are today?
I remember the feeling of fear when I first published the page for people to book classes. I was convinced nobody would book! It’s been an amazing journey of high highs and low lows. When stock doesn’t arrive in time and you find yourself paying a premium it’s soul destroying – you can feel all your hard work slipping through your fingers. When you read a feedback form after a class full of excitement and joy, it’s the best job in the world. To anyone wishing to start their own business, I’d say be prepared to work incredibly hard. It’s great being your own boss but it does feel exposing at times. There’s no one to blame when things go wrong and no one to give instructions.
I just have to ask. Did you ever imagine you would make a living doing what you love (and what you’re obviously oh-so-good at!) that would allow you to spend so much time with your family.
I have always wanted to work for myself, since I was a very little girl. So I guess I’m really pleased that the dream has actually happened at last. It’s a privilege to do something for a living that I genuinely love and I am indeed lucky to spend so much time with my boys in the day. My poor husband is the casualty in all this as most work for the business happens after the kids go to bed. Let’s just say he irons his own shirts these days!
Don’t forget if you’d like to bake some of Holly’s goodies or want to take a class with her, be sure to check out her blog!