Stars Of The Summer: 8 Local Bloggers At The Top Of The Digital Publishing Game
Meet eight local bloggers at the top of the digital publishing game. These media gurus have carved out their own space on the web. They’ve branded themselves, and they’ve built audiences of loyal followers. Some of their sites make money and some don’t, but each has a unique voice that keeps bringing visitors back for more.
“Blogging is all about how much you put into it.”
Kristin Clark sometimes calls her blog “the bloggity.” The term is playful, but Clark’s style blog is a business – one she takes serious care to perfect. The 25-year-old was inspired to start Living in Color Print after volunteering at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in February 2012. “Even if I was only working the event, wearing all black, I was over the moon just to be there,” she says. The Colorado native initially hoped for an outlet from her day job as a real estate marketing director. “It was not ever my intention to start a blog and make it a business. I wanted to meet people in the South Florida area. Six months in, it started to grow and receive positive feedback,” she says. Brands reached out to her to partner on events and outfit posts. Town Center at Boca Raton named her its official “Simon Style Setter.” Money began trickling in, and she quit her job to focus on her blog and start a PR company. She’s collaborated with Ted Baker, Zappos and T.J.Maxx, and spearheads “Seminole Nation. Blogger Style,” a network of The Florida State University alumni who blog about mixing school spirit with style. She even has her own intern. Clark doesn’t see an end in sight: her hope is to expand her site and open it to contributors, adding content in other topics like travel and beauty. In the meantime, her site will continue to embody her sunny personality and style, true to its name. She summarizes: “You’re living. Your life is in color.” – J.T.
“The cheese makes a big difference. Cheese matters. Cheese is one thing pizza owners shouldn’t skimp on.”
How much analysis can go into dough, cheese and sauce? A lot, according to Boca Raton-based blogger Craig Agranoff, who breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly of pizza on his blog, aptly titled Worst Pizza. Agranoff, who grew up on Long Island (where finding good pizza was as easy as walking out his front door), had a wake up call when he moved to Boca Raton. “I was horrified. The pizza tasted awful,” the now 42-year-old says. So, he started his blog to weed through the bad places in search of a praise-worthy slice. Luckily, after reviewing hundreds of pizza joints from Miami to Palm Beach, his attitude about the South Florida pizza scene has since changed. When reviewing a restaurant, he looks for restaurant cleanliness, no servers at lunchtime (Pizzerias are stupid if they have servers at lunchtime, Agranoff says.), the taste (freshness, sweet sauce and crisp crust), and lastly, the cleanliness of the grated Parmesan cheese shaker (Most places don’t clean the cheese shaker, he says.). His suggestions for some of the best pizza in town: Pizzeria Oceano in Lantana, Kitchenetta in Fort Lauderdale and Tucci’s Fire N Coal Pizza in Boca Raton. – H.C.
“I love going to places no one else has heard of – someplace where you say, ‘I’m not walking in there.’”
Jeff Richman writes the way he speaks – straightforward, to the point, in-your-face talk that immediately brands him as a New Yorker, and more specifically as a Brooklynite. This 64-year-old Boca Raton Renaissance man has gained a national following for his writing – something that was somewhat of an afterthought after his successful legal career and business ventures involving Discovery Zone, Hardee’s restaurants and the entertainment industry. His blog, Jeff Eats, attracts about 15,000 visitors a month for his “real simple” style of reviewing local “mom and pop” shops that doesn’t involve a rating system (“How can a guy say three stars versus two stars,” he says.). Richman knows that what he likes might not be what his next-door neighbor likes, but that doesn’t worry him. “I call it as I see it,” he says. If the food is comped, he’ll say that. If the burger was great, but the fries – not so much, he’ll say that. He receives weekly invitations to review restaurants from Miami to North Palm Beach. How does he narrow that list? “My focus is on the little joints,” he says. Some of his favorites: Nino’s of Boca, Barone’s La Pizzeria in Margate, Matteo’s Ristorante in Boca, Zinger’s Deli in Boca and Granger’s Grille in Delray Beach. – H.C.
“At the end of the day, it’s my business. It’s such a learning process. I’ve learned so much and grown so much as a businesswoman.”
Last year, Jade Scott left her job as a hairstylist and channeled all of her energy into creating and editing her fashion blog, A Spoonful of Style. In just a little more than a year, the 31-year-old Fort Lauderdale native has amassed more than 50,000 Instagram followers and a total of 100,000 followers on all of her social media sites combined. People from across the country love, admire and try to mimic her style, which she describes as feminine, classic and bright. Each outfit showcases a pop of color like a yellow crocheted lace top, a hot pink handbag or blue-patterned pumps. She styles five outfits a week that include accessories, hair and makeup. Her suggestions for investment pieces: a designer pair of jeans, a good handbag in a neutral color and a good pair of pumps. “I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Scott says, who draws inspiration from fashion icons like Sarah Jessica Parker, Jenna Lyons of J.Crew and Rachel Zoe. The fashionista collaborates with boutiques and big-name fashion brands like J.Crew and Nordstrom to showcase the newest trends. “I love doing this. Five years from now, I just hope I have a bigger following. I want it to be consistent – to have a really solid reader base,” she says. – H.C.
“From Monday to Friday I don’t get in a car. You see things when you walk that you don’t see in a car. … I wanted to share [that] with people.”
It took Ashley Turner awhile to warm up to social media. A private person, when she finally decided to sign up for Instagram in May 2012, it was for a personal art project – she had just moved to a new place in downtown Fort Lauderdale and wanted to capture the city she was born and raised in. She never could’ve imagined where the social network would take her. More than 1,000 photo posts later, Turner’s “DowntownFTL” account has become a source for Fort Lauderdale living. She posts pictures of lightning storms, 5Ks, restaurant openings, FATVillage art walks, and wine and food festivals. Her snapshots transform everyday scenery into art – she photographs the downtown Publix, Las Olas Boulevard sidewalks and railroad crossings from new perspectives, each photo garnering hundreds of “likes.” Through Instagram, she made new friends and landed her job as community manager of landscape architecture firm Cadence. She eventually launched a blog, Livin’ La Vida Local, where she shares Fort Lauderdale events and tips with readers. Despite her growing popularity, Turner, 29, has always stayed true to herself. She is not interested in making money from her accounts, and makes a point to only post about brands and businesses she truly believes in. But it’s safe to say her perception of social media has changed – she’s now on Facebook and Twitter, too. “The majority of my friends who I am close with I met through social media. I mean, how cool is that? Through a picture.” – J.T.
“You can become a big deal on the Internet and nothing is stopping you except the limits of your own talent.”
By 16, Buddy Nevins had been published in national magazines. Early on, he had the natural tenacity and curiosity that make a good journalist great. The kind of tenacity that led the teen to hunt down The Rolling Stones at their hotel in Miami and conduct an interview with them as they lounged poolside. Those first interviews were the start to a more-than-50-year journalism career that would take him into some of South Florida’s biggest newsrooms. Nevins made a name for himself covering politics for The Fort Lauderdale News and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. But by April 2007, the news industry was changing drastically, and Nevins became one of 20 veteran journalists who took a buyout from the Sun-Sentinel. About a year later, he launched his own politics and news blog, Broward Beat. “I thought there was a hole in political coverage and I could fill it. With my long tenure of experience, I could offer something that wasn’t being offered,” Nevins, 66, says. He is uninterested in making his blog profitable and doesn’t keep track of how many readers he has, but his nearly 11,000 followers on Twitter prove that people want to hear what he has to say. “I don’t make any money out of it,” Nevins says. “I do it out of love. I’m a political junkie.” – J.T.
“Cooking over fire is scary, but if I can do it, anyone can do it.”
Robyn Lindars has nine grills. And she needs them. The founder of GrillGrrrl, a grilled recipes blog, she cooks, reviews grills, hosts events, and teaches women’s grilling clinics. All of it has put the 35-year-old on the map as a go-to source for grilling. She’s appeared on the Food Network’s “Chopped Grill Masters,” the Cooking Channel and the Travel Channel. She’s judged cooking competitions and developed recipes for Land O’Lakes. And she’s managed it all in her down-time while working as a social media analytics consultant. The bubbly blonde discovered her love of grilling about five years ago, after she purchased a new grill for her now-husband. She had just started a cooking blog and quickly discovered she could make anything on the grill, from Key lime pie to cocktails. Today, she lures visitors to her site with recipes like grilled margaritas, grilled French toast, grilled pizza and smoked fish dip. She is meticulous about her recipes and spends hours to ensure they’re user-friendly. “If I make this three times, will it come out the same way every time? [My] brisket recipe is a five-hour investment. If I miss one ingredient, that could really screw someone up. To gain a consistent following, you have to be consistent,” she says. Her goal is to make the blog more like a digital magazine and – hopefully – her full-time job. “Anything worth doing, it never happens overnight. I’ve created all these opportunities that I never would’ve had otherwise,” she says. “I’m building my empire.” – J.T.
“The idea is to bring people together over food – it’s why I like cooking so much. It brings people together.”
It may be her hobby and her passion, but Shaina Wizov treats blogging like a full-time job. The 26-year-old Boca Raton resident posts restaurant reviews and healthy recipes on her site, Take a Bite Out of Boca, six times a week. She follows an editorial calendar and even recruits her dad, Barry Wizov, to proofread every piece before it posts. “He helps me keep that voice,” she says. Wizov’s style is conversational, honest and upbeat. “I don’t like the word critic,” she says. “I’m reviewing them but staying as positive as possible.” She’s also part of an expanding blogosphere that includes guest posting on other foodie blogs and collaborating with a blogging group called Sunday Supper. “It’s a movement about easy dinners around the table as a family,” Wizov says. All of her dishes, like her signature mushroom and butternut squash with risotto, are easy, healthy and meat-free. “I love just opening the fridge and seeing what’s there,” she says. For some of her favorite Boca restaurants, check out Rebel House, City Fish Market, Sushi Rock, 13 American Table and The Tin Muffin Cafe. – H.C.