Each week we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This week we meet Mary, the Toronto blogger behind Mary's Happy Belly where she focuses on Cantonese and Asian inspired recipes.
Name: Mary Tang
Blog name and URL: Mary’s Happy Belly
Where were you born? I was born in Hong Kong
Where are you living now?I am living in Markham, Ontario
Why did you start your blog?
I started blogging when I went on maternity leave as I wanted an enjoyable hobby to keep me occupied aside from taking care of a baby. It was a platform to document my recipes.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I came up with the name in 10 minutes. It was easy.
I created a blog name not thinking of where my brand would be 5 to 10 years down the road, and wanted it to be personal, which is why I have my name in it. When I put the words “Mary’s Happy Belly” together, I felt that it described my love for good food, and a lot of it. The name felt right, seems positive and accurately describes me!
What do you blog about?
My blog content has evolved over the years. It started out with recipes in the first few months, and then the content changed to restaurant reviews, and promotion of Toronto events.
Over the past couple of years, I have focused mainly on Cantonese or Asian-inspired recipes, with periodic travel posts, chef interviews, and appliance reviews.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
My blog is something in between. The blog started out as a hobby but in the last few years, I have had more sponsored brand partnerships and it became more business. My blog has opened a ton of opportunities for me including teaching and food demos.
I still write my recipes for my family and I mainly, and not for blog traffic.
I am so thankful for having my blog during this pandemic. For the last few months, I have been focused on my blog full time, and it has kept me very busy learning about blogging best practices. I have a huge appreciation and respect for the food blogging community.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
I really like my Chinese steamed tofu with shrimp and scallop recipe. I have taken my parents steamed tofu recipe and made it better.
They normally steam the tofu with pork and wood ear fungus.
I think this recipe is modern, really tasty and easy to make. I feel like it showcases my skills of being able to take a traditional Cantonese recipe and putting my spin on it.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
My Instant Pot chicken congee is currently my top post on my blog, while my Instant Pot Century Egg and Pork Congee gets less love. I think it is a combination of not choosing the right key words for hits on Google, and that this congee is less popular than a versatile chicken congee. The century eggs are also an acquired taste and texture, but I love it!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
My “how to make crispiest fish skin chips" post is doing surprisingly well. The post talks about techniques, but does not actually have a printable recipe.
The accompanied overhead video for the post happens to be my most viewed YouTube video with over 20 k hits. I need to make similar videos for my channel!
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
The technical part of blogging from implementing a new theme, adding in code, making sure a widget works, understanding Google Analytics fully etc. I feel like my blog can have a better user experience with better technical skills.
I google the technical questions, but that still doesn’t help me most times.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
My biggest lesson is that it was the best decision ever to start a blog! For those out there who are contemplating, I say the hardest part is “showing up”.
Find your “why” and blog away. In hindsight, I would have written my blog posts differently knowing that it would become more than a hobby, but learning is part of life and learning is part of the blogging journey.
What has been your biggest success as a blogger so far?
My TV experiences! My brand has helped me gain credibility alongside my auditions for my gig as a TV show host on One World Kitchen teaching Cantonese cuisine, and my appearances on daytime TV segments.
Back in late February 2020 on The Social, I was introduced as “Mary Tang, Food Blogger at Mary’s Happy Belly”. It felt amazing to be recognized as a food blogger. Yes, bloggers unite! We all should be proud of the hard work and content we produce!
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
There are so many amazing Canadian food blogs, but the top 3 that I actually read are:
- Travelling Foodie - Raymond has a lot of great content from recipes, round up posts of restaurant recipes, as well as travel posts. I am impressed with his pictures, the amount of details in his post, and that he also has lots of video content as well. Editor's Note: you can read our profile of Travelling Foodie here.
- Carmmy - Carmen’s recipe posts are detailed with great tips and photos. I actually tried out one of her bread recipes recently.
- In Search of Yummyness - Shareba has a lot of great content including recipes showcasing international cuisines, gardening tips and even resources for bloggers. Editor's Note: you can read our profile of In Search of Yummyness here.
I am happy to call all three of these talented bloggers my friends. Thanks to the food blogging community.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
My favourite meal is dim sum! Before the pandemic, my family and I used to go monthly.
What are you working on next for your blog?
Increasing my blog traffic is my main goal at the moment.
There’s a lot of work to be done including fixing older posts.
I am working on a few business plan ideas around my blog and looking forward to implementing at least one of the plans by next year.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
I have quite the appetite and eat a lot for a small person! Whenever I visit NYC, I fit in about 4-5 full meals a day with pictures and an itinerary to prove it all.
I also enjoy trying new dishes from various ethnic cuisines, and would say I have adventurous taste buds, which is why I love to travel!
What makes your blog unique?
I am a Toronto based blogger with TV experience that has a niche in Chinese cooking.
How do you cultivate a sense of community around your blog?
My other media platforms including Instagram and Facebook is part of my brand strategy to showcase my home cooking, as many recipes may not be on my blog. Instagram is where I am most active and where my community is most engaged.
I acknowledge and respond to most comments and also enjoy looking at tasty photos. I also have made some great friends in the blogging community who have been a great support system.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
The blogging resource page. There are a ton of articles that I have referred to.
I have learned a ton from attending the sessions at FBC Conferences in the past. The information I received from the conferences have been the most useful resource for me from FBC.
I have applied what I learned from those sessions including how to pitch to media, and the importance of branding.
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