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Kimberly Morales, aka Poor Girl Eats Well, has something in common with The Dollar-Wise Gourmet: namely, the fact that we both write about living large on an itsy-bitsy budget. But Morales takes the gig to a whole other level.
With nearly 4,000 readers (at last check) on her PGEW blog and nearly 9,000 on the accompanying Facebook page, this is one smart cookie who not only knows her way around a kitchen, but has the marketing and social media savvy to make things sizzle. When I asked, “How did you build your audience?” she answered, “I don’t have a clue.” I don’t believe it for a minute. She knows exactly what she’s doing.
A midtown dweller, Silicon Valley transplant and ridiculously hard worker—she works full time as an administrative assistant and blogs on the side—the 34-year-old Morales is more than a local phenomenon. Her readers span the globe, living in places such as Germany, Canada and Spain. Her blog has advertisers (Red Lobster and Full Sail University, to name a couple) and has been featured on CNN.com. Morales has even self-published a mini-book with reader-favorite recipes and tips.
In brief, this girl has got it going on. But how has she done it? Let us count the ways.
It’s in the genes “My parents were both in the restaurant business, and being Latin American, we’re all huge food lovers,” Morales says. “I learned my hands-on techniques from my mom and just gleaned inspiration from both parents for coming up with my own dishes.”
She’s a natural writer (no formal training), with a flair for engaging, reader-friendly storytelling. She’s also a natural photographer. (No training there, either.) Her food photos are luscious.
She’s got a head for what she calls “food math” “That’s where I do some mental math with certain ingredients and see if they’ll turn into decent dishes,” she says. (Very helpful when concocting recipes, the mainstay of her blog.)
She has no Fear of the Computer “I’m kind of a closet geek,” Morales admits. Website design? No biggie—she’s done that before. Blogging? “It’s really not that difficult,” she says. “Just go to blogger.com and start a blog.” (Gee, she makes it sound so easy.)She has a vision As Morales points out, there are plenty of cheap-eats websites out there, but hers is different in that its focus is on eating well—i.e., healthfully—on a budget. And her recipes are original, literally the product of foraging around in the fridge and seeing what works. “It’s about improvising,” she says.
For Morales, improvising really is what it’s all about. As a single, self-supporting gal who recently came off a long stretch of unemployment, Poor Girl is not just a catchy name for a blog. It’s who she is. “I’m not doing this because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do,” she says. “I’m writing this from the real experience of someone actually going through these struggles.”