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Cookier Close-up: Glory Albin, Blockbuster Blogger, Self-Taught Food Stylist, and Soon-To-Be Author

Though perhaps best known for her blockbuster blog, Glorious Treats, which delves into everything from cookies and cakes to all-out dessert parties, Glory Albin is far more than her online presence.


Glory Albin headshot

In just over three years, she’s become widely known for her simple yet striking food styling aesthetic. (In fact, she taught Food Styling 101 to a rapt audience at the first-ever CookieCon.) Her recipes – particularly her signature layered desserts - have received national acclaim in Woman’s World, Parenting, Artful Blogging, and a host of other online publications. She is putting the finishing touches on her first cookbook. And, most important, she is full-time mom to two adorbs little girls, and wife to her high school sweetheart.


So, how does she swing it all? You’ll soon find out. Glory joins us today to chat about what it takes to create and maintain a successful blog; how to style your own photos for maximum wow-effect; why cookies have a special place in her heart; and how she makes sure there’s time left over for her family  - and herself.


JMU: Hi, Glory! It’s so nice to catch up with you again! [EDITOR’S NOTE: I first had the pleasure of meeting Glory in 2012 at CookieCon, where we were both presenters. Our second meet-up was over dinner about a year later in northern California, her home, where I was traveling on business. I’d have been crazy if I hadn’t seized that opportunity to get to know her better!] 


I hear you’ve been busy since we last talked. But before you bring us up to speed on your latest ventures, I’d love for you to tell our readers how you got started in baking. Straight out of school, you worked for eight years as a floral designer, a job which you’ve said you loved, right? So why did you give it up for blogging? And food blogging, in particular?


GA: Hi Julia! Thanks for hosting me here today! Yes, I did love working as a floral designer! Although the job is not quite as glamorous as people imagine it to be, it was a great creative outlet for me at the time. I quit my job as a floral designer after having my second daughter, in order to be home full time with our two girls. I had no immediate plans to find a new “job."


In an effort simply to find a new creative outlet, I took a “Gourmet Cookie Decorating” class through our local parks and recreation department. That very first night in class, a spark was lit in me to learn more about decorative baking. That spark quickly grew into a flame, and my passion for decorative baking continues to burn! I started blogging about three years after that first cookie class. 


JMUI don’t believe you went to culinary school or had any formal baking training. If so, how then did you gather the courage and cred to start a baking blog?


GA: My mom is a great cook and baker and taught me (and my two sisters) all the basics at quite young ages. By the time we were (each) 12, we were expected to plan and prepare dinner for our family once a week. In my early teens, I spent part of each summer perfecting recipes to enter in the county fair. I was able to win my summer spending money from prizes for cakes, pies, and breads. 


In addition to the basic instruction from my mom, my college major was Family and Consumer Sciences, which includes culinary arts. I have taken several college courses on nutrition and food preparation. Although, as I mentioned above, my skills in decorative baking really took off simply as a result of finding a hobby I loved! I spent several years devouring every book, website, video, and local class I could find on cookie, cake, and cupcake decorating. I still love learning, and really enjoy that baking is a hobby that I will likely be able to enjoy throughout my life.


Morning Glory Flower cookies


JMU: When I see a photo like the one above on your site, I can’t help but think that decorated cookies hold a special place on your blog and in your heart. Is this so, or am I just imagining things? If so, what is it about decorated cookies that captivates you?


GA: Yes, you are right, decorated cookies do hold a special place in my heart! I am a perfectionist by nature, but have found that if I try to “perfect” every area of life I drive myself (and those around me!) crazy! I love channeling my perfectionist tendencies into my baking, and especially cookie decorating. 


Certainly, I have not (and will never) actually “perfect” this art, but I love the detail and patience involved and find it both relaxing and challenging . . . a perfect balance!  [EDITOR’S NOTE: Hmm . . . This sounds all too familiar! Could it be that perfectionism is a genetic trait of all cookie decorators?!]


3-D Pumpkin Cookies


JMU: I especially love your filled pumpkins (above) and other layered 3-D cookie innovations, like your Christmas drums (below). How do you come up with ideas for new cookies or other recipes for your blog? It must be a huge challenge to constantly innovate week in and week out. How do you keep your designs fresh, and where do you draw the line between what’s “new” and what’s been done before?


3-D Christmas Drum Cookies


GA: Thank you! I find inspiration in lots of different areas of life, in home dÉcor, fabrics, paper, and everyday objects. I really love color, and can plan a whole dessert display in my mind by being inspired by a pretty color. I keep a notebook of my ideas, and always have more ideas than I will ever be able to complete!   


The inspiration for the 3-D Pumpkin Cookies came in part from a fun set of Piñata Cookies (by Project Denneler) that I wanted to play with a bit, and simplify. I remembered some 3-D Cupcake Cookies (by Sweet Sugar Belle) and thought I could combine the two ideas in a fun way! Once I made the 3-D pumpkins, my mind was filled with tons more ideas using the same general concept! I would say this process is similar for most of my ideas . . . I find inspiration in several places and combine it with my own twist.


Yes, there is always a fine line when working on “new” ideas and/or recipes. In reality, if I want to make a recipe for chocolate cake, it will need to have a base of general ingredients that will be extremely similar to those in recipes over the past 100 years. I simply have to be honest with myself and my readers that whatever I have posted is a little variation that I worked up. Certainly there will be overlap with other bakers or artists from time to time; it would be naive to think that I am the only one who could come up with a “great idea” for a “such and such.”


If I want to make a snowflake cookie, I just have to let myself make a snowflake cookie . . . regardless of the millions of snowflake cookies that have “been done.” At this point, I actually have to choose not to spend much time searching online to see if an idea has “been done,” or I would find that in fact almost everything has! I try to add my own touch, and allow my work to speak for itself. 


JMU: You not only develop recipes for your blog, but you also style and shoot all of the gorgeous photos that we see there. A tremendous amount of planning and work must be required to pull off a high quality blog post each week. But before we go there, I’m going to pause for a sec to wow our readers with one of my favorite photos from your site.


Rice Crispy rainbow cake


Who knew Fruity Pebbles and Rice Krispies could be so glam, right?


Sorry, I digress . . . Glory, can you tell us what your typical week looks like, and how you go from an idea at the start to a full-blown blog post by the end? In other words, what steps are involved in crafting a great blog post?


GA: Most of my ideas start in my “blog notebook.” I have an actual notebook where I write down ideas as they hit me, and I organize them on a calendar. 


In a typical week (during the school year), I get my girls off to school, and then I spend about an hour reading and sending (blog-related) emails. At that point I’ll often start a recipe in the kitchen, or possibly two at a time. I’ll spend a couple hours working in the kitchen, sometimes going back to the computer while things are baking or cooling to work on editing photos or writing text for a future post. Depending on what I baked or made that day, I may keep working on the item (in the case of decorated cookies), or I may be able to photograph the dessert that same day. Most often, I try to bake one or two things one day, and then photograph them the next day. In an average week I’ll create and photograph one to three desserts (or posts). Some weeks I try several recipes and have nothing to show for it! I try to have at least a month of blog posts planned ahead at any given time. It would not be uncommon for me to be making Halloween cookies in July. 


When my girls come home from school (in the afternoon), I have to step away from “work” until they are in bed (at 8 pm). I often spend several hours late at night answering emails, editing photos, and writing blog posts. In general, between the baking, photos, and computer work, I spend 40 to 50 hours a week on my blog.     


JMU: I’ve remarked about your photos more than once in this interview, and that’s because they’re so darn good! Did you just pick up a camera one day and teach yourself, or did you go about learning the art of photography some other way?


GA: Since I was a teen I have wanted to “someday” learn photography. Just after our second daughter was born (in 2007), my husband encouraged me to finally buy a “nice” camera like I had always wanted. We headed to the store and bought a Cannon 30D EOS, a semi-professional line camera. Shortly after, I took a semester-long photography class at our local community college which helped get me started. I still use the same camera, and know that there is still LOTS I could and would like to learn about photography! 


JMU: You have a really clean, crisp prop and food styling aesthetic. As more and more cookiers are styling and shooting their own work for Facebook, websites, and other promotional materials, what styling tips can you give them for creating a cookie photo with maximum wow-effect?


GA: Thank you! I think the biggest tip would be to make it a priority to shoot your photos in good light. I know as bakers (and especially cookie decorators) we often don’t complete our projects until late into the night. Do not try to take photos at night (unless you have a professional photo studio)! Photograph your “art” in natural light when at all possible! Look for a window in your home that gets a lot of light, but not direct sun, and take your photos right next to it.


If you don’t have good light inside, head outside and take your photos in bright shade or “open shade,” meaning in shade, but close to bright light.


My second bit of advice would be that, if you want beautiful photos, you need to be willing to invest at least some time in creating them. We spend hours decorating our cookies or cakes, and then want to “snap” a quick photo. Photography is an art as well, and often requires some set up and planning.


JMU: Many bloggers aspire to build enough traffic to attract advertisers, sponsors, and big brands. And you seem to have done all of the above! I’m especially impressed with your regular Woman’s World features. Can you tell our readers how you landed that gig, and what, if any, adjustments you needed to make to write for a national magazine as opposed to your blog? Did you develop new content for them or draw on blog matter? Did you work with an editor or did they give you free rein?


GA: I suppose blogging is like most things in life, you usually get out of it what you put into it. No one becomes a successful realtor, or lawyer, or anything overnight. I spent quite a bit of time researching blogging (from a business perspective) before I ever posted my first post. Then, I spent almost a year building up the content and traffic on my site before I even worried about contacting advertisers. Now that I have been blogging (and working on it full time) for over three years, I have been able to work with advertisers, sponsors, and as you mentioned, a few national magazines. Sometimes I contact sponsors, and sometimes they contact me (and I have no real idea how they found me). I think a lot of it just comes down to time online. I have been given some great opportunities, and there are times I see other bloggers get opportunities I would have liked to have had. We all get our turn one way or another I think. 


Specifically in regards to Woman’s World magazine, which I have had the pleasure of being featured in six or seven times [EDITOR’S NOTE: Way to go, Glory!], the answer may not be super helpful . . . they simply contacted me. To this day I have no idea how they came across my site. For each article they have printed, the editor has chosen the content from my library of (past) blog posts.  


JMU: I recently asked Marian (Sweetopia) this same question, and I’m going to ask you too, mostly because I am dying to know! Can aspiring bloggers expect their blogs to be money-making propositions? If so, is it possible to make a living by blogging, or should people set their financial sights more realistically? If you’re comfortable sharing your personal experience, we’d love to hear it.


GA: In general I would never recommend for someone to “quit their day job” in the hopes of “making it big” blogging. My number one goal when I started my blog was to simply earn enough money to be able to pay for my girls to go to private school. It took me about two years to reach that goal, and that is now where the majority of my income goes. I would not be able to support my family with what I earn from blogging. 


There are a very small number of bloggers who earn a good living from blogging. The vast majority of bloggers simply do it as a hobby - or if they’re lucky (and put in lots of time!), as a hobby that can at least pay for itself.   


JMU: Enough about blogging!  I know you’ve got several other irons in the fire, including a new book! What can you tell us about the topic and when the book is expected to land on shelves?


GA: Yes, I am quite excited to have almost completed work on a book that will be out in March 2014. The book is a dessert cookbook and will touch on a couple of recipes I’ve previously posted on my site, but the vast majority are brand new. I’m looking forward to sharing more info as we wrap up the final details and send it off to printing! 


JMU: How was the book writing process similar to, or different than, developing recipes and writing for your blog?


GA: In general the process is similar to blogging, but with a bit of extra stress! When I post a recipe on the blog, I can always go back in and add information, or make little edits. With a book, it’s there, it’s written, and there is no going back! I really wanted to create a cookbook full of recipes that are super reliable and ones you can come back to again and again. I had to work on writing directions for each recipe that were clear and concise, yet included every detail. I can only hope that I was able to accomplish that! 


JMU: Do you have any other exciting projects in the works for 2014 or beyond? New directions for your blog? Another book in the pipeline? Anything else? We’re eager to know!


GA: My general plans for the near future simply include continuing to try to create beautiful and fun blog content and finalizing all the little details in my book.


JMU: Last but not least, how do you maintain such a busy professional life on top of raising two young girls and keeping the home fires burning? Any juggling tips for our readers?


GA: To be fair, I’m not sure that I always balance it all so well! There are times when my house suffers, and times when my blog work sits. A big part of the equation has to do with my husband! My husband is extremely supportive of me, both as a person and as a blogger. He is a very involved daddy, and an equal partner in parenting. He picks up a lot of slack when I overcommit myself! 


If I felt I was able to offer any advice it would mostly be that there is really no way to do everything, and do it all well. Choose your priorities, and spend your time there. It’s okay (and necessary) to say no to some things (even fun things), in order to maintain some semblance of balance in your life!    


Photo Credits: All photos copyright of Glory Albin



Didn’t get enough of Glory? You’re in luck. She’ll be continuing this conversation in an upcoming live (text-based) cookie chat on July 27 at 12 pm central. Click here for more details and to get your questions registered in her growing queue.


Want to learn more about Glory in the meantime? Take a moment to visit her online:


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Cookier Close-ups is the place on Cookie Connection where we celebrate the change-makers of the cookie decorating world. Whether forging new enterprises, inventing novel decorating techniques, or consistently charming us with their cookie decorating prowess, each of our featured thought leaders has redefined in his/her distinctive way how we interact, create, or otherwise do business here in cookie space!


If there are other cookiers you'd really like to get to know, please post requests in this forum. We'll do our best to round them up for an upcoming Cookier Close-up! Thanks!


Images (5)
  • Glory Albin of Glorious Treats: Photo Courtesy of Glory Albin
  • Morning Glory Flower Cookies: Cookies and Photo by Glory Albin
  • 3-D Pumpkin Cookies: Cookies and Photo by Glory Albin
  • 3-D Christmas Drum Cookies: Cookies and Photo by Glory Albin
  • Fruity Pebbles and Rice Krispies Rainbow Cake: Cake and Photo by Glory Albin

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Comments (15)

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Love this! Glory, I know I already told you this, but your blog was the one that inspired me to try cookie decorating so I will be forever grateful (and also a little mad at you sometimes, when it's 2am and miles to go before I sleep). I love that your mom taught you to cook and bake so young--I'm working on my own kids too! Great to "see" you!

Julia, thank you for this interview with the multi-talented Glory! And Glory, congratulations on your super fun and successful blog, and upcoming book! I also have a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences, Glory, but like you, a class I took is what sparked my interest. I was 15, and it was a cake decorating class. It took me years to try cookies, though, because I knew I would love it, and was afraid it would become an addiction......

What a great way to learn more about Glory! Lots of things struck a cord with me, but this one really did:


"At this point, I actually have to choose not to spend much time searching online to see if an idea has “been done,” or I would find that in fact almost everything has! I try to add my own touch, and allow my work to speak for itself."


SO TRUE! It's so nice to know that I am not a freak with this silly "cookie thing" I do. Strength in numbers!


I got a lot of insight with this...thanks for an informative interview, ladies!


I agree, Melissa Joy. That point really resonated with me. I pull my hair out at times trying to stay creative and to do something completely different, so much so that it can take the fun out of the process. There is a better balance, and I think Glory hit on that point well,

It was a great piece, thanks Julia. It seems like there are so many cookies out there now that yes nearly every idea has been done. I would say the community certainly has bloomed over the last 2 years since I started decorating cookies! Thanks so much for providing this community opportunity!

Last edited by Julia M. Usher
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