Carrigaline Entrepreneur Leading The Way On Cork’s Content Creation Scene
Writes Ciaran Dineen
It has been an extremely busy few months for Carrigaline’s Aisling McCarthy, whose food and beverage content creation is grabbing the attention of restaurants, bars and even supermarkets across Cork and Ireland.
It has been a process that first started out as being just a hobby, but has since lead to the establishment of a modern and bespoke business that has made Aisling one of the county’s most liked content creators, and she really is only just getting started.
In her final year of college, where she studied Marketing at MTU (Formerly CIT), Aisling set up an Instagram page called Bits and Bites, where she highlighted some of her favourite places to eat and visit in Cork. At first it was just something to put on her CV, but the page quickly attracted a fanbase, eager to check out the popular content.
But that all came to a bit of a halt in March 2020. With the world effectively closing down, so too did the opportunity to travel around the city and county to test out and capture the locations and delicacies in which Aisling had found success. Fortunately, it wasn’t the case of sitting back and waiting for things to return to normality, and it’s just as well the young entrepreneur didn’t, as she has gone from strength to strength ever since.
During the lockdown Aisling rekindled her relationship with baking, which she had always enjoyed but on which she never focused primarily. She put away her travelling boots for the time being and traded them in for a whisk and apron. She began to pour her passion into the mixing bowl and it didn’t take long to pay off, as Bits and Bites quickly grew in popularity, amassing a large number of new followers, with just under 9,000 people now following the page. “I really went hell for leather”, Aisling explains when asked about the success during the early months of the first lockdown in 2020. “I had always had a strong love for baking so it was a really easy and natural transition to start throwing out the recipes.”
The quality of mouth-watering food that she was producing was one thing, but a product can only achieve its potential if it is presented in a way that makes it so good that it simply becomes too irresistible to ignore. Her marketing skills mixed with another passion of hers, photography, were equally as important in building the Bits and Bites brand.
Scrolling through the many posts of delicious-looking food, it’s evident that Aisling was spending more time on ensuring that she was able to capture her product in the right way, with the quality of content in terms of design, colour and creativity, improving again and again. The ‘food porn’ that ends up making its way onto the plate doesn’t just happen by magic and it’s the work that goes on ‘off camera’ that makes the difference, as the Carrigaline woman explains. “I love photography and I am a very creative person. So, I love taking the photos and making it look as good as possible but obviously there is a lot of work that goes into that process with styling and editing and things like that, because you have to be able to create something that will make people actually want to consume it.”
She caught the attention of Cork’s hospitality scene, leading Aisling to set up her own business in the summer of 2020, which fits neatly into the food and beverage, hospitality and lifestyle scene. “I started my own business called The Content House which sprung from what I was doing with Bits and Bites. It was after businesses around Cork started contacting me asking if I would do once-off photoshoots for them and create content to promote their product. So my clients for The Content House all came through Bits and Bites, so they really complement each other well.”
Content creation and marketing is all about staying on top of the latest trend and trying to get ahead of the curve. Over the last number of months Aisling has been on the top of her game and seized the initiative by spotting the ‘Reel’ craze on Instagram, which has drawn massive attention since they were first introduced.
Essentially ‘reels’ are very short videos which captures popular content over quick transitioning images and clips, which looks to offer the consumer more of an “experience”, according to Aisling. Being able to have the adaptability is very much an important aspect of good marketing, with the former Carrigaline Community School student saying, “when you’re in marketing and content creation and something like that comes up, you really just have to jump at it and say ‘I really need to get on this straight away’. I had never gone near video in my life so it was a big learning experience but you get the hang of it when you start doing it regularly.”
Like with every other step up in her content game to date, there was a reward for all of the extra effort and new material for Aisling, as she recently grabbed her biggest partnership to date, signing a 5-recipe contract deal with Costcutter. The business is constantly growing day by day and since the ending of the latest lockdown, Aisling argues that there has never been a better time for businesses to get their social media promotion and marketing going in the right direction. The transition to online retail strategy is putting the 24-year-old through her paces, with many of her new clients taking their first steps into the digital transition, having never had an online presence before.
In terms of the long-term future, Aisling maintains her ambition of keeping both Bits and Bites and The Content House going simultaneously. “With Bits and Bites I want to keep doing what I’m doing and let it grow organically because I still want that to be fun, where I’m travelling, enjoying good food and coffee and stuff like that. In terms of The Content House, it’s growing a lot faster than what I thought it would, which is great. Early next year I would love to hire someone and have that person grow with The Content House and then maybe long-term turn it into an agency.”
Progress with The Content House is already being made, she recently signed with two new partners for branding and web development, these being Out Here Creative and Elite Web Studios.
The future therefore looks bright on both fronts for Aisling, and given how the last 18 months has gone for her, there is nothing to suggest that she won’t continue to make strides in the industry for many years to come. If you would like to see more about her business, you can visit The Content House at thecontenthouse.ie or find Aisling’s content on Instagram @bitsandbites.ie