I am taking a break from recipes today to talk about a topic that is near and dear to my heart: how I turned my food blog into a career.
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Is turning your blog into a career a challenge? Heck yes. Is it also possible? Totally. This post is rather lengthy, and I have lots to say about this.
So What Do You Do?
I do get kind of squirmy when people ask me that all too common question: So what do you do for a living?
How can I possibly explain that in the ten-second answer most people expect?! 😆 Usually I just say that I am a blogger.
As soon as I answer that I am a blogger, I usually get a ton of questions. That is really a thing? How do you make money off that? How do you get paid? What do you do all day?
How I Get Paid
In short, I get paid a few different ways:
- Ad revenue from my ad network, Mediavine. At the time of this posting this is my main source of income. It is based on page views, so THANK YOU to all who visit my site and visit lots of pages. 😘👍🏻
- Paid sponsored posts – these have been few and far between because I only like to work with brands that I actually use and like myself.
- Affiliate revenue – I link products that I buy and use myself, mostly on Amazon. When people buy things through those links, I get a small referral fee for sending them over. It doesn’t cost the user anything different than if they bought it themselves, but it is Amazon’s way of tangibly thanking me for referring the sale.
Other bloggers create ebooks, courses, cookbooks or other merchandise. I have not felt led to do any of that yet, if ever.
There are a lot of other bloggers who make tons more money than me. And I am SO okay with that. I do consider myself a medium-sized-blogger at the moment. I still have a lot growth goals.
But I am excited and so proud of what I have achieved so far. And I am super excited to see a consistent upward trend in my traffic and income over the last several months. I owe all of that to YOU! So THANK YOU!
I will say that if you want to get into blogging only to make money…you should probably pick something else. It can take years before you start making money. You need some passion about your particular topic to carry you through.
And in those first years for me personally, every cent (and more) was invested right back into my blog – in plugins, hosting, software, tools, cameras, a laptop, lenses, props, groceries, education courses, logo design, etc.
>>>>Side note: check out my favorite blogging tools here.<<<<
Blogging can be expensive, especially if you want to do it well. If you are in it for the long-haul and are wanting to make it your career, it needs to be something you really enjoy. If you find a topic that sparks your curiosity and passion, it will really help keep the creativity flowing.
Humble Beginnings – Getting Started
I started blogging in 2013, shortly after the birth of my son. I actually started blogging in more of the mom genre, to help me process all the feeling and emotions I experienced from becoming a new mom.
I was aware that people made a living blogging, and I wanted to think about that for myself.
However, it felt like some impossible goal! I looked at my own work, and I compared it to bloggers who were in The Big Leagues, and I knew the quality of my work just didn’t measure up. I felt completely inadequate.
But I kept at it! And I had the courage to put my material out there, even though I knew I wan’t very good at it. I am SO very proud of myself for pushing through that stage.
It made me feel really vulnerable to put my work out there, especially when I am my own toughest critic! I am sure any person in a creative field can relate. I knew some people would judge or criticize, but I did it anyway. That takes guts y’all!
Every blogger that I have talked to feels kind of cringe-y about their early work. It is entirely normal. But it is just part of the process.
If you want to be a blogger, my best advice to you is to just start publishing. And learn as you go.
Somewhere along the way I started to gravitate toward food and recipes. I had always enjoyed cooking. I came from a long line of great cooks in my family, and my mom gave me my start in the kitchen.
I joined a support community, Food Blogger Pro, soon after I decided to focus more on food.
This was a tremendous help to me, and I would still recommend this for new bloggers. You need support. You cannot do this alone.
I also befriended a few fellow bloggers who were able to give advice and support. This is invaluable, and I would also highly recommend it! A couple of them were making eight to ten times what I made in my corporate job. This was both mind-blowing and encouraging. (I am nowhere near that level now, for the record. But it is fun and exciting to think about what is possible.)
My parents and in-laws have also helped with childcare during the transitional stage, which has been hugely helpful. Parents – if you have kids, you need dedicated time and space to work on your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Leaving Corporate for Blogging
Prior to blogging as a career I help positions at banking and health insurance companies, in a variety of roles – auditing, risk management, financial analysis and compliance.
I always felt like something wasn’t quite right with my career path, though. One red flag was the complete lack of a desire to advance to any sort of leadership position. I always viewed work as something I needed to do to support the other more “fun” parts of my life.
I was always blessed to work with great people, and in great situations. My last job was even work-from-home, which was amazing. I am lucky that I never had a tyrant for a boss, or any major conflict with any of my coworkers. I had to work some overtime, but it was usually seasonal, and not to often.
I always had the desire to do something a little more creative, though. Sure, I used creativity to a degree in my corporate jobs, particularly for problem-solving. But for the most part, I was working to fulfill someone else’s goals and dreams.
I have a huge autonomous streak. Freedom is definitely one of my core values. I love to have freedom over my time as much as possible. And freedom of location is also hugely important to me. I feel like I need that freedom for my creative streak to be able to thrive.
Downsized: I Got Let Go
In February of 2014 my job in corporate healthcare compliance was eliminated in the aftermath of a merger. It was devastating at the time, but it gave me a kick in the pants to seriously consider blogging full-time. I also found out I was pregnant with our second child not too long after that.
For about a year I also took a part-time contract job in the same field. Although I did not pursue this, I was very fortunate to have that opportunity dropped in my lap. I was able to use the skills I had from corporate to still provide for our family, while growing my blog at the same time.
I feel like not very many people talk about this intermediate step. I would encourage pursuing part-time contract work as an intermediate step if you need to. Contracting can be a great way to bridge the gap between corporate work and blogging full time.
Of course, having an employed spouse was also hugely supportive to my dream. Without the support of my husband, none of this would have been possible. I am so thankful for him.
Growing Your Skills
The thing about blogging is that you just have to start. Start creating something, and then have the courage to put it out there.
And then, focus on developing the skills to get better at it.
One concept that I really love is the 1% infinity concept. Try to create your work a little better than you did before, and just keep going. Just make small, consistent improvements. Over time great progress can be made, and valuable skills can be developed.
Behind The Scenes
Sometimes I think people read my blog and think that I just woke up that day and decided to make muffins (or whatever the recipe is). And I took some photos and published it that same day. And that I spend my time in this very care-free, whimsical world.
Um, NO. 🙅🏼
There is a LOT of work to running a blog, most of which you guys never see.
There are editorial calendars. There is the process of testing recipes (which are often terrible the first few times 😝). There are people who steal my photos, videos and recipes and try to pass it off as their own. 😡😤
There is HTML code, SEO, negotiating with brands, photography, photo editing, social media, accounting, software, taxes, getting lawyers to help you set up a legal biz, website design, answering comments on the blog, answering comments on every social media platform, technical difficulties, website outages.
Well, you get the picture. There is a LOT. And it changes constantly. My job never looks the same from one day to the next.
There is always some new trend that everybody seems to be doing. And it is always changing. It can make you feel like you are going to get left behind if you don’t jump on board.
Being The Boss
In corporate world if I got stumped, there was always somebody to ask. When you are your own boss, there is nobody to ask. You have to be good at figuring out what you need, or figuring out how to find help and resources elsewhere.
You have to learn to trust your gut with making decisions.
You have to learn to validate yourself internally. There is nobody to give you a performance review, or to set your working hours, or to give you goals or guidance.
Some people will not like your recipes, photos, site design, etc…and they will tell you about it. And not necessarily in a kind or constructive way. Learning not to take that stuff personally is a must.
It can be easy to slip into the trap of external validation and comparison to others. Especially in an industry like blogging where we are very metrics-driven. How many likes and comments did that Instagram pic get? How many page views this month?
Blogging as a Parent of Small Kids
At the time of this posting I have a one year old daughter and a four year old son.
And a consistently messy house! 😜🤣
I blogged while pregnant with my daughter, which came with its own set of challenges, namely nausea. I did not want to talk about food. I wanted to eat basic things, and the thought of many food-y things turned my stomach.
This was super stressful to me, especially since I had the desire to grow my blog into a business. I used that time to experiment with different formats like YouTube. I gave myself tons of grace, even though I felt like I was falling behind.
After my daughter arrived it was still difficult. It still is difficult.
My son is in preschool three days a week, but I have my daughter all the time, except for two to three hours a week that my mother-in-law is able to help out. I thank God for her help. That is my cooking and photography time.
I do plan to enroll my daughter in the next school year, but that is still seven months away. I am realizing that I am going to need some kind of interim help even before then.
I struggle with time management and self-care. Sometimes I work when I probably should just rest. Sometimes I feel like I am eating the dust of my childless counterparts.
It is in these times where I get really clear on what my goals are for the season of life I am in. Complete blog world domination? No, thank you. Doing the best I can with what I have? Yes. Finding ways to improve my circumstances and grow my business while giving myself tons of grace and flexibility? Absolutely.
One of the benefits I love about blogging as a career is that it gives me more time with my kids. I love that I can do things like take them to the mall to see Santa on a weekday morning.
If you are blogging with small kids, though, prepare to feel pulled at times. Get used to that feeling and how to manage it with self-kindness, flexibility and tons of grace.
If you want to blog as a career, it is absolutely possible! With time, intention and hard work anything is possible.
It has been a rewarding hobby-turned-career for me, and I am so thankful that my work has led me here.
And if you have read this far THANK YOU! #somanywords #lotstosay 😜👯
Do you want to build a blog as a career?
Would you like to see more blogging posts from me?