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5 Years In – My Career As a Food Blogger

Today’s post will be a little different than the usual recipe post, as it is a VERY special day.

On this day in 2014, I first launched this blog!

It’s hard to believe that I am now half a decade into owning my own business, and wild to see just how vastly different my life is from what it was just 5 years ago. 

a couple hugging in a park with trees in the background

If you are new here, or don’t know my story, you can go first to read this post: Life as Entrepreneurs: Our Story which details how both my husband and I made the journey to being 100% self employed, both with our own business. 

And here are the previous recaps that I have done on blog anniversaries:

For this special anniversary, I thought I would share what the “job description” of a food blogger looks like and a little overview of what we do.

Blogging is a very new, and very misunderstood profession. 

Having a career in a field that is not even two decades old is an odd thing, and with it comes that many do not understand or respect your job.

If someone asks me what I do and my sentence includes the word “blogger”, they immediately get uncomfortable or assume that I just do this as a hobby. 

The truth is that this is my career, and my business is a corporation, with real profits and costs (and pays taxes!) every month. 

When I quit college, no one could understand why I walked away from a sure thing – an accountant’s career.

It is a well established profession, but simply was not one that I wanted to be in or had a passion for. 

I would say the main reason that others doubted me was because I walked away from the money to just “play around” with a blog.

Five years later, that decision has paid off and I can confidently say that my salary meets and exceeds the average accountant’s salary in the United States. 

It was not an easy journey, but one in which I worked very hard, doubted myself, and just kept trying over and over again. 

a dad holding his toddler upside down while walking

My family can, and does for around half of the year, live solely on the income that I earn from this blog.

This amazing career that I have worked so hard to build could support my family completely, if necessary. 

The truth is that if my husband did not love his job and his business, he would be a stay at home dad.

Since he is also lucky enough to have built a successful business that he loves, he contributes to our family finances for 6 – 8 months out of the year, and the remaining months he ROCKS it as a stay at home dad so that I can work even more. 

mom, dad, and three year old smiling

So if you have ever wondered to yourself, What does a food blogger do? keep reading!

Every time you click on a mouthwatering recipe from Pinterest, odds are that you just landed on a food blogger’s website. 

Here is a bit about what the ins and outs are of the job, and what I do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis!

What do Food Bloggers do? 

1. Website maintenance and development 

When you first start a blog, you have to pick a domain name, and set up your blog on WordPress. This is a very simple sentence for something that will take a LOT of time. 

I still remember researching for hours to learn how to do one tiny thing, then once I figured it out it was on to research the next. 

It would be lovely to think that once it’s built you can forget it, but websites require constant maintenance, most recently for me has been to try to figure out page speed tweaks, as page speed is a big ranking factor.

Bloggers also need hosting, and so far I have been with 3 hosts in 5 years. 

A blog host is what keeps your website up and running on the internet, for a monthly fee. 

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

2. Keyword research

Very rare are the days where I just have inspiration for a recipe and make it.

Instead, before I even think about cooking, I use software to research things like keyword monthly search volume, keyword difficulty, and dig deep into my google analytics to find what posts are working for me, and how I can expand upon those or do more similar recipes. 

This can take a lot of time, and I have a running spreadsheet on my gmail drive where I keep a list of recipes that I might one day test based on optimal volume, kd, etc. 

Things to consider also include seasonal recipes, or recipes that are timeless and are popular all throughout the year. 

pumpkin cheesecake truffles

3. Marketing & Promotion

This is the area that I spend most of my time on a daily and weekly basis. 

I have heard it said many times that blogging is 20% content creation and 80% promotion.

You can have the greatest recipe ever, but if you do not promote it, no one will ever see it.

Ways that I spend every week promoting both old and new recipes:

  • facebook – posting both recipe links, as well as recipe videos 
  • Instagram – posting recipes, posting to instagram stories
  • Pinterest – I pay someone to do my daily pinning, but I still do all new pin creation myself. Some weeks I will create 2-3 new pins per day every day. I am always creating new pin graphics to see what works, what is popular, and what I need to focus more on. 
  • SEO – I will talk about this more below, but this is a big part of promoting your content is playing by Google’s rules so that you can hopefully have recipes seen by more people in search results
  • Email list – I stink at this one, but there are bloggers killing it with their email subscribers!

toddler taking a bite of a chocolate chip muffin

4. Recipe Testing

The only thing people think I do! 

While some recipes are perfect on the first test, others require several tests before they are just right and ready to photograph.

I have created every single recipe on this blog (around 300!) myself. 

a stack of peanut butter cookies

5. Photography and Editing

I have always had a love for photographs, even before I owned a DSLR camera. 

I currently shoot with a Nikon d750, but started out with much lower grade models over the years.

Just like any skill, the more you practice, the better you will get!

After taking sometimes hundreds of photos every week for 5 years, my food photography skills have improved drastically. 

I have had to learn things like artificial lighting, how to make ugly food look good, as well as learning to shoot completely in manual mode. 

An average recipe I will take 50 – 70 photos of, which is narrowed down to just 6-10 for a post, all which I edit and resize before uploading to my blog. 

I currently use Lightroom for editing, and love it!

chocolate smoothie with chocolate chips on top from an overhead view

6. Writing posts 

This is my absolute least favorite part of my job, I loathe the actual post writing. 

The recipe and pictures? Fun! The writing, and optimizing for SEO and post length, and trying not to say “delicious” for every recipe 10,000 times? Not my favorite. 

Every post has many components to it, such as H2 headers, the recipe card, keywords, and more. 

7. SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO refers to the practices that bloggers do both on a post by post basis, as well as to their websites as a whole to optimize for Google search. 

The end goal is to drive more traffic to recipes. When people google something like “best stir fry sauce”, I want them to land on my stir fry sauce recipe

SEO includes things like page speed, alt tags, headers, post length, recipe card optimization, among others. 

three chocolate muffins with the liners on

8. Accounting and business management

Yep, you read that right, I walked away from an accountant’s career, but you can’t just never deal with accounting if you own your own business!

I handle all of the financial side of both my business, and my husband’s business (he is not a numbers person, and this is the kind of math I don’t mind!)

Last year, I hired an accountant for both businesses and it has been LIFE CHANGING. 

It is so much stress for me to have someone handle all of the expense categorization, taxes, and all the legal side of having a corporation. 

Things I handle include:

  • spreadsheets tracking annual growth, which I evaluate monthly
  • figuring out profit to calculate how much we each get paid every month
  • keeping track of 4 bank accounts (each business has a business bank account, as well as a business credit card)
  • paying the credit cards or other expenses every month that are not automatically drafted
  • sending accountants payroll (once a month for me, twice a month for Robbie)

Things my accountant handles:

  • running payroll for us like a “regular” job, with taxes taken out
  • filing all necessary state and federal reports
  • going over bank accounts monthly to make financial statements
  • dividing expenses into categories
  • preparing our taxes at year end

a blueberry smoothie with blueberries around it

9. Updating and editing old posts

Once you write a post, that is never ever the end, sadly.

It’s a constant process of updating old content to tweak it for SEO and add more helpful information.

I have updated some of my posts more than 20 times each over the years. 

Every holiday season, I go through seasonal posts to optimize them before the holiday rush hits. 

three vegan gluten free chocolate chip cookies stacked

10. Creating Video Content

Have you ever drooled over a 60 second long recipe clip on facebook? 

Those videos take hours to film and edit for just a one minute long video.

I did my own videos for awhile, but ultimately decided that 1) I did not have the time to do it regularly and more importantly 2) I hated it and was not very good at it, despite my best efforts.

Nowadays, I pay someone who creates recipe videos for me every month, and she’s great! 

toddler boy smiling with dad in the background

So there you have it! A brief overview of what a food blogger does day in and day out. 

I am undoubtedly forgetting things, as this job can feel like you are being pulled in a million different ways some days. 

If someone were to ask me if I could pinpoint the reason for my success as an entrepreneur, I would say my sons. 

5 years ago, I had a dream of one day being able to spend tons of time with my kids instead of working a 9 – 5 job. 

My little family is my reason for everything that I do, and my inspiration to keep going when there are the inevitable pitfalls of entrepreneurship, which often feel like a roller coaster ride.

Crosby, and his little brother due in February 2020, are who will always be the most important of all. 

I would also be remiss to not mention the massive role that Robbie has played in my success. 

He is the one who pushed me to start my blog, encouraged me when I was losing money every month, and made it possible for me work from home by being the rockstar dad that he is. 

I take credit for his business success, and he takes credit for mine, as we would never be able to be successful without the support of each other. 

couple smiling with the husband hugging the wife

Food blogging isn’t for everyone, but it is for me!

I am so thankful to have this career that I love, and thanks to all of you who read my posts, share my recipes, and show me when you make them. YOU make it possible to keep doing what I love! 

 

These gluten free pumpkin pie cookies with cream cheese greek yogurt frosting will make you feel like you're biting into a slice of cool pumpkin pie! #pumpkinpie #glutenfreepumpkincookies #glutenfreecookies #pumpkinrecipes 
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Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Cookies
Gluten free pumpkin muffins with dark chocolate chips – these are AMAZING! And they don’t fall apart like a lot of gluten free stuff (they use oat flour and coconut flour) #glutenfree #pumpkinmuffins #pumpkinrecipes #healthyrecipes #muffins #healthymuffins #glutenfreemuffins
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Cindy

Monday 21st of October 2019

What a great overview of all that goes into bring a good blogger. Congrats on 5 years and wishes for continued success.

Joy Shull

Monday 21st of October 2019

Thanks Cindy!