Hi! Happy Saturday!
I told you I wanted to get a little more personal here on the blog, and I figured I’d start out with something that has been extremely near and dear to my heart lately. It’s something that I wasn’t told enough through college. It’s something that, once I finally figured out, changed my life completely.
Friends, life is too short to not be totally, entirely, wholly, unconditionally, absolutely, completely in love with what you’re doing.
It’s a simple concept, but I think we’re all a little suited with a bit of self-sabotage when it comes to actually making it happen. For 23 years, I was a self-sabotager. And I was always told that I didn’t need to love my first job out of college. That there was time to find that dream job. But friends, that just wasn’t good enough for me.
And that’s because I’ve found a passion, a driver, in my life that I’m completely in love with: food blogging.
I know. For those of you reading this that aren’t bloggers, this may sound a bit ridiculous. When I talk to people outside of this realm about food blogging, they kind of smile, cock their head to the side, and say, “…oh!” I think they tend to equate food blogging with early 2000s blogger stereotypes: ranting to anyone who will listen.
Food blogging is so not that. Food blogging is connecting with readers. It’s connecting with brands. It’s recipe testing. It’s photographing. It’s writing. It’s creating. It’s entrepreneur…ing.
And, quite frankly, it’s everything to me.
I started my food blog, Fooduzzi.com, in December 2014. Over the past year-plus, I’ve hit over 26,000 page view per month, I’ve worked with companies like Bob’s Red Mill, Costco, and DeLallo, I run ads on my site, I’ve written two eCookbooks, I work with other food bloggers, I’ve been featured on brands Instagram pages…
Yes, it has been a crazy year. And honestly, I crave even more. Blogging is the first thing I think of in the morning, and the last thing I think of at night. I work all weekend and every night, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And that’s how I know I found my passion.
But like I said, I only started Fooduzzi a little over a year ago. I went 22 years without knowing I had such a passion. 22 years where I was trying to find my direction and getting frustrated in the process. Trying to find something that made me tick. Something that got me excited. Something that I truly loved.
Maybe you’re out there reading this, knowing exactly what you want to do. If so, that’s awesome.
But, if you’re feeling a little directionless right now, please know that you’re not alone. Feeling like this can be isolating, frustrating, and scary. Especially if you’re in college where it feels like we’re expected to figure out our entire futures in 4 years.
But if I can do it, you can do it. And hopefully some of these tips will help you along the way.
So first, you have to find you passion. Whenever I’m feeling doubtful, Mark always has me do this exercise where I picture whose lifestyle I lookup to most. Do I look up to the lifestyles the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have? Do I look up to the lifestyles of the café owners down the street? Or do I look up to the entrepreneurs who get to work for themselves, create their own schedules, and do their own thing? For me, it’s the latter. I look up to Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction, Jessica from How Sweet It Is, Angela from Oh She Glows, and Katie from Chocolate Covered Katie. But I suggest seriously looking at those around you and thinking about whose life you’d like to have in 5 years, in 10 years, in 20 years…
I also tried to think of what I spent the most time doing. For me back in December 2014, that was watch Food Network, cook, and read other food blogs. Clearly, I wasn’t going to find a job that paid me to watch Alton Brown all day, so creating my own food blog seemed like the obvious choice! Along those same lines, what gets me up in the morning? As weird as it is to hear, a little over a year ago, reading food blogs and learning about food were the things I was excited about on the daily. And the same rings true now.
So, once you’ve found a bit of a direction, reach out to those you look up to. Those whose lifestyles you want. Those who are doing the very thing that you want to be doing. They figured it out, and they’ll, more likely than not, help you figure it out, too.
Again, Mark was my saving grace. Once I started my food blog, I craved learning as much as I possibly could about working with brands, increasing my page views, and building a community of readers. Mark suggested that I reach out to Jessica at How Sweet It, who is also from Pittsburgh and who runs her blog as her full-time job. For someone like me, full-time blogging where I get to create my own schedule and run my blog as a business is the dream. So why wouldn’t I reach out to those who are already doing it and see if they could give me any tips?! THEY’VE already figured out the tough parts!
Luckily for me, after I reached out to her, and she asked me if I wanted to become a part of her team. I just started working for her for about 10 hours a week. So, I not only get to shadow her, I also get to help her and learn from her every single week. Who knows what one little discussion over coffee can spur.
Also, do your research. I know researching sounds boring on the surface, but you wont be able to get much out of your passion if you’re not willing to put the time and effort into doing it right. Research the barriers to entry, the costs, the timeline…any possible piece of information you can possibly find and absorb it like a sponge. If you want to be the CEO of a certain Fortune 500 company, research who currently holds the position, how they worked their way up, and why they are a good leader. Find leadership books, TED Talks on YouTube…everything and anything that you can possibly get your hands on. It’s better to understand the industry or position you want to get into, then to go into it blindly.
So you’ve found your passions, you’ve learned about your passions…now it’s time to make it happen.
Connect with like-minded individuals. Those who support you. Those who inspire you. Those who encourage you. It’s THESE types of people who you’ll want around when it’s time to celebrate your victories or console you when you stumble.
I know it sounds clique, but believing in yourself is half the battle. You can learn and connect with people all day long, but I’ve found that it isn’t until you can really say, “I can do this,” that things really start to click.
You know the saying “practice makes perfect”? That saying rings true especially hard when figuring out your passions and what you want to do. It used to take me hours to figure out how to do the most minute changes on my blog or to photograph my recipes. I’ve been adamant and I do at least something for my blog every single day. I treat my blog as a “job” just as much as I do my full-time job. Just like my full-time job, I consciously set aside time every single day to work on Fooduzzi. I treat my blog as a business; businesses need a ton of time, effort, and, most importantly, dedication in order to thrive. I hold myself and my blog to that same standard. By treating my photography, writing, and development as a second job, it’s much easier to make my passion a priority every single day.
That being said, you might not be able to pursue your passions right off the bat, the day you figure out what you want to do. I’m the same way – I took a job as at an accounting firm right out of school. But my full-time job has given me plenty of time to work on my passion. I’m still able to post 2-3 days a week without much of a struggle. It has also given me the opportunity to share my passion with other – I lead healthy eating meetings to a couple of the groups in our office based on what I’ve learned from my blog. It’s been one of those “bloom where you are planted” sort of things; while my full-time job isn’t blogging at the moment, it has given me the opportunity to work towards that goal.
I know I’m sounding like a broken record here, but connecting with others, especially those who want the same things as I do, has been one of my biggest motivators through this whole blogging endeavor. Mark, who is an entrepreneur himself, is one of by biggest sources of encouragement, inspiration, and support. Other bloggers, particularly bloggers at or around the same point in their blogging journey as I am, have also been helpful. Being able to bounce business ideas or question decisions off others has shed light on outcomes I wouldn’t have thought of without them.
In certain situation, two is better than one. Collaborate with others. Again, you’ll get one of those “think-tank” situations going on, and come up with unique solutions from two (or more!) angles. Remember that food photography, entrepreneurial workshop I mentioned on Monday? Jessica and I have met to discuss topics, signups, and visuals, and the ideas we have come up with together are far stronger than those we came up with on our own.
I base most of the somewhat-success I’ve seen with my blog on the goals I have set for it. Having goals gives me something concrete to work towards, rather than just heading full-speed into the unknown. Right now, my goal is to write an eCookbook within the next 4 weeks. I also want to be able to sell that eCookbook. Among the normal day-to-day tasks I have for my blog, having that goal in mind gives me a clear direction on where I can delegate any free time I might have.
I also know when to celebrate and when to step back. When I was featured on Whole Foods’ Instagram feed, you better believe that Mark and I bought a nice bottle of wine and celebrated. But when I have writers’ block, I know my post won’t be as strong if I force it to happen. Instead, I take a break – I watch an episode of Gilmore girls or I spend time with our kitten. I’ll come back much more refreshed and ready to publish a much better post.
Also, don’t expect everything to go your way right out of the gate. If it does, that’s awesome. But it’s unlikely. No matter how much you want to succeed with your passion, there is no way that you reach it overnight. You can’t will yourself to be successful. Allow things to happen naturally. I’m not telling you to sit back and just expect things to happen on their own, but allow your hard work to run its course. It’s hard to not give up when nothing seems to be going your way, but once you start making progress, all of those struggles will be worth it.
I’m not here to tell you that following your passions and making them a reality is easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest things you’ll do. But I can say with complete certainty that it’s one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. But when it gets tough, it helps to remember why you followed your passions in the first place. For me, I started my food blog to help others find delicious meals, desserts, and snacks that are nourishing and healthy. I also started it because of those entrepreneurs I looked up to. The ones who get to work for themselves, create their own schedules, and do their own thing. If that’s the lifestyle I truly want, the struggles are worth it if it means I get to be there in a few years; therefore, remembering the end-goal is a constant priority for me.
But most importantly, food blogging makes me happy. It’s the thing that gets me up in the morning. It’s the thing that gives me purpose. I feel like my best self when I’m behind my computer, connecting with readers and other bloggers. I get to do the things I love – write, photography, cook, eat…THAT is why I stick with it.
There were too many instances in my life that I’ve made decisions solely based upon what I thought others wanted me to do.
Even something as simple as “what do you want for dinner tonight?” was always a struggle for me because I was in the constant pursuit of pleasing others.
If only I tried to focus on pleasing myself.
I’m not happy working in a cube-farm. And you know what? That’s OK. I’m not happy doing paperwork all day. And that’s OK, too.
Don’t ever feel like you have to do something you do want to do. I fell into that trap for far too long. I felt like people expected me to be this or expected me to be that. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter.
You do you. Do what makes you happy. Follow those passions. See what you can do.
Food blogging is my passion – what’s yours?
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