Here's my story of how I Quit My Job to Become a Food Blogger. Something I have been dreaming about for years and is finally my reality!
I have thought about how it would feel to write this post MANY times over the last few years. And I am here to tell you, it is even more exciting than I imagined! I am so grateful to be able to follow my dream and pursue a career I am so passionate about.
But first, thank you...
And before I dive into the journey that got me here, I first have to send out a HUGE thank you to my TSV fam. You all are literally the best. You have gotten me here through your continued support of everything I do. Every time you make one of my recipes, leave a review, post a photo on Instagram, comment on Facebook, pin on Pinterest or like a video on YouTube, I see you. I see you, I thank you and I appreciate you. TSV is so much bigger than me and these recipes. It is a whole community of people that are absolutely amazing. So THANK YOU!!!
Now, that we got the most important part of this post (YOU) covered, let's get into the details of how we got here.
Let's take it back 10 years
In 2010, I graduated college and had zero job prospects, a very unclear vision of what I wanted to do with my life, and not a lot of money in my pocket. So, when I got offered a job at a crappy hotel, I took it. I needed to pay rent after all.
The shifts there were long. I spent many days working 12-15 hours, bouncing between my job at the front desk and my night shift at the convenience store next door. And while there were TONS of rude customers, long nights and time spent crying in the back office (this happened more than I'd like to admit), there was one positive to this job. I had a decent amount of down time during my shifts where I could browse the web and look through Pinterest. This is where I discovered the blog world and I was immediately hooked.
I loved looking at recipes, interior design and DIYs. And seeing that people were out there making a living off of doing this was so exciting to me. I wouldn't do anything with this idea for another 4 years, but this is where a spark was lit in me.
I finally got a "real" job
Over the next 4 years, I would leave my crappy hotel job and get my first 9-5 position at a non-profit as an Office Manager. I was so excited to work there! Not only did I love their mission, it was also in the field I had always thought I would work in. I got my degree in Sociology and Public Service, so it seemed like the stars had aligned.
I quickly moved from Office Management to Operations and took on a little bit of everything. IT, construction management, facility management...basically if it had anything to do with the building, I was in charge of it. My retired supervisor took me under his wing and really wanted to mentor me into becoming a success in the San Diego facility management community. He directed me to courses I should take and connected me with possible job leads that were quite lucrative. And as a young female in an industry dominated by middle aged men, I had a lot of opportunities to pursue that path - and probably would have had a lot of success.
But, what no one knew was that I still had something in me that wanted to pursue blogging. I don't know what it was about it, but I knew it was for me. I hadn't even started a blog yet, but I knew! 😂
But I still wanted to be a blogger
So, in 2014 I purchased my first DSLR camera and bought a domain - eatstylecreate.com. Yep, TSV was not my first blog! That site no longer exists, but it was a "lifestyle blog". AKA, I had zero direction and did a little bit of everything. DIYs, fashion round-ups and recipes. When people say that you should pick a niche when starting a blog, they are BEYOND correct!
It was so hard to come up with content every week that was balanced between the 3 categories. And I leaned heavily towards the recipe creation 😉 It was my favorite part of my blog.
I wrote this blog for 2 years. It never really took off (shocker, since it didn't have a real direction) and I was still working my day job through it all. BUT, the positive part of spending the time to create this other blog is that I learned SO MUCH!
How to buy a domain, set up a host, work the backend of wordpress, take photos, edit photos, SEO, set-up an Instagram, Facebook page and Pinterest business account. Basically all of the crazy stuff that goes on behind the scenes that make a blog successful. And while this particular blog didn't become a success, I was ready to start over. And a big lifestyle change made the idea for my new blog a no brainer.
I WENT VEGAN!
In the summer of 2016 I went vegan - my journey to becoming vegan is a whole other post, so we'll leave those details for another day.
And like I mentioned, my favorite part of my old blog was the recipe creation. So it just made so much sense that I start a new blog that was strictly recipes...vegan recipes, of course.
So I set out to name my new blog and start from scratch. I landed on the name This Savory Vegan because I knew that there would be a heavy emphasis on savory vegan food. It is what I like to make, what I like to eat and what I wanted to share with people.
At that time, the vegan community was an interesting place. There was a huge emphasis on the HCLF (High Carb Low Fat) vegan diet. Where you could watch people on YouTube eat 30 bananas for breakfast and 10 pounds of potatoes for dinner.
Ok, everyone wasn't that extreme, but it was still a fad diet within the vegan community.
I saw it as no sauce, no seasoning, no fun. And who wants to eat pounds and pounds of mangos and bananas everyday??? So strange.
Being vegan can be fun!
I also knew that if I was going to overhaul my own food choices, I needed to incorporate ideas from my pre-vegan days in new and creative ways. And that's what I wanted my blog to exude. Being vegan doesn't have to be boring. Being vegan doesn't have to be exclusive. And being vegan can be FUN!
(I've included some photos below of recipes I make at home. Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see more of what I eat on a daily basis!)
I wanted to create a place where vegans AND non-vegans could come and find recipe inspo that was delicious and familiar. I didn't want a place that outcasted people who weren't perfect vegans. If you are just incorporating vegan food once a week, that sounds great to me. Shaming people into being vegan wasn't (and still isn't) my vibe. I'd rather show people delicious vegan food that they can integrate into their lives, whether they are vegan or not.
Starting this new blog from scratch was daunting BUT exciting. It was a topic I was so passionate about and so excited to share with people. But, it also meant giving up 2 years worth of content and followers from my previous blog. It was a risk I was willing to take, and let's be honest I wasn't making ANY money from my previous blog at this time.
This Savory Vegan came to life
So, I buried my head and got to work. After building up a few posts for my new site, I officially launched TSV on October 1, 2016.
The next year included shooting recipes on the weekends (since I could only get good lighting in the middle of the day - and during the week I was still at work), writing blog posts at night, sharing on social media as often as I could and trying to figure out ways to actually start making an income from this side hustle.
Be sure to scroll through my recipe section to see some of the older posts.
How I started making an income as a food blogger
One year in, and I finally had enough website traffic to apply to Mediavine - an advertising network. Advertising networks have specific traffic requirements to join, and hitting this milestone was huge for me! The way they work is they negotiate with advertisers, then place ads on your site. They take a commission off of your earnings and then you pocket the rest.
I know ads can be annoying, but what you have to remember is that bloggers are providing FREE content. So by placing ads on a blog, you are still able to provide that free content and actually get paid for it. It took me 3 years (2 years of my old blog and 1 with TSV) to start getting paid.
I'm not going to say what most bloggers say... "I never wanted to make a profit. It was just a fun hobby." I wanted this to be my job from the get go. Again, something in me just knew this was the right career path for me. But, even though I knew what I wanted longterm from this passion project (a career), I didn't expect a return overnight. I knew I was going to have to put in many, many, many unpaid hours. But it was worth it to me. I was in it for the long game.
Now that I was making some income, I just went ahead and quit my job...NOT! 😂
I actually went through a break-up right when I started making some money from blogging. So that income couldn't have come at a better time. Going from a two income household to being on my own was expensive. Luckily, through this new income, and continuing to work at my day job, I was able to support myself 100%. And that was an amazing feeling. For the first time in my adult life I was completely self-sufficient.
Over the next 3 years I would continue to work at my day job and blog after hours. And, I FINALLY decided to tell people in my life about my blog. Up until that point, I had only told my immediate family and oldest friends. No one at my day job knew about it.
I didn't tell many people because when you're starting something like this, everyone wants to give you their opinion. And the last thing you want are naysayers. I knew what I wanted and where I thought I could go, and I didn't need anyone telling me otherwise.
After spilling the beans, my boss was beyond supportive and gave me more flexibility in my schedule. This allowed me to take some time during the week to work offsite so that I could get some of my shooting done. Expanding my ability to shoot during the week (and not just on the weekend) was such a blessing 🙌
During this time, I also saw another jump in my website traffic, which allowed me to switch from Mediavine to AdThrive. AdThrive is another ad network, but they have stricter guidelines to join. You needed to have at least 100k page views per month to join. That switch alone helped me double my income! A total game changer.
Saying goodbye to fear...
Because of this, I started seriously considering leaving my job in late 2019.
I know what you're thinking... "Well, here we are in late 2020, and you are just now leaving your job? Why?" There is a laundry list of reasons why it took me so long to take the leap. Financial, personal...but, most of all fear. It is scary to say goodbye to a job you've had for 8 years and be 100% self-employed.
That means I have to be a REAL grown up. I have to buy my own healthcare, set up a new retirement plan and ensure I am getting paid every month. The fear is real people!
But, you know what outweighs the fear? The excitement I have to do something I love every...single...day. And knowing that ALL of my attention can go to TSV and all of you. I have so many big ideas for where I want to take this blog and this brand. And now I have nothing holding me back from making them happen.
As you can see, this transition did not happen overnight (not by a long shot). But, I truly believe everything happens when it is supposed to happen. Through this journey I have grown as a woman, a photographer, a businesswoman, an entrepreneur, a website designer, a dog mom, a social media "expert", a food stylist...and in so many other ways.
Stick with it and you will see results!
This journey has been long, but it seriously feels like it went by in a blink of an eye. So, if you are an aspiring blogger, just know that it is not about becoming an overnight success. It is about enjoying each stage of the process, cultivating a community and honing your skills along the way. There is no perfect timeline, and you are right where you are supposed to be.
And if you are reading this as a TSV fan - from my Grandma who liked every Facebook post since day one, to someone who just stumbled on my site today - THANK YOU! I continue to show up because YOU continue to show up. This is a community that I am so proud of and I can't wait to continue this journey with you!!!
Rene - Founder, This Savory Vegan