Jas from All that’s Jas shares her full time journey including blogging flexibility with family, writing with English as a third language and knowing when to take a step back to avoid burnout.
Welcome to the 13th interview of Full Time Foodies with Jas from All that’s Jas!
Full Time Foodies is a series which shares stories from full time food bloggers around the world with helpful resources, recommendations and advice.
Now, without further ado – over to you Jas!
Let’s Get Started
How did you come up with the idea to start your food blog?
My very first website was Cooking by Ingredients where I had this idea that you could select from the list of ingredients, and it would generate/pull up recipes for you, but I knew nothing about blogs and I’m not a website developer so that didn’t turn out the way I hoped.
My current blog is also a dinosaur created in 2010 on Blogger. My newlywed daughter constantly asked me for the same heirloom recipes because she “forgot” to save them, so I started writing them down on the blog to have easy access.
I found this new hobby very enjoyable and started posting more recipes from the Balkans, specifically Bosnia, where I was born and raised before moving to Germany then the States. We have traveled to many European countries, and it made sense that I would want to share recipes for traditional dishes found in these areas with others. That’s how the tagline “comfort food from around the world” was born.
My other hobbies were nature photography and writing short stories, so I decided to combine them with recipes and hence the blog’s name All that’s Jas. Little did I know, that is the worst thing you can do to a blog.
What does your day to day look like?
My daily schedule is VERY flexible! We have a blended family of six grandkids (and counting)! My husband and I are blessed that they live close by, and we can help whenever needed. I’m also the caregiver for my elderly parents, so doctor visits and short-notice grandma duties often interrupt the schedule I’ve set. I’m sure every “sandwich” generation can relate.
I’m also a human magpie and get easily distracted by “shiny things.” Meaning I start one project then have an idea for another, and another, and my to-do list grows while I get more overwhelmed. You’d think I’ve mastered managing my time better by now, but here I am.
To free up time for the blog, I do meal prep and cook ahead for at least 3-4 days. Then I can either cook and photograph for the blog without feeling rushed to finish on time for lunch/dinner or write and edit photos without breaking to make the said lunch/dinner. I also schedule Facebook, three posts per day, for a week at a time.
What task gives you the biggest joy with blogging?
The most fun is cooking and taking photos, hands down! As a blogger, I love the supportive blogging communities and their invaluable source of information and inspiration. I’ve made some wonderful friends through them, too!
Let’s not forget the loyal followers and readers – they’re the main reason we do what we do, and I love connecting with them through their comments and feedbacks, even the negative ones because how else can we grow and improve?
Do you celebrate your achievements? How?
I do, but I need to be more intentional about it. It’s a great motivator. Like buying that new lens or kitchen gadget BECAUSE I reached my goal, had a milestone, or a small win, and not simply because I can afford it, need it, or want it.
What’s the most difficult aspect of blogging for you?
I struggle with writing the most. English is my third language, and it takes me three times longer to find the right words to express myself (even answering these questions took me a full day). It doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist. Social media presence is a runner-up. It eats up so much time with little to no rewards. And, as I mentioned before, time management and prioritising.
Have you come across any challenges or pitfalls? If so, how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge is keeping up with the constant changes in blogging practices. In addition, being a hobby blogger for so many years before becoming a full-time blogger left me with too many posts that need redoing – writing for SEO, taking new or resizing old photos, etc.
I spend most time constantly updating and not enough creating new content. Plus, I’m a “one pony show,” and there are only so many hours in a day.
I try not to beat myself down about it and approach it one step at a time. If I work on it daily, even for just 30 minutes, it’s progress that I take as a small win.
How do you stay motivated?
I’m not always motivated, and that’s OK. I give myself permission to take a breather and step away when I feel burned out. If that doesn’t help, I think of my biggest dream or something I really, really want that is not reachable without putting in the work. So, for example, buying a new car (which I just did, yay!) or taking my whole family (all 14 of us) on a trip to Europe is an excellent motivator. Eyes on the prize!
Going Full Time as a Food Blogger
How old is your blog? How old was it when you transitioned to full time?
My blog is 12 years old (2010), and it was almost 8 years old when I switched to full time. I know, I was super late.
What made you take the leap to full time?
It was getting harder to manage the blog, growing family, and the full-time job, so I decided to take the leap and quit my 9-5 office job in hopes that my blog could replace that income. It took another two years to accomplish that, given that I had eight years’ worth of posts that weren’t SEO optimised – still working on updates, though.
Luckily, my husband’s income was enough to support us while I was figuring it out. He was and is very supportive and my biggest cheerleader, although he doesn’t help in any aspect of blogging except taste-testing the food.
What does working full time on your blog mean to you?
Food is my passion, and now I get to do it all the time. “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” – so true. Fan fact: Up until my twenties, food and I didn’t get along. You can read about it on my About page.
Being my own boss gives me the freedom to have a flexible schedule, and the timing was perfect. With the demands of a growing family, ageing parents, and an ever-changing work environment, no boss would let me take that much time off. Plus, I don’t have to deal with office dramas, and I only must answer to myself. It’s super liberating!
Would you say your blog has grown at a faster rate since going full time?
Oh, without a doubt! Though I’m currently only working part-time, it is still generating a decent income. It was more like an allowance in the past.
Do you outsource any aspect of your business? If so, what?
I used to have a VA for writing, Pinterest, and managing social media but now do everything myself – Jas of all trades.
All my VAs were great! For help with writing, I figured that by the time I wrote up everything I wanted her to cover, did keyword research, and made minor changes like recipe tips or adding something else I forgot to mention to her, I was spending too much time on it to justify the expense.
Pinterest changed its algorithm, and I’m not scheduling as many posts as I used to, so there’s no need to outsource that anymore.
And finally, for social media, I felt as though I lost some authenticity when someone else answered the questions for me or was posing as me when engaging.
What is your biggest traffic referrer?
Organic search from Google is my biggest traffic referrer, about 65%. After Google, it would be the direct traffic and then Pinterest.
What is your income split between ads, affiliates, sponsorships or other?
- Mediavine ad income: 90% (Average monthly RPM: $22)
- Affiliate income: 5%
- Cookbook royalties: 4%
- Product sales:1%
I used to do sponsored posts but paused it for a couple of years. I need to start pitching brands again soon.
Does your blog fully support you, or do you have other income streams?
My blog supports me, but we also have my husband’s salary. I have a cookbook that brings some revenue. I created it as a legacy for my grandkids, not as a source of income, but then made it available for purchase. I don’t promote it at all, other than placing a link on my blog, so it’s not a substantial income. New cookbooks with customers in mind are my next goal.
What change do you think has made the biggest difference to your blog?
Millions of things affect the blog, some small, some big, and some huge. I tried to make those changes with as little expense as possible, but you must spend money to make money, which is valid for any business.
Investing in a mini audit with Casey Markey was the best decision I’ve made, and that’s after already having an audit with another company a few years prior and paying them extra to do some updates. Unfortunately, they were not competent, and I had to redo their work. So, you get what you pay for.
I also hired NerdPress for technical issues on my blog, which triggered hiring more IT professionals and buying plugins and software packages. None of that is cheap but having it in place pays itself back many times over.
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What skills have you mastered to get you to where you are today?
A food blogger wears many hats: we are cooks and recipe developers, food stylists, and critics, photographers, videographers, editors in chief, writers, authors, graphic creators, managers, social media influencers, marketers, and negotiators, to name a few. But understanding SEO is the essential skill that makes all the other skills shine through.
How many posts do you aim to publish per month? Do you schedule your work in advance?
Right now, I’m focused on cleaning up old posts, but my goal is to share at least five new recipes monthly. I don’t schedule blog posts in advance because I don’t have a set posting schedule.
Advice, Learning and Looking Toward the Future
What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self about to make the transition?
I did little to no research when I started blogging, and it even took years into blogging before I realised that blogs could make money. Duh! All the years I wasted “hobbying”, ha!
I also wish I had rebranded when I went full time because no one associates All that’s Jas with recipes, but I was terrified because the blog was already eight years old at that point.
Where do you go when you’re looking for blogging advice?
I have a few close blogging friends that I go to first. There are also several Facebook groups where I look for answers before hiring help. Mediavine Publishers and Food Bloggers Central are the two favourites. Blogging on WordPress is another informative one. Grayson, the admin, is an affordable IT.
If you offer advice to food bloggers as a coach or mentor, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?
I’m always happy to connect with others, help, or answer any questions via email: jas [@] all-thats-jas [dot] com or on social media platforms.
What resources have helped the most, and had the biggest impact on your blog?
I watched many YouTube tutorials to learn how to use my camera in manual mode and edit photos and videos. I upped my food photography game with How to Photograph Food and Plate to Pixel books and with Joanie Simon’s photography tutorials.
Jenny Melrose’s course Pitch Perfect Pro has helped me land sponsors and I’m always listening to TopHatRank for SEO advice.
What’s your current focus or area of study for your blogging?
Right now, I’m focusing on self-improvement: how to manage stress, tune out distractions, change old habits such as procrastination, overcome resistance, and work more efficiently.
What current goal are you working towards?
The current goal is to finish the updates on old posts, which is an essential part of the bigger goal: always to at least double the page views from the previous year.
Where do you see yourself and your blog in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully, somewhere warm on the beach while a great team of people handles the daily nitty-gritty. Dream big, right?
Now we have to ask…
What’s your funniest cooking fail?
Not sure if it was the funniest, but the most memorable one is when I made turducken for Thanksgiving one year and invited the extended family to dinner. It took me two days to debone the birds, then make three different types of stuffing from scratch, one fancier than the other, and roasted vegetable gravy.
When I cut into this concoction, it had the most beautiful layers, and everyone was impressed. However, the mixture of those different layers yielded less than desirable flavour. What a letdown! Sometimes, less is more.
Which recipe do you cook the most from your blog?
I love cooking new recipes and often joke that I need a clone to make all the ones I want to try in my lifetime, but my go-to recipe is this easy ravioli lasagna because it’s, well, super easy. My family wants my Colombian pork and sausage risotto and German schnitzel in pepper sauce repeatedly. My most popular recipe, according to Google, is my no-bake milk tart.
Finally, where can people find and connect with you?
If there’s a question you’d LOVE to know from full time bloggers, feel free to email us with your suggestions. We hope you’ve learnt a thing or two today to help you with your food blogging journey. Make sure to comment below and let us know your favourite take-aways!