Alex from It’s Not Complicated Recipes grew her food blog to full time in less than 6 months. With luck on her side and a drive to become self-employed, her business is a fantastic success story that’s just celebrated it’s 2nd blog birthday. Read all about it on our first Full Time Foodies interview.
Welcome to the Full Time Foodies interview series. We’re Sarah & Laura, the food bloggers behind Wandercooks. We started transitioning to full time on the blog this year, and after some late night Googling, found there was a lack of information and conversation around full time food blogging.
If you want to start a new food blog, you’ll drown in the amount of information currently out there (lucky newbie foodies!), but for the seasoned food blogger wanting those next steps to go full time or just a little encouragement, this is the place for you.
Every blogging journey to full time is as unique as the amount of ways we can all cook pancakes. From those who lost their jobs and were forced into taking the leap, to others who waited until they’d saved for years so they’d have enough support with a little more security behind them. Each path is so fascinating, we feel they should be shared with everyone.
So for our first interview – Alex, take it away!
Let’s Get Started
How did you come up with the idea to start your food blog?
I’d been thinking about starting a food blog for many years, but it was something that always got pushed aside because “I was too busy” or “I would do it next week”.
I had some health issues and had to leave my former employment. After exploring Europe for several months, I returned home not really sure what to do with my days.
I thought about what I loved, and two things came to mind – food and writing. From there, the thought of starting a blog came up again, and so I started to research what was involved.
As for the name and niche – I was having a dinner party and made about 10 different tasty bites. A few of my friends complemented me on the food, and I found myself saying over and over “it’s not complicated”. One of them joked that that would be a good name for a website – and here we are!
What does your day to day look like?
I start my day focusing on social media, catching up on engagement and sharing my latest post across the various platforms, and drinking several cups of coffee!
I then like to go for a walk or spend some time outside to really clear my head and get some fresh air. Next, I get in the kitchen! My days vary between recipe testing or making recipes that are ready to be photographed.
My afternoons are when I usually do my writing and editing, and around about 6pm, I like to knock off work, have a bath and read a book before dinner.
At the moment, I am aiming to get a better work/life balance, as sometimes, I find it really hard to just stop!
What’s your favourite social media platform? Why?
Instagram – I could scroll through the beautiful photos of the food accounts I follow for hours! I love the sense of community on Instagram too. I have made some wonderful connections and people I now call friends.
What task gives you the biggest joy with blogging?
That is definitely a tie between two things:
- One is when I read and reply to complimentary comments from people who have made my recipes. It is such a thrill!
- The other? The cooking. Nothing brings me more joy than spending time in the kitchen experimenting with new flavours or making tried and true recipes. I have always loved cooking for others – feeding people makes me SO happy.
Do you celebrate your achievements? How?
I celebrate milestones – for example, last month, the blog turned 2! And we recently reached 10,000 followers on Pinterest. I truly believe it is important to celebrate success and then make new goals to achieve more! To celebrate, I usually go to one of several favourite restaurants.
What’s the most difficult aspect of blogging for you?
Time management. I really struggle with what to do first!
When I first started blogging, I truly had no idea what was involved. I would have thought the cooking and writing would have been what took the most time, but there’s a lot of time to be spent on photography, social media, technical tasks, research and engagement.
I’m about to hand over my social media to a social media manager, which will free up my time enormously!
I’m also keen to focus on working smarter, not harder.
Have you come across any challenges or pitfalls? If so, how did you overcome them?
For me, it would be the technical side of blogging. I thought I had a decent computer-based knowledge, but it turns out it was pretty out of date! I have had to do a lot of online courses and study to just grasp the basics of many aspects.
This is another task I now outsource – I have a great company who takes care of all technical support issues and it has been a huge time saver – not to mention weight off my shoulders!
How do you stay motivated?
I think we all go through phases of feeling a little “meh” when it comes to any aspect of life, be it work, exercise or even being social!
I find making a plan keeps me motivated – if I set myself a list of goals I want to achieve, and what I am aiming for on the blog, not only does it motivate me, but it honestly excites me!
Going Full Time as a Food Blogger
How old is your blog? How old was it when you transitioned to full time?
The blog turned two in July! It was about 4 or 5 months old when I transitioned to full time.
How did you decide, or what made you take the leap to full time?
I realised at the four-month mark that in order to grow it as quickly as I wanted to, I would have to go full time. I was a little nervous, of course, but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made!
My thought process was broken down into this:
- I knew this was what I wanted to do, and ultimately do full time;
- I thought that I had two choices – I could either work on it part time and see slower growth or throw myself into it full time and hopefully make it grow quickly. The latter was ultimately what I decided to do and make my dream a reality!
What does working full time on your blog mean to you?
I am so grateful every day that I get to do this. As cliché as it may sound, this is my dream job, and I love it. I won’t lie – I have never worked harder in my life than I do right now on the blog, but it is work that makes me so happy.
I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I know this is what I will do for life now! My thoughts are, that the harder I work now, the less I will work in the future!
A friend recently shared her goal of achieving the FIRE principle – financial independence, retire early.
That really inspired me, and I think it has made me want to work even harder now to also achieve it.
Would you say your blog has grown at a faster rate since going full time?
I would say yes, but it is hard to tell given that I started full time so early. However, I feel that it wouldn’t have grown as fast if I had only been working on it part time.
Do you outsource any aspect of your business? If so, what?
I outsource my videos to a fantastic fellow food blogger – she is so talented and has an amazing set up. What takes her a few hours would take me days!
I outsource nearly all technical issues, as I do not have the confidence or knowledge to deal with them myself. I would rather leave that to a professional!
As I mentioned before, I am about to hire a social media manager. I feel that, although social media is fabulous for so many reasons, it just takes up too much of my day. (I am definitely guilty of scrolling endlessly!) And I want to really spend more time in the kitchen.
Wandercooks: Like Alex, we also outsource our tech support. We use NerdPress and are on their Sleep Soundly plan. They’re great for back ups, protection from site hacks and site speed. Their Facebook group is also amazing with the latest updates on what to do/not to do with the latest plugin updates and best website practises.
What is your biggest traffic referrer?
Organic traffic from Google – it makes up about 65-70% of my traffic on average. After that, it would be Pinterest and then direct traffic.
What is your income split between ads, affiliates, sponsorships or other?
Ads make up 95% of my income. I do a small amount of sponsored work from time to time.
Does your blog fully support you, or do you have other income streams?
My blog is my main source of income, and then I have a few investments in place. Fortunately, they don’t take up any time, so I can give my focus and dedication to the blog!
What change do you think has made the biggest difference to your blog?
Consistently publishing new content. I took several months off at the start of the year, and my blog page views grew slightly, which was great! However, since I have started regularly posting again, they grow weekly.
I also think that regular posting on social media (I post daily, sometimes twice daily) has been important.
How many posts do you aim to publish per month? Do you schedule your work in advance?
I aim to post 3-5 new recipes per week, so between 12-20 a month. I sometimes try to schedule my work in advance if I am going on holiday, but otherwise, I tend to work on a day to day basis.
Advice, Learning and Looking Toward the Future
What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self about to make the transition?
Don’t get frustrated when things don’t happen overnight – blogging is a long-term game, and you must be patient!
Also – get started earlier. I don’t believe in having regrets, but it can be difficult to not wonder why I didn’t start a blog years ago when I first thought of it!
Where do you go when you’re looking for blogging advice?
I check out the Food Bloggers Central Facebook group or send a message to some of my fellow food blogger friends!
Get yourself a great support network of fellow food bloggers – they’re a wealth of information, you can make great connections, and they understand how much work is involved!
If you offer advice to food bloggers as a coach or mentor, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?
They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on social media. I would be thrilled to help!
What resources have helped the most, and had the biggest impact on your blog?
There are so many courses out there – some are beneficial, others I find can get a little repetitive. I would always recommend doing your research first and speak to some fellow bloggers about what they recommend.
Eat Your Words Ebook
“The book we wish we had when we first started our food blog. Packed with info, tips and advice tailored specifically for food bloggers.”
Implement a solid keyword research system with easy steps you can follow for each post you publish!
What’s your current focus or area of study for your blogging?
My current focus is creating new content. Toward the end of the year, I want to start focusing on updating older content. I have a lot of posts that need more information, better photos and some actual SEO!
What current goal are you working towards?
My aim is to reach 500,000 monthly page views by the end of the year, and 1 million by the end of 2021!
Where do you see yourself and your blog in 5 years’ time?
I would love to be focused on the cooking and writing side – and have a team help with the rest! A commercial kitchen would also be ideal.
I want to move to Italy, so I love that I can take this job with me anywhere in the world.
Although I am working hard at the moment, I would definitely see myself with more of a work/life balance in 5 years’ time, as I will have a great team of people supporting me.
Now we have to ask…
What’s your funniest cooking fail?
When I was a child, I decided to cook dinner for my parents. I made a tomato pasta sauce. It was all going well, until I added what I thought was regular sweet basil. It was actually Thai basil; and let’s just say I never made that mistake again!
Which recipe do you cook the most from your blog?
Finally, where can people find and connect with you?
Thank you Alex for sharing your stories and tips on our first ever Full Time Foodies interview.
Want more interviews?
- Full Time Foodies Interview #2 with Lisa from Fresh Eggs Daily
- Full Time Foodies Interview #3 with Kristin from Baker Bettie
- Full Time Foodies Interview #4 with Lynn from Fresh April Flours
- Full Time Foodies Resources Page
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!