Full Time Foodies

Full Time Foodies – Proportional Plate

25/02/2021 (Last Updated: 30/04/2021)

Candice from Proportional Plate shares her journey of learning to balance content as a full time food blogger, and the growth you can achieve by putting in the right work that aligns with you and your audience.

Spicy tofu with text overlay.

Welcome to the 12th interview of Full Time Foodies with Candice from Proportional Plate! If you’ve just landed here, don’t forget to start at our first interview with Alex from It’s Not Complicated Recipes!

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 Candice!

Let’s Get Started

Candice eating chocolate and holding an apple.

How did you come up with the idea to start your food blog?

When I first began writing about food, it was just a way to help my busy friends with their meal planning, experiment with new recipes, and share knowledge about eating sustainably. I came up with the name Proportional Plate because I champion proportional eating, which means that I try to have a higher ratio of vegetables to meat in my diets. I choose to aim for at least 70% plant-based foods, because that allows me to enjoy nourishing and balanced meals that make my body and myself feel good.

My recipes are influenced by international and fusion cuisine, in part because travel has always been a big part of my life, including a year travelling the world with my husband, and also due to my own heritage. My maternal side of the family are Persian, and my father is Israeli but his parents grew up in Eastern Europe and Cuba. I grew up with these incredible culinary role models, blending traditional Persian dishes with Jewish and Eastern European recipes and have always loved experimenting and creating new things!

What does your day to day look like?

I wake up and meditate, to mentally prepare myself for the day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Then, I look at my calendar and stretch while I think about specific things I want to include in my tasks that day. My day is completely laid out with blocks of time dedicated to specific tasks. For example, if I am working on a muffin recipe, I have time blocked out in my calendar to recipe test, do my keyword research, shoot the recipe, edit the photos, and then write the post.

My day-to-day varies dramatically based on what I am working on. I try to work in batches, so if I am having a shoot day, I am likely shooting multiple recipes at the same time. I try to break for lunch with my husband if our schedules align, and then back to it for the afternoon. I have a hard stop at 4:00, and try to do something active like a walk, then make dinner with hubby (if I didn’t already make something for a recipe), enjoy a leisurely dinner together, and then we usually play nerdy board games like old people. I tend to go to bed early and wake up early.

What task gives you the biggest joy with blogging?

I LOVE recipe testing something until I am very proud of a recipe. Getting to share something I have made with people who actually look forward to my new recipes and make them brings me infinite joy. I also love responding to joyful comments on the blog and seeing photos of my recipes that readers have made. This brings me a lot of happiness, especially when it’s something they thought they could never do.

Do you celebrate your achievements? How?

I dance, a lot! I also have a few great blogger friends and we always celebrate each other’s joys. These friends are so important to have if you’re a blogger. It’s a great community on social media, but there is still a huge deal of competition in the saturated market of food blogging. Having a few friends who are genuinely happy for your achievements is priceless. My assistant is also one of my greatest cheerleaders, and I love celebrating the wins with her too. Especially because she is such a big part of them. I also keep a list of blog goals, and checking one of them off is always very satisfying.

What’s the most difficult aspect of blogging for you?

I think the hardest part has been since I transitioned to blogging full time, because now I have to keep certain rules in mind that I didn’t before. When you’re not thinking of your recipes and work as a source of income, there’s more room to experiment and put out the content that you feel really passionate about. But other things come into play when you think of it as a business; I pay close attention to the performance of my site and social media, and sometimes I have to prioritise recipes that I know will resonate with my audience rather than my latest experiment with a niche ingredient that I really loved. It’s all about balance, so that I’m still feeling excited by my work and not too performance-driven.

Have you come across any challenges or pitfalls? If so, how did you overcome them?

Social media can be quite a downer for me. I have put hours and hours of my time into it, and questioning whether or not it’s worth it is constantly on my mind. After 4 years, I’ve accepted my “numbers” where they are at and now spend most of my time focused on my blog. I have specific social media time blocked out on my calendar so I don’t get sucked into hours on my phone, which was always depleting for me. Now that I have small amounts of time allocated to social instead of endless to-do hours, I enjoy spending it relating and interacting with readers and blogger friends instead of just growing my numbers.

How do you stay motivated?

I love cooking, so I stay motivated by taking breaks when I need to and cook whatever I’m fancying. If I’m feeling down, I start cooking crazy things, just for fun and not for the blog. Or, I take a break from cooking and let hubby make some meals for us.

I have to admit that because food blogging is such a saturated market with great content being put out by many, I’ve had moments when I’ve questioned if I am contributing something useful to the space. I have a great team around me that helps me remember why I started doing this in the first place, and chatting with them helps me feel reinvigorated. The reality is that the bills need to get paid, and I want to hire my assistant full time, so those are the bigger goals that help keep me focused on creating great content.

Going Full Time as a Food Blogger

Screenshot of Proportional Plate website.

How old is your blog? How old was it when you transitioned to full time?

I started making my own recipes 4.5 years ago, and building my library of recipes. I launched Proportional Plate online and on social media in December 2016, over the holidays, so it’s almost exactly 4 years old. I transitioned to full time in July 2020.

How did you decide, or what made you take the leap to full time?

One of the positives that came out of Covid was the forced push to go full time, which I had always been putting off. It wasn’t exactly a choice, and I didn’t feel fully ready. But I don’t think anyone really feels ready. I have to admit that going from a steady paycheck to a variable one is still feeling really scary. I am still not making what I was making at my last job, but for the first time, I feel confident that I can get there.

What does working full time on your blog mean to you?

I love working on my blog, so a lot of it doesn’t feel like work. Also, many parts were at one point really hard and new for me like SEO, writing, and photography, but are now a lot easier.

I previously found myself working full time during the week on the hard parts and doing the fun parts over the weekend so I was working 7 days a week and not realising it… that was not healthy. I had to learn that just because I love the work, it doesn’t mean I should be doing it all hours of the day and week.

I forgot that the fun parts are work, too, and my body and mind need rest. I had to remember that I can take my job very seriously, and not be working 80 hours a week. That I should remember that I have the flexibility to hustle and relax on my own time. I’m doing that now. My goal is to not be working 40 hours a week like I am now, but be able to reduce it to 25-30, and focus on the parts that bring me joy.

Would you say your blog has grown at a faster rate since going full time?

It’s still a little early to tell because the boost from Q4 might be giving me false hope! But I feel like I’ve made great progress and I’m really happy with the trajectory that I am on.

Do you outsource any aspect of your business? If so, what?

I am proud that I’ve been able to grow the blog by myself for so long, though I recently have enlisted some help for certain aspects like SEO audits with Casey Markee and copywriting. I really wanted the blog to focus not just on great recipes, but more on education about food topics and I don’t get as much joy from the writing, so I have a copywriter who helps me with those pieces and makes all the crazy ideas and concepts in my head make sense on paper. Everything else, I do myself.

What is your biggest traffic referrer?

Google is the biggest traffic referrer by a long shot, then Pinterest second, but still pretty far behind Google.

What is your income split between ads, affiliates, sponsorships or other?

5% affiliate, 35% sponsorships, 60% ads, but the ads percentage is going up and will hopefully account for the majority of my income.

Average monthly views: 80k-260k, depending on seasonal trends
Average monthly RPM: $20 RPM, but also varies quite a bit seasonally

Does your blog fully support you, or do you have other income streams?

I do business consulting on the side right now for small businesses. It’s funny, I’ve done everything from branding to financials for other companies for a decade now, and only just now rebranded Proportional Plate with my assistant after going full-time. It shows how this blog went from fun to business just recently, and I’m already reaping the benefits.

What change do you think has made the biggest difference to your blog?

Really thinking about and branding my blog, and figuring out what is important to me in this work. Then, making sure my content is aligned with that vision. I am proud of what Proportional Plate stands for and feel like being able to communicate that clearly has been a game-changer.

What skills have you mastered to get you to where you are today?

A huge part of Proportional Plate is my photography and videos: I’m immensely proud to creative direct, produce, and edit all that content myself. Also, being patient when it comes to repeat recipe testing, and fine tuning dishes has been the most helpful skill.

I’m very organised and detail-oriented, so that’s helped me craft my blog since the beginning. Something I’ve also been developing is my proficiency and comfortability with social media; I recently joined TikTok and have a newfound appreciation for the creative ways bloggers are showcasing their food and recipes!

How many posts do you aim to publish per month? Do you schedule your work in advance?

I don’t like to schedule my work in advance unless I am going on a vacation or hiatus. Usually, my belief is that if the post is ready, I’ll publish it within a week. Why hold out on my readers if I’m excited about something? My goal is to publish 4 new recipes per month. That will be after I clean up the thin content on my blog, which is a big to-do on my plate. Right now, I’m publishing about 2 new recipes a month, but cleaning up about 15 recipes a month.

Advice, Learning and Looking Toward the Future

Porportional Plate's Spicy Tofu.

What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self about to make the transition?

To just do it. Simple as that. Since having 40 hours a week to work on the blog, I’ve moved mountains compared to the grains of sand I was moving before.

Where do you go when you’re looking for blogging advice?

I am lucky to have an incredible network of friends and creators in the blogging space: some I know in person and some I’ve met through conferences and social media. I have found that everyone is very supportive and ready to offer help. My close friends also give me so much advice on my videos and recipes, they’re always so enthusiastic and give me a different perspective on things.

My favourite resources are the many Facebook groups with like-minded bloggers, like Food Blogger Central. Also when I started, I used some of the Food Blogger Pro video tutorials. Not really blogging advice, but shoutout to my husband who is my #1 taste tester! It’s shockingly critical, and it’s great to have someone who’ll give you an honest opinion on your food.

If you offer advice to food bloggers as a coach or mentor, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?

Email me! All inquiries can go to media [@] proportionalplate [dot] com

What resources have helped the most, and had the biggest impact on your blog?

Definitely the SEO audit with Casey Markee, the ‘Food Blogger Pro’ Podcast, also ‘Search News You Can Use’ Podcast have been invaluable.

What’s your current focus or area of study for your blogging?

Video seems to be performing well and boosting my blog, so I’m focusing on ways to make it faster and easier to shoot.

What current goal are you working towards?

My tagline for my blog is “Food That Feels Good”, and I feel this expresses the goal I’m working towards with Proportional Plate. I want Proportional Plate to be the place people go for recipes and inspiration to make food that in turn makes them feel good. I think it takes bravery to eat exactly what we want and to feel confident in that decision. Especially when there’s such a distinct sense of elitism tied to certain food choices.

I advocate that there’s no need to feel better or worse than anyone else for the diet that you choose. No matter what your diet consists of, we need to remove the stigma attached to our food choices and be confident that whatever we choose to eat, that choice is not wrong. I am working on this, myself, everyday. And the more people I can share that with, the better!

Where do you see yourself and your blog in 5 years’ time?

I would love to support other bloggers in finding their unique vision for their blog. I’ve done this for so many years with corporate businesses, but my heart lies with creatives. I see myself continuing to create great content, both in recipes and experiential advice. I want to help people learn that whatever choices they make in life (not just in food but in all aspects), people should always do what feels good for them.

Ultimately, I want to support people in creating the life that they want. And the only way I believe I can do that is to live by the advice that I am preaching and sharing about it.

Now we have to ask…

What’s your funniest cooking fail?

I still cringe to think of this one… When I first bought my most expensive kitchen item, an enamelled cast iron pot, I decided to make popcorn in it with coconut oil. I forgot about the kernels I put in, and one of them burned right through the enamel coating, ruining the very expensive pot I had saved up to buy.

Which recipe do you cook the most from your blog?

These two are the ones I come back to and make again and again, both made at least once a month – Homemade Gnocchi and Sweet and Spicy Pan Fried Tofu.

Finally, where can people find and connect with you?

Website: proportionalplate.com
Facebook: @proportionalplate
Instagram: @proportionalplate 
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNM9eCGMmfWJejkx6V2zWgA
Twitter: @proportionalplt
TikTok: @proportionalplate

Thank 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!

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