I talk to many people who think you require some perfect set of skills to be a successful food blogger. Whether that is professional training as a chef, a lifetime of cooking in the kitchen, or a magnetic personality that draws people in. I think it can be valuable to share a little bit about myself, which should give you hope that if you put the time in, anyone can make money as a food blogger.
I graduated from college with a degree in Psychology at the University of Utah. Go Utes! I then followed a very atypical post-psychology path and got jobs doing programming and web development, mainly with a focus on fantasy sports. I only seriously started cooking about 14 years ago, just a few years before I started blogging. So basically the training and background you would assume you would need to be a successful food blogger, right?
A little over 12 years ago I started blogging in my spare time and after a year or two I was making some money, but certainly not enough to live off of. I was experimenting with AdSense, paid ads, affiliate links, sponsored posts, and all that fun stuff we all enjoy so much. Then in 2009 I decided to try something a little different and see if I could move beyond ads, and focus on my readers.
So I published a cookbook, Cooking Sous Vide. It was 74 pages, black and white with 20 photos, 12 of which were stock photos, and was priced at $10. It's not exactly a coffee table cookbook that your friends will "ooh" and "ahh" over. At the time, the only other cookbook was Thomas Keller's Under Pressure Cookbook, a $50 glossy tome full of some of the best recipes in the world. I almost didn't publish mine because I was so worried what people would think.
It came out at the end of November and in December it made $3,000, the most I had made in any month that year, by far. I also got amazing feedback from my readers, telling me this was exactly what they needed. Because of that success, I started to really look at how I could better serve my fans, instead of only focusing on working with external companies.
So over the next decade I released another 13 cookbooks. I also converted them all into ebooks, releasing them on Kindle, iTunes, and Nook, as well as selling PDFs directly from my website. I also began wholesaling my books, and licensing my content to equipment manufacturers and publishers.
I then looked at expanding into areas many food bloggers don't go. I released a total of 20 smartphone apps, a Sous Vide Timing Ruler, several lines of branded shirts and swag, several video courses and email courses, a Sous Vide Drying Cloth, and a patronage campaign. I'm also throwing a huge sous vide conference.
As you can see, food blogging isn't a quick and easy way to fame and fortune. It took me 3 years to make enough to live off of and 6 years of hard work to finally turn it into a full time job.
But if a psychology graduate with minimal cooking experience and an expertise in fantasy sports can create a successful food blog, what's holding you back?
If you work hard, you WILL be successful, regardless of your background.