How Blogging Changed My Life

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How Blogging Changed my Life with opportunities I never thought possible, from writing a book to creating my dream job. I want everyone to start a blog!

How Blogging Changed my Life and offered me opportunities I never thought possible!

Today I have no recipe for you. Today I’m doing something a little different.

We’re getting a little close and personal today because I want to share my story with you, more specifically my blogging story. The term “blogging” isn’t very pretty or even a respected word as it has become attached with a kind of rolling of the eyes. That’s fine. Those people can do their own thing. I’ll be over here living my dream and with a job that doesn’t remotely feel like work.

In all seriousness, my blog has changed my life. That casual decision I had all the way back in 2009 to start one of those food blog things has led to opportunities I would have never thought possible (more on that in a second).

I was 18 and about to start college when I started my Handle the Heat. I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life, even the idea of having to choose a college major was crippling. Finding a creative outlet for a new passion was something I did to procrastinate from making life decisions (and when I say “new passion” I mean new – I only started to become interested in cooking/baking at the end of high school).

I enjoyed blogging when I started, and it was purely a hobby. I had no idea you could make actual money from it. In fact, part of me thought I didn’t even deserve to have a blog because I suffered from imposter syndrome. I felt like no one would want to listen to some 18-year-old girl who had no actual credentials or expertise write about cooking, baking, and recipes. So I avoided talking about my age and details of my personal life so no one would find me out and reveal the girl behind the curtain.

Looking back, that was so silly. There’s never been a moment in time where I regretted being myself. Luckily, once people did inevitably learn about my age and background I was welcomed, not rejected. Other bloggers were so incredibly nice and encouraging, as well as the few readers I had at the time. And looking back now I’m so glad I overcame that fear of rejection, because funnily enough my blog and now my blog’s business has put me ahead in life by years.

Blogging became more and more enjoyable, and one month that winter a whole 3,000 people visited my blog. 3,000! Imagine if I filled a room with that many people! That blew my mind, and I had no clue that one day I would grow to see nearly 10 times that amount per DAY. I started to realize that this newfound love of being in the kitchen could not continue to be dismissed as a “hobby” while I tried to find out what I could do for a career. I had to find a way to interweave it into the most important aspects of my life.

So after two years of college, two years of feeling lost and confused, I decided to enroll in culinary school. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, especially because I knew I didn’t want to work in a kitchen. I wanted to help other people find joy in their kitchens. I felt like I was taking a HUGE risk and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do culinary school and earn my bachelor’s degree from university. In the end, I was able to do both AND graduate a semester early.

Want to know the craziest part of all?

During this whole period I was emailed by a cookbook agent asking me if I’d be interested in writing a cookbook.

HA!! I thought. That’s a creative spam email. Delete.

Yeah… that’s not a joke. That was my actual reaction because the idea was so far out of the realm of possibility in my head. Who would think I was capable of writing a book? Luckily she emailed again and I realized she was legitimate. We worked hard together to create a book proposal and it was sold at auction to a publisher in 2012. The following year was the craziest of my life. I managed to earn a bachelor’s degree, a culinary degree, maintain a part-time job, maintain my blog, and write a cookbook. There was lots of hair pulling, a few tearful breakdowns, and countless moments of self-doubt but somehow I came out the other side.

If I hadn’t felt such intense passion for what I was trying to do, I don’t think I would have been motivated to work so hard and remain so disciplined.

I hope I haven’t bored you to tears yet. Let’s fast forward to today, 2014.

I recently celebrated my first anniversary of blogging full-time. Soon after finishing my schooling I began looking for a “real” full-time job because I thought that was what I ought to do, all the while I had a little secret dream deep inside to pursue my passions full-time and become the entrepreneur I’ve always wanted to be. Nothing was panning out (benefits of graduating in a post-recession economy) so I kept working at my part-time college job and working at the blog. Eventually my blog began to earn more money than my part-time job and I realized there truly was potential to turn it into an actual business and full-time job. I worked hard for about 3 months to save money and to harness my blog’s earning potential so that I could quit my part-time job and pursue full-time blogging on a trial basis. The trial ended and I realized I had created a career for myself.

So, here I am. 23 years old and self-employed with my dream job. I get to wake up every day and chat with you guys online, create and share scrumptious recipes, and work with some amazing people and brands. I get to work from home on my own schedule and travel whenever I want. I worked hard to get here, but a lot of people helped me along the way. The support of my readers, of the blogging community, and of my family made this all possible.

I’m not saying this all to brag by any means. I’m saying it because I hope my story can help anyone who’s reading (and if you’ve read this far – wow!!) realize that the our world is full of possibilities, as cheesy as it sounds. You don’t have to be the best, you don’t have to be an expert, and you certainly don’t have to be perfect to turn your dreams into reality. In fact, there will never be the perfect time to follow your dreams, you just have to DO IT. Following your passions will make you want to work as hard as possible and be the best you can be. Even if you can’t see it at the start, everything else (including money) will eventually fall into place. Hell, if I can do it, you can.

I know a lot of people think starting a blog has become a cliché.

Maybe it has a little. Who cares? As you can see, starting a blog and following your calling (even if you’re not 100% sure what that is exactly) can and will change your life. Sharing your passion and yourself with the world makes it just that much better of a place, and will lead to opportunities you never thought possible.

I know I sound a bit fanatical, but it’s only because I’ve been lucky enough to find happiness and a touch of success that I want to share it with as many people as possible. I feel kind of like a blogging missionary, I want to show you that the internet is a powerful place filled with limitless opportunity. It’s insane. And if you don’t take advantage of the fact that you live in this day and age, you’re wasting that opportunity.

If you’ve always wanted to start a blog, but have let insecurity, fear, or a list of excuses stop you, I want you to change that today. I’ve written an article on How to Start a Food Blog, but really it can be applied to just about any blog. With 5 steps and about 15 minutes, you can create your own path in this world, a path that’s one step closer to your dreams. I hope you’ll give it a go, starting a blog was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There’s no better time to start than now, you owe yourself at least an attempt.


How to Start a Food Blog

And if you’ve already started a blog, keep at it. Aim to make it a little better everyday because by the end of a year you may have something amazing.

You may be wondering why I’m an advocate for blogging when it seems like every blog that’s created may compete with mine. There are 3 billion people online across the world. There’s more than enough room for all of us, and we all have something unique to offer. Plus, I’m a firm believer that a rising tide lifts all boats.

If you have any questions about my journey or about blogging in general, let me know below.

I’ll try my best to answer because I want to help as many people as possible. I desperately wished I had someone to turn to when I was starting out because I know how overwhelming it can all be.

Did you find this interesting?

If so, you’ll probably love the new project I’m working on called Food Blog Academy. Feel free to signup just below to receive more blogging articles, tips, tricks, and tutorials straight to your inbox. If you want to go a step further and enroll to receive exclusive training on how to transform your blog into your dream job, be sure to check it out here. Happy blogging!



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  1. #
    Rachel J — November 5, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post Tessa! You are incredibly inspiring and talented. Life got in the way of growing my blog that I started last year (moving across the country and a new baby!), but I REALLY want to try again. You’re correct that the competition out there has made me feel fearful and insecure. I know I just need to be courageous and do this for me. I want to learn how to take beautiful photos of food, develop my writing, and become a respected member of a community of people who LOVE food. I really feel like I have a virtual mentor in you, so I am going to do this! I just need to START. 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

      Thank you so much Rachel! I really hope you find the time and courage to just start!

  2. #
    Karol — November 5, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I am 66 years old and about to step into the next phase of my life. This is the best phase–taking all the experience that I have previously had and stepping out into a new area–doing what I was designed all along to do. Your blog today has been so encouraging! My nine year old granddaughter and I get together once a week and do one of your recipes. You have made it so fun!! She is learning to cook for the first time and I am having a “re-birth” of the joy of cooking–so thank you very much!

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Wow Karol!! I’m so touched to be even a small part of something so special between you and your granddaughter. I hope the next phase of your life brings you lots of love and joy. Cheers!

  3. #
    Louise — November 5, 2014 at 6:11 am

    I’ve followed and enjoyed your blog for awhile now and honestly never thought about your age as you come across as a pleasant professional who speaks to me over morning coffee. After today’s blog, I just want to thank you for sharing yourself with us and congratulate you on taking the chance on your dream. You are a creative, talented young woman who is stronger than you give yourself credit for and have something here that you should be very proud of. As I am of that age when “I’m old enough to be your mother”, it’s refreshing to see someone with such drive and conviction in the path they have chosen. Stay on the great path you have chosen for your life and thank you for letting us walk along with you.

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Thank you so much Louise – your kind words and encouragement mean a lot! What a wonderful comment to wake up to. So happy to have you here.

  4. #
    Soraya — November 5, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Hi Tessa!

    Congratulations on living your dream. I just want to know how you get paid doing blogs? Do you get sponsorship or paid for every person that views your blog. Please help me to understand how you made a business out of your passion.

    I am still starting out in my career but having a back-up would be awesome!

    Keep up the good work!!

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Hi Soraya! Thank you! The basic ways that people make money blogging are:

      1. Advertisements – you place ads on your blog and get paid every time someone sees them (or clicks them, depending on the ad network)
      2. Sponsored work – you partner with brands to promote their products and are paid for your services (recipe writing, food photography, social media promotion, etc.)
      3. Affiliate Marketing – you recommend products to people and make a commission off any sales
      4. Products – you create cookbooks, e-cookbooks, t-shirts, whatever kind of products to sell to your audience

      Blogging can also lead to other paying opportunities. Hope that answers your question!

  5. #
    Stacey — November 5, 2014 at 7:07 am

    What a great story!! To say I am slightly jealous…haha. Seriously though, way to go! I love your recipes BUT I also love reading this type of stuff too! Keep living your dream! Even if my dream isn’t blogging, you have inspired me to reflect on what my dream is and how to accomplish it!!

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Haha! I know that feeling all too well! Thank you so much Stacey, I’m so happy to hear that 🙂

  6. #
    Dala @ Thyme + Tamarind — November 5, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Beautiful! Exactly what I needed to read this morning.

    My kitchen is being remodeled, and I’m struggling to keep my food blog going during the process. I am trying my best to use this time to research, explore, and jot down ideas for the future growth of my blog!

    You are such an inspiration! And all at the age of 23. Keep dreaming big! And keep reminding us to dream big 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Thank you so much Dala! I can’t imagine trying to work full-time (and then some) and run a blog while your kitchen is being remodeled. At least after it’s done you’ll have a beautiful space to work in. I can’t wait to see the “after!”

  7. #
    Gerry @ Foodness Gracious — November 5, 2014 at 7:14 am

    You’re awesome…and i love that last quote. A rising tide does lift all boats 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Thanks Gerry 🙂

  8. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — November 5, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I am so proud of you and how far you’ve come. I am so grateful to have met you and call you a friend! Can’t wait to see where your journey takes you!!

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Awh thank you Liz!! You are an inspiration to me and I’m equally grateful to call you a friend. xoxo

  9. #
    Pam — November 5, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Hi, Tessa: I just read your post with my morning coffee. Your blog is one of my very favorites. Every Ultimate Guide you have published is permanently bookmarked so I can refer back whenever I need to. You have accomplished so much and become an important part of so many lives. Keep writing and keep posting those wonderful recipes. You are definitely an inspiration.

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:06 am

      Thank you so much for your sweet words and encouragement, Pam! They are greatly appreciated 🙂

  10. #
    Dayna — November 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

    This is such an inspirational blog post for those who have yet to start their own blog. When I started out I felt pretty overwhelmed. I felt like it was a competition and if I didn’t get many likes or comments or followers then I felt like a failure. Eventually, after taking a break for a while, I realised this was a ridiculous attitude to have and that I should just enjoy writing about the things I love, am interested in and have a passion for. That’s what kept me going in the end and still keeps me going today. Even if I have gone from just reviewing and writing about books to branching out and writing about anything from books to makeup to animal cruelty.

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:07 am

      I have so been there in that same mindset which is no fun. I’m glad you were able to take a step back and revitalize your passions. Best wishes to you!

  11. #
    Valerie — November 5, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Thank you for the encouraging post and sharing your story!

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Thanks for reading!

  12. #
    Megan — November 5, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for sharing your story! It’s very encouraging! I’m sharing this with my younger artist sister who also has “imposter syndrome” and has had a lot of people tell her that what she wants to do is virtually impossible. Very cool story! 😀

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Thanks Megan – and I hope it’s helpful to your sister! Screw those naysayers 😉

  13. #
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps — November 5, 2014 at 9:04 am

    What a great post Tessa! So lovely to hear about your blogging journey! After over 2 1/2 years of blogging, and a similar situation to you where my revenue is rivaling that of my day job, I’m taking the plunge to blogging full-time at the beginning of 2015. Thanks for the encouraging words and confidence that it IS possible! You’re truly an inspiration girl!

    • #
      Tessa — November 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Wow Nicole, huge congratulations!! I’ll be following your journey and am excited for what’s next for you 🙂

  14. #
    Jan Morridson — November 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Tessa,
    I look forward to your posts, and am delighted that you have followed your dream. Your writing is enticing, clear, and easy to follow. Each day, as much as I love my job, I want to go home and start cooking/baking/creating and feed the peeps at the office!

    I wish you great good luck, and look forward to the continuation of your dream.

    Jan Morrison

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Thank you so much Jan! That means a lot 🙂

  15. #
    le — November 5, 2014 at 9:24 am

    gosh, thank you sincerely for typing this, Tessa. I followed my passion and started my blog in 2012 and have been juggling it and two young kiddos ever since. still finding my way but your post inspires me to just keep GOING. thank you again and much success to you, lady!

    le

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2014 at 11:23 am

      I’m so thrilled to hear that! I can’t imagine blogging with two young kids – I hope you can find the time to keep going!

  16. #
    Susan — November 5, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Congratulations, Tessa! I’m glad that following your passion has paid off. I could not imagine being an entrepreneur and admire people who can be. I have a blog, which I’m in the process of redoing, that is just a hobby and probably has no followers, which is okay. It details our travels, beer adventures, our volunteer work, and anything else interesting we find in life. I’m at the opposite end of life from you – older and retired – and just enjoy having a chronicle of the interesting parts of the life I share with my husband of 6 years. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more years of your blogs, since I’m certain my interest in cooking will continue for a long time.

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Thanks so much Susan! Good luck with your blog redo and I hope you have some fun adventures in your near future 🙂

  17. #
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan — November 5, 2014 at 9:53 am

    I LOVED this post! I sometimes feel like everyone just puts up a blog, it’s successful and everything is wonderful, but really, it’s hard work! I hope to someday turn my blogging into a career, and your post makes me hopeful. MAJOR props to you girl for juggling school, work and the blog, amazing!

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Yes! It looks a lot easier than it is! Good luck with everything Abby, I hope you’re able to transform your blog into a career!

  18. #
    Katerina @Diethood — November 5, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I LOVE this, Tessa!!! Congrats on all the accomplishments! SOOO happy for you! xo

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Thank you!!

  19. #
    Janette Freeman — November 5, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I was very happy to read your story and send you congratulations! As someone caught in the machination of a full time job, not in something that makes me happy, this gives me pause! Maybe there is life after what we think we ‘should’ be doing. Thanks so much.

    • #
      Tessa — November 6, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that, I truly hope you find something that makes you happy.

  20. #
    Gaby — November 5, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I’m so glad you shared your story! The passion you have for what you certainly shows and that is so inspiring!

  21. #
    Liz — November 5, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Thank you Tessa for sharing.

  22. #
    Yael — November 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for your inspiring story and lots of luck on your continued journey. While I am currently working in a profession which I truly love and enjoy – I have a great passion for baking and sharing. In fact, I have dubbed each of my children with a confection that matches their personality! Crazy…. I know. I have even daydreamed up my opening blog, but have never had the courage to start. Blah, blah, blah another blog about cookies and brownies…. But maybe one day…..thanks to your encouragement!!

  23. #
    Lena — November 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Tessa! You are one of my favorite food bloggers and I really wish I would have had access to your inspiring and helpful post when I had my own baking blog up and running. I started my blog when I was thirteen (!) and after a while I started to get orders from people in my neighborhood who wanted me to bake for them. I was having so much fun! When I got older school started to take up more of my time and I’m not sure how it happened but I eventually stopped blogging.
    As I got older, I got interested in writing and I’ve attempted blogging again on several occasions, but I never really got into it. I don’t know why I’m writing all of this, but I guess I just wanted to thank you for continuing to inspire me, and others. And your post kind of made me want to try food blogging again. Maybe now, five years later, I could enjoy it again! Thank you, Tessa, I’m so happy you made it – you really deserve it!
    Sorry for leaving you with such a novel, sometimes I get a little carried away, haha! 🙂

  24. #
    Joanne B — November 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Very cool story and very inspirational! Keep up the hard work.

  25. #
    Megan Alyse — November 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Thats such an inspiring story to me. Thats how I felt when I started my blog. I used to feel like no one really cared about what I thought and what I did. Who really cares about an eleven year old girl? Apparently once I revealed myself I got a lot of ‘wow’. Keep up the hard work.
    Bless you!
    Megan Alyse

  26. #
    Pam — November 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Tessa, Congratulations on all your accomplishments! I have been following your blog for more than 2 years, maybe 3? Can’t remember but of all the blogs I have added to my favorites yours is usually the first or second blog I check out everyday! Thank you. I appreciate you!

  27. #
    Phyllis — November 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Wow! Congratulations on creating your blog into a business. Not once have I ever felt that your blog is “business” (and I mean that as a compliment). Also, talk about a swift kick in the pants! This is SUCH a great post and just what I needed to hear today. I have a “family” blog and have been toying with the idea of creating a blog with the thing I enjoy doing and creating for over a year. However, the feeling of imposter syndrome sets in. I just don’t even know where to truly begin. Do you have any tips as to what helped you gather your thoughts and/or goals to actually commit to creating your blog? Sometime I feel overwhelmed by all the ideas I’d like to do that nothing gets done. Any tips would be fantastic!!

  28. #
    Sara — November 5, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Great inspiration. I recently started blogging a little over a year ago. Started out doing it for fun for friends and it’s starting to grow more than I ever imagined. Averaging over 2K+ a day 🙂 Looking to now revamp my site. It’s hard when you have another full time job, but as you mentioned if I can do a little each day…it will make a difference. Love following you on Instagram (My handle is @SweetDashofSass). Keep up the goodwork!!

  29. #
    Clarisse — November 5, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Tessa! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I didn’t realize we had so much in common– both 23 and got interested in baking/cooking after high school; both have a passion for it even though we don’t want to work in a kitchen. I started my blog to chronicle my kitchen adventures but then it soon doubled as something that I hope encourages others to try stuff in the kitchen too. I snap step by step photos to make the procedure clear. Anyway our differences lie in the fact that I have not found the same success as you haha! And actually my parents don’t see blogging as a “career”. I guess the potential of blogging has not been fully realized yet in my country. I’ve been a longtime follower of yours and love reading your recipes (bought your ice cream book and I love it by the way), but I’ve never commented actively until now. You have no idea the effect your story has on me! Sometimes I do find myself questioning the point of all the hard work I put into my blog because my fulltime job from Monday to Saturday can be exhausting, but the thing is I LOVE what I’m doing. I love the feeling of creating something beautiful out of just flour and butter and eggs, and then setting them up to photograph them. I love the feeling I get when people tell me my step by step photos were helpful to them. I want to make this a fulltime career too and prove everybody who belittles the “art of blogging” wrong (it’s not easy!), but right now it’s not financially possible. But then my takeaway from your story is that if I keep working at it, if I keep doing it because it’s what I love, then one day it will pay-off. I have to believe in myself a little more. 🙂

  30. #
    Karissa | Sweet as a Cookie — November 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I’ve been working hard to try and grow my blog. I’ve been blogging for over a year and a half. My ultimate goal is to be a full time blogger but it doesn’t look like it will be happening anytime soon. Congrats girl you earned it

  31. #
    Amelia — November 6, 2014 at 1:54 am

    Hi Tessa! your blog is so inspiring. I like your writing style and how you describe step by step for your recipes. It’s very structured and very simple. I hope you can share more stories to us. good luck!

  32. #
    Ron - Copy-e-Writing — November 6, 2014 at 6:08 am

    It seems good that someone is enjoying the whole process of blogging, although cooking was never my thing! 🙂

    BTW you have got a nice blog in here. Keep up the good work.

  33. #
    Dawn @ Words Of Deliciousness — November 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    i love this post!! It is so inspiring. I have been blogging for sometime and working to grow it into where I can make some extra money. Reading this post make me think that I can do it.

  34. #
    Judy — November 7, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Tessa, the secret to a long and happy life is to find what you are passionate about and be paid to do it. Congratulations on achieving just that.

  35. #
    Margaret Anne @ Natural Chow — November 10, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I think I suffer from imposter syndrome, because as a 15-year old writing a health food blog, I never feel like anyone can trust anything I say. That’s why I intentionally never talk about my personal life, my age, my family, or anything else about me. But I recently published a super personal post (if you want, you can read it here: http://naturalchow.com/2014/11/hectic-life/) and I feel better now that I’ve put myself out there.

  36. #
    Terri — January 25, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Hi Tessa, since recieving your emails I am motivated in many areas. I love recieving them and look forward to what is in th next one. As a Taurean I love my food, You are a daughter every mother would be proud to have, I admire you very much, I think a little late for me as at my age 69. Wish we had these opportunities when I was young. Good luck Tessa do not stop doing what you are doing.

  37. #
    Dominika Sygula — April 27, 2015 at 7:01 am

    Hi there babe, u ok?
    Lovely blog and post, I like your style of writing,
    thanks for sharing this with us.
    Follow back if you don’t mind.
    Visit me whenever you have time;
    http://www.its-dominica.blogspot.co.uk
    Anyway have a lovely week!
    Stay in touch.
    Kisses!
    Dominica S.

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