I’m writing down everything I do in a week.
This is a typical week in the life of a food blogger.
I don’t exactly know why I’m doing this, other than validation of getting so much shit done in a day. Please give me a gold star and let me check things off my To Do list (it’s my love language).
Seriously, though, this is for all of you guys that wonder what a food blogger does in a day.
I was at a party a while ago and listened to a very bitter person complain about how much bloggers get paid in exchange for the work that they do (her perception was a lot of money for very little work). I threw back my drink, made a plea about our talent, dedication to continual learning and ever-changing platforms, audience building (zero to hero in 7 years, thank you very much), and then politely excused myself from the conversation. I work my ass off, and barely had time to attend that party. (Oh, and I brought dessert to the party. Ok, now I'm starting to sound like the bitter one, but she really got under my skin. Sorry).
The one thing I can’t tell you is exactly how long all of these tasks take or how many hours I worked in a day because I’m interrupted frequently. I usually wake up by 7:00am and go to bed around 11pm. I have childcare Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am-1pm. My husband also works from home, so he’s available for childcare too (which is amazing). On Day 1, I tracked my hours, but I quickly abandoned that approach due to frequent interruptions.
Right now, as you know, I’m writing my fourth cookbook, and so my schedule is a bit more packed than usual.
I try to schedule my week like this: 2 1 1 2. That means:
2 cookbook recipes (Monday)
1 blog recipe (Tuesday)
1 cookbook recipe (Wednesday)
2 blog recipes (Thursday)
This doesn't mean that I end up perfecting and photographing 6 recipes every week—this is just recipe testing. I have a lot of failures because baking is a science and when you scale down recipes, it usually doesn’t work the first try (or fourth…or fortieth..).
I try to take Fridays off. I really do. But, I rarely do. I end up working before Camille is awake or during nap time/bedtime. I do social media work, photo editing, post writing, video shoots, or ‘big picture’ stuff.
As you know, my big picture/ 'pie in the sky' goal is to land a Food Network show all about cooking & baking for two. So, one day a week, I try to take a step towards that goal. It's usually just a small step, like an audition, a pitch email, or some fine-tuning of my demo reel, but if you take a small step every week, that’s 52 steps in a year. Imagine how much closer you’ll be to your goal if you took one small step every week :D
- Reply to emails (90 minutes)
- Edit photos & write a sponsored post for the Kerrygold blog (1 hour)
- Schedule Facebook posts for my page for the next 24 hours (30 minutes)
- Write a blog post for my site: Small Batch Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (2 hours)
- Edit and export photos for use on Instagram for the week (15 minutes)
- Make 4 long pins for Pinterest (1 hour)
- Call bank that handles my business account for problem (10 minutes)
- Grocery Shop for 2 cookbook recipes (1 hour)
- Look over a contract that’s coming up in Quarter 4 and add all of the due dates to my calendar (20 minutes)
- Cook one recipe for the cookbook (2 hours)
- Check-in on social media: twitter, pinterest, and instagram (1 hour)
I had a busy day, but I still managed to play with Camille for several hours in the morning, take her to the park in the afternoon, cook my family dinner, grocery shop, tidy up the house twice (once to unpack our suitcases from our trip over the weekend & once after Camille went to bed to clean up her toys), and make a batch of homemade dog food (yes, really. Don’t ask).
Emails were rough today, because I have been out of town for 4 days. One email was particularly difficult to deal with because a brand is requesting statistics on blog post I did many months ago. If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, let me rephrase it: I did a sponsored post for a brand, and they want me to tell them exactly how many impressions the post received, and all of the details surrounding each social media platform (levels of Facebook engagement, how many likes & comments on instagram, number of retweets and repins). They are way out of line asking for this information so late in the game, especially since they asked me to install a tracking pixel in my post, so they should have all of the info they need. It was a tough email to write, but I texted a blog friend for some ‘hold your ground’ advice.
In contrast, I replied to another brand’s email asking for statistics on a post I did for them, and I happily provided it because it was written in the contract that I would do this. Plus, the PR firm was lovely to work with and they paid very promptly (like 7 days after I posted…most of the time, we wait for up to 75 days for a payment for our work. Factor in the fact that bloggers often have to turn in blog posts early for ‘approval,’ and you’ll see that bloggers get paid for work many months after they do it. Please tell me another profession in which this is the case (okay: prosecuting attorneys)). One thing I’ve started doing is asking for 50% payment up front when I sign the contract and 50% within 30 days of completely the project. (It only works about half of the time).
As you know, I work for Kerrygold. I contribute recipes to their lovely blog. The majority of these recipes do not ever appear on my site here, but I still have to photograph, edit, and write these posts as if it were my own blog! It takes me 60 minutes to edit the photos and write the post. I made and photographed the recipe before I left town, which took me about 2 hours (including shopping, cooking, and clean-up).
Writing the post for my ‘Small Batch Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes’ for my site and publishing it took about 75 minutes. I made the recipe, photographed it, and edited the photos last week.
I pull photos directly from Lightroom and re-edit to share on Instagram. Weekend morning instagram posts are some of my most engaging (as you guys sit and bed and stare at your phones first thing on the weekend mornings!) I put a lot of effort into these weekend posts, and try to make them ‘breakfast’ themed, because I assume you’re hungry in bed and thinking about brunch. Today, I end up sharing the small batch vegan chocolate cupcakes photo because the post is finally live.
Making long pins isn’t fun, because I have zero graphic design skills. I have to study other people’s pins to get ideas on which colors & fonts to use. I made 4 long pins from my latest posts.
I grocery shopped for the next 2 cookbook recipes (beans & veggie burgers—way more exciting than it sounds, I promise, but my editor would appreciate some vagueness surrounding the details of my next book release). I also pick up groceries for my family for the first half of the week. I literally divide my cart in half at the store and use my business credit card for business purchases, and my personal credit card for family groceries.
Looking over a contracts is something I spend a lot of time doing, and should probably hire it out. Did you know there are lawyers specifically for blog/social media influencer contracts? Once I’m looking at the payment terms, it reminds me that I need to make sure everything fell into place for the other quarters.
I can’t believe I have time to cook 1 recipe for the cookbook today! I take a few photos, but they’re not ‘final-dish shots,’ they’re just prep work shots, which totally have their place in cookbooks (in my opinion).
- Write a post for a brand, as per my contract. This is a post for a brand’s website that was part of my contract for our long-term partnership this year. It was 800 words!
- Read 1 chapter in my business book. I’m always reading some sort of book that will help my business grow or help my brain be normal. Right now, it’s ‘You are a Bad Ass’ by Jen Sincero. I freaking love it. Highly recommend!
- Cook 1 more recipe for the cookbook, and photograph it, plus photograph the one I cooked yesterday. (So, we're at TWO recipes finalized & photographed for the cookbook so far this week—yay!).
- Schedule Facebook posts. Boost a post for $10 that’s doing well.
- Social media check-ins (twitter, instagram, pinterest, etc.).
- Post on Instagram after dinner.
- Make 1 long pin for seasonal pumpkin desserts for two
- Schedule Facebook for the next 24 hours.
- Bake, photograph, edit photo, and write up post for the blog (Cinnamon Caramel Donuts!)
- Prop shop.
- Schedule email newsletter to be delivered tonight.
- Social media check-ins (twitter, instagram, pinterest, etc.). I probably open Pinterest 3-5 times a day to pin.
- Post on Instagram after dinner.
- Email myself high-res photos to use on Instagram for the next few days.
- Field emails.
- Send 1 pitch email to a brand I’ve worked with in the past, asking if they’d like to work together again. Search for contact information for another brand that I would really like to work with in Quarter 4.
- Research new recipe plugin for site that includes nutritional information.
It takes me 2-3 hours to write and publish a post on my blog typically. I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s no small feat for me to publish a post. A lot of work goes into SEO of each post. I use a plugin called Yoast to help guide me, but it adds tons of time to the task of writing a post.
I got an email today from a very large company that literally asked me to work for peanuts. Pumpkin spice peanuts, to be exact, but they wanted me to develop a recipe using their product, photograph it, write a post, and promote it across all of my social media…FOR FREE. My husband and I laughed over being asked to work for literal peanuts, and then we moved on.
I’m not sure if non-bloggers understand the continual site maintenance required of blogging. And the continual need to stay current on what’s new in social media & upcoming trends. We go to blog conferences several times a year and share information with each other. Blogging is such a great community.
I recently learned (thanks to my blogger friends) that I probably need to include nutritional information on my recipes. I don’t really want to know how many calories are in my desserts (and you probably don’t either), but it helps with Google search results ranking. I spend about an hour looking at examples of the plugin being used on other people’s sites and chatting with my blog friend network about which plugins they’re using. I seriously couldn’t blog unless I had such a great support system in the form of other bloggers!
One of the fun side effects of food photography is sourcing and buying beautiful props for my photos. We’ve come a long way in 7 years, when we all used burlap and shiny colored plates. My 2012 pumpkin whoopee pies make me shudder.
I went to World Market and Crate & Barrel this afternoon and bought $130 worth of stuff. My personality type detests spending money, so this was actually very hard for me to do. As a result, I buy pieces carefully that I know I will love for a long time and use in my kitchen in real life, not just for photos. Even though I had a hard time spending that money, I end up searching on Etsy later that night for a few more pieces, but never pull the trigger on anything.
Pitch emails are the worst. I never used to do them, and still, I think I’ve only sent 5 in my entire 7 years. I have avoided doing a lot of sponsored work on this blog for a long time, because I refuse to endorse things I don’t love. But, given that I’ve been baking & scaling down recipes for almost 10 years now, I have very strong opinions on the brands and products that work well. I decide that it’s okay to reach out to a brand you love and ask if they want to work together. It's still so hard for me. And, even if a brand reaches out to me first that wants to work with me, I still have a slight bit of guilt when I reply with my rates. It’s hard to ask people for money for me. It’s just my personality type, don’t judge.
Literally, the only thing getting me through this week is knowing that I have a massage booked Saturday morning. I’m exhausted, plus I’m staying up late to watch Bachelor in Paradise because trashy TV is the only thing that turns my brain off.
- Schedule Facebook for the day.
- Cook and re-shoot cookbook recipes from Tuesday (photos didn’t turn out so great). This means I’m re-making the cornbread for two that I used in the shot and the actual soup recipe. Then, I accidentally added ¼ teaspoon of baking soda instead of ⅛ teaspoon to the cornbread and ruined it again. Ack! I photographed the soup without the cornbread muffins, and added them to my To Do list for next week.
- Make 1 more cookbook recipe: best-ever veggie burger (photo at the top of this post). The veggie burger takes 3 trials today, and I’m still not 100% happy with it, but I go ahead and photograph it. I can tweak the recipe later, and I’m relieved to have the photos done.
- Run to the grocery for a forgotten ingredient (whole wheat hamburger buns!). Run to second store for a specific brand of muffin cups. They’re out. Scratch cornbread muffins for two off the list for today.
- Schedule time with my videographer next week. He’s coming Tuesday and we’re shooting 3 videos. It takes an entire work day to shoot 3 videos!
- Listen to business podcast
I’m missing Camille like crazy, and feel like I haven’t spent enough time with her this week. So, I wrap up my work by 2:00, pick her up from daycare, and then we head to the zoo. We hang out at the zoo for 3 hours, come home, eat dinner and play. She goes to bed at 7:30, and instead of opening my computer and working like I normally do after baby bedtime, I binge watch Netflix and drink wine. I needed it!
- Schedule Facebook for the next 2 days.
- Cook and photograph 1 blog recipe (Ultimate Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies)
- Upload the photos and start culling the photos.
- Do some research on cover styling for my next cookbook. Research potters who can make some plates for the cover shoot. Phone call with my editor about this (1 hour phone call)
- Social media check-in
- Mail a signed cookbook to a sweet fan
- Read several chapters in my business book
- Email check-in
- Email exchange with my app developer (yep, we’re working on a DessertForTwo app!)
- Email exchange with a potential new email newsletter service..not convinced I need to switch…YET
Today was another semi-light day. I finished photographing the cookies around 1:30, and spent a good chunk of the afternoon outside with my husband, daughter, and dogs. I took Camille to the library to pick out new books for the week, and we stayed and played for a while.
There’s one thing I didn’t want to talk about during this week, but I’m just going to say it: I’ve been having some severe hand pain. It’s happened before, when I was working on my first cookbook, and prior to that in my previous job. I’m not entirely sure if it’s ‘texting thumb’ from being on my phone or laptop too much, or if it’s from holding a very heavy camera in my hand, but it’s slowed me down quite a bit this week. I’m committing to resting, strapping on that godawful wrist brace, and relaxing. Stop texting me, everyone LOL.
If you’re wondering how in the world I get all of these things done in a week, let me tell you more about my support system:
My husband works at home and takes care of Camille a ton. He also does all of the laundry, pays all of the bills, and all of the home maintenance. I have a house cleaner that comes once a week, but sometimes in the middle of the week, Brian will clean a random bathroom or vacuum. He also loads & unloads the dishwasher at least once a day. I also mentioned I have childcare for 12 hours a week.
And if you’re wondering about time spent with Camille, let me tell you about our play time. Camille gets up between 7:00 and 7:30 and I don’t start work until 9:00 (when she goes to a neighbor’s house). We share lovely mornings together, and I cherish that time so much. As soon as she gets home, we play together for at least an hour. Sometimes we go to the park, sometimes she helps me bake something, sometimes we just sit on the bed and she ‘makes me coffee’ and shapes cupcakes out of playdough. If you notice, I also try to only work 4 days a week. On that fifth day when I’m doing odds and ends, it’s usually before she’s awake, during nap or ‘quiet time’, and after she goes to bed. On Fridays, we do something fun with Camille, usually the zoo or science center. We also hang out exclusively as a family on Saturdays and Sundays. We take a lot of family trips together (about once a month), because I try to step back and enjoy the flexibility that working on the internet at home provides me.
And as for taking care of myself, well, that’s something I struggle with. My husband practically forces me to ‘go be social’ and hang out with friends a few times a month. And I do. With negronis in hand.
I also try to make it to a yoga class at least once a week, sometimes twice a week. I also try to take relaxing baths with tons of lavender oil and then stumble into bed at 8pm, and I try to read a fun book alongside my business book.
I consider my afternoons spent playing with Camille to be ‘me time,’ too. My favorite thing to do is go for a walk around the neighborhood and let her stop and ask questions about every flower, leaf, and bug she sees. I’ve always believed everyone has one form of exercise that they don’t totally hate, and for me, it’s walking and yoga. I could walk for hours and hours.
I also try to take care of myself by eating extremely healthy: I never skip breakfast, I eat extra protein when I feel tired, and I avoid coffee as much as possible. I’m also a total freak about natural beauty products, and so I make my own face wash, body wash, and deodorant. I feel like I don’t have time for toxic chemicals in my body that would slow me down. I also drink lots of water throughout the day!
Phew! That was a lot, right? I love that I started out telling you that I only work 4 days a week, and then I proceeded to work 5. It happens. A lot. But, day 4 and day 5 this week were only half-days, so win?
If you’re considering blogging, let me tell you that this is way more work than any other job I’ve ever had in the corporate world. I work around the clock, 7 days a week, but it doesn’t feel like work because it’s what I love to do.
The moral of the story here isn’t to become a blogger or not; it’s find a job you love and let it consume you as much as humanly possible. And take a few steps back every now and then and realize how amazing it is that you get to do what you love. When I was in the depths of graduate school, I never imagined that I would have a huge career pivot that would end up letting me work from home with my kid! It’s such a gift.
(If you’re interested my Master’s degree is in agronomy, so I don’t feel like my degree is a total waste…I used to grow food for a living, and now I cook food for a living. Plus, when I tell brands about my background in agriculture, it’s always a selling point).
I absolutely love what I do, even though working online is like willingly being in the business of daily rejection. I say this because things like follower numbers, blog traffic, and public exposure/features on certain websites is out there for all to see. It’s very obvious when another blogger gets a great feature and for me to feel defeated by it…so much more so than other professions. I doubt an entire office knows about the promotions and raises of all of their coworkers, you know what I mean? And it’s easy to let those things drag you down, and fall victim to the comparison game.
But chin up, buttercup: life is short, do what you love.
Any questions? Leave ‘em below, and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.
I love you, and thanks for being here.