Recently, when looking for a jambalaya recipe for inspiration, I came across a new to me blog called The Foodie Physician. It’s written by Dr. Sonali Ruder, a board certified Emergency Medicine physician and culinary school graduate. As I browsed her recipes I realized that some of the most interesting blogs that I read are those that were born out of passion rather than started as a business. While for many, blogging has evolved from hobby to source of income, 100% of the blogs that I read regularly have either been around for close to ten years now — before anyone had grasped monetization — or were started by someone looking for a creative outlet to complement our busy careers.
These days, running ads and writing sponsored content are par the course, but my favorite blogs are penned by people with diverse interests, well-rounded lives, and even different dietary preferences than my own, because it allows me to constantly learn new things about food and cooking. And of course, find new favorite recipes.
My job in PR allows me a lot of creativity and the company I work for is as innovative as they come, but back when I started my blog I was working for some seriously corporate clients and didn’t get to use a whole lot of the right side of the brain.
Now, no matter how much I love my job, writing a press release and writing a blog post about how to host a dinner party for ten of your closest friends still don’t call upon the same types of creativity. For me, cooking and baking is my form of artistic expression, which gives me a sense of enjoyment that is very different than the sense of enjoyment I get out of my career.
As it turns out, there are a lot of us out there blogging for reasons beyond the benjamins. I can only tell you so many times how much blogging has impacted my life: indirectly, it led me to my life in Chicago, empowered me to start my own pr business and it’s connected me with some very special friends who have unique and diverse world views.
So I’ve tapped some of my fellow part-time bloggers whose lives, like mine, probably also consist of making social media updates during my morning commute, late night blogging sessions fueled by too much sugar and cooking pasta at 7:00 in the morning to photograph for a post due before I hit my desk at 9:30 a.m.
Among each blogger, you’ll notice one common thread: passion. When asked why they love blogging, not one person pointed to their bank account or talked about a sponsored press trip where she learned how to grow lettuce. This is a group of bloggers who are passionate, talented and in my ever so biased opinion, really freaking productive.
What’s Cooking Chicago?
When I moved to Chicago six years ago, Joelen Tan was one of the first foodies I met. At the time, she was running a popular culinary meet-up along with her blog, and I was shocked to learn that not only was she a full-time foodie, but also a part-time pharmacologist and culinary instructor. She began her blog, at the time, to capture new recipes and to document restaurant experiences she had around Chicago. Now, Joelen “loves documenting the culinary experiences I have and sharing them in hopes to inspire others to make a recipe, visit a restaurant, host a party.”
In short, I don’t know when this woman sleeps.
By day, Kita Roberts manages Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, DE. She created GirlCarnivore so that she could share her love of meat and show people how easy it really is to grill, cook with beef, and do awesome things like grind your own meat or make your own sausage. What Kita loves about blogging? “The diversity that builds our community. We have an amazing group of interest, skills and talents that I would never have know if we didn’t all have this common platform to meet and support one another.”
In my next life, I hope to be reincarnated as Kita’s next door neighbor.
Other taco recipes to try:
Beth Baumgartner started her blog so that she could keep in touch with family following an out-of-state move. Over the years, her blog has evolved and now, focuses specifically on dessert recipes. When she isn’t baking sweet treats, she’s a nanny for some adorable kids. Why does she keep blogging? “There are so many parts to blogging – photographing the food, writing, social media, creating recipes. I love that everyday I get to do something different!”
And because that chocolate cake doesn’t look like it’s going to eat itself, I might be paying Beth a surprise visit soon.
Or Whatever You Do
What do you get when you cross a social media marketing pro with a food blogger? Besides, I would imagine, really good SEO, you get Nicole Johnson. Nicole works in the Customer Success Department at CoSchedule, editorial calendar/social media marketing tool. “I’m basically thinking about blogging, helping bloggers, or actually blogging 60 hours a week or so,” said Nicole. ” I started my blog to have an outlet, and a hobby, and something to do other than chase kids and clean house. At the time I was a stay-at-home-mom with 4 kids 5 and under home all day with me. It quickly turned into a passion project, and now has become a legitimate business. It also directly led to my position with CoSchedule, which is a blessing beyond measure and has made such a huge impact on my life. I owe it all to blogging.”
As you would imagine, Nicole loves just about everything about blogging, including the challenge of always improving and striving to get and do better. She loves the friendships she’s made and experiences she’s had…all related to starting her blog.
Which is good, because I hope she keeps making cakes like that for a long time.
Wishes & Dishes
When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Or in Ashley Presciutti’s case, you start a food blog. Ashley currently works close to full time doing medical coding for a hospice agency, where the nurses visit the patients’ homes, but five years ago, she began her blog when she was laid off from a prior job.
“I needed something to keep me busy so I decided to teach myself how to cook and bake,” she said. “I was 27 years old and had never learned prior to that. I had also just gotten married the year before so it was a good time to learn!” What does Ashley love about blogging? “I love the different opportunities I have received from having this blog. It’s so fun to work with different brands and be introduced to new things I wouldn’t normally try. I also love receiving positive feedback on a recipe I have posted; makes it all worth it.”
Bring on the cupcakes.
The Foodie Physician
Dr. Sonali Ruder loves food and she loves to cook. “Cooking has always been a creative outlet for me and a great way to decompress after a busy day at work,” she said. “I fell in love with cooking when I was doing my residency training in Emergency Medicine and ten years after embarking on my medical career, I decided to pursue my passion for cooking by enrolling in culinary school.”
While loving every minute of culinary school, she started her blog, The Foodie Physician. In the beginning, it was a way share her recipes with others but over the years it has developed into so much more. “I love that I get to share my passion and knowledge with others and to show them that it is possible to have meals that are both nutritious and full of flavor,” she said. “And I love that I get to express my creative side developing recipes. When I get emails and feedback from my readers about how my recipes have helped them lead a healthier lifestyle, it motivates me even more! Cooking is fun; it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. And healthy food doesn’t have to be bland!”
A Clean Bake
Nora Schlesinger is not only a seriously enviable baker, but she’s a research director (senior analyst) for a consulting firm. “I started my blog when I was finishing business school and didn’t know what to do with my free time,” she said. “I was also dealing with some health issues that the blog helped me address (via dietary changes – kept me on track!).” Her favorite thing about blogging? The creative outlet combined with the opportunity to help others with similar health concerns.
Nora tests her recipes again and again…and again, so you can feel comfortable stocking up on grain-free ingredients: the recipes will work just as described. Check out the interview with Nora on Primal Palate, too, which is not only full of amazing recipe ideas, but will leave you thinking, “this woman really knows her shit.”
Other cookie recipes to try:
Hezzi D’s Books & Cooks
Heather Figura King is a special education teacher, but began her blog when after 15 months of planning a wedding, the newlywed found herself with a lot of extra time on her hands. And if this chocolate cake is any indication, Heather’s husband is a lucky guy.
Her blog began as a fun way to share recipes with friends and family, and has since evolved into a community that Heather loves. Her favorite part? She’s made a lot of friends and gotten a lot of great ideas from other bloggers.
The Spiffy Cookie
Erin Vasicek calls herself a mad scientist, but what does that mean? Well for one, her kitchen is guaranteed to be free from food-borne illness. She has a PhD in microbiology and is a research scientist, working on Salmonella at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. She started her blog in grad school as a way to keep track of recipes she had adapted, and to make it easier to share the recipes with friends and family who kept asking for them.
What does Erin love about blogging? “I think about my next meal before I have finished the one in front of me and have loved meeting other people who are also passionate about food,” she said. “It’s also been a great experience expanding my horizons on what kind of foods I eat. My family is sometimes baffled by the things I eat now, knowing how picky I was as a child.”
The Blahnik Baker
Zainab Mansaray-Storms is a full-time PhD student in Neuroscience (and new mom, in case you thought that you were busy). After she planned a wedding for a year and a half, she found herself with lots of free time — and a lot of bakeware from her bridal shower. What she loves about blogging? “The ability to learn different things…and the people I’ve met. Relationships go beyond just food and social media.”
Other cocktail recipes to try:
Life, Love and Good Food
Sheila Thigpen is the operations director for a graphic design firm that specializes in technical illustration and animation. First, color me impressed. Sheila started her blog 2 years ago as a creative outlet (sounds familiar!) as she loves to cook, share recipes with family and friends and dabble in design and photography. She said, “I love the community aspect of blogging and the fact that I am learning so much.”
Soup, come to mama.
Greens & Chocolate
Taylor Ellingson is a part-time as a physical therapist in an outpatient orthopedic clinic. She started blogging in graduate school because I loved to cook and bake and was also an ex-journalism major who needed an outlet! I put the two together and out came my blog, greens & chocolate. I love maintaining this outlet and also how it’s grown to be much more than that, as it’s now also about generating income, developing my own recipes, growing as a photographer, and connecting with other people who love food and cooking! My new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe:
Lauren Keating works full time (and then some) as a political consultant, ensuring that her clients are communicating effectively with the voters in their district, advise them on pending legislation, and develop their legislative and campaign strategies.
Olivia Pope? That’s what I’m thinking.
“I started my blog back when I was in grad school as a way to keep track of recipes that I made and wanted to make again,” she said. “It made it really easy to make a grocery list on my way home from work or class. I had a lot of friends doing Weight Watchers at the time, too, so it was an easy way to share tried-and-true recipes with them.” Lauren also loves having a creative outlet and has really fallen in love with cooking and food photography.
“I even recently finished a 6 month culinary program…in what little spare time I have,” said Lauren. “The food blogging community is great, and I’ve made so many friends though blogging. I also love knowing that I’m helping people put a healthy and delicious dinner on their dinner table.”
Lauren Hall, spends a lot of her days doing payroll and benefits for a nonprofit company. She’s fortunate enough to do most of it from home, where she’s also raising her two children. She began blogging as a journal for my newlywed life. “I would occasionally post my weekly dinner menus. Then, a few sorority sisters asked me to post some of the recipes,” she said. “A couple of months later it became a food and family blog.”
Lauren loves how blogging has so many dimensions that keep you constantly learning – from writing, photography, design, technical aspects and of course let’s not forget cooking.
And how could we forget these beef enchiladas?
Sarah’s Cucina Bella
Sarah Walker Caron has been writing about food for more than a decade, but when she’s on the clock at her job as a senior editor as a newspaper, she manages all of the features sections: food, outdoors, arts and culture, homestead and more. Sarah started her blog more than 10 years ago, when she wanted to step away from her role as a courts and cops reporter.
“Blogging about food opened so many doors for me over the last decade, and eventually helped lead me — ironically — back to a great newspaper gig,” said Sarah. “As a writer, I have worked for a variety of publications in all mediums. I’ve had some really wonderful editors along the way too. But my blog is my spot — it’s where I can write, illustrate and publish what I want. It’s the most personal and intimate of my writing outlets.”