Starting a food blog wasn’t something I had planned for. If you asked me what I wanted to do with my life two years ago, I would probably say something about real estate, travel, having a family and raising a few kids. A food blog? That wasn’t a part of the plan at all.
Now, two years later, I look back, my life has completely changed because of this exact food blog that you are reading right now. Lately, I realized what a positive impact this food blog has been making on me, my family, and my life. I thought I would share my story with you. Perhaps, one day, it will change your life too, even a little, in a surprisingly good way.
HOW THE FOOD BLOG STARTED
It dates back to April 15, 2013, the day I moved to the U.S. from my hometown Shanghai with my fiancé (now husband) Han, a Taiwanese born American who I met at a Halloween house party in Shanghai through a mutual friend in 2010. The moment our plane took off, I knew my life in Shanghai including my doting mother was left right at where it was and I would be facing the biggest challenge ever the moment I landed, which was to start a new life in a new country with a new culture.
One month later, Han and I got married in San Francisco City Hall. Life was sweet and good. But on the back of my head, I knew it could be better once I established my life in the States with a career, a network and a small group of close friends.
I eagerly wanted to belong to somewhere, a community that would make me feel that I am part of the society, I am contributing, and I am useful.
The immigration department didn’t care what I wanted. Instead, I had to do exactly what they wanted to be able to legally stand on the US soil. That included endless waiting with absolutely no idea of whether or not I did the paperwork right or exactly when I could receive my identification and work permit.
I started hunting for jobs during the wait. What I found was that no companies wanted to hire a fresh of the boat 30-year-old woman with neither oversea education nor work experience. Why would they when they had plenty of college graduates to choose from for their junior positions and interns? At least, those graduates speak native English.
The obstacles that I was facing in the first three months in the States left me feeling empty, lost, impatient and unhappy.
I remembered what my mom said multiple times before I left the country, “You are lucky that you have Han. But it is still going to be very difficult to start everything over in the States. You have made your choice. You must be prepared and be strong!”
This wise woman who single-handedly raised me was absolutely right.
Han knows my strength and my weakness very well. He knows how good my mom cooks and how much we both miss each other. He also saw something I was totally neglecting at the time being – I had the most luxury asset in the world, which was TIME!
I wasn’t legally allowed to work anyways. Even if I found a job, I would have to wait until I receive all the paperwork, not to mention that the job market didn’t look so bright to me. Han suggested that I take advantage of all the time I had to create something I enjoy, something meaningful and grows over time, something that nobody can take away from me.
“A food blog?” I looked at him as if he was out of his mind when he spilled out these three words.
“I don’t even know how to cook!”
“Your mom made you watch her cook all the time, didn’t she? I am sure she would be happy to teach you. You like writing and taking pictures. With your mom’s help, I think it worths a try. Plus you guys get to talk to each other often this way.”
I got quiet.
The day after that conversation with Han, I entered the food blogging world with one important person in mind – my mother. I was determined to make her proud.
It took me 5 pounds of spinach to get my first post out. I didn’t care how many people would see the post. I showed my mom immediately and told her that my friends loved her spinach when I cooked for them. She was ecstatic! She couldn’t wait to discuss with me about what my next post should be.
The joy of sharing something in common with my mother quickly kicked my unhappiness out of the door. Even though she is physically on the opposite side of the world from me, it didn’t stop her from helping me focus on establishing my new world – Gourmet Persuasian.
Then everything started to change, little by little…
HOW THE FOOD BLOG CHANGED MY LIFE
Now that you know my story, let me show you how exactly the food blog changed my life and those are the 9 reasons that I think you will benefit from starting your own food blog. Read on.
1. Discover Your Hidden Potential
Believe it or not, you can do a lot more than you think you can. The crucial part is how to discover your potential. And I believe that your cooking potential is hidden somewhere in you if you think you can’t cook. Everyone can cook because everyone needs to eat.
I know it’s hard to believe but prior to moving to the States, I almost didn’t cook at all. In Shanghai, my mother liked having me in the kitchen but she couldn’t stand it if I didn’t do things her way. So my help was strictly limited to listening to her lecture on how to make this, how to make that and setting up the table when she finished cooking. Just like sitting in a classroom in college, more than half of the time, my mind was somewhere else.
Absolutely nobody had any expectations for me to cook, including myself, until I become a wife and had my own kitchen. I was just getting my bearings in a new country and the least thing I could do every day was to cook something eatable.
Even that was not easy because either I had never seen some of the ingredients in my life before or I didn’t know the English names of the ingredients that I wanted, so asking for help in a grocery store was a nightmare to me.
I ended up taking photos of the labels with the ingredients and googling the heck of everything including how to cook them. As long as Han and I could put stuff in our mouthes, chew and swallow it, it’s an accomplishment. My bar was that low.
However, soon, I realized that the more I cook, the better stuff tastes, even with the same dish. Slowly, I found the joy of cooking. No matter how hard life is, it is still essential to meet your eating needs every day and when you do so enjoyably, it’s a success. It is fascinating that how much documenting your everyday small success can fully boost your cooking potential. That’s what a food blog for.
2. Bond With The People You Love
If you cook, your family will eat dinner together, your busy friends will make time for you if they are invited.
If you write about what you cook, most likely, your family, your friends and even your life are going to be part of the story. You might think it’s silly and nobody cares. Let me tell you that by doing so, you are bonding with the people you love even without you noticing it. Because life is composed with stories and stories are easy to forget unless you capture them, organize them and share them.
In my case, this blog significantly shortened the distance between my mom and me. Although we are physically far away from each other, it feels so close because when she teaches me cooking over the phone, it’s like having her right there in my kitchen. When I write about the dishes that I learned from her, it reminds me how much love she remotely put into my food. This blog forges the connection.
Another person who is mentioned nearly in every post on this blog is my husband Han. This food blog becomes a sweet little place where I stack up our life stories about how he holds my back no matter what. The good, the bad. The tasty, the nasty. The dark, the bright.
By having a food blog, you put your gratitude and appreciation to those who you love out there in the universe permanently (if you let it be). No matter where those people are and no matter how often you get to see them, they will always have a skeleton key to open your heart where they can see how much they mean to you.
That skeleton key is the URL of your blog.
3. Create A Sustainable Household
Research shows that children from families who eat together do better in school. Cooking can help you set a lifelong great example for your children as well as create a sustainable household.
Blogging is the best way to keep you on track.
When I have kids, I will be so thrilled to show them this blog, to show them the process of their favorite dish so that they will learn eating whole foods is healthier, eating sustainably is good for the environment.
4. Eat Healthy
You love Chocolate Mousse. Me too! If you cook and you’ve made a chocolate mousse before, then you know the main ingredients in that delicious thing are chocolate and loads of heavy cream. You will have a better idea on how much you want to consume.
That being said, if you cook, you will understand what goes into food and you will eat more healthily.
And if you blog about it, things are taken to the next level. You will be more conscious about what you cook and eat. You will be leaning to the healthy side even more because at the end of the day, you don’t want people seeing bunch of unhealthy recipes, do you? The world is watching. You followers depend on you to give them heathy delicious recipes. It doesn’t feel good if you let them down.
5. Learn New Skills
Starting a food blog is like opening a door to a sustainable eco-system. The deeper you go in, the better the system will serve you by obtaining more skills that you can apply to other things in life.
I like taking photos. But I wasn’t very good at food photography and food styling when I just started. Here is an example. The left photo of 4-Ingredient Breakfast Smoothie was taken in December 2013. The photo wasn’t too bad but there was basically no styling. Comparatively, the composition of the photo of Tropical Green Smoothie on the right was better and I manipulated the natural lighting coming from the window on the left as well as adjusted white balance and ISO properly to create a clean theme to emphasize the green color from natural ingredients.
Over time, I learned how to use my camera (Nikon D90) properly to take better photos of food in particular. I learned how to use light to tell a story. I learned how to present food in a better way. I am still learning because I want to feed people’s eyes first when they land on my blog.
Writing is another important skill you are going to pick up quickly if you are committed to post on a regular basis. You say you don’t like writing? It’s cool because nowadays, the form of a blog post doesn’t have to be an article. It could be a series of photos or a video.
Couple months later, when you realize that your followers are not only your families or friends, there are people from all over the world who read your blog and try your recipes. You feel so excited and you think more people will benefit from your blog if they get a chance to see it. And that’s when you find yourself learning about driving traffic, building an email list, online marketing, social media or even monetization.
Before you know it, you are armed with these super cool skills that people dream to have. And you, my friend, start to realize that writing a book is actually not that big of a deal.
6. Give Opportunities A Chance To Knock On Your Door
Having a food blog will bring you some pretty amazing opportunities by surprise, such as landing freelance food photography job or/and recipe development for sponsors. Here are two examples.
Your food blog is your portfolio. By running one, you are given people a chance to find you, to get to know you and to believe in you. In return, you will be given chances to help them. It’s like that you build a door for opportunities to knock on it. 🙂
7. Make People Remember You
If you cook, people will remember you. If you have a food blog…oh dear, your name is marked in their head.
Every time I got introduced to some new friends by my current friends, the conversation usually goes like this.
“Ray, this is Sharon! She is the friend that I told you about who has a food blog!” Or,
“Mike, meet Sharon. She is a food blogger!”
Being a food blogger makes it really easy to connect with people because you become a source of what they love – FOOD!
8. Have A Backup Plan
A food blog could be your backup plan when the world turns against you. Here is what I mean.
So I did manage to get hired by the number one real estate company in San Francisco a few months after I started this blog. I was crazily busy but excited for what I was building for myself. Han was running his SEO business from home while I was literally running around the entire city as a real estate agent. I somehow managed to do the bare minimum for the blog, which was generating content. The blog kinda just took care of itself.
No one expected that 5 months later we would consider leaving San Francisco, not with what we had done for our new life together. Unfortunately, Han’s SEO business dramatically vanished over night. Yeah, what a surprise!
Between going back to a 9-to-5 job and rebuilding an online empire at somewhere cheaper, Han consulted me before choosing the latter. Between building my just-started real estate business and supporting Han to do what he wants in life, I consulted my mentor before choosing the latter.
Guess what you can fall back onto when unexpected things like that happened? Yes, your food blog! That’s an asset that it grows overtime and nobody can take it away from you.
Han and I moved from SF to Jacksonville, Florida where his parents has an empty house. We are temporarily staying here to focus on our own projects respectively. For me, my main project is this blog. My second project is self-publishing a cookbook, still related to this blog.
Do I feel lost or empty again because I walked away from a potential career? Nah, not when I have the food blog and I am building it as an asset for myself.
9. Keep Yourself Accountable
Last but not least, a food blog is your best friend to keep you accountable for cooking whole foods and taking charge of your health through what you eat, because you are what you eat and you demonstrate how you live by how you eat. That’s the impact that the world needs you to make on other people.
Here you have it – how starting a food blog changed my life! Did you start one already? If so, how did it change your life? Please share with us in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.
Thinking about starting a food blog but don’t really know how? You have come to the right place my friends. I have convinced Han (my secret weapon behind the website) to compile an ultimate step-by-step guide for starting a food blog. (This was the first article Han wrote for you. If you like it, I will make sure he writes more. 🙂 ) Check it out and start your own food blog without stress now!