365 Days

ago I quit my “real” job.

I didn’t quit my job to be a full-time blogger, and my decision that day, while being the only thing I had thought about for the last 18 months, was completely spontaneous. And the best decision of my life, obviously. It wasn’t one of those jobs where I was sooooo busy and complained all the time about how much horrrrrible work I had to do. In fact… I had nothing to do. Ever. Okay, maybe there were like five days when I had stuff to do. But no stress. No challenges. Two days in, it became clear that the job was not what it was promised to be and over the next year and a half plus, I had a sickening feeling in my gut at the multiple *questionable* business practices I was now associated with. Even still, I didn’t once regret that I left my career as a personal trainer – I was ready for a change and craving something new, even if this was far from it. I was racked with guilt because I actually had a job when so many others didn’t and were struggling, which is the exact reason I kept it. My husband and I often talked about how others would love my job – sitting on their rear doing absolutely nothing all day in a very small office – but for me, who spent the last 6+ years surrounded by tons of people, working an active job, loving what I did – it was a challenge to say the least. I searched for jobs nearly every single day (um, I had from 8-5 everyday to do so… literally) but never even got an interview. While I have a degree, spending my entire 20s basically running my own business as trainer translated to one thing: I worked in a gym, where no degrees are required and stereotypes are too often the norm.

Many days I wished this was my work stash.

So I started a blog and spent the majority of my day reading other blogs and interacting with the blog community. It helped me from going completely insane. And stopped me from constantly online shopping too.

The day I quit, it was pretty much against everyone’s wishes – my husband’s, my parents – but I did it anyway. Within a week I began working a 30-40 hour per week retail job, which I worked for about 8 1/2 months, until this past May. It was fun and enjoyable – not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life – but it helped pay the bills because I still considered blogging my hobby. All the while, I wanted to fully be able to support myself so that was the ultimate goal.

The most common question I get asked is “how do you do all these recipes?” or something in regards to “what is your normal day like?” I’ll be honest: I spend about 80-100 hours a week on this site, every single week. The weeks before vacations, probably even more. Sometimes I can’t think of anything to make, so I just keep brainstorming until I come up with something. Other weeks are great and I have a boatload of ideas, to which I add to my always running master list of recipes to make (currently at 43 recipes… I think I’m good for awhile). Sometimes it is challenging and sometimes it’s easy. But everyday I love it so much.

I don’t find posting 5 new recipes a week for you guys all that excruciating. Most likely, because I posted 5 new recipes a week while I was working 40-hour per week jobs just like everyone else, albeit my quality was lacking and my pictures were horrific. So this seems like fun compared to that.

By request… here is what a normal work day is like for me. I’m a pretty big dork.

5:15AM: I wake up, throw on my workout clothes, head downstairs and immediately get on the computer. I respond to comments and emails from the night before, proofread my post again (or write it, if I ran out of time last night) and make changes if needed, and post my recipe post close to 7AM. I usually have a snack at this time but it just depends on if I’m hungry or not.

6:45-8AM: This is my most recent workout window. Depending on if I’m doing morning/evening yoga, I may move this a little earlier. I am, by fault of genetics, a serious morning person.

8:15-9:30AM: I eat breakfast then respond to emails and comments and questions, check out some of my favorite blogs, and get started on tomorrow morning’s post. Supporting other bloggers is huge to me. I rarely start experimenting in the kitchen before 9:30AM, because that is when I start to get the light needed for photographs. I try to get the majority of my computer time (i.e. responding to people) in now. I also may run to the store if I need ingredients for a recipe.

9:30-1PM: Often 5 days out of 7, I will to be in the kitchen at this time: developing a new recipe, testing ones I’ve already tried, photographing, not cleaning, and generally making a huge mess. I blast music and dance like an idiot and sing at the top of my lungs to the Jersey Boys soundtrack. Sometimes I blast the Young and the Restless from the living room and pretend I’m Mother Lovett. Shhhh. I didn’t just say that. (In all seriousness, I try to never turn on the TV during the day as I find I get sucked into the couch vortex which does nothing for me… or you.)

1-1:45PM: I’ll eat lunch and respond to more questions/comments/emails. This is really important to me. My favorite part about blogging is the community we have here on my site, and I try so hard to respond to each and every relevant question that comes my way. I know exactly what it feels like to send someone an email and never receive a response, and I don’t want my readers to feel that way. Obviously there are exceptions, obviously some slip through the cracks, and obviously I’m completely aware that once there are children in my life, there is no way this will happen.

I also spend about 10-15 minutes working on a Crumbs post here if I have one that day, and schedule it to publish around 4:30 or so.

1:45-5:15 PM: Back in the kitchen! Same stuff… developing, testing, creating, tasting, not cleaning, taking notes and photographing if needed. If I am not doing recipes or photographing, this is the chunk of time I spend writing and working on freelance and other projects. That happens 2-3 days per week.

5:15-5:45PM: Clean the kitchen that looks like a bomb went off. Blast music and shake the house. Decide what’s for dinner if it isn’t already made and coming from a blog recipe. Not a big deal because my husband doesn’t get home until 8:30-9.

5:45-7PM: Upload selected photos from the day, edit if needed, upload them into my actual blog posts and type the written recipes into the posts so I don’t lose them. If I don’t do this the day of, the photos + recipes just accumulate and I end up needing 6+ hours of computer time, which is awful. I also like to type out the recipe I’ve written throughout the day to make sure it’s free of typos (it never is) and check it out while it’s fresh in my mind.

This is also the time chunk where I might go to yoga in the evening if I didn’t go in the morning, or when my cousin and I (and Natalie – hi Nat!) will go on a big neighborhood walk (about 5 miles) and BS the entire time. It’s a nice break. But if I do that, I usually end up coming home and spending the rest of the evening working.

7PM: I may eat dinner, depending on what time my husband is going to get home, or I might wait for him. I finish responding to any recipe questions/comments (again, they too are a pain if they begin to pile up), prepare dinner if needed, work on my post for the next morning, finish uploading some pictures, work on miscellaneous writing pieces and figure out my game plan for the next day (what recipes I’m making/what I’m writing/what I need from the store). Work, work, work.

9:30-11PM: Try to take some downtime from technology and relax and talk about our days, which doesn’t always happen. But if I am working, at this time I’ll watch trashy shows while doing so. More so than not, one of us has the computer in front of us.

11PM: Head to bed… and sometimes get waaay too involved on my iPhone and end up working from bed for a little while longer.

There you have it.

I can be flexible and occasionally will take a weekday afternoon to visit my friends + their kids or hang out with my mom or in last Wednesday’s case, leave the house around 3 to head to dinner and see Wicked. For example, this week Ashley will be in my area on Tuesday and we are leaving for a short trip on Friday to celebrate our anniversary, so I’m working continuously through the weekend.

I like to keep my weekdays as “workdays” because I really love having an actual weekend, even though I still may work through most of it anyway. I also don’t like to spend Saturday and Sunday developing recipes and cooking all day (I did that for the first 1.5 years of my blog… enough) because it takes away from fun things we could be doing… and when my husband is in the kitchen we want to kill each other. Often on the weekends I still end up making 2-3 recipes (today I did 3) but it’s in a much more relaxed fashion. I sleep in a bit, work out when I want, write when I need to, do recipes when I want and change things according to our plans.

I work best on a structured schedule, and I’ve tried to develop one for myself time and again when it comes to recipe development, such as spending Monday and Tuesday only doing recipes, Wednesday through Friday only writing… but it doesn’t work out. Crazy things come into play – like the fact that it may rain 3 days in a row and I have no light in my house to photograph food.

I don’t view blogging as a long term career, but more so as a creative outlet and launch pad for my job as a recipe developer and writer. I am very grateful that this is part of what I can call my “work,” but it certainly didn’t fall into my lap. I can easily say I’ve never taken one day off from my job… and that’s okay. I’ve been on the other side and am willing to do what it takes to enjoy my life. I don’t believe that anything worth it comes easy. Plus… I’m sort of in love with it.

And a fun fact? My crazy dreamy kinda goal in life is to write fiction novels. I have the most insane imagination.

Alright. Enough with the serious stuff. Any questions? That’s what 2 glasses of wine will do to you.

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239 Responses to “365 Days”

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    lindsay — October 3, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    i am SOO jealous of you! i love to cook and really want to do something with it. i hate my good paying job…which sucks. i wish i liked it. ugh, maybe one day i’ll be as cool as you. :)

    Reply

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    Kayla — October 3, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

    I absolutely love this post!

    Reply

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    Alexandra — October 3, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

    I love that you included a breakdown of your day! This was helpful to see how someone can work from home but still maintain structure in their weekdays.

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    Lisa {With Style and Grace} — October 3, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

    thank you for working so hard and feeding me mouthwatering recipes. I love you and your blog, very inspiring!

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    Katie — October 3, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

    It’s a good thing you’re sort of in love with blogging because I’m sort of in love with you. Also, I’m really excited to know what your day looks like on a regular basis. I had no idea you put so much time into it – it makes me love and appreciate you even more!

    Reply

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    JaNelle @ mylifeasnickjay.com — October 3, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

    Jess! I love you! That is all!

    Reply

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    Alyssa (EverydayMaven) — October 3, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

    Hi! I love this post – it is so honest. As a new-ish food blogger, it is great to hear you keeping it real and also so refreshing. I have been following your blog for a couple of months and am amazed at your pace – you really do put 80 to 100 hours in! Any advice for someone just starting out?
    Thanks so much!
    Alyssa

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    Kat @ living like the kings — October 4, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    Thank you so much for posting this. I am always so intrigued by what everyone is doing with their days (I guess I’m a bit of a snooper…). I have to tell you, since you wrote about it, that one of the things that kept me coming back to your blog non stop and within a couple of weeks of reading raised it to the very top of my favorite blogs to read list was your responses. If I left a comment – you commented back, if I e-mailed you, you e-mailed back. When I asked you for a guest post (even though my blog gets about 1/598243905823565th traffic of yours) you obliged happily. Not only do you create the best recipes (I’d know since I make 2-3 of them each week from your blog), post unbelievable photos, and write in a way that always makes me feel like I can relate, but you’re one of those accessible few who make everyone, even a tiny little blogger like me, feel like we’re on even ground.

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    Lee — October 4, 2011 @ 11:01 am

    This is so encouraging! I work in politics (I have somehow built my resume up with political jobs, when I am not even interested in politics :( boo), and my job is veryyy boring. I love the ppl I work with/my boss, but my actual job leaves me with no feelings of accomplishment. It’s nice to hear that you have overcome your past job struggles and now do something that you love (that hundreds of other ppl love as well!). I spend most of my day browsing food blogs, and yours is def my favorite – out of a good 30 ones that I look at regularly. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your every day life, I hope that one day I can be as lucky as you to do something I love and share it with others!

    Reply

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    Lindsay Kay — October 4, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    Love this post! I know exactly what you mean by having a running list of recipes to make– and making 3 recipes a day (I did last night– after my job). AND it drives my hubster nuts that I cannot watch a movie without the laptop in front of me. Thanks for keeping it real!

    Reply

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    Julienne — October 4, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    Love this post Jessica–I always read your blog (and am addicted to food blogs in general, and am working on creating a plan for my own) and have often wondered how your day looks when the blog is your job. I’ve never doubted that blogs like yours take a huge amount of time and energy. But honestly–it your job sounds fabulous. Need an assistant? J/K. Maybe.

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    tania — October 4, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

    Jessica, your blog is wonderful, hilarious, fantastic, and HONEST!
    You are truly blessed with such a beautiful gift- creativity and writing are definetly your calling.

    I admire how you make dessert after dessert, and add bacon to recipes with reckless abandon, all while keeping up with your daily exercise routine, that is what i call a balanced life, and a wonderful example of how to live :)

    i wish you all the best for the next year of the blog!!

    Reply

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    Maria — October 4, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    I liked that you described your day in detail, thanks for sharing.

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    Emily — October 4, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

    Thank you for everything you do.

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    Vanessa — October 4, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

    Jessica, this is an AMAZING post. It really touched, moved, and inspire me in so many ways. Like you years ago, I now feel like I’m at a crossroad with my career. I am not challenged and I find myself spending so much more time blogging or reading other’s blogs. It’s made me want to work harder at my blog and try to improve. Whether that be more writing, fixing out the layout, better pictures, etc. Thank you for sharing. It truly is moving. p.s. love your blog!

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    am-sandy — October 5, 2011 @ 8:02 am

    Jessica: I was wondering what made you tick and how you got started. Found this post very interesting in that I am a mother of 2… 1 off to college and the 2nd just two short years away from flying the coupe. I LOVE to bake and am a volunteer coordinator at our church soup kitchen… I do not leave the house without carting food somewhere. I am looking to start my second career (seeing the writing on the wall re my current status as stay-at-home-mom) and am playing with the idea of doing something in the cooking/eating (they always go together, don’t they) field. One thing you didn’t tell us, is how your day adds up to dollars? How do you make money from blogging and concocting recipes.

    Looks like I won’t get to make croissants this weekend :( … my son comes home for the first time from college and I am busy working on my daughter’s 16th birthday cake… my first foray into fondant! Love reading your posts and trying your food!

    Reply

    • Jessica — October 5th, 2011 @ 9:57 am

      I make an income through Foodbuzz (the ads on my sidebars) – that is how most bloggers generate income, through ad networks, although they may be different ones. :)

      Reply

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    Elina (Healthy and Sane) — October 5, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I think a lot of people think it’s easy to do this stuff but it is your job right now and as evident by your pictures, comments, participation in the blog community – you are doing an amazing job. I’m sure all of your dreams will come true. You ARE an awesome writer!!

    Reply

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    Jessica — October 5, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

    I would say that you’re living the dream.. but maybe that’s going too far. in all seriousness though you’ve found a way to work at something you love to do and there’s not a darned thing wrong with that! plus we’re lucky to have you :)

    thanks & love
    Jess

    Reply

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    Danielle — October 5, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

    Wow. I have amazing appreciation for the amount of work and (obvious) love that you put into this blog! Thanks for taking the time to talk about your day, its very cool to have a window into what it takes, when really you make it look effortless!

    Reply

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    Mariana — October 5, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

    You have a great thing going on here… You usually make everything sound so easy.
    You do have some imagination… I can’t wait for the fiction novel!!
    Congratulations on quitting your “real” job ;)

    Reply

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    Cate — October 6, 2011 @ 3:44 am

    AWESOME! Thank you so much for that. Sometimes I feel like I know you as I’ve been reading for so long and making your recipes (just made your bbq sauce two days ago and am eating leftover chicken while dipping in the sauce!), it puts more of a “person” behind the blog. Although, it would be fun to see actual more pictures of you being messy in the kitchen! Try doing a self-portrait day? That would be fun. Keep up the good work and I LOVE your blog! I’ve made gallons of crazy feta dip and even turned my SIL on to it too! Cheers!

    Reply

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    Becky — October 6, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

    I won’t bog you down with a big emotional rant, but I would like to say that I find you and your story incredibly inspiring. Good for you for taking a risk to do what makes you happy. :)

    Reply

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    Amy Rene — October 6, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

    I loved reading this post! I seriously felt like the first half explanation perfectly explained where I’m at right now & why I started blogging. But I haven’t quit my job yet. I’m not quite ready for that. Thanks for the inspiration!! And good luck with your 2nd year of full time blogging :)

    Reply

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    Kristy Brill — October 7, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    My website is still under construction…in a major way! After reading this post, I can see why so many people can relate and why I find myself in that category. It’s been great reading your blog, which I found just recently, but I have to admit, I am inspired, not just by your culinary creativity, but your bravery and having the courage to follow your passion. I would like to think that I follow my passion, but on a much lower level. I enjoy making things for my husband, making homemade treats for my dogs….and if I could spend all day, (almost) every day in the kitchen playing around with the ingredients I love and some that I am not so fond of, but eager to find an appreciation for…I would be blissfully happy and completely content…well, if that were my job. But like you used to, I tend to spend much of my day checking out my favorite food blogs and wishing I was able to work on my own. So I just wanted say Thank you…for just pretty much being awesome! :)

    Reply

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    Booky — October 9, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

    I have to tell you Jess, you are such an inspiration. You love food wholeheartedly and yet you stay healthy by working out. It is totally the was to be happy in the end.

    I have to tell you about this terrifying website that i came across. It promotes values which oppose yours in every way. Its called skinny gossip and I only came across it because i was searching the lovely emma watson. Just think! the horrible women – and yes, it is run by women, say that she needs to lose weight! how awful!

    http://www.skinnygossip.com/starving-tip-of-the-day/

    they even have a starving tip of the day, such as “buy something you hate at a restauraunt so you will not eat it” What a way to live life. It just makes you more of an inspiration, jess! Keep it up, i read your website every day and it is always wonderful. I have made several of your recipes already

    Love, Booky

    Reply

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    Amber's Articles — October 10, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

    All of your work is paying off, because your recipes are some of the best I’ve tried. My mother in law and I make the coconut granola on a regular basis. Everyone who has had it…..LOVES IT!!!

    Reply

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    Natalie — October 11, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    This post totally inspired me to get my you-know-what in gear. Getting up at 5:15? Amazing. I slump out of bed at around 7:30 and really, really need to change that.

    Kudos!

    Reply

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    Kelly — October 12, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    Wow. Just wow. That is quite a day.

    Reply

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    sweetmaddy — October 16, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

    Thank you for this, I started a food blog recently and I am struggling…it’s interesting to see behind the scenes to how you get such lovely final results! Do you get lonely working alone all day? Also, are you trained in photography or did you just figure it out?

    Reply

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    Annette@EnjoyYourHealthyLife — October 18, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

    I seriously LOVE this post. GO you!!!

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    Christie — October 20, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

    You inspire me!! I too would love to be a full-time blogger but am just starting out, while continuing to be a corporate working Mother! The best part of my day is sitting at the computer to blog :-) Lucky you living your dream!!

    Reply

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    Kelly — October 27, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

    Somehow I missed this post until now and just wanted to comment and say I appreciate that you do all of the above. I think sometimes full-time blogging can seem like (NOT from your blog, but the blogosphere in general) someone essentially getting paid to sit at home all day and do very little, but it’s always been clear, even before this post, how much hard work you do. I really appreciate how much time you spend testing things and being a part of the general community. I think you’re the best representation of what a full-time food blogger is.

    Reply

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    Shannon — October 29, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

    I want you to know that I just found your website and really love everything I have seen so far. This post, especially, proves to me that you care about what you are doing and respect those who are taking the time to read what you write. As someone who just started her own blog, I think your attention, approach and general mindfulness is fantastic.

    Thank you. I have subscribed. :)

    Reply

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    Jolie — November 4, 2011 @ 10:55 am

    I loved this post! It made me smile and inspired me. I love the practical information and the sense of community that you offer – thanks. I hope to develop a plan that works as well for me as yours does for you! Jolie

    Reply

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    tanya — December 20, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    Hi,

    This post was wonderful and very, very inspiring.I am new to the blogging world, and many a times wonder why i do it, and today was one of those days. And then my husband sent me a link to ur blog. And i dont think im going to stop.
    I realised why I love doing this. Good luck and Great job with your blog!
    Tanya

    Reply

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    Katie Smith — January 17, 2012 @ 1:33 am

    I love this! I am a stay-at-home-wife and have had such trouble creating a schedule for myself. My husband is in the military and his schedule changes all the time, as much as I love being on the same schedule as him, it just isn’t working for me. I wake up and go to sleep at different hours, I can just never seem to get started and get done the things that I need/want to. I’ve spent that last couple of days trying to work on figuring out a routine, separate from his, that works for me. What I got from this post is that you figured out a schedule that worked for you and fit the pieces in, rather than try to fit yourself into all the tasks. Thank you for sharing this, it has definitely helped me move forward and I’m sure will be a key to success! And thanks for all the yummy recipes, I’ve always had success with them!

    Reply

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    Jackie Thompson — January 27, 2012 @ 2:14 am

    I’m just new to your blog (and blogging), which I discovered through, Baking with Basil. It’s delightful and your personality shines through after just a few minutes of reading. I love your 365 answers. Thanks for taking us “inside” so that us newbies get a chance to understand how you do what you do, and do so well.

    Reply

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    Heather F. — February 1, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

    Jess, um you are the cutest thing of all time. This is Fenk, your husband old coworker. Your site is absolutely gorg and your pictures are so clear, I can’t even believe it! Congrats and I hope you win that award you are up for…I voted for you!! Yay! Bye!

    Reply

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    Christa Kelso Borden — June 12, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    Jessica,
    You are quite the inspiration! I hope to one day have my blog be as successful as yours! Keep on doing what you’re doing because we all love it :)
    xo,
    Mini Baker

    Reply

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    themeaniongofme — July 5, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

    So glad I found this post today. I really love your site. Thanks for sharing your experience with us newbies. :)

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    Elizabeth @ The Bare Midriff — July 10, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

    So I started reading your daily schedule and thought, “This is awesome! It sounds like the perfect writing/blogging schedule!” But then you got to the nine o’clock hour and I noticed that you remained conscious for at least another two hours after that…interesting…

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    Gwyn M — July 19, 2012 @ 11:23 am

    Wow – so inspiring!!! I’m glad you’ve found your happy place for right now…you had the guts to do what so many of us are terrified to do :)

    Reply

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    Vicky — November 15, 2012 @ 5:31 am

    Fully enjoyed reading this post! I too like you worked a terribly boring 40 hour a week office job for 2 hours. I whined and complained about it all the times, and then felt bad about doing so considering that I was lucky to have a job and should have been happy with all the free time I had at work. I too started my blog while at that job. Thankfully in Sept of this year I quit and now my boyfriend and I are traveling around Europe and Asia for the next 2 years. We are running a travel blog along with my food blog and I can honestly say that I am so much happier than when I was sitting in an office all day!

    Reply

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    Tieghan — December 2, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

    Jessica, I am a long time reader! I recently start my own flood blog and things are going well! Honestly, I look up to you as a blogger. I love your voice and I LOVE you pictures! My question to you is how an earth do you take such clear pictures? I have DSLR camera and am learning how to use it. Do you have an tips?

    Reply

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    Alyssa — July 2, 2013 @ 11:06 am

    I would loooove to write for a living (it’s my dream job), but I so don’t have the discipline! Here I am working a job I hate and muddling through day after day… you are an inspiration. At least when I get home from this horrible place, I get to make some of the amazing recipes you come up with. (The caramel bourbon toffee ice cream is currently in my freezer at home.) OMNOMNOM

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    Robyn — July 19, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

    Hello Jessica! I have been studying and educating myself on what it takes to actually make some income blogging. I’m wondering product partnerships and freelance work. I see so many food blogs that are using a certain brand in a recipe because they were given the product or sponsored to. Maybe it’s a sponsored give away or they write a recipe for that company. Do you know if this sort of thing is sought out by the blogger or do the companies contact you? How do these companies even have some of these food blogs on their radar? I know your blog is probably different because you have such a huge reach, but I see a lot of smaller blogs doing this as well and you might have some advice about it from when you were just starting out! Many thanks! :)

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    Lauren — July 24, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

    IN LOVE! -With your blog. You are really an inspiration. And your photographs are amazing.

    Reply

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