So today I get to introduce you to my favorite blogger of all time. This is big friends. I have a lot of favorite bloggers, but Jessica at How Sweet It Is, is a practical favorite. Does that make sense? There are tons (and tons) of blogs I read and forget about as soon as I’ve finished the latest post. Jessica’s blog is one I read daily and refer to multiple times weekly. It’s my go to recipe-searching blog, my photography-drooling inspiration blog, and just an all around great read.
I’m not entirely sure how I found Jessica, but I’ve been reading her blog for several years. I got hooked right around the time she quit her day job, and I’ve been reading and following her journey ever since. Mostly, I love her writing and recipes. I’m totally envious of her photography and watching it blossom (especially in the last 6 months) has been super inspiring to me. I first contacted Jessica a couple of months ago when I wanted to post my own photos of her recipes on my blog and I had no idea what the proper protocol was. She was so sweet and encouraging and responded immediately. I was a little nervous about asking her to do this series because she’s like MAJOR big time, but again she responded immediately and was super great to work with.
Enjoy this interview with Jessica! Warning: there are some insanely provocative food images below. Click the pictures for recipe links; you won’t be sorry.
Tell us about your job.
Most days, I can’t believe that I get to call this my “job!” I feel insanely lucky and blessed every minute of every day. Early on I knew I was cut from an entrepreneurial cloth, and that I’d never be satisfied sitting behind a desk. Currently, I pour all of my time into my website, which is my #1 priority and full time job. I also have a few freelance gigs each month, mostly revolving around recipe development or photography. Is this real life?
Tell us about your previous jobs? How did you get to this point?
I fell into blogging accidentally. I left a job I loved to take a chance for more personal and professional growth, and it was a total dead end. Two days in, I realized there was nothing for me to do, and I was right smack in the middle of my worst nightmare: stuck behind a desk. I spent all day on the computer, ran across a blog or two (not food related) and decided that I wanted to do it too. My intent was never to blog 100% about food – initially I was going to have more of a lifestyle blog. However I was so miserable in my job and worked all day – and my husband worked late. Our lives were pretty boring and I didn’t have many things to blog about, but loved to cook… so food just came about naturally.
Describe yourself in three words.
Passionate. Hard-working. Genuine. Wait.. is that 4?
What preparations did you make, if any, before starting your business?
I definitely didn’t make any. I had no idea I was creating a “business” when I started my blog – it just gradually happened over time.
Where do you work (home office, on location, brick and mortar, on your couch, at your favorite coffee shop)?
Oh my… all throughout my house? In the kitchen, in my bed, on the couch, at the dining room table… everywhere! I work way too much and need an office to separate my life from my work. But I’d rather buy fancy shoes than spend the money on that.
When did you first feel successful?
Probably the first time someone wrote to me and said how happy their day was when they read my blog and made my recipe. I don’t even think I was making any money at the time, but knowing that I can bring some happiness into others’ lives makes me feel so great about what I do.
How do you balance your time between work and play?
Ha! I barely do. I haven’t really taken a day off from my job since I started – i am always doing something work related. But I try to get the majority of my work done between Monday and Friday afternoon, so I can somewhat relax a bit more on the weekends. Which usually just means that I work at 75% strength instead of 100%.
What is the best part about working for yourself?
Definitely having the opportunity to manage my time as I please to. Working for myself has given me the chance to spend weekdays with my mom or take more than one family vacation since I can work from anywhere. I always have to make up the work somewhere, but it’s worth it to spend Wednesday with somebody I love and work Saturday instead.
What has been the hardest?
Um… managing my time? Ha! I have a very difficult time separating life and work. Because my life is my work.
What is the most important thing you’ve done for your business?
Build a community on my site. It is so important to me to nurture the relationships I’ve made with my readers and let them know how much I appreciate them.
What has been your biggest business related achievement?
It may sound cliché, but I have to say again that my biggest achievement has been creating this community of my site. It means everything to me. No, literally… everything.
What are your top three marketing tips? Have you embraced social media?
Marketing a blog is definitely different than marketing a service or a brick and mortar business, but my top three tips would be to 1. Network with others and build genuine relationships, 2. Stay true to yourself and don’t sell out for money, success or anything else, and 3. Don’t be afraid to know your own value and worth.
What are your goals for the next 3 years?
My main goal is to write a fiction novel. Writing fiction has been my dream since I was a little girl. Eating food and sharing food with others is a very strong passion of mine, but it’s one that I satisfy everyday with my website. Writing fiction is what I crave. And yes – total women’s, chick-lit, beachy fiction. No, nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes, everything like Kristin Hannah, Emily Giffin, and Elin Hilderbrand.
What advice would you give someone who is considering starting her own business.?
Be absolutely madly, passionately in love with what you are doing. And work at it every single day for the rest of your life.
Share the love: Tell us about a mentor or supporter (in your industry or niche) who has helped you get where you are today.
Blogging is something that is very personal, and many times when people start out, they think that having other bloggers talk them up or promote them or share their website will grow their readership. I sure did. But truthfully, I read blogs only because of the person behind them – their voice, their passions, their gorgeous photography and all-around inspiration. In terms of a huge supporter of my work, I’d have to say my husband, even though he is not in my industry whatsoever. I am someone who only thinks with my heart and find it incapable many times to even try thinking with my head. He balances me out and has been so supportive of my job, which is what I have lived and breathed the last two years.
In terms of someone in my industry I look up to the most, I have to say Deb from Smitten Kitchen. I adore that she has a strong voice and has never faltered or changed her ways, regardless of what the industry is doing. My top 3 favorite bloggers are Tracy from Shutterbean, who is hilarious and has incredible unique photography, Katie from Yes, I Want Cake, who is amazingly genuine and real, and Naomi from Bakers Royale, who has outrageous style and recipes that are right up my alley.
Please, please go bookmark this site and start making these recipes. I get rave reviews each time I whip something up from this blog and I so appreciate Jessica’s hard work and photography. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. She’s a great asset to the food blogger community, a phenomenal food photographer, and terribly inspiring.
A million thank you’s Jessica!
If you or someone you know is interested in being featured in this series, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org