Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.
"Self-employed". That’s been me for the last 6 months! As a food blogger and a food photographer.
Many people find this choice bizarre, and the most frequent question I’ve been asked when telling people what I do is “can you survive just being a blogger?”
Austrian TV asked themselves the same question and ended up interviewing me for their “Thema” show.
The first time I was featured on the show, we all went shopping to the Yppenmarkt food market. It was early summer and I baked a juicy raspberry, banana and coconut cake live on TV – a bit of an experiment, as I hadn’t made this particular cake before. More on this later. You can rewatch the show here.
But back to the question about surviving as a blogger and how I became one in the first place.
It started around 2 years ago, in December 2013, when I began to blog as a hobby. At the time, I was still gainfully employed by the Kochabo company and was writing my blog as a creative outlet alongside my paying job. I was trying to combine all my favourite things to do – cooking, baking, painting, drawing and writing – and was sitting over the blog during my time off from my 40 hours a week job. I was always serious about producing quality work, which led to me frequently writing until the early hours of the morning and spending every weekend cooking, baking and blogging, which in turn meant taking pictures, drawing illustrations and writing blog posts.
At some point, I started to receive commissions and balancing my two lives threatened to be too much for me to handle. And that was when I decided to quit my job and turn self-employed, trying to live purely from my blogging. “No risk, no fun”, I thought – I was still young, didn’t really have that much to lose and the worst case scenario was me having to look for another job. Of course my decision was scary but also terribly exciting.
Initially, I wanted to take some time to write up a business plan, attract customers, etc., but that all went out the window, as the commissions just flew in.
My blog turned into an advertising platform for my activities - it’s mostly food photography commissions that come in through the website.
So technically, I don’t live on just being a blogger, but instead, I make my money by doing food photography as well as accepting cooperations and so-called sponsored posts, which means that companies introduce and feature new products via my blog.
Of course I’ll only agree to these requests if I think they fit me and my blog and could be interesting for my readers.
It’s very important for me to remain authentic and to stay true to myself. It took a long time until people realized how much work goes into a blog post and why they had to pay me for it.
When you’re a brand-new blogger, getting exposure and products sent for free is amazing, but none of this pays the rent. As a freelancer, I have to charge for my work hours, as they can extend to an entire day for a single blog entry – a recipe has to be created, the ingredients bought, the dish cooked, styled and photographed. The images have to be edited, a blog entry written and the whole thing is then shared on social media. Companies and potential partners like to ask for a media or press kit, presenting the blogger they’re interested in working with as well as their various options for cooperation. . Mine looks like this.
Austrian TV asked me about the advantages and disadvantages of my job. Generally I would say that they’re not that different from those of any freelancer. The disadvantages are having to attract commissions and not having paid holidays. In the neutral corner, I’d put the 24/7-on-the-job existence, being a generalist, i.e. having to know a little bit about a lot of things – finances, marketing, sales, the creative side etc. Over time, having fingers in many pies turns into an advantage, as you learn a ton of new things and greatly expand your horizon.
On the negative side, none of us can do everything and there isn’t enough time for all the things we need to accomplish. It is important to prioritise and to outsource things we can’t do ourselves (or those we hate). At the same time, an important motto is: don’t be dependent – be independent! Try and do as many things yourself as you can.
I’ve created my own personal 10 tips for success – you can read about them here. The most essential ideas for me are:
Overall, I love being my own boss and wouldn’t have it any other way. I can arrange my time however I like, accept commissions I like and turn down the ones I don’t. Making a living doing what you love is everyone’s dream, and it’s totally worth all the effort and hard work. I can definitely recommend it to anyone!
"The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it."
- Steve Jobs
As a blogger, you get to try many new products, kitchen implements and other excellent things. You are invited to blogger events to taste delicious food. And you have all this creative space you can fill with whatever you want.
Many people assume that being in the public eye is a disadvantage – that’s exactly what Austrian TV asked me as well - what it’s like to be a public figure and whether walking around town is different for me now that I’m a mini-celebrity. This kind of question always makes me smile – because I don’t think about any of that at all when I leave my house, not about what I’m wearing or how I’m presenting myself.
I’m not a lifestyle or fashion blogger, so my main priority isn’t me, but the food. I do tell the stories and I’m the face behind the blog, but what I do is share recipes and food photography and my passion for them, which is probably why I’ve never received any hate postings, something other bloggers get by the gigabyte, like Madeleine, the creator of lifestyle blog DARIA DARIA,who was also interviewed on Austrian TV.
I just love that I was able to turn my passion into a profession and that I can share my culinary experiences with the world – I hope that’s how my readers see me and my blog.
And now I can no longer deny you the deliciousness that is my raspberry, banana and coconut cake. Enjoy!
Raspberry-Banana Coconut Cake
10 Portions of Raspberry-Banana Coconut Cake
- 200ml coconut oil
- 40g coconut sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1 pack vanilla sugar
- 200g (gluten-free) flour, I use the Mantler Mühle brand
- 140g coconut flour
- ½ pack baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 85g desiccated coconut
- ½ pot of soured cream
- 225g frozen raspberries
1.) Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan). Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork. Add the coconut sugar, vanilla sugar, coconut oil and eggs and stir well using a handmixer.
2.) Now add the dry ingredients - flour, coconut flour, baking powder, pinch of salt and the desiccated coconut. Mix under the soured cream and stir until well combined, but not too long. If the batter is too dry, add some more cream or coconut milk.
3.) Carefully fold in the frozen raspberries and spoon the batter into a parchment-lined rectangular baking tin. Bake for 45 minutes on the middle shelf. Around 15 minutes before the baking time ends, scatter some desiccated coconut on top and finish baking. Remove from the oven, let the cake cool down, slice it and serve.