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EPISODE 026: TURN FOOD BLOGGING INTO A FULL TIME GIG WITH JESSICA GAVIN

Blog Title: Jessica Gavin

Social Media:

IG: https://www.instagram.com/jessica_gavin/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaYeeGavin/

About Jessica: I am a Certified Culinary Scientist and Certified Food Scientist with a passion for helping home cooks get a good dinner on the table. On my website JessicaGavin.com, I inspire my readers to embrace the science behind cooking. I've been working full time as a nutrition formulation scientist for 12 years, and food blogging for 7 years. In that time I earned an associate degree in culinary arts, had two foodie kids, published my first cookbook (Easy Culinary Science For Better Cooking), and launched a recipe app. I recently quit my job to become a full-time food media entrepreneur.

Notes from Episode #026: Going from part-time to full-time food blogging

  • Fun fact: Jessica met a pioneer of food and lifestyle space, Martha Stewart. Jessica did a live cooking demo in downtown LA and got to interact with the audience and come out from behind the computer to do that.  

  • What is a Food Scientist - they deliver food products to the masses. A food scientist develops a recipe, makes sure the food can be produced on a larger scale and that its packaged and safe and ready to go for your convenience. 

  • She wanted to go into culinary arts but then her dad encouraged to get a bachelor’s degree first and so she was recommended by someone her family knew to be a food scientist and she was immediately interested. 

  • Jessica went to Culinary School at night.

  • She ended up getting the best of both worlds because her husband helped her set up a website and so she started her blog in 2012. Her husband has a technical knowledge so they work together well on this job. 

  • It took 3-4 years to get any real traction with traffic.

  • Looking back, Jessica knows it was because she was not posting consistently, and was treating her blog as more of a hobby than a job. She also wasn’t aware of her audience yet and was focused on content being more like developing specialty foods rather than what an audience might want, which was more like easy foods to get on the table for a busy weeknight. She also wasn’t using an editorial calendar, was just learning her photography skills and there was no busy strategy in place.

  • What are the most important aspects of food blogging to invest in first?

    • Photography skills! She realized she needed to own this. So Jessica took over photography from her husband and then took a workshop from Pinch of Yum. Then she realized she could do this and got inspired to practice, improving her skills.

    • Food writing - very important to learn to know when to use a personal voice, your business voice, as well as making it readable and enjoyable for readers. Structuring your posts and recipe is important too so Jessica found a food coach at a food conference and they worked together over a few months.

    • Jessica and her husband had a blog part time over 7 years but the first two weren’t focused and trying to grow. After the birth of their son, they discussed if this was important to them to continue with or not. Then they decided to make this a focus and pursue blogging full time.

  • Invest in yourself to become the boss of your business!

  • Once I got serious about being consistent, understanding my audience, my niche, reduced distractions, attending workshops/conference, SEO, hiring a VA and videographer, and brand marketing, things slowly turned around. Lot’s of experimentation and commitment changed my business and opportunities!

  • She launched the Jessica Gavin app through sidechef in November 2017.

  • Jessica published her first cookbook “Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking: Recipes for Everyday Meals Made Easier, Faster and More Delicious” with Pagestreet Publishing in May 2018.

  • In 2019, Jessica quit her job (Sr. Research Scientist in Nutrition Product Development), after almost 12 years at the company.

  • She’s now forging ahead as a full-time food media entrepreneur.

  • Jessica and her husband are going through a kitchen renovation right now and excited about building her brand. They hope to do more online video demos and getting back to what she loves about cooking and teaching. Jessica is ready to connect with her readers on another level.

  • Advice for bloggers that are on the fence about going full-time:

    • Have a realistic idea of what you’re projected income could be and how it looks so you can understand if it’ll be worth it. You also have to understand your expenses and what will be required. 

    • Diversify your income - sponsorships, ad networks, youtube, selling products, creating courses. You can teach at a culinary school, etc. 

    • Food blogging is always unpredictable but know your bottom line and where you need to be to stay afloat. 

    • Show up! Be consistent. 

    • Saved up some income to cover 3-6 months of income before making this transition. Jessica and her husband are going to be working with a financial planner and their CPA to make sure they’re on track to continue to grow. 

  • Everything Food Conference is one of Jessica’s favorite conferences. She recommends attending conferences, connecting with other bloggers and other professionals connected to the field. That’s how she met her Food Writing Coach.

  • Be sure to use an editorial calendar. When you wake up every day you know exactly what you’re going to do. What stops you from progressing is that it takes awhile to generate ideas and think about what content you want to create. She wants to have 6-9 months of post ideas. She does get inspired by ingredients or something she wants to learn so she might switch a post around and make something later, but at least she isn’t making an excuse to not be productive. Focus on quality, work on recipe writing and photography skills. Pitfalls or success come with these 3 things. 

  • Jessica’s Future: Focus on building a tighter community on social media, youtube (create more cooking demo style videos in a new kitchen), and focus on email marketing. Continue to post frequently on jessicagavin.com (at least 3 times per week).

Helpful references from the episode: