Being a food blogger is more than just a pie-in-the-sky dream. There are plenty of examples of success in this arena: Gaby Dalkin turned What’s Gaby Cooking into a full-fledged brand with corporate sponsorship deals, blogger Thug Kitchen created a foodie podcast and authored several cookbooks, and more and more female-owned food businesses are launching every day. In this week’s How to Quit Your Day Job series, we chat with Katie Higgins who quit college to start her successful healthy vegan desserts blog, Chocolate-Covered Katie, about how she turned her sweet tooth into a full-time job.
Meet the Food Blogger Pro: Katie Higgins
Hailed as the next Nigella Lawson by Women’s Health, Katie Higgins made the decision to become a full-time food blogger back in the summer of 2011 after three years of blogging. Her healthy desserts blog had grown into a bigger commitment as readers and fans flocked to Chocolate-Covered Katie for healthy versions of classic desserts, such as top reader favorites Black Bean Brownies and Cookie Dough Dip. Higgins started the blog while in college when she began playing around with dessert recipes and transforming them into healthier versions. Now, Higgins has one of the top 30 food blogs in the US, has penned two cookbooks (Chocolate-Covered Katie and Hello Breakfast!), and spends her days getting paid to make and bake cookies. And yes, she does eat chocolate every single day.
Brit + Co: What’s your morning routine?
Katie Higgins: I wake up around 5am and eat a small first breakfast before starting a few hours of computer work (writing posts, responding to emails, scheduling social media, editing images, etc.). Then I have a real breakfast and start setting up for the day’s recipe testing and photoshoots. A few times a week, I’ll also go out running. I like going out early in the morning when it’s quiet and not many cars are around.
B+C: What inspired you to start your company?
KH: The idea for a blog focused on healthy desserts came about when I was in college, eating your typical college diet of pizza, coffee, and so much junk food. Without access to a kitchen or a mother to make sure I was getting balanced meals, it wasn’t uncommon for me to grab a pint of ice cream for lunch or a slice of double layer cake from a nearby bakery for dinner. While eating this way was fun, it quickly left me feeling drained of energy all the time. When it comes to dessert, I’ve never been good at moderation, and so I knew giving up my favorite foods was not an option. I started playing around with recipes to figure out how to include dessert every day in my diet and still be healthy, and I guess there are a ton of other people out there who feel the same way as I do, because the blog really took off!
B+C: How do you challenge yourself as an entrepreneur?
KH: When I first started the blog, I knew next to nothing about photography, business, or computer coding. I’ve learned as I’ve gone along, meaning each day presents new and awesome challenges, whether it’s teaching myself to use a DSLR [digital single-lens reflex camera], reading up on S corporations, negotiating with brands for sponsorship deals, or working on my goal to become proficient in HTML and CSS coding. The biggest challenge is forcing myself to put it all down and go to sleep every night because it’s all so interesting and exciting that I never want to stop!
B+C: Tell us about how your family and friends help support your business.
KH: My mother didn’t completely disown me when I told her I was dropping out of college to write a food blog, so there’s that. Seriously, though, my friends and family have been absolutely amazing. They’re constantly telling people about the blog and sharing posts of mine on their Facebook pages, and they even threw me a giant book launch party when my first cookbook came out. If I feel like I’ve been reclusive for too many days in a row (working from home can get lonely), I call or text someone and they’re always ready to go out.
B+C: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
KH: There’s a famous Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” and I think about those words any time I’m making a decision, whether it’s for business or just life in general. I was never really a risk-taker growing up, but if you want to be successful in business, you need to learn how to take risks. And I never want to look back and wonder, “What if?”
B+C: What do you love about your job?
KH: Seeing others try the recipes I’ve created, and especially seeing their own pictures when they post on Instagram or Facebook. It is absolutely the best part of my job. And the fact that I can actually get paid to bake and eat chocolate chip cookies is pretty fantastic as well. If you would have asked my younger self to describe her dream job, this would have definitely been it.
B+C: Name two female heroes who you think should get a shout-out.
KH: My mom and sister. They are the two most amazing women I know — smart, driven, honest, and compassionate.
B+C: If you could tell aspiring creative women anything, what would it be?
KH: If you really believe in something, don’t ever let anyone talk you out of it or tell you it isn’t possible. You’re going to encounter roadblocks, but if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, never let that stop you.
What’s your dream career? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know, and we could feature it in the next column!
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(Photos via Chocolate-Covered Katie)