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I am thrilled to be a part of The 4-Part Entrepreneur Cocktail Happy Hour Blog Tour hosted by the lovely Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society. She just finished writing her first book (yeah Hilary!) and asked me to be a part of her blog hop. Every day in November you can find stories from other entrepreneurs who are throwing back the curtain and giving you a behind the scenes peak at their blog or business. I am so excited to learn from so many inspiring women this month.

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Part 1: What Motivates You – Why did you start a blog? What motivated you? Has that been the same thing that’s continued to motivate you as the months and years pass? Why do you continue blogging?

When I started Baked Bree almost 4 years ago, I had no idea what it would become or how much I would love having a business built around my blog. Running a blog takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work.  For example, a single blog post requires me to come up with content, develop recipes, photograph and edit the product, write the post, engage on social media, and respond to reader emails and comments. I also do a lot of work with brands, and that adds a whole other layer of things to do and to stay on top of. Email alone could be a full-time job!

The thing that motivates me to keep going and growing is YOU. I love knowing that my recipes are being cooked in your homes and shared with people you love. My goal is to make cooking accessible to everyone and to get more people in the kitchen. The step-by-step photos are here for you to learn from. When I get a comment or email from a reader telling me that they cooked their first meal or hosted their first dinner party, it encourages me to keep working hard to create the best content that I can.

Part 2: Your Strengths & DNA – What parts of blogging come easily to you, play to your strengths, and what parts don’t?

The part that comes the easiest to me is photography. My background is in photography and it is a natural fit. Photography is my creative outlet, and without my camera I would be half a person. Even though the mechanics are no longer difficult for me, staying inspired and challenged is. It is easy to get stuck in a creative rut and it is just as easy to fall prey to chasing trends that come and go. I am always learning; there is not an artist in the world that cannot learn something new. I am always reading, taking classes, and workshops to get better at my craft.

The piece that I struggle with is the writing piece. Writing does not come naturally to me. I work very hard to be concise, say as much as I can in as few words as I can, and be personal without over-sharing. Writing recipes is an art form in and of itself. Writing head notes is always a challenge. I know people come to this blog for the recipes, and may or may not care about what I have to say. Finding the balance between sharing me and sharing my recipes is always delicate.

Part 3: Saying Yes to Profits – Are you a professional blogger? Do you make 100% of your income off of your blog? If so how did you get there? What advice do you have for someone who wants that same income stream? 

Yes, I consider myself to a professional blogger. I am fortunate that I do not have to work if I do not want to. It is my choice, and Baked Bree income has allowed us to do many things that we would not have been able to otherwise. People often ask me how I make money from my blog. It comes from a few different sources. Ad revenue, sponsored posts, freelance photography, recipe development, photography, and writing make up the bulk of my income.

I have been very fortunate to work with some wonderful people and brands. I think initially my photography got me noticed, but what keeps me working is my strong work ethic. I do my best possible work on every assignment. Under promise and over deliver is my motto. I meet every deadline and would not dream of turning in something late.

What is my advice for you if you are looking to get into the world of professional blogging? Create unique and timely content. Strong photography is key. Images are everything in this business – work on making clean, well exposed, and in focus images. Be nice. Do not alienate readers and do not engage with the negative that most certainly will come your way. Work hard, but value your time and energy. I wish that early on I would have valued myself more.

Part 4: Saying No to Overwhelm – How do you find the hours in your week for blogging? What does it usually mean saying no to in order to keep up with your blog? Have you ever felt exhausted or overwhelmed by the pace you’ve set for yourself, your own expectations, the requests of others when it comes to your blog? What would you go back and tell yourself about those times?

One of the things that I love the most about blogging is the flexibility. I obviously have to spend a lot of time in my kitchen, but I can bring my laptop and work from just about anywhere. I tend to work in chunks. I might spend an entire weekend creating content and then space it out throughout the month. Since there are so many pieces that go into a blog post, (photography, recipe creation, editing, uploading, etc) I have to be very organized. I work around my family’s schedule and often am the most productive when they are asleep. I get the bulk of my work done (minus the photography, that has to be done during daylight hours) from 8-11pm.

I say no to work that I do not think is a good fit for my brand, or anything that I do not feel connected to. Learning to say no was incredibly difficult. I am naturally a people pleaser and it took me a long time to figure out that I needed to say “no” sometimes so that I could say “yes” to things that I really want to do. You need to make space for the yes work.

There are definitely seasons (we are in the busiest season as I type this) that I feel overwhelmed. It feels like a sprint and that there is always something that needs to be done or that needs my immediate attention. I have to remember that I am only one person. I do not have any behind the scenes help. I do every job that needs to be done behind the scenes myself. Part of it is because I am a bit of a control freak and the other part is that I have not decided what I am willing to give up or delegate yet.

If I could go back and tell myself anything about these times it would be that it is okay. It is okay to set the boundaries that I need to be a good wife and mother first and not apologize for saying no to things that do not help me reach the goals that I set for myself. I do not need to compare myself to anyone else. It is also okay to change my mind and move and grow in different directions. Right now, I am back in school and branching out in some one-on-one coaching. I am always evolving and will continue to create my business around the life that I am living right now.

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I am so honored to have been a part of this series. If you have any questions or would like any more information on being a female entrepreneur, please reach out. I am happy to help.

For more behind the scenes, check out yesterday’s post over at Treasures and Travels and tomorrow at Coconut Robot.

Or follow along on Twitter:

What does 30 bloggers getting virtual cocktails look like? http://bit.ly/1aENV97 The Happy Hour Blog Tour w @HilaryRushford. Join us! #4PEC –> Click to tweet