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How I Started Blogging Full-Time

If you want to be successful in business, you need to take risks.

Chocolate Covered Katie Vegan

A few years ago, I took a life-changing risk.

And today is the first time I’m finally writing about it on the blog.

When I started Chocolate Covered Katie, I never expected this to become my full-time job. My high school friends were all making blogs or Myspace pages back then, and we were doing it just for fun.

When a company contacted me about putting ads on the site, I thought their email was spam and came very close to deleting it. My blog was getting around 700 visitors per day, which I thought was a ton.

Then suddenly, Pinterest took off and changed everything.

Readers began pinning my recipes like crazy—for example, this recipe has over 1 million repins!

Full Time Food Blog Job

I was in college and in way over my head.

Traffic surges kept crashing the website, and hundreds of new reader questions and emails poured in each day.

I spent nights and weekends reading up on CSS and PHP and devoted my days to mastering aperture, F stops, and shutter speed. I was suddenly interested in subjects I’d never even thought of exploring: photography, business, computer programming?!

Interest in my actual college classes took a back seat, and my college social life swiftly dropped to nonexistent.

At the time, blogging was not a “real” job.

No one was a full-time blogger—at least, not anyone I knew.

But I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that this could really turn into something fantastic. If I didn’t take the chance to explore the opportunity, I knew it wouldn’t exist forever.

chocolate

While I did initially tell readers I’d made a decision to blog full-time, there was a part I left out:

I dropped out of college to write a blog.

It sounded like such a crazy idea at the time, and there were definitely people in my real life who didn’t support my decision and were vocal about letting me know it.

But when I decide to do something, there is no talking me out of it – I wrote about this once before.

Both of my parents were supportive when I told them about my decision, but they did worry about me not having a degree, especially with the future of blogging being such an unknown.

Out of respect for them (because they seriously are the best), I went back and finished a year later online. Although I started college at Bryn Mawr and transferred to SMU in Dallas, my degree says I graduated from Penn State.

Somehow, I never seem to do anything the traditional way.

So was the risk worth it?

Chocolate Covered Katie Food Blog Job

I love my job and get to eat chocolate every day. Definitely worth it!

Side note: If you want to read more about my college journey, you can do so here:

Chocolate Covered Katie – College Story Part 1

*For all who’ve been asking, here’s my simple tutorial for How To Start A Blog.

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Published on April 25, 2016

Meet Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
featured on The 
Today Show, CNN, 
Fox, The 
Huffington Post, and 
ABC's 5 O’Clock News. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating dessert every single day.

Learn more about Katie

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65 Comments

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  1. Kelly says

    That’s really funny. What did you major in? I’m a lot like you in some ways (I love healthy cooking and writing and running), but I don’t know that I should go to a culinary school because I don’t want to have to cook with meat, eggs, milk, etc. Its a dilemma!

      • Kelly says

        I have! And it looks excellent, I have to say, although far from home. 🙂

        Getting the kind of degree you did may be what I decide on. I don’t like fitting into a box! I want to have a lot of skills in areas I love, you know? It’s very inspiring that you wrote this because I would love my “hobbies” to become a career.

  2. Carrie Willard says

    Thanks for sharing your story Katie! I’m interested not only because I’ve been blogging for 13 years (during that time my internet business has earned everything from chump change to a full-time living that supported me and my kids during my time as a divorced mom), but also because I’m a mom of homeschooled kids. Their educational and career paths are also going to be non-traditional. I love that our modern era with the internet and other technology allows us to do this. You’re an inspiration!

  3. Michelle says

    Love this! I’m a full-time blogger and I love it. I earn a great living, I travel full-time (sold my house last year!), and it will allow us to have enough money saved to retire before 30 if we actually wanted to. But, I love blogging so I don’t see that happening, haha.

  4. Paulina Suonvieri says

    Oh this is so inspiring to read!
    Time has changed and everything seems to be possible nowadays. Though, I agree with the part where you say that the future of blogging being so unknown, but as I see it you have totally made a good job so far and it has deifnitely been worth it havent it? 😀

    Anyway, was very nice to read this! I’m getting motivated to follow my own dreams as well!

    Take care!

    Paulina (your nr 1 fan from Sweden ;))
    100kitchenstories.se

  5. Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says

    You’re such an inspiration to me Katie 🙂 Your blog was the first one I ever discovered on the Internet and I’ve stuck with you ever since! You inspired me to write my own blog and I’ve never looked back. Thank you SO much for everything. <3

  6. Joanne says

    You could not have posted this at a more perfect time. I was just thinking about your blog and wondering last night how you made this into your full-time job. I graduated from college a year ago and am still trying to figure out how to find/create a career that I am passionate about. This is really inspiring. I also love baking, and your blog has always been my favorite!

  7. Kenzie says

    This is actually great! (I’m in college right now) my blog doesn’t nearly make enough for me to drop out, but it does make me feel good about myself when I have a bad/long school day! I’m so glad you started your blog, I’ve absolutely loved it.
    x Kenzie // Kenzieblogslife.blogspot.com

  8. amylynn says

    Katie, I have always found you to be so positive, kind, upbeat… and am reminded after reading this Blog, you are *so* generous! I found you a few years ago when I was working on moving to a plant-based diet, everything yummy I Googled sent me to the same place – here!

    I don’t want to bore you with details, but we just love you around here. I have been disabled for some time, but in that time with so much of my life changing, I discovered I actually liked baking, loved it even! I live with my folks – who, like yours, were extremely (& sort of surprisingly!) supportive about my sort of !beyond! traditional University choices when I struggled with future hopes and the school where I was not happy, and then transferring to my favorite school, the University of Oklahoma, where what I wanted to “be when I grew up” was not taught, not something I could get a degree in. So I bounced around a LOT, and I have no idea why my parents didn’t tell me to cut it out 🙂

    I have hoped for the past 5 years to start a home-based business and this really encourages me! And also like you , I want to finish those few classes and (oh! go away, silly tears!) I want so much for my parents to see me walk or wheel or heck, have a friend give me a piggyback ride!, across a stage to receive my degree. Hoping hoping!

    Some tradition is very nice. But some of us also just aren’t made from the same mold, which i think is very cool. Life would be so boring if we all did things the same way! It is just so neat that you found your niche so early in life, this is a fantastic Blog (and book!) and I have learned so much from you. I feel like you are part of my “team” when my stubborn Dad sets down his junky desserts and dives into a CCK recipe! You might very well have helped us get to keep him here still, he had a heart attack 4 years ago.

    Now if you can come up with some sort of plant-based hot dog, which for some wacky reason is my Dad’s favorite food? You will be the biggest hero in this house. 😀 (I Guess we all can have one vice, but my STARS that man likes junk!) :0)
    Thanks again for being so kind and sharing your life a li’l bit too!

    5/5

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  9. Teresa says

    Wow, Katie! You are so inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story. As a high school kid it’s nice to know that non-traditional schooling is sometimes the best option of all, depending of course on your circumstances.

  10. Colleen says

    Hi Katie! Your blog and recipes were among the first to get me interested in cooking and baking. One of my first “trial recipes” was your avocado cream sauce, which I now make all the time! I actually recently started my own food blog on Instagram (@24bbakery) because I’ve been inspired by you to share my love for food and health with others! If you have any advice on starting a successful blog I’d love to hear from you!

    5/5

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  11. Rachel says

    Ha! I can’t even imagine telling people you were going to quit college to write a blog. Even now, blogging isn’t exactly something everyone thinks about when they think about career choices, but a few years ago?! That would be like telling people you were quitting college to play professional quiddich. Which would be really fun, by the way.

    Love your blog!

  12. Bites for Foodies says

    Your story is very inspiring! I started blogging about 3 years ago and wished I had gotten into it sooner. Now, with two small kids, there is no way I can quit my day job and blog full-time. I’m contented by positive feedback on my recipes and increasing my views per day.

  13. Caroline Heinle says

    Hi Katie! Awesome story and very inspiring 🙂 I started blogging about a year ago about my journey with scoliosis and my surgery. Recently the hospital I had my surgery at in NYC came to me and asked me if they could share my story and my blog. I happily said yes! The NY Post and Daily Mail ran the story last week which was great exposure. But now I’m wondering how to keep gaining traction and visitors… Do you have any suggestions for those of us still trying to figure out the blogging thing 😛
    PS I LOOOOVE your blog and all of your recipes! Your muffins in my house always go like hotcakes!! … And my family doesn’t even like to eat healthy like I do – haha!

    5/5

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  14. Elizabeth says

    SO amazing to hear this part of your story, Katie! Thank you for sharing 🙂 You’re an inspiration and great role model to all!

  15. Delaney says

    Wow! That really must have been really, really scary at the time. Obviously it paid off and we are all very grateful! Stumbling upon your blog was what first inspired me to try to find healthier alternatives for baking 🙂
    What do you think the blog would look like today if you hadn’t committed to it full-time back then?

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Probably would have had to give it up by now… I am in awe of anyone who can run a large blog and have a full-time job too. (And I know some people do it!) Blogging is a lot of fun, but it’s also time-consuming… many bloggers even hire staff.

      I remember thinking about giving it up at the time. Am happy I didn’t have to after all 🙂

  16. Penina says

    Hi Katie!
    Wow, I think that is incredibly brave of you to leave college for your blog! Talk about determination!
    Also I just wanted to let you know I just bought your cookbook!! I’ve made your recipes off your blog but now I’m so happy to have some in print! It looks incredible!

    5/5

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  17. Barb says

    Wow that sounds terrifying! I’m a new follower of your blog but I would have loved to have seen it back in the day. I’m sure you have learned so much in these years and I am impressed you taught it all to yourself.

  18. Amber Latner says

    Such a cool story — thanks for sharing. I know you’ve said you eventually ended up in Washington, DC, and I always wondered what brought you here (I’m a DC resident myself) since you can blog from anywhere (and plenty of places in the world have better weather haha). Just curious.

  19. Natasha says

    Hi Katie! I love reading your blog every night. You have such great recipes! I was wondering, how do you create such cool dishes? Do you throw together ingredients to try to make something new, or do you use a basic recipe and tweak it? Thanks!

    5/5

    5/5

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      When I started out, I would just adapt recipes. But after a few years of baking, I started to get a feel for proper ratios of flour, salt, baking powder, etc. So mostly now, just throwing things together from scratch. I like the creativity and freedom of not following any recipe.

  20. Daniela says

    thank you Katie for sharing your story and your talents!
    I was wondering though, how does one make money blogging? I can understand writing and selling a book, but blogging? I mean, you give away tons of recipes, for free… And I am sure it takes time and money to develop, besides writing about it and making it and photographing it…. So, is it just from paying advertisements?
    Just curious….. I see lots of great food blogs and I wonder…

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Yes, just from the ads mostly… There are many other ways, such as affiliate links or ebooks, but I haven’t done any of them. I know my blog could make a ton more money if I did start doing affiliate links, but I just honestly don’t care. I’m happy the blog makes enough money to support me, but my main goal in blogging is to have fun, not to make a ton of money 🙂

  21. Athena Stanley (AJ) says

    I sure am glad you took the risk Katie. I enjoy your blog very much and have made many of your recipes a part of a balanced, healthy, energizing diet for me and my husband. The treats and meals you make are so delicious he doesn’t even recognize they are “lite”, more nutritious options. Keep up the amazing work!!

    5/5

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  22. Veronica says

    I loved reading this! I remember somewhere that you said you live in DC, is this still true? I live right outside of there!

  23. Judy Young says

    hey katie
    do you ever run into bloggers block and have difficulty coming up with something? i think that’s my biggest fear. running out of ideas
    thanks,
    Judy

    • Chocolate Covered Katie says

      Oh absolutely. But then there are days where I am feeling incredibly inspired, and I take advantage of those days by writing down all of my ideas, baking extra recipes, and just being extra productive in general. On days where I have no inspiration, I can pull from this stockpile of saved-up recipes and ideas 🙂

  24. Dominique Soeldner says

    Hi Katie!
    Loved reading this and am hooked on your site. It seems like I learn something new every time I visit and that’s awesome for a nerd like me. ? I had a couple questions about blogging and was wondering if you would mind answering them for me? I’m so interested in setting up my own blog mainly as an outlet for creativity. I love to write, but I have tons of hobbies that bring me immense pleasure. From cooking, baking, and gardening to crocheting and make up. Is it wrong to attempt a blog that could include aspects of all of those things or does it become too scatterbrained if you focus on so many things? I’m also wondering about the option to monetize a blog in the event I begin selling my crochet items? Is holding back on that option in order to see if the blog even has traffic a rookie mistake? I have so many questions but figured I’d start there. Hope you have a wonderful day and I look forward to hearing from you.

  25. Kati says

    Today, individuals are faced with a vast array of easily accessible options.
    Every second of the day we are making choices; from the clothes worn each day to which gas station to fill-up at, from which bank to use to picking the right doctor. Choices are everywhere but when do we really choose what’s best for us? Don’t we often find ourselves following patterns outlined by society (i.e. wearing the newest seasoned clothing, downloading the biggest hit app, getting the next generation iPhone, going on another fad diet, etc.)?

    It seems that our thinking has been altered. Countless individuals have turned away from the growth that hardships often provides in order to live the example life of mediocrity and/or contentment that society established.

    We make choices based on dozens of factors, but the top 4 most influential elements are:

    What Is The Easiest
    • i.e. not altering poor habits
    What Will Yield Rapid Results
    • i.e. hungry now–eat out
    What Saves The Most Time
    • i.e. fast food restaurants
    What Is The Cheapest
    • i.e. the dollar menu

    In all this lovely and plentiful chaos it is hard to balance our decisions, because by nature we are susceptible to outward influences–economically, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. It is not a matter of eliminating things (although that might not hurt) but a matter of taking back control of personal will. In a world of convenience, it is easy to lose our power of will, let alone ever think about consciously cultivating our willpower.

    When it comes to wellbeing, choosing a higher quality of life should be a no brainer.

    But humans have fallen prey to the easy way because then we don’t have to face friction.
    So much anymore we are conditioned to forfeit our free will; choosing a state of immediate satisfaction over reaping the rewards of delayed gratification. The case is not for everyone, but if you have lived for immediate satisfaction you probably didn’t have to work hard for it, never earning that healthy lifestyle you’ve always deserved and wanted. The power of choice has been with you during every single moment of life, so why not start today and choose to commit to yourself and the life you want! If you have lived for delayed gratification you have probably noticed some progress and faced your fair share of doubts, wondering if all your efforts have been for nothing; but the results will follow in time with continual consistency; don’t give up!

    No matter what conditions or uncertainties arise, know that it is possible to reach your desired state of wellbeing – others have done it, therefore it is achievable for all!

    The authority to decide personal desires and the ability to not be manipulated by differing agendas lies within the self.

    Let’s regain the power of free-will!

    • Kati says

      I’m so embarrassed about the above post…it was meant to be my first blog post and I have no idea why it transposed onto here.
      I did type a short but sweet message to you that didn’t send when I hit enter, but it seems ridiculous to continue on now.
      I am terribly sorry for the what seems to be outlandish comment.
      Such a fool.

  26. Julie Kohler says

    OMG I’m a Mawrter, too! Congrats on your successful blog–I really enjoy all your recipes and your writing style.

  27. Celeste O says

    I love your blog and have been reading it for several years now. Being a mom myself I can see why your parents worried about finishing school and I think that even though you are a full-time blogger you still went back and finished your degree. Keep posting and I’ll keep reading!

  28. Ray Turner says

    I am so pleased that your blog is successful Katie. Choosing the right niche helps. I can see that your fantastic recipes would work well on Pinterest. My blog is wide-ranging, so doesn’t work quite so well on that platform. Perhaps I need to focus and specialise…?

  29. [email protected] says

    Hey Katie how are you today? I am a regular reader of this blog and wow this post gave me goosebumps I too took the life changing decision to follow my real passion and create work online, thanks so much for this 🙂

  30. This site says

    Hi, SO amazing to hear this part of your story, Katie! Thank you for sharing ? You’re an inspiration and great role model to all!

  31. Sana A says

    Katie, good for you! I’m always creating my own healthy recipes and will eventually start my own blog soon. I’m a busy professional in the health care field but this type of work always interested me-especially healthy eating 🙂

  32. Amanda L West says

    I wondered your thoughts / recommendations on someone starting out … laptop and software (?)
    Trying to figure out what a good budget would be without blowing the bank.

  33. Waqas says

    Hi, SO amazing to hear this part of your story, Katie! Thank you for sharing ? You’re an inspiration and great role model to all!

    Thanks!

  34. Cindy says

    I have a question….do you ever age? 🙂 Probably not because of the daily chocolate eating, huh?!

    Just dropped by to say I love the new layout. And I LOVE that dress you’re wearing. The blue green glittery one. Can you tell us where you got it? Or is it a well-kept secret? 🙂

    Your friends must LOVE having you as a friend!! They know they’re getting a grand dessert every single time they see you 🙂

  35. Norma says

    Love the new website design, especially the section where recipes are organized by the type of diet you are on. Congratulations and thank you!

  36. Adriana says

    I wish there was a contact for general comments and not just under a particular recipe or article (like this one). I just wanted to suggest that more recent comments would show up before the old ones under your recipes. With older posts, I find the new comments more relevant. Just a suggestion….

  37. Tracy Fleming says

    Oh my goodness! I just discovered your blog and delicious recipes recently! Such amazing talent for creating exquisite and healthy food! I’m curious how you learned how to do all of this – how do you create the recipes? If you send 2 a week, then you’re constantly creating. Do you tweak other recipes? Start from scratch? I’m not a baker or chef at all and am amazed at the skill involved in doing this. Thanks for sharing your process 🙂

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