Year One: How I Did It

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Sally’s Baking Addiction turns one in only a few short weeks. I can’t believe it! It’s practically surreal as I look back over the past year and see how my blog has grown, how my photography has improved, and how my readership grows each month.

SBA hopped onto Facebook only 6 short months ago – gaining over 6,000 fans in the interim. Over 11,000 Pinerest followers in 10 months and countless emails a day. I’ve worked with companies including Silpat, Chobani, Hershey’s, Peanut Butter & Company, and Nestle.

This is not meant to brag; I merely want to show you that it IS possible.

How did I did I grow my blog so quickly? 

What started as a small little hobby has grown into a second full time job. With a full time job during the day, I spend over 30 hours at night and on the weekends on SBA. Call me crazy, but I truly live and breathe it. I’m a work blogaholic. 🙂

It’s tough to juggle both jobs, but I would not trade it for the world.

Prior to December 2011, I was merely a food blog lurker. I followed food blogs each day, hoping to one day start my own. It seemed scary and risky. What if no one reads my blog besides my mom? How on earth do I use a fancy camera? What is “self-hosting” ??!?!

I receive countless emails, comments, messages, and tweets on the subject. How did I do it? How did I start SBA? How do I have time to blog full time and work full time? How did I improve my photography so much? How did I gain readership?

Chocolate Pretzel PB Bites

I am no expert, but there are a few key things I’ve learned along the way. SBA is a work in production, but I want to share some helpful strategies that I’ve used.

To celebrate SBA’s first birthday, I will be posting a Food Blogging Series over the next few weeks. The series of 4 posts will include the tactics I have used to expand and market SBA:

Whether you are a new, aspiring, or a veteran food blogger, I hope you can find something useful in the series.


Q: Is there anything in particular you’d like me to touch on as I prepare the series?



All Comments

  1. I must have started following you shortly after you started blogging and always thought you were a long time blogger….I LOVE your blog and when I saw last month that you were only “one,” well I was just completely shocked, startled, surprised and inspired. Congratulations! Way to go through the learning and growing curve at lightning speed! Completely inspirational!

    1. Thank you SO much for another thoughtful comment – this comment and the one about my raspberry sweet rolls. Both really make my day, so thank you! I couldn’t do it without followers like you. Happy New Year and thank you again. 🙂

  2. Your newest reader here 🙂 Can’t wait to read more about your blogging series! Love all these recipes. They look awesome! I’ll be digging into those more, too! And I am definitely one that likes the batter more than the cake!

    1. Hey Mollie! I can’t wait to check out your blog later today. I’m glad you are a new follower! This series has been very helpful to me personally – I look back on everything I’ve done and see how I can improve and grow, etc. And we’re cake batter fools. LOVE it much more than the cake too 🙂

  3. You had me at: Chocolate Pretezel Peanut Butter Brownies! And since then, I have been addicted to your addiction! I love your site sooooo much! All of the recipes I’ve tried have turned out fantastic and I love reading your posts because they are so genuine and fun! You seem like such a fun-loving person in addition to being a great blogger. Thanks for all the tips on how you got into blogging and I can’t wait to read the last two segments. I just started my own blog, it’s not even a food blog, but I still appreciate all the helpful advice. Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for 2013!

    1. Hey Kendra!! Thanks so much for the comment and writing to me. Wow! so many wonderful compliments. I appreciate every word! And it means a lot to me that you say I am genuine and fun loving in my posts. I genuinely loooooove to bake and blog. It’s my passion! And it’s sounds like blogging is your passion as well. I can’t wait to share the last of the series soon. Thank you so much for reading and happy new year my friend! 🙂

  4. Hi Sally, I just came across your posts for “how to improve your blog” and I am finding them so useful. I’ve been blogging for about a year now, though I occasionally struggle with consistency. Your tips have been very helpful in that department. I have been following your blog for months and have never tried a recipe that I didn’t LOVE. Your posts, recipes, and photographs are all inspiring. I would love to see some tips on the photography side of blogging, as that is where I personally struggle a lot. Do you use a special lens? Are you ever forced to use artificial light? If so, how do you handle it etc… I would love any tips you have!
    Thanks again Sally, your work is truly an inspiration!

    1. Hi Paula! thanks so much for the comment and I’m glad these posts are helpful for you. AND that you have made a few of my recipes before and enjoyed them. That is always so nice to hear! For the photography piece – I am currently working on a post all about photography. It’s dense with information, so it will take a couple more weeks til publish time. I have a bit of photography information on my FAQ page for now though:

  5. Great site Sally! Your pictures are beautiful and I am very impressed at the amount of pics you have accepted at foodgawker and tastespotting, I am still trying to get my first pic accepted on foodgawker LOL!

    1. Hey Betsy! Thank you so much! I still get rejected sometimes, don’t worry. They are so picky! Thank you for the kind words, it means a lot to me. 🙂

  6. Thanks for this post! I am just in the early stages of beginning my own food blog and your tips have advice have given me the confidence to keep it going!!

  7. I know this is late but thanks for this guide!! Your are amazing and I love your blog. I recently just made the leap from lurker and started my own blog. This series is really helping me figure out this daunting business of blogging and juggling a full-time day job. Thanks again!!!

  8. You are such an inspiration Sally! I went from a part-time to full-time job and I am having such a hard time making time for my blog when I come home exhausted and still have to make dinner and do things around the house! And let’s not forget that I live in Minnesota where the winters are endless which does not help with my lack of natural photography lighting! I am so happy for you success and love how authentic and humble you have remained throughout your success! I cannot wait to review your cookbook when it is released!

    1. Mercedes, what a sweet note. I sincerely appreciate the comment you left me. Probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said, so truly – thank you. It was very hard for me to juggle my blog and my full time job. So I know how you are feeling. I felt helpless! But as long as you are passionate about it, you can make it work. You’re doing great!

  9. Hi Sally! I just found your blog and I love it. Your tips and advice for new bloggers are very helpful. I just started my blog two months ago – and you’re right- it does seem scary at first. I think my family is the only one reading my blog; but that’s ok. i have lots of fun with it.

  10. Sally,

    Want you to know you’ve given me the courage to purchase my domain name and kick off my own site. Still working on all of it, and have a long way to go. You are so inspriational and I really appreciate your openess and willingness to share!

    Thanks so much!

  11. I just found your blog recently and I love it! I have been wanting to start a food blog for quite some time and the fact that you’ve posted this series is so awesome! It’s so helpful! Thank you!

  12. Hi Sally,

    I just found your blog, and I’m finding this series of posts so helpful….thank you for sharing it!! I write a food-centered blog as well, and I’m currently in Year One, trying to find my voice. I’m hoping to rise to the level of blogging one day where I actually have to worry about ‘maintaining an already successful blog’, but in the meantime I’m finding my greatest challenge is how in the world to gain those initial readers? What motivates you to keep going when you sometimes feel like you’re blogging in an echo chamber? I’d love to receive more comments and feedback, and really feel more like I’m part of a blogging community…..but so far, things are a little quiet!

    Going to read on for more tips, but thanks again for sharing your wisdom with us. I really love SBA!

    1. Hey Laurel, I found that connecting with other bloggers got traffic to my site in the beginning. And still does! Comment on other blogs, tweet their recipes, pin their recipes, and so on. Pinterest also helped me grow traffic. Big, bright, beautiful photos on Pinterest always encourage users to click through. Good luck with everything and continue to work hard. I worked my butt off for a long time before I got to even 100 views per day.

  13. Hi Sally!

    I have been reading your Food blogging series for the past few months and I find it the most relatable than other blogs “how-to-start-blogging” posts.

    I am trying to use other form of social media to promote my blog, I was wondering if you can post something what are the things you can do with pinterest.

    Thanks for sharing your tips on blogging Sally!

  14. Sally,

    Thank so you much for the genuine and thoughtful advice. I love this series of blog posts and find it very relatable. It is so inspiring to see what you have accomplished in your first and second year of blogging, you can truly tell in all of your posts how much you love what you do. I also appreciate you sharing the not so fun details about the time and effort it takes to grow a blog and a community of followers.

    I am currently in my first few months of blogging and trying to soak up all the tips that I can. I, like Laurel, am having a hard time gaining readers and building community. I have begun really putting the effort and time into social media and connecting with other bloggers. I also invested in a DSLR (a HUGE upgrade over my camera phone) and loved your food photography post. I am still learning to use my camera, but I am hoping I will be able to begin using sites like Tastespotting and Foodgawker.

    Thanks again for the wonderful tips and congrats on all of the growth you have achieved!

    much love,

  15. Hi Sally!
    I’ve been thinking for a long time about starting a food blog, and your blogging posts have inspired me to take the leap! Thank you so much for all the helpful advice! 🙂

  16. hi sally ! i love baking and i have been thinking about blogging for quite some time now. Your posts have really inspired and motivated me to start my own blog. Your passion and dedication towards this blog and the series of recipes in commendable. i hope that i am able to put at least a fraction of it into mine.! 🙂 

  17. Hey Sally! I’ve been following your blog for the past year and absolutely love it! Just curious- are these all recipes that you have come up with on your own or do you ever adapt recipes? Or do you ever just feature the original version of a recipe from someone else that you really like?
    By the way, I have never had a fail with your recipes!! My favorite one so far is either the honey butter rolls (my family was sooo impressed by them) or your THE chocolate chip cookie recipe… So good!!

  18. Sally, I adore this blogging series! The post on how to start a food blog motivated me to started my blog a few months ago. Now I’ve been blogging for a while, and I’m stuck in a bit of a rut, so I’m reading over this entire series to see what lessons I can learn. Thank you so much for sharing these posts with us, and I really admire your work ethic and friendly personality. 🙂

  19. Hi Sally 
    I’ve just discovered your blog yesterday and I like it so much. I love your style of writing and above all I appreciate the fact you share your experience with other bloggers. I have a blog too. It’s about African food : but it’s far away from yours.
     My photos are not really beautiful and I don’t have time to post as many recipes as my followers would like. But I was glad to see your posts, they have motivated me and thanks to you I’m now convinced that it is possible. So I hope I will be back in a little few months and tell you ‘Sally have you seen my lasts beautiful and professional photos ?’

  20. Hi Sally, I have been peeking at your blog for the past couple years, maybe once a year, I have this huge urge and passion to start a food blog but then I get intimidated and I just let the dust pile.. I got as far as subscribing to a “self-hosting” site but got cold feet. 

    This time!! I am re-determined to make it happen! So I have done my research and I get that you make money via ads on your site, right?

    I guess my current question that gets me all antsy is: how do you get the viewers? I mean I don’t have a large friends list on my social media (fb, insta, pinterest, twitter… etc). 

    I get that using keywords could help, but what brings the viewers to your page? I mean I can tell you I just googled “how to start a food blog” and yours was one of the many but for new bloggers? 

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally