On Food and Start-ups: Interview with Emilie Hebert
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. We're excited to hear your thoughts!
Without further ado, here are the questions:
How did you get into the food blogging industry?
I had been reading food blogs since senior year of high school and was interested in starting my own, but I couldn’t since I was moving into a dorm for my freshman year of college (it’s hard to take pretty food pictures in a dorm!). I was connected to a full-time food blogger in the area and interned for her for a summer. While I was learning everything from her, I was building my own blog. EmilieEats.com launched in August 2015 on my first day of sophomore year!
What did “getting started” look like for you? Pitfalls? Successes?
I’m actually really proud of where my blog started! I’m definitely a perfectionist, so I wanted to learn as much as possible and get everything right before I started the blog (which isn’t possible). But I had learned so much about photography and social media that I was at a good starting point. Of course I still had a lot to learn. My photography got better with practice, practice and practicing more. I hated some pictures. Some recipes totally failed. But I remember one of my first big successes was October 31, 2015, when my Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Bars were shared by FindingVegan.com, a large food-sharing site, and I saw a huge spike in traffic. I cried the first time one of my recipes was featured in a BuzzFeed round-up. I still get that excited now! (minus the tears, hehe)
Tell us about when you landed your first big sponsor.
I was getting a lot of free products in the first few months of blogging (I still do, which I always appreciate!), but my first sponsored post was in February 2016 with Lipton Tea. That was INSANE to me because Lipton is a huge brand I had been drinking for years. I did a few other sponsored posts after that, but then in the summer I got an email from an oatmeal brand offering me a 4-figure pay for multiple posts. It was so exciting to get something more long-term. That was about a year after I started the blog, so it definitely took time, patience and investments to get to a place where I could get paid!
What was the hardest part about the transition from side-hustle to full-time gig?
I haven’t really made that transition, so I’ll just speak about balancing my side hustle with school. It’s hard, I’m not going to lie. Most 21 year olds are not running a six-figure business while going to school full-time, so it’s hard to get advice from people about managing time. What has been really hard is putting off these big dreams I have for the blog because I know I can’t commit the time to them right now. But I know that when I become a dietitian, I’ll be able to offer more to my readers and community.
What would your advice be to someone starting a side-hustle?
Make sure you love what you do enough to do it tirelessly. And make sure you’re not doing it solely for money. I have many people who contact me wanting to make money on their blog when they haven’t done the hard work of building a community. You have to love what you do so much that you would be willing to work at it for awhile unpaid. Also, reach out to people who are doing what you want to do. I have so many people to thank who gave me valuable advice and encouragement in the early days of my blog, and I hope to pass that on to aspiring bloggers as well.
What are some not-as-well-known fun facts about you and your business?
Hm, I’m a pretty open book so this question is tough! I did everything on my own until about 6 months ago, when I reached out for help with social media and other tasks. I brought on an intern who has been beyond helpful with making sure content is constantly being promoted to our communities on different platforms. I’m a control freak, so letting go of control of a part of my business was tough--but totally worth it!
What are some fun recipe tips for professionals who are trying to balance being on-the-go with a healthy palette?
Use mason jars! You can make oatmeal or chia pudding the night before and just take it with you on-the-go. For lunch or dinner, you can put taco filling in a jar and just bring a tortilla on the side. I also keep fresh fruit and cut up veggies in the fridge for easy grabbing!
What are some of your favorite recipes (currently on your blog) that are super yum + quick?
One of my favorite recipes is my smoky tempeh tostadas - easy, quick, satisfying and delicious. I also like all of my bowl recipes like my black bean Buddha bowl with avocado pesto - you just need cooked beans, grains and some veggies to throw together a balanced meal!
How has your healthy lifestyle improved your ability to work and live to the fullest?
I’ve always lived a pretty healthy lifestyle (thanks, mom!) so I never really had to make a huge shift to living healthfully. But meal prepping and knowing I have healthy food ready to go when hunger strikes eases my mind while working. I don’t have to worry about driving to pick something up or eating something unsatisfying.
Have you always been a healthy foodie? If not, what was your journey to becoming one?
Kind of! My mom always cooked us a nourishing breakfast, packed our lunches and had a home-cooked meal ready for dinner. I grew up loving lentils, oatmeal and most fruits and vegetables. I took it to the next level during my senior year of high school, and ever since then it’s been a journey of learning more about choosing food that’s not only good for me, but good for the planet (which led me to becoming vegan 2.5 years ago!). Most of my diet is made up of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, etc., but of course I love to indulge in some dairy-free ice cream or Mellow Mushroom pizza. I believe allowing yourself to enjoy all foods is key to being truly helpful overall!