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A New Direction

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A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist 3 Years!

I have been writing here for 3 years. It’s quite a surreal feeling because part of me remembers the beginning so clearly like it was yesterday and yet, another part of me can’t; it’s a lifetime ago.

The title of this post is A New Direction. It’s apt. But let me get there.

When I started The Complete Savorist, I wanted to create healthy recipes that fit my dietary protocol for gastric bypass; mainly high protein and low carb. While my content fit that most of the time, I was also making a lot of family recipes that my family and friends had wanted for years, which by and large are not low carb.

It doesn’t take long to run through all the family favorites. At the very beginning, I was publishing 7 days a week. A feat that is now not remotely possible to maintain. Hell, I can’t even get 2 posts up a week right now.

That first year was a lot of fun. I cooked for me. I wrote for me. I learned to take pictures. It was a blast. I also made no money. None. Zero. Nada.

Then at the beginning of my second year, I got my first sponsored posts. I can’t even tell you the elation that came from those acceptance emails. Who am I kidding, I still get excited when I get them and I’m a seasoned hag now.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist Sponsored posts for those who might still be in the dark with how I as a food blogger (or any blogger) make the dough (pun intended) is basically brands and companies will pay me to create a recipe using their product. I have always been honest and stand behind every post I have created. (Although some of the pictures, those I wish I could deny, but I’ll get around to reshooting all those in time). I legitimately use these brands I promote anyway, so being paid to say I used them is not a bad thing, IMO. I have turned down many brands or products because I felt I couldn’t be honest in hawking their product on my site.  Ads on my website are another way I earn my income. They’re annoying at times, I know, but they pay my bills, so they will stay. 

Making money doing this blogging thing became a reality. It started with a couple hundred dollars here and there to being able to count on a couple thousand a month. HUGE difference. But something happened when the money started coming in. I changed.

I know this sounds cliché, money changed me. It didn’t change me in the way you all might be thinking. It was a great thing to, you know, pay my bills on time and in full. Or to not freak out when my daughter had a growth spurt and I had to buy new clothes, again. It was nice to eat out with friends or take a mini-vacation with the kid.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist In this regard, it was a great thing. But it changed the way I worked. I made recipes to make recipes. I started chasing the dollar. And again, this in itself is NOT A BAD THING. It’s the American Dream right? I am a single mom. I have to provide. But my heart wasn’t in it the way it needed to be as the work increased to unmanageable levels. In short, I became a workaholic. I still am one.

This profession is too damn hard to not be invested, heart, mind, and soul. Now, I am not going to go all new age-y on you and say that we all have to be utterly fulfilled in our professions or we should quit and go skip in a meadow until we figure out what we want to do. That’s crap.  We all have to tend to our responsibilities, so you work the job.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist However, what I actually mean is this job is a lot of work, a shit-ton of hours, more social media than is probably healthy for any one person, and frankly, the money at my level is not guaranteed every month, so it’s high risk. Plus the lack of tangible benefits like company provided health care, retirement, paid vacations, etc, all the things I had in previous professions don’t exist when you work for yourself.

All these factors mean that if I am not invested heart, mind, and soul, I need to reevaluate and consider reentering the traditional workforce, which I am more than qualified to do.

Blogging IS NOT WORTH it as a career if I am barely making ends meet, some months with a $50 left at the end of it, sometimes with $300 and sadly, some others in the red. If I am working 15+ hours a day, barely seeing my kid, sleeping as little possible because the amount of work is never-ending, on top of losing all of the things in life that make life worth it because I am now chasing a dream that actually isn’t the dream… Something has to change. Punching a clock for 8 hours somewhere just might be better.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist This is where I found myself around August of last year. I was rocking out awesome recipes, but not recipes that reflected my love and passion. I was cranking them out to pay the bills, yes a good thing, but the toll was too much. My personal/private life was also in turmoil: health issues for myself, for beloved family members; these were just a couple of the things that culminated on me at once. And it royally sucked.

Oh and I learned I was in trouble with Google…a situation no online entity EVER wants to find themselves in because Google rules the online world.

So I had to reevaluate. Why am I doing this? I am not a failure at this per se, actually the opposite, but I am definitely not happy like I should be while doing it either. Now, it wasn’t the pit of despair (name the movie) day in and day out, but it is always stressful. If I am not having the joy with this, should I keep doing this? Wouldn’t it be easier to use my skills and have normal hours, steady pay, benefits, and a life?

Here I was. Making money, paying bills…excellent, but then nearly killed myself doing so…not excellent. If I am going to nearly kill myself in pursuit of the almighty dollar, then dammit I better enjoy the ride.

I sat myself down (not really), had a talk with myself (yeah, really, lots of them, people might have questioned my sanity) and asked why did I start this blog in the first place (yes to make money), but what drew me to this? Once I answered those questions for myself, I could make decisions on what I wanted to do, which direction to take in life because I am not getting any younger.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist The title of this post is A New Direction. It’s apt.

I love to write (knocking at 1200 words in this post right now, so that isn’t shocking), I love food and to cook (well daaa, I’m a damn food blogger), I love to take pictures (I actually suck worse now than I did a year ago, but there’s a reason, and I’ll share that in another post). I love to learn. I love to explore. I love to discover. I love history. I love culture. I love people.

Ok, so where am I going with all this?

Putting all this together, looking over the 450 or so posts on this website and listing out the ones that are my favorites. When I sifted through the data and researched what I was doing (which btw, research is another thing I LOVE), I realized that the posts, recipes, etc, that I was most proud of, that were my favorites, were either family ones (that needs no explanation) or ones I had to take time and research, to explore, ones that I implemented my love of culture, or history, or whatever somehow into my development of that recipe or post.

Eureka!

5000 words later and I’m getting to my point….This is what makes me happy. This is what I want to continue to do and how I want to direct my focus.

A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist I am not walking away from The Complete Savorist to go punch a clock in order to have benefits.

Although, I keep saying I will marry for benefits…I think he’d be getting a great deal, I mean I can cook, I can rock a dress, I get invited to cool places, and well, I have other talents, but we’ll stick to the food for now. 

I am going to take all the things I have loved (ironically, all aspects of all my previous professions) and do what I have actually been slowly moving towards, without realizing it, to create international recipes, fusion recipes, and ‘inspired’ recipes with some education, history, and culture mingled in.

If you’ve been reading any amount of time, Mexican, Italian, Asian, and Indian are not uncommon cuisines here. I am utterly comfortable with those flavors and confident in my recipe development skills with them.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist But there is so much more out there to learn and explore. So in a few weeks or months when I publish an African recipe, or a Spanish recipe, or those 4 Israeli recipes my sister asked me figure out for her, or whatever recipe, those are coming to you after hours of enjoyable research, testing in the kitchen (a financial downside to this new experimenting is I now screw up more than I did before), but my heart is 100% back in this. Making the endless hours of social media, the typing at midnight, and all the other crap I was moaning about in the above 420 paragraphs worth it.

I will continue to have sponsored posts, that’s not going to change. However, those sponsored posts are going to be in line with this whole ‘A New Direction’ theme. Now, let me pause here and say that I will still knock out good ole American fare, in fact, I have a meatballs in blue cheese cream sauce over egg noodles that are to die for that will come out in the next week or so. This girl will still need a burger, or mac n cheese, and I will continue to share those recipes, but my goal is for 2/3 of my content to have an international flair.

AND, I’m going to do my very best to keep all the ingredients to those you can find in your average large grocery store. Now, this being said, from time to time, you might have to hit a specialty market or Amazon. Other times, I might take some liberties with the traditional recipe and adapt it with items we can get in our average grocery stores, but I’ll always strive for authenticity with minor creative licenses.

Needless to say, I am very excited and I hope you are too. Cheers to “A New Direction.”A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist This is the point in the anniversary post that I should thank everyone individually who has been around this past year (or years) because, while I am technically a one woman show, I’ve had lots of love, support, encouragement, and eager eaters who have helped me attain the success that I truly have. I believe that you should publicly acknowledge and thank those who deserve it, so here goes:

Liz, Nena, Sandi, Christina, Camille, Lindsay, Debra, Christine, Bobby, Rini, Sarah, Annette, Jessee, UFB, and FBG: Some personal, some professional and in a few cases, both; thank you.

MJ (& Colby), Jordan, Roxanne, Deven (yep, the ex-husband gets a mention): Thank you for being eager eaters, always willing to test the food I concoct and give me honest feedback, and usually with little to no notice.

Bob and Caydee (& Alex): While also eager eaters, you’re also dear friends. Listening to me whine, complain, and cry; deal with Elizabeth when I am bogged down and can’t see straight, sick, or force me out of the house to go Jeeping. This keeps me sane…or near sane, the jury is still out on full sanity.

Elizabeth: Because what kind of mom doesn’t thank her kid?

Siblings: You click, you read, you comment, you encourage, you question, you share, you challenge, you, in short, are all wonderful…Lindsay and Stephanie, you’re in this list too.

Grandparents: The support, the encouragement, the talks, the patience you have with me, everything you are and have been in my life has never been more appreciated than it has been this year. It’s been a rough year, health and all, and am grateful that I STILL have both of you in my life.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist Darla (and family): Ah the kindred souls that we are, it’s been a rough year for us in many ways. But even at the hardest or darkest, I knew you were there. Your excitement and enthusiasm was literally all I had at times; it’s what got me through. Conversely, some of my best moments/memories were with you. You’re truly the best friend that this girl needs. I think this next year is going to be the best yet…what do you think?

Matthew: By far the hardest paragraph to write, so I’ll just say this, you know the role you’ve played in my year and I’m grateful for it, all of it, yes even that one part. You have been and continue to be my favorite go-to person for so many things. How many recipes have you had some part in over the years, whether working through ideas with me, straight up giving me the idea, plating/arranging, taste testing, part of the narrative, my assistant/plus one? I literally stopped counting after I got to 100, but there are many more. And it’s more than that. It’s more than just the friendship we have. It’s what you said not too long ago, 18 stories up; Trust.A New Direction ~ The rededicated focus in recipe development and food writing at the beginning of my 3rd year as The Complete Savorist ~ The Complete Savorist Brands: Yes, I am thanking the brands who have taken a chance on me, provided me with the opportunity to work with their product, because without them, I wouldn’t be able to provide for my own family.

And finally, to you, the reader, the people who read my posts, make my recipes, comment here or on social media (and if you’ve actually read to this point…you deserve a reward because this is one epically long post). Without you reading and following along, then I’d really be nowhere, so thank you sincerely.

Love to all,

Michelle

 

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  • allie @ Through Her Looking Glass
    February 21, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Best wishes and congratulations on your new direction Michelle, you will do GREAT!!!!

  • Debra C.
    February 21, 2017 at 7:59 am

    It’s been such a pleasure getting to know you Michelle – good luck on Chapter 2 – you’re gonna rock it!!!

    • Michelle De La Cerda
      February 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      Thank you Debra. You’ve been an incredible friend.

  • Carol G
    February 21, 2017 at 8:21 am

    The Best of Luck on your New Direction. I never realized the long hours bloggers put in. So, A BIG THANK YOU!!

    • Michelle De La Cerda
      February 21, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      It’s pretty intense, there is so much that goes into getting out content out there for all to find, beyond just cooking, writing, and publishing. But when the balance is there, it’s an amazing gift to do something you love. Thank you for following along!

  • Sandi
    February 21, 2017 at 8:27 am

    I am so, so proud of you Michelle. I LOVE the new direction and I can’t wait to see you blossom.

    • Michelle De La Cerda
      February 21, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you Sandi, thank you for being a great friend and always around to gab about it all.

  • Stephanie
    February 21, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I think it’s wonderful! Do what inspires you – what you really love! Can’t wait to see all the new recipes this year brings!

    • Michelle De La Cerda
      February 21, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you Stephanie, I am so excited. I have much to learn in this journey.

  • Christina Lakey
    February 21, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Love you girl! You are amazing and I’m so excited for the international flair that you will bring even more with this new focus!

    • Michelle De La Cerda
      February 21, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      I am really excited too…now just move closer so I can use you as a guinea pig.

  • Betty
    February 21, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I am very proud of you Michelle. You are a hard worker and know you are going to do well in your new direction. Love you honey.

  • Sue Lau
    February 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Congrats on 3 years! And do what you love. The rest will follow later or it is not worth having.

    • Michelle De La Cerda
      February 21, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      That was exactly the conclusion I came to. Thank you Sue.

  • Erren
    February 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    We’ll love anything you do! Very proud and glad you’re not going anywhere

    • Michelle De La Cerda
      February 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks Erren. It’s been a while since we last chatted, we should catch up soon.

  • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet
    February 21, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Congrats on the New Direction, Michelle! 2/3 an international flair? Heck yeah! That’s my passion, too. You go!

  • Melanie | Melanie Makes
    February 21, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Congrats on being true to yourself and following your heart in your new direction!

  • Karen
    February 21, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    You should be very proud of your accomplishments. It IS a sh*t load of work, and every time you turn around the rules change! Looking forward to see the New Direction!!

  • Jamie H
    February 21, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Love the new blog! I hope no one missed the Princess Bride reference 😉 And I love that you’re getting your heart back into it! That’s so exciting!

  • Sabrina
    February 21, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve decided to switch things up and pursue your passion! Best of luck to you on your new direction!

  • katerina @ diethood.com
    February 22, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Best of luck to you and your new direction!! You will do great!!!

  • Julie
    February 22, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Very happy for you, Michelle. Wish you only the best.

  • Michelle | A Latte Food
    February 22, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Congrats to you for pursuing your passion! Best of luck to you in the future, and I’m glad you will still be here in the blogging world 🙂