I have always been jealous of Jen’s love for cooking. She is so adventurous and makes the most delicious foods. But here’s the kicker…HER KIDS ACTUALLY EAT THE FOOD!! I’m just green with envy. So when she decided to do her own food blog, I couldn’t wait to support it. And when you can turn something you love into a side hustle, it’s even better. If you’ve ever wanted to start a blog, this is definitely something you’ll want to check out!

As a Blacksburg, VA Photographer, something that I haven’t dabbled in too much is food photography – probably because no one wants to see photos of my chicken nuggets and mac & cheese no matter how fancy they look. Am I right?! But this session was a lot of fun! We got to hang out, talk business (I love talking some SEO and social media strategies with other business owners!), and catch up. So hop on over to Just Take One Bite and follow Jen’s blog. You can also check her out on Facebook too.

Tell us about your business and what you do?  How did you get into that business?

I started a cooking blog called Just Take One Bite in August of 2016. While it is not yet a revenue generating business, my goal is to start generating an income through the blog when my children are all in school. That would give me the flexibility to be home with them when I need to be. I decided to start the cooking blog because I love to cook and am constantly trying new recipes. Friends and family were always asking for recipe suggestions, so that gave me the idea to start the blog as a way to share recipes that I love. I definitely didn’t know what I was getting into jumping into the blogging world. It has been an eye-opening experience and a new personal challenge for me to learn the ins and outs of the blogging world and become successful at it. For the most part, the recipes that I share are healthy. I lost around 40 pounds over 10 years ago through Weight Watchers and have managed to keep it off by changing my eating habits and lifestyle. For the past five years, I have been maintaining an active lifestyle as well with regular exercise (that part took me longer to get straight than the eating). In all my recipes, I include the nutrition information as well as weight watchers smart points values. I love to eat and consider myself a “foodie” so I want to show people that you can maintain a healthy weight while still enjoying delicious foods.

What’s a typical day look like for you?

My primary job is being a stay-at-home mom to three crazy kiddos, so taking care of their needs always comes first over my blog. It’s especially hard in the summer to find time to work on the blog with the kids being out of school. I usually try to get in some work on the blog when they have TV time or after they go to bed if I have any energy/mental strength left. Although, I guess I am able to work on it a little every day because I cook dinner almost every night and take pictures that will eventually turn into a blog post.

What has been your biggest victory?

My biggest victory was actually setting up the website. My computer skills are not especially strong, so this was a big challenge for me. I used a step by step tutorial that I found online to help me set it up, but it was still a lot of work getting everything to look the way that I want it to. So, after working on the website for several months, I was so proud of myself when I was finally able to launch the blog in August of 2016.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge has been realizing all the stuff that I didn’t know. I jumped into blogging head first thinking that my biggest challenge would be actually creating the website. Boy, was I wrong! I joined a Facebook group that consists of only people who have food blogs, most of them very successful food blogs. I quickly realized how little that I knew about the blogging world. I also mistakenly assumed that I could have a successful blog without good photography. That’s my next step, learning how to take a good picture and how to style the food to look more appealing. Good thing I know a great photographer that I can learn from, {wink wink!}. I just signed up for an online food blogging course to help me out, so hopefully, you will see improvements to the blog over the coming months.

How do you balance being a mom and a business owner?

The early stages of starting a business are definitely very challenging.  In both business and motherhood, I am doing something that I love and have a passion for.  Right now, the mom part definitely takes up the vast majority of my day, so finding time for the business is hard.  When school starts back up, I should be able to balance things a little better than the summer.

One secret you would like to share that can make another Momtrepreneurs journey easier?

I don’t have a secret. I’m amazed at the end of each day that I have survived another day without being sent to the looney bin. This journey as a mom is a hard one and throw in a business venture just adds to that. Years ago, before I had children, I was talking with a friend about whether to go the stay at home mom route or the working mom route. I was worried that being out of the work force for a long time would make it almost impossible to get back into it. She told me, you’re a strong, smart woman, you’ll be able to do it. That has stayed in the back of my mind all these years and keeps me focused now. Just muster up all that confidence and determination and go with it. Don’t let a fear of failure stop you from giving something a try, whether it’s a new business/career, losing weight, exercising, etc. Failure is still a big fear for me and I strive to conquer it every day.

Please share with us what motivates you?  A favorite song, quote, and/or person?

My kids motivate me to be a better person. They motivate me to eat healthily and exercise so that I can be here for them and have the energy to keep up with them as long as possible. I’m so glad that I made the decision over 10 years ago to change my life, lose weight, and start living a healthier lifestyle. It’s hard work and something that I constantly work on to keep myself in check. I’ve been contemplating recently about becoming a weight loss/healthy eating coach. So many people go on fad diets and lose weight just to gain it back when they go back to their normal way of eating. I’d love to work with people to make gradual changes to their eating/lifestyle choices to help them lose weight that they can actually keep off. If anyone is interested in giving this a try with me, send me an email at jenwfriend@gmail.com and we can talk more about it! Here’s a quote that I love and need in my life to help keep me straight – “She forgave herself for that brief moment when she forgot she was awesome and vowed not to let that happen again.”

What’s the one thing you want your children to remember about you?

I want to remember me as a strong, healthy woman who they can always count on. I am trying my best to teach by example, by exercising and eating healthy. Even though I sometimes struggle with body image, I don’t want my children to see that part of me. I want them to see a healthy mom, who takes care of her body. I also want both my boys and my girl to believe that they can do/be anything they want. I don’t want them to feel like some things are for girls only or boys only. They see their mom and dad doing the cooking, trash taking-out, grass-mowing, cleaning (well maybe not cleaning, please don’t stop by my house without giving me a few hours notice!) One of my biggest fears when deciding to become a stay-at home mom was that my children would just see me as mom and not recognize that I am smart and talented too.

If the readers would like to connect with you, what’s the best way to do that?

I would love for people to subscribe to my blog, Just Take One Bite I promise no spam. You will just receive an email each time I post a new recipe. I also have a Facebook page where I post all things food related. I love getting feedback, so if you have tried a recipe and love it or hate it I’d love to hear about it. Even better, if you love it, share the post on social media! I just ran into two separate people in the past few days that have told me that my healthy eating posts have inspired them to eat more vegetables. Day made! You guys have no idea how happy this makes me to hear! In the blogging world, especially starting out, I really don’t know if people are reading my blog and/or finding it helpful. So feedback is gold to me! Positive affirmation is my love language, so give me some love!

Is your mouth watering from these photos!? Well, I don’t want to make you jealous, but she let me take this home. It was lunch time, so I ate it in the car…all of it…and I am not ashamed to say it. Judge me all you want. It. Was. Delicious. Here is the recipe.

Did you love this interview?  Show Jen some love in the comments.  Are you a mompreneur hoping that I’ll highlight your business?  Shoot me a message and let’s chat!

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