I took the plunge. I bit the bullet. I jumped in the deep end.
I am an Instant Pot food blogger.
I own a piece of the internet. WHAT IS HAPPENING. You guys, I’m FREAKING OUT. But I’ve decided to take be brave and do something I thought I would honestly never do. I started a real life, legit, small business.
I’m scared. I’m SO nervous. My heart has literally been racing for the last 4 weeks straight. My tummy has had butterflies and I haven’t slept because I’m so excited/proud/anxious. So how did I end up here?
Instant Pot Cooking on Instagram
This story begins on December 15, 2016. I had been posting and sharing about my cooking for years to friends and family. Sometime in the fall of 2016, I posted about the things I had made in my new Instant Pot. The response was insane. Even the lurkers (you know who I’m talking about) on my social media sites commented, which indicated to me that this was something different.
That winter, I searched on Instagram for Instant Pot accounts. There were maybe a small handful that didn’t have any content. There was one that had okay content and 500 followers. WOWZA. I was intimidated because I knew I couldn’t compete with that. But I did it. I thought for about 30 seconds total and named the account Instant Pot Cooking.
I posted a couple images I just had on my camera roll, then left on a vacation just a day or two later. We were in Hawaii for Christmas, so I didn’t think about IPC again until December 29th. I came back to to 138 FOLLOWERS. I freaked out. People were looking at what I posted!
Over the next couple months of 2017, I just kept posting what I was making for dinner in my Instant Pot. Trello helped me keep track of the things I was posting and how my following was growing. I couldn’t believe people were liking my posts.
The beginning of 2017 was so fun. I was just posting flipagram videos of what I had made for dinner that night. The videos were made on my iPhone 4 and were usually muted and shaky since I was recording while cooking and holding a new baby on my hip.
Taking a break from Instagram
A couple months into 2017, it started to become a TOUGH year for me in a lot of ways. As a result, I was posting less and less.
I wrestled with hard relationship at work. So many people that we loved in our life had major life-changing trials. We went to too many funerals and I cried so much. I struggled with a lonely and painful pregnancy. We sold our first home and moved into a really depressing basement apartment. Our second baby arrived and I had a hard time bonding with her due to a bad case of postpartum depression.
I remember seeing the notifications on my phone from Instagram and just having a pit in my stomach because I didn’t want to open it. Mostly I reposted older stuff if I did post, and felt so unmotivated and overwhelmed to create anything new. I felt guilty for not posting enough or answering messages.
Then I went back to work after my maternity leave was over and it was just the last thing on my mind. I took some good long breaks between posts and lost my passion for teaching and cooking. I was just trying to stay alive between working full time and only sleeping in 2-3 hour blocks while caring for a toddler as well.
Finding my Passion again while being a stay at home mom
Our home we built was finally completed in the spring of 2018, and I finally had a kitchen and home that had LIGHT! Wow. It’s amazing what a little natural sunlight can do for someone’s soul. I was exhausted, but I was getting into a good groove with my kids and work schedule. I was taking medication to help with my depression, and I felt like I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
In the summer of 2018, I retired from my job at a fantastic company to take on the life of raising the two greatest blessings in my life at home. It was not an easy transition. The days were looooong. Being a working mom is SO HARD. Being a stay at home mom is SO HARD. Being a woman is SO HARD.
Like I said, it was difficult at first. I felt judged by people when going to the store in the middle of the day (TOTALLY irrational). On the other hand, I felt like I failed when I didn’t do/plan something fun for the kids that day. I remember once very shortly before I left my job, I was at the bank transferring a significant amount of cash from another bank (we save at one and spend at another).
Because it was a large amount (#newhouse), I had to fill out a little form and the bank needed some additional information. The teller was filling a couple things out for me like my name and address. He then got to the occupation field. “Umm.. do you have like a job? Or are you just a stay at home mom or something?”
What do you think tipped him off? The baby in the infant carrier, the toddler running around with a sticky sucker in his hand, or the bags under my eyes? At that moment, I felt so small and defensive. No, I absolutely have a job and I’m proud of it! AND I’m a mother and I’m dang proud of it too! Ugh. It just rubbed me the wrong way. Having a “real job” was so fulfilling and satisfying for me, even if it wasn’t my dream job.
So after I became a full time SAHM, I started pouring more energy into IPC. I actually picked up and used the camera I had bought myself six months earlier, and posting regularly on Instagram stories. It wasn’t like I was intentionally trying to get huge or anything. It was just such a great creative outlet for me to share my passion with others and connect with so many wonderful people, which is much harder to do compared to when I was working in a professional environment.
Things started snowballing and by the end of the year, I knew I could make this into something more. I wanted to expand past just posting on Instagram and create a better experience for the tribe I had built.
The beginning of Tried, Tested, and True
I knew towards the end of 2018 that I needed to start an actual website. I was outgrowing what I was currently doing, and it was just necessary. But I kept putting it off. Instantpotcooking(dot)com was already taken, and the owner wasn’t willing to sell it to me. I also knew that I didn’t want a lawsuit filed against me, so I had to go on a quest to find a new name, brand, and image.
After tossing around a few ideas to family and friends, nothing stuck. Internally, I kind of gave up and figured it would happen when it happened. I couldn’t do anything else with a website if I didn’t have a name though! So, I waited (and waited and waited) for inspiration to strike. I started asking around for website designers and getting quotes. Everything was about $8-10k for a new website build, and the ones that were less just didn’t fit the vision of what I wanted. Again, I tabled the idea in the back of my mind.
Then one day (it was Thursday, January 17), I was making spaghetti for my babies for dinner and I started thinking about the new name for my brand. I started thinking about other brands I recognize and love…
- I wanted alliteration.
- Something that invoked trust and authority.
- It needed to mesh with my current Instant Pot Cooking brand.
- Three words.
Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Our Best Bites. Pinch of Yum.
Tried and True.
Tested and True.
Tried, Tested, True.
Hangry kids in the background, my heart started racing. I knew this was it. I called my sister and started talking to her about it. This was it. I could feel it in my bones.
Then my house flooded. Literally.
When it rains, it pours.
Dried spaghetti and dirty dishes littered my kitchen as I cleaned up the remainder of the kitchen at 1:30 am that day. My husband Brett was out of town for an important interview and my house flooded while he was gone. It was the most stressful 24 hours of my life and I only slept 5 hours in 3 days. I was a mess. But… I couldn’t let go of TTT.
It was Saturday night at 11pm after the flood, and I bought the domain. I bought the hosting. I bought the theme. I got to work.
For the last three weeks, I’ve been up until 2:30-3am building this site and drinking out of the firehose that is legitimate blogging. SEO. Pinterest. Plugins. Widgets. Images. CSS. Spreadsheets. Legal Stuff. Hosting. SSL. Alt Text. More SEO.
HOLY CRAP MY BRAIN IS MELTING.
But I have not felt this fire in a long time. It’s hard. It’s so much time. It’s SO vulnerable. It’s judgement. It’s mistakes. But it’s my new job, and I can’t even contain my excitement.
And all the pieces fell right into place
You know how things sometimes just fall right into place so effortlessly? Like it just was truly meant to be? That’s how this feels for me. My husband got into grad school. I got a last minute offer to come on TV. I got an article published and printed in our state newspaper. It all just happened in one week. My site isn’t perfect (I doubt it ever will be!) but I am launching it. It rained (and flooded), and I’m dancing in it.
This all really did happen kind of by accident. I never intended for this to happen 2 years ago when I was just posting dinner after my baby went to sleep. Like I said, the butterflies and nerves are so real right now, and I can’t wait to start this new adventure together. Thanks for visiting and supporting me! I hope you’ll feel comfortable sharing my page and recipes as a tried, tested, and true source for quality information.