Bake or Break

10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Blogging

A look back at the last 10 years of Bake or Break.

In May of 2006, I was pretty miserable in my job. I often had to give myself a pep talk just to get out of the car and go inside to work for the day. I couldn’t really leave my job, although I did cut back my hours. My husband Quinn likes to fix things, so he suggested that I start a blog. I’d been following some blogs for a while and thought about starting one, but I just didn’t feel like I had the time or anything to say.

But the seed was planted. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. I knew without a doubt that my hypothetical blog would be all about baking, as that had long been something I truly and enthusiastically enjoyed. Blogging was still fairly new then. It felt like a good, low-commitment experiment. So, I asked Quinn to set up the technical side of things, and I got busy baking. And on June 2, 2006, I published my first post, a Lemon Bread recipe from King Arthur Flour.

This soft, flavorful Lemon Bread is a great for breakfast, a snack, or even for dessert. A must-bake for lemon lovers! - Bake or Break

Lemon Bread

Over the next 5+ years, I baked and posted when I could. Sometimes that was several times per month. Sometimes it was just once every few weeks. It was really a hobby and a way to have a fun, creative outlet doing something I enjoyed.

Then, in the fall of 2011, I lost my job. (More on that below.) As anyone who has lost a job knows, that’s a tough pill to swallow. We had moved to New York in 2010, but I had been able to telecommute to my existing job. I think I always knew it wouldn’t last. But ultimately, leaving that job was what allowed me to begin blogging full-time.

On December 1, 2011, I got up, made a batch of Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies, took photos of them, and posted the recipe. And that happy day of baking and blogging marked the beginning of full-time BoB-ing.

Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies combine dark chocolate and white chocolate for a sweet, delicious cookie! - Bake or Break

Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of the things I tell people who ask me for advice about starting a blog is that you have to love what you do. I think many people believe that blogging is a breeze. I can tell you with certainty that it isn’t. I work harder at this job than any other job I’ve had. But I love it. I love baking and sharing recipes with all of you.

I could write volumes about what has changed in the blogging world since 2006. I could tell you how Pinterest didn’t even exist back then. I could tell you how few food bloggers who were blogging then are still around after all this time. Instead, I’d rather talk about some valuable things I’ve learned over the years. I hope they’ll resonate with all of you, not just the food bloggers among you.

So, in honor of 10 years of BoB, here are 10 things I’ve learned through blogging. And, because I know you’re all really here for the food (I don’t blame you one bit!), I’ve also interspersed some of BoB’s all-time most popular recipes.

Thanks for being here. Truly.

Lemon Cream Cake is an all-out lemon dessert experience! It's so deliciously cool, creamy, and downright fabulous! - Bake or Break

Lemon Cream Cake

1. I’m my own worst critic. Actually, I probably knew that long before I started blogging. But writing something that you put out in the internet world for all to see can be a bit terrifying. It’s gotten easier over the years, but I still have my moments.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cake | Bake or Break

Peanut Butter Fudge Cake

2. Organization is my friend. You should see the sheer number of spreadsheets and notebooks and such that I have to keep me on top of things. From the outside, food blogging may look like lots of fun creating things in the kitchen, but it’s so much more than that. While Quinn does occasionally help me out with photos or technical stuff, everything else is all me. I not only am the baker behind BoB, but I am also the writer, the editor, the primary photographer, the marketing department, the help desk, and more. It’s a lot to juggle, and it’s pretty much impossible without a lot of planning.

Mixed Berry Cobbler is a delicious celebration of fresh berries with a sweet vanilla cobbler topping. A summertime dessert must! - Bake or Break

Mixed Berry Cobbler

3. I’m a terrible procrastinator. I had never worked for myself until I started this blog. Not having deadlines imposed by someone else makes it far too easy for me to put off doing something until the last minute. It’s a constant struggle for me, but I’ll get around to fixing it one of these days. 😉

Butter Pecan Cake on a marble cake stand

Butter Pecan Cake

4. How much you enjoy your work affects your entire life. I will gladly tell you that I’m a far happier person than I was when I was sitting in my car trying to talk myself into going into work. I’m very rarely in a bad mood or so tired that I can barely make conversation. I spent far too long on the other end of that spectrum. And I appreciate every single day that I get to do what I love.

Five ingredients are all you need to make these Salted Nut Squares. A great no-bake sweet and salty treat! - Bake or Break

Salted Nut Squares

5. Failure can be a good thing, if you let it be. In my early baking (and cooking) days, I would get so frustrated and feel so defeated by something going wrong in the kitchen. But at some point I let myself realize that there’s always at least one thing to learn from a failed attempt at a recipe. And because of that, I trust my instincts much better and fail a bit less often.

Apples, spices, and plenty of brown sugar make this Apple Spice Cake absolutely delicious and irresistible!

Apple Spice Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

6. Sometimes you need a (sometimes uncomfortable) push in the right direction. When I lost my job in the fall of 2011, I understandably freaked out a bit. I’d been blogging more than 5 years at that point, but I never really believed I could make it a full-time job. I made an effort to find another job in my field, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Quinn suggested that I dedicate 6 months to working only on BoB, and then we’d see where I was. That 6 months has now turned into several years. I don’t know if I would have ever tried to blog full-time without that push. Hindsight being what it is, I now know that losing my job was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Chocolate Cobbler is a simple recipe to make with big results. As it bakes, it forms a cake-like topping and a gooey chocolate sauce on the bottom. Absolutely delicious! - Bake or Break

Chocolate Cobbler

7. I can write a cookbook! To tell you the truth, I focused so much time and effort on BoB that the thought of writing a cookbook was more than a little overwhelming. But when a great opportunity presented itself, I didn’t feel I could turn it down just because I was intimidated by the staggering amount of work involved. And it was even more work than I thought it would be. But it was absolutely worth it.

Cinnamon Bun Scones are simple to make and taste like cinnamon buns. A breakfast favorite!

Cinnamon Bun Scones

8. Less is more. My mother often said that to me, and I can now appreciate the idea much better. As much as I love baking, I don’t want to make fussy recipes. I want simple recipes that give big results. And I’m guessing you want that, too, or I wouldn’t be celebrating a decade of food blogging!

Two desserts in one is always a win! This No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cheesecake combines brownies and cheesecake for a delightful dessert experience. - Bake or Break

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake with Brownie Crust

9. Comparison is the thief of joy. I believe Theodore Roosevelt said that originally, although I was most affected by it when a blogging friend of mine said it to a group of food bloggers. It’s absolutely true. With so, so many food blogs out there, it can be far too easy to try to compare what I’m doing with all of them. Ultimately, I can be happy for their successes without feeling like I’ve missed the boat somehow. There’s only one me in this world, and I will have far more success being me than trying to be someone else.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting | Bake or Break

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

10. People who love food are always the best people. That one comes to us from Julia Child, one of my all-time favorite foodies. Overwhelmingly, the responses I get from all of you through this blog, social media, and email are all wonderfully positive.

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars are a delicious chocolate twist on traditional pecan pie bars.

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
I’ve been feeling more than a bit sentimental over the last several weeks leading up to BoB’s big day. It’s amazing to think of how much has changed and how far this blog and I have come in ten years. Thank you for indulging me in this bit of reminiscing. I thank you most of all for being here. For reading about my baking adventures. For loving to bake. For being the best people.

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    58 Comments on “10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Blogging”

  1. Congrats on TEN YEARS of BnB, Jennifer. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, and drooling all over my computer keyboard! (Well, who wouldn’t be after looking at those luscious photos?) Your comments in “What I’ve Learned…” can be applied to any field of endeavor, so I hope that the column will get widespread publication. Keep up the great work, or, as you put it: FUN!

  2. Well I am super happy you lost your job!  I’m not generally a commenter, but I have made and loved so many of your recipes over the years.  Thank you for all you do and “Happy Birthday BoB!”

  3. Congrats on 10 years!  I thoroughly enjoy your blog and use your recipes regularly.  Thanks !

  4. This is one of my favorite blogs. The recipes ALWAYS turn out right! I think I have told you before, but I really love your cookies. They make their way into my Christmas assortment every year. I love sandwich cookies and yours are spectacular. Congratulations!

  5. What a wonderful post!  I have followed you for years (not sure how many) and have made several of your recipes.  So glad you get to do what you love every day; that is SO important!  Here’s to 10 more.

  6. I’m still relatively new to BOB but I love all your recipes that you post. And I like your thinking in that keeping things simple with big results.  Company is always impressed when I’ve made one of your desserts. My absolute favorite new cookie is your Butter Pecan Oatmeal cookies…..to me they’re addictive and everyone just loves them.  Thank you for sharing your wisdom and I look forward to the next 10 years of Bake or Break.

  7. Congrats! There’s so much wisdom in what you said to us. I’m so happy I accidentally found you & it didn’t take you any time at all to become my favorite blogger. For decades I was a wannabe baker who was known for being able to screw up a boxed cake mix, but I didn’t give up. Now it’s my favorite thing to do & I love how your recipes impress our family & friends. I live in Iceland now, but my father-in-law calls me the “Master Cook from America”. You’ve helped make it appear to be the case. You’re right, btw, most of us “feast w/our eyes” & are after easy-fix recipes that we can serve w/pride. 🙂

  8. Congrats to you on 10 years! Hardly anyone I started with is around so I’m always happy when those that were there when I started too are still blogging!
    Here’s to many more years!

  9. Congratulations on 10 years! I like your blog’s simplicity and clear recipes and photos. I’ve made several and they’re always a hit!

  10. What a nice surprise in today’s mailbox.   I have enjoyed your blog for some time and ALWAYS take time to read it when I see it in my Inbox.   And what a great looking (and tasting!) all-star lineup of goodies for us to go and bake  – immediately!   Thanks BoB !

  11. HAPPY 10 YEAR BLOGIVERSARY!!!! I love this list and I’m so so happy for you!

  12. Congratulations and here’s to another 10!

  13. Great post, Jennifer! Congratulations on 10 years. I found your post so encouraging. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about food blogging and have found them very informative but also a little discouraging when I hear about other bloggers who went full time after 18 months and they’re like, “Yeah, it didn’t happen overnight…I had to work for a really long time to get there.” Um, I’ve been at it for five years. You give me hope!

    • Thank you, Mary! Overnight blogging successes are few and far between. For the rest of us, it takes a lot of hard work. And there’s always more to do. Just keep plugging away!

  14. Congratulations, Jennifer! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the years.

  15. Thank you Jennifer, for all that you share and for contributing so much to the baking world. Your recipes are wonderful and some I have saved to my “golden archives”, the ones that are perfect as they are and never need tweaking. They are the ones to be passed down to generations. Congrats on the anniversary! 

  16. Congratulations on ten years!! Thanks for all the advice you’ve given me – you’re a pro in my eyes for sure. Also thanks for all the dessert recipes over the years 🙂

  17. Congratulations on a decade of blogging, Jennifer!  I’m so happy I stumbled upon Bake or Break that day almost three years ago.  You’ve been inspiring me ever since!  You should be so proud of yourself.  I know I am, and so many amateur bakers are, as well.  

  18. Congratulations on 10 years. There are only a few bakers/bloggers who I have dedicated a separate Pinterest page to and yours is one of them 🙂 Looking forward to trying many more of your delicious recipes.

  19. To my fellow pharmacist: What an accomplishment! Thanks for all of your advice to Marilyn-what a pleasure to work at something you are so passionate about…selfishly I do miss your occasional treats!

  20. I am so thankful I found you two years ago.  Thanks for not giving up because I love your wonderful recipes.  I am a displaced Southern Belle living far from home. Trust me, BoB makes me happy!

  21. Great blog.  I laughed when I read the part about the hard work.  So many people think blogging is all fun and easy to do and takes little time for the blogger.  I can tell that my favorites (yes, your site is way up in the favorite list!) are well thought out and well documented and visually pleasing without overwhelming me and my connection to enjoy it and read it.  I know that good blogging, like good baking, is not easy or fast or done without some time and thought.  I can’t say I’ve been with you the 10 years noted but I bumped into your site when I was surfing for brown butter recipes and your site immediate got my attention and became one of my top visited bookmarks.  I’m always joking you are my twin sister.  We seem to be on the same page so many times and if you think about it before I do you are psychic enough to know what I will want to use today or tomorrow.  Congratulations on 10 years.  I plan to be here for the next 10 if you are still blogging then.  Job well done and site well-loved by us all!

  22. Congrats on 10 years! I’ve been following your blog for a few  years and have made several recipes. Numbers 8 & 9 are so important. Thank you for blogging! 🙂

  23. Congrats on your milestone anniversary!  Continued success as you provide your readers with more tantalizing recipes & wonderful photos.  All the best!!

  24. Congratulations of your 10 year anniversary.  Your blog is one of my “go-to’s” for great recipes.  It’s the one I check every single day.  My others get checked every so often.  I haven’t made a recipe of yours yet that wasn’t fabulous.  I will be making the lemon cream cake next weekend for my mom’s birthday.  I am in total agreement with your philosophy that we all must love what we do.  We spend too much time at our jobs to not love them.  Life it too short and too important to waste it being unhappy, so kudos to you for living a happy life!  And thank you for inspiring many of us to bake well and live happily.

  25. Oh my, ten years already. I’ve been reading your blog for just a few years. And loving it. Thanks for your lovely recipes en photo’s and I really liked the story you share above. I wish you all the best, keep it up, from Holland with love,
    Tieneke

  26. Congrats on your 10-year bloggiversary! I love your blog and have tried 2 of your recipes so far and I’ve liked both of them. You have so many recipes that I want to try and I can’t wait.

    Keep up the good work.

  27. Happy 10 year anniversary! I don’t bake nearly as often as I used to (my infant son keeps my wife and I plenty busy), but I still check this blog every few weeks or so because it’s so great. You do great work and you deserve all that you get out of it. 

  28. Jennifer,
    What I really want to tell you is something very specific I love about your blog! I love cooking, mostly baking…there are hundreds of blogs I really like with incredible recipes, but in comparison to most of them, yours does have something very different. Yours is truly a baking blog! You write about the recipe, period. It is not a journal-baking post about your feelings, or life, or views…etc.

    Now, while these can be interesting to read…when I want to bake something, I only really, mostly want to hear about that recipe at hand and your thoughts and opinions on it. It’s very pure and clean, and I love it…so thank you.
    There are even a couple of blogs I used to really enjoy, but after sifting through the bloggers mood, political leaning…and their beliefs on things like the election, and “white-privilege” I found myself so turned off, that I cannot go back to their site(s). It’s like movie stars. I can get really turned off when they use their position to try and express and sway people to their beliefs, without a care of perhaps offending 1/2 of the audience that pays their living by going to support their careers. 

    I’m not sure if any other blog readers out there agree with this point, but I sure noticed that difference right away, and to me it makes what you do here way more professional, and respectful of your audience, no matter weather you would agree with them on other aspects of life. It’s all baking, thanks!

    • Thank you so much, Cari! Baking is one of my escapes from everything else in the world, so I like to keep this blog focused as much on baking as possible. I’m glad you enjoy it! 🙂

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