Happy Herbivore Blog

How I Make A Living (Hint: It's Not Blogging)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceBusiness101

After writing my post on Success, the following question bubbled up on Facebook:

"I hope you don't mind me asking, but does Happy Herbivore, the cookbooks and other spin-offs, support you financially or do you have to do other work? I hope the former"

I don't mind the question, it's something I've wanted to talk about, but haven't because here I go being controversial again!

Anytime I hear a blogger say they make a living off their blog I want to scream. I'll cut to the chase and say I sincerely doubt they really do. 

Happy Herbivore has enjoyed over 2 million pages views since January 1st. Roughly 65,000 unique people visit this website every month. Let's be frank, that's a crap ton of traffic. (Thanks Herbies!) 

Yet when I ran ads like many other bloggers, I only made a couple hundred bucks a month. That's a far cry from enough to live on. (I ultimately decided the ads were so ugly and annoying I'd rather just give up those few hundred bucks and remove them.)

Maybe other bloggers get boatloads of more traffic than me and maybe they have slightly better ad deals, but I just find it all suspect, especially after reading this article on Copyblogger, "Why You Can't Make Money Blogging."  The article points out a blog got half a million visitors one day, and still, for the total month, the blogger only made $1,000 bucks in ads. Umm...

So as much as I love this blog -- it doesn't pay the bills. In fact it does the opposite. It costs a lot (a lot!) of money to run happyherbivore.com. I'd say somewhere North of $200 a month. 

For the past four years (happy 4th birthday, Happy Herbivore!) we've ran Happy Herbivore at a loss because Scott & I wanted Happy Herbivore so badly. We both believed in what I was doing and the changes we could make... the people we could help... the talent that I needed to share. 

That's why we're asking for donations with the Meal Plans. We're hoping with your donation we can offset some of the costs associated with running this website. Think of your donation as a tip, a thank you for our efforts -- and a way to support this community and website. All donations are greatly appreciated.

But what about my books?!

I got the deal for my first book, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, in October 2009. It's October 2011 and I just saw my first royalty check last week. It's been two years -- two years! and I finally saw some money for my work --- and no, it wasn't a big pay day. While it was a nice little something, it is by no means enough to live on. At best it is the equivalent to a few months salary. Like I've said before, there is no money in writing cookbooks -- even bestsellers. I do it because it's my passion.

But there is more to the finances than that. When I was writing my first book, and my second, I had to take a leave of absence from work and for four months (twice!) I didn't make any money. Scott & I lived in a tiny -tiny- studio and gave up any unnecessary expense -- like cable -- when I wrote my first book. We were better prepared for the second (we'd saved up some money in anticipation) but still, it was rough.

I often look back at all we put into and gave up for Happy Herbivore. The sacrifices we made. Was it worth it? Yes! But I won't lie. There were periods where I wanted to quit. Give up. Surrender. 

I'd worked so hard and for so long and I was so tired of being so broke. Maybe I'd had my go at it, and it didn't work, time to move on... but my passion kept me rooted. I would always remember why I started it all in the first place and then I'd put away my white flag. 

I was committed to my helping others eat better and damnit, I was going to keep doing it - whatever the cost. I told myself that success is not given, it is earned, and I had to keep hustling. Keep trying. Keep working. Do what I do because I love it and because truthfully, I don't want to do anything else. 

For four years I've worked 16 hrs a day, 7 days a week. I eat, drink and sleep Happy Herbivore... and that's one of the reason why I needed to go to Europe for a month... because it was getting unhealthy. 

To finally answer the question: yes. Now, after four years of debt and struggles and financial crisis, yes, I am finally supporting myself with Happy Herbivore. It happened very recently - in the last month. I'm still making a very modest (very modest!) living, but it's enough that I no-longer have to work at another job full-time. 

I'm still taking on some freelance assignments here and there, but I hope as Happy Herbivore continues to grow (with your help!) one day this will be my only job.

Allow me to close this post by thanking all of you. You made living my own dream possible. I hope to repay the favor someday. 

My Path to Success

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceBusiness101

Last night Scott posted this image on my Facebook wall:

It's something I've come to appreciate, yet also lose sight of, as Happy Herbivore has grown.

Anytime I'm interviewed, the interviewer is quick to ask me for tips, or secrets -- how can someone else replicate what I've done. How they can create their own Happy Herbivore and I always fumble because I really don't know what I did or what I didn't do.

I never had a marketing plan. I never even had a plan. It's always just been a labor of love. Maybe that was my plan all along. 

I feel good about what I've accomplished -- proud. I feel successful but I also sometimes feel like a failure. Or like I'm holding my breath. 

Running off to Europe was good for me in so many ways. I allowed myself to finally exhale and in doing so I realized I've come a long, long way -- both personally and professionally, and if I never walk another step, I can be happy and proud with the journey I've already taken.

My path to success has not always been easy and like the picture, it didn't involve any sort of straight line from A to B. I feel incredibly lucky. I am very humbled by my good fortune and I have never lost sight of where I came from or why I do what I do. 

It wasn't until about 6 months ago that I'd start thinking of myself as an entrepreneur. or a business woman. I don't know what it is about either of those terms but I had this image -- that I put on a pedestal -- and because I didn't look that way or do the things I thought those kind of people did, I felt like a poser. or maybe a wannabe. I just never saw myself in that light. I was something else, not that.

But then my sister made friends with someone who recently moved to the United States, and upon hearing my story, he lit up and said "so she's living the American dream! She's built something out of nothing" and in that moment the way I saw my world changed.

Maybe I wasn't some silly little girl peddling recipes. Maybe I had good ideas. Maybe I could make a difference. Maybe I could do things I've always dreamed to do. 

I am only one person but I can make a difference! 

Who I am matters. Who you are matters. We all matter. We are all capable of great things. Success is not given, it is earned. We don't fall down a rabbit hole, we crawl through a maze. Despite all the stumbles and falls, which ultimately make us better (and stronger!), we find our way to the other side. 

The road to success is long and complex -- but follow your passion. It will lead the way. It's how I found my light.

Eating Vegan on the Road

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Travel

I'm always getting questions about how I stay plant-based (vegan) on vacation or when I'm traveling. 

Since I adopted a plant-based diet, I've driven across the United States twice and spent an entire month backpacking across Europe. I also travel quite frequently... 

So what's my secret? patience. Not that I have a lot of that to begin with... but yes, patience is my secret. 

I have yet to travel to any place in the world where I was unable to eat. Sure not every city, airport or town has a vegan restaurant with a brightly lt Las Vegas-style sign saying "Lindsay you can eat here!" but I've always been able to find food. Always. Even in Africa. (To be fair, I was in Morocco, but still. It was Africa and there was veg food aplenty!)

Here's my advice:

1. Research ahead. Not always possible, I know, but if you can, do a little Googling before you travel. That's how I found vegan gelato in Italy! 

One caveat: Sometimes online paints a different picture from reality. For example, Whistler seemed like a rather un-veg-friendly town when I Googled, but it ended up being one of the most veg-friendly places I've ever visited! 

2. Default to Thai and Italian. Almost every city has a Thai or Italian restaurant and you should be able to find something on the menu, or adapt a dish so it can be plant-based. Maybe you'll ask the Thai restaurant to hold the fish sauce with your vegetable dish or maybe you'll order a cheeseless pizza. You might have to get a little creative (I once asked for salsa and a plain baked potato -- not a bad combo as it turns out!) and that's where the patience comes in again.

3. Supermarkets are Plan C. Grocery stores exist most everywhere. Even if there isn;t a grocery store there should be a little store or a farmers stand that sells produce. Produce is always an option and you can usually find bread, hummus and crackers, too. Again, not glamourous but I don't go on vacation to eat. I go on vacation for the experience of that place. I eat good at home I can do without on vacation. p.s. I was shocked by the wide variety of soy based products (like soy yogurt) all over Europe. 

If you're in America -- Taco Bell, while not healthy per se, is a good place for a hungry vegan belly. I usually get a sort of taco salad -- lettuce, salsa, refried beans - that sort of thing. This website can also be handy when trying to source vegan items at Fast Food restaurants (such as during long car rides!)

Of course, bringing your own food is always awesome and highly recommended when flying, though I've been surprised by the number of vegan (and healthy!) options cropping up at major U.S. airports. 

I've also written about eating in airports (and traveling) before. Check out that blog post as well.