Unhappy Engineer Turned Food Blogging Side-Hustle Into Dream Career

Ten years ago Jannese Torres, 38, felt unfulfilled in her job as a process engineer.
Looking for a creative outlet, she decided to start a food blog.
She quit her job to focus on her business full time in 2021 and never looked back.

In May 2013, at the age of 27, Jannese Torres says she had a “quarter-life crisis.”

She had ticked off almost every box in the “American dream” checklist that her parents had told her to follow by getting good grades in school, going to college, and securing a stable job as an engineer at a large corporation. But she felt deeply unfulfilled.

Looking for a creative outlet that would allow her to immerse herself in something other than her career, she decided to start a food blog.

Torres had identified a gap in the market, and she filled her blog with Puerto Rican-inspired recipes. “When I first started, I was probably one of less than five Puerto Rican food bloggers that existed out there,” she told Business Insider.

At the beginning, it wasn’t Torres’ intention to turn her blog into a full-time job. She knew people who had done it, but the idea still felt too far-fetched.

Then, six months later, she got laid off.

With nothing else to do, Torres decided to take a food blogging course at a local culinary school in New York City, and it changed everything.

A decade later, Torres is a full-time blogger and makes more money than she ever did as an engineer. She wants to inspire others to take similar leaps.

Torres set out to turn her blog into a job

On the food blogging course, Torres learned about creating multiple income streams for a blog using affiliate marketing and display ads and creating sponsored content for brands.

The course lit a fire inside Torres. “The light bulb kind of went off for me, where I’m like, ‘This could actually be a thing,’” she said.

She learned that in order to be a six-figure blogger, she’d need millions of readers per year. Immediately after the workshop, she began to look for influencer and affiliate marketing networks.

In March 2014 she started a new role working as an engineer at L’Oreal — but she continued working on her blog in her downtime.

She became so busy with her side hustle she had to start taking time off from her corporate job

In 2017, Torres began making some money from her blog through display ads and affiliate programs, but 2020 was the year it really took off, she said, possibly because left with nothing else to do when COVID-19 kept them locked at home, people began cooking.

That year, Torres said her income skyrocketed. “I said, if I can do this and this is part-time, I can only imagine what’s going to happen the following year in 2021,” she told BI.

That year, she began having to take time off from her main job to go to speaking engagements for her podcast, and she was also spending her lunch breaks frantically writing articles. She realized it wasn’t sustainable.

“I thought, ‘This is more than I’m making in my engineering career, so what the hell am I still doing working this full-time job and being restricted by all the things that come with that?’” she said. In May 2021, she decided to take the leap and quit her job as an engineer to focus on content creation.

When Torres quit her job, she said she had around 300 blog posts that were already generating a six-figure income, she said. She ended up using her blog as a passive income stream while she focused on developing her personal finance podcast, which she’d launched in 2019, and creating courses designed to teach people how to build their own passive income streams online.

In 2021, she earned $144,000 from her food blog, which more than matched her previous salary of $118,000 per year, according to documents seen by BI.

The loneliness can be difficult, but Torres has focused on building connections

While Torres is happy with her new career as an online entrepreneur, she said the most difficult thing about it is the loneliness that comes with it. Sometimes she misses the built-in socialization that comes with working in a corporate environment. “Most of your friends and family aren’t doing this, so you’re kind of just in a little bubble working from home all the time,” she said.

To foster new connections and feel less alone, she has been sharing what she has learned throughout her journey on X and Instagram. This has helped her to meet other like-minded people who have similar interests and goals.

Torres is happy that she made the leap, but she emphasized that building a blog from scratch is a lot of hard work, and that it took her a long time to replace her income. Still, Torres would encourage others to take the leap — starting her blog was fairly low-risk and required little initial investment, and it paid off in the long run.

While she continues to build her blog, Torres plans to carry on sharing her journey online and teaching others how to build their own blogs so they can become financially free.

She told BI, “Part of me talking about this publicly is just normalizing the idea that others can also do this, even though they may not have thought that it was a career option.”

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