For Twin Cities Food Bloggers, Following Dreams Is Paying Off

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some of the biggest names in food in the Twin Cities aren’t the chefs.

They’re the everyday people who have made a business out of sharing their love of food online.

“It really just started off to chronicle how to live healthy while in college so it started off as ‘College Foodie Finds,'” food and fitness blogger Lee Hersh, from St. Louis Park, said.

Hersh began posting original recipes — that were healthy and easy — online during her college days. She eventually bought the domain Fit Foodie Finds. It wasn’t until she graduated she realized her love of food and fitness could be something much bigger.

“Social media was really starting to boom,” Hersh said. “People were starting to search for content online so they were looking for recipes and workouts.”

She started making money by getting sponsors for her blog, and then Instagram posts. In 2014, she quit her job to run Fit Foodie Finds full time. Hersh said her day to day work varies. One day she may be tasting recipes for a new kale salad, another she’s writing a post on her favorite protein bars.

“We have ‘oatmeal week’ happening,” Hersh said, reading her calendar.

Today Hersh has thousands of followers for her blog, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest pages. She makes a six figure salary off of sponsored posts, ads and page views.  She hired her best friend  from college, Linley Richter, to help run the blog.

“We are like a well-oiled domestic couple,” Richter said.

Hersh recently co-founded another blog, The Healthy Glow Collective.

While Hersh’s online celebrity story began in college, for 32-year-old Christina Tia, it was after nine years in finance.

“They were giving out awards for milestones and like at 10 years you got a watch, and you know, a knife set,” Tia said. “I thought to myself, I’m not going to be here next year.”

She took a job at the airport and started doing more of what she loved — cooking food from her childhood.

“My friends were always like, ‘How do you know how to make that?’ And they were like traditional Lao dishes,” Tia said.

Tia started the YouTube channel House of X Tia, where she did cooking demos as a hobby. Today her audience of friends and family has turned into 12,000 YouTube subscribers and 36,000 Instagram followers.  People tune in to watch her Food Network-style cooking in her own kitchen.

“It’s not so much about the money,” Tia said. “It is the happiness and the freedom.”

Some foodie stars aren’t even making food — they’re just eating it.

“I have a calendar full of restaurants I will hit and sometimes I just go on my own too,” Kim Ly Curry, a food photographer, said.

WCCO caught up with Kim Ly Curry at the new McKinney Roe restaurant in Minneapolis, her “office” for the day.  She’s busy trying their food, taking pictures and posting them to Instagram to her 25,000 followers. When she’s not working full time at a hospital, she’s eating, snapping and sometimes getting paid.

“It can go anywhere from 350 per post and on up,” Curry said.

So with the thousands of people who post their food on social media, what makes some stand out among the rest? All three of the women interviewed said one thing: passion.

“You just need to jump in, get your feet wet until your dreams have come true,” Hersh said.

More from Kate Raddatz
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