Cooking at home can be time-consuming, complicated and expensive. That’s why Bethany Moncel, a Louisiana resident of 16 years, started her blog Budget Bytes in 2009. Her mission is to reach people who are struggling with their budget and are mostly depending on the commercial food world.
With easy step by step guides, realistic recipes and detailed price breakdowns, she teaches her followers how to feed themselves without spending big bucks. Bethany personally struggled with her budget after college, so she decided to share her creativity with others who may encounter the same problem. “When I started, it was at the beginning of our really big recession, so it was kind of like the right place at the right time. There was a really strong niche that I filled,” Bethany says. She started the blog as a personal project, which eventually took off, and grew exponentially.
A microbiologist with a foodie license
“How do you become a successful food blogger?” you may wonder. Bethany started out as an aspiring dietician. After graduating with a degree in nutritional science, she realized that she didn’t like practicing in the field. While working in food service, she started Budget Bytes and went back to school to become a microbiologist. After working in the laboratory for a few years, she was finally able to run Budget Bytes as a full-time job.
Budget Bytes is more than just another food blog
Unlike most food bloggers, Bethany offers detailed price breakdowns. She chops down how much it will cost to make the recipe and how much it will cost per serving. This not only helps save money, but also shows how different ingredients can weigh in on the total cost of a meal. With her unique approach, she teaches people how to use ingredients smartly, while getting more flavor with less cost. To make recipes even easier to follow, she uses step by step photography.
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It all starts with passion and a great idea
Bethany admits that she started Budget Bytes without any goals or expectations. “It took off so fast that I was just trying to keep up,” she says. Her business has grown so much over the past eight years that she has hired a few contractors to assist her with daily tasks, such as social media and advertisements.
Biggest success – becoming a published author
In 2014, Bethany published her book Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half. “It was a pretty big deal at the time because I never thought I would be a published author. That was exciting,” she says. The book was a one and a half year long project and although she found it personally rewarding, it did not generate the revenue she expected.
Content thieves – a common problem on the internet
Her biggest challenge has been preventing other people from stealing content. “I see my photographs all over the place or they just copy and paste my text onto their website and they are making money off of it. That’s very hard. When you know somebody has intentionally stolen your material, that can be difficult and discouraging,” she says.
Stealing content is an ongoing problem and the means to prevent it are limited. According to Bethany, sending out DMCA takedown notices to all the people who have stolen content is simply too time-consuming and not worth it. She would consider going that route if the other party were a large website or entity.
Lessons learned and advice to other entrepreneurs
“Be diligent. Putting in the hard work always pays off. It can be hard in the moment to make yourself sit down and do stuff when you’re really tired, but it always pays off tenfold,” Bethany says. She thinks that a lot of people could be more successful than they are if they were diligent and if they actually believed that they could be successful. “A lot of people stop before they even begin because they think it’s not going to work, but they don’t even try,” she says.
Through her experience as a female business owner, she found that people often treat others in a way that reflects their own attitudes. “If you speak confidently and seriously, they are more likely to take you seriously as a business owner. Of course some people’s stereotypes are so strong that they override these efforts,” she says. She expects mutual respect in any business relationships, and encourages other female entrepreneurs not to settle for less.
When it comes to giving herself breaks, she goes by the 80/20 rule: Make yourself do the work 80 percent of the time when you don’t feel like it, but give yourself time to refresh 20 percent of the time.
How does a free blog generate money?
Most of the revenue coming from the blog is advertising. Bethany also does some sponsored work with brands, but that part of her business is rather small because she rarely uses packaged foods.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
Delegating is not always easy for business owners. “I’m way past the point where I need more help, but it’s really hard for me to give people responsibilities because I’m afraid that they’ll do it wrong,” she says. Right now, she is in the process of hiring a few more assistants.
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What’s your vision for Budget Bytes?
In about 5 years, Bethany hopes to be able to sell the blog. “I think I’m to that point where I’ve been doing it for a long time and I feel a little bit boxed in with my niche and I would love to explore some other things,” she says. Eventually, a lot of successful blogs sell to other companies.
In New Orleans, inspiration is everywhere
It’s no secret that New Orleans is a paradise for foodies. There are so many different types of foods. Bethany often gets inspired by going out to restaurants, and ends up making something similar at home. Although she is located in New Orleans, her followers are from all over the globe. By using basic ingredients, her recipes transcend cultures and find their ways into kitchens around the world. What started out as a hobby, has grown to be an influential platform that helps people do two essential things in life: eat well and save money.