The Foodie Physician blog by Sonali Ruder

I’m an Emergency Medicine physician, mom, culinary school graduate, recipe developer, cookbook author and “board certified” foodie. I developed an interest in food and nutrition several years ago when I was doing my residency training in New York City. Ten years after embarking on my medical career, I decided to further pursue my passion for cooking by enrolling in culinary school. That’s where I learned the fundamentals of combining flavors and using different cooking techniques to create dishes that are nutritious and full of flavor. My goal is to share both my medical and culinary knowledge with others, to empower them so that they can make smart diet and lifestyle choices.

The Foodie Physician interview - author

Please tell us something about yourself. Is food blogging your profession or just a hobby?

Blogging started off as a hobby and quickly became an obsession! Now that I’m generating some income from the blog, it’s also a profession. I juggle a lot of different things. Part of the week, I’m a doctor working in the Emergency Room. The rest of the week I’m busy developing recipes, blogging and working on cookbooks. All the while, I’m running after my delicious and very active little girl, Sienna. It’s tough to balance it all, but I love it!

When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you be online

I started my blog The Foodie Physician when I was in culinary school. I originally started it as a way to document my experiences as a culinary student. I was so excited about everything I was learning in school and the blog was a great way to share all of those experiences with others. The blog has evolved so much since then. Eventually I decided to incorporate my medical background as well and make healthy cooking the focus of my blog. I want to show people that healthy food can and should be delicious!

Did you have someone help you make the website or did you do it by yourself?

I did it by myself with the help of my husband. But now that the blog has become so successful, I’m ready to take it to the next level and have been considering hiring a web designer to help out.

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The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?

My husband came up with it. I’m a food lover and a doctor, so The Foodie Physician explains who I am in a nutshell.

What kind of Theme do you use on your blog and what are the “must have” plugins for a blog?

I use Blogger, the Simple template with a lot of customizations. I think it’s really important to have buttons which link to your social media accounts. Also, “Pin it” buttons on recipe photos are key.

What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your blog? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?

I started off with Blogger because I heard that it was the easiest platform to use and so far I’ve stuck with it. For someone without a lot of computer experience, I’ve found it pretty easy to use. However, I’ve found Blogger to be limited in certain areas and not easily customizable so I’m probably going to be switching to Word Press soon. I’m intimidated by the thought of having to learn a whole new system but I think it will be worth it in the end.

How much time do you spend blogging?

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A lot! I only post original recipes on my blog that I’ve developed so each blog post takes a lot of time. Between researching a recipe, testing it, photographing it and writing about it, that’s several hours a week. And that’s just the beginning. Once I put up a blog post, then I promote it on all of my social media sites and try to get it accepted onto various food photography sites. I’ll admit that at times it can get overwhelming because it always seems like there’s more to be done! It’s also difficult because I have to balance blogging with my job at the hospital, my family life and all of my other commitments. But I love what I do so that’s what keeps me going.

How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?

Social media is a necessity to promote your blog. I am active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. I’ve also joined some blogger groups like the Recipe Redux, Stonyfield Clean Plate Club and Yogetters. I enjoy the interaction with likeminded foodies. I’ve found that it’s important to build relationships with other bloggers in order to grow and expand your following. You have to give love to receive love.

Is there a way to monetize (make money) through a blog?

Yes, definitely. I have advertisements on my site and some affiliate links. I’ll highlight certain ingredients in my recipes that take readers to specific vendors if they click on them. If they buy products after following my link, I get a small portion of the proceeds. Once I gained a bigger following, I started monetizing in other ways such as working with specific companies as a brand ambassador and writing sponsored posts. Sometimes I get paid to write posts and other times I receive free products to sample. I also joined a few sites like the Clever Girls and Social Fabric, which keep me updated about paid job opportunities. In addition, I guest post on other sites like MommyMD Guides, which also helps get my name out there to a larger audience. My blog has also led to other job opportunities like the two cookbooks I’ve written (and a third on the way).

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Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs? Please give us some advice for new bloggers and for people who are still not sure should they make a blog of their own?

I would encourage someone to start a blog if they really feel passionate about it and are willing to put in the work. If you’re blogging as a hobby, that’s one thing but if you’re trying to make a living from it, then I think that a blog’s success is directly related to how much time you put into it. If you have a steady stream of good, interesting content and you promote it well, you can definitely be successful. Ultimately, you have to be writing about something that you love and that other people want to read. And you have to put in the time to promote your content on social media so that you can reach a larger audience. It definitely takes a lot of time and hard work to build up a following but it’s also a lot of fun and so rewarding.

For more great recipes check out Sonali’s great cookboks The Greek Yogurt Diet and Cooking Well: Anti-Aging.

Photos ©: The Foodie Physician

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