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You can’t do that on Instagram: What it’s really like to be a food blogger


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All photos: McKel Hill
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Food bloggers seem to live the dream life: Hanging out in cafes, eating Instagram-worthy food at every meal, making money pursuing their passion…. But it turns out there’s a whole lot more that goes into it than meets the eye.

In just four years, Nutrition Stripped blogger McKel Hill, MS, RD, has drummed up over 325,000 social media followers, launched her own members-only meal prep program, and landed a book deal—while still making time to see clients once a week. If anyone seems to have it all, it’s the Nashville-based nutritionist.

But looks can be deceiving. Here, Hill lets her guard down and reveals the good, the bad, and the stuff absolutely no one talks about on social media when it comes to being a food blogger.

In her own words, here’s what you need to know about life as a dietitian-entrepreneur-author-food blogger.

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McKel Hill

It’s not all coffee shops and free time

A lot of people have this perception that business owners and bloggers spend their days writing in cafes and filling their time however they wish. While yes, it’s true to an extent that writing from anywhere and being in charge of your own schedule are beautiful perks, there are so many long hours and sacrifices—especially if you’re building a business from the ground up, as I did almost four years ago.

So this is what my week actually looks like: Mondays are generally admin days—typical tasks like checking in with the team, getting caught up on emails, and fleshing out the rest of the week. It’s also my most meeting-heavy day. Tuesdays I devote to my blog, which requires everything from creating an editorial calendar of what recipes will be posted when to actually writing. Wednesdays I meet with clients and do nutrition research so I stay up-to-date on what is going on in the field. Thursdays are my off day, which I synced up with my boyfriend’s day off because #balance, and then I work Friday and Saturday on creative work, social media planning, design, and anything else that I need to do as a business owner.

Because every day is different, what anchors me is having a morning routine, which I write a lot about on the blog. That really sets the tone for me each day and keeps me focused, energized, and happy.

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McKel Hill

Not every meal I eat is Instagram worthy—and that’s okay

You know those food photos on my blog? I have full-on photoshoots for those. That food is tested (to make sure it tastes yummy), styled, photographed with an actual camera (not my iPhone), and then those pics are edited. For blog photoshoots, I like to book full days to style and shoot a bunch of things at once. Last weekend, I did a photoshoot for everything I plan on posting to the blog for the next two months—it took 14 hours, plus all the post-production edits.

During the photoshoots, I have my iPhone handy and snap pics that I’ll post to Instagram as sneak peeks. In other words, they’re not always what I’m eating in the moment. That sweet potato casserole and avocado toast I posted on Instagram? Those weren’t snapped while I was eating them—they’re from a very planned-out photoshoot. 

What I do actually munch on: a lot of “nourish bowls” and stir fries. Plus, there are definitely nights when I get home super late and just whip up an omelette with avocado and kimchi—not super sexy.

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McKel Hil

Like you, there are days when I’d rather not show up to work

Just because I have my dream job doesn’t mean it’s not a job some days. Running Nutrition Stripped is 90 percent pure joy, excitement, and enjoyment…but there’s also a really stressful 10 percent.

Often, it’s easy to see all the positives and perks on social media, but at the end of the day there’s a lot of time, sacrifice, and challenges to keep my business growing. I totally have mornings where I wake up feeling overwhelmed, and just want to have a day to myself.

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McKel Hill

The community and connection is my favorite part

That said, it’s always worth it in the end—and I’m grateful to have amazing support around me that keep me grounded when I’m feeling a little stressed sometimes.

Because in truth, interacting with the Nutrition Stripped community is what keeps me going on the more challenging days. The comments mean so much to me, so I carve out time to read them all and reply—across all the various platforms.

And as cliched as it sounds, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. 

If you’re aspiring for Instagram greatness, try these jaw-droppingly beautiful recipes from Taline Gabrielian AKA Hippie Lane. Plus, here are 11 more social media-savvy foodies to follow for healthy inspiration.