Jessica Lawson has always loved to cook. From her toddler days of using a stool to help her grandma in the kitchen, cooking has been a safe space.
“Cooking for my friends and my family has always been one of my favorite things to do. I love cooking because I live to eat, obviously. I love food,” she says. “But I also feel like it’s the only activity I can be 100% focused on and engage all of my senses. You cook with sight, you cook with sound, you cook with smell. You’re tasting it, you’re touching it. I’m never distracted.”
Before April 2020, however, she had never considered making it more than a favorite hobby. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world and sparked a cooking craze that she gave it her full attention.
“When I’m cooking, I’m focused on that. It’s always been a creative and almost meditative experience for me,” she says. “And April of last year was such a crazy period that it was just my time to just go into something and completely block out the world.”
She found herself having conversations with friends and families about different recipes, how to use the ingredients they could find, and answering questions they had about food. She decided to post her recipes online and start sharing pictures of her food on Instagram.
Soon her feedback, number of questions she received, and followers soared. After getting requests for her recipes, she started posting them in the captions. This led to a collaboration with a former coworker who grows organic produce and asked if she would be interested in offering recipes, tips, and videos to their farmshare box customers.
“And I was like, ‘I can’t think of a better way to spend a COVID summer than figuring out what to do with all this organic produce,’” Jessica says. “‘So sign me up!’”
Brands started sending her free products to promote and eventually paying her to feature them. Despite this wild success, the business side of Big Delicious Life was an unforeseen benefit.
“When I started Big Delicious Life, the food blog, it was never my intention to make money. I didn’t even know how bloggers made money. I didn’t know that they did,” she says. “The fact that it turned into an income stream for me a year later literally blows my mind because this was not intentional. I didn’t start a business intentionally at all.”
As Jessica’s following grew, she started looking into how people made money from the work they do for their content.
“I felt like I was accountable to people to provide content and I was like, ‘There must be people making money with this because this is a lot of work,’” she says.
Just like a more traditional job, she says, she looked for and connected with people who were already succeeding with food-focused blogs and social media accounts.
“I just started networking with other people who were doing things that I liked and introducing myself and following what they were doing and asking questions,” she says.
Next, she taught herself how to build and use her website for money. She learned which platforms she wanted to use and how to reach the people who wanted what she was creating.
“It’s figuring out which platforms you’re good at or which ones you vibe with and speaking with the people out there who want what you have to offer. And everybody has something to offer,” she says. “And that’s really what it is, figuring out what it is that you have to offer and what kind of people are looking for that.”
Most importantly, she wanted to come from a mindset of service as she built Big Delicious Life into something bigger.
“I am here to provide a service that people want, that people need. I can make people’s days better and maybe I can inspire them and maybe I can help somebody who’s struggling a little bit in the kitchen,” she says. “Maybe I can help somebody that’s stressed out about what to make for their family, maybe somebody doesn’t know how to cook and just wants some simple recipes under their gun. I can help somebody.”
Catch the full story here to learn what kinds of food Jessica recommends for living and eating well, the reasons she walked away from the corporate world, and how she helped make a difference for hundreds of women in the Dominican Republic.
You can connect with Jessica on her website and on Instagram at @bigdeliciouslife.