Helena Faustin, a 35-year-old neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse, started her food blog, That Nurse Can Cook, in 2018. The wife and mom started her side hustle with about $700, which she used to purchase groceries, a ring light, and other materials to get started. For the past several years, Faustin has been running her blog alone, posting cooking videos and sharing recipes. According to CNBC, the food blogger brought in $117,000 in 2021 from YouTube revenue, brand partnerships, and e-cookbook sales. Despite how successful this side hustle has been for Faustin, she says she has no plans on leaving nursing, as it’s a part of her identity.

How she got started

Faustin grew a love for cooking from watching her Jamaican mother, who taught her how to make Jamaican delicacies in their family kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. The food blogging nurse never imagined her family recipes would become so lucrative. Instead of pursuing her culinary dreams, she went to school, got good grades, and graduated as a NICU nurse.

The idea for That Nurse Can Cook came about in 2018 when she started posting photos of her Jamaican-style dishes on Instagram, where she gained massive interest from friends and family members. When the pandemic began, it changed her day-to-day nursing work, and Faustin wanted to spend less time at the hospital and more time with her family. She wanted to earn money without spending even more time away from home. Around this time, another food blogger suggested that Faustin write her own e-cookbook. Faustin currently has two e-books focusing on 30-minute recipes and “extravagant meals with sides.” These e-books make up a large portion of the food blogger’s revenue.

Last year, Faustin earned $71,333 from e-book downloads, compared with $39,030 from brand collaborations and $7,523 from ad revenue.

Maintaining success

Faustin told CNBC that her side hustle helped her spend more time with her family while improving her mental health. However, running an online business while maintaining a full-time job comes at a price: no free time.

The creator says that she went all in when she started her side hustle with no days off. She worked tirelessly on her blog daily when she wasn’t at the hospital.

When Faustin isn’t working at the hospital or around the house, she’s responding to e-mails, researching, and grocery shopping. Groceries cost her around $600 per month, and it’s one of her business’s only recurring expenses.

Faustin says there are days that her content doesn’t perform as well as she’d hoped due to ever-changing algorithms, but she doesn’t stop. She hopes to hire an employee soon who will enable her to step back from tasks that take her away from content creation.

Even though Faustin still works as a nurse, the success of her blog has enabled her to cut back on some shifts. She has no plans to quit her day job anytime soon, but she hopes that the blog’s growth will allow her to choose between the two roles one day.

Faustin’s story is inspirational and shows why it’s so important never to stop chasing your dreams. She’s proof that you can be a successful creator on the side while still working your dream job.