R.C. native pens successful eBooks, blog

Katie Kimball embraces butter. She makes homemade yogurt. She serves her family of five traditional real food from plants and animals as opposed to products created by food scientists in a laboratory.

It’s all working for her. Just five years ago, this 1998 graduate of Rogers City High School was hoping for a way to supplement her husband’s income after her part-time position at a Catholic school in Grand Rapids was eliminated due to budget constraints.

“I asked myself what am I going to be able to do from home to bring in a few thousand dollars a year,” said Kimball, who studied at Michigan State University to be an elementary school teacher and holds a degree in English. “Someone said I should write a book, but to first do a blog to see if anyone was interested in my ideas.”

Today, not only has her blog, called Kitchen Stewardship, proven popular with 17,000 to 20,000 average daily subscribers, but she also has self-published seven eBook cookbooks, two of which she recently self-published in print.

“It’s become almost a full-time job,” Kimball said. “I work between 20 and 40 hours a week.” She also has a team of four part-time people who help with advertising, social media, email and a variety of other related tasks.

This mother of three children ages 8, 5 and 2 began thinking seriously about nutrition with the birth of her first child.

“When I had a baby, nutrition suddenly became so important because suddenly I was responsible for this little life,” Kimball said. “A lot of new moms do a lot of reading about nutrition. That was the beginning of my story.”

She and husband Kris, a computer programmer, lived on a fairly tight budget with her no longer working outside of the home. Besides good nutrition and affordability, the other factors Kimball was interested in were doing things that were environmentally responsible and doing them in a time efficient manner.

When preparing meals for her family, Kimball said she was always writing in her head how she would explain to others what she was doing. She felt like she had a lot of tips and strategies to share, and all those food-related ideas, coupled with a knack for writing, came together in her blog.

“That’s how Kitchen Stewardship was formed – it’s about how to be a good steward of resources in the kitchen,” she said.

Now five years into her blog experiment, she still hasn’t run out of ideas to write about. In fact, she admits to having lists and lists of things she wants to cover. Most recently, she waxed poetic on the joys of cabbage.

Besides providing blog content and a tip-filled Kitchen Stewardship website that readers seem to be responding to favorably, Kimball also has found a way to make the whole venture lucrative. Not only do individual businesses pay her to advertise on her blog site, but she also receives paid ads from a variety of large ad networks.

“They are big conglomerates that serve advertisers,” she said. “They pay me based on how many people are viewing my site.”

She also provides links to products or recommends other books for which she receives a commission.

“I usually receive five to ten pay envelopes a month because of products I’ve linked to. It doesn’t have to feel really salesy, “Kimball said. “I’m just directing people to a product or recommending a book. It doesn’t change the prices at all.”

Additionally, she receives income from the eBooks she’s written that currently range in price from $3.97 to $16.95. These include “The Healthy Breakfast Book,” “Family Camping Handbook,” “The Everything Beans Book,” “Smart Sweets” and “Healthy Lunch Box.”

Two more of her eBooks, “Better Than a Box How to Transform Processed Food Recipes into Whole Food Favorites” and “Healthy Snacks to Go,” Kimball self-published in print format in 2013.

With her concentrated efforts on all things food, Kimball doesn’t just write about it. She also constantly tries dishes out on her family, especially her husband.

“My poor husband. I’m always putting two things on his plate and asking him, ‘Which is better?’ even though they are both similar,” Kimball said.

A couple of years ago, because of a health issue in the family, she switched to gluten free. That helped, she said, but also impacted her blog, which in the beginning included lots of gushing about fresh baked bread straight out of the oven.

As for her children, she said they are not permitted to be picky when it comes to food because otherwise they’d starve.

“Some days they behave like picky eaters, but we don’t have peanut butter and jelly as a back-up,” she said. “There’s no bread, so I tell them, ‘you can eat this or I’ll see you in the morning.’ It’s not like they are born that way. It’s taken some discipline.”

Her family does have their favorite foods, such as cream of potato soup, which is her oldest son’s favorite soup.

“We do a lot of grain free and gluten free pancakes and waffles,” she said. “Waffles always get a good round of applause.”

No one is more surprised at the success that she encountered than Kimball herself, who admits to still feeling like a rookie, especially when it comes to social media like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Even so, she’s planning for the future. She and a colleague in California have worked together for the past four years and are currently thinking about teaming up to form an online business that would provide advice and how-tos for other would-be bloggers.

Additionally, she and her husband are studying the merits of several other entepreneurships they could do together.