Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan was laid off from the Wall Street Journal in 2009, and a week later she signed a book deal with Hyperion for a food memoir. “I relied on a deep-seated desire to write this book that I’d harbored for many years — and the strength and unwavering faith that my husband, also a journalist, had in me,” Tan told Joe Grimm of the Poynter Institute. Her advice for other journalists in career transition?

You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t let the insecurities and self-doubt that many journalists have get in the way of really going after something you want. The industry is going through such big changes now — it’s a fantastic time to have that high school guidance counselor moment where you sit yourself down and ask, “What do I *really* want to do? And, what steps do I need to take in order to I achieve that?”

This interview is timed perfectly because as of today, AvantGuild members can also read about how some food bloggers turned their online scribblings into full-time gigs with cookbooks, Food Network shows, and more. Those successful foodies’ tips: Don’t give up, take initiative, and take good photos.

Are you a food blogger? How do you grow your blog in a crowded niche?