This is part of my Makin' Bacon podcast, you can check out all the episodes or subscribe on your favorite podcast player.
No matter how long you have been blogging, you never have all the answers. This makes it incredibly valuable to talk to people who become successful using methods that are different from what you did. And that is one reason I'm so excited to talk to today's guest.
She has been blogging for 6 years, does photography consulting, food blogging consulting, and is also presenting at the Everything Food Conference in Utah.
Last year she brought in 6 figures and is continuing to grow.
She is the perfect person to help us discover ways to take our blogs to the next level, so I can't wait to learn from today's guest...Elizabeth Falcigno from The Clean Eating Couple.
The video of the interview is also available on the Makin' Bacon YouTube Channel.
I focus on creating simple, easy to follow healthy recipes - many of which are paleo/Whole30. After blogging for over 6 years Elizabeth is now sharing her knowledge and helping people grow their blogs through coaching and her free weekly blogging newsletter.
Here's how you can find where you're on page 2 of google: In Google Search Console: On the left column, click Search Results
Tip: You can hover over total clicks, total impressions, average CTR and average position for an in depth explanation of what they are.
In the grey highlighted bubble, adjust to 12 months
Click Total Clicks, Total Impressions, Average CTR + Average Position so that all are highlighted
Scroll to the bottom and under 'Rows per page' adjust to 500.
Export to excel. In the top left (above the word Position) click the arrow. You can export to a CSV or to google sheets.
Using the spreadsheet you created before, add filters to the top row.
Sort your filter on Position to show: [Greater Than or Equal to 11, Less Than or Equal to 15]
These are the posts that you're on the top of page 2 for google. Update them accordingly to get yourself to page one!
If you want to read some more about this, here are a few helpful links.
Today, we talked about how valuable it is to update existing content, how to diversify your income and how newsletters can turn new visitors into fans. Take it away Elizabeth.
No matter how long you've been blogging, you never have all the answers and there's always something left for you to learn. And that's why it's so valuable to talk to people that have become successful, doing it in a way different than from what you did.
And that's one reason I'm so excited to talk to today's guest. She has been blogging for 6 years. Does photography consulting, food blogging consulting, and is also presenting at the Everything Food Conference in Utah later this year. Last year, she brought in 6 figures and she's continuing to grow her income.
She's a perfect person to help us discover ways to take our blogs to the next level. So I can't wait to learn from today's guest Elizabeth Falcigno from The Clean Eating Couple.
Jason Logsdon: Elizabeth. Welcome to Makin' Bacon.
Elizabeth Falcigno: Hi, Jason, thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to chat with you.
Jason: I really appreciate you taking the time to come on today and share your expertise.
I think it's always super helpful for bloggers to hear from someone like you. That's gone through the process. They become successful. They've grown their blog and they have at least some of the answers to how someone else can accomplish that. And I know you're going to have a ton of helpful advice from my audience, but one thing I like to start with is what is it like around your dinner table on a typical day?
Elizabeth: So I'm embarrassed to say this, but we actually don't usually eat at our dinner table. My husband works kind of late, so by the time he gets home, he has about an hour commute. We kind of both just want to sit and relax on the couch with our 2 dogs and eat our dinner in front of some TV. So, honestly, we're just kind of relaxing on our couch, watching something on Netflix and enjoying one of the meals that I cooked.
Jason: We also, our dinner table is also tray tables on our couch with our dog by our side. What types of dogs do you have?
Elizabeth: So we have 2 dogs who are lab hound mixes. We're not really sure exactly what they are because they're rescues, but they're awesome. And they're always happy to sit on the couch or on the floor, hoping that we will drop something for them to snack on.
Jason: They're always very patient that's for sure.
Jason: A lot of topics I want to get into more details with you about, but I wanted to start with what you will be presenting at the Everything Food Conference, which is updating old content. And I want to start here for a very selfish reason. I have around a thousand pages on my website and some of them haven't been touched in about a decade probably.
And so I want to know why is it so important to update all this old content and help me see exactly what I'm doing wrong? Cause I know I am.
Elizabeth: Okay. So you have such an opportunity with that much content. Wow, I'm a little jealous. Updating old content is so great for so many reasons. And I'm super excited to be chatting about this at Everything Food Conference in a couple of months. What it all boils down to is you have the opportunity to make more money off of existing stuff that you have with less effort.
So when we look at just creating a regular recipe, let's just say banana bread. You've never had banana bread. Before you have to think about the time it's going to take you to write up the recipe the time it's going to take you to go to the store. And you're going to test the recipe probably three, four times. You want to make sure it's a perfect banana bread recipe. Once you've nailed the recipe, you've got to take the photos. And you've got to do the SEO. You got to ride the post, promote the post, yada yada, yada, you, you see where I'm going here? It's a lot. I mean, I think that we don't really think about how much truly goes into a post and how many hours we're really spending on it.
But it's a lot of time if you already have a post and you've already done the work of testing it and you know, it's a great recipe. You've got, I would say, half the work done for you or at least a significant chunk of it. So if you can take that really great recipe. And kind of fluff up all the other parts of it meaning taking really great images, maybe adding a video, um, really filling in some great SEO content, helpful tips, um, maybe some process shots and then re promoting it to your audience.
You're going to be cutting your amount of work and time and you're going to be making more money off of it because now you have an opportunity more people are going to be seeing it on social media. More people are going to be clicking on your affiliate links in it. More people are going to be seeing the ads that are on that page when previously no one was looking at it. And now you have a whole host of new eyes that are in front of it.
And aside from that, while I don't know, I wish that the people at Google would confirm this, but I think that it's pretty clear in my experience that google does favor folder links, meaning that if you have a banana bread recipe and you published it back in 2019 or whatever 2 years ago, and then you update it now, they kind of were like, Oh, well, that's been the best banana bread recipe for almost 2 years now. So clearly she's, she knows what she's talking about because all these people have been looking at it. All these people have been leaving great reviews and great comments. So they, I feel like. Well, I don't know, this is my, my personal theory. They kind of give you a little more love and a little more favor if that's the case with an older link.
Jason: It definitely that's been my understanding as well that Google does favor older links, especially when they have been updated with fresh content.
Jason: So what goes into this process? You just listed off a lot of things you can do to update an old post. Do you generally remake the recipe and re-photograph it or is it on page type of programming stuff? What is just a general way that you approach updating a post that you want to get out there?
Elizabeth: There's 2 kinds of approaches to this. I would say that if your post is ranking super high in Google, like if you're on page one and it's a high search volume keyword, you're going to want to be careful with what you do to this post, because. Anytime you change something in a post, Google looks at it differently.
So you don't want to go in and completely gut something. Even if it has the most ugly photos and it's really a terrible post, you don't want to get it completely because you want to slowly change it so that it doesn't make people go, Whoa, wait, what, what is this? This is not what we originally thought. Banana bread was. This is a whole different kind of banana bread.
So. I would say if you're on that path, the best thing to do is maybe do it little by little and I mean, very, very minute details. So maybe. You add in one new photo with process shots of how to make the banana bread, maybe a month after that and you go back in and add helpful tips for making the best banana bread or substitutions for this banana bread. And little by little you add in that content to make it about our piece, better piece of content.
On the flip side, if no one has looked at this post in five years and it's on page five of Google, what do you have to lose? Nothing? And I know I personally, and I'm sure if you have a thought thousands of blog posts, you probably have a few of those in there too. That it might be really great and it might actually have really high search volume, but it's just a crappy post with crappy images and nothing in it. Completely gut it, take out everything in there.
Change the recipe, go in their gut it completely. I spend testing the recipe. I do new photos. I do the content with all the SEO research, and then I promote it as if it's a brand-new post on my site. I, I think that we kind of get stuck in our own heads and think well, I talked about this one, so my audience must remember that this was, you know, I am saying they don't know where all of our content is, so promote it out there, like there's like, no one's ever seen it.
Jason: When you were talking about putting, doing the SEO research and putting every question they've ever asked about banana bread onto that page. Do you use them as like H2 headers with banana bread in each one? Do you break it up? What's a way that you've found to be pretty effective, updating old posts with those type of how to, or FAQ questions.
Elizabeth: I have a free checklist for how to update all content that might be helpful for people. Where I, I know that I just threw out a ton of info, but I have, um, a nice PDF download that lists everything that you should do and how to decide which posts are really great topics. So that might be helpful for people.
But when I'm writing the posts, I don't make everything in each to like, can you add pecans? Can you add this? Instead I do something more general. Like, substitutions for healthy banana bread. And underneath that, I might, I will probably type out the question, meaning can you add nuts to this banana bread? Can you add, can you make this gluten free or can you make this banana bread gluten free?
I write in a way that I think is serving Google, but more so does not sound like a robot. Because if you're reading something and you're like banana bread, banana bread, and they'd be like, what the heck is this person talking? Like, why are they talking like this? You know? So I tried to sound like a human, but also include that info that people would need.
Jason: Perfect. Like you said you then take that content, you put it out on social media, you put it back into your newsletter. Basically, you said you treat it like a new post to drive in as much new traffic as you can to it, correct?
Elizabeth: Absolutely. I do pretty much everything that I can, I will make it on Instagram stories. If I have the time I will. I always send it out to my email list. I post on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. Um, really wherever I can share it. I do. And I don't even tell people, you know, this is an old post and I updated the photos because the average person doesn't even know. That the average person will be like, what are you talking about? Who cares?
So I don't like lie and be like, this is a brand new recipe, but, you know, I just say, this is this blueberry baked oatmeal is that's like, that's what I just did last week. That's a blog post that's been on my site for almost the entire time I've been blogging. It was one of the first things I published, and I've updated it 3 or 4 times at this point. So when I shared it, I treated it as if it was brand new.
Jason: So for someone like me that has a lot of content out there and sees the wisdom of needing to update it, how do I figure out where to start? You know, which of these thousands of pages should I turn my efforts to first?
Elizabeth: It's up to you. So you can do a couple of different things.
What I recommend people do is go into your Google analytics. And along with that free PDF that I talked about I actually have another PDF that goes with it explaining the whole process of this. Um, but what I usually recommend people do is they go to their Google analytics and pick a time period. I think a year is probably a fair time period. So if it, you don't want to look at, you know, something seasonal like the holidays or whatnot. Make sure you're looking at something that's going to cover a couple of seasons and all of that. So look at maybe a year in your Google analytics and see what your top posts are.
So sticking with our banana bread example, if banana bread was on there, number 1, and I love. This is where you have to kind of think, because if you look and you are ranking number one for banana bread on Google, you don't want to go in there and go crazy with changing stuff. But you might look at that post and say, I know I'm ranking number 1, but I could add more content in here that would be helpful or so, and so is asking me a question about this and I think it should really be in there.
And in turn, if you add that content to it, it's already a high traffic generating post, then you're going to have more content and your ads are going to fill in there. And you're going to ultimately make a little bit more money. If you have ads on your site, or maybe you're going to add something in related to an affiliate partner of yours, and that's a great place to have that and make a little bit of money from that.
So I think that those are kind of like quick little things that you can do. Um, But I, I say to look at like your top 25 posts and kind of go through there. You might have posts that are really old and haven't been touched and are still way up there. So that's a really great place to start. And I found that most people that I give that advice to, they, they have quite a checklist to go through.
Even if it's just something like creating a new Pinterest image. I mean, I think we've all heard about Pinterest saying that we need new fresh content. That's, that's an update to a post that you can make that can be really helpful. So. I think that's a great place to start.
The other way that you can kind of look at this is there are ways in Google Search Console to look at where you are basically on like the top of page 2. I think that that's a great way to kind of look at that. It's a great place to look and see. You know, what can I add to kind of bump this up and get it on page 1 where we really want it to be so that people are seeing it. So that's another place that you could start.
Or if I love this banana bread recipe and it is the best and I don't care that only 2 people have ever seen it. I have to update this because I want to share it with the world then, you know, go with that, I think that as food bloggers are, it's kind of a piece of us that is creative by nature. So if you really love something, then I think that you should share it.
So you can kind of go whatever path at that. I know that was kind of like a roundabout answer, but it's true. There's really no wrong way to do it.
Jason: I feel like when someone says this is the specific thing you should do, normally they aren't giving you all of all the information. So I liked it that you said here's a few different directions you can take it.
And I think when you talk about taking your top posts, I think that also makes a lot of sense that a lot of the people finding you through Google are normally new people. And if it is an older post with older pictures, and if bloggers are anything like me, my photography, my writing, my recipe writing everything has improved a lot over the last 10 years of doing this. I'm a lot better than I used to be.
And if their first impression is now me from 5 years ago or 8 years ago, that's probably not the best first impression compared to what I could make if I spend a little time updating it. And even if the same amount of traffic is coming in, those people might go to other pages on my site might become fans or buy cookbooks because I'm providing a much better kind of first impression.
Elizabeth: Totally agree.
Jason: And I really liked that idea of the second option. You said of finding those pages that are doing good, but not quite as great as you want them to be and then just see what you can do to kind of bump them over the edge.
Elizabeth: I've had a lot of posts that kind of fall in that they're popular, but they're also on page 2, but they're also something that I love so they're a little bit of each. Um, and when you kinda just give it a little bit of love and make it just an overall better post. You'd be so surprised because one Google sees it and they're like, Oh, okay this is all that better let's bump it up. But 2, you have all the power of like your audience that is like it realizes, Oh, this is a really great recipe, this looks delicious. A lot of the time. I, not that I am my audience, but I find I have very similar tastes to my audience. Um, so they, what I really love, even if it's something that maybe has like zero search volume and whatnot, it might be something that really resonates with them so they're going to make it.
Jason: I think that's important to differentiate mentally the types of posts that you have, that some posts are kind of SEO bringing in new people posts, and then there's those posts that are more community building that. You know, someone new might never see it, but the people that follow you, it's going to resonate with them and make them, it's the reason that they follow you in a lot of cases. And it might just be for your community, but making sure that those are providing the information that your community wants as well is really important.
Elizabeth: I love that, like idea of having kind of two different types of posts that make a lot of sense.
Jason: I have to give credit, I stole that from a Tim Schmoyer, he talked about it for creating YouTube videos. That when he does it, he has 3 types of videos. He has the community building, which are just kind of inside things are not as well produced but they really resonate with your community. He has the discovery videos, which are the ones that would be like SEO posts on your blog that they're designed to bring in new people. And then he has the sales videos, which are ones that kind of market as eBooks or services and there they are much less frequent, but they're the ones that kind of drive his income.
And I thought I'd never thought of breaking it down like that before. So it really stuck with me.
Elizabeth: That's super interesting. And now that you're saying that I kind of like can envision what posts go, where and how they're bucketed on my site, which is kind of cool.
Jason: I always would recommend people like it's not all about SEO, you need to like, make sure you're writing for your community. And I never quite realized, like those could just be 2 separate types of content, you know?
Jason: And it just clicked really well for me.
Elizabeth: That's interesting.
Jason: So once you go through, you've added the new stuff, you've posted it on Instagram and Pinterest. Do you have to let Google know or does Google just know everything? Because it's Google in it? You know - it hears all.
Elizabeth: I do usually go into Google Search Console and I will hit their request and back thing. But I don't know that it really makes a difference, but I think it is supposed to be given Google kind of a little bit of a nudge to be like, Hey, check this out you know, we updated it. It's a little bit better, so I don't think it can hurt to do that.
Jason: Perfect. Well, we could talk about this, I'm sure for a few hours, but you have your checklist so people can go on there and they can download the PDF and they should come to Everything Food Conference and go to your panel and hear you talk.
Elizabeth: Both of our panels. We're going to have so much great thing that so many great things to talk about.
Jason: I'm looking forward to that.
Jason: I know one thing that you have a big push on your website when I was doing some research before the interview was growing your email list using lead magnets and a lot of other methods. Is that something you've always done or is it a new focus for you?
Elizabeth: So that's something that I started working on really last year. I had always had an Optin on my site you know, honestly, since the day that I started it back on my 3 WordPress, I had a place where people to join. But there wasn't until last year that I created my first freebie, um, for a free meal plan. And I kind of what I started to realize is the power of email.
Because really what set in stone for me is, I think we have all heard people talking about it and we probably all experienced it. Social media traffic is for most people going down. The algorithms are now pay-to-play where they used to not be. And not that it's a scary thought. It's not a scary thought.
That's fine. I mean, we're all in business to make money and just like Facebook and Instagram are. But the fact that if Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest were to go away tomorrow, I would have no way to contact anyone. It's just a scary, it's a scary thought. So that's why, what really made me push through to, to email.
And when you think about it, email is one of the most personal ways that you can connect to someone as a content creator. You are showing up in their inbox right among all the other things that they have decided are important enough to them, that they can be notified. Whether it's like their family events or other stories that they love or, you know, work. So you're right in there with a mix of important things to them, and they are reading it, I don't care what people say. They are reading it and they are clicking. So really it was just that that kind of pushed me to move forward with it. And then once I realized the potential that it had, I kind of got the email bug and went a little crazy with it. And now I absolutely love email marketing. I totally nerd out over it. And it's my, one of my favorite marketing tools at this point.
Jason: I also am a big fan of email lists and think they're incredibly important. My list is around 20,000 people and we try to pare it back whenever with people that aren't clicking on emails. But it's amazing you send out an email and you get 35% of those people open it up. And about 10% of the overall list will click through to your blog or to cookbook or a launch that you have. And it's, you can't get for most people you can't get for free, um, engagement like that on any of the social media platforms. You know if you have 10,000 people like you on Facebook, you're not going to get three to 4,000 of them reading each post that you put out there.,/P.
Elizabeth: Absolutely not.
Jason: It's also something that I found because you can drive traffic kind of where you want to it's a really good way to do product launches or cookbook launches. If you have sponsored posts for a company that you really want to impress, you can use your newsletter to drive traffic to that sponsored post, and you can really kind of you have this fire hose that you can aim where you want to direct traffic, which is something that you don't have on a lot of other media.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. And even for our affiliate partners, I've found that it's really great for our affiliate marketing too.
Jason: It's a good way to drive, drive people wherever you want to drive them.
Elizabeth: Exactly. And the cool thing about it is that I don't think anyone signs up for an email list and, you know, only expects you to just spit out recipes. They signed up because they, they like you and they want to hear from you, or they thought you had a really great lead magnet. But either way, they said, you know, I want to hear from you.
So, they want to hear about your new recipe, but they might also want to hear about the new grocery delivery that I'm trying. You know, obviously you don't want to go completely into left field, but they want to hear different things from you and learn from you, that's why they're there. So they want you to talk to them.
Jason: It seems much more conversational, which is weird, because it is just broadcasting to them. You can go into more off-topic things because it's not a standalone piece of content, each thing you're saying. Where on a Facebook post, it's going to be standalone and judged on itself. Newsletter you kind of work it into kind of everything that's going on.
Jason: So you said you like to nerd out over it, so what's something that you've found that has really made a big difference that kind of surprised you, that you didn't think would have the effect that it has.
The number one thing that surprised me is that it doesn't have to be hard. I thought that email marketing was going to be this big, scary thing. There's going to be so much work, and this has been so much hype. While I love my email marketing, I don't think I spend more than 30 minutes on it a week. It's a fairly passive thing for me at this point.
But just in terms of getting started, all of my Optins, every single one of them on my site, nothing about them is exclusive. And they are all recipes that if you search around on my site, you're going to find everything. I know some people do have exclusive recipes or things in theirs, but I don't. I have like a paleo Crock-Pot recipe, one, I'm a paleo sheet, pan one. I have a 7-day meal plan. Yet it's formatted differently than you'll find it on my site, but it's the exact same content.
So my first Optin that I ever did was a 7 day meal plan and I just took a bunch of recipes for my site, formatted them nicely and made a meal prep schedule along with the grocery list. It's a little different than what you'll find on my site, but it's all content that's there. I made it in Canva. It took me a couple of hours. I put a pop up on my site and a couple other forms elsewhere. And for a while, that was my only Optin and it brought me thousands of subscribers. And then when I realized I was like wait a second, that really wasn't that hard to do.
And I have a lot of other specific content, like the crockpot one, like the sheet pan line or Keto, or Whole 30 or all these other you know, categories. I said, what if I kind of get a little more specific and make Optins related to these categories that are super popular on my site. And then when I did that, it was just like instant. So now at this point, I mean, I'm getting usually at least 50 different subscribers a day, which I know that some people might seem like a ton of that some people might seem like nothing because I'm sure there are people that are getting even more traffic and more subscribers than I am.
But I think that just the idea that it's not hard. You know, this doesn't have to be revolutionary. And if you just sit down and spend a couple hours doing things, whether it's creating the Optin, but even more important than that, setting up your welcome series.
If I were to walk away from my email tomorrow and not ever send another email again, I'm still confident that I would be bringing in traffic and selling affiliate deals. Because most of my welcome sequences are 3 to 6 months. So people are constantly being fed my content from the day that they sign up, um, to kind of build that relationship and, and to just serve them with what they need.
Jason: You said a lot of different things there that I really like the one,
Elizabeth: Sorry. I'm very chatty. Once I got on, on a topic I can just go.
Jason: It's very valuable information, so that's completely fine.
You talked about reusing content, which I think is something that it's kind of, I refer to it as a superpower. That if the more you reuse your content, the more value you get out of it and the more time that you have, And I think you, as you said, some people look at that and say like, this is available on my website already. Someone's going to be upset if they find out that I'm using it for a lead magnet and that's just almost never the case.
People signing up for your email list are almost always brand new people and they're not going to search through your site for something specific. And they would just want it in the format that they want it delivered to them in. And if you provide that, they're going to be happy. It can be a great way to jumpstart lead magnets or email series, or I've used it to do cookbooks and cooking courses that that content is out there, but in a slightly different format.
And you're honest and upfront with your readers about it. Like, if you want all the recipes from my cookbook, they're all my blog, but you have to search for them. And they're not in an order and they don't have, you know, updated photos and it's not something that you can hold in your hand. But they're there if you want to search for them. But it's a great way to kind of jumpstart your efforts in a lot of different directions.
And you were talking about doing the autoresponder series. Do you want to explain just a little bit about what that is for the people that don't really know what an autoresponder series is? Because they are so powerful.
Elizabeth: They totally are powerful. Kind of like you were saying before, how most of the people that sign up for my email list are people that are new to my site. I get a lot of organic traffic, it's probably 75% of my traffic. So most of these people are just people that are stumbling upon me from Google. So. My welcome series focusing on doing a couple of things. One, no matter what it always starts with that freebie, so whether you got the meal plan or the paleo crockpot book or whatever other free eBook I have, that's the first thing you get.
And in that email, I kind of introduced myself a little bit. So I tell them who I am, what they can expect to hear and explain to them like, Hey, just so you know, you, are going to hear from me because you signed up to get this and you are now on my email list. And as with all my emails, there's an unsubscribe button. So if they just want my free book and they want to hop out of there then cool, that's fine.
So the introduction and the freebie are the first thins and then I tell them what they're going to get. So in that first email I'd say, in a couple days, I'm going to check in with you and I'm going to send you the number one recipe on my site it's the best recipe ever, it's my favorite.
And then a lot of the following emails are most popular recipes on my site. So I know that they're great recipes. I know that people love them. People are looking at them every day and making them, so I just give them the best of the best. I share all of those recipes.
And then I share my affiliate partners. So, you know, I talk about, Oh, well if it's convenience and cooking, you might like Butcher Box, you might like Thrive Market.
Then I also urge them to follow me on social media, which is a kind of a new thing that I just added in there. But I have an email the subject line is something kind of cutesy like, Are we really friends? Or like, Do you want to be friends? Or something like that. And it just says like, Hey, like you're on our email list and this is the best place to be, you get all the good stuff. But if you're on Instagram, you'll see this. If you're on Facebook, you'll see this. If you're on Pinterest, you're see this.
Because again, to your point, they don't know, they've never heard from me, they're new here. So maybe it didn't even occur to them to sign up, to follow them or to click follow on my Instagram when they were on my site.
So those are the, are the main buckets for things that I send out to my email and. I just have them spaced out for her a couple of days, a couple of days apart, and it just goes on and on and on. And when I have a particularly great performing email, I just go ahead and copy, paste it and pop it right into the welcome series. I'm always adding to it. Um, so it just goes on forever.
Jason: It's, they're so powerful when someone comes to your site for the first time, the only way that you have control over basically how you get introduced to them is by getting them to sign up for your newsletter and then having a welcome series.
Otherwise, they're just solely get to know you over time, kind of as they stumble along your site through Google searches and kind of figure you out that way. But when they sign up for that newsletter, you can present yourself in the exact light that you want to present yourself.
And I think a lot of us get so in the weeds of our own website that we think, well, obviously here's where the, my categories are for, you know, pressure cooking and sous vide and grilling. If they want those recipes, they will just go to the categories page and find it. And it's like, no one new on your site knows that you have a categories page. What other recipes you've got, you know, you create, and you tell them that in a email and they go like, Oh, I didn't know that existed. Now I'm going to click through. Now, I'm going to start exploring more. And you can kind of give them almost like a, an intro to your website, which a lot of people will be really interested in it if you have the type of content that they want.
Elizabeth: It's actually a good point that I forgot to include. I tried to include questions at the end of my emails, which they don't always get answered, but. What you said about the categories thing is what sparked into my mind.
I'm a health, food blogger. So I'll ask, do you follow a specific diet? And then, you know, someone will write back to me and say, Oh, I'm a Keto. I follow the keto diet. I'm like, cool. Here's the page with all the Keto recipes on my site. And then I also explained to them, We have icons at the top of all our posts, Ks for Keto and you can also look under substitutions. If it's not in there, just send me a message. Normally I can help you make it Keto. And you'd be shocked at those responses that I get back from people are like, Oh my gosh, thank you so much. It's so helpful.
Because I think that people don't always register, like this email is coming from an actual person. And so when they hear back from you and they just. It takes me 2 seconds to reply with that information because I do know my site so well that they don't. So having that info for them, I think one, it, it will, like you said, make them go over and click around that too. It's just like, Oh wow. Like they listen to me and the Clean Couple took the time. She's a real person. She actually wrote that email. How nice of her, you know?
Jason: We spend so much time trying to put our voice into our recipe, headers and our blog posts. And a lot of my first emails say, you know, what's your biggest challenge? I do a lot of sous vide blogging. So my first email says, what's your biggest challenge right now in sous vide?
And I reply to each one of those emails that I get in and say, here's an answer to it on my site. And I, over the years have built up answers to pretty much every question people have. And if they don't, that's a perfect post for my website that I can then point them to. And it's just like you said, it builds that rapport with them going, Oh, this is a person, it's not just a computer sending me stuff.
Elizabeth: And that's a great idea to use, to kind of decide what kind of content you're going to create. And that's awesome. But like you said, then not only are you being helpful and you're benefiting from it, ultimately, because they're going to go on your site.
But beyond that, it's like you said, it solidifies that you're a person because then the next time bot, when their friend gets a sous vide cooker, I'm not even sure of the correct terminology. I should probably just call it sous vide; I clearly don't know anything about sous vide. But they're going to be like, Oh, you have to check out this website. It's about sous vide website out there, they're so helpful, they have so many tips, you know. So it's kind of just fostering your brand awareness and you know, how much people are going to love you and your content.
Jason: There's so much talk about trying to stand out in this really crowded marketplace of blogging and social media, and one great way to do it is to actually have a conversation like that with, with a potential reader. Like it does people remember me that I see at conferences or that I talk to in different groups. And they're like, Oh, remember like 6 years ago, I sent you an email about something. And I'm like, of course I remember your email 6 years ago. But it sticks out in them and they don't remember any of the other bloggers that were out at that time. But because of that personal interaction, they are recommending me to people and they're big fan of mine now, which is it's a good feeling.
And it makes you feel good about kind of you're helping these people's lives, which is really cool.
Elizabeth: Yeah, so true.
Jason: So one of the things we're all blogging for at least listen to this podcast are trying to make money and create a business and living off of it. Nothing wrong with doing it as a hobby but if you want to make money and turn into a business, you have to focus on it.
You have a lot of different income streams, whether it's recipe and blogging related, or if it's photography and consulting related. How have you kind of decided how to diversify your streams? And I assume you think that's a pretty important thing, so can you talk a little bit about that?
Elizabeth: I definitely think it's a very important thing. You have to have more than 1 stream of income. I think with food blogging, the great thing about that is that it's not difficult to have more than 1 stream of income. There's a lot of different opportunities for you as a food blogger.
My main sources of income are through my ad revenue, my affiliate partnerships, um, my eBooks that I sell on my site, and consulting or freelance work. So I do blog coaching and consulting, and I don't do it as much, but I do freelance work for brands and businesses, whether it's, you know, product shots or recipe development for their, their sites and social channels.
So. That's kind of my main bucket. And honestly, I've just found these things organically, so, Oh, in sponsored content. Hello. That's a huge one too. But all of those have come to be really through just blogging.
You know, I would write a blog post when I first started, and I would talk about how much I love Bob Darnell. And then I was like, you know what? People are reading this and people are seeing that I'm using Bob Darnell, I'm going to reach out to them. And you know, I've been working with Bob Darnell for 3 or 4 years now at this point. Now they're, they're 1 of my biggest sponsors and 1 of my greatest partners.
Same thing with an affiliate relationship. I use ButcherBox personally. I bought it myself. I was like, this is really awesome. I was recommending it to friends and family and family members. And then I realized, Oh, wait a second affiliate marketing. Hello, I can make money for referring this. I think the best way to go about finding those income streams is organic.
If you love a brand and you think that they are probably going to maybe need some photos on their site, where you look at their social media and you're like, oh my God, that looks terrible. Take, take 10 minutes. Put their product out, take 5 photos, send it to them and say, Hey so, and so we love your brand, we've been using it forever. I was just taking some practice shots and this is what I took. And I would love to help you if you're ever looking for a social media or content creator. Maybe they have $0 dollars to do that right now. But you better believe that the second that they have money to get images, they're going to be like, Oh, remember that person that send us those images they were great and we want to work with them because clearly they like our brand.
And so just do things organically and reach out to whether it be brands or affiliate partners or your content. Be organic and be true to yourself. And I think that after the money will just follow and fall into your lap. But that I think is the best way to kind of find the different sources.
Jason: It's much, much easier in my opinion, to take something that you really like, and then share that with your audience, rather than find something that has a high affiliate payout or something, and then try to talk yourself into why you would want to recommend it.
Elizabeth: It's so tough. And I feel like people can sniff that out from a mile away. If I were to turn around and I, this is no disrespect towards these brands, but if I were to turn around tomorrow and partner with one of the meal kit delivery things, people would be like, what the heck are you doing?
Because I talk about shopping on a budget. I talk about how easy it is to cook with whatever you have on hand. I talk about meal planning and only going to the grocery store once and using, you know, things in my fridge and pantry. If I started talking about one of those meal delivery services where it's, you know, some of them are 15 to $20 a meal, my audience would be like, this is so fake. There's no way that Liz is paying to use this. You know, it would just come up as really inauthentic.
For some bloggers, that's a great partnership and they might make a lot of sense for them. For me, it doesn't. Even though the affiliate payout might be huge, if you're not really using it at the end, don't authentically believe in it they're going to know.
Jason: I think it's so important to find things that you personally like and care about and think it would be good for your audience. I always, the mental thing that I do is, I always picture that I'm writing an email to my mother-in-law about the product and how would I explain to her whether or not she should use it. And that's, I have to stare at her across the table at Thanksgiving, like I'm not going to do something that I don't believe in. So that's how I try to. share with my fans as well.
Elizabeth: It's funny because my friends and my family will joke. Like, would you really use that? And like, yeah, I really do. I would not ever talk about things.
I get, and I'm sure you do too, countless emails from random products and random things that they want me to try. And I'm just like, no, thank you. I'm sure it's great, but I really just have no interest in that. Because I don't want to not talk about something unless I absolutely love it.
Jason: And that helps if you focus on a few things that you really like, as opposed to recommend a ton of products, you're not overwhelming your fans. You're saying, you know, here's like the 10 things that I use a lot in my daily life and it stands out, I think a lot more to them.
I think that in order to really be successful with an affiliate product, you have to constantly be talking about it. And not like in a shoving it down their throats marketing kind of way, but just an organic way.
For example, ButcherBox is one of my largest affiliate partners. And you know, when I'm cooking dinner, I just am like, Oh, this is ButcherBox chicken, like we got it in our box. I'll put a link, you know, in my stories or if someone asks me for something, I just recommended organically. It's LinkedIn, all of my blog posts because it's just what I use.
So it's a lot easier to kind of build that frequency with your audience. If you're constantly talking about something and if you have 40 different affiliate partners, there's no way that you could talk about them all the time.
Jason: So if someone has a few different things that they like, they found some affiliate programs for them, what are some ways that you found that is really good to kind of promote these programs to your audience?
Elizabeth: I think that's like a big part of it is frequency and constantly talking about it to your audience. So whether it's showing how to use the product in your daily life, and this does not have to be some high quality production, it can literally just be in your Instagram story stories like, Oh, I'm cooking with this, it's so good, it's my favorite, whatever.
You can say things like you know, I think that the best thing to do if you don't have the Swipe Up on Instagram. I think the Swipe Up is like way over glorified, but if you have, you could put a poll to ask do you want me to send you the coupon code and have people vote and manually send them the link in your code?
Back to email, email is huge. It's very easy for me to incorporate my affiliates into my emails. Um, linking them frequently in your blog posts is great. And writing a great keyword rich blog post about them. Um, if you Google, ButcherBox, my blog posts for them comes up because I think that it's like, I have nothing more to say about ButcheBox.
If someone asks me like my, my mom actually asked me about it earlier today and I was like, click here and read this post, it has every single question that you could possibly think of, I've answered it. Because I had taken the time. And as people have asked me questions, like, how does it compare to Costco? Or how does it compare to this? How does it arrive? All those questions are answered in there. So I think that if you really love something, write a really great keyword, rich SEO, blog post um, and that can be a great source of traffic for your affiliate partner.
Jason: You also put out a few eBooks as well, right? How's your experience with those?
Elizabeth: EBooks are definitely not as big of a revenue stream for me as I would like them to be and that's by no fault other than my own. I don't talk about them enough. I don't promote them enough, but I do have 2 eBooks. I have one that's a paleo slow cooker recipes guide and then I have 1 that's a 28-day healthy eating meal plan. And it's designed for people who are looking to eat paleo or whole 30 and week by week it has the meal planning schedule all the recipes in a grocery shopping list and just kind of make it super easy. So if you say tomorrow, I want to eat healthy, like there's no question to ask. You look at this book and it's got everything you need. So those are the 2 that I had.
Something that has been really great for me and then I wish I did sooner was a trip wire. Whereas some people call them like a, like an upsell. So when someone subscribes to my email list, the landing page that it will take them to is a special offer page for my 28-Day Meal Planning Guide.
So I think it's like $43 regularly priced. But when you sign up for my email list, it, it trips you over to this new page where you can get an add on for $9.99, it's something like 75% off. And that has been really performing really high-performing because it's directly related to my Optin. So my Optin is a 7-day meal plan and if you buy the guide it's 28 day meal plan, so people are just like, Oh, for 10 bucks, why not? Why wouldn't I get a full month of this?
And it's actually really interesting because again, they probably don't even know me and they are still purchasing it. So it's funny to me that I get more sales from people that don't know me than I get from my audience. It just goes to show that I really should be promoting it to my audience more because. I think they would probably love it.
But it's been fun. And I will say though that my eBooks are things that are my Keto books are things that are exclusive and that are on my site. That's just kind of the approach I've taken with that. But I don't think, like you mentioned before, they're cookbooks, I don't think there's anything wrong about selling eBooks with the content that's already on your site because people just might like the format better. And that's something that I thought of, but just quite honestly, haven't put into place.
Jason: I'm curious. I always ask people that had eBooks out, but not printed books. Why did you stop at eBook and not actually put out like a self-published cookbook?
Elizabeth: It's again on my to do list. I would really, really want a cookbook. I probably will go the self-publishing route because I've gotten a few cookbook offers and they have just been terrible.
And when I did the math on the amount of time that it's going to take me to create it, it's, you know, I can make 10 times that if I were to post something on my blog. So honestly, the main reason that I haven't gone with that is because the money hasn't been there. Um, and. I personally have to, I think I need to do my own experiment and take the time to really sell my eBook as if it were a kind of book and see how that pays off before I kind of go into self-publishing, but I, for sure want to do it maybe.
It's only March, but maybe, maybe by the end of this year, I would love. I would love to do if not next year.
Jason: Nice. I always like to ask people just I've self-published a lot of cookbooks. So I'm always curious when you go there.
Elizabeth: I know I was actually going to email you after the show to kind of pick your brain and I would see if you have any resources to check out.
Jason: Yep. I'd be happy to help out. It's I'm just a big proponent of that, that if you've gone through the effort of writing the book already, pretty much, turning it into a printed book and maybe flushing it out a little bit is, it's a small amount of work compared to doing the initial work, to get it out there.
And I did a poll in my Facebook group and I said like, how many PDF cookbooks do you own? How many printed cookbooks do you own. And it was, the average person had I think 1 1/2 PDF cookbooks and 150 printed cookbooks.
Elizabeth: That's so interesting.
Jason: My favorite thing was a lot of food bloggers just put out eBooks and so I posted this in a, a food blogger group as well. And the first 3 responses were, why would I have just, why would I have eBook cookbooks? They're all printed. Like the first three people responding. And I was like, Well, that's why I'm asking just curious. Um, but yeah, that's been my biggest thing I've seen so few people actually buy PDF cookbooks compared to printed books that it can be hard.
Elizabeth: I mean, I personally, I am never bought a PDF cookbook in my life and I would never use it. Because for me, I want to hold something, I want it on my counter or in my cookbook stand. I cook from cookbooks all the time, but I've never cooked from a downloadable PDF. It's just foreign nature to me.
Jason: I'm the exact same way. So thanks for letting me pick on you I wanted to ask about that. I'll also put a link in the show notes to the page on Makin' Bacon about, uh, self-publishing cookbooks, if people are interested. But me and you can also talk later. I'm happy to answer any questions about it.
Jason: So you also do something that I think a lot of bloggers don't think of enough and that's using the skills you've developed over the time that you've been food blogging and basically consulting with them using those to sell services, to either brands or other food bloggers. How did you get into doing brand work consulting with them and becoming a food blogging consultant?
Elizabeth: So with the working with brands, that was just something, again, that kind of came up organically. Whenever I would pitch a brand, I would say, you know, and I also do this, if you're not doing sponsored content, if you need photos or recipes for your website, I'd be happy to help you with that.
And that resonated with a lot of brands that I feel like kind of weren't at the point of being ready to do sponsored content. So a lot of smaller brands knew that they needed really beautiful photos for their Instagram or for their website, but they weren't ready to do the sponsored stuff. So instead they could take that money and work with me in that way. So. I would kind of do that when I was pitching.
Or when brands would reach out to me on the flip side to do sponsored content, I would say, you know, if you really liked my work, but they wouldn't have a budget. And I would say to them, if you really liked my work, you know, this might be a better option. We could work together, and you can use the photos for that rather than, you know doing sponsored stuff.
The other way that I found a lot of those brands is by going to trade shows. But I would go to fancy food show or for my niche, Natural Products Expo East or West, or the big natural food trade shows. So I would go there and fancy food, a lot of the food isn't super healthy. So when I would go there, I'd go with the intent of pitching photography services.
So I would just go to them and I would say, Hey, you know, I really like your product. It's really delicious. Do you ever need food photos? Would love to get your contact. And you know, when you're at a trade show like that, and there's a million people coming to the booth, you're not selling anything. But when you send your follow up email, that's, you know, when you can show your portfolio and kind of connect to there. And I found with some of my biggest clients there, I mean, I had a client 2 years ago that meetup or most 25% of my income. And it was just from a cold pitch like that, walking up to them at a trade show. So you never know who you're going to bump into and what they're going to need.
Jason: I feel like it can be so hard to try to figure out what brands need help or there's so many brands out there. And the brands at trade shows are there to meet people and to meet potential customers and meet potential business partners. It just kind of narrows it down to a lot of them are interested in talking to people like, like a blogger. So it's a lot easier for me. I went to Fresh Summit, I think was the name of it. And it was so much easier to be able to meet brands there. Because that's why they're literally why they are there is to meet them.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. And like you said, I mean, you never really know who knows. They might have a photographer in house and sometimes you'd say that to some of them, then that's what they tell you and you go, okay, cool. It was really nice to connect with you and you take their card anyways, because you know what you never know.
Jason: And as you said a lot of bloggers don't realize that you can get, press passes to a lot of these conferences out there. It's just email them. And some of them will have their requirements on their site, but you can get free tickets to a lot of these types of expos and events out there.
And it can be a great way to meet brands at any of those, especially when you have, you know, press on your badge makes a kind of a good first impression.
Elizabeth: If you are on the East coast, like we are Fancy Food is in New York and this year Expo East. Even if you aren't health, food focus, there's a lot of different things there. Um, it's in Philadelphia, but they're, they're everywhere. They're all over the country. So definitely look and see, you know, which ones fit your niche.
Jason: A lot of places have smaller food events too. Like we have, um, Food Loves Tech in New York and it's just like a small, any place for that booths. Basically, they're there basically to meet people.
Elizabeth: You can even go to your local farmer's market. Because I think that small businesses, there's a big opportunity for working with them because so many of them are people that are just passionate. You know, we're just talking specifically to food. They're super passionate about the food that they grow. So you can really help them. I think, I mean, I don't, you are not going to become a millionaire by doing photos for farmer's market brands. It's just, there isn't that huge pocket of money there. But you know, it could be a really cool thing to do. Um, and just fun and different from what you're, what you're doing.
That's a lot of the reason why I really enjoy doing freelance work because many of the products weren't necessarily healthy or things that I could otherwise talk about or cook with on my own site. So it was fun to be able to create more indulgent, delicious recipes, like desserts and Mac and cheese, because, you know, I like cooking that too, but it's not what I share.
So it's a cool opportunity if you kind of want a different round to play in. And the same goes for restaurant photography, it's a whole other ball game, but if you enjoy that and you, it's a lucrative industry.
Jason: I like the point of going to farmer's markets as well, that if you do want to get more into this type of consulting work, whether that's photography or social media consulting or any sort of working with brands consulting, it's going to be hard for you to get a partnership with Bob's Red Mill out of the gate. They're going to say, Oh, well, what have you done? What past projects can we see some of your metrics? And you say, well, I've never done this. I have none of that information.