How Amy Whiteford Makes $100k/Year Using SEO to Share Kid-Friendly Nutritious Recipes
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When Amy Whiteford became a mom, she drew on her expertise in food science and childhood nutrition to feed her sons healthy meals. When people started asking her how she got them to eat so well, she decided to start sharing her ideas. Healthy Little Foodies was born.
Even though Amy was a bit late to learn about SEO, she still managed to build a massive following on social media. Today she’s earning $100k a year, primarily through ads, while also giving her full attention to her two sons.
Keep reading to find out:
- Why she started her blog
- How she used to diversify her income
- Where her income currently comes from
- How much she works on her business
- How much traffic she's getting
- How she used to drive traffic
- Her thoughts on SEO
- How she builds links
- Her content creation strategy
- How she grows her email list
- Her favorite resources and tools
- Her biggest challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- What she wishes she knew when she started
- Her main mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Amy Whiteford
I’m Amy, a mum of two boys, aged 11 and 8. Originally from Scotland, my family and I relocated to Sydney, Australia in 2016, where we are all enjoying the sun, sea, and Australian way of life.
With a background in food science (BSc) and a certification in childhood nutrition, I spent several years working in the food industry, developing products for the major UK supermarkets. I then later studied for a postgraduate in education and worked as a primary school teacher for several years.
After the birth of my eldest son, I made the decision to stay at home with him. When he started solids, it led me to further explore my passion for food and nutrition. A couple of years later, I started my food blog, Healthy Little Foodies. That was in December of 2013.
Why She Created Her Website
When my eldest son, Finlay, was around 2 years old, I was often asked how I managed to get him to eat so well and for recipes and healthy snack ideas.
It was then I realized there was a need for accessible, nutritious recipe ideas for babies and young kids. That's when I decided to document recipes and ideas on a blog, which I initially named "Feeding Finn."
As my blog grew and I started feeding my younger son, Rory, as well, I decided to rebrand as Healthy Little Foodies. It has been a fun journey and I'm thrilled that it has now become my job.
How Much She’s Earning
I generate my primary income through ads via Mediavine, which allows me to earn over $100k/year.
While I used to engage in a significant amount of sponsored work, I now only collaborate with companies on an ad hoc basis. I only work with companies that align with my brand, particularly Australian fruit and vegetable companies and kitchen appliance brands.
Although I don’t actively pursue sponsored opportunities, I happily undertake client work if the right project comes my way.
During the early stages when my blog wasn’t yet providing a full-time income, I also developed recipes and reviewed kitchen products for other websites.
At that time, I calculated what I would earn in my previous job and deducted what the childcare expenses would be and decided that as long as I surpassed that amount, I was happy to dedicate myself to building my blog.
With regard to pursuing PR opportunities, I was signed up to some PR companies in Australia and they reached out to me with potential projects. I either do sponsored work under my own brand, Healthy Little Foodies, or create recipes, photos, and videos for the brand to use without my name attached.
As for how much I work on my business, this really fluctuates from week to week.
Now that both of my children attend school, I dedicate school hours to my blog; however, various school events and volunteering commitments often arise. On average I spend 15 to 25 hours a week working on the blog, but during the school holidays I have fewer hours dedicated to blogging.
I purposely take most of January off, coinciding with the summer vacation in Australia, to prioritize family time.
How Much Traffic Her Site Gets
During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, my blog experienced a surge in traffic, reaching over 1 million page views per month.
However, as the world has gradually returned to normal, my blog’s traffic has seen a decline, and I am currently averaging around 600k page views a month.
Despite the decline I am trying to remain positive and I am working to build my traffic back up, especially my American traffic, which has a much higher RPM.
The Importance of SEO
When I first started blogging, the concept of SEO hadn’t even crossed my radar.
Back then, my main sources of traffic were Pinterest and Facebook. I believed that the key to success lay in creating unique and innovative recipes, rather than focusing on recipes that people were actively searching for.
It wasn’t until I had a site audit conducted by Casey Markee from Media Wyse that I started to grasp the importance of optimizing my blog for SEO. This audit turned out to be the most valuable investment I have made for my blog.
I believe I got my first SEO audit with Casey Markee in 2018. I invested in the audit after hearing him on blogging podcasts and seeing his name pop up in food blogging Facebook groups. I didn’t start using SEO strategies until after that audit.
I think I have been lucky with Pinterest, being an early adopter of it. I actually didn’t do much, I just shared pins when I posted a new recipe and dropped pins into Facebook sharing groups that were quite big at the time.
Later I started looking at my analytics and made sure to frequently repin my top-performing pins.
With Facebook, I took a Facebook course by Rachel Miller which helped at the time to increase my following and traffic. I found that sharing 5 posts a day worked at the time. Two of my own recipes, two viral recipes from other bloggers, and a funny meme that increased engagement on my page.
I also saw that “Hand and Pans” videos were really taking off on Facebook and tried to make at least one a week to share.
I now concentrate on keyword research to identify relevant keywords that align with my content and are less competitive terms. I make sure to optimize each post and try to deliver high-quality, valuable content that meets the specific needs of my target audience, and have recently started focusing on internal linking more.
Additionally, I have signed up to NerdPress for site speed, image optimization, and ongoing technical tasks that help to enhance the overall user experience. My search traffic is now around 75%.
Link building isn’t something that I have concentrated on, although I know I should. However, I have adopted a few strategies to generate backlinks.
For instance, I engage in Facebook groups where other bloggers are actively requesting recipes for round-ups, allowing me to share links.
Additionally, I have signed up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to connect with potential opportunities, although I have had limited success thus far. I prioritize producing valuable and shareable content and aim to organically attract backlinks.
How Amy Creates Content
I now always start my content creation process with keyword research and competitor analysis, drawing inspiration from the recipes that currently work well on my blog, reader requests via email, or ideas from social media.
This helps me build a list of ideas that I document, noting their search volume and competition.
Once I have chosen my recipe, I look at the commonly asked questions and list them so that I can answer them as I am testing the recipe.
Recipe development can involve me making the recipe several times to ensure that it works. I then make the recipe again to take photos and to shoot a video.
I find the questions:
- Through the “People Also Ask” section on Google
- Based on previous questions that I have been asked on similar recipes or via social media
- By looking at who’s ranking for the keyword and looking at their comments section
While I currently tackle one recipe at a time, I really want to transition into batching similar recipes, and streamlining my workflow by dedicating specific days to recipe testing, shooting, filming, and writing.
At the end of the day, it’s just me working on the blog.
Amy’s Email List
While I am not currently doing anything to focus on its growth at the moment, I do offer a free ebook entitled How to Raise a Healthy Little Foodie as an incentive for signing up.
I have advertised this on my homepage and next to my search bar. Additionally, there is a call-to-action just above each recipe card. Currently, I’m generating around 400 new email sign-ups per month.
I use Mailerlite to manage my list. I keep on top of my list by regularly culling it by looking at open rates.
If someone hasn’t opened an email for six months, then I remove them. With my niche, I find people are interested for a few years, during the baby/toddler phase, and then move on.
Amy’s Favorite Resources
Some of my favorite podcasts include Niche Pursuits, Food Blogger Pro, Eat Blog Talk, and The Blogging Genius Podcast.
Additionally, I find the TopHatRank episodes on YouTube to be invaluable for enhancing my skills and knowledge.
To stay up-to-date and inspired in the world of child nutrition, I enjoy listening to The Nourished Child and Nutrition for Littles.
Her Top 3 Tools
My go-to tools are:
KeySearch - I love that KeySearch provides a range of helpful keyword research features and data at an affordable price point.
Canva - I love Canva's wide range of templates, icons, and design elements you can use to edit and make blog images. It has great social media integration, too, and you can easily create social media posts specifically tailored to each platform’s dimensions and share them straight from the app.
Chat GPT/Google Bard - I have recently started using these AI tools in blogging. I find it invaluable when I have writer’s block, condensing lengthy text, and generating social media captions.
Her Biggest Challenge To Date
One of the biggest challenges is effectively managing the balance between family life and running a business from home.
Being in a home environment, distractions are inevitable, and the perception that I am always available can pose challenges to maintaining focus and productivity.
Her Most Important Accomplishment
One of my most significant accomplishments has been the ability to be a full-time mum to my two boys while also bringing home a substantial income. This achievement allows me to be fully present in their lives, attending sporting events and school activities, and being available for pick-ups and drop-offs.
Balancing motherhood with running a blog brings fulfillment in my personal life but also provides a sense of accomplishment in my work life.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
Looking back, one thing I wish I had known from the beginning of my blogging career is the importance of SEO.
It took me several years to realize that creating recipes without considering search volume was a missed opportunity.
If I had understood the power of SEO earlier, I could have focused my efforts on developing recipes that align with what new parents are actively searching for, ultimately driving more organic traffic to my blog.
Her Biggest Mistake
The biggest mistake I have made on my entrepreneurial journey was not treating my blog like a business from the start. While I worked diligently on the blog, I often allowed it to take a backseat as I dealt with various other responsibilities.
Another substantial mistake is not seeking and hiring help. The idea of delegating tasks and expanding my team is daunting, but I am aware that doing so could greatly elevate my business. It is a lesson I am still learning and actively working towards implementing.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Be dedicated, passionate, and persistent in your new business adventure. Be patient and stay committed.
Learn and adapt, educate yourself, listen to podcasts, read blog posts, and invest in audits and courses where needed. Be willing to adapt to changes and embrace new opportunities.
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