How Elysia Cartlidge Earns $15k/Month From SEO Traffic To Her Side Hustle Recipe Site
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Elysia Cartlidge is living proof that success will come if you work hard and don't give up.
As a registered dietician with a full-time corporate job and two small kids, Elysia had a full plate and not much time. But she started her website, Haute & Healthy Living, originally as a hobby. A few years later, when she realized she could monetize it, she shifted her focus to healthy recipes, doubled down on SEO, and worked extremely hard on the weekends and when her kids were napping or sleeping.
Today she has a thriving website earning up to $15k per month.
Keep reading to find out:
- Why she started her blog
- What happened after she took her first blogging course
- How long it took her to join Mediavine
- Where her income comes from
- How much she works on her site
- Her marketing strategies
- Her thoughts on SEO and social media
- How she approaches keyword research and link building
- How she creates content
- Her favorite resources and tools
- Her biggest challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- Her main mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
- Meet Elysia Cartlidge
- Why She Created Haute and Healthy Living
- How Much Money She’s Making
- Elysia’s Marketing Strategy
- Her Thoughts on SEO and Social Media
- Her Content Creation Process
- Her Email List
- Elysia’s Favorite Resources
- Her Top Tools
- Her Biggest Challenge
- Her Most Impressive Accomplishment
- What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
- Her Biggest Mistake
- Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Meet Elysia Cartlidge
My name is Elysia, and I’m a wife and mother to two little boys, Leo and Max, who are 5 and 2 ½ years old. I have a Master's in applied nutrition and have been a registered dietitian for 11 years. I was a retail dietitian for 8 years before making the decision to quit and run my online business full-time in January 2022.
Why She Created Haute and Healthy Living
I decided to create my website Haute & Healthy Living, back in 2015 strictly as a hobby. I had just started my first corporate job as a dietitian and was looking for a creative outlet to work on outside of my day job.
When I first launched my website, it was intended to be a lifestyle blog. I posted about recipes, fitness, home decor, DIY projects, and beauty – pretty much all the things that I loved. I never had any plan to turn my website into a business.
I posted about random topics for about 8 months and then I completely stopped posting on my blog during 2016 and 2017 because I got engaged and was busy with wedding planning. Then shortly after the wedding, I got pregnant and had no energy or desire to blog.
During my maternity leave in 2018 with my first son, I decided to start dipping my toes in the world of blogging again. My mom sent me a link to a course called Elite Blog Academy, and I decided to take the course since I had some time while my baby was sleeping. Through the course, I learned that you could monetize a blog and turn it into a business, which to me was completely mind-blowing!
From that point on, I made it a goal of mine that I would monetize my blog and one day quit my job and blog full-time. My husband, family, and friends were supportive, but I think everyone questioned if you can actually make money from a blog. I made it my personal mission to prove that I could do it.
I niched down to just posting healthier recipes and started implementing some of the strategies from the course. I managed to grow my blog traffic to a point where I qualified for Mediavine a year later, in March 2019.
That was the game changer. Since being with Mediavine, my monthly revenue has continued to grow to the point where I was able to quit my full-time job after my second maternity leave in January 2022.
Although I started out covering a wide range of topics, I now focus on posting easy and healthy recipes for busy families.
How Much Money She’s Making
As I mentioned, every month my blog revenue continues to grow, but it’s currently bringing in about 10-15K per month, depending on the month. I’m on track to make around $130-150k this year.
The majority of my revenue comes from ads, but I do make some money from selling my ebooks (a few hundred dollars per month) and from affiliate marketing as well (around $100/per month).
I will also launch another website in the next couple of months, which I hope to monetize in the next couple of years to help further diversify my income.
Although I launched my website in 2015, I started truly taking it seriously and treating it more like a business in 2018, so it’s taken me about 5 years to reach this revenue level.
I had to work on it very much part-time during this time period since I was also working full-time at my corporate job and tending to two young children.
On average, I probably work on my business 35 hours per week, though it varies weekly depending on how much my kids are home with me.
Elysia’s Marketing Strategy
I don’t really have any unique marketing strategy that I’m using. My goal is always to produce high-quality content and to use keyword research to help people find my content. That’s my primary marketing strategy.
I’m always trying to improve my food photography as well, which can help with marketing since people will be more likely to want to try a recipe if it looks good.
Finally, I use Pinterest to help share my content, which also brings in some traffic.
Her Thoughts on SEO and Social Media
SEO is incredibly important for my business since most of my traffic comes from search engines.
Aside from Pinterest (which I outsource), I currently don’t use much social media to grow my website. If you saw my number of followers, you probably would think that my website isn’t very successful since I have less than 5000 followers on Instagram and Facebook combined and don’t even have a TikTok account.
I decided to stop posting on Instagram a little over a year ago and only post on FB when I think of it. I found that social media was a major time suck, the algorithms kept changing, and the ROI wasn’t there. So I switched gears and focused the majority of my time on SEO and developing blog content, and that’s when I started seeing the most growth.
If you compare this January and February to the same time last year, my traffic is up about 80%. The moral of the story is you can still be successful and see growth without having a massive following, so don’t get caught up in the vanity metrics.
I search for my initial ideas using keyword research to determine which recipes to develop. I implement strategies from Stupid Simple SEO and Cooking with Keywords, two courses I took to help me better understand keyword research.
I try to target lower competition keywords so that people can find my content, rather than going for super competitive keywords, which can be difficult to rank for.
Link building is very important, although I probably haven’t devoted as much time to it as I should, as there aren’t enough hours in the day. I hope that focusing on SEO and getting content to rank in top positions on Google will help organically generate backlinks.
I also provide links to my content in roundup groups that other bloggers can use on their sites if they choose to help with backlinks. Additionally, I use my expertise as an RD to sometimes contribute to publications like Insider, Livestrong, Women’s Health, Eat This, Health, etc., when the opportunity presents itself to help build up authority since these sites have a high DA.
Her Content Creation Process
Currently, I try to post about 2 new recipes and update one old recipe per week. I’d love to do more, but at this point, quality is more important to me than quantity. This amount is what I find to be the most manageable during this busy phase of life with young children.
When it comes to my process, first, I’ll come up with initial recipe ideas by conducting keyword research. Then I’ll select a recipe idea from my list and test it (usually multiple times) and make any necessary tweaks before photographing it, editing the photos, conducting additional keyword research, coming up with a post outline, drafting up the post, and inputting the images.
A lot of work goes into creating each post, so it’s definitely more than just coming up with a recipe and posting it on the blog.
Her Email List
I do have an email list that I email weekly. I mostly grow it by using opt-ins on my site. People who choose to subscribe will be added to my email list.
Elysia’s Favorite Resources
Some of my favorite podcasts are EatBlogTalk, the Blogging Millionaire, and Food Blogger Pro. I also like the TopHatRank webinars for learning about best practices for SEO.
Her Top Tools
I use KeySearch for keyword research and find that it’s affordable without being overly complicated like some of the other tools out there.
I also like Asana for building my content calendar since I can easily move things around.
Finally, I use Excel spreadsheets. I find tracking my content in spreadsheets is the best way to keep track of content ideas and keywords since I’m constantly adding new ideas.
Her Biggest Challenge
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is staying up to date on the latest best practices, the constant fluctuations with algorithms, and the never-ending Google updates.
In the blogging world, things are constantly evolving, so you have to be prepared for a bit of a roller coaster ride.
Her Most Impressive Accomplishment
My most important accomplishment thus far has been building up my business to the point where I could quit my corporate job after my maternity leave and pursue my online business full-time.
Growing my business to this point was all done while having a full-time job and a very demanding newborn and a toddler. It was not an easy journey, but I feel incredibly blessed knowing that the hard work has paid off and that I now get to wake up every morning and work on something that I’m truly excited about.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I had known that you have to post content that people are searching for. If you fail to do this, chances are people won’t be able to find you, which can definitely slow your growth.
I probably would have been much further ahead if I had known this from the start. But learning and mistakes are all part of the journey!
Her Biggest Mistake
Speaking of mistakes, mine is not focusing on SEO sooner. In the beginning, I posted random recipes that had catchy titles, rather than focusing on what people were actually searching for.
When I started focusing on SEO and meeting my readers' needs, my business began to grow. I’m still going back now and fixing the mistakes that I made.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
The key is showing up consistently and putting the work in.
Do more of what’s working and less of what’s not. Through consistency and regularly assessing and refining your strategy, you will eventually find success.
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