How Sarah Bond Grew Her Food Blog to 1M+ Visitors and $30-40k Per Month
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Welcome to another great episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast!
Sarah Bond joins host Jared to discuss her journey building the food blog Live Eat Learn.
The site gets over 1 million monthly visitors, and so she has great insights on content strategy and growth tactics.
Sarah started her blog in 2015 with the goal of turning it into a business. She was inspired by the income reports of other food bloggers like Pinch of Yum and knew, as a nutrition major, it was the niche for her.
She actually originally used the blog to document her process of learning how to cook, focusing on a featured ingredient each week. And over time she's not only learned how to cook but inspired millions of others as well.
Sarah's focus is on creating content clusters around specific ingredients or topics to establish herself as an authority in those areas. She emphasizes the importance of SEO in driving traffic to her blog, noting that Pinterest, which was once a major traffic source, has become less relevant.
And she also highlights the value of recipe development and photography in building trust with her audience. She ensures that her recipes are reliable and visually appealing, using her background in nutrition and photography to create high-quality content.
Her site has been around for a while and has over 1300 posts, so Sarah also has some great, quick tips on updating content. She prioritizes retitling posts to make them more appealing and stand out in search results.
She also likes to add social proof, such as positive reviews, at the top of posts to build credibility. And she adds step-by-step photos and videos to enhance the user experience and keep readers engaged.
Sarah then discusses her email list as a crucial aspect of her business and how it allows her to build relationships with her audience and promote her digital products.
She sends regular emails, including seasonal and evergreen content, to keep subscribers informed and engaged.
In addition to Live Eat Learn, Sarah also started two more niche sites: Brew Buch, focused on kombucha brewing, and Bone Appétreat, her dog food site.
These sites serve specific interests and allow Sarah to diversify her online presence. She plans to continue expanding and refining these sites while continuing to grow Live Eat Learn.
Overall, this is a great episode on how to take a strategic content approach, prioritize quality and expertise, and adapt to changing trends and platforms.
Don't miss it!
Watch The Interview
Topics Sarah Bond Covers
- Starting her blog as a business from the start
- Using the blog to document learning how to cook
- Her nutritional background
- Why she went full-time on her blog
- Site traffic and revenue breakdown
- How she chooses topics
- Content calendar
- Content repurposing strategies
- How she creates her content
- Improving E-E-A-T
- How she hires ghostwriters
- Tips for updating titles
- Adding social proof and multimedia with updates
- How she attracts so many links
- Her email marketing strategies
- Digital products
- And a whole lot more...
Links & Resources
- Live Eat Learn | Easy Vegetarian Recipes + Nutrition
- Brew Buch: Home Brewed Kombucha Made Easy
- Bone Appétreat: Dog Food Recipes, Enrichment, and Nutrition
- Foodie Digital | Support membership for food bloggers
- How This 31-Year-Old Earns $32k/Month Sharing Vegetarian Recipes with Her Loyal Fans
And as always, this podcast episode is hosted by Jared Bauman, co-owner of 201 Creative SEO Agency
Jared: All right. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. Today, we are joined by Sarah Bond with live, eat, learn. com. Welcome Sarah. Hey, nice to be here. It is great to have you. I feel like I already know a bit of the direction of today, just because you've done a a blog post, an interview with DitchPursuits.
com and it was it did very well. People had a lot of questions. We wanted to bring you onto the podcast to talk all about some of the things you shared. Why don't you give us some backstory on yourself like we like to do learn a little bit about you and then we'll dive into the websites you have and you know, kind of what you're doing with those right now.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. So I'm Sarah. I run the food blog live, eat, learn. I started the food blog in January of 2015. I started it really as a business. I knew from the get go that this is something people can make an income from. At the time pinch of yum was doing their income reports. So I was like pouring over those every month and really just sorting, like getting like the entrepreneurial, like.
desire to turn this into something. But it was also very much a creative side hustle. I had studied nutrition for my bachelor's at Penn State. So I knew all about like the science of food, but I really didn't know how to cook. So I started the blog sort of as a way to document my process of learning how to cook.
And to do that, I would. Every week have a featured ingredients. I'd go to the grocery store and pick out an ingredient and then just cook with it for the week. And that was like my way of sort of figuring out how to cook and documenting the whole thing. So obviously now it's 8 years later and I do know how to cook now, but that is still sort of the core of live, eat, learn.
Yeah, now I do. Some of the old recipes definitely need some updating because back when I didn't know how to cook, it was a little rough. But yeah, so. That core basically is still how Libby learn operates. So every week we have a featured ingredient and then I'll show people how to cook with that ingredient.
In me, what was I going to say? Oh, in January 2016. So a year later is when I got into Mediavine. So that's when things really. Became a business. That's also about the time that I started studying for my master's in sensory science, which is basically the study of food as it relates to the senses.
So my goal after graduating was really to have a real job in the food industry. But I had been working on live, eat, learn sort of in the margins of time while I was studying. So when it came time to graduate and like get a real job, I thought I could, you know, do that, like work in the food industry, or I could put these 40 hours a week that I've been studying, or I could go to a job, or I could just.
Put that all into the, into the website. So I went full time with the blog in 2018. And that's when things really started to snowball. So obviously in 2020, everyone started eating at home and stopped going to restaurants and wanted to learn how to cook and that's when things really exploded for the food blog.
So along the way I started my two niche sites brewbooch. com, which is all about kombucha brewing and Bon Appetit, which is my dog food site and here we are today.
Jared: Well, I have to ask out of the, gate because 2015 was a very different. World for blogging for websites. I mean, I don't want to assume but certainly a lot of the success of Food blogs from like 2015, you know, maybe to today But certainly like all the talk about 2020 was on say Pinterest and social media Facebook groups these kind of things like how much traffic?
Were you deriving from social media in the first couple years and then maybe what does it look like today as it changed much?
Sarah: It was definitely very Pinterest heavy in the beginning. I mean, things just changed so much. So back then it was all about, like, the boards you were on and the group boards you were on.
So I had a few pins go viral. So I had, like, want like a recipe that is not even Googleable really because it doesn't have any, like, major keywords. But that one like went viral on Pinterest because people see the photo and they like it. So that really helped to propel living, learn and then sort of on the SEO side of things, my kombucha recipe sort of just accidentally went viral and that was very Google able.
So that really helped, I think, start to build that SEO traction. So yeah, whereas it was, it used to be really very Pinterest heavy. SEO is now my bread and butter. Pinterest is. It's not really even something I think about anymore.
Jared: Right. Right. I have a couple questions for you about that, but I'll save that for a bit later.
You shared some of the numbers in the blog post but let's kind of, I'd like to ask where the sites are at now. I'd like to ask at the beginning of the interview, because that kind of gives people some, some framework, you know, and it kind of whatever numbers you're comfortable sharing, whether it's revenue or traffic or anything like that.
And then we can kind of dive into how you grew these sites.
Sarah: Yeah. So Liviate Learn is getting, trying to think. Yeah, we're getting about a million, 1. 1, 1. 2 million visitors a month. And then the niche sites are much smaller. So Brute Boots is about three years old at this point. So that one's hard because it really kind of caps out like you, there's only so much you can write about kombucha.
So that one's kind of capped. That one makes probably 3, 000 a month. And then Bon Appétit is a dog site. I just started that last year. So that's making like probably 500 a month. Yeah, Libby Orton is definitely like our shining star, but
Jared: that's nice. Great. 1. 1 million pages. If you don't mind, how much, you know, roughly is that making?
Sarah: Between like 35 to 40, 000 a month.
Jared: And is that mostly ads you're on media vine? Is it a, yeah, it is.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. Mostly ads like very little Amazon associates. And then I have some digital products I sell, but it's by and far,
Jared: man, congratulations. That is a lot of, that's a, that's a lot for someone who wasn't even planning on taking their blog full time.
Well, let's let's talk about how you grew the site. Here's what I want to do. I want to ask you about. To kick us off, like you mentioned it, COVID put this site into like a new trajectory, right? And it changed the way that the site was going. Where was it at, at the start of 2020? You know, and then what kind of changed in terms of post 2020, post COVID, all that?
Sarah: I mean, I'm just thinking of like, I'll obviously like, I think like a lot of people on Mediavine, they'll go into their dashboard every morning to see what they're making. So that's really like what I can remember from that time is I was making like maybe 500 a day. And then COVID happened and I don't know how other people's sites are like, but for a food blog, it's very much on a Sunday.
Like you have this huge peak because everyone's planning their recipes for the week. And then it's kind of like a heartbeat every week. And so you can see like this very predictable. you know, like heartbeat of the site. And when COVID happened, like days of the week didn't matter. So it was like, we just skyrocketed.
And then it just was this like steady line for probably three months. And in that time, that's when we started hitting like thousand dollar days and 1, 200 days. And it hasn't really come back from that. So that's been pretty awesome. And I have changed my content strategy a little bit as I've Started having more funds to hire people and you know, like hire, like SEO strategist and that's really helped to sort of keep this.
Future proof. And like, once people go back to their usual patterns, like to keep that sort of energy and momentum
Jared: going, well, it's been quite a few years since 2020. I don't know. You might've landed on the new pattern, right? So let's, you talk about your content strategy. Let's, let's get into it. How do you, and I'm really curious because the way you said you go about kind of picking the.
The topics is definitely not something I've heard, and I've interviewed a lot of food bloggers over the years and listened to a lot of interviews like you pick up a menu item or an ingredient and that becomes the content for the like, let's unpack that. What does that look like in terms of the, you know, getting into the nitty gritty?
How do you pick the topics? How do you then take? Say an ingredient and turn it into a number of, of, of articles and recipes. Like, I'm just really curious to, to dig deep on this so people can learn.
Sarah: Yeah, I will say it wasn't very intentional until probably about a year ago before it was just like, this ingredient looks fun.
Let's see what we can do with it. It has morphed into like really topical clustering. So when I pick an ingredient now, it's very intentional. So like chickpeas is for a vegetarian food site. Like obviously you're looking at like your beans and things and your meat alternatives. So chickpeas is a cluster that I'm really trying to build out.
So if I can see that there's like a cluster that needs. More posts, more recipes, more information, or like just some more to be complete, then I'll pick that featured ingredient to sort of build out that cluster. And what I mean by cluster is like, I want Google to know that I'm the authority in this thing.
So for me, it really has turned into like these ingredient central clusters. So it's like. Chickpea recipes very easy, like what can you do with chickpeas, how to roast chickpeas, how to air fry chickpeas, but then also like informational things, like what are the nutrition facts for chickpeas and how do you store chickpeas?
So really going deeper than just the recipe, which is what I think traditional food blogging is, it's really just the recipes and how can I build a whole cluster around that to sort of support that recipe content?
Jared: Do you write each of those individually? And, and how do you determine what to write and what to include?
Like a lot of food bloggers, like you said, will say. Hey, here's a recipe. Here's a chickpea salad. And then, you know, why are chickpeas great and you know, the nutritional benefits of chickpeas or, you know, those, and they'll include those in the article. Are you kind of splitting that up that content up?
Like, talk about that.
Sarah: Yeah. I found that Google just. They're going to surface the articles that are solely about that topic. So it does feel almost a little redundant sometimes to have a whole article on like how to freeze chickpeas. But if you go to Google, typically it's the articles that are solely about that topic that are ranking.
So that's usually what we do.
Jared: How many articles do you now have on your site? I'm just trying to do the math on this.
Sarah: I think I'm at like 1300 on living learn. That's a lot.
Jared: Okay. Okay. Yeah. What is like what percentage of recipe posts do you think you have in comparison to all these other types of posts?
Sarah: It's definitely mostly recipes. But I guess as we keep going, the content calendar is about half recipes now, half informational, informational, or like posts that are supposed to build up these clusters. So right now the content calendar is. I'll do two new recipes a week. And that's all by me.
So like I do all the recipe development and the photography and the writing for those. Just because I want to remain central to the site. I want people to see my face and know like like Sarah from Let Me Learn is making that. It's not like a stock photo. It's not AI. Like this is a real person. And then I have a small team who helps me with the how to articles and then like informational articles.
Jared: When it comes to your traffic, like if you were to, you know, look at a snapshot and I didn't ask you this ahead of time, so I, you know, give me just your gut, but you're looking like a snapshot of traffic. Does most of it end up on the recipe posts and the informational content is there to kind of like what you talk about support, build out topical authority, these sorts of things, or, you know, is it more split evenly 50 50?
Sarah: It's pretty weighted towards the recipes. Yeah, I would say of my top 10 posts, eight are recipes and then two are informational. Oh,
Jared: there you go. All right. So recipes still drive the majority of traffic. You I'll talk, I'll ask now, just because I'm curious on your opinion on it, you know, social traffic has changed so much for everyone.
You know, Pinterest, Facebook, you know, the organic reach of these platforms is, I'm not, you know, I'm not spoiling anything here by saying it's, it's changed a lot. Some people have continued to focus on it anyways, even if it doesn't drive as much business as it used to. Others have kind of left it for, almost for dead.
Sounds like you're more the latter. When did it start to go? Why did you decide maybe not to continue to pursue it as much? I'm just, you know, it's such a, it's such a tough topic, especially in the food niche.
Sarah: Yeah, yeah, that's a hard one. I, so living learn has never had like a crazy following on social media.
But we definitely do like keep up with it. And sort of the way that I recently have come to terms with, I do need to post on these platforms still so I can have like a face to this brand that I've created. Is I'll repurpose content like crazy. So every recipe that I make has a video with it and I'll shoot it vertical so I can have it for all the social media platforms.
So I can have it on TikTok and Instagram Reels and Facebook and YouTube. But then I will do like auto captions on the side. So I'll voice over it and then I'll have like on a YouTube video, let's say it's horizontal. I'll have like the left square of it being the cropped vertical video and then I'll do auto captions on the right.
And obviously that's not like The dream YouTube video, but it is something that I can put in that recipe post to sort of keep people's engagement on it So when they're scrolling they can see like a video of me like making it eating it And those they don't do well on YouTube, but they keep people on the page And that's what I'm looking for is just sort of creating this complete Recipe post that has like step by step photos, but also has this video that I've repurposed from social.
So Obviously in a perfect world. I think I would have like A legit YouTube video is like horizontal and like the studio and everything. But as it is now, that's sort of the way that I can justify spending time on social media still. Because it's still something that I can use to keep people on the website, which is the end goal.
Jared: Interesting to hear you talk about video. I'll have a couple questions for you on that as well. Okay, so let's talk about how you build out content. Let's talk about, you know, you still do all the recipes yourself, and you used a term I haven't heard before. I like it. Recipe development. That's kind of a topic that I think does come up quite a bit in the food niche, which is, The idea of recipes and how unique they need to be and how different they need to be and all that.
I mean, you have a background in this. You went to college and I believe have a master's for it. Talk about recipe development. Like what does that look like and why is it still in your, in your camp?
Sarah: Well, so I think this is a tough one. So I think that people come to food blogs because they, or they stick with food blogs.
They find ones they like because they like the flavors of that, that person makes. They like the ingredients they use. They like generally how things turn out. Like they like that they'll use certain ingredients over others. It's sort of like people get the flavor for your food and they can expect a certain.
A certain way of cooking from you. And that's kind of why I've kept it in house because I think I have a specific way of cooking that my readers like or that they expect. So that's definitely why I continue doing the recipe development. But then another part is like, it needs to work. Like, it needs to be a recipe that people are confident is going to work.
And so that's why, like, as a food blogger, you have to develop recipes that you know are going to work in most kitchens. So yeah, it's definitely, that's a huge part of it. And yeah, and then I think also as we get into this age of like AI, where anyone can like put a chocolate chip cookie recipe on their site that could be AI generated with stock photos, I think it's really important to have like these experiences, experiences as you're cooking, or you can say like, I tried it like this, and it didn't work.
So if you see it get to this point, like you should Do this or, you know, like you can have like firsthand experience making it and telling people that you a real person and your real kitchen have made it. So I think that's kind of like a huge part of sort of future proofing the site against like potentials for AI or people who haven't actually made recipes who are just using
Jared: stock photos.
I mean, I just, I realized this is decades of experience, but from a high level, like how do you come up with recipes? That people are going to be interested in. I, I, we come at this so much, at least the listeners will understand from like an SEO standpoint. And it's like, well you know, like there's a garbanzo bean salad recipe that's a good keyword.
So let's, you know, but you, you probably come about it from another standpoint because you have this background and you have this training and you have this education. How do you come up with these ideas?
Sarah: It's definitely like both prongs of that. Like the one prong is like, I understand food and half flavors work together, but then also like the SEO aspect really plays into it too.
So it's kind of like this interesting balance of like, is it something people want, like, or are expecting from Google and it doesn't taste good. So it kind of ties in like wanting to build up these clusters. If I have a chickpea salad, like. And I also want to build up my like Greek yogurt cluster.
Like I might make like a chickpea salad with like a Greek yogurt dressing thing. So it's definitely like tying in all these different aspects of it. But a huge part of it is when people go to Google, are you giving them what they're expecting? So I'll, I'll often go to Google and see like, what are people expecting from a chickpea salad?
Like, are they expecting it to be creamy? Are they expecting it to have lettuce? Are they expecting it to be like, you know, you want to see like, cause Google is showing like what people are expecting. And then I'll create my own based on like, sort of like the core values of living learn. So like usually healthy ish and super simple.
With like minimal ingredients, so
Jared: I, it sounds like a puzzle that you got a piece. Yeah,
Sarah: it kind of is,
Jared: but it's fun. Yeah. Yeah. Would be, it would be enjoyable to try to, you know, match all that together. Let's see the, you do custom photos and video for every single post. Were you, do you have experience in media before this? Did you determine you just had to get good at it?
Where did you, how'd you come about something that for a lot of people is overwhelming and complicated. Yeah,
Sarah: no, it is overwhelming. And it's definitely a learning curve. I, I did have experience as a photographer before. But then when I went to like start the food blog in the similar way that I had no idea how to cook.
I had no idea how to take photos of food. So while I knew how to take photos of like people and new portraits and stuff, I was terrible at food photography. And so that's been a huge learning curve. And I've taken courses to just give me some tips and pointers. And then video also, like I have a long way to go, but it's just learning and trying things.
And I feel like half the time it's just like throwing spaghetti at the wall. But yeah.
Jared: Ex pro photographer here. And so I, I come at it with photography for me is easy, but you know, it's, it's so difficult for a lot of people and it's so important in the food space. Like there's some spaces where it's just so important.
And, you know, if you have a blog on crypto, I don't know, probably not as important, but if you're, you're blogging about. if you're writing about food, I can imagine how important it is. Yeah, let's slide into the conversation of, of expertise of EEAT. This wasn't on our agenda, so I'm springing this on you, but you know, you have obvious expertise in this with your, your background and your schooling.
A lot of people are struggling to try to find a way to show expertise. I mean, they don't have that, but you have that. How are you showcasing that? through your website, both just from a user standpoint, like helping users understand that you have this background experience, but also, you know, for Google, like trying to ensure that Google understands that you have this experience and expertise.
Sarah: Well, so I've sort of intentionally been going through and doing this as I update posts. So I, I really fleshed out the whole about page with like very specific like accolades, like where I got my degrees from, like how I developed the recipes, like the people that are on my team, like, I really make it clear, like what's behind these recipes and these posts.
And then I'll go through and if I have a post that I really want to drive home that, like. I know this, like I know the nutrition, I know like the science behind it. I'll link to the about page with anchor texts. That's very specific. So like, I'll say like, I'm putting on my nutritionist brain today. And then like, I'll link to like nutritionist about page.
So Google very clearly understands.
So I've been doing that a little bit. It's kind of hard to work in sometimes, like without sounding like overboard, but I've been doing that a bit. And then as I get into video I won't do like the whole video of me, like making it. I'll have usually like hands and pans is what we'll call it like in the food blogging world, but I'll usually do like the bite shot at the end.
And so in like the YouTube or whatever, I'll have like the picture of me holding the food. So it's like very obvious that I, the founder of Love Eat Learn and making this recipe, like I'm eating it. So people are really putting that face to the name
Jared: also. That's good. I like all the acronyms for the different types of shots you guys need.
That's wonderful. The, the process for onboarding writers beside yourself, you talked about how you have other writers who write. A lot of the informational content. Yeah. How do you ensure, yeah. How'd you, it's kind of a classic question, but how'd you bring 'em on? Yeah. What sort of systems do you have in place?
How do you make sure, like how involved are you in those articles and, you know, how did you ensure, how do you ensure that these articles are kind of up to the live, eat, learn status that you want?
Sarah: I , I don't know if I'm like the best. Answer for this because I, I really keep my team pretty small because I don't like branching out to new people and like training new people.
So I've probably rotated through like six or seven writers before and I've kind of landed on a few that I just really like. And I found them like in Facebook groups. I'll just put a job listing out and then have like a Google form. Where I'll have someone like write me an intro paragraph for this recipe.
And then I think on the last job op I did, I had them just fix like minor errors in a paragraph, like for style. So I could just see like how much they paid attention to detail and then like, they were able to mimic my voice. So I found. For now that I just really like how they work. They're quick.
They can mimic my voice pretty well. And so, yeah, keep a pretty small team, but
Jared: I'm still pretty good for is a good amount to manage, you know? How many new articles are you guys trying to publish a week now at this point?
Sarah: So I'm doing two new recipes and that's all me. I have a couple and they do photography and videography for me for like the how to posts.
So those posts are like meant to sort of bring up the recipes. They'll do like how to cut asparagus, how to freeze chickpeas, how to boil black beans or whatever. So like really basic ones that I don't think I need to have like my heart and soul in it because it's so basic. They'll do those once a week.
And then I have writers doing like four to six informational posts per week.
Jared: Let's talk about article updating. I mean, at 1300 posts now and a website that 2015, so eight years old I mean, do you touch those old articles? You kind of mentioned you had to, cause some of them are needing update, but you know, do you have a process for, for updating old content?
Sarah: Yeah. So I update a lot. I, I try to update like 10 posts a day, but they're very light touches.
Jared: So I was about to say, cause one 10 is a lot if you're going, so yeah. Okay. So they're kind of more light updates.
Sarah: Yeah. It's really like the quick ones that I'm going for right now on this pass through. So one thing that I've been doing recently has been retitling and that's been like such a small.
Change that's just made such big impacts on the traffic. So, like, my shining example of this is my mango smoothie recipe. So I had I have a mango smoothie recipe. And it was on the first page of Google, but it was getting very few clicks. And so when we went into like, just Google the search page.
And you search for mango smoothie, you can see there's just this blanket of mango smoothies. And all the titles look the same and nothing stood out from each other. So I changed mine from mango smoothie recipe to quick three ingredient mango smoothie. That's the only change I made. I didn't change anything else except the title.
And so in February when I made this change, I was getting 8 clicks per day, I think, and like a 0. 9% click through rate. And today that post gets 500 clicks per day and has a 10% click through rate. So, solely from the title, it's made just a huge impact. And so I've sort of been trying to replicate this as I go through posts.
Just like looking at the title and thinking, is this blending into this blanket of titles or is it standing out? And if it doesn't stand out, how can I make it stand out? That
Jared: is brilliant. That, I mean, I don't want to oversimplify it, but that probably took you 15 seconds. Yeah.
Sarah: Yeah. And I, I will say that find was not mine.
So I work very closely with foodie digital there. The they do like my WordPress. Management and SEO support. So they found that and just suggested I change the title. And it's just been a crazy uptick that that post has seen. So I've taken that sort of pillar and just. Just gone with it for all the
For all of them. Do you have any do you have like a science behind it? Do you go into Google search console and compare A, before you made a change, B, after you made a change, measure it for a period of time? Do you go by, you know, traffic and I'm only gonna go after posts that have a lot of traffic or I'm only gonna have to post that don't have much traffic, you know?
Sarah: Yeah, so I'll I went into search console and I went to the what's it called? I think it's like the search search results. And then I selected total clicks, total impressions and total click through rate for the last 16 months and then just downloaded all of that. And then I sorted that sheet by impression.
So you have the highest impressions and then you can really go through and just see. Is the click through rate up to par or not? So if it was like below a 1% through 1% click through rate then I would just go in and see how could I improve that click through rate? Cause the content's already there.
It's like, how can I get people to that content?
Jared: Yeah. What are some other, if you don't want me asking, like. You took the title mango smoothie and you added quick three ingredient to the front of it. Are there any other, you know, kind of trending winners or other little things you can just keep people's mind kind of spinning about?
Sarah: Yeah, so I'll, I definitely avoid words like the best or like words that are too big for what the recipe is, unless it truly has like 600 five star reviews. So I'll try to go for like time because people are always crunch for time. If it's low ingredients, I'll talk about the amount of ingredients.
If it has a certain cooking method, that could be something worth highlighting. But then also never sort of strain from what the recipe actually is, because you don't want someone to like, click on the recipe, get into it, and then realize like, oh, this is, It's a vegan thing. I didn't want vegan. They click back to Google because like that pogo sticking is not something that's on a signal that you want to send to Google.
So I try to be very upfront about what the recipe is. But then, yeah, using sort of these like descriptive words to draw people in. You could talk about like the star reviews, like if it gets a lot of reviews, you could say like fan favorite or highly rated or
Jared: I think it's really smart what you're doing because you understand your niche and the pain points, right?
And in marketing, we always talk about like, what are the pain points and lean into solving a problem that, you know, solves their pain points. And if it only speaks to like getting into your niche, knowing your niche, knowing the problems that people have. And you know, in this case, the example we're using.
You hit on two of them. First off, it's a quick mango smoothie recipe. And second off, it's a three ingredient, which you said like time and low number of ingredients. Those are the kind of the first two you stated and, but that wouldn't work if people weren't in a hurry and you didn't know that and wouldn't work if people didn't care about how many ingredients were used.
Yeah. Yeah. So really
Sarah: thinking about like what, what problem is this post solving and how can I work that into the title without being like too wordy, but yeah. It's, it's part of the puzzle.
Jared: Any other things you're doing to update content? Are you just sticking with titles and just optimizing titles at this point?
Are there, are there any other things you're doing to work on them?
Sarah: Yeah, so as I go through and retitle slowly, I've also been doing things to sort of add make the post more sticky and engaging to people once they're in. So like the retitling really brings people in, but then once they're in, how can I keep them in the post?
So I do this sort of in two ways. The first is social proof. So I'll go through the comments and I'll find like a really nice five star review someone left me. And then I'll just literally copy it and paste it at the top of the post. So when someone's clicked in, they see the hero image. They can also see at that same time, a review from a real person who thought that the recipe was good enough that they should write a review online.
So that really helps sort of prove to people that this recipe works. Because there's nothing worse than making a recipe and it doesn't work. And I, I see my job as a food blogger is to make people 100% confident that this recipe will work. And so social proof is a huge part of that. But then also just showing people how to make the recipe.
So I'll go in and I'll add step by step photos. If I haven't added them to the recipe card, I'll add those in. And then if there's a video, I'll add that in. So just really making the posts like as engaging as possible to keep people there and convince them that they should make it.
Jared: Do you do any SEO components when you're updating the content?
Whether it's rewriting some of it, removing some of the article keyword density, looking at competitors and what they have and what you don't have. Everything you've described so far is great. It's all focused seemingly, you know, kind of user metrics, right? On what's going to be better for the user. Do you bring any of the SEO side into it?
Sarah: Yeah, definitely. So on my day to day, like going through the 10 post, I don't typically go that deep into it. Just because right now on this, like first pass, I'm trying to just get those huge quick wins. But then, like I said, I work with foodie digital pretty closely and they've really been teaching me sort of how to go through and like, So I'll do like one or two of those a month, just with a little handholding from Twitter digital.
And that's where we'll like rewrite that first paragraph to sort of make it more descriptive sort of fit in more of those keywords and then answer even more questions that might not be answered yet.
Jared: Got it. Yeah. I imagine those take a little longer.
Sarah: Yeah. Those take like an hour each. So it's like, I'd rather just get all these quick ones done first.
And then with the ones that are really like on the verge of like first page of Google or first, three spots with those ones. Then I'll put more time into it.
Jared: Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense. One minute versus one hour. It's got to have the payoff. Yeah. Yeah. So transitioning a bit, you you over time have amassed quite a good number of backlinks.
And you know, if you, if you pull that site up in like an age rash or something like that, like you got a lot of really, really awesome backlinks. What has been your, your backlink strategy over the years?
Sarah: I don't really have one. I had a feeling you might say that. Yeah. I don't have an intentional one sort of the way I see it is that especially with recipe sites being number one or two in Google is in a way of backlink strategy because.
If someone's looking for a recipe to add to their roundup or if BuzzFeed's looking for something like they're going to pick one of those top two or three. So in a way that's just been my strategy. Yeah, nothing super intentional though.
Jared: What do you, you talked on that because I, I think that that's maybe more trending in the food space than other spaces in that if you rank number one, because there's so many roundup type posts, you get.
a lot of backlinks. Like, talk about that. What, is there something besides ranking number one that makes your post attractive to be featured in, like, Good Housekeeping or, you know, all these different roundups that, that, that get done in the food space? And are you ever trying to create recipes that, yes, rank number one, but also make them more attractive?
Sarah: That's a tough one. I think people do choose roundups for other reasons. Like I think someone you might not know might look on Google for a recipe and then find you as number one and include you. But I've also found that like within like Facebook groups, people are looking for recipes for roundups and they'll find ones that have like.
Something different about them, which obviously Google doesn't always want. Like people on Google don't want something that's like different or weird, but I feel like on like the Facebook groups, people are asking for roundup items. That might be the case, but then I think also I found a lot of people will include my recipes and roundups just solely because of photography style.
Mine's like very bright with like a lot of colors. And so I found that some brands will include my recipes. So it's kind of hard to say like why anyone chooses anything for a roundup. But yeah, my strategy really has just been to put out great content and then hope that people link to it.
Jared: There it is.
The, the other thing I noticed as I, as I scroll through your site is an email list featured top of the homepage and all the articles sidebar. What, what's, what's your email list? Like how important is it? And maybe just talk through what, what's going on with that.
Sarah: Yeah. It's a huge part of what I do.
It really, in my eyes, the email list is a way to sort of mitigate any risk from SEO changes, but it's also a way that I can build a relationship with readers and get them really comfortable with my name, my face, like knowing me and knowing my recipes. So I have like a very basic email opt in just like what you're probably seeing on the header of the site, but then also for each of these like topic clusters I built out, I'll make like a specific email sequence.
related to that cluster. So if someone's on one of my air fryer recipes they're going to get an opt in like a subscribe box asking them if they want to join my air fryer sequence. And that's just like five days of like air fryer secrets or something. I think I call it. So really getting people in and then getting them comfortable with getting emails from me, basically.
And then I'm pretty aggressive with sending emails. Once they go through like that welcome sequence, which is like every day for five days, they'll go into a forever sequence, which is they'll end up getting about four emails from me per week with different seasonal things, evergreen things. And I've tried to So.
So starting in like six months, once I've like built it all out, it should be completely automated and I won't have to do anything.
Jared: That's tricky with a seasonal stuff.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah. So I'll do, so they'll get like two evergreen emails from me and that's just a forever sequence and that's. Stuff that could be cooked any time of year.
But then I'll also send every Saturday at broadcast. So I use convert kids. So like a broadcast is one that you like make and just send once. Once I send the broadcast, that's like hyper relevant to the season, like 4th of July or Christmas or whatever, I'll copy the link to the broadcast report and I'll save it so that time next year.
I can just go back in, duplicate that broadcast and then send it again. So I'm still building that out. I'm on like the sixth month of it. So in six more months, all the broadcasts will be done
Jared: forever. Wow. Okay. That's a good strategy for people listening. What's your you know, what's the, what's the purpose of the email newsletter and all the content you're, you're, you're, you're publishing.
Cause it's gotta be a lot of work.
Sarah: Yeah. I mean, traffic is definitely a huge part of it. Just getting people back to those recipes, reminding them of me, like keeping me top of mind, my recipes top of mind. I sell digital products to them also. And so that's really the main way that I sell my eBooks and digital products.
And then, yeah, I think just sort of building that loyal audience that when they're searching on Google or looking on Instagram, that when they see living learn or one of my niche sites, they'll come to that one because they know it and they trust it.
Jared: Yeah. You mentioned you have some digital products.
I think you mentioned at the outset that it's not a big driver of of, of the revenue. What are your plans for that? Are you going to try to, to make it a larger part of the revenue or is it just kind of there? You tried it is what it is. You know, I'm curious how much you're going to look into expanding that.
Sarah: Yeah, I've thought about it. So they do decently. Well, one is like a, it's like a meal plan that does really well around like January. So usually I'll do like a hard push around January and people are changing their diets. And then one is sort of, so the kombucha recipe that like went viral when I was a baby blogger that's why I kind of started the kombucha site because of that, like all the questions I was getting about brewing kombucha.
And so I created an ebook, which was just Basically every article I had written about kombucha put into like a nicely formatted ebook. And so that's just on a pay what you want model. So really the purpose of that is just if people are really happy with the content, people, I found that people just want to compensate me in some way.
So that's really there just for that purpose to give people an outlet to send a tip, basically, if they want to So no big plans really for those, especially with the momentum I have with SEO. I think if that momentum were to waver a little bit, I might start focusing more on the, on the products, but.
For now, they're just there. Yeah.
Jared: Let's you mentioned it, perfect transition. That was next on my list. Let's talk about the other two sites you have. Brew am I saying it right? BrewBoots and Bone Appetite. Okay, I got it. Yeah. Okay. I actually wrote them on my notes here phonetically, and then, because I was practicing, and messing up should probably write the phonetic spelling on them.
Yeah. That's fine, because I'm an uneducated individual here when it comes to pronouncing things. I mean, the big question that every website owner tends to have is, When to continue investing in their site that's succeeding versus starting a second project, right? And you did that in I think I wrote down 2019 or 2020, so a while ago.
What was the impetus and, you know, how do you justify continuing to put time into three sites versus just, just one? And I don't mean that accusatorily. I really actually mean, that's like a question we all wrestle with probably constantly, right? Yeah, no,
Sarah: it's a question I have constantly of myself too.
Yeah. No, they both definitely, like they, they started for different reasons. So the kombucha one really started because I was just getting so many questions about brewing kombucha because there's so much. To know about it more than just this basic recipe, which was all I had on Libby learn at the time.
So starting the website was really just like. Having a place to send people who are sending me emails every day instead of having to write the answer in the email. I could just say, here's the article. So a lot of it was just like writing all the taking all the emails. I had written people and putting them into articles.
So that's like, only has about 80 articles and I'll put 1. One new post on there a week or every other week. So I don't put a ton of content on there. But yeah, that's really the purpose of that one is serving. It's just very technical kombucha information basically. And then Bon Appetit was just like a passion project.
I got a dog and then was cooking her a lot of recipes and was like, well, it'd be fun if I could post some of these and make her attacks right off. So, yeah, so that one's been slow growing as well, but it's just like kind of a fun. creative outlet away from Libby learn to sort of like work different muscles in a way.
Jared: No real wrong answer there, right? Like the people who choose to focus and stay focused on one project that is conceding, there's so many reasons for the people who shift focuses and are able to kind of divide and conquer in an effective way. That's a good process, but the wrestling is always there in our minds, is it not?
Sarah: Yeah, yeah, it is difficult. And I have had like recommendations from people that I should combine a lot of the content on the site. Like all to live, eat, learn. But a lot of it's also, I feel like risk mitigation that I can not have all my eggs in this one live, eat, learn basket. Or if I wanted to sell one of the niche sites, I could sell it and like not lose everything I built on live, eat, learn.
So so yeah, it's, I like them, but they are, yeah, it's a, it's interesting to wrestle with how much energy do you put into this new thing that you're building versus like the thing that you know works. And that's, that's always difficult.
Jared: You are like a podcast host dream. You, you make all my transitions happen.
My next question was, what are the future plans? Would you consider selling or growing or you know, I mean, there's so many ways you would go with this and Libby learns certainly is doing so well. It's been around for a long time, but where are you going in the future with these sites?
Sarah: Yeah. Onward and upward.
No, I, I've, I've had some offers for Leveate Learn before, but I just don't think now's the time to sell. It's just because I'm loving doing it so much. I'm like seeing that momentum and it's just, I feel like we've really found like a nice cadence of and like a nice sort of place. Where we really understand the content that the people need and that we want to publish.
So there's nothing too exciting except just continuing to publish a bunch and trying to stay relevant on the socials and staying ahead of. Yeah, whatever happens with AI and the loss of third party cookies and all the scary things that are coming down the pipeline. But yeah, just going to keep going.
Jared: Let me kind of close this out then with this question. So along those lines what does the future look like on a more tactical level? How do you determine the next topics to go after? How do you, when you're a site that's 1300 posts that has all this authority, you're going to continue on the same path forward with it?
You know that it's going to involve this clustering of, of whether it's an agreement or a topic video, photo. Like I'm just trying to think, how do you pick the next set of topics? What research do you do? How do you determine what's next in terms of a tactical approach for, for the, for the blog?
Sarah: Yeah. Well, I'm not really seeing the end of. The posts that I could write to really fill out these categories especially like within my niche, like vegetarian food, there's still so much that I haven't done. That I, yeah, I have years of content that I could still publish, I think. So yeah, I would say once I start reaching like the bottom of the barrel, I might start getting nervous.
But at the moment now, like there's just so much still to be done to sort of. Flesh out this, my idea of what a complete vegetarian food blog would look like. So yeah, I really just trying to get to that goal of like making it the most fully fleshed out thing that it could be.
Jared: So where can people follow along with you?
I mean, obviously live, eat, learn. Is that a good place to keep up with you? Are there other places that you're active? Yeah,
Sarah: I'm pretty much active on all social as live, eat, learn. Then he shites don't have socials, but it's brew booch and Bon Appetit. And then, yeah, you can join my email list if you want to get a lot of emails with really good food
Jared: for, for a week, it sounds like.
Yep. That's good. Sarah, thanks so much for coming on. I will link to that in the show. It's also linked to the The article that, that you have on niche pursuits. com about a lot of the same things we talked about, although I would like to say we went into more depth here, but there's some cool stats and some cool graphs that are on that that article too.
So if you want to go kind of see some of the more nitty gritty about the details behind your, your revenue and some of those things I'll include a link there. Thanks for coming on board. This is really great. We haven't done we haven't done one on the food niche in a while. So it's really good to hear how you've grown.
Maybe learn your other sites. Congratulations on your success. Awesome. Thanks for having
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