If you’ve been following me for over a year, you know that in February of 2020, I purchased a recipe blog as an experiment to see if I could buy a site and grow it over time.

[Missed that? Catch up here.] 

Over the last quarter, I’ve been starting to put some work into this blog, and the results are starting to come in. In fact, this last quarter is the first quarter where I have a year-over-year comparisons, and site revenue is up about 45% compared to last year.

In today’s episode, I’m going to be covering the three things I’ve done to increase that revenue, as well as two additional strategies I’ll be implementing this quarter to prepare for this niche’s “busy season” from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

This episode of Write Bites is sponsored by Copy.AI, a toolkit that helps writers, marketers, and freelancers harness the power of GPT-3 to quickly create first draft copy for their businesses and clients. Click here to try Copy.AI free for 30 days.

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If you’ve been following me for over a year, you know that in February of 2020, I purchased a recipe blog as an experiment to see if I could buy a site and grow it over time.

Now, over the last year, I have not had nearly as much time to put into it as I was hoping for.

That said, over the last quarter in particular, I’ve been starting to put some work in and seeing some results. And in fact, this last quarter is the first quarter where I have a year over year comparisons and the site is up about 45% in revenue from this year versus last year. Which is pretty exciting.

It’s a lot more growth frankly, than I was hoping to achieve.

So in today’s episode, I’m going to be covering the three things that I’ve been doing to increase that revenue, and also two things that I haven’t yet gotten to, but I plan to do, and I think we’ll have a pretty big impact heading into the fall and winter season.

So if you have any interest in growing and monetizing websites of your own (primarily using writing) and want to learn what I’ve been doing on my own sites, stick around.

Today’s episode is sponsored by CopyAI: a toolkit that helps writers, marketers, and freelancers skip writers block completely and quickly create first draft copy for themselves and their clients.

Head on over to https://www.copy.ai/jacob and sign up to get 30 days completely free.

So, getting into the three strategies that I’ve been using over the last quarter to increase revenue by about 45% year over year…

Strategy #1: Scoring Quick Wins By Revamping Solid (But Unoptimized) Content

Starting with number one, I have been going through and revamping content that was ranking on the second page for high volume keywords.

So here’s what this means. Using an SEO tool (in my case, https://ahrefs.com/), I’ve been looking at all the content on the site. When I bought it, I think there were around 300 recipes  including some other content as well.

So I’ve been looking through all the content on Ahrefs and identifying pages that are ranking for high traffic keywords, but are showing up on the second page or even the low front page.

So for example, let’s say I’m looking at Ahrefs and I see that one of my recipe posts is ranking on the second page for “hummingbird cake” or “hummingbird cake recipe”.

That communicates to me that I’m in striking distance relative to the content on the front page.

If I can get to the second page, there’s a good chance I can make a few tweaks, adjustments, maybe expand the content and get up to that top spot.

So what I’ve been doing is I’ve been looking for opportunities like that to come in and revamp the content.

Obviously I would love to go through and revamp every single recipe, every single blog post on the site.  But in terms of resource management, that’s not practical. So I’m starting with blog posts that are sort of in striking distance stuff that I think “Hey, I can make a few minor adjustments and jump this up to the front page”.

And that’s exactly what’s been happening.

You know, what I’m doing here is not rocket science.

I’m essentially just taking these posts that are already ranking for these terms, And I’m zeroing in the SEO targeting more in accordance with my SEO copywriting guide that you can find on my site. I’ll throw it in the description here too.

But basically, just going through and revamping the page to make sure it’s hitting all the on-page SEO targeting. And then also expanding it out to 1000+ words.

One of the common things you see in the recipe space is that a lot of ranking recipe posts don’t actually cross 1000 words.

It’s sort of a meme in the space that people come in and share their life story.  And people think that that’s a misunderstanding on the part of the author that the people reading the site want to hear all that, but that’s not what’s going on.

They’re not sharing that because they think you want to read it. They’re sharing it because they know they need to get more words on the page to rank in SEO. And it’s really the only way that they can think of doing it.

Now I’m taking a bit of a different approach.

I’m trying to add in more how to type stuff, getting a little bit more granular with the recipe, adding in sections that I think could enhance the experience for someone who is really trying to go deep and do a good job.

Obviously, a lot of people who find a recipe post they’re just looking for a quick framework.

They don’t care about the brand. They don’t care about that page. And that’s okay. I’m monetizing that traffic through ad revenue.

But for the people who want to go a bit deeper, who are a little more serious about really nailing the recipe, that’s where having some of these additional sections, – stuff that digs into the most helpful cookware that could be used for this particular recipe, talks about different options that you could have to tweak the recipe to get a different result or a better result based on your personal taste or goals – there’s just a lot of little things you can do to make the content more helpful. And that’s the approach I’m taking.

Rather than trying to tell a big personal story, I’m trying to come in and just make it more helpful.

So doing that across several different pages over the last few months, I’ve noticed the ranking starting to go up on these pages and they’re starting to tap into that first page, for stuff that previously they were only showing up on the second page for.

So that’s number one.

Number two? Surprise, surprise, adding new long form content altogether.

Strategy #2: Creating New High-Quality Content From Scratch

So, super simple.

For me, this is not something I wanted to tackle personally.

So I went through the process of finding a freelance writer who was also a pretty good chef and could do a great job of going through creating these recipes, taking some great pictures, documenting the process, even making some tweaks so that the recipes showing up on my blog is going to look different than, you know, similar recipes when people search for the same search term.

Again, this is not rocket science.

Everyone knows: you want more traffic, you make more content. And so that’s what we’re doing.

Just adding new content every month, and trying to create some sort of consistent framework that’s going to facilitate some attempts to brand this recipe blog a bit better down the road (which I’ll talk about at the end of this video).

Number three (and I think this is going to be a pretty big one- we’re sort of in the early stages here)…

Strategy #3: Leveraging Pinterest

So Pinterest is a social channel that’s absolutely huge for the recipe blog and really any space where visuals play a big role in the content.

And when I purchased this blog, it also came with a fairly sizable Pinterest account. You know, not massive, but a pretty good established base. And it’s been sending traffic to the site month after month without any additional activity.

So, what I did about a month ago is hire a pretty phenomenal Pinterest management agency to come in and help me grow this account. We’re up 10% in traffic over the last month, just right out of the gate. And I’m hoping it will continue to grow from there.

So those are the three things that I’ve been doing over the last three months.

Revamping existing content that is second page or low front page that I think I can push up to those top three spots where most of the traffic comes in.

Creating new content that’s on a regular schedule so it’s communicating to Google that this is still an active blog, there’s constantly new stuff being posted.

And then, third, hiring a Pinterest management agency to help just take that whole side of things off my hands. That’s not something I want to learn, but it’s something that could be very helpful to the business. So, outsourcing that to them and so far so good.

This brings us to the last two things I’ll mention, which I have not yet had a chance to do, but I’m planning on doing over the next couple months because I’d like these things to be in place heading into the fall and winter seasons, which is where the blog makes most of its money.

Strategy #4: Creating A Targeted Lead Magnet

So, the fourth thing that I’m going to be doing is creating a targeted lead magnet, designed to capture a specific subset of the people who come to the blog each month.

As I’ve mentioned before, most of the traffic to this blog, they aren’t really looking for anything beyond an initial template for cooking a recipe.

They probably don’t even glance at the name of the blog. Literally just Google it, click the link, look up the data and X out. That’s it. That’s the vast majority of the traffic to this blog.

So now that I have this regular content in place from the same writer and chef, there’s going to be a consistency to what’s coming out on the blog.

And with that, I want to tap into the people who want to return and get more recipes: who liked the style of what we’re doing and are interested in actually following along with the brand.

And the key to sort of capturing these people as followers of the brand is typically to get their email. And that’s where the lead magnet comes in.

So I’m going to be thinking through probably some sort of a digital cookbook, maybe a collection of really use case specific cookbooks.

Like maybe a Thanksgiving cookbook, a summer meal cookbook, you know, just stuff like that.

Stuff that’s very targeted and specific, and could hopefully encourage someone who likes the style of what they’re seeing on the blog to give me their email and follow along with the brand.

Strategy #5: Creating a Low-Cost Digital Product

Right on the heels of that, the fifth thing that I’m going to be doing is publishing a small, low-cost digital product.

And what I’m thinking is it’s probably going to be some sort of really well-designed cumulative collection of all the best recipes on the website, with potentially some sort of branding focus.

I’m still working out the right brand angle for this blog because when I bought it, it was kind of all over the place.

It’s very common for personal blogs like this that have never really been heavily monetized to just follow the whim of the author over the years.

And that’s exactly what happened with this one.

There was no clear brand direction.

Stuff that had been created three years prior looked nothing like stuff that had been created in the last year.

So my goal is to find the right angle that taps into the existing rankings, the existing stuff that’s performing well on Pinterest and build from there.

So I’m still in that process.

I haven’t worked out the exact right angle that I’m gonna take. But hopefully I will in the next two months.

And as part of that, I’m gonna create a paid digital product that’s easy to distribute and we’ll have that available to purchase for people who sign up. Or for people who find the site around Christmas time and want to purchase a gift for friends and family. Recipe books are always a great gift.

So that’s the plan. That’s what I’ve been doing thus far.

And if you want to receive future updates on how this site is performing, as well as additional tips and strategies for making more money through writing, then subscribe to this YouTube channel. There’s more coming your way.

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I hope this was helpful, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Do you agree? Do you disagree with the fierce heat of a thousand suns?

Let me know in the comments below.

Plus, if you have a question you want answered on a future Write Bites episode, ask in the comments or shoot me an email, and I’ll add it to the schedule.

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