Today on The Blogger Genius Podcast, I’m interviewing Christine Pittman, founder of COOKtheSTORY and TheCookful, and we’re talking about how to boost your blog traffic by building your authority.
We are also answering the question, “Is blogging dead?”
Given that Christine gets over 2 million pageviews per month, and has hired a full-time staff of four, I think the answer is obviously “no.”
What I think is so interesting is hearing Christine’s thoughts about content creation:
- By figuring out how much money she makes from each new post, she’s come to the conclusion that sponsored posts don’t make sense for her business
- She doesn’t enjoy social media so doesn’t do a lot of it
- She has stopped following trends and looks at her analytics to make decisions for her business
Also, don’t miss her advice for new bloggers.
If you are focusing on growing your traffic and income, this is the episode for you!
Table of Contents
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- All Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes
- Matt Molen
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Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I am your host, Jillian Leslie. I’m super happy you are here.
I want to ask you a question before we get started, which is do you want to hear from me on Sundays, where I take my most recent podcast episode and share my four biggest takeaways?
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For today’s episode, I have Christine Pittman on the show she is a food blogger, very successful food blogger behind Cook the Story and she has a second blog called Cookful. And we are answering the question is blogging dead?
What I think is so refreshing about this episode is that there are a variety of things Christine does not do. She doesn’t do sponsored content. She’s not really into social media. She has figured out how to get her blog posts seen and served up by Google.
And she shares her exact strategy for doing this. And she gets millions of pageviews a month. The main way she monetizes is just via ads on her blog. So, to answer the question, no, blogging is not dead. And you will hear how Christine thinks about it.
So, without further delay, here is my interview with Christine Pittman.
Christine, welcome to the show.
Christine Pittman 1:59
Thank you so much for having me, Jillian. I’m excited.
How to Boost Your Blog Traffic by Building Your Authority
Jillian Leslie 2:03
Me too. You are a successful food blogger. But I have no idea your backstory. Would you share how you got into food? How you got into food blogging and where you are today?
Christine Pittman 2:17
Yeah, so I really grew up in a food centric family. And both in terms of my mom is an amazing cook, my grandmother is an amazing cook. And so, there’s always food and lots of big gatherings and that kind of thing.
And then my parents opened a restaurant when I was around 12 and then continued to open a series of successful restaurants in Manitoba where I’m from. And I started working at them at the age of 12.
I was in the kitchen making pierogies at the first Ukrainian restaurant. And then I waited tables I hosted I managed I did every bit of restaurant business. And then I went to grad school and stopped working in the family business as much.
And then my ex had a job offer in Orlando. So, we were in Canada for all of that. He had a job offer in Orlando, we just had a baby, and we decided to go for it and move. And I started my food blog Cook the Story then.
So, it would have been like 2009 started it as a way to share about food and stay connected to my friends and family back home. And also as something to do hobby writing that sort of thing.
I didn’t really know anybody I was at a new place. And so, it was just something to do and feel excited about. So, that’s how the food blogs started.
Jillian Leslie 3:35
And when did you think to yourself, wait a minute, this could be a business?
Christine Pittman 3:40
So, that actually didn’t happen for a while because I didn’t have a work permit to be living in the state I was allowed to be here. I was legally allowed to be in the States, but I wasn’t legally allowed to work.
And so, I just kept being like, “Oh, no, I can’t do that with this. I can’t take this anywhere. This is just fun.” And then we got our green cards and all of that.
And at the same time, I realized that my traffic had been increasing, and that some of those sponsorships I had been being offered along the way I could finally accept them. And so, that was a turning point accepting sponsorships and that sort of thing.
So, back in like 2012 or ’13. And then I got a little disillusioned with the whole system. And I was feeling like all of my content was sponsored content.
Almost every recipe that I was having time to put on my site was by deadline for a brand of some kind. And I didn’t want that for my website. And so in the summer one year I hired our babysitter, Madison. She was looking for a summer job.
Blogger Tip: Batch Your Content
She was a teenager, I hired her to help me and I taught her how to edit photos, how to put together blog posts, how to take my written up recipes and turn them into typed up recipes on the site.
And basically, we spent the summer cooking three to four recipes a day, five days a week, all summer. I was churning this out and testing and doing all the photos, she was putting together blog posts and scheduling them out for a year.
So, when she went back to school, and I went back to not cooking every day like that, there was just this whole already done content.
So, then I could be pitching sponsors and doing the sponsored content, and work on those once a week or something, and still have unsponsored content on the site. That was the turning point.
Jillian Leslie 5:37
Okay, it’s so funny because people talk about batching content. I have never heard anybody who batched a year of content in a summer.
Christine Pittman 5:47
Yeah, it was insane when I think about it now. But it just made so much sense to me, I’m not somebody who likes that feeling of, “Oh, my God, I have to do this right now.” It’s important and has to be done.
And, I had had my second child at that point, and life was really busy. And I didn’t like waking up in the morning and feeling that dread. I wanted to feel excitement and open possibilities. And what new thing can I take on now? And not that oh, no, what am I going to do?
And also, this is the more important thing, it really let me do that editorial calendar planning, like really looking at my stats, and at what I thought my readers wanted.
Blogger Tips: Use Your Google Analytics to Show You What Content Is Performing Well for You
And what was happening, like my Google Analytics, and all of that, what was doing well. I was doing keyword research too. Really trying to figure out where the success could be.
When I was waking up in the morning going, “Oh, God, I need to post something. What can I make?” That wasn’t leaving time for the strategizing.
Jillian Leslie 6:49
Absolutely. So let’s talk about that. When you started, were you just a generic food blogger? And then did you become more niche?
What did you discover as you started to go, wait a minute, there’s like a science to this. There’s a strategy to this. This isn’t just waking up and going. I’m going to make chocolate chip cookies today.
Christine Pittman 7:09
So, it started out as a more generic food blog like what I was cooking, always, mostly homemade, mostly healthy-ish. But quick, I’m really about quick and easy.
I think that what I discovered in that like year deep dive, when I’m looking at my stats to find out the content and everything, certain types of things, were rising to the top in my stats all the time. So back then, it’s not the same as now it’s changed over the years.
Back then, How to Cook Fish From Frozen was my number one post. So, that led me to do a whole bunch of From Frozen things. I think, the evolution of this is interesting in our thinking, I didn’t really understand or think a lot about the Google algorithm back then.
Now I know that if similar things are showing up in my stats, probably the algorithm has identified me as having some expertise in that area. And so, do more of those things. They will probably also do well.
But back then it was I think I was like, okay, this is doing well, people must like this. Whatever it is these stuffed peppers with chicken in them. That is something that people like so I will do more stuff peppers with chicken in them.
Like it was coming from that place.
Jillian Leslie 8:21
So, it’s more like an organic thing, like people have discovered me as the peppers with stuffed chicken person rather than, oh, Google is serving up this content, because it’s been successful. And so there’s a whole algorithm push behind it.
Blogging Tip: Build Authority on Specific Topics
Christine Pittman 8:34
Yeah, yeah. And then I connected the dots. I was at a conference at some point and I wish I could remember who it was. But somebody was speaking and I went, “Oh, I have authority on these topics.”
This was like 2014 is when I decided to start my second website, the Cookful. And that one is all topic based. So, what we do is we choose a topic like oh, in March, we’re doing quick breads.
And then we choose an author or chef who has expertise in that area, and they come on the site and they do a whole series on that topic. We have Irvin Lin from Eat The Love coming in March, doing a whole series on quick breads.
So, that’s how the site works is this whole deep dive into a topic. The idea for that came about in this like, oh, you can build authority on something by doing a whole bunch of things on one topic.
I’ll say for a little while, I was actually planning to start three separate sites, one about stuffed peppers, one about fish fillets and one about soup, I think. That idea, like really niche into those things. And then I realized that I was going to get too bored.
How many stuffed pepper recipes, can I come up with like it wasn’t going to be good. And that’s where the idea of having a site with rotating topics where we really dive deep into something, really flush it out.
Do a whole bunch of recipes and tip posts and all of that in that area, and then move on to the next one.
Jillian Leslie 9:57
Got it. Are you able to look back and go, “Oh my God people love my appetizers but they don’t love my pies.” Like pies nope, let’s go this way.
Christine Pittman 10:11
So, this is something I’ve never asked other food bloggers but I would love to. So, I feel like sweets do not ever do well on my sites. I try, I’ve done a whole series on cheesecakes, we’ve done them, they never end up doing well.
I don’t have a sweet tooth. And I don’t love these things. I think that I’m talking about them passionately. I think that I am knowledgeable about them. I know how to make them.
But somehow the Google algorithm has figured out that I’m just not a sweets person.
Jillian Leslie 10:38
It’s so interesting.
Christine Pittman 10:41
So, there’s a little bit of parallel. Put the story that does best for pork related content, like pork roasts, and things like that. I eat pork, but not a ton. So, it’s not exactly aligned in that way.
The fish from Frozen that was actually a sponsored post that ended up doing really, really well. And I had never cooked fish from Frozen before.
So, it doesn’t always align in that way. But I feel like there’s something to that like what you’re most passionate about ends up becoming the thing you get recognized for. I think, maybe.
Jillian Leslie 11:13
Maybe. I could see it going both ways. Because I do feel like sometimes what does well is surprising.
Christine Pittman 11:20
Jillian Leslie 11:21
And you go really like how come?
Christine Pittman 11:25
I know. Actually, there’s a recipe on my site for something called Marie Rose sauce, which is the sauce that they use in England on shrimp cocktail. They don’t use the same ketchup horseradish sauce we do. It’s a creamy pink colored sauce that does super well.
And I’m always like, I don’t even make that. My ex is British. So, I knew about it. But why is the bbc.com or Jamie Oliver, not the expert on Mary Rose sauce? How is it me?
Jillian Leslie 11:54
That’s so funny.
Christine Pittman 11:56
That is really strange.
Jillian Leslie 11:58
So, you start figuring this out, right? You start treating it like whoa, there’s an algorithm here and I can like figure out how to feed the algorithm. How are you now making money?
So initially, brands are reaching out to you. And you’re like, whoa this is cool. But then what did you put in place in terms of monetizing?
Christine Pittman 12:16
At some point, I actually stopped doing sponsored content completely. And it was a bandwidth issue. We’re actually about to start doing it again.
Jillian Leslie 12:26
When you say “we” who is we?
Blogging Tip: Figure Out Your Income from Individual Blog Posts
Christine Pittman 12:26
Okay, I have a team now. And that is what has changed things. So, it’s now me and I have three full time employees. And we’ve just hired a fourth.
Jillian Leslie 12:42
Christine Pittman 12:42
So, we have a full-time Business Manager, a Content Manager, and Recipe Developer who’s also a photographer. And then we’ve just hired a Graphic Designer/social media person. They are starting in like a week.
So when it was just me, or mostly me, like a contractor, here or there doing things, the sponsored posts, sponsored content started to take up —. Again, this is a recurring theme way too much of my time.
And I actually sat back and look at the financial numbers, and realize that what I make in ad revenue on a blog post over time, I did the math on this, but it’s like, if 3 out of 10 blog posts, after two years have made, let’s say, $600.
And I’m only making $600 or $1,000 for a sponsored post, that unsponsored post that’s going to make $600 in two years, and then continue to make money after that is over the long run going to make more money than the sponsored content.
And on my site, none of this is true of everybody sponsored posts tended to never make it into the Google Analytics. The fish from Frozen was like a rare exception. Usually, I do the no follow links, and all of the things I’m sure your listeners know about.
But they just don’t tend to do as well. It’s like Google can tell.
Jillian Leslie 14:02
They smell it.
Christine Pittman 14:03
It’s not an authentic piece of content. And so when I had that realization, I was like, wait a minute, if I have time to do three recipes a week myself, and one of them is sponsored, it’s just going to make me $600. And never make me another penny.
That is not as worth my time as to do all three of them unsponsored and hope that one of those three becomes a post that makes $1,000 a month some of them. So, I really just stopped and I was doing all ad revenue, some affiliate links.
Jillian Leslie 14:37
Who’s your ad network?
Christine Pittman 14:39
I’m with AdThrive.
Jillian Leslie 14:40
Okay, us too. Got it. So, with AdThrive your AdThrive income then became your main revenue driver?
Christine Pittman 14:50
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I make very little on affiliates compared to what I make on—.
Jillian Leslie 14:53
Is that consistent today that is where you are making your money?
Christine Pittman 14:56
Yeah, like 99% of our money is just ad revenue.
Jillian Leslie 15:02
That’s amazing. And can I ask you, how many pageviews do your sites get?
Christine Pittman 15:07
It’s about 2 million a month combined between the two sites.
Jillian Leslie 15:11
Christine Pittman 15:12
December is 2.2 million. Right now we’re in February, it’s probably 1.7 million. But yeah, it’s around there.
Jillian Leslie 15:19
Got it. And how often are you creating new posts posting new stuff? How often are you going back to your big library and updating new posts?
Christine Pittman 15:33
I am actually completely out of the kitchen now in this business. So like I said, I’ve hired so Don Viola is our recipe developer and photographer people might know her because she used to have a food blog and is a culinary professional, she’s wonderful.
She’s doing all the recipe development. It’s like ghostwritten, it still has my name on it. But it is somebody else, we work very closely to come up with the recipe ideas and flush out what the recipes will look like. But then the actual implementation is there.
I focus more on podcasting now, actually, so she’s doing the recipe development. And we are good at three recipes a week. That’s for Cook the Story, two to three new recipes a week on Cook the Story.
And then republishing one to two a week going in and editing that. The how often are you dealing with content, we just had been doing this continuous. We call it the Gutenberg edits.
So, we switched over to Gutenberg and then have to go into each post and change a bunch of things. And when we do that, we have a whole long list of things that we’re hitting.
Just different things about the site, especially older posts that haven’t been visited in a while getting the more up to date and consistent in terms of that kind of thing. So, we’re doing that like on a rolling continuous basis.
And the sites don’t really have that chronological feel that blogs used to have where the most recent thing is first.
There’s stuff changing on the homepage, but you don’t know what has been republished or what is new, unless you’re really really intimately involved with the sites. But we are doing major fixes on posts as we bring them back up again. So, that one to two a week.
Blogger Tip: Starting a Podcast to Highlight Your Content
One of my podcasts is called Recipe of the Day. And it’s daily, I talk about a different recipe every day. And what ends up happening almost every single time is I bring up the recipe that I’m thinking I want to talk about, and like oh, yeah, I’ll say that.
I’ll do that. I’ll talk about this. Oh, why does it say that? What is going on over here? So then, I’m usually diving into that I log into WordPress and making a few changes. So that’s happening, I guess, essentially seven days a week. So, a lot of editing.
Jillian Leslie 17:57
Wow. I love how alive your sites feel, or sound as you describe them. That they are these almost like living breathing organisms.
Christine Pittman 18:07
I feel like that’s true. And I just had this very proud feeling you get for your children when they do something amazing. And it’s like, I feel that way about them. Like, oh, that looks nice. And we’ve done this thing here.
And oh, that funny little post is that one doing well now? There’s definitely that.
Blogger Tip: Starting a Second Food Blog
But then on TheCookful. Like I said, we have different chefs and authors on that site. And we tend to do that once every second month.
I would love to do one a month, but I can’t afford to pay the contributors that many, we’re not there yet. And also the time that it takes my team to put those posts together and everything.
We would need probably another person on the team if we were going to do that.
Jillian Leslie 18:57
So you find me let’s say I’m a baker. And I have a blog and you come to me and you say, “Hey, for this month, will you make four posts? Will you make however many posts?” And you send me the photos and the write up. How does that work?
Christine Pittman 19:03
So, it’s 10 posts. Eight of them are recipes. Two of them are more informational. The informational posts don’t have to have pictures, only the recipes do. We find some stock photos or something we have for the informational posts.
And yeah, we were usually working in about six months in advance on this. So we contacted somebody and we brainstorm with them about the idea what the topic should be.
And then we work on Basecamp. Everything is on Basecamp and we add them to like a project by Basecamp.
And then they submit all their photos, recipes, writing up there and then my content manager Ray takes them all and puts it together to blog posts schedules that out.
And then I write an intro post, like a senior editor of a magazine like, “I’m delighted this month we have Irvin on quick breads. Here’s his cookbook, here is this amazingness that is him. And this is why we want to talk about quick breads.” Like that kind of thing.
And then usually they’re on my other podcast as well, I have time management insider, I usually have the contributor on there to talk about the series and about their work and all of that kind of thing. So, it’s a big production, actually.
Jillian Leslie 20:26
I like that. I like how there are all these moving parts. But they all make sense. That’s what I would say. It sounds like it all makes sense.
Christine Pittman 20:32
It does. And there’s a real flow to it. I think because I have the team in place now. There’s no way that I could do this on my own at this point.
Jillian Leslie 20:45
I want to talk about two things, social media, email marketing. Tell me what do you think about when you think about social media? What works for you? What doesn’t? What do you like, what don’t you like?
And then let’s talk about if you have an email strategy and what that is?
Blogger Tips: You Can Be a Successful Blogger Without Doing a lot of Social Media
Christine Pittman 21:02
So social media, I hate social media. I’ve never been good at it. My profiles are not very robust, which is why we are hiring this person who is starting, like I said, I think next week, although we’re not going to be starting the strategy till probably middle of March.
But we’ve hired a graphic designer, social media specialist, who I’m hoping is going to help solve that. I think sort of similar what we were saying earlier about which content does well, the fact that I don’t like social media, shines through.
Jillian Leslie 21:37
I do think that’s true. I do, there are some people who naturally fit on certain platforms, and you just feel that it’s authentic. And then I have other friends, I don’t weirdly like Instagram.
But I have a Facebook group, and I weirdly like it. And it feels much more, I don’t know, warm. So, it’s like I gravitate toward that. So, in terms of social media, do you use it to drive traffic, for example, like Pinterest, does Pinterest drive you traffic?
Christine Pittman 22:10
Not anything that is making any real money. It is probably the biggest traffic driver on my sites and other than Google, Google is number one, for sure. Pinterest is probably second, but of the 2 million I don’t know, maybe 5,000 a month like a 10,000.
Jillian Leslie 22:30
Wow. Okay, got it.
Christine Pittman 22:32
I feel like it was more and I do really feel like I used to notice this pattern where if something did really well on Pinterest, it would slowly start to do well on Google too, I’m pretty sure those links are indexed.
Jillian Leslie 22:47
Christine Pittman 22:47
It’s all helping. So, I don’t discount the Pinterest traffic. If I see something doing well on Pinterest, I might start having that affect our content strategy a little bit. But it’s not to get more traffic from Pinterest.
Jillian Leslie 22:59
It’s to begin information for Google or for posts. That kind of thing.
Christine Pittman 23:07
Yes. It’s more like that. I’m hoping that once we have somebody on the team who’s really specializing in this, we’re going to be doing TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook.
Once we have somebody who’s knowledgeable, and that is their focus. And that’s what they’re doing. We have so much content, we have so many videos, we have just tons and tons of stuff.
Somebody recently said make the brand as cool on the outside as it is on the inside.
Blogger Tip: Using Recipe Videos to Make Additional Ad Revenue
Jillian Leslie 23:37
Are you making videos also? And do you have a YouTube strategy? Or how do you use your videos?
Christine Pittman 23:44
Yes, the videos are just on the sites embedded and they have the AdThrive ads on them. And they’re good moneymakers in that way. But we are slowly turning them into things that can be reels and that sort of thing.
And now that we have Don doing all the recipe development photography. If there’s a technique that we want shown, she will film that.
Every time that she does her photoshoot and all the food is styled and laid out. She does a flyover video of it and then I record a voiceover.
And so, we have those that we’re just quickly putting together for pieces of content that I think are really nice. And because I have a following in podcast world with my voice, I’m hoping that might become part of the brand.
Jillian Leslie 24:29
So, let’s talk about email. Tell me what is your thought about it?
Christine Pittman 24:35
I was doing random different things all the time. Like RSS feed for a long time and then I’d go to a conference or I’d hear something.
Jillian Leslie 24:44
RSS feed means you do a post it automatically gets sent to your list. You’re not doing anything.
Christine Pittman 24:49
Yes. Exactly. So, we had that for a long time or like a compilation one that once a week we would send out a list of whatever the new content was, which is nice, because if people really want to see it that way they get it.
And it also shows the republished content, like anything that the site thinks is recent, then that would go out with it too. And then I’ve done a bunch of different things over the years, you hear something and start doing something.
But what I’m doing now is what I’ve learned from Matt Molen.
Jillian Leslie 25:19
He has been on my podcast.
Christine Pittman 25:22
That’s wonderful. And through AdThrive, AdThrive is great, because I’m like one of their I don’t know what level but some level of publisher with them, they set me up on a one- on-one course with Matt.
And so we met once a week for six weeks and dove into my content and all this great stuff. And so, we use his basic strategy now.
So we have the Quickstart guides, which are things that we get, like all the lead magnets that get people to sign up on this, like five day course.
Blogger Tip: Using Automated Email Welcome Series to Grow Your List
And then after that, add them to our main list. There is a little note saying that we’re going to do that and add them to our main list. So, that’s been actually really successful, especially when we target the Quickstart guides to certain categories.
Right now we have an Instant Pot one going, but it’s going to all the posts on the site, but we are just about to finish writing an air fryer one, and then we’ll categorize it in the backend of OptinMonster.
We’re able to say like, only show the Instant Pot pop-up on Instant Pot posts and only show the air fryer pop-up on air fryer posts and try and get people targeted to what they’re actually on the site visiting.
And then yeah, it’s exactly by the book, what he talks about. Every week, we have two posts, two emails that go out, one of them is like evergreen content. And the other one is new stuff that’s happening on the site.
And then every now and then we try to sell my cookbook or something along those lines. I’m terrible at anything to do with sales. And that’s where things don’t go as well. Which is sad, because that’s the point of the email list. Right?
Jillian Leslie 27:01
Absolutely. That was going to be my next question. Do you sell products and services?
Blogger Tip: Find Products and Services to Sell to Your Audience
Christine Pittman 27:06
Yeah. Just the most recent cookbook that I have out, we sell. And that’s the only thing that we’re selling really.
Jillian Leslie 27:15
Okay, then I want to talk to you after we’ve finished recording, just because we are building this new product to help people like you sell products to your audience. So we will talk about that afterwards.
Christine Pittman 27:28
That would be realy great. I’m really open to those ideas. Because I have the list. And we have lots of people coming to the site.
And we know that things convert, like the Recipe of the Day podcast it’s three months old, it has over 22,000 downloads already. It’s going crazy. And that’s I think, mostly from the sidebar, of the website.
It’s coming from without even really advertising it anywhere. It’s happening. And so we know that we can convert things, just not usually sales.
Blogger Tip: Set Up a Paid Workshop as an Easy Product to Sell to Your Audience
Jillian Leslie 27:57
Okay, so our product is called MiloTree Easy Payments. And we help people like you create workshops or easy memberships, things like that, where people come and they want to be closer to you.
And you have such a great personality that I’m like, “Oh my God, you can just sell yourself and build your community.” And what’s so nice about that is you get close to them.
And you hear what their problems are, and you hear what they’re thinking, and you’re able to then serve them even more tightly.
Christine Pittman 28:28
That sounds really wonderful.
Use MiloTree Easy Payments to Sell Digital Goods to Your Audience
You just heard me talk about MiloTree Easy Payments. And I’m sure you’re like, what is this? And who is this for? Well, it is the easiest way to sell digital goods to your audience. So paid workshops, memberships, coaching, eBooks.
And this is who it’s for content creators who have audiences, but they’re not yet selling products and services directly to them. It’s also for people who hate selling, and who are intimidated by technology.
If this sounds like you, there is money to be made. And it’s much easier than you think. And I would love to help you for free as we continue to test our product. So please reach out to me at email@example.com or DM me on Instagram @milotree.
And I can’t wait to help you turn on this new revenue stream. And now back to the show.
Jillian Leslie 29:28
Given that you’ve been at this a long time and you’re one of those bloggers I call you the OG bloggers which I am as well. Where you kind of got in this and you didn’t know it was a business and then it started to almost take on a life of its own.
If I want to be an intentional food blogger, I’m going to start today. What would you say your top three tips are so that I don’t have to wait like 10 years to really build a business? How would you say go do this and this and this?
Blogger Tip: Don’t Worry About Other Food Bloggers
Christine Pittman 30:04
So, the first thing that I’m going to say is not that practical of a tip, but I think it’s really important is to not worry about what all the other food bloggers are doing.
I feel like there’s too much if you’re going to be on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and do reels and stories and YouTube videos.
I feel like in those early days, the first few years, I watched myself and other people jump on every single bandwagon and do every single thing.
And it’s much better to be good at one thing, and ideally, the thing that you love for me, it was the content creation and these long explanatory posts. That’s what I really, really cared about and loved.
And that served me very well, for how the Google algorithm ended up changing and becoming, I was never good at the social media stuff. And when I would try all that stuff that just would fail, then I feel bad.
And I would be like, “Oh, no, but I need to do this thing.” So, I think that number one is choose a couple of things and do those and just turn your blinkers off for what other information the thing you must jump on and you must do.
I have, and I will put it even further. Some people are like the early adopters of new social media trends and that kind of thing. I have not felt like not getting on things right away has been a problem.
So, I’m podcasting now, I think the joke right now is everyone and their dog has a podcast and they all started them during COVID.
I started two of them during COVID. And I don’t have a dog, but I’m still seeing traction, even though I’m a little bit late in the game.
So, you can still do really well. If you hold back and don’t jump on everything, and wait to see the things that you actually have a chance to succeed at that you like, then do that. That would be the biggest I think.
Jillian Leslie 31:54
I think that is such good advice. We are all lemmings, myself included, where I’ve gotten caught up in somebody else’s, they’ve had success doing this, and I drop everything. I try it, it doesn’t work for me, I feel inadequate. I don’t understand what’s wrong with me.
And who knows if that’s even a good strategy. Again, it might work for one person, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that is going to work for me.
And so I love that it’s like not be distracted by what everybody else is doing, but really become an expert at this one thing.
Blogger Tip: Try Speaking at Conferences
Christine Pittman 32:30
I think that’s great. And I think then, if you’re early in the blogging world, but you are an expert in some small part of it, you can get invited or apply to speak at different conferences and things.
I don’t know if this is still a thing that works. But for me, even though my blog was this little baby blog without a lot of traffic, my original second blog was called Food Blog Best Practices.
And it was about copyright issues like, can you copyright a recipe? That kind of thing is what I was writing about. And Blogger Food ended up inviting me to come be on a panel with Elise Bauer, from Simply Recipes.
Jillian Leslie 33:07
I know Elise.
Christine Pittman 33:08
Yes, yes. And there was a lawyer oh, she was wonderful too. But being on a stage with somebody like Elise, and having that, Elise and I were friendly, but we didn’t make use of contacts in that way.
But like feeling that and then when I go to speak to brands or speak to other bloggers and you were on the stage, you did that thing, I think that has cachet to it.
I also think that those links to your site are on the programs for those conferences, all of that is like credibility and stuff. So, I guess the thinking is, don’t stress yourself out about doing what all the other bloggers are doing.
Niche into a couple of things that you like, get great at those, get an audience and a following in those and maybe even some professional acknowledgement for that.
And that is actually going to serve you very well in terms of the authority that your site has and the ability to focus and do well on the platform that you’re doing instead of being scattered all over the place.
Jillian Leslie 34:09
If I were to dissect then your three things, one is get good at something really good at something.
Two is don’t necessarily feel like you have to do what everybody’s doing or jump on the newest trends and three might be look for opportunities to build your authority.
Christine Pittman 34:27
Yeah, I think those are things and then I would add the fourth, this is me and this is very similar to this other thing in terms of content not necessarily worry about all the trends either.
Pick and choose pick the ones that make sense for your niche. I’m not a Keto or gluten free blogger. And so, when all the Power Balls. What are the Power Balls? That’s like some kind of lotto thing but the energy ball things I started seeing those everywhere.
I was like I should do and I’m like, “Wait, why would I do that?” Because looking at your analytics and seeing what’s doing well, even if it’s just a little bit better than the other things and focusing more on that.
And where your audience and the search engine algorithms think that you’re an expert, focusing on those topics is going to make more sense.
And build you, your brand and your rankings on Google better than if you’re all over the place, trying to jump on trends. And I think that is both for the platforms like we were talking about and for the content.
Blogger Tip: Know What Makes Your Content Special
Jillian Leslie 35:39
You know what Christina I have to share that I think your secret sauce is, you know yourself, and you lean into that.
Christine Pittman 35:50
Maybe, thank you very much Jillian, that’s really, really kind. I actually think that I found the first five years that I was blogging, I felt very insecure about it. I saw it.
Because I was speaking at conferences, I made friends, sometimes close friends with a lot of high profile bloggers who are going off to amazing trips and doing all these things. And I just be like, “Why, don’t I get to do that?
And then jumping on the trends and jumping on the bandwagon. And it didn’t make me feel better. It did not make me feel better about myself, it did not make me feel better about my sites.
And we were talking before we started recording about me getting divorced. And some of that happened. I think that something shifted at that point in my life, where I didn’t have the time and energy to be chasing after what everybody was doing.
I actually pulled out a lot of the Facebook sharing groups where people were like, “Here’s my newest posts share five times.” And I was doing those and I was like, “I don’t have the energy for this. And I’m not sure it’s working.”
And I guess now I feel a little bit like I abandoned the food community or like I got out of it too harshly or something. But it wasn’t serving me and it wasn’t helping me.
And as soon as I just focused on my business and just worked on my business and stopped worrying about all of that.
Yes, maybe that was when the secret sauce of finding myself and knowing who I was came, but it was not there for the first five or six years. Yeah.
Jillian Leslie 37:17
I don’t think it’s there for anybody in the beginning. I think you discover it, but I think that it shows. As I’m talking to you, I feel like they’re there that you know, and that you can rely on when making your own choices and charting your path.
That’s what I would say. It doesn’t feel like you’re getting blown by the winds as much as you’re going, “Nope, this makes sense for me, this doesn’t make sense for me. Or this might make sense for me in six months. But here’s where I am.”
So anyway, I just want you to know that it’s nice. You feel very solid.
Christine Pittman 38:01
Oh, thank you. I’ll say also, though, I think that is all true, but having the team and it’s going to be four people that are actual employees, they’re not contractors, I can’t just turn to them and say, “Hey, next month, I’m not going to need as much.”
Blogger Tip: Don’t Jump from Thing to Thing
This is a commitment. And so, I think that steadiness has to be there even more than ever, because I need to, I had the idea of a recipe of the day. And we literally launched it a month later. But I can’t do that all the time.
And I can’t just jump from one thing to another, there has to be a goal that is well communicated. Everybody has to know what the plan is. Otherwise, it’s just not going to work. So I feel like all of that has come together at the same time.
Jillian Leslie 38:47
That’s so nice. Christine, if people want to see what you’re up to reach out to you, if they have a question, whatever they want to watch your journey, where should they go?
Christine Pittman 38:58
I’m cookthestory on all of the platforms even on TikTok at this point, although we’re not posting super much there yet. So, that’s great. If people want to email me, I’m totally open to that, too. They can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
If bloggers have questions. I know we talked about the Cookful contributors. That’s usually cookbook authors that we’re looking for with that. But if people want to inquire about it that I’m always open to looking at different people.
Yeah, so that that’s the best place cookthestory everywhere and my email address. That’s perfect.
Jillian Leslie 39:30
Well, I have so enjoyed this. Christine, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Christine Pittman 39:35
I’ve loved it too, Jillian, thank you.
Jillian Leslie 39:38
I love Christine’s authenticity. I love that she says no to the things she is not good at and has built a very successful business with a pretty substantial team. I hope this is inspiring for you, because you get to use yourself as your own inner compass.
And hopefully this helps you navigate around all those trends and all those things you feel like you should be doing.
Again, if you’re not getting my newsletter you are missing out. So, head to bloggergenius.com and join.
Also if you want to start selling digital goods, I would love to help you. So reach out to me at jillianmilotree.com or DM me on Instagram @milotree.
And I will see you here again next week.
Other Blogger Genius Podcast episodes to listen to:
- How to Crush Email Marketing and Grow Sales with Matt Molen
- Advanced Email Marketing Strategies You Need to Know with Matt Molen
- 5 Quick SEO Wins to Get You More Traffic with Paula Rollo
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