#026: How to Go From Hobby to Business with Abeer Rizvi

Today I’m interviewing Abeer Rizvi, from the blog, Cake Whiz.  In this episode, Abeer shares how to go from hobby to business, and all the steps she took to turn her love of cake decorating into a successful food blog.

We talk about how to figure out what to charge brands, how to leverage social media for traffic, and why ad revenue is worth pursuing!

If you have no idea how to turn your passion into a blog, you’re going to love this!

How to Go From Hobby to Business with Abeer Rizvi | MiloTree.com


Transcript: How to Go From Hobby to Business with Abeer Rizvi

Host: [00:00:03] Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian: [00:00:10] Hey everybody. Welcome back to the show today. My guest is my friend, Abeer from the food blog Cake Whiz. So welcome to the show Abeer.

Abeer: [00:00:23] Thank you for having me.

Jillian: [00:00:25] So we met back in, I looked it up, 2015 and we were at BlogHerFood in Chicago, and we were both kind of standing somewhere and we just kind of struck up a conversation. Do you remember that?

Abeer: [00:00:44] Yeah it was by the phone chargers.

Jillian: [00:00:47] Yes I can totally picture it! And I had come to BlogHerFood because we had just rolled out MiloTree and I had these postcards and I was handing them out.

Jillian: [00:00:59] And it took so much courage on my part to go up to random strangers and talk about it, and you were one of those super sweet people.

Abeer: [00:01:10] Aw, well you were pretty amazing yourself.

Jillian: [00:01:13] And you started showing me photos of the cakes you make.

Abeer: [00:01:20] Yes, I don’t know how it came to that, but yeah we started talking about your blog and my blog.

Jillian: [00:01:25] Right, you knew Catch My Party, right?

Abeer: [00:01:28] Yes. I knew about it, because I did some party posts on the blog and I’ve seen some of your parties and there very few party blogs out there.

Jillian: [00:01:38] Right.

Abeer: [00:01:38] Yours is one of them. So that’s why I knew you, so when you were talking I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s who you are, I know you!”

Jillian: [00:01:43] Totally. And there I was at BlogHerFood and it was so interesting because what I realized is that we are in these little silos. So I’m Catch My Party, and nobody there knew who I was, except you.

Abeer: [00:02:03] I think it’s because of the niches. Every blog has a niche. And if someone does a lot of savory food then they probably aren’t in the same circle of friends or bloggers who keep a lot of savory food. Same with the low carb bloggers or vegan bloggers.

Abeer: [00:02:18] That’s not to say they don’t overlap, like I have friends who are very healthy food bloggers. I don’t do any healthy food right. We all know each other.

Abeer: [00:02:27] But since yours was so similar to mine in a sense that, you do a crafty food, it’s creative, that I was like “Oh there are very few bloggers that do that.”

Abeer: [00:02:37] So  someone like that you get really excited. You’re like, yes there’s someone else out there!

Jillian: [00:02:42] Totally, totally. And we bonded because we both have one child.

Abeer: [00:02:46] Yes, we do and we started talking about that. Yes. My son was like maybe two or three at the time. And I was like yeah, I only have one.

Jillian: [00:02:57] Yes. Yes. And then the other thing that I always remember about you is you are a scientist.

Abeer: [00:03:07] I am, I actually have a Masters in Science. I have a Masters in Cellular Biology and Botany and I don’t do anything with that degree now. But I guess there is some science that goes into baking.

Jillian: [00:03:22] Yeah, isn’t it all chemistry?

Abeer: [00:03:24] I mean there’s a lot of balance and ratios and measurements of all the but I’m not I’m not in a lab anymore.

Jillian: [00:03:31] OK. And I remember that you had made such a big change. OK so let’s step back. Can you share how you created Cake Whiz?

How Cake Whiz started as a hobby

Abeer: [00:03:43] So Cake Whiz actually started as a hobby. I have been baking my entire life. With my mom, and my family and this is something I truly enjoy.

Abeer: [00:03:51] I never did cake decorating. I never threw parties where there were themes and so forth. When I got married and moved to Chicago from Canada, there was a cake decorating class that was happening nearby and I was like, let me just register for the class because it just looks like fun.

Abeer: [00:04:09] So I registered and I was hooked! I haven’t stopped decorating and I felt like it was all this creativity that I can channel into this. And it was just so much fun.

Abeer: [00:04:20] So I started the blog just to document everything, and just putting all the stuff making or learning just for the sake of my family or friends. And they were the only ones who actually had the link.

Abeer: [00:04:32] And next thing I know I’ve started getting comments from my readers, like regular people I’ve never met, saying thank you so much for the tutorial. Or, that was really great, can you share that recipe?

Abeer: [00:04:43] And I’m like, oh my god. Who are these people who are you reading my blog? I mean it was it was exciting.

Jillian: [00:04:52] And what year was this?

Abeer: [00:04:55] About six years ago, I think yeah. And then I think things got a little more serious and brands started reaching out to me and they’ll be like, “Hey, we wanted to work with you.” And this was so new to me, I didn’t even know you could make money with a blog.

How to determine what price to charge as a blogger working with brands

Abeer: [00:05:09] I do not know how to price myself. And obviously made a lot of mistakes along the way. Priced too low and I’m thinking, oh my god this is so much work.

Abeer: [00:05:19] But I’ve learned a lot and I just love what I’m doing now. So the hobby just suddenly turned into this business.

Jillian: [00:05:26] OK so were you at this point working in a lab?

Abeer: [00:05:33] No I just finished a Masters. I did my thesis and I got married within a month. We’d been engaged for awhile so we were waiting. And then I moved from Canada to Chicago and I was exhausted and tired of studying. I was tired of researching and I was just taking some time off, well maybe a couple of months that was the plan and then blogging things just sort of took over and I just tried to have fun with it.

Jillian: [00:06:00] So when you first realized this could be a business. What did you do next?

Abeer: [00:06:08] When I realized that, ok. I started doing it with a proper schedule with a proper plan. The marketing of a post, like every other day really sitting down and creating a list of posts I want. Why I’m making those posts? Why am I blogging? Who am I blogging for?

Abeer: [00:06:25] And then really creating a plan for myself. What do I want for this year. What do I want for next year, and really discussing those ideas with my husband as well, because it is a family and I need to make sure that all my plans are are in connection with our family as well.

Jillian: [00:06:45] So you decided I’m going to make cakes? Desserts? What was your strategy?

Abeer: [00:06:50] So initially the plan was just doing cake decorating and desserts because people are asking for the cake recipes as well, because they will not be able to see the cake inside. But they knew that I decorated the cake.

Abeer: [00:07:00] So I started doing tutorials initially, and then we’ll go into recipes for the cakes and cupcakes and cookies and so forth. Initially, I was just a dessert blogger. I did not even add savory recipes until last year.

Jillian: [00:07:15] Really?

How to expand beyond your niche as a blogger

Abeer: [00:07:16] Yes. And I was actually terrified of doing that and took me that long to actually make the jump. I have always been a comfort food blogger or some other desserts they were fancy and cute looking and I could use those in parties. So do all that.

Abeer: [00:07:30] But last year I was like, let me see. I mean you’re not going to see kale salads or anything healthy on the blog. But I started doing comfort food savory recipes and then I was like, we could serve this at a party, too.

Abeer: [00:07:44] Why can’t you serve, fried chicken or a lasagna. These are things that I serve at parties.

Jillian: [00:07:53] Did your audience come along for the ride?

Abeer: [00:07:56] They did. And that was my biggest fear, and I’m pretty sure if I started sharing salads and like healthy dressings and stuff like that, it would not have worked because that’s not my audience.

Abeer: [00:08:06] My audience likes comfort food. My audience loves chocolate. My audience loves butter as much as me. It makes no sense for me to be making a jump and then suddenly jumping into a totally different angle.

Abeer: [00:08:20] So what I was doing is yes, I made that jump in to savory as well. But I’m still like a 95 percent desert blogger. I still post more deserts than savory, and I made sure that my savory recipes are comfort food as well.

Jillian: [00:08:34] Do your friends ever come to you and say, “Will you decorate a cake for me? Will you bake a cake?”

Abeer: [00:08:39] Oh yes. All the time and I usually decline. A few reasons. Number one, Chicago has very strict rules about running a business out of your home. And I’m not going to do anything that’s illegal.

Abeer: [00:08:56] I have always declined because of those reasons. And it makes sense, I mean there are hygiene factors that you have to take into account, hire out the kitchen space and so forth.

Abeer: [00:09:05] So I’m not going to suddenly run a business of cakes and pastries out of my house. And the other reason was sometimes you run a business like that, I feel like I might not be able to balance the blogging aspect of the business.

Abeer: [00:09:18] And it just seems like blogging was something I enjoyed way more than actually becoming like a baker who is selling to people.

Jillian: [00:09:27] Got it. Do you feel pressure though if there’s a family event that you need to show up with a cake?

Abeer: [00:09:34] Yes. In the past, like, I had a wedding last year, and my brother got married a few years ago actually. He asked me as well and I declined.

Abeer: [00:09:41] I mean it’s already stressful going to a wedding and getting ready, getting the kid already. Making sure we’re on time, and as you know a family member you have to meet the people as they’re coming in and be a host.

Abeer: [00:09:55] There are already so many little things that I need to take care of that I was like I can not do a cake, in this situation. It’s just not possible. I usually apologize and pull away.

Jillian: [00:10:07] I love that. OK. So you started this blog and was the first thing that brands started reaching out to you? Did you think about putting ads up?

The value of showing ads on your blog or site

Abeer: [00:10:21] So ads are something that I didn’t even know about. I had this weird, wrong impression that you don’t make a lot of money with ads, and I was absolutely crazy.

Abeer: [00:10:27] I did not even go on any ad network for a while. I was already working with brands, I didn’t have any ads on my site because I had no idea you could make as much money as you do with ads.

Abeer: [00:10:38] And I’m sure there are different networks and different CPMs and RPMs with different networks, and as you grow you can go to better paying networks. But at that time I had no idea.

Abeer: [00:10:50] So initially I was just making money by working with brands.

Jillian: [00:10:55] You were sharing with me though how you would underprice yourself.

Abeer: [00:10:59] Yes, I did initially. I had no idea how to price myself because again, this was not something that I knew anyone who was doing and I could ask them.

Abeer: [00:11:09] It was something that just sort of fell into my lap and I enjoyed doing. So brands were interested in getting me to work for them, but I had no idea how to price myself.

Abeer: [00:11:17] So we sat down and we created different packages for brands like if they want just a blog post or if they want a blog post and social media shares. If they want just social media shares, if they wanted video along with the posts.

Abeer: [00:11:32] Basically, knowing what they want and I could price accordingly because then I don’t know how much time effort I would have to put into that project. And that really took the stress factor out for me.

Jillian: [00:11:44] Did you think about it from an hourly wage?

Abeer: [00:11:48] I tried and it got a little complicated for me, because there are some posts that take more work, like cake decorating or party planning. Those posts will take so much more time than like a recipe post.

Abeer: [00:12:03] So it was becoming hard for me to figure it out. And then we just started doing a ballpark range of how long it usually takes of those posts and then just creating a round figure for that. That worked out better for us.

Jillian: [00:12:15] Got it. And do you think of your husband as your business partner?

Abeer: [00:12:21] No he’s not officially a business partner, but yes, he’s someone that I do run my ideas through, someone whom I discuss all the technical stuff for my blog obviously.

Abeer: [00:12:31] And yes he’s my rock, right there. He’s helping me along and he’s been very supportive.

Jillian: [00:12:39] At what point did you think to yourself “This is a business.”

Abeer: [00:12:42] I think when my husband and I actually sat down to create those prices that was probably a turning point for me.

Abeer: [00:12:52] Because up until then it was more like, “Oh yeah sure. Here’s a little money,” and so forth. This little extra income coming in. Not a big deal.

Abeer: [00:13:02] But when we sat down and we decided on how we are going to promote our posts, and really sitting down creating a plan for everything. That’s when I felt like this is really a business.

Abeer: [00:13:19] That’s why we decided to put ads on our site as well and who we are going to go with why we’re going with them and so forth.

Jillian: [00:13:26] And you guys use AdThrive, which is who we used for Catch My Party.

Abeer: [00:13:30] Yes. And I love them. They’re great. I mean there’s Mediavine as well, people really like them, too. I think they’re both great, they both have their advantages and people should definitely talk to both before making a decision.

Jillian: [00:13:44] So today you’re monetizing via ads, via sponsored posts. Any other products or things that you sell or promote?

Abeer: [00:13:55] Oh we’ve been talking about it, me and my husband. We want a product like books or something. But it’s very early stages that we haven’t really formulated a plan yet as to what we’ll be doing.

Abeer: [00:14:08] If we do something it will probably be, maybe the end of this year during the holiday season. But again we’re still discussing it and figuring out what we want from the product for our blog.

Jillian: [00:14:20] And are you thinking more like a digital product?

Abeer: [00:14:23] We would prefer digital only because everything is so digitizing everything everyone is on mobile iPad. So it just seems to make more sense that way.

Abeer: [00:14:32] But we’re are also thinking of the actual products too, like baking products maybe. We haven’t really decided what baking products and what’s going to be written on them or how we’re going to go about it. But that is something definitely that we have been discussing as the next step.

Jillian: [00:14:50] Got it. And do you do affiliate sales?

Abeer: [00:14:52] I used to. I never had the same success as some other people do. I suppose maybe I don’t have that as a strength.

Abeer: [00:15:00] Amazon was not paying out as much as I would’ve wanted. And then there was also I think ShareaSale that I tried. That was a little better. It does pay sometimes for certain conversions.

Abeer: [00:15:14] But for me I think the recipe posts are really working out as well for some of the party posts. I felt like the results were a little better.

Jillian: [00:15:24] Now what about social media? Where do you live? What works for you?

Social media strategy as a food blogger

Abeer: [00:15:37] Most of our traffic comes from Pinterest. I think that is the case of most bloggers out there.

Abeer: [00:15:43] I feel Facebook is also very important. I’ve been working on slowly growing it. And you know moving it up there. I do want to keep it active and engaged and share videos, share other people’s stuff too. I do think that brands still value Facebook a lot and they’re willing to put money into Facebook for ads.

Abeer: [00:16:04] So that is something that people should definitely focus on. And that is something I still focus on hugely as well because obviously we have to focus on it, because it is a major source of traffic.

Jillian: [00:16:16] Now what about Instagram for you?

Abeer: [00:16:19] It’s OK for me. I’ve had some campaigns that are just for Instagram and they were very simple compared to any other campaigns where basically you’re told to share a picture or bake a cake or make a recipe and just photograph it share and it with your readers.

Abeer: [00:16:37] So it was a very easy way to get an income from Instagram. But I don’t think it is my main social media source out there.

Jillian: [00:16:48] Because I feel like food bloggers tend to love Instagram.

Abeer: [00:16:53] Oh I love sharing stuff on Instagram. I love the stories that they have because it is informal, and you know it goes into archives afterwards.

Abeer: [00:17:01] So I can share something with readers “Here I am at this conference, this is what’s going on. Look at all the food here.” Or I can share a food festival. “Oh my God you need to check this out.”

Abeer: [00:17:12] It is a lot of fun in that, but in terms of I guess traffic wise, it doesn’t really do anything. So, I don’t really put much effort into it because at the end of the day, I do want to drive traffic to the site as well.

Jillian: [00:17:26] So do you have a group? I kind of feel like food bloggers all know each other. Do you feel like you have friends or other food bloggers that you can bounce ideas off of?

How to build a support network as a food blogger

Abeer: [00:17:49] I do. I really feel like I do. And I think I’m very fortunate that I have those people in my life right now because at times you need that. For example, book deals. I’ve never really thought about it until someone reached out to me, and I thought, “I don’t want to do this right now.” Or maybe I do. I don’t know.

Abeer: [00:18:07] But you could talk with other bloggers who have been down that road and they would be happy to share their knowledge with you or even just what’s working for them in terms of Facebook. Some people are excellent with writing Facebook ads and then they tell you about it.

Abeer: [00:18:21] And I think it’s so great. So I feel like it does help to have colleagues. That’s what I call them, colleagues, they’re friends. And just like any other workplace where you have other employees or colleagues that you are working with. This is the same thing.

Abeer: [00:18:35] Yes you’re at your home. Yes you meet them at conferences. You don’t see them every day. But they are there. Technically they’re there 24 hours because you are on the internet.

Jillian: [00:18:43] Now where do you hook up? Like Facebook groups?

Abeer: [00:18:46] Sometimes, and we chat as well, we have each other’s numbers if we are really close. If we met at conferences so we have each other’s email address, we have Facebook messenger so we chat there.

Abeer: [00:19:01] Also meeting at conferences and just hanging out there, you know im each others rooms, hey come over to my room, we’ll hang out and if you have concerns or questions you just bring it up. Some one will share something and then it’s always very helpful to see how other people are doing things.

Jillian: [00:19:20] Your son is how old now?

Abeer: [00:19:21] My son just turned 6.

Jillian: [00:19:23] Wow ok. And how how does it work for you? How many hours a week are you working, how do you manage being a mom having a young son, and you know building a business?

Abeer: [00:19:38] I’m going to be very honest here, I think it’s hard. Anyone who is saying it’s easy, they need to show me their ways because it is hard.

Putting family first as a food blogger

Abeer: [00:19:45] My husband and I decided early on that we will make sure our son comes first, our family comes first. We also decided early on that I will usually only work on the blog or anything blog related when he’s at school or he’s at other activities.

Abeer: [00:20:02] I want to spend as much time with him when he’s home with me. Yeah so that was our plan and we really stuck to it. That’s not to say that things don’t come up sometimes. I go to conferences sometimes, so which means I’m away for two or three days.

Abeer: [00:20:15] Sometimes, you know there could be a deadline that’s looming. And you have to be thinking about that. “Ok sorry sweetie mommy needs to finish photographing this,” so he will understand that, but I try to make a habit of doing it every single day.

Abeer: [00:20:30] So he knows what I do. He knows that I take photographs and make recipes. I go to conferences and he slowly aware of it, but also make sure that we’re doing other activities that are very important to my family.

Abeer: [00:20:42] Like taking trips, road trips, take him to the park or just having family events or getting involved in the community. I think those things are equally important if not more.

Jillian: [00:20:53] Did you teach yourself photography?

Abeer: [00:20:56] Yes I did.

Jillian: [00:20:57] How did you do that?

Abeer: [00:20:59] Just by practicing. I mean there are YouTube videos that you can follow along to. At least to show you how the buttons work and what you’re supposed to do.

Abeer: [00:21:12] That was really helpful in the beginning but then honestly, the little guide that comes with the camera was very helpful too because initially I did not know what all those buttons that teachers were doing.

Abeer: [00:21:23] Or even the videography. When I started doing videos. I was lost. I did not know how to edit videos. And then as time went on we just kept practicing.

Abeer: [00:21:31] And you can see my old pictures or older videos are not the best. But I left them there, because they kind of show how far I’ve come and how far can you can go.

Jillian: [00:21:59] I feel like video is huge. Are you doing a lot of video?

Creating video as a food blogger

Abeer: [00:22:05] I am. I do four videos a month sometimes more.

Abeer: [00:22:09] For each week I do one video. If I do more than one video, it’s not really working out for me in terms of promoting it because if I do two videos a week and then promote them both, the videos do mediocre. But if I do one video I’m able to promote it more and I feel like I give it a fighting chance.

Abeer: [00:22:29] Again, every person has their own philosophy on videos, there are some some bloggers who say, “Oh I do like a video for every single recipe that I’m doing,” and they do share multiple videos a week and that’s excellent.

Abeer: [00:22:40] I mean if that can work out with their schedule and that’s getting the results that they are looking for. For me at this time, with my schedule and the results I’m seeing, one video per week, is where I was at.

Jillian: [00:22:53] Are these videos predominantly for YouTube?

Abeer: [00:22:56] No, I don’t do YouTube. YouTube has a different algorithm altogether. They prefer longer videos, a longer format. People there also prefer I guess more of a talking style where you are actually in the video talking. A little more personal approach to not a hands on style that you do for Facebook.

Jillian: [00:23:13] Got it. So these videos are like the Tasty style?

Abeer: [00:23:16] Exactly. So I make sure that those go on Facebook and they also go into my post.

Jillian: [00:23:20] Got it. And then you also put them on Instagram?

Abeer: [00:23:24] Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It just depends on sponsors. If they’ve asked me to put it on Instagram, I will and then sometimes I will just see how it performs and if it performs well then I will leave it there.

Abeer: [00:23:39] If not sometimes the pictures perform better for me on Instagram than the video. It’s weird. It depends on the video itself like what the video is about.

Jillian: [00:23:50] And do you find that people love the ooey gooey shots?

Abeer: [00:23:56] I think they do. I know some people find them very disgusting. I have family members like, “eew weird, that looks gross.” But they do really well. Ooey gooey shots with the caramel coming out or the chocolate ganache oozing out.

Abeer: [00:24:10] I think people are drawn to it on social media and they want that. You’re selling them with a picture. We only have a few seconds to sell our recipe to them or sell our video to them, to really grab their attention.

Abeer: [00:24:23] And if an ooey gooey shot is what’s working there and I’m happy to do it because that is what the recipe is. It’s not like I’m faking an ooey gooey shot.

Jillian: [00:24:35] Right. And would cheese work? Do you think it needs to be like chocolate or could it be cheese?

Abeer: [00:24:42] Cheese could work well too. I feel like because I personally, even I’m pinning as a user too. I’m glad, if that looks really cool I’m going to pin that, especially the grilled cheese when you show the cheese, a pull and cheese stretch between the two. It looks really good. I would eat that and I would share that on Facebook.

Jillian: [00:25:04] That’s funny. Now do you find that because Facebook keeps changing its algorithm that your videos do they get as much reach?

Abeer: [00:25:14] See that’s the reason I started doing one video, before I was doing a few more. Maybe two a week sometimes but then I realized that reach is going down so much that I was not able to get the same traction and I’m still not.

Abeer: [00:25:26] Not the same traction I was getting last year. The reach has definitely gone down and I feel like when the brands put in money sometimes that really does help with the video. But overall though it’s something which has gone down it’s not as high as it used to be.

Abeer: [00:25:43] I do know that they’re working on a Facebook watch channel. So I guess the attention is probably focused on that right now. But their video style is absolutely different than what I’m doing right now, the Tasty style. Those are longer.

Jillian: [00:25:58] Yeah, remember we learned at our conference. Facebook wants people to be creating it sounds like a TV channel.

Abeer: [00:26:08] Exactly, it’s kind of like YouTube style where they want you to be in there and talk about it. Why are you making this, share some tips and tricks while you’re making it. And that’s great. I understand what they’re doing. I think it is a great user experience. I just don’t know if I have the time right now to add that on as well.

Jillian: [00:26:23] Right. Right. When you’re managing your business, what would you say is one tool that you use that you could not live without?

Abeer: [00:26:33] Tool like an appliance?

Jillian: [00:26:35] No no no. Like any sort of scheduler or just some something that you use every day to manage your business.

Favorite tool: Spreadsheets

Abeer: [00:26:44] I think spreadsheets. I live on spreadsheets there is like a spreadsheet for everything.

Abeer: [00:26:49] I have a spreadsheet for all my posts so far, and there are columns like, does it have a video? Does it need some photo updates? Do I need to go back and rework the recipe? Maybe I’ve gotten better at the recipe where I can make it better. How can you update the post for SEO?

Abeer: [00:27:08] So I do a lot of those things where I go back and I look to my spreadsheets pretty aggressively figuring out what needs to be done and it also helps me create my to do list.

Jillian: [00:27:20] And how scheduled out are you? Are you planning for September or for June?

Abeer: [00:27:28] So as a dessert blogger and someone who does a lot of comfort food, for me, the big time is fall. Fall and Christmas. So I’m already ready photographing and basically making videos for those recipes.

Abeer: [00:27:42] In the meantime I’ve also done some for pure summer grilling season like grilled chicken and so forth.

Jillian: [00:27:50] Interesting OK.

Abeer: [00:27:51] So my main focus right now is for fall and Christmas.

Jillian: [00:27:55] Wow OK. And it’s only, today is what, May 1st actually. Wow. So you are very organized.

Abeer: [00:28:03] I think you need to be if you’re running a business. Or if you are doing any work. It’s not just a blogging business. Any work that you do even if you’re doing a nine to five in an office you need to be super organized in order to be efficient.

Abeer: [00:28:18] Because when I don’t do that I don’t have a to do list. I am honestly all over the place so I need a list. I need structure.

Jillian: [00:28:28] And especially working for yourself you don’t have a boss telling you, “I need this on my desk tomorrow.”

Abeer: [00:28:34] Yes. And also you have a family. So you have other commitments there, like my son has PTA meeting coming up or I have to go to school for a fundraiser or something or there’s something happening in the community that he’s involved in, maybe he has an event happening there I need to be at.

Abeer: [00:28:49] For me, I need to make sure that my work is basically scheduled around his work too. Or my husband has something coming up, so yeah.

Jillian: [00:28:58] OK. What is the one piece of advice you wished you knew when you were starting out?

Advice: Focus on SEO as a blogger

Abeer: [00:29:05] I wish I’d focused a bit more on SEO I really wish I did. I feel like I’m getting into it now. It’s really really helping and I’m seeing results. But I feel like social media, the algorithm is so volatile and things can change so abruptly you could have a million page views today. And barely anything happen tomorrow.

Abeer: [00:29:27] We’re all seeing that with Pinterest, we are all seeing that with Facebook. It’s just the way it is. You know even with Instagram reach is going down. But that’s what people are saying, and I’ve also been seeing that.

Abeer: [00:29:35] So it just seems like with Google, if you know your blog niche and you are writing good content that is relevant. It seems to give you more traffic and that traffic tends to pay better in terms of ads as well.

Jillian: [00:29:52] Yes. And I have to say you are not the first person who has said this in terms of what they wish they knew.

Abeer: [00:30:00] I feel like I took too long to get into it. But you know we’ve got to start somewhere. I mean it’s a business where you’re learning something new every day and you need to keep evolving with the changes. Whether it’s social media or whether it’s Google.

Abeer: [00:30:14] Google’s algorithm changes too. But at least you need to understand what’s happening and make changes accordingly. But before it was like I was totally ignoring Google, which I should not have.

Jillian: [00:30:26] And it seems like from other guests and what I’m learning as well, Google is really smart and if you structure your posts in a way that Google can understand them, then your chances of showing up in search go up drastically.

Abeer: [00:30:45] Exactly, that’s the thing. Sometimes I have a good post or decent pictures with a lot of social media traffic to back it up. But I’m just not ranking. And I go into the post and I’ve talked about maybe some random stuff or whatever. Or the posts content was so thin and it had less than 200 words or something.

Abeer: [00:31:01] And I’m like come on, I mean I would not click on that post. So it just seems to make more sense when you learn about that. Ok that makes sense. I know why the person is ranking higher.

Abeer: [00:31:13] Sometimes I see All Recipes or Genius Kitchen or something. They’re ranking high. The reason is because their content is something that the readers are liking and there are a lot of comments and they are engaging with.

Abeer: [00:31:28] So we need to make sure that we are doing the same thing with our content too. Obviously backlinks are important too. There’s so many little factors that go into the whole concept of SEO which I’m learning and thinking wow, I should’ve really focus on those. Back in the day when I started.

Jillian: [00:31:43] I know. But I always say, SEO is not sexy. It’s not not at all like Instagram sexy. It’s fun it’s like oh look what I just made, and you know it’s lots of hearts everywhere. This cute emoji.

Abeer: [00:32:02] Totally. No, I think SEO is a lot of work it is also a lot of learning at for me, it is a lot of learning and but at least now that I’m seeing results I’m more motivated to keep doing.

Abeer: [00:32:14] Because it’s making more sense to me I’m understanding it. And also make sense as to why Google is giving certain posts more priority than others. And it just makes a little more sense then sometimes the traffic that I see for Facebook, where basically I only see traffic when something goes viral.

Jillian: [00:32:30] Exactly. Well, Abeer, how can people reach out to you talk to you see what you’re doing? Let people know how they can connect.

Abeer: [00:32:42] They’re more than welcome to email me. My email address is abeer(at)cakewhiz.com, I’m also on Instagram as @cakewhiz1. I’m also on Facebook as CakeWhiz, on Twitter as CakeWhiz. So they can reach out to me anywhere they like and I’m happy to answer any questions they have.

Recommended food conferences

Jillian: [00:33:01] And are you going to any food conferences?

Abeer: [00:33:05] I am. I’m going to do Everything Food Conference in a few days now and I’m presenting there, on Pinterest.

Jillian: [00:33:13] Nice.

Abeer: [00:33:14] Yeah, it should be a lot of fun.

Jillian: [00:33:15] Where is that is happening?

Abeer: [00:33:17] In Utah.

Jillian: [00:33:18] Okay. Any others that I should try and meet up with you?

Abeer: [00:33:23] I was thinking of IFBC but I think it’s later in the year around fall. I’m still not sure if I’m going to that or not. So what is it again. It’s International Food Blog Conference.

Abeer: [00:33:37] I was there last year as a speaker. It was fine, it was just fine. I’m not sure about this here we have a lot of other things happening at the same time, so try to see if I can work that into my schedule.

Jillian: [00:33:50] Wonderful, thank you so much.

Abeer: [00:33:52] Thank you so much for having me.

Jillian: [00:33:56] And thank you for being my friend that first day.

Abeer: [00:34:00] You’re so sweet. Thank you.

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