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#287: The Secret Sauce to Food Blogging Success: SEO and AI

I’m Jillian Leslie, your host of the Blogger Genius podcast. Today, I’m excited to share some insights from a recent episode where I had the pleasure of speaking with Marley Braunlich, a rising food blogger from Baked Abundance.

In this podcast episode, I provide updates on my own ventures and shares insights from a recent conversation with a successful food blogger.

Marley and I discuss topics such as SEO, using AI tools, and Instagram strategies for growing a following.

We also touch on competitor research, video content, website optimization, branding, social media, and monetization.

Marley emphasizes the importance of building an email list and converting social media followers into email subscribers. I encourages listeners to start selling their expertise and offers through MiloTreeCart, the easiest to use tool to sell digital downloads.

The Secret Sauce to Food Blogging Success: SEO and AI | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

SEO for Food Bloggers: The Basics and Beyond

One of the main topics I discussed with Marley was SEO for food bloggers. SEO is a crucial aspect of blogging, and understanding its basics can significantly impact your blog’s visibility and traffic.

Marley emphasized the importance of starting with the basics, such as proper heading structure and optimizing title tags. The title tag, which is the clickable link that appears in Google search results, holds the most weight for SEO. Therefore, it’s crucial to have the highest volume keyword phrase at the front of the title tag.

We also discussed the challenges of balancing design preferences with SEO requirements. It’s not always easy, but it’s a necessary part of creating a successful blog.

Leveraging AI Tools for Faster Content Creation

Another exciting topic we touched on was using AI tools and strategies to create content faster.

Marley shared her experience using AI tools like ChatGPT to create optimized outlines for blog posts and generate ideas for different sections. She also found AI helpful for generating FAQs and other straightforward content that they find less enjoyable to write.

Instagram Strategies for Growing a Following

We also discussed Instagram strategies for growing a following.

Marley shared her entrepreneurial journey, starting her blog during the pandemic and leveraging her background in marketing and social media. She explained that her blog focuses on traditional and allergy-friendly recipes and is still in the process of growing her traffic and monetizing.

Building an Email List: Converting Social Media Followers into Subscribers

Marley emphasized the importance of building an email list and converting social media followers into email subscribers. She suggested offering unique content exclusively to email subscribers as a way to entice social media followers to join your email list.

Selling Your Expertise: The Power of Digital Products

Finally, I want to emphasize the importance of selling your expertise. If you’re working on your blog but haven’t focused on selling, it’s time to get closer to the sale and closer to the money.

I invite those interested in selling digital products and wanting to have a call with me to visit milotree.com/meet. I’m also excited to announce the upcoming launch of MiloTreeCart, which will be available for a limited time at our lifetime deal price of $349.


I hope you found these insights helpful. Join me again next week for another episode of the Blogger Genius podcast, where we’ll continue to explore the world of blogging and digital entrepreneurship.

Why You’ll Love This Episode:

  • Learn newest tips in SEO for food bloggers
  • Find out how to use AI tools and strategies to create content faster
  • Discover Instagram strategies for growing a following
  • Figure out how to choose high volume keyword phrases for the title tag
  • Know how to leverage competitor research and AI tools for keyword research

Show Notes:

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Podcast Transcript: “The Secret Sauce to Food Blogging Success: SEO and AI”

Intro (00:00:04) – Welcome to the Blogger Genius podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian Leslie (00:00:11) – Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius podcast. I’m your host, Jillian Leslie. I am a blogger and a serial entrepreneur. We started, my husband and I our journey in 2009 when we created Catch My Party. 

We just switched it over today to back to school content. So if you’re looking for anything like that, head over there. We launched our pop-up app in 2016, which so many of you use to grow your social media followers and email subscribers. And it is easy. 

And now we’ve launched MiloTreeCart, which is again, the easiest way for bloggers, creators, coaches to sell digital products to their audiences. I like to share updates on what I’m learning.

And this week I was on a call with a food blogger who is a gluten free baker, and she set up an ebook and it started selling. And I said, “My friend, you have found gold. Go deeper.”

Jillian Leslie (00:01:12) – So she said, “Okay, so I need to do another ebook.” And I said, “What is something that people constantly ask you about?” And she said, “Starters.”I said, “Okay, how about doing a paid workshop? A one hour paid workshop is a way to test to see if people will come on starters.”

And she said, “Yeah, but it’s all over YouTube, shouldn’t it be something a little fancier?” And I said, “Trust me, people want basic and everything’s on YouTube. So if you can present yourself as an expert, somebody people trust, then chances are you could sell this.”

Now she’s going to try. She’s going to test it and I will keep you posted. And a workshop is a great second product off of an ebook. You do your ebook, you see people are interested and then you figure out a very basic topic and teach it for an hour on Zoom. 

The Secret Sauce to Food Blogging Success: SEO and AI | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Using AI to Create Content Faster 

And if two people sign up, I told her this, please do the workshop because you will have the recording and then you can sell it as a mini course. With MiloTreeCart. This is how you build your digital product empire. This is going to be even more important in the world of AI. 

We’re going to talk about it in today’s episode. So, for today’s episode, I’m interviewing Marley Braunlich from the food blog called Baked Abundance, and she’s a relatively new food blogger. However, she is sharp. 

And the two I was going to say three topics we talk about one SEO, what that means today and as a new food blogger, how she thinks about it because she started her food blog business first, not hobby first. 

Two, we talk about tools and strategies for using AI to help her create content faster. And three, we talk about her Instagram strategies because she has a very big Instagram page. 

So, if you are a food blogger, I think you’re going to find this fascinating. And if you are not a food blogger, I still think you are going to find this fascinating. So without further delay, here is my interview with Marley Braunlich.

Marley, welcome to the Blogger Genius podcast.

Marley Braunlich (00:03:27) – Thank you for having me, Jillian. It’s so nice to chat with you.

Jillian Leslie (00:03:30) – So you are a food blogger and you reached out to me and you said, “I’ve got some interesting things to share.”

We’re going to talk about how you do keyword research, but before we launch into that, will you just share your entrepreneurial journey and how you got into food blogging and where you are today?

Starting a Food Blog During the Pandemic

Marley Braunlich (00:03:50) – Definitely. So, I kind of started food blogging with just a passion for baking like a lot of other people during the pandemic. I was just baking and cooking a ton at home and really learn to love it and trying new things. So, I decided I wanted to start a food blog. 

I knew nothing about food blogging at all. I didn’t know anything about SEO or keyword research. So, I was really starting with my own knowledge of marketing and social media and not really the information I needed to know as a food blogger. 

Jillian Leslie (00:04:22) – In a previous life, were you a marketer? Were you inherently online?

Marley Braunlich (00:04:29) – Definitely. I went to school for marketing and I had a couple of marketing positions, both internships and a full time position after I graduated. And then actually during college, I also had a personal blog that I shared all kinds of things on. 

But again, I didn’t really know anything about growing my traffic and it was more like a hobby blog, but I definitely was into social media during the pandemic. I started an Etsy company and was selling homemade goods as well. 

So, I definitely have that entrepreneurial spirit and I’m really glad it’s landed me with food blogging because that really is my passion today.

Jillian Leslie (00:05:05) – So, you decided to lean into baking with your food blog. And what’s interesting is that in a weird way, by you starting fresh, two years ago, three years ago, that you have an advantage over us old school bloggers because we have a lot of cruft.

And we started at a time before it was this sense of you do keyword research and you back into what an audience might be interested in.

It was like I’d wake up in the morning and be watching our blog about today and having gone through our Catch My Party blog, which has been around since 2009, one, I’m incredibly embarrassed by the first hundred blog posts. 

And two, I’ve had to delete a lot of that content because it’s holding us down. It’s like a big anchor. So in a weird way, you starting fresh, knowing how to do this as a business, thinking about all of these things at the get go, I think gives you a big advantage.

Marley Braunlich (00:06:17) – Definitely think it helps speed things up a little bit since most people are starting with more of that business mindset.

Doing some keyword research, maybe talking to other people and starting to figure out what SEO is and maybe just a year in there, learning all those things and applying them to their business and that they can grow a lot faster that way. 

I also think there’s a lot more competition now too and wish I could just write about whatever I wanted that would be amazing.

Jillian Leslie (00:06:42) – Where is your blog now? Is it a full time income for you? Are you working with sponsors? How are you? What is your niche and how are you monetizing your food blog?

Marley Braunlich (00:06:56) – My food blog is both traditional and allergy friendly recipes and that’s my focus. It is fairly broad, but it just is based off of my own family. Some of us are maybe gluten free or egg free, but then others can eat anything. 

I like having a little bit of a mix there because I feel like most people’s families might be the same way. And I don’t want to exclude anyone from my recipes. If I can provide a gluten free option or an egg free option. So, that’s kind of what I focus on there. 

My blog currently is not with an ad network or anything like that. I’m still just working on growing my traffic. I think I launched my blog in August of 2021, so it’s still relatively new for me and it’s just something I do on the side while I work full time in SEO.

Jillian Leslie (00:07:44) – You work full time in SEO?

Marley Braunlich (00:07:48) – Yes, I work for an agency and that’s my 9 to 5. So, I try to work on the blog outside of that. But I started this new job, a month after I launched my website. 

And so, it was kind of really funny timing and I was able to really gain that new understanding of SEO and start to apply that to my website and also assist like other blogger friends or coaching clients with it.

Jillian Leslie (00:08:12) – Let’s talk about SEO and the secrets that you know that we might not know.

The Basics of Food Blogging SEO

Marley Braunlich (00:08:21) – Let’s do it. I would say that the basics are going to be the foundation for anybody. Whenever I started, I didn’t even know what heading structure was like, that is just really boiling it down to the basics. 

Like one H1 followed by H2s followed by H3s. You want to make sure that your blog post format is structured properly and that you aren’t having multiple ones.

Even with a lot of my clients, depending on who designs the website every single heading might be an H1 and you’re like, okay, whoa, whoa, whoa. Like, got to fix this. We only need one H1. So really just starting with the basics, understanding the keyword research, making sure your title tags in each one are optimized is a great place to start.

Jillian Leslie (00:09:05) – It’s funny because on Catch My Party when our designer designed our site H4s look better than our H3s. My VA, who’s a designer, doesn’t like our H3s, so she’d be using H4s instead of H3s. 

And then we did an audit and it was like, oh, all this has to change because Google isn’t thinking about the fact that our H3s don’t look that good, our H4s look better. 

And so in our page structure, if you look at the actual structure, we’d be getting dinged, like we’d be getting a report saying, “Structures like this are wrong.” And so, we had to go back and make sure that H2 follows the H1. It’s so stupid and it seems so. 

And it was funny because when I had to tell this to my assistant, I could see it. It kind of violated her design skills. And I’m like, “No, no, no, we have to do this because of Google.” So it’s just funny that way that was something that we just chose is like a design choice. And yet now, Google wants things served up in a very specific way.

Marley Braunlich (00:10:23) – That’s very interesting. I think sometimes at the site level, you’re able to influence the look of those H2, H3, H4s and just change it across the board. So, that could maybe be an option. But that’s an interesting story. You definitely want to have everything you want, have the right sizes, match talk type.

Jillian Leslie (00:10:44) – Talk to me about what you mean by title tags. What is that? How should you optimize this?

The Secret Sauce to Food Blogging Success: SEO and AI | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

The importance of title tags for SEO

Marley Braunlich (00:10:50) – The title tag holds the most weight for SEO, so whatever your article or post is on, you want to have the highest volume phrase in the front of your title tag.

Jillian Leslie (00:10:59) – Where is my title tag? Where are people finding this?

Marley Braunlich (00:11:03) – The title tag is the clickable link that you can see in the Google search results and on your website, if you’re using something like WordPress with a Yoast plugin, that’s exactly where we’re going to add your title tag. 

So, if you’re using Yoast, you can just scroll down to the bottom of your post and whatever you’re using will typically have a section where you can add title tag, meta description. 

For the title tag, you can remove what they’re automatically putting in there and then just optimize it with that highest volume keyword phrase. That’s like your root phrase for your post.

Choosing between high traffic and low competition keywords

Jillian Leslie (00:11:32) – But here’s the thing do I want to go after a high traffic keyword or do I want to be more strategic and go after a low competition keyword?

Marley Braunlich (00:11:46) – Whenever I say a high volume keyword in the front of your title tag, that would be after you’re already doing all that keyword research for your post.

So, if you were taking a more strategic angle and you looked at all the competition, you looked at the top sites that were ranking for that phrase already in Google, then you narrow that down.

And of those remaining phrases, you’re choosing that you think you can rank for whatever is the highest volume of that you would put in the title tag and then maybe the same or a similar variation in the H1. And then those smaller volume keywords that are like semantic or related keywords in H2’s and H3.

Jillian Leslie (00:12:23) – Here’s a question. If I’m using Yoast and I’m using the free version of Yoast, do I need to get it to green?

Marley Braunlich (00:12:31) – No, definitely not. That is one of my favorite things to kind of debunk. Whenever I started, I was trying to get everything to be green. I didn’t even know anything and I was using Yoast and I was adding the weirdest things to my title tags in each one because it was trying to give you recommendations. 

And so, you’re adding all these different modifiers to the front and it’s just an amazing, delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe and you do not need that in the front of your title tag. You want it to be accurate and not just messy. 

So, don’t follow all the things with Yoast. You don’t have to worry about getting every single thing green and you just don’t really have to worry about if you have some oranges and reds. You’re going to be okay as long as you’re following SEO best recommendations. 

Jillian Leslie (00:13:15) – Google’s gotten smart so Google can understand the context of what you’re writing without you having to put your keyword in 24 times.

Marley Braunlich (00:13:26) – Exactly. It’s better to use different variations as well. You want to make sure you have all of those different related keywords in there too.

Jillian Leslie (00:13:33) – Let’s talk about tools you use both at work and for your blog. Maybe there’s overlap and what you recommend when you set out to go, “Okay, I’m going to write an optimized post.”

Using tools for keyword research and post optimization

Marley Braunlich (00:13:48) – You want to make sure you’re using some kind of tool for keyword research. I personally use Semrush. That’s what I use at my job. And then also for my blog and I know some other food bloggers use key search.

I’m sure other bloggers could use that one as well. I think those are two of the most popular options. And then there are some other ones that I’m sure other people use, but I like Semrush for now, it’s fairly easy to use. 

You can see competition like you mentioned and use it to look at your competitors websites as well. So Semrush is a really good one. Of course, anyone with a website is going to want to look at Google Analytics and Google search console and also use Trello or Asana for project management tasks.

Jillian Leslie (00:14:30) – Semrush is expensive, so that can be tricky. And one thing, I hope they’re not listening to this, but you and a friend might go in on an account together if you trust each other and stuff like that. But you are looking for what when you go into semrush. What exactly are you looking for?

Marley Braunlich (00:14:59) – Go through a post.

Jillian Leslie (00:15:00) – Give me a post of something either you recently wrote or you’re about to write, and let’s break it down.

Speaker 3 (00:15:07) – I will do one of my recent cookie recipes. I’ve been publishing lots and lots of cookies, so one recipe I wanted to do was caramel chocolate chip cookies. 

So, if you were trying to just think of other types of chocolate chip cookie recipes to make, that would be the root phrase you would start with in there and then you would really need to utilize all the different filters to narrow that down to recipes that you could rank for and then also find variations. 

One thing I like to do with keyword research is get ideas for recipes I can make. Sometimes I know I want to use something like this is another one on my list would be dried lavender, but I’m like, what are people even looking for if they want to use dried lavender in either baking or some kind of recipe? 

Maybe you could type lavender recipe and then sort it by a certain keyword difficulty, like under 35 or just in an easier range. Start seeing what’s going to come up for that.

It’s going to be a mix of lavender queries, it could be lavender lotion recipe, but then it also could be lavender lemonade recipe. And then maybe you can identify that one as something you could put in your food blog.

Jillian Leslie (00:16:12) – Were you just like, “I’m interested in the lavender flavor, so I’m going to start there?” So, that was some inspiration from your life or your flavor profile, that kind of thing. 

It’s not like you do get a say, hey, I want to make cookies, but I’m not just going to make any or I want to make chocolate chip cookies, but not just any kind of chocolate chip cookies. I’m going to let Semrush give me some ideas and then I’m going to pick from them.

Marley Braunlich (00:16:39) – Yes, exactly. So, whenever you’re a new blogger, especially, or if you just want to write something that everybody is going to have a post for, if it feels like you really, really want to write it anyway, go for it.

Let’s say just plain chocolate chip cookies might not be something that I’m going to rank for because there’s already ten other sites and really popular pages that are already talking about that. 

And they’ve had, you know, a ton of backlinks to that page and they have 400 reviews. It’s just going to be really hard to compete. So then you go into other things like caramel chocolate chip cookies or eggless chocolate chip cookies is another really interesting one. 

And then even using some of those dietary restrictions because maybe less people are looking for a gluten free and vegan cookie than just a chocolate chip cookie.

Jillian Leslie (00:17:23) – So, you get your idea. You’re going to do caramel chocolate chip cookies. And then how are you doing this? How are you breaking down this post?

Marley Braunlich (00:17:32) – I kind of identify some additional related phrases in Semrush. So then you would be using variations of that top phrase, which is caramel chocolate chip cookies.

And you would do like caramel stuffed chocolate chip cookies, chip cookies with caramel and just trying to get like all of those different related phrases like store bought caramels, soft caramels, salted caramel. And so just incorporating that into both the copy and other headings.

Jillian Leslie (00:18:02) – And then anything else that you are doing, how about your photographs? How are you optimizing your photos? How many photos are you putting in your post?

Marley Braunlich (00:18:13) – Honestly, I don’t even know how many pictures I’m putting off the top of my head because I do include step-by-step process shots, which is another important way you can stand out.

With the rise of AI and just more and more content is going to be published, you want to think about how much value can you add to your post. How can you make it stand out? 

And if you look at those top results on Google, what do they have in their post? You want to make sure you have all of that information, yours as well. That is unique to you.

But then more like you want to have the best, deepest article you can. And so you’re going to look at your competitors, see what they’re doing, do that, but do it better.

And so step-by-step process shots can be a really nice thing if you have a craft website or the food blog and include that for your audience.

Jillian Leslie (00:18:59) – Absolutely. I want to reiterate that, yes, you do need to be thinking about your competition and yes, you need to gamify it. You need to look at what they are doing. You need to copy what they’re doing in your own style and then up it. 

It’s funny because I think as women we’re like, oh no, that’s, that’s mean. I shouldn’t really do that. But I promise you if you don’t do it, other people will do it to you. So it seems cutthroat and it is cutthroat. 

I think food blogging especially has gotten the memo that it is targeting other food bloggers keywords. And that sounds awful and mean, but it is a business. So if you’re not going to do it, somebody else is going to do it. Plus, I think we get really like, No, I’m going to do what I want to do.

And somehow the Google gods are going to shine their light on me. And it’s like, no, it really is about looking at those top posts and going after those posts.

Marley Braunlich (00:20:08) – It’s interesting you bring up the competitor piece because not only on Instagram will notice a lot of people I follow posting very similar types of recipes or maybe the same same idea of a recipe, but their own spin on it. 

But doing that competitor research in a tool like Semrush Ricky search and seeing what your competitors are ranking for can be a really great way to also start that keyword research process and see what kind of things are out there that I should rank for.

If a blog is similar in terms of domain authority and how long they’ve been around and like the types of articles that they post to your own, that could be a really great tool to just capitalize on that as well and make sure when they’re showing up, you’re showing up too.

Advertisement (00:20:52) – I want to take a short break to give you some advice. And this is please start creating products and putting them out there and working the sales muscle. It is uncomfortable at first. It feels weird and yet it is something you can get good at. 

So, if you need a product, no problem, start with an ebook and to help you I recommend you download my ebook, which is all about how to use ChatGPT to write an entire ebook and get it up in less than three hours. To grab this go to milotree.com/aiebook. 

And once you do it once, it’s easy to do again. Remember selling products is all about testing, putting stuff out there, seeing what people want, learning and iterating. So again, milotree.com/aiebookbook. And now back to the show. 

Jillian Leslie – It is weird because I’ve had some bloggers I’ve talked to and they’re like, “Oh my God, there’s this other blogger and she posts something and boom, like two weeks later she’s posting the same thing. And that does suck. And it feels bad and it feels cutthroat and it feels like you’re cheating.” 

However, it is the way it’s working right now. But this is something that I do want to talk to you about because we were talking about it a little bit before I pressed the record. And tell me your thoughts about AI and how you are using AI in your business, in your food blog.

Using AI for Optimized Outlines

Marley Braunlich (00:22:38) – Yes, we were already talking about it a little bit because we both really like it. And then also we like keeping the other side in mind as well. So, I do use AI both professionally and personally for my blog. 

As a food blogger, I think a tool like ChatGPT would be a great way to create optimized outlines. That’s something I’ve been doing, just testing out recently and doing a query like an optimized outline with an H1 and H2 on this topic, colon, whatever the topic. 

And then sometimes I’ll put like drop a link of another article that is at the top of the Google search results and say this is a good example of a post on this topic.

And so then that way it’s also possible considering that competitor and what they have in their post and making sure the headings they’re going to provide you are actually accurate and relevant to the type of article you want to write. 

So that’s kind of like a sneaky hack, I guess you could try out to create different outlines that are SEO optimized. They’re definitely over optimized. ChatGPT will include the same keyword in majority of the headings. So you want to keep that in mind and just use it as a starting point. 

And then maybe you can just pull out related things or just get ideas for different types of sections. You might want to have benefits, risks, I don’t know, they’re seeking advice, other types of articles it might or headings in my chair.

Jillian Leslie (00:24:08) – Because here’s the thing too. Right now if I were doing that, I’d go to Bard because Bard is Google and ChatGPT is I think I don’t remember what they’re like where they have data up until, but it’s sometime in 2021.

And I feel like bard now and all you have to do is type google.com I think and you should probably have like we now have access to it on our paid Google accounts. Initially you couldn’t get access to it. Now we can but I would be doing all of my keyword research with AI using Bard.

Even though I pay for the paid GPT. I feel like if I want, it’s kind of like if I’m doing video, I want to be on YouTube because YouTube is Google. Just thinking about it that way I think is useful. 

And again, I love that idea of putting in a blog post and saying, Hey, it should compete with this kind of post or to give it an idea to optimize it. So you will do it for your outline. Will you do it for the writing of the sections?

Marley Braunlich (00:25:24) – I have tested it for that and have used some of it. I do it more so for reasons why someone would like X recipe. And that way I can’t really think of that many different reasons or if I’m just not in a good writing flow, I can just get some ideas and see what it provides.

And so you could do reasons why people love snickerdoodle cookies or something. And it might say something like warming perfect for the holidays, great for birthday parties, and then it just starts to list out all those things, which are things that I feel that I already know. 

But for me, I’m just thinking about the recipe, taking the photos, getting the post up, what my family and friends had to say about the cookie, which is usually just that it was so good. They never really provide detailed reviews or anything like that. 

And then it just starts to get monotonous after doing cookie recipe after recipe after recipe, and you’re like, “What else can I say about this?” So, it is helpful for some brainstorming if you’re in a rut. And so, I like to use it for things like that. 

And then my favorite use case for food bloggers specifically, or I guess this could work if you have another step-by-step type of process that you need to write up, I’ll just drop the ingredients to my recipe in chat and then ask it to write me the recipe instructions.

I just dread writing, like get a mixing bowl, whisk this until mixed thoroughly. That’s just so boring for me to explain what to write out.

Jillian Leslie (00:26:47) – What does that prompt look like? You’ll literally copy, will you say like quarter cup of flour? Like two cups of flour, whatever. And you put just the ingredients. 

Marley Braunlich (00:27:02) – Say the name of the recipe. So, I’d be for this caramel chocolate chip cookie recipe example. I would just grab my list of ingredients with all the measurements, but you don’t really necessarily need the measurements, but just already have it typed out. 

So, I’ll grab that and say write recipe instructions for caramel chocolate chip cookies and then just include the ingredients. And then it writes me a step-by-step recipe instructions. 

And typically everything is pretty accurate, I’ll change maybe the oven temperature and just reword a couple things, maybe remove a step if it added something in there that didn’t make sense, but it really flushes it out for the most part for me already, which it’s like a weird mental hurdle for me to just get the instructions written.

And so then I’d rather just read over them and proofread and edit, then start from scratch. So, that’s like a fast way to write those up.

Jillian Leslie (00:27:52) – That’s wonderful. I also use it for FAQs. I will look on Google at what other questions are asked about whatever this topic is, but if I want some quick FAQs like can you freeze the cookies? Or how, how long are they good? Or what do they go well with? 

Or those kinds of substitutions, can you make a vegan version of this, whatever it is? But I find FAQs, too. It’s one of those things where I’m like, oh, I can’t think of FAQs. So I use Google just in that search result. But then I’m also just asking ChatGPT, what else?

Marley Braunlich (00:28:40) – That’s a great use case. I also use it for FAQ’s because I tend to find that those are the more boring writing. I’m more of a creative writer. I’d rather write something that’s more fun or storytelling. 

So whenever it comes down to those just super straight answers that are just freeze cookies for three months, like the da da da, I just can’t read those. So, it’s perfect for that.

Jillian Leslie (00:29:04) – So, back to the post that we had talked about and we were just kind of talking. I took us on a direction of talking about AI. Are there other SEO strategies you are using? 

We are talking about putting variations of whatever your main keyword is using Semrush for those ideas. Are there other things? And we talked about putting in, let’s say, process shots or putting in your why you would like this or FAQs, those kinds of things. 

Are there other things you are doing for SEO or looking at your competitors? What else are you doing? Video, for example?

Marley Braunlich (00:29:44) – I’m personally not doing any video on my posts. I want to say I recently listened to another podcast or saw something on a Facebook group and someone was asking if video is really going to matter for your blog posts.

How much value does it add and is it necessary? Do you really need to focus on it and want to say that Casey Markee responded to that and said it’s nice to have. So, I do try to get some short form video content for social media. 

I’ve thought about repurposing that and just uploading even the vertical format of that, which I’ve seen other people do to their websites, which I think would be great. If people do watch it, it would increase your watch time if people are watching it, which would increase your time on the page, which is great for SEO. 

So, if you have the video content, I would say use it and just make sure it’s not slowing down your website and things aren’t loading properly. But if you don’t have it, I think it’s not going to hold you back.

The importance of video in blog revenue

Jillian Leslie (00:30:37) – And I would say that if you have video on your site and you’re with an ad network, you can make a lot more money by uploading video.

And again, AdThrive, for example, we use their video player, but you don’t want to embed the video into your blog. You want it to be a YouTube link or your ad networks video player. 

But from a revenue point of view, there are reasons why you would want video, even though from a user experience, if I’m doing a recipe, like a video I’m not going to be pausing the video to follow the instructions, I just want to print it out and have it right there while I’m baking or cooking.

Investing in website themes and core web vitals

Marley Braunlich (00:31:27) – A couple other things that I would recommend. Just making sure you’re aware of and taking a look at would be core web vitals. An easy way to see if you’re passing those is to use the Pagespeed insights tool. 

This goes along with another topic I wanted to hit on, which was things I wish I knew when I started. And one of those things was just investing from the get go. 

Whenever I started my website, I had a pretty cheap host, a pretty cheap website theme, and I was failing core web vitals pretty, pretty badly and recently upgraded to the Feast Plugin in the foodie pro theme. 

And now I’m passing vitals with flying colors and it happened pretty much immediately. So, that was a really huge lift in terms of a technical update. And I would recommend looking at that Pagespeed insights in the Core Vitals score.

Jillian Leslie (00:32:23) – And we recommend that as a food blogger, even a craft blogger. Here’s the thing that I think people get hung up on. Seeing their blog on their laptop screen, and they get hung up on their logo and their colors and their fonts. 

And if somebody is commenting on your logo or your fonts, then you’re doing something wrong because you want them to be interacting with your content. So, you want your theme and you want your colors and all that to go to the background. 

You want your content in the foreground and most people are coming to your site on mobile, so therefore you optimize it like crazy for your laptop or have a huge desktop, for example. And I do fall into that.

I do go, oh, I’m on my site all the time on my desktop thinking this is how people are experiencing it and they’re not. They’re looking at it on mobile, which is why you’ll go, but all these food blogs look the same and maybe the structure of their themes are very similar, but the content is what you want to be popping out at people. 

So that’s okay because on mobile everything shrinks down anyway. There’s very little differentiation on mobile between different themes. So, I agree with you. Go for fast optimized themes and if you are worried about your logo or your brand colors, you’re in the wrong direction.

Marley Braunlich (00:34:00) –  I totally agree with that. And I would even say with my past experience with other little entrepreneurial pursuits I had, that in the end  just fell to the wayside. Don’t spend so much time on branding and logos because, one, you’re probably going to end up changing it in like a year because you’re not going to like the colors you picked.

 You’re going to have a whole new vision and it’s not the most important thing.  I think a lot of times that slows you down and holds you back from even launching a site because you’re waiting to get all of those different brand colors and everything sorted out. 

So yeah, definitely don’t stress that too much because it’s probably going to change. And with all of the food blog sites looking the same, I feel like that was a really fun, interesting point that you made.

I think I noticed that more because I have other friends and colleagues that have food blogs and they are on the same theme as me, but my mom or someone’s sister, someone’s friend or probably not visiting all of those different food blogs that use the same template and picking up on that, we’re just looking at it because we’re looking at our competitors all the time. 

We’re looking at our friends’ sites and they all use the same theme. I genuinely don’t come across in other searches in my daily life. A lot of websites use the same theme, so I wouldn’t get hung up on that either.

Jillian Leslie (00:35:13) – And I would argue it’s like the SUV situation. Have you noticed that virtually all SUVs start to look alike? And then in our minds, we associate that style with SUVs. And so we weirdly get trained to think this is how an SUV should look. 

So, I would say that it’s not it might actually work to your advantage because people will see your food blog that looks like other people’s food blogs just in terms of their overall basic structure and be like, oh, this is a food blog I can trust. This is a high quality food blog, so I’m just going to put that out there. 

I don’t know if that’s true, but it is. They do talk about that over the last ten years or so, SUVs have all started to resemble each other for that very reason, because people are familiar with this look, and without subconsciously we think, oh, SUV should look this way.

Marley Braunlich (00:36:17) – That’s a good point. And like that, you are thinking that maybe it could already automatically give users and visitors to your site just a good feeling of trust when they get to your website, because by having that more professional website theme, that’s really fast and effective and very clean and modern. 

A lot of those more successful bloggers are using that similar theme. So, if someone is really successful with a similar website and maybe you’re brand new, you’re already looking like a good competitor to them, to someone else who maybe is discovering you for the first time.

Jillian Leslie (00:36:53) – Talk about social media with me. What are you seeing food bloggers doing on social media that might be refreshing or getting results?

Differentiating your food blog on social media

Marley Braunlich (00:37:05) – I would say that voice over, not everyone does them. And so, if you do a voice over with your reel or TikTok video, it does add a really nice element of storytelling rather than just using music. It is an extra layer too. Take the time out of your day to record a little voiceover and put it on there.

Or maybe not everyone likes to have their voiceover video, but think that’s a really nice way to stand out. 

And also you can tell people more things about the recipe and you can pull out those things from your blog post where you already listed variations or substitutions or reasons why people might like it or holidays that it would be good for. 

So, you could include that in your voiceover and say, here’s why this is perfect for your Memorial Day barbecue coming up and just give more backstory to the recipe.

Jillian Leslie (00:37:51) – And you could put subtitles of your voiceover so that people who don’t want to listen to sound can at least read along, which I think is how most people are consuming social media content. But it does your right to add another layer. 

The thing that I keep on saying over and over again right now is the more you can differentiate yourself, the more you can go, “Hey, I’m not just the person behind this food blog, but I am Marley and here’s what I believe in and here’s how I want to be helpful.”

And here’s a little bit of my story. I think that is going to be even more important as we move forward, especially as a way to stand out. We are talking about that. 

I have multiple I would say, prongs to it. One is, of course, this potential existential threat and that we’re all going to ultimately die. I try not to go there too. It is super helpful for creating content. 

And if you don’t, if you’re not jumping on that, you’ve got to jump on that because other people are jumping on it and they’re going to use it like crazy or they are. 

So, you’ve got this great resource to help you churn out content faster. On the flip side, there will be more competition with content. I believe. 

Again, I know nothing, but just based on my own search behavior, I just got this from my husband. Let’s see if I can find the name of it. It was like a search tool and I’ve been using it now instead of even ChatGPT.

And I’m like, “Oh, that’s really good.” It’s called Perplexity AI, it’s free and it’s easy and it’s just a search tool, kind of like Google. So, who knows what’s going to happen. But do I believe there will be pressure on traffic? Kind of do. I don’t know. 

I was having this conversation with my husband today, who’s my partner, and he’s the technologist. And I said, “What do you think is going to happen with search traffic?” And he said, “If I had to bet, I think search traffic will probably go down for everybody across the board.”

He goes, “But I wouldn’t be surprised either if it went up, I don’t necessarily think that will happen, but if it did happen, I also would go, Oh, I could see that.”

It’s like nobody knows. Anybody who tells you they know anybody who thinks they can quantify it. Please take that with a grain of salt because things are changing so quickly.

My recommendation is I share all the time is be turning on different revenue streams and definitely sell products. This is again where MiloTreeCart, our tool for selling digital products comes in. But please do not just rely on ad revenue. 

Lots of food bloggers have made a ton of money by leaning into SEO and getting lots of traffic and putting display ads on their blogs. And I think it’s going to get rougher out there if that’s the only way you’re monetizing. 

So that’s why it’s like, oh, I am Marley and Marley has a food blog rather than, hey, I’m just hiding. I’m just in the back, turning the dials and putting this food blog out there and hoping to do an SEO traffic play.

Importance of building an email list

Marley Braunlich (00:41:35) – And if you’re worried about traffic going down because of AI or just an increase in competition and maybe you already have ad revenue coming in, like your website’s been pretty fully built out. I think a really good place to focus would be your email list.

And that’s something that with having a social media audience I always think about is, most of those people are not. Not even most. Almost all of those people are not subscribed to my email list. 

And so, if Instagram were someday just to shut down or something happened or my account got hacked, what are you going to do with your social media account if you don’t control that? So really putting more effort into your email list could be another great way to connect with your audience. 

Make sure you still have that control and you also could monetize that as well. If you have some good metrics there and you have a good amount of subscribers.

Jillian Leslie (00:42:27) – Absolutely. So, be thinking about taking your social media followers and figuring out a way to turn them into email subscribers. Think of your social media as top of your funnel. I always think of it this way in terms of awareness. 

Like somebody stumbles upon a reel, let’s say, who didn’t know you from Adam, but if you’ve got them for like a quarter of a second, how can you turn that into one second? How can you turn that into, let’s say, A.

You’re offering some freebie or something that they want and boom, now they’re on your email list and now you can introduce yourself rather than just I’m a pin on Pinterest or I’m a reel on Instagram that you really want to think about moving people off of social media to a place where you can build that stronger relationship to them.

Convert social media followers into email subscribers

Marley Braunlich (00:43:17) – A great offer you can try to use on social media to convert those people over to your email list would be maybe creating unique content that you’re only sharing out to your email list. 

So I know some food bloggers will share a few recipes that are only shared with their subscribers.

My take on this, I would say if you’re if you’re the blogger, pick a recipe that is not going to be something that one down the line you’re going to want to put on your website and then you’re going to feel bad like, “Oh, I told people this was just for my subscribers.” But I want it on my website now.

And don’t pick one of those higher volume or really great keywords that should be on your site. Maybe there’s something that you just want to make for fun and no one’s even looking for it and it’s like a family recipe or maybe it’s just a variation that isn’t popular. 

It has so many ingredients in it and they’re not very common or something would make that be the free one you’re giving to your email subscribers.

Only that way you’re not missing out on really good blog content that could be working for you, but having a post to your feed, that’s something that looks delicious. 

Saying, “Hey, if you want the recipe for this, it’s only minimalist, go sign up and you’ll get it.” That could be a nice way to convert those followers.

Jillian Leslie (00:44:30) – So, what you would do is let’s say it’s even one of these trending recipes. That’s maybe not necessarily something that you would normally make, but that you do like the upside down pastry or something like that.

And you go, “Hey,” because it would be eye-catching and trending and you would do like a post in your feed or a reel and you’re saying, “Hey, if you want it,it’s not available anywhere except to my email subscribers sign up here.” Make it feel scarce is what you’re saying.

Marley Braunlich (00:45:01) – Exactly.

Jillian Leslie (00:45:03) – I love that idea. I love that. I think that like anybody who’s listening to this, who can just come up with that, that’s an easy way versus creating the ebook, get people excited about something and all they have to do to get it is just put in their email address like, whoa, I really like and you can deliver it just in the email.

You don’t even have to create a pdf for it.

Marley Braunlich (00:45:31) – You can just put it right in the email. I use Flodesk to create my emails and really enjoy it. I think everything is super visually appealing and I just think as a creative.

I really appreciate the different types of templates and just having a visually appealing email structure, but you can just put it right in there and then that way they don’t have to download anything. 

Or you could even create something really quick in Canva and then even have a printable option or something. And they could click a button and see a version they could print to.

Jillian Leslie (00:46:02) – What I like about what you’re saying. I feel like you’ve given some really good ideas. For example, if it feels weird putting yourself out there. I love your idea of do a voiceover in a reel, let’s say, or in a story or something like that, and then just have the subtitles.

At least then people are getting a taste of you. Let’s say, dancing or doing some big thing, How can you just put out pieces of who you are and tell your story through your blog, through your food, but where you go, “Oh my God, there’s a real person there.”

Marley Braunlich (00:46:44) – Because the power of audio is amazing.

Jillian Leslie (00:46:47) – It is. I feel that way with a podcast because I am a big consumer of podcasts that people who like that I get in people’s ears. I feel like, wow, that is so cool because I feel like the people who I listen to I trust and they’re like my friends. 

So, I have all these friends. I perceive I’m their friend. And that’s cool because I feel this intimate connection to them. So, what are ways that you can do that with your audience beyond just optimizing posts for SEO?

Marley Braunlich (00:47:26) – I’d say definitely getting your voice out there, going off of the email newsletter and kind of making that an important focus moving forward as it continues to grow and you might see a possible decline in the future.

Or social media is harder for you to control. You can also insert either video clips or audio clips into your email list. I personally have not tried this yet, but I would really like to and I’ve heard other people doing it. But then that way you could have an option for somebody. 

If you don’t want to read your email, they can just listen to you reading it to them, which I think is so nice because I would always rather listen to something or watch something than read. Unfortunately, unless it’s like a good book that I’m reading. 

So I think adding that video content or audio content into your email list is great and just makes people have a stronger connection to you and feel like they really know you.

Jillian Leslie (00:48:18) – And one other place, if people are DMing you, sending them an audio reply is so powerful because oh my God, there’s a real person there. And by the way, you don’t have to type it. It’s faster.

Marley Braunlich (00:48:36) – I love that you mentioned that because I’m a huge user of voice memos, both on Instagram or even just by texting people. I always just record a little message to my friends. That’s a really great way to network with other people in your industry who are people who have websites, people who have blogs.

If you want to reach out to people. That’s how I formed a lot of my really nice connections with other food bloggers was by just initially reaching out, just following each other and communicating with each other and commenting.

But then really started sending those voice memos. I have some really great friends now and feel like I’ve met them in real life, even though I haven’t, because we send those voice messages all the time.

Jillain Leslie (00:49:15) – So, the first time you’re sending a voice message, a voice memo to a food blogger, let’s say you have a girl crush on. You think they make amazing content? What is that sound? What do you say?

Marley Braunlich (00:49:28) – It definitely depends. I think sometimes I would reach out with even a question. So, if they were posting a video of themselves on their stories, like talking about something they were doing.

A setup they were doing for taking images or just whatever, I would just maybe respond to something like that or if I heard somebody else on a podcast and they were like, “Oh, you can find me here.” 

And definitely don’t be afraid to reach out. I’m the same way. Don’t be afraid to reach out. You can send me a voice memo, I’ll listen to it and definitely send you one back. So that’s another nice way to introduce yourself, I just put myself out there. I’m not too shy or anything like that.

So, I’ll just say, “Hey, I really appreciate this or I love what you’ve been sharing lately,” or “I saw this and wanted to definitely reach out to you.” And mention, “I really enjoyed whatever it was you were doing.” And open it up with everyone loves compliments. So you can open it up with a nice little compliment and maybe ask a question.

How long have you been blogging or how did you get into this? Or, “Hey, I saw that you worked with this company. That’s so amazing. Congratulations.” Things like that.

Jillian Leslie (00:50:32) – I love that. Marley, you have shared so many good nuggets. If people want to reach out to you and send you a voice memo or follow you, find out who you are, what you do, where should they go?

Marley Braunlich (00:50:48) – You can find me on Instagram @bakedabundance and my website is bakedabundance.com.

Jillian Leslie (00:50:54) – Wonderful. Well, I just have to say this has been really fun and I feel like you’ve shared a lot of best practices, a lot of things that I feel like, Ooh, I want to go do some more voice memos or I just really like those little pieces of advice.

Pieces that I can just today incorporate in my business. So I just want to say thank you so much for coming on the show.

Marley Braunlich (00:51:20) – Thank you for having me.

Invitation to Meet and Discuss Business

Jillian Leslie (00:51:22) – I hope you guys like this episode. I like talking to people who are really intentional about business building, about using systems, optimizing things, seeing what’s working and building off of that. 

Now for you. If you are wanting to make money, notice I’m not even saying monetize. I am saying the words make money. Please start selling things. Start putting your expertise out there and charging for it. It is easier than you think. 

It is so doable if you’re working on your blog, but you are not focused on selling. Please get closer to the sale. Please get closer to the money.

If this sounds interesting to you, you want to start selling digital products and you want to get on a call with me, please go to milotree.com/meet and we will meet.

If you are ready to buy MiloTreeCart, which we are selling this summer for our lifetime deal price. This is going away but if you buy it now, you’ll be one of our founding members and you can buy it for $349. We even have a three month payment plan.

You just email me jillian@milotree.com and I’ll send you the link. Plus, we offer a 30 day, no questions asked money back guarantee. So, there really is no risk to try it and to get good at putting yourself out there and selling stuff. And I am here to support you. 

Go to milotree.com and check it out. Come meet with me and we’ll talk about your business and I will see you here again next week.

Other related Blogger Genius Podcast episodes you’ll enjoy:

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