What’s happening in the world of food blogging right now? How are food bloggers making money? And where are the challenges?
I’ve got Megan Porta, food blogger at Pip & Ebby and Eat Blog Talk podcast host, on the show today to share all the trends she’s seeing.
In this episode, we talk about:
- What to do when you get burnt out on recipe creation
- Why certain food bloggers are crushing it right now
- Why the food blogging space can be competitive
- The best food blogging mindset
- What food bloggers are thinking about social media
- Where are food bloggers getting traffic
- And so much more!
If you want to know what to expect as a food blogger in the coming months so you can stay up-to-date on major trends, don’t miss this episode.
Table of Contents
- Catch My Party
- MiloTree Pop-Up App
- Megan Porta
- Eat Blog Talk
- Personality Quiz: What Digital Product Should I Create?
- Join My Blogger Genius Email List
- Become a Blogger Genius Facebook Group
- MiloTreeCart Affiliate Program
- All Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes
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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’m your host, Jillian Leslie. And I’m a blogger and a serial entrepreneur. I build businesses online with my husband, David. We started in 2009 with Catch My Party. If you need party ideas head over there.
Jillian Leslie 0:30
And then we built our pop-up app called MiloTree. If you go to Catch My Party, you’ll see it pop on our site, we actually built it for ourselves to grow our Pinterest followers. And currently we have, I think, 1.7 million Pinterest followers that we grew with our pop-up app.
Jillian Leslie 0:46
With it, you can grow your social media followers on TikTok, and Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook and YouTube and grow your email list. And most recently, we have launched MiloTreeCart, which is a way for you bloggers and creators to sell digital products in the easiest way possible.
Jillian Leslie 1:07
I just wanted to give a shout out to my friend, Summer, who emailed me yesterday and said, “I just launched my membership and it is going great.” And the last I checked, which was right before I press record here, she has gotten into two days 76 people signing up for her crafting membership.
Jillian Leslie 1:31
And she’s using MiloTreeCart for the payments and managing the backend. She’s going to host it in a private Facebook group and she’s going to do crafting tutorials. And I am just so proud of Summer. In fact, I just reached out to her and asked her to come on the show to share how she did this.
Jillian Leslie 1:51
And what I love about her membership is it’s all recurring revenue. She will be making $1000s of dollars every month. So, MiloTreeCart customers, please keep sending in your success stories, and I will share them.
Jillian Leslie 2:06
For today’s episode. I have my friend Megan Porta on the podcast. If you are a food blogger, chances are you know who Megan is. She’s a food blogger and her food blog is called Pip and Ebby. But you also might know her from her podcast, Eat Blog Talk.
Jillian Leslie 2:26
I’ve known about Megan forever finally reached out to her and said I think we need to be friends. And so, she’s come on my show, and I’m going to be a guest on her show. And what I really wanted to know from Meghan is what does the world of food blogging look like today?
Jillian Leslie 2:46
And what was so great about our conversation is Megan got tactical, like what is she doing to grow her traffic? What are other food bloggers leaning into right now? And we also talked about what it’s really like to be a food blogger, where it’s difficult, where it’s easy, and this idea that you need to have a vision for what you’re trying to achieve.
Jillian Leslie 3:10
I really understand why she is such a leader in the food blogging space. So, without further delay, here is my interview with Megan Porta.
Jillian Leslie 3:24
Megan, welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast.
Megan Porta 3:28
I am so excited to be here, Jillian.
Jillian Leslie 3:30
I feel like we are both old school podcasters. So, it made sense that we should do this and actually meet not in real life, but at least on Zoom.
Megan Porta 3:41
Agreed. Yes. It’s finally here. Finally, we are meeting.
Jillian Leslie 3:44
I am so excited to have you on the show. Because I feel like you are so knowledgeable about the food blogging space that I wanted to pick your brain on what’s going on now. Before we launch into that, will you just tell people who you are? When you started your blog? What you’re up to, and how you built your online business?
Megan Porta 4:08
Sure. I’m an OG food blogger. I’ve been around for a long time I started way back before SEO was a thing or keyword research or really any of those things were things at all. And I built it as a way to stay home with my family more and have freedom.
Megan Porta 4:28
I always knew that was a goal. So, I just dug in, I created my food blog, Pip and Ebby, and I’ve stuck with it all these years. It’s been 12 1/2 years now that I’ve been doing that.
Megan Porta 4:40
And then about five years ago, I started just feeling this nudge to start some sort of platform where I would bring food bloggers together because as a food blogger, I just knew there was always always a need for that. It’s a lonely space. And people need connection and they need to get relevant information.
Megan Porta 5:05
I thought about it for about a year and a half. And then finally I just decided I’m going to start a podcast. So, I started my podcast, Eat Blog Talk, and it is podcast for food bloggers.
Why Start a Podcast
Megan Porta 5:15
I interview many different experts all across the board from mindset to SEO, keyword research, Pinterest, you name it, just gathering all of the relevant information so that food bloggers can get their information, reach their goals, find their freedoms, and not feel like they’re slaves to their business.
Megan Porta 5:36
So, that’s where I’m at, I still run my food blog, and I do my podcast simultaneously. And I love both sides of it.
Jillian Leslie 5:43
I feel the same way. We have Catch My Party, which is user generated content, and we blog and we’re all about parties and celebrations. And then us too, we were like, how can we help other bloggers, which is why we started MiloTree our pop-up app.
Jillian Leslie 6:02
I launched the podcast, and now we have MiloTreeCart, which we use to help people or help bloggers sell digital products. And it’s funny, because I too feel like I wear different hats and almost like I’m a different person, depending on which business I working on.
Megan Porta 6:21
That is so true. I feel like that too. That’s why I have to segment and really focus by the day. Otherwise, it’s like, who am I? Am I a podcast host today? Or am I a food blogger? So, yeah totally accept.
Jillian Leslie 6:33
Are you still doing recipe development and posting new content? Or because you have so much content are you really just going back into your library of content and updating and making things more relevant?
Getting Burnt Out on Recipe Content
Megan Porta 6:48
That is such a good question. Yes, to be honest with you, I got really burnt out on creating food about two years ago. I don’t even cook anymore Jillian, my husband does all of our cooking. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, I never cook because I’ve just done it for so many years, I had over 1,000 recipes in my database, it just got old.
Megan Porta 6:49
So, I’ve been in this dry spell where I’m not going to push it. I don’t feel like it is authentic to force cooking just for the sake of putting it on the blog. What I do is I do comb through a lot of my existing content. That’s been a strategy that I’ve used for the past few years.
Megan Porta 7:29
And I also create a lot of non-recipe content, which I think we might talk about in a little bit. But that’s my current strategy. Not much cooking is going on in my life.
Jillian Leslie 7:39
What kind of non-cooking content are you creating? Is it for food bloggers?
Megan Porta 7:46
Yes. It’s stuff that I post on my blog. So, it is published content on my blog. But it’s a lot of stuff that I find in the tool RankIQ, which I use all the time. It’s like my bible for keyword research. Just to give you an example, I have a lot of sauce recipes on my blog that people love.
Megan Porta 8:08
So, I will just RankIQ, I’ll type in sauce, and random stuff will come up like, how do you thicken spaghetti sauce? What is the difference between marinara and spaghetti sauce? Things like that. So, what I do is I write an entire post on those topics that I know a lot about, and that have relevancy with my existing content.
Megan Porta 8:31
And then I do interlinking. So, I’ll put a little H2 within all of my spaghetti sauce recipes and link to my marinara versus spaghetti sauce post. So, I do a lot of that sort of thing.
Jillian Leslie 8:44
Wow. Wow. That is a great strategy. We’ll talk about that. But let’s talk about food blogging in general. I want to take the temperature of food blogging as a business and where it is in the zeitgeist because I feel like it went through this big transformation during the pandemic, where everybody started a food blog.
Jillian Leslie 9:11
So, would you walk us through how you see it, and where it is today?
Megan Porta 9:17
First of all, I’m super immersed in this world. I mentioned my podcast, but I also host groups. I get to hear a lot of different perspectives and stories. So, I feel like I do have a finger on what’s going on. Just so you know, I’m not just coming up with random stuff for anyone listening. It is still really saturated, I believe.
Megan Porta 9:42
Yes. In 2020. everyone and their mom decided to start food blogging. And I feel like a fair amount of those people have maybe stopped because they’ve found that it’s no joke that it’s actually a lot of work and you need to pour your soul into it to make it work, but there are still a lot of people in this space.
Many New Food Bloggers Are Crushing It
Megan Porta 10:04
The people who are really crushing it are honestly a lot of the newer bloggers. They come in, they learn the formula, because now, unlike when I was starting, there is a formula. And if you follow it, and you work hard, and you’re consistent, and you’re driven, you can make it work fairly quickly. So, there are a lot of people doing that.
Megan Porta 10:26
There are a lot of people also very discouraged by the saturation, and I think those are the people who are either cutting back or pulling out of it a little bit. But as you know, the space is always evolving. We’re in weird times right now with ChatGPT coming up in AI concerns.
Megan Porta 10:46
And the platforms are always evolving. There’s always like Google core updates and algorithms. It can be a really overwhelming space. So, I think there is a certain type of person who can see that and stick with it, and keep going.
Megan Porta 11:04
I don’t even know if I answered your question. But I think it is still really saturated. But there are people holding on and who are really crushing it right now.
What Is the Personality Type of the Successful Food Blogger?
Jillian Leslie 11:15
Let’s talk about the personality of the person who can make it as a food blogger.
Megan Porta 11:24
Oh, gosh, there is a type of person I would say, someone who is really driven, they know their goals, they are in touch with what they want. And they’re those freedoms that we all have in our minds. I think for some of us, they’re more defined, so that we can actually take real steps toward them.
Megan Porta 11:45
I think the person who doesn’t really take the time to define their dreams and their goals for three to five years ahead, are the ones who don’t really know where they’re going. So, they get lost on the path. That is one thing. Really goal oriented.
Jillian Leslie 12:02
Are you saying something like, I’m going to start this food blog. And I want to get to 50,000 sessions by this time, so I can get into Mediavine. And I want to reach out to these brands to see if they will work with me. And I’m going to pitch them like a long-term relationship where I will do one post seasonally, and here are my ideas, that kind of thing.
Megan Porta 12:29
I would argue that’s not enough, you need to have something else propelling you toward those goals. So for me, I love my family, I love spending time with them. And I have goals relating to that freedom, I want to take summers off.
Megan Porta 12:47
In five years, I want to have a home in the mountains, that sort of thing that keeps me on the path toward those other goals. So, use the Mediavine example, that would keep me moving forward toward Mediavine getting into Mediavine, as well as all of the supplemental things that lead to that. Does that make sense?
Jillian Leslie 13:07
So, you need that big overarching goal that you can imagine that you can picture and each day you are working toward it. Because I would argue too that being a blogger it’s a lonely place.
Megan Porta 13:25
Jillian Leslie 13:26
I know that seems weird. But it’s like you need to get yourself out of bed every day and push that rock up the hill.
Megan Porta 13:33
It’s true. It’s a real issue.
Food Blogging Can Be a Competitive Space
Jillian Leslie 13:37
I will say this, which is there have been amazing communities I have been part of and also some that have just fallen apart. Because food bloggers can be very competitive, and not wanting to share their stories. There are some that people are just like an open book, and then other people who can get kind of weird.
Megan Porta 13:58
That’s true. There are so many of us that I think it’s bound to get a little bit weird because we’re all in different places in our journey. We all have different personalities and viewpoints. There are so many variables that of course, it’s going to get a little bit weird.
Jillian Leslie 14:14
And I came to that you can look at somebody’s food blog and think they’re super successful, and they’re killing it. And again, you don’t know them and know what struggles they’re facing in their own lives. And it’s hard to not be in that competitive place, especially if I’m a Keto blogger and you’re a Keto blogger.
Megan Porta 14:39
It’s true. I think there are certain niches within blogging that seem extra competitive too with certain diets. I see that often. There’s a lot of us out there so there’s bound to be some of that mindset floating around.
Jillian Leslie 14:58
You’ve got a group; how do you help bloggers deal with the mindset piece?
Megan Porta 15:07
I feel like I’m one of those eternal optimists and I’m always the person who’s like, “Life always goes on. We can’t control everything.” I feel like I bring that to the table. I’m always maybe annoyingly sometimes looking at the positive because I don’t believe we should be dwelling on the negative, there’s a lot of negativities that we could let consume us in our space.
Food Blogger Mindset Advice: Stay Positive
Megan Porta 15:32
So, that’s something that’s really important to me, I bring that to the podcast, the positivity, I also bring it to my mastermind groups that I host. And I think it’s really important.
Megan Porta 15:45
Here’s another thing. Reframing language. So many of us are accustomed to saying one thing I hear all the time is I hate Pinterest, or I hate fill in the blank, put the platform of your choice in there. And I always taught people because if you say you hate something, what are you going to get back? Pinterest is going to hate you back.
Jillian Leslie 16:07
Or I hear Pinterest hates me.
Megan Porta 16:11
And that’s crazy. Whatever you speak, the words that we speak, actually come to us. So, if you say that Pinterest hates you, absolutely. You’re never going to get traffic from Pinterest. And if you say you hate it, it’s never going to love you back. And that sounds like super woowoo cheesy, but it’s so true. So, that’s something we have to do.
Jillian Leslie 16:32
I so believe that. I believe being in the online space, I think you have to believe in karma. Because even though it is big. And there are lots of bloggers and stuff. It’s also small. And it feels like what you put out; you do get back. I too am optimistic as a person.
Jillian Leslie 16:54
Not that I don’t have my dark days. But just in general, it helps me get out of bed and do my work and push the rock up the hill. And also, I work with my husband, we do very different tasks in our businesses, but at least there’s somebody to talk to somebody to bounce ideas off of, because I feel like we all need that.
Jillian Leslie 16:54
My dad has no idea what I do. And I’ve been doing this now for 12 years.
Megan Porta 17:02
I think a lot of people from that generation, my parents as well. They’re always like, how’s your business? You can tell they’re super curious about what is it that you’re doing every day.
Jillian Leslie 17:35
I know, I know. Let’s talk about that. If I were to just ask you some questions, where are food bloggers getting the most traffic right now?
Where Are Food Bloggers Getting the Most Traffic?
Megan Porta 17:46
In the groups that I am in, so in my mastermind groups and the circles that I’m talking to people a lot. The non-recipe post creation that I was talking about earlier, is a huge traffic driver right now. And not only that, it’s a really quick traffic producer.
Megan Porta 18:06
There is one blogger in my group, she joined our group back in May, she had 5,000 pageviews a month. And she’s like, I need to make this work. It’s either do it or leave. And I’m giving it a year. So, I was like, “You can do this. Here are some strategies. Let’s kick out a bunch of non-recipe content.”
Megan Porta 18:26
And she did. She worked her butt off. And eight months later, it’s been about eight months now. And she has, I think upward of 70k pageviews a month. It happened fast for her. So, if you employ that strategy, it’s a great one. The bloggers that I’m seeing who are using it are doing really, really well. That would be my first piece of advice.
How Is Social Media for Food Bloggers Right Now?
Megan Porta 18:26
Are you seeing Pinterest driving traffic like it used to?
Megan Porta 18:52
No, but it’s an evolved platform. It’s different from when I started blogging, when I started blogging, I could put anything on Pinterest, and within a few hours, it was everywhere. My stepmom would be like I saw your guacamole on Pinterest. It was like anything would go wild. Now, it is not like that.
Megan Porta 19:18
I think that a lot of people are really frustrated by Pinterest right now. Because it’s just changed so much. So, they give up on it. And I do hear that, “I hate Pinterest a lot.” Because we have to do the Idea Pins if we want to stay in the platform and get traction and we have to do all the things.
Megan Porta 19:39
There’s a handful of different things that we should be doing inside of Pinterest. But if you can just put that aside and just make a plan and do the things that Pinterest wants us to do. You can get traffic. I know plenty of food bloggers right now who are getting traction from the platform.
Megan Porta 19:56
So, don’t give up on Pinterest especially If you’re a food blogger because food is visual, and Pinterest is all visual and people go there for recipe ideas, so don’t give up. There’s still hope there.
Jillian Leslie 20:11
Now what about Instagram? Where is that in the world of food blogging?
Megan Porta 20:19
A lot of bloggers are frustrated with Instagram right now. A lot.
Jillian Leslie 20:25
And it doesn’t drive traffic because their followers aren’t growing. Their engagement is down.
Jillian Leslie 20:31
All of the above.
Megan Porta 20:32
I think mainly right now people are really looking for traffic and revenue tied to ads, so unless you have a following of 50,000 or more on Instagram, you’re really not going to use it as a traffic driver. So, I think that’s where it is like, “Why am I doing all of this?”
Megan Porta 20:53
I think for sponsored work if that is a main goal of yours. If you really want to dig into working with brands and getting sponsored work, you should by all means dig into Instagram, but if for traffic it’s really not super fruitful below 50,000.
Jillian Leslie 21:10
Now what about TikTok?
Megan Porta 21:15
I am like loosely on TikTok, I don’t post food content on there. But I know plenty of people who do. There is one blogger in my mastermind who has a huge TikTok following and she actually gets quite a bit of traffic from TikTok, but she did put in the work. She has a lot of followers. But she deals with so much hate.
Megan Porta 21:39
If you have thick skin and if you’re ready for that, go for it. And you maybe want sponsored work and a little extra traffic boost. I don’t like the haters. I don’t like that. It’s so over the top mean, on that platform, it seems like. That’s what I’m hearing in my space.
Jillian Leslie 21:58
That’s interesting. So, in terms of Google versus Pinterest. For Catch My Party, we got most of our traffic from Pinterest and that’s of course, Pinterest is not being as generous. We’ve really had to work on Google SEO. When you compare those two, and you’ve got a limited amount of time.
Jillian Leslie 22:22
Would you go, “I should invest more in Pinterest, I should invest more in SEO.” And I know they’re similar. I know that optimizing for one is somewhat similar to optimizing for the other in terms of keywords. They are both search engines.
Megan Porta 22:38
They are. I would say invest more time in SEO and keyword research. But don’t discount Pinterest. Don’t let it fall away. So many bloggers get so immersed in the keyword research that they put on blinders, and they let Pinterest fall away and then frustration builds. And then they get mad. So, carve out time for Pinterest too.
Megan Porta 23:04
I would say Google hold holds a little bit more priority right now.
How Are Food Bloggers Doing Keyword Research?
Jillian Leslie 23:09
Let’s dig in now to keyword research. Because you seem like you are super into it, especially with Rank Q. Would you go through your quick tips on what to do?
Megan Porta 23:23
Yes, so I use RankIQ and key search in tandem. RankIQ, I don’t know if you’ve used it, but it’s a very selective database. So the founder, Brandon, he handpicks all of these keywords so that you know they’re going to be quality, they’re going to rank fast. And they have low competition.
Megan Porta 23:41
I can’t go into RankIQ and just type in gravy recipe and necessarily get any gravy recipe that’s going to align with my content. But if I go into key search, that’s a much bigger database, you can find anything you’re looking for. So, what I do is I will go into RankIQ first and search for my main terms. And if I find it there. Great.
Jillian Leslie 24:05
By the way, Brandon too, he’s been on my podcast and stuff like that, but I don’t know how quickly is he rolling out new keywords and all of that. I go in and look for party content, it has been very helpful.
Megan Porta 24:18
He keeps that tool really updated. And in fact, if you’re a blogger and you don’t see your niche, he has all of these sub niches within RankIQ. So, there’s like an overarching food category. But then there’s like a million, not a million but a lot of appetizers soup, you can drill down so far.
Megan Porta 24:38
If you do not see your niche in there. Reach out to him and he will create it for you. So, he’s really good and he keeps it really updated. So yeah, that’s it. Updated tool.
Jillian Leslie 24:49
So, you go first, RankIQ,
Megan Porta 24:51
First to RankIQ.
Jillian Leslie 24:53
Gravy, what kind of gravy?
Megan Porta 24:57
Gravy without flour. A lot of modifiers in RankIQ, so either with or without an ingredient or something like that, those do really well. I’ll type in “gravy without flour.” If it’s not there, then I will head over to key search, and I’ll research it there.
Megan Porta 25:16
And you’ll get the keywords on the right side of the screen. And you can just search forever until you find it. There’s rarely a keyword in there that I can’t fit in somewhere with what I have in my mind and my content. So, between the two tools, I can find pretty much anything that I want to write about.
Jillian Leslie 25:36
And the idea is then let’s say it is gravy without flour, you’re going to write a blog post about different kinds of gravies without flour.
Megan Porta 25:46
So for that example, I would actually write a recipe post with just detailing gravy made without flour. The recipe card would have the instructions and ingredients like normal. And then within the post, I might write some things about flour versus cornstarch.
Megan Porta 26:05
I wouldn’t use flour, digging into more of the education about why you’re not using flour, because someone who’s looking for gravy without flour doesn’t want flour. And so, you need to explain why you’re using other ingredients.
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How Are Food Bloggers Using ChatGPT?
Jillian Leslie 27:13
Now, tell me about your experience so far, and what you’re hearing about ChatGPT and all of these AI tools personally. I have my own thoughts. But will you share yours first, and then I’ll share what I think.
Megan Porta 27:26
It’s a new thing. It’s just coming out. I think it’s so new that there’s a little bit of panic rippling through not just food blogging, but the whole blogging space, because there are these thoughts that like, oh, my gosh, could AI replace bloggers? Could Google potentially replace Google search with an AI tool?
Megan Porta 27:32
So, there’s all of that debate going on? And as with everything, I just think, yeah, it’s kind of scary to think about that. But we’ve navigated so much change in the past five years even. And we’ve come out ahead, we’ve all figured out how to make this online business, profitable and lucrative. And not just that, but like finding other avenues to explore.
Megan Porta 27:54
So, there’s always a way, always away. I just think, even though it’s a little bit scary, we’re going to be fine. We’re going to figure it out, it’s fine. It’s going to be fine.
Jillian Leslie 28:33
It was a couple months ago, maybe six months ago, Jasper was a big deal. And I reached out my community, and by the way, I had signed up for this before ChatGPT.
Jillian Leslie 28:45
I signed up for Jasper and I thought to myself, oh, this is going to take a while for me to learn. Because it wasn’t as easy as ChatGPT. It was like you had to coax it into doing what you wanted. And it was expensive. And so, I cancelled it for a while I go, I’ll come back to this at some point. But I was intrigued.
Jillian Leslie 29:03
And I tried to find somebody to come on my podcast to talk about how they use it. And nobody would come on my podcast, even though what I found out was tons of people were using it, but it was like secret.
Jillian Leslie 29:17
Everybody was using it on the down low and didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t want to be like, oh, I use this tool because the big thing is, is it cheating? Is it ethical? Is Google going to punish you for it? So, I thought that was so fascinating, because I just wanted to talk about it. I didn’t realize that there was like a shame attached to it.
Jillian Leslie 29:39
Now that ChatGPT has come out. I feel like even my 82-year-old mother is talking about ChatGPT and used it to write thank you notes for her birthday. By the way, that’s without me teaching her about it.
Jillian Leslie 29:59
My stepfather had read about it, gotten an account, and she was using it and even came to me and was like, there’s this thing that I used. And it wrote the thing for me. So I thought, oh, wow, if my mother is using this, that is super interesting.
Megan Porta 30:15
That is interesting.
Jillian Leslie 30:18
And also, my father-in-law, too. There was something complicated and instead of googling it, it was like some sort of supplement or something like that. Instead of going to Google, he went to ChatGPT, and said, “Please explain this to me,” like it was a research paper.
Jillian Leslie 30:37
Again, seeing these use cases in the real world is like, whoa, instead of going to Google, where are you going? ChatGPT. Today, I think it is that Google just announced that they are rolling out their version of ChatGPT.
Jillian Leslie 30:55
I believe that the toothpaste is out of the bottle. And that this is something that we are going to have to incorporate into our businesses. I don’t think that we’re not going to want a human touch. I just think it’s going to look different. And I don’t exactly know what it’s going to look like.
Megan Porta 31:18
We’ll see how this pans out. But who knows, we’ve seen changes before, like I said, and everything has been fine, we’ve adapted. So, we will adapt again.
Jillian Leslie 31:28
Again, it’s similar in a way to, let’s say, even doing RankIQ. And I’m not saying that’s ChatGPT, or that’s AI, but it’s like you’re looking at keywords, or you’re looking for questions, let’s say, for your FAQ section.
Jillian Leslie 31:44
How different is it to do that versus put it into ChatGPT? Get some questions, get some answers, rewrite it in your own text, so that it feels human. It’s not that different, or going to Google and doing a search and Google gives you the answer.
Megan Porta 32:02
There are some great areas for sure.
Jillian Leslie 32:05
What’s the population of Philadelphia? Google is not going to send you to a blog post, it’s going to offer up that answer. What I would say is it’s not black and white. And it’s about like you were saying, being flexible, and using it where appropriate, if you want ideas, it is a great idea generator.
Megan Porta 32:26
It is, I have to admit, I have a few things. I’m like, oh, gosh, I don’t feel like writing. The other day, I was writing a copy for a sales page. That’s really not my thing. So, I just typed a few points into ChatGPT. And it was so amazing what it kicked out for me. It’s really hard to ignore it when it’s there. And it’s free right now.
Megan Porta 32:49
It’s like, oh, I’ll just type this in and see what happens. It’s pretty magical.
Jillian Leslie 32:53
So again, I would just say to everybody who knows, and let’s stay flexible, like we’ve been like what you were saying and that humans aren’t going away. But the way that we work with technology is changing. And it will continue to change and evolve.
Jillian Leslie 33:10
I think that for example, school, I’m noticing it with my daughter they’re starting to either incorporate it in her projects, or say you can’t use this, it’s definitely like they don’t know, nobody knows.
How Are Food Bloggers Monetizing in 2023
Jillian Leslie 33:27
Let’s talk about making money. Right now, if you can get into Mediavine or AdThrive, and you are writing good quality content, you can make money with ads.
Megan Porta 33:41
Jillian Leslie 33:41
Where else are you seeing food bloggers make money? Where are the opportunities?
Megan Porta 33:50
I think especially for newer and intermediate bloggers, a lot of them who really want to monetize, like pronto are getting into freelancing. So, they noticed that they have strengths in a particular skill inside their business, such as photography, or writing, or video creation. And they offer that service to other bloggers.
Megan Porta 34:14
And I think that is the one of the easiest, quickest ways to make money because it’s doing something that you already love. And it’s serving the blogging community. I think that is like number one.
Jillian Leslie 34:27
Interesting. Do you feel like that becomes more lucrative than doing blog posts and chasing ad dollars? Like if I can be like a great food photographer?
Megan Porta 34:38
I wouldn’t say more lucrative because you can make a lot of money through an ad network. I think that is always I shouldn’t say always, but commonly an ultimate goal for any food blogger. But you can make a lot of money, freelance.
Megan Porta 34:51
There are so many services that a lot of food bloggers just don’t want to do, or they don’t have the skills to do it. There are web stories, Google Web stories right now, which I believe are still really important to be creating. And a lot of people don’t make the time for that, and they don’t want to.
Megan Porta 35:08
You could be a freelancer and offer web story creation for other bloggers. There’s just so many avenues you could go. So, I think there’s a ton of opportunity.
Jillian Leslie 35:18
Now, what about sponsored content?
Megan Porta 35:22
I think sponsored content is something that a lot of bloggers still pursue. It’s more frustrating than working with freelancers, just because a lot of brands aren’t educated about how to work with bloggers, so we sometimes have to do the educating. And not every brand is ideal to work with.
Jillian Leslie 35:45
What do you mean by that?
Megan Porta 35:48
Just not respecting, this isn’t across the board, obviously. But there are brands out there who maybe don’t value our worth at the same level that we do. That’s probably the main.
Jillian Leslie 36:05
What I’ve heard, tell me if you agree, is that brands chase shiny objects. In terms of I want this kind of blogger. I’ve heard people say, I’m not the right type anymore. That was one thing.
Jillian Leslie 36:24
And the other is that brands now want more and more like jump through this hoop and jump through this hoop rather than, “Go use our flower, but go be creative.”
Megan Porta 36:37
I think that’s correct.
Jillian Leslie 36:38
The days of that are way over. Catch My Party, we were back in the day, a Bounty brand ambassador. And they’d come to us and they go, “Hey, we have these really cute floral, Bounty paper towels, go do something.”
Jillian Leslie 36:54
And they didn’t care what it was, it could have been a craft, it could have been a recipe. It could have been whatever. And they were just delighted as long as it was good quality. They didn’t care what it was just use their product and show how much you love it.
Jillian Leslie 37:03
And since I use Bounty, I still love them. It was easy. And it was fun. It was like a little bit like here’s a prompt, go for it. That’s over.
Megan Porta 37:24
The creativity has been stripped out a little bit. I think as the space gets more saturated, and as more people want to do that sponsored work, that’s probably accurate for a lot of brands.
Jillian Leslie 37:36
And do you know our brands know all about social media? Do they care about a blog post anymore? Or do they just care about a reel?
Megan Porta 37:45
I will preface this by saing I do not do a ton of brand work like very, very little. So, I don’t really know, but from what I’ve heard in my circles, they’re more about social media, I would say but some do still. Some are still interested in doing a blog post.
Jillian Leslie 38:06
What about affiliate products and creating your own digital products?
Megan Porta 38:14
Affiliates, I don’t do a lot of affiliate work, either. But I know some bloggers who do and who do really well. But it’s like a mindset. It’s a whole different mindset. That’s really interesting to me, because I’ve never thought in this way.
Megan Porta 38:29
But it’s like everything they write is curated with the idea that you can be delivering value via an affiliate product or link or service to your people. So, it is something that I think you have to train yourself almost to do. And not very many people do that because it takes some work.
Food Bloggers Are Making Money With Digital Products
Megan Porta 38:47
I think if you focus on that there’s definitely opportunity there outside of Amazon Associates. And then as far as the digital products go, I think there’s tons of opportunity there. I know you agree with me on that, but I know people who absolutely crush it with eBooks.
Megan Porta 39:05
And a lot of people say are eBooks dead? I don’t think so. I’m thinking of one blogger who was in my mastermind group last year who she just found a really specific pain point for her audience and solve the problem.
Jillian Leslie 39:23
Can you share what it is?
Megan Porta 39:25
She’s a vegan blogger. And cheese is huge for vegan bloggers because a lot of vegans miss their cheese. So, she figured out how to make really good vegan cheese. And she put it together like some recipes and tips in an eBook and she sold a lot of money.
Megan Porta 39:44
So, I think if the pain point you’re solving is really painful, and you have a great solution for it. You can definitely make money with eBooks or videos.
Jillian Leslie 39:55
I would have this conversation with somebody who is a big food blogger, and we were talking about creating digital products. And she has this viral, kind of like marinara sauce. And she made fresh pasta with it. And it’s like her number one post for years.
Jillian Leslie 40:17
And I said, “Why don’t you think about an eBook with this?” It is like the focal point but also other kinds of interesting sauces and pastas because she makes homemade pasta. And she was like, “Oh, so I need to create all these new recipes for the eBook.” And I go, “No, just take your best posts.”
Jillian Leslie 40:40
And she’s like, “Yeah, but they’re already there. And they’re free.” And I’m like, no, because people will pay for you serving up. You’ve done the work for me, you’ve curated it, you’ve said these are the ones that are always going to knock it out of the park. So, go buy this eBook for $7, $10, whatever it is, because these are the recipes you want.
Megan Porta 41:05
Putting a collection of recipes that already exists in a new, convenient little package. People love that. They will totally buy it.
Jillian Leslie 41:16
So, you are seeing food bloggers doing both affiliate and digital products?
Megan Porta 41:25
Jillian Leslie 41:26
And like meal plans, they are a huge thing, especially like three years ago, I feel like every single food blogger had a meal plan.
Megan Porta 41:38
I think again, with the meal plans, spin it in a way that you’re really solving a problem. And if you can do that, people will buy it, if you’re just like, “Hey, I have these yummy meal plans, why don’t you check them out?” I don’t think that’s super effective.
Megan Porta 41:54
Maybe if you have a huge audience, that would work. But I think you need to get into who needs these meal plans. It’s moms with two kids under the age of five who have 20 minutes to make dinner every night and really, really hone in on who needs it and what their problems are. And then you would probably be way more successful with it.
Jillian Leslie 42:18
Could we do a lightning round?
Megan Porta 42:20
Most Profitable Food Blogger Niches
Jillian Leslie 42:22
What are some of the biggest or most profitable niches that you are seeing in the food blogging space?
Megan Porta 42:30
I honestly think vegan bloggers and gluten free bloggers have so much opportunity right now. Because there’s so much educating that can be done in those areas. And that aligns with my non-recipe content. You can educate about different types of breads that are gluten free, and there are so many places you can go with that.
Megan Porta 42:57
So, I would say if you have a really specific diet focus niche then you have a leg up.
Jillian Leslie 43:06
Email marketing, how are food bloggers using email successfully? And where are they falling down?
Megan Porta 43:16
Exactly what I just said about the pain points if you deliver a compelling, maybe an email series, or course or a series of emails, or an eBook, solving a really painful pain point. That is where you can nail email marketing. And then where are they falling down? What I do, which is not what I recommend everyone doing.
Megan Porta 43:40
On my food blog, we send out a weekly, here are five recipes you should check out. And with no real call to action or no real cohesiveness just like, “Here’s what I made this week.” I don’t think that’s super compelling anymore.
How to Stand Out as a Food Blogger
Jillian Leslie 43:58
If I am a vegan food blogger, how do I stand out?
Megan Porta 44:04
Educate people about the pain points of going maybe from a regular diet to a vegan diet. So, like my friend Monica did with the cheese. That’s huge. And I think we can all learn from that. What else are vegans missing? What are they wishing they could eat but they can’t.
Megan Porta 44:25
Educate people about how they can make similar recipes or do things alternatively, outside of going back to real cheese and other non-vegan food
Jillian Leslie 44:36
So, it shouldn’t be like Jillian’s the vegan, about me and my life because nobody cares about me. Should it be gimmicky like these are five ingredient vegan recipes, like all my recipes are just going to be five ingredients?
Megan Porta 44:51
I think if you can go really niche like that a five ingredient niche or a five ingredient vegan blog. That would be huge, that would be so successful, I think go as niche as you can.
Jillian Leslie 45:04
Ooh, what do you mean by that?
Megan Porta 45:07
I mean, so in the vegan space, there are a lot of vegan blogs, for example, it’s kind of weird talking about this because I’m not vegan.
Jillian Leslie 45:17
I know, me neither. It’s weird always my go to example, by the way.
Megan Porta 45:21
It is a good example. It’s saturated, just as any niche within the food blogging space is. The more clear you can get about who you’re serving, I think the better that’s going to serve you.
Jillian Leslie 45:30
For example, should it be vegan desserts? Should it be vegan chocolate desserts? Should it be vegan five ingredient chocolate desserts? Where do you go?
Megan Porta 45:47
I think if you can create content for years and years on end, and have keywords that support your content that are going to produce results in Google and that you’re not going to get tired of, go with that. I don’t know if vegan chocolate desserts are going to keep you afloat for five years or more.
Megan Porta 46:07
But yeah, ask yourself that, is this something that I will not run out of quality content for?
Jillian Leslie 46:15
And my last question, if you could go back to yourself how many years ago did you start your food blog?
Megan Porta 46:23
Jillian Leslie 46:24
12 years ago? What is the one thing you wish you knew 12 years ago?
Advice: Build a Community of Other Food Bloggers
Megan Porta 46:31
This is such a great question. I have so many different answers for this. But I think the one I will say now is just community. I avoided community for a long time thinking I could just do it on my own, or I’ll figure this out. I know better than everyone. And I didn’t. Nobody does.
Megan Porta 46:48
We need each other. We need networking. We need peers who understand what we’re doing. We need to feel understood. We need the information that others can provide to us. So, that community is so important.
Jillian Leslie 47:02
And how do people find it?
Megan Porta 47:05
I think there are a lot of ways, you can go to conferences. I know there are some good, more generic entrepreneurial conferences, there’s a great food blogging conference called Tastemaker, that’s coming up. That’s a good one.
Megan Porta 47:18
Find a podcast and if you feel like you trust the host, reach out to them because they are usually connected. And know the circles of people who are worth investing your time in. There are great mastermind groups that are going on that some awesome collaborating are happening in forums.
Megan Porta 47:44
I know there’s a big Facebook group with food bloggers, there’s a handful of those. So, that’s a great free place to start. And eBlogtalk actually has a free discussion forum as well. So, you could go there and just introduce yourself and Instagram is a really good place too for community just start stocking the accounts that really appeal to you.
Megan Porta 48:06
So, the people who have beautiful content and whose vibe, you can feel that you can do that on Instagram, reach out to them and just tell them, I love your content. Are you going to Tastemaker this year, I would love to meet you. And that’s a really good way to connect with people.
Jillian Leslie 48:22
Oh, I love that. If people want to learn more about you find out about your podcast, see your food blog, all that? Where should they go?
Megan Porta 48:34
My food blog is pipandebby.com. If you want to learn anything about a blog talk, go to your favorite podcast player and just type in Eat Blog Talk. It’s like a magenta colored logo. Otherwise, eatblotalk.com has all the information too.
Jillian Leslie 48:51
I have to say I have learned so much from you. And I really appreciate your honesty. I really do. Putting good information out there.
Megan Porta 49:01
Be honest with each other. I think that’s really important not to sugarcoat anything. And just, here’s how I see it. So yeah, it’s been so much fun connecting with you. This was so fun.
Jillian Leslie 49:12
I’m so glad we’re friends. And thank you so much for coming on the show.
Megan Porta 49:13
Oh, thank you for having me. It’s been such an honor to be here.
Jillian Leslie 49:19
I hope you guys liked this episode. For me, my biggest takeaway is how food bloggers can lean into non-recipe content, to grow their blogs, how they can solve problems for their readers, and boom, it’s such a win-win. I’d never thought of this before.
Jillian Leslie 49:39
So thank you, Megan, for sharing your strategy and for being so honest with what it’s like in the trenches of food blogging.
Jillian Leslie 49:49
Now, if you guys were inspired by what I shared about my friend Summer at the beginning of this episode, how she has been able to turn on a membership and find tremendous success. If you’ve been thinking you know what, I want to create a membership, I promise you it’s a lot easier than you think.
Jillian Leslie 50:11
And if you want to get on a call with me to talk about it, please go to milotree.com/meet. I’ll lay it all out for you. So, again milotree.com/meet. Because I’d love to meet you. And I will see you here again next week.
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