This episode is sponsored by Clariti.
Welcome to episode 405 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Casey Rooney from Get On My Plate.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted about the habit of gratitude and wrapped up our series on habits for creators. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Keyword Research, Resilience, and Resourcefulness
As food bloggers, it can be easy to feel like you need to be doing everything to succeed. If you’re not writing blog posts every day, killing it on social media, partnering with brands, etc., you won’t ever achieve your goals. But that is not true. And Casey Rooney is the perfect illustration of that!
She started her food blog, Get On My Plate, in 2021, and has had incredible success growing her site over the last two years. She has leaned into her passion for SEO and content creation and made a six-figure income in 2022.
In this episode, Casey shares more about her workflow, keyword research process, and why she doesn’t focus on social media. It’s a really refreshing and inspiring episode, and we’re excited to share it with you!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- More about Casey’s background as a teacher and her journey to starting her food blog in 2021.
- How she was able to grow her blog and monetize to make a six-figure income within two years.
- Why she stopped focusing on social media, and instead emphasized content creation and SEO.
- How her passion for content creation, teaching, and business shaped her approach to her blog.
- What she thinks the necessary skills are for any food blogger.
- All about her workflow for content creation.
- Her strategy for publishing Google Web Stories and what benefits she sees from them.
- What her process for keyword research looks like.
- How she optimizes and updates older blog posts.
- What the future of Get On My Plate looks like, and how Casey is diversifying her income.
- Get On My Plate
- TED: Grit: the power of passion and perseverance – Angela Lee Duckworth
- A Better Life with Brandon Turner
- 1:1 Blog Coaching with Casey
- Follow Casey on Instagram
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
About This Week’s Sponsor
We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!
With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.
Sign up for Clariti today to receive:
- Access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing
- 50% off your first month
- Optimization ideas for your site content
- An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
- And more!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I. Here’s the question, are you manually keeping track of your blog posts on a spreadsheet or project management tool? Maybe it’s like Airtable or Asana, or maybe you’re not even keeping track of anything at all when it comes to optimizing and organizing your content.
How do you know what to change and how do you know what you’re doing is actually moving the needle? With Clariti, all of that stuff is easier. It’s easier to keep track of things. It’s easier to know if the changes you’re making are having an impact, and that’s why we built it.
We realized that we were using spreadsheets and cobbling together a system, and we wanted to create something that did that for you. And Clariti brings together WordPress data, Google data, like Google Search Console and Google Analytics, and it brings all of that information into one place to allow you to make decisions and also inform you about the decisions that you’ve made and if they’re having an impact.
I could talk on and on about the features, but the best way to understand it is to get in and to work with the tool yourself. And the good news is Clariti’s offering 50% off of your first month if you sign up. And you can do that by going to clariti.com/food. Again, that’s C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food to check it out. Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.
Emily Walker: Hello, hello, Emily here from the Food Blogger Pro team, and you’re listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Today, we’re bringing you a really great interview with Casey Rooney from the Food Blog Get On My Plate.
As food bloggers, it can be really easy to feel like you always need to be doing everything to succeed. If you’re not writing blog posts every day, partnering with brands, posting on every social media platform, then you just won’t ever achieve your goals.
But that’s just not true. And Casey Rooney is the perfect illustration of that. She’s been running her blog for just over two years and has really leaned into her passion for SEO and content creation. In this episode, Casey shares a lot more about her workflow and her keyword research process and why she doesn’t focus on social media.
Casey also chats more about her background as a teacher and her journey to starting her food blog in 2021. She also explains how her passion for content creation, teaching, and business really shaped her approach to the blog.
It’s a really inspiring and refreshing episode. Casey is really honest about her income and her strategies, and we think you’ll really learn a lot from this episode. So I’ll just go ahead and hand it right over to Bjork. Take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Casey, welcome to the podcast.
Casey Rooney: Thanks for having me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Before we hit record here, you said this is kind of full circle because you, in getting started, you were a podcast listener. But the thing is, it wasn’t that long ago that you got started. It was 2021. You referred to yourself as a pandemic blogger, but at what point did you say, you know what? I need to figure out another thing to add into my life. Because I’m guessing it’s not like you had all this free time and you’re twiddling your thumbs, or maybe it was, but what was that moment like and what brought you to starting your site?
Casey Rooney: Well, I think it just came through my passion for sharing things and for teaching. I am a teacher by trade. I have been for a while. I still teach two days a week. But I feel like I’ve been a blogger forever. I started a blog spot blog just for my family way back when my kids are little babies, like 2006, 2007. And I always joked that that was the OG Facebook because I would go, I would use it just like Facebook. I would post my pictures and my family and friends would go on there and they would comment, and then I would comment back, and this was before Facebook was even a thing.
And I look back and we always laugh. I’m like, yeah, that was like, we used my blog as Facebook.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally. when we were in college, all of our friends had Xanga. Do you remember X-A-N-G-A, Xanga sites?
Casey Rooney: Yes, I do. Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: And that was kind of, and it looks like apparently it’s still there. It says Xanga 2.0 is here, but I’m sure this is super dated. But anyways, yeah, we all had Xanga sites kind of like blog spot. And the funny thing is with our story, Lindsay’s mom blog was blogging before Lindsay was, and she had a blog spot blog, Mary’s Musings. And so she talked about, all of it was the same thing, like family photos, events, yeah, stuff that’s happening.
Casey Rooney: And I would post recipes and yes, I did. I always love sharing those things, and I still have it. It lives somewhere on the internet, and I’m glad I have those because I see all the pictures of my kids and all the stuff we were doing back then. So it’s cool.
Bjork Ostrom: So it was part of who you are and what’s interesting for me to hear, I think of Lindsay, her background is as a teacher as well, and I think people who are teachers naturally want to help people. They also want to teach. The idea of putting together lesson plans or creating curriculum, it all kind of is in the same category of content. Content planning is just the medium which you’re delivering it in. Is it in a classroom? Is it on a blog?
At what point did you start to think about blogging as something that would be a career or income producing? And we’re going to talk more specifically about what that looks like.
Casey Rooney: When I started January 1st, 2021, I think it was, I never knew really that you could make money from blogging except for affiliate income. That was my, the whole, because I followed lifestyle bloggers and I know that they make a lot of money through affiliate income.
I knew absolutely nothing. The reason I started the blog is because I enjoyed it and I wanted to share. Every time I would post a recipe on Facebook or something like that, I would get lots of feedback and everyone’s like, oh, I love hearing your recipes and everything. So that’s why I started it. It was that, like I said, I was a pandemic blogger. I was slightly bored because life just stopped for everybody.
So I had the time and I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs, but I thought it might be something fun to start. But never, yeah, it totally came out of my passion for sharing things, nothing to do with making money. It took me months and months to figure out that how to make money from my blog.
Bjork Ostrom: So actually it was January, 2021 is when you started?
Casey Rooney: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. And started with publishing recipes.
Casey Rooney: Started with publishing. I started with 10 super cringey posts that were just awful. No good pictures, nothing, just no SEO in mind at all. Just, yeah, just like you would post on a blog spot, just my recipes, what I had for dinner last night, things like that.
But then I really started, I found your podcast. I found the TopHatRank webinars, things like that. But it was a good, at this point in April when we’re recording this, at this point two years ago, I had no idea what SEO was. So it took me a good six months to figure it out, and then another few months to actually implement it on my website.
Bjork Ostrom: And it’s weird to think back. There’s been a few different times where I’ve been like, oh yeah, remember when we were all just at home and couldn’t go out? Or remember when we were wiping down our groceries? To put yourself back in the mindset of being in the middle of the pandemic. And one of the things that came out of it was a lot of people started these hobbies or creative outlets that they maybe normally wouldn’t have because they actually didn’t have time.
So to your point, it’s like suddenly maybe you have more head space because of other things not happening, especially in schools. Schools looked so different and how schools operated. And so you start to get into it, and then over time, my guess is you’re like, hey, how do I get better at this? You start to look for resources, come across these things.
And then we don’t want to bury the lead here. You’ve had a huge amount of success in that short amount of time and share this openly with the amount of income that you’re producing from your site. And in 2022, made over six figures from your blog, which is incredible for having only started in 2021. And I think the specific number was $103,000, and that’s like full-time salary plus. That’s incredible. So what was it that you did in those two years that allowed you to get to that point of earning over a hundred thousand dollars from your blog?
Casey Rooney: Well, SEO, once I found out about that, I mean, because before I was just posting on social media and I was just like, I called it pounding the pavement, posting on social media, posting in all the Facebook groups, trying to get traffic that way.
So when I found out about SEO, it was just like, and I feel like it’s kind of a rite of passage for some bloggers when they figure out what SEO is, because so many of us start not knowing anything about it. So once I found out, I’m like, okay, this is content creation that could live, I could get page views 10 years from now, whereas I post something in the Facebook group or on social media, I might not get clicks 10 days from when I posted it.
So I’m like, I’m in this for the long haul. I decided in the first six months how much I loved it, and I wanted to keep doing it, which is why it wasn’t, it became more than a hobby for me. That’s why I found your podcast and was a member of Food Blogger Pro and started finding out more about things.
But it was just, I’m in it for the long haul, so I want to take the long term approach. So I dropped social media pretty much. I dropped the posting on all the Facebook groups and I just focused on content creation.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s one of the through lines that we see, or that I see with a lot of creators is hyperfocus. And especially in a stage where you’re early on, it’s just you, you’re a solopreneur. It’s not like you’re going to go out when you’re making a thousand dollars and hire somebody for $500. Eventually you’ll get to that point where you can start to invest in other people to do stuff on Pinterest or to run social media for you.
But in the early stages saying, “I’m going to get really good at this one thing.” And the one thing, and you hear this reflected in what you’re saying, being something where you’re able to get traction, it’s reflected in the work that you’re putting in, you get something back for it.
And something that you actually like doing. That’s the other important piece with it. And it sounds like, correct me if I’m wrong, it sounds like you found that in creating content, publishing content and doing research from an SEO perspective to find out where the opportunities are, is that accurate?
Casey Rooney: That’s totally accurate. And I think one of the things about blogging is you have to have, I mean, most of us start with a passion for creating or a passion for cooking or something like that. But I always kind of think about it with teaching. You could be the world’s best physicist or whatever, but doesn’t mean you know how to teach it.
So just because you love to cook or just because you love to create doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cut out for doing all the things that having a blog and running a business entails. I think you have to wake up every morning, not only wanting to create in the kitchen or whatever your blog is about, but I think you have to want to create a business, and I really like that part as well.
So you can correct me if I’m wrong because you’re like the major entrepreneur, but you have to have this passion for creating a business and building something. And I found that really early on that I love doing both.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Yep. I think it’s really true. And I think if, the exception to that would be if you are somebody who is extremely capable, extremely interested, extremely passionate in a certain area, let’s say it’s recipe development, and the medium that you choose to express that passion is social media or blogging but you don’t like the mechanics of running the business, what you need then is somebody who does.
But the difficult part when you’re starting is that then requires an investment. So either you’re investing your own time in the early stages and you’re saying, I’m going to do the business side, I’m going to do the content side. If you love both of those things, great. If not, you have to find somebody who does. And if it’s not somebody in your inner circle or business partner in some way where they’re trading equity for ownership, you’re going to have to pay them.
And so suddenly the risk for all of us is we’re putting our time in and we’re depositing time. And the hope is, if the purpose is building a business, the hope is the return that we get is a valuable business that creates cash flow or creates value as a business, or we’re putting money in and the return is more value that we get from that return. So the money you’re putting in is the money in hiring somebody and working alongside somebody. And you can-
Casey Rooney: I think that’s, yeah. I think that stage is where a lot of bloggers fall off because they don’t have, well, a lot of times we don’t have time or money. So we’re stretched so thin, and that burnout is really high at the very beginning before you can hire anyone and before you even know what you’re doing. So I think that’s where a lot of people give up.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And that’s why what we’re doing is building businesses. If the purpose for you is to build a business, I want to be extremely transparent or not transparent, extremely intentional to point out, that’s not the only reason to do it. Some people love to do it because they want to get their family recipes documented and share them online and they want to do a good job with it. Or some people do it because they have a message about a certain way to eat and they think it’s going to impact people positively or healthy eating or people who need resources to get affordable food, whatever it is. There’s lots of different purposes for it.
But within the purpose of building a business around publishing, it’s one of the realities. It’s really difficult with any business to launch it because it requires either time or it requires money. And to some degree, it requires luck as well. And all of those things coming together, and skill, all of those things coming together to get you to a point where you get traction and you’re able to build it into something that is sustaining or sustaining plus, if you build it beyond that.
Casey Rooney: It’s funny that you talk about skill because it’s so true. You do have to have a certain amount of skill, but I always laugh at myself, and I mean, you’ve had people on this podcast that have been on Shark Tank, you’ve had these amazing chefs and all these people with these, I don’t know what the word is, maybe tangible talents.
And I don’t have any of those. I am not super creative. I’m not good at photography. I’m just, I’m so normal. But I do, when you think, I don’t have those outward talents, if that makes sense. However, I do have certain, there’s certain things that bloggers have to have, I think, to be successful. And like we just talked about, one is the passion to build. And another one would just be being resourceful and resilient.
So I think I have those types, and you can learn these. Bloggers can learn these. It’s not having to pick up a camera and just having, you can learn all these traits and talents, I guess.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And I would say that skill right there, resourceful and resilient, that’s a skill. And I think it’s probably one of the most important ones. There’s that Ted Talk from Angela Duckworth, I think is her name, on grit. And she talks about it as the one success variable for people is just your ability to stick with it and to continue to learn and to not get discouraged. And she defines it as grit.
And it’s not a skill like you’re a really good painter or you take beautiful pictures, but it is a skill insofar as you are willing to work hard and learn and stick with something. And I think that if you could pick somebody who’s really talented and not motivated, or sort of talented and really motivated, I would take the latter all the time because-
Casey Rooney: Yeah. And that’s the worst type of student to work with, the ones that are really, really smart, and then they’re just so not motivated. It’s the most frustrating.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think when I look back at any of the work that I’ve done, the successes that I’ve had aren’t from some brilliant idea or from some specific skill. And I think similar to what you’re saying, I think sometimes people will be like, what is it that you’re good at? I’m like, gosh, I don’t know. I stick with stuff for a really long time, curious to learn more, have a mindset of 10 years over one year.
But it’s not like I was identified at an early age to say, oh, Bjork, you’re really good at math. We’re going to fast track you on this or something.
Casey Rooney: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m very average in terms of how I operate within the world. But within these really specific instances have been able to say, hey, we’ve kind of found something that we think can work and let’s stick with it, continue to learn, continue to get better at it. And you see the results of those if, in our case, having something for 13 years.
So take me back to when you first started to get some traction. When you first started to create some income, what was it that allowed you to accelerate that? Because going from two years ago, not having any idea of this world of search to today where you look back at the last year and you were able to make a full-time income, substantial income from your site, that’s compressing into a pretty short period of time a lot of progress. What was it that allowed you to do that at the pace that you did it?
Casey Rooney: I think it was just laser focus and it was content creation. I think I remember, I don’t know what it was. I know it was on your podcast or somewhere in the Food Blogger Pro vault that you talked about, or someone talked about just content creation in your first couple of years, just focus on creating quality content.
And that’s what I did. And I set a workflow that Monday through Sunday, I set a workflow and I stuck with that workflow for a year and a half. I mean, it was actually just very recently that I switched it up a little bit. But I think when I created the workflow, I just repeated the same tasks over and over and over for a year and a half, which is I think a huge reason why I could stay so focused and I didn’t get off track.
Bjork Ostrom: What were those tasks? What was the workflow?
Casey Rooney: It’s so funny. I was talking to a coaching client the other day and she’s like, “Hey, can you send me your workflow? What exactly do you do every single day?” And I’m like, “Yeah, sure.” So I went into, I use monday.com but you can use anything you want. And I typed all the things that I was doing, and it’s really not that much that I do. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very focused work. It’s just all focused on content creation.
So for example, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, that’s when I work at my teaching job, my W2 job. I don’t have any time to do anything on those two days. So on those two days, I publish a web story. So that’s something that moves my blog forward, that gets me some traction it, but that’s all I have time to do.
But then I take the days that I do have time, Mondays and Wednesdays, and those are my content creation days. So Mondays and Wednesdays are usually just writing and content creation, creating web stories. And then Fridays are more keyword research and having kind of like a CEO day.
When I first started, I would on the weekends, my life has changed now, so I don’t really have weekends anymore, but I would shoot my recipes, two or three or four recipes every weekend. So everyone’s schedule is very different, but I think the key thing to remember is you kind of have to take, instead of taking all the blogging tasks and shoving them into your life, you have to figure out how much time you have every single day, how much time you want to spend, not how much time you have. How much time you want to spend every day on your blog, and then just plug the tasks in, and during that process.
So that’s what I did, that’s how I created my workflow. And you’ll find that things fall off. Like social media, I’m like, I don’t have time for that. So that went by the wayside. So I think it really helps you prioritize all the tasks.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, there’s something about trusting the process and saying, okay, if this thing has worked, in your case, it’s focusing on content, doing keyword research, creating that content. If this thing has worked, I’m going to continue doing this thing because I can see that if you chart this out, and if two months ago it was a 1,000 page views and I did this process and that resulted in 3,000 more page views, you can start to play the math game a little bit.
And I think your point around other things falling off is important and being okay with that. Because I think sometimes what happens is in life, whether it be work or creative ventures or at home, that we carry this guilt with not being able to do everything, but nobody’s able to do everything. There’s just only so much time that you can have and to say, here’s what I’m going to do, here’s what I feel comfortable doing in any given day and know that I can do. And at the end of the day, I am going to check these things off and feel good about the day and not feel guilty about not being able to publish everything to Pinterest as well as a web story.
Casey Rooney: Well, because of blogging, I mean, you could sit at your computer or whatever, you could work for 24 hours, seven days a week. So that’s why I think it’s really important that you figure out how much time you actually have and then work it around your life that way.
Bjork Ostrom: And there’s this podcast that I listen to, so I’m also interested in real estate, and there’s a community there. It’s kind of like Food Blogger Pro is for food and content creators. And then there’s a community called BiggerPockets, which is, they have a lot of the similar things that Food Blocker Pro does, but for the real estate community, podcast, community forum, resources, things like that.
And there was a guy from Minnesota who was a longtime host on that podcast. His name was Brandon Turner. He was there for 10 years, recently left. He didn’t start the company, but he was really early on there. And he just now released a new podcast, and it’s called A Better Life. And one of the things that he said is in his 10 years of doing real estate, what he realized was people aren’t doing real estate to do real estate. What people are, they’re not trying to build a portfolio to build a portfolio. They’re trying to build a better life.
And I think it’s one of the things that’s important for us to remember is in these pursuits that we are having, the purpose isn’t just to grow a thing, to build a thing. The purpose is to build a better life. And figuring out what that means for you is really important because it’s going to be different than what it is for somebody else. And a huge component of it is releasing yourself from the burden or guilt that comes from not doing a certain amount of things or not growing at a certain rate. Figure out what it is that you need from this thing and let it give you what you need as opposed to you giving it. Because every dollar that we trade is a dollar that could go somewhere else. And every hour that we trade is an hour of our life that we are giving to a thing.
And if you enjoy it, if you get a lot from out from it, awesome. But I think it’s also important to remember it’s a constant trade. And the purpose out of all of this is that we get to a point where we are better, in a better place, or those around us are in a better place because of what we’ve built. And I think sometimes for myself, what I can find is I can get sucked into the grind or growth or comparison, and suddenly I’ve lost focus of what I’m actually trying to do, what the purpose is.
Casey Rooney: That takes a lot of trial and error, figuring it out. And your goals may change, and it takes a lot of trial and error. So I think that that point in your career, that’s where a lot of people might want to give up things or they might quit, but it’s just figuring out what exactly you want and knowing that it’s very fluid and dynamic and you can change things and pivot. I mean, that’s just all part of owning your own business, the skill that you have to be able to do.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally. And the acknowledgement that there will be a lot of times when it feels like this, you are making sacrifices that will serve you later. I think that’s also important to acknowledge, especially in the earlier stages when you’re investing a ton of time and energy. Maybe it’s weekends or nights or whatever it is.
So back into the weeds a little bit here. One of the things that you talked about was web stories. Tell me what you like about web stories and how you’re publishing those right now, and what the benefit you’re seeing.
Casey Rooney: I do get a lot of traction from web stories. I will post web stories from, you can optimize web stories in a way where I might not be able to rank for something on a blog post, but I’ll be able to rank for it on a web story.
So what I do is I usually post one web story, or I create one web story for every post that I do, and then I just hit duplicate. And then I duplicate the same web story. I change up the pictures, the verbiage a little bit. I kind of optimize it with slightly different keywords. So right there, I have two web stories that I can post for one blog post. And I don’t really have such a rhyme and a reason. I just make sure that I post one five days a week. And you get a clicks on them.
Bjork Ostrom: So two different web stories with the same, for the same post?
Casey Rooney: For the same post, but not at the same time. I kind of run them on a cycle. So every three months I might post. So yes, the link goes to the same blog post, but it’s a different web story.
Bjork Ostrom: The link in the web story?
Casey Rooney: Correct.
Bjork Ostrom: The one that’s, yep. Okay.
Casey Rooney: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: And is the benefit that you’re seeing from those. those Will get featured in some way on search or-
Casey Rooney: Yeah, discover or something.
Bjork Ostrom: And then people will click within the link in the web story to get to the post?
Casey Rooney: To get to the post. Because I don’t put a ton of information on how to make the recipe. I just kind of teaser a little bit. And then at the end, I get actually a lot of email subscribers from, I have the very last slide is sign up for my seven day meal plan, blah, blah, blah. So I get a lot of email subscribers from that as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So you have a kind of call to action at the end, which web stories allows for a little bit more flexibility with that. And then using the web stories app within, or the plugin within WordPress to do that or?
Casey Rooney: Yeah. I actually create them, and I don’t know if this is probably the best way, but it’s working for me. I create them in Canva. I found a template that I just loved in Canva, and so then I found it’s a little bit glitchy. It’s getting better, but the web stories app or whatever you call it in WordPress is a little bit glitchy.
So I found it just so much easier just to be able to upload my Canva and I optimize them. I make them really small so it’s not taking up a ton of my photo space, and I just upload them and add the link and it’s super easy.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So creating in Canva, exporting, smaller sizes, uploading into WordPress within that plugin, but then you’re not having to do as much editing and adjusting and changing.
Casey Rooney: Right, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: You could drop in a link over or, yeah.
Casey Rooney: Correct. I upload the Canva pages and then I just drop the links in.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Cool. And you view those primarily then as traffic and email?
Casey Rooney: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Those are the two benefits from web stories. Cool.
Casey Rooney: Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. How about keyword research? What does that look like for you, and how do you think of keyword research within the content creation process?
Casey Rooney: Well, I spend a ton of time on keyword research, a ton of time on the front end of keyword research. So before I even start a blog post or start recipe creation or anything like that, I spend a ton of time.
Because when you think about how much goes into writing a blog post, every time I hit publish, I always feel like I’m birthing a child because from the content creation all the way to writing, editing, photographing, everything that goes into it, it’s a lot of work. So if I don’t set myself up to be able to rank for that blog post, I feel like I’m wasting my time.
And when I say rank, I try to find posts that I can rank in the top. I mean, it’s great to be on page one, but now with infinite scrolling and everything, there’s no real such thing as page one. So I try to find keywords that I can rank in the top one, two, or three in. And it’s not that easy, but I put a lot of work into it before I even start.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So you’re looking for, it’s kind of that science and art to say, hey, I’m going to look for something that I can rank for that is position one, two, or three, but also has enough search volume that it’s going to be impactful. And then my guess is it also would have to fit into the kind of content bucket of the type of recipes that you create.
Casey Rooney: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: But what does that look like, and when are you saying yes to a post versus no, and do you start with position? Like hey, I’m going to start with position one, two, or three, and then look at volume and then see if it’s a fit for the general genre of content that you create?
Casey Rooney: Yeah. Well, I usually start, everything in my genre for is comfort food. So that is kind of my niche. It’s easy, 30 minute meal comfort food. So I rarely publish anything kind of outside of that.
So how I usually start is I start with an idea of something I want to make. Because I think it’s important to want to do these things and not just publish a bunch of stuff that you think can rank. So I’ll just start with a general broad idea. So I want to make a chicken casserole of some sort. So I’ll go to KeySearch, and I only use, the only keyword research tool I’ve ever used is KeySearch and RankIQ. I haven’t ventured into any of the other ones, and so far that’s working, so I haven’t changed it up yet.
So I’ll go in and to KeySearch and I’ll type in chicken casserole, and then I’ll just sort by volume, no, I’ll sort by difficulty. And a lot of different, they’ll give you a tons of different ideas that will pop up. So it might be like chicken casserole with hash browns or chicken casserole with cream of chicken soup, or they’ll give you a lot of ideas.
And when I was first starting out, my search volume, I looked anything over like 200 was fine for me, but now that my DA is a little bit higher, I might go for a thousand, something like that. But I’ll get tons of different ideas that way.
And then I go in and I check who or what is at the top one, two, three position, if it’s YouTube or Pinterest, or sometimes it’s an optimized website. Those are usually a gold mine because you can usually rank above those even with the lower domain authority. So I look at that.
Bjork Ostrom: Meaning if it’s a platform like Pinterest has the number one or number two, or say YouTube link as number one or number two, you know that there’s opportunity there because even though it’s a really established site, it’s probably pretty thin, weak content.
Casey Rooney: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But if I see a Pinch of Yum at the top, then you probably know it’s a great optimized post that with a lot of back links. So just have to take those into consideration.
Another thing, so I get a bunch of ideas from there, but I just continue to whittle it down. So one thing I do too is I, in KeySearch at the very top there is this, it’s called, what is it called? Competitor analysis. So you go to competitor analysis and you do organic keywords, and then I paste in the URL for the top one, two, and three posts, and it’ll give you a report of exactly, how much traffic that keyword is bringing to that blog post.
So that kind of helps with my analysis too, because if the number one blog post, which is where I want to be, if that’s only getting, if that keyword’s only giving them 20 page views, I might not want to write that post. It’ll also give you all of the other keywords that post is ranking for. So you might find alternative keywords or something that you could use that would be better. So I love that competitor analysis tool.
Bjork Ostrom: And essentially what you’re trying to do then is you know, you go in. So what it sounds like you go in with an idea of a recipe that you want to create. That’s kind of the starting spot and the foundation. And then the balance between the decision making is finding and exploring to find something that’s potentially one, two, or three from a keyword position.
And then seeing how much traffic does this potentially get, using that as kind of a decision framework around whether you’ll move forward with a piece of content or not. How often is that process and the predictions that you’re making around writing a piece of content, how often is that accurate in terms of your prediction of what will happen with it?
Casey Rooney: Usually I can write a post that will rank on the… And I also, one other thing that I forgot to mention is I also run all through my posts through RankIQ. And you can do the same thing with KeySearch. They have a content assistant just to make sure it’s completely optimized.
But most of my posts within six months to a year will be on page one, not necessarily one, two, or three. But you can do everything you can to write the most perfect optimized blog post and sometimes it just will fall flat or will not rank. I did sales for the first few years of my career when I was right out of college, and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard, they always say go for no, go for a hundred nos or go for nos. The idea being, the more nos you get, the more chance of a yes that you’ll get.
But I kind of look at content creation that way, and that the more quality content that you can push out, which is why I’m so focused on quality content, the more chance you’ll have to get to one of those one, two, or three positions, because sometimes you just won’t. And that’s just how it’s.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. That’s great. So we have a Facebook group for the podcast. I think if you go to Food Blogger Pro.com/facebook, it will redirect you to that group. And occasionally we’ll ask members of that group what questions they have. And we had some that came up from some different members. So I’m going to ask a few of those right now.
!Sarah Jane said, what do we do for keywords with recipes? I’m not sure how to name. And she said, I made a smoked salmon sashimi type salad, but I can’t figure out what to actually call it. So I’m at a loss for keyword research. Which is a really great question. You start with the recipe, you really like the recipe. But what should you name it? Any advice for Sarah Jane?
Casey Rooney: Well, one thing that I, well, a couple things. That’s why I usually, before I create, I usually keyword research first. So I have the idea in my head, and then I kind of see if it’s rankable or worthy to even make. So it’s kind of like 90% of the stuff that I make, I already have an idea in mind and I make sure that I can rank for it before I start the creation process, if that makes sense.
One other thing that I have done though, when I want to make something, and I’ve made it already and I try to find a way to fit it in, is you can do it by cooking method or an ingredient. So I had this skillet lasagna or something the other day, and there’s no way I could rank for skillet lasagna. But I also made it in a cast iron skillet. So I did cast iron skillet lasagna. So you can do it by a cooking method. You can also do it by something that’s in it.
So I don’t know, what was her smoked salmon sashimi? I don’t know, with edamame or something. You can kind of add a modifier on it. Something like that. So that’s worked for me in the past by adding an ingredient or a cooking method to it.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great.
Casey Rooney: And maybe great finding a way to rank that way. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Elizabeth has a couple questions here. Would love a deep dive into optimizing old posts that are good recipes but not ranking at all? What should I focus on? Should I rewrite the recipe to fit a better keyword? Delete? No index? The interesting thing with your story, Casey, you probably don’t have a lot of old content. I mean, maybe you do a little bit, but it’s all relatively new right now. Is there stuff that you’re going back and updating?
Casey Rooney: I usually, well, there was a lot of stuff that I had that. Well on my blog, the first 10 posts we talked about earlier that were just so horrible that I did, I ended up deleting those, just deleting those. Because they didn’t have any back links or anything.
So once I figured it out six months into it that those were bad posts, I just deleted them and they weren’t really in the niche that I wanted anyways. They weren’t in that comfort food easy type niche. So I just deleted those. But rarely do I delete because I do so much keyboard research. Everything kind of fits in the same sort of niche. But I try to do, I wait nine to 12 months before I even touch a post, just because that’s where, you know, you got to give it time to settle.
So it can go up and down and up and down, it could not be ranked one day and then rank number 10 another day. So I think you got to give it at least nine to 12 months. But once I find that happens and it’s still not ranking, it’s still doing terribly, I’ll usually go in and I will run my entire post through either the RankIQ optimizer or the content assistant and KeySearch, and I find other keywords and they call them LSI keywords that I could add just to make a more complete post.
That’s why I love the RankIQ, the optimizer. They give you all of the LSI keywords that you, quote unquote, should be using, and I feel like it really helps me write a complete post. There might be ingredients that I didn’t think of that could be variations, or it’ll give me a variation of the keyword that I could be using so I can write more complete posts once I look at those reports.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about what LSI is, and then even just tools like RankIQ, kind of what the theory is behind those in regards to kind of broader search?
Casey Rooney: Don’t ask me what LSI stands for. I’m not sure. I looked it up once and I can never remember it. Do remember what LSI means?
Bjork Ostrom: Well, latent semantic indexing.
Casey Rooney: Latent semantic indexing, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: And so the idea being there’s a lot of, it’s not, we say keywords as if it’s like people are searching just one single keyword. But when you’re producing a piece of content, essentially what you’re doing is you’re producing something that has the potential to touch on lots of different micro topics.
An example being within the FAQ section, if you include that within a post, people aren’t maybe going to be searching chocolate chip cookies. They might be searching chocolate chip cookies flat. Why are they flat? And helping to fill the picture out around how to have a fully optimized post. What that means is, what additional information can you put into a piece of content to allow it to be as-
Casey Rooney: Complete.
Bjork Ostrom: … much coverage as possible, as complete as possible. Yep.
Casey Rooney: Yeah. Well, before I knew about the content assistant or RankIQ, I mean, I would go to every post in the top 10 and I would look at what they were covering, and I would just make sure that I was covering those same topics and more just to write a complete post.
So I mean, Google will tell you what it likes because those are the posts that are in the top 10. So you need to do what they’re doing, but better. And it’s not copying what they’re doing, but it’s just covering a topic more completely. And I think that’s what those LSI keywords help us do is just cover a topic more completely.
Bjork Ostrom: So one of the questions that I think people would have with this is, and as content creators, I think we think of this as well, is to what degree do you do something because you’re really excited about it and you feel like it’s a great recipe versus because you feel like there’s going to be an opportunity to rank well for it?
And one of the things that I think is worth acknowledging is for every creator, there’s going to be a spectrum. And some people hate the idea of keyword research, not because they’re morally against it, but just because it’s not how their brain works. Some people love the idea of keyword research and could do that all day long.
What advice would you have for the people who are closer to the end of the spectrum where they’re like, I don’t want to do keyword research. It just doesn’t sound super enjoyable to me.
Casey Rooney: You can hire someone to do it for you. But it depends on what your goals are. Once I figured out how much, that I could make money and that once I found out that you could make money in blogging through ads, my goal was to get to an ad network. And I knew the way to do that. It was with keyword research.
Because I just wasn’t, I didn’t, see, I find social media awful. I don’t like it. I don’t like to be on there. So when I know some people feel that way about keyword research. So if you enjoy being on social media and that’s how you want to grow your blog, then that’s okay. You just have to figure out how fast you want to grow, what your goals are, what you enjoy.
But also remember that there’s going to be things in our business career and our job that we don’t enjoy doing. So we kind of have to do those things to grow. And you just have to, it’s the balance of figuring that out.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think it’s an important reminder. There’s a thousand different ways that we could be structuring what we’re doing. And what we’re doing is essentially figuring out how do we exist by doing work and as much as possible, how can we get that work to be enjoyable? How can we get that work to be something that is in a topic that we like? And how do we have autonomy within that?
And if we’re thinking of ourselves as the CEOs of our life, the path forward that we decide is up to us. And you can build a massive following on a social media platform and have success with that. That’s not what you’ve decided to do. That’s not what I’ve decided to do. But Lindsay loves creating content and publishing it on Instagram, interacting with people, asking questions. This weekend, she pulled me aside and she was like, “Can I show you this video real quick?” And it was somebody who had made one of the recipes, and it was her toddler eating. It was some type of coconut rice or something like that.
And they’re like, he’s finally eating rice, and he hasn’t eaten any for so long.
Casey Rooney: That’s cool.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s life giving for her. But it’s like, I’m not on Instagram personally in the same way that you are, and I’m doing a podcast. So it’s a good reminder that there’s a lot of options out there for us as creators in the world. And our job is to figure out what the best place to create is, and then to figure out how do we create the best content for that place.
And for you, it’s obvious that one of the things that you’re really good at is the combination of content creation, keyword research, the business mechanics of building a publishing site, and taking advantage of the opportunities that you find for different pieces of content. Which is really, really cool to see.
Casey Rooney: Yeah. But balance is key.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. And finding that, which it’s an ongoing ever evolving pursuit for all of us.
Casey Rooney: That’s right. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: So as we round out, I’d actually be curious to hear your reflections on that. You know what, right now you’re doing two days a week, you’re working at a school, which I’m guessing is life giving in its ways, and also probably really challenging.
When you think of your entrepreneurial journey, what do you think of as the next steps within it? Does that feel like a good balance for you as you kind of contemplate next steps?
Casey Rooney: Yeah. I mean, I feel like the blog is going. I will never stop creating content because I do love it. And I feel like if I don’t, it is not true at all, but I feel like if I stop creating content, everything’s going to go away. Which is not true, but I just have that. I want to keep doing it, and I enjoy it. So I will never stop creating content.
But I do, like we talked about before, this industry is very volatile. You have to be able to change and shift and pivot and diversify your income streams. So I definitely have done that. I’ve started coaching, taking on coaching clients. I’ve started doing, just slowly developing digital products, just kind of getting my feet wet in different sorts of frames of income.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. And I think super smart to think about diversifying in different ways. Can you talk about the coach-
Casey Rooney: Oh, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about the coaching a little bit? Who would be a good fit for that if they’re interested in working with you?
Casey Rooney: Yeah. When I first started, I thought I might make a course, but I really enjoy the one-on-one interaction with people and solving people’s specific problems. Because after, when I send out my email newsletters or if I publish a income report, I always get lots of emails and questions and things.
But I love just helping people just one-on-one answering their specific questions. So I think it’s fine for anyone who is starting out or even if, I mean, I have people across the board. People are trying to make it to Mediavine, people who have already monetized their blog and they just want to take it a step further, any across the board.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great.
Casey Rooney: From beginning to end.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Awesome. And we’ll link to that in the show notes. And then you were in the middle of a thought that you were going to share. Do you remember what that was?
Casey Rooney: Probably not.
Bjork Ostrom: Before?
Casey Rooney: That was like five seconds ago, come on.
Bjork Ostrom: Ok. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And last question, as we close out, for those who are where you were two years ago, a year and a half ago, whatever it might be, what would your advice be for those people who are in that early stage of just getting started and wanting to turn this into a business?
Casey Rooney: I think what we were talking about before is to just be resilient and not give up. I think one of the problems about food blogging is that you’re building a business. When you think about owning a small business, for example, a restaurant always comes to mind because that’s the ultimate small business that has such high risk and people put their life savings into it. They take out loans, so they’re very invested in that business.
With blogging, it’s a little bit more difficult because our point of entry is so low. It’s not that, I mean, anyone can start a blog with less than a hundred bucks a month. So I think that because a lot of us are not that invested in it with money, that it’s easier to give up. Whereas if you had a restaurant and you put $50,000 into it, you are not going to give up until you have tried everything to make that work.
So I think we kind of have to go into blogging with that mentality. If your goal is to make money and to make an income, you have to go into it with that restaurant owner mentality of just like, I’m not going to give up until I know it’s not working.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s awesome.
Casey Rooney: So just that resilience. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And I think the mindset is so important too. To your point, if you don’t have a lot invested, it’s easy to be like, eh, I’m not going to go in this weekend. If you have a restaurant, it’s like you’re open from eight to eight. And if you’re not, then somebody’s going to come and the door is locked. But because of how easy it is to get started, which is a great thing, it’s also that much easier to stop.
Casey Rooney: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: And if you have the mindset of it being a business, you’re going to show up in a different way.
Casey Rooney: And I think the other thing is just to have a workflow and just to repeat tasks that work, that move your blog forward every single day instead of being scattered and just wondering what you’re going to do every day, but to wake up with a purpose and know exactly what you’re going to do, which is content creation or Instagram, whatever it is that you think is going to move your blog forward.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Awesome. Casey, really fun to talk to you. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Casey Rooney: You too. Thanks so much for having me.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey there. Alexa here from the Food Blogger Pro team. Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast.
I wanted to take a quick second to make sure you are aware the Food Blogger Pro membership. So the Food Blogger Pro membership, Food Blogger Pro in general was started when Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, Lindsay is the content creator over at Pinch of Yum, when they started getting a ton of questions about starting and growing and monetizing food blogs.
So people would come to them and say, “Hey, I see what you’re doing. I love what you’re doing. How can I do the same thing?” So they just started Food Blogger Pro to be the place where food bloggers, food content creators, can go to learn how to start, grow, and monetize their own food blogs. So we have different courses, we have different events, we have different tools and deals for our community.
We have a community forum where members can connect, collaborate, and troubleshoot with industry experts and their fellow food blogger pro members. And it’s just a really active place. I always like to say that your Food Blogger Pro membership won’t look the same the next week after you join because we’re constantly adding new content, new value to your membership.
I wanted to read this testimonial from Food Blogger Pro member Alistair from the Pesky Vegan, and he says, “Starting a food blog can feel pretty daunting. More often than not, it’s probably something you’re trying to do on your own without much prior experience. Signing up to Food Blogger Pro was one of the single best things I could have done as it removed a lot of the worries I had and provided me with a supportive community and a wealth of invaluable information. When I think about the journey I’ve been on, I simply can’t imagine getting to where I am without this membership. Thank you.”
It’s so cool to see so many different experiences with Food Blogger Pro. We have tons of testimonials on our site if you’re interested in learning more. And if you’re interested in learning more about the membership, what that looks like, what you get when you sign up as a member, you can go to FoodBloggerPro.com/join. You get access to everything we have the moment you sign up, so no content is dripped. You can kind of just create your own journey through our content and access what is most meaningful and beneficial for you.
So again, that URL is FoodBloggerPro.com/join if you’re interested in learning more. Otherwise, we’ll see you here on the podcast next week. And until then, make it a great week.