456: Monetizing, Diversifying, and Leaning Into Pinterest and Email with Chelsea Clarke

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A blue photograph of someone writing on a notepad in front of a computer screen with the title of Chelsea Clarke's episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Monetizing, Diversifying, and Leaning into Pinterest and Email.'

This episode is sponsored by Clariti and Raptive.

Welcome to episode 456 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Chelsea Clarke from Her Paper Route.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Barbara Hobart. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Monetizing, Diversifying, and Leaning Into Pinterest and Email

We are thrilled to welcome back Chelsea Clarke to the podcast this week. Chelsea is an expert at all things monetizing, buying, selling, and optimizing sites and she shares lots of that expertise in this interview.

Bjork and Chelsea chat about the current state of the industry for online creators, and how the slew of recent Google algorithm updates have impacted the industry. Chelsea also shares how she has reacted to these changes with her sites (hint: it includes Pinterest, video, and email marketing).

Chelsea also explains more about how buying and selling websites works, and how you can make your own site more valuable for yourself (and for potential investors)!

A photograph of someone sitting at a desk in front of a laptop and a computer screen with a quote from Chelsea Clarke's episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast that reads: ""You just want to make sure that you have diversified traffic and diversified revenue streams."

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Chelsea’s view on the current “state of the industry” for creators.
  • A recap of all of the recent Google algorithm updates.
  • Her recommendations for diversifying traffic sources (remember Pinterest?).
  • Why to prioritize building a community around your brand.
  • Why Pinterest is such a valuable traffic source (and how to get started with Pinterest SEO).
  • What the future of search might look like.
  • How she has strategically grown her email list and approaches the marketing funnel on her site.
  • How to make your site more valuable (both for yourself and/or if you ever plan on selling your site).
  • How she approaches buying and selling sites.


Thank you to our sponsors!

This episode is sponsored by Clariti and Raptive.

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Thanks to Clariti for sponsoring this episode!

Sign up for Clariti today to easily organize your blog content for maximum growth and receive access to their limited-time $45 Forever pricing, 50% off your first month, optimization ideas for your site content, and more!

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Thanks to Raptive for sponsoring this episode!

Become a Raptive creator today to start generating ad revenue on your blog and get access to industry-leading resources on HR and recruiting, SEO, email marketing, ad layout testing, and more. You can also get access to access a FREE email series to help you increase your traffic if you’re not yet at the minimum 100k pageviews to apply to Raptive.

Interested in working with us too? Learn more about our sponsorship opportunities and how to get started here.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

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Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by Clariti. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could figure out how you can optimize the existing posts on your blog without needing to comb through each and every post one by one? With Clariti, you can discover optimization opportunities with just a few clicks. Thanks to Clariti’s robust filtering options you can figure out which posts have broken links, missing alt text, broken images, no internal links and other insights so you can confidently take action to make your blog posts even better. We know that food blogging is a competitive industry, so anything you can do to level up your content can really give you an edge. By fixing content issues and filling content gaps, you’re making your good content even better, and that’s why we created Clariti. It’s a way for bloggers and website owners to feel confident in the quality of their content. Listeners to the Food Blogger Pro podcast, get 50% off of their first month of Clariti after signing up. To sign up, simply go to clariti.com/food. That’s Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food. Thanks again to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.

Emily Walker: Hey there, this is Emily from the Food Blogger Pro team and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. This week on the podcast, we are happy to welcome back Chelsea Clarke from her paper route. She has joined us on the podcast before and recently joined us for a live Q&A for the Food Blogger Pro membership, and she is so knowledgeable about everything monetizing, growing, buying, selling sites. She is just always a pleasure to talk to. In this podcast episode, Bjork and Chelsea chat about the current state of the industry for creators and a recap of all of the recent Google algorithm updates and how you might approach them and think about them moving forward. She also shares her recommendations for diversifying traffic sources and diversifying your revenue streams and how that can really help to increase the value of your site.

Chelsea shares more about why she’s prioritizing Pinterest and her email marketing in this current state of the industry and what she thinks the future of search might look like. It’s a wide-ranging interview, but really inspiring and I know you’ll learn a lot because I sure did. Before we hop into the episode, just a reminder, if you haven’t already, that it makes a huge difference for our podcast if you could rate and review the podcast on whatever platform you listen to it. A star rating or a written review make a huge difference, and we would really appreciate your support. So without further ado, I’ll let Bjork take it away.

Bjork Ostrom: Chelsea, welcome back to the podcast.

Chelsea Clarke: Thank you so much for having me back. I’m glad to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it feels like, it’s kind of the COVID time warp, I don’t know if it feels like it’s been a long time or it’s been really short, but you’ve been on the podcast before and also have done some live Q&As for the Food Blogger Pro audience, you have a deep experience, deep knowledge in the world of online businesses and you produce a lot of content about building businesses online in multiple niches. So tell us your quick story and then we’re going to get into some of the state of the industry.

Chelsea Clarke: Oh my goodness, yes, we’ll definitely get into it. Yeah, so I am a content creator. I build content sites specifically. I’ve been doing niche sites in the last five, 10 years. I have sites in food and fitness and beauty and fashion, but my main thing is marketing digital media. So my main brand is herpaperroute.com. Yeah, that’s what I do, I help content creators monetize their business and thrive in the creator economy, which is so interesting this time of year with all the crazy updates going on because it’s a very interesting space to be in right now. It looks very different than it did last year.

Bjork Ostrom: For people who want to hear more about that, there are some people who are like, Yeah, I get it,“ because they’re in the middle of it and they’re navigating some of the changes in the world of Google, or maybe it’s generative AI where Google is starting to surface some of these answers. But what is your state of the industry when you look at what’s happening now and when you say, ”Hey, compared to last year, things look different today.” Why is that?

Chelsea Clarke: And I think it really comes down to how a lot of creators were looking at where they get traffic from. I think that the creators who were just so focused on SEO and Google Traffic, they’re the ones that are kind of rightfully so freaking out right now, whereas the creators who have been looking at their business more as building an ecosystem around their content, so they have an email list, they have Pinterest traffic, and we’ve talked about Pinterest together before, they have all of these other things, they’re putting content out on maybe TikTok or Instagram, they’re really building a brand around their websites, they could still have a niche site, but it’s not just a standalone website, those creators, even if they’re losing some Google traffic, their business isn’t being devastated right now like we’re seeing with other creators who unfortunately did just count on only SEO, only Google traffic.

So the good side of that is that all of those things are still available to you, email list, Pinterest, TikTok, all of these other things, starting a YouTube channel, your business doesn’t have to just flounder and close shop right now. You can just start moving some of your content to these other platforms and drive your traffic to your website a little bit more manually right now.

And I really think that’s a great jumping point for us to start on here because there’s so much worry in the industry right now. There are people thinking they have to give up, they’re losing their business, they have to go back to their nine to five or something like that, and you really don’t. You just have to pivot a little bit and look at your business a little bit differently and maybe do a little bit more effort. Maybe we got a little bit lazy in the last couple of years where we were just benefiting from this free Google traffic and then Google, they were going to come down eventually and say, “Hey, we want all of that traffic. We want all of that money. We can just use AI now and keep everything on our own platform.” And they can, of course they can do that. It was kind of funny that we were able to benefit from it for so long, when you look back at it?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And can you talk about specifically what happened? So what was the change that happened? There’s this big update, people might hear the term helpful content, HCU, Helpful Content Update. What was that and what did that look like? And then just from a high level, what was the result on a search engine page that resulted in people getting less search traffic?

Chelsea Clarke: Yes, and my experience with it, my understanding of it is it started around September, maybe a little bit earlier last year where Google started rolling out some updates to its algorithm, where they wanted to just find the most helpful content, that was what they were saying publicly. So that meant that some sites that maybe Google determined weren’t as helpful, didn’t have the strongest E-E-A-T, doesn’t have the strongest author bios, backlinks, all of the things that add authority to the content, expertise, things like that, maybe those sites get caught up in that update.

And from a buyer perspective, as a user of Google, when I go and I search something now, I used to love getting search results and seeing all of these different blogs, like bloggers, real people talking about a product. And now if I look up that same thing, they’re gone. I’m only seeing the big media publications, the Forbes, the Cosmopolitan, the big magazine, media corporations that are talking about these products and having buyer guides where I’m not seeing an individual human perspective anymore. So as a buyer, I don’t think it’s very helpful. As a content creator, it’s unfortunate. I’ve had some sites lose traffic as well, and that was the helpful content update that started rolling out last year.

And now we’re in March, and Google is right in the middle of another one right now that just seems to have wiped out a lot of sites. As I know you’re aware, a lot of sites have just been completely de-indexed from the internet. Some didn’t get a manual penalty or anything like that. Some did, some when you go into your search console it might say that you had a spam penalty, but some sites didn’t get any sort of notification, they’ve just been de-indexed. And that is shocking-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally.

Chelsea Clarke: … shocking as a website owner and horrible.

Bjork Ostrom: It is. I had a conversation with our ad rep, we work with Raptive, and he had said the same thing. He had seen some of these sites that had been de-indexed. Essentially what that means, to recap some of what you’re saying, de-indexed, so there’s the Google index, and then if you are de-indexed, that means you’re removed from the Google Index, which is terrible. It’s terrible. Have you seen any of those situations where people are able to pinpoint as to why they were de-indexed or theories around why that happened?

Chelsea Clarke: I think there’s just so many theories, but I don’t think anyone really knows for sure. I’ve seen people, I’m sure you have too, and a lot of listeners here will have seen in the Facebook groups, there’s a lot of SEO groups and blogging groups where people are posting their theories of what they think might have happened to their site. And some people are speculating that it’s because they’re on a non Google Ad network, like not AdSense. This is just speculation. They’re saying, “Oh, well, I have Mediavine Ads or Ezoic Ads,” or whatever it is, or, “The video player, and that’s why I got targeted.” But you don’t really know for sure, at least we don’t know yet. Google hasn’t officially, that I know of yet, given us cause, so I don’t know.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. And Google actually came out, there was I think a search engine article where they said, “Ads aren’t going to result in you getting de-indexed or pushed down.” And so-

Chelsea Clarke: And so it shouldn’t, right? I mean… Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And so to be clear on that, for anybody who is thinking about that, they have this Google SearchLiaison account, which is a Twitter account. Danny Sullivan who’s a search expert responds to inquiries occasionally there, and they just responded to some of those questions that people had and their response was, “Hey, you need to have ads that are user-friendly and you don’t want a hundred percent of your page to be ads,” not that they said that, but as an example of user experience being important. But the hard part with all of it is you kind of know, you have little breadcrumbs, but then you have a lot of people that you know, that I know that had really well-built sites, had worked really hard for a long period of time to create compelling content within the construct of what Google said to be helpful and yet they’re at half of the traffic they used to be. They’re at 80% of the traffic they used to be.

And then what you see is some of these other sites, maybe it’s a bigger site starting to show up higher. Now it seems like, let me know if you feel like this is true. The most obvious examples of that are in the world of product reviews, affiliate type sites. So if you had a site that was very much so product or affiliate heavy, you’ve maybe seen some of that rejiggering of your content. But even in the world of just a content site that runs ads, you’ve maybe seen that as well. Other sites maybe weren’t impacted positively from it. Pinch of Yum saw a little uptick from it, but it’s not because we had any insight or because we knew something that was coming down the line. It’s all of these changes and shifts that can happen, similar to social media. You can have a video that takes off and it does well, or you can suddenly get to a point where you’re not growing at all.

And it’s one of the hard things about this world of content creation is sometimes things are working really well and sometimes things aren’t working well, but the best we can do is continually show up, create good content and like you said, think about ways to strategically diversify so you’re not reliant on one source of traffic, or, and this is maybe correlating in the same thing, not reliant on one source of revenue.

So if search is at the top and we’re talking about people who are creating content and let’s say monetizing via ads, maybe sponsor content, what would be a good next step for people to look at? If they’ve done the traffic thing from SEO and now they want to look to diversify, either because they’re doing okay with SEO traffic and just want to make sure in the future that if something changes they’re not caught in a bad spot or because they have been negatively impacted, and maybe instead of trying to build that search traffic back up, they want to think about other ways that they can get traffic, what would your recommendation be for the next place for those people to look?

Chelsea Clarke: Definitely, and this is so important too because I think the first thing is is to stay in the game. There’s going to be less competition right now, so if we can look at it on a positive, there’s money to be made for the people who stay in the game and are open to finding new ways to get people to come and read their content and click and buy things. So my recommendation would be to get on Pinterest and really start looking at Pinterest SEO, start pinning your contents, starting to create content for Pinterest. Now, search intent on Pinterest is a little bit different than Google. So if you’re coming from just a Google SEO kind of world, do some reading about Pinterest SEO, because although it’s similar, you’re going to see that it’s a little bit different how people are shopping on the app and what they’re clicking on, what they’re attracted to on Pinterest versus what they would be looking for on Google.

So it would just be, spend some time, spend a weekend, a week just spending some time reading content about Pinterest marketing and testing, being open to just spending a couple weeks, even a season where you’re like, “Okay, this is my Pinterest project. I’m going to focus, I’m going to maybe hire a Pinterest manager to work with me and we’re going to figure out how we can make Pinterest work for our business.” And if you’re not already focusing on a community around your brand, an email list, maybe a forum, that could be something to look into right now as well. And this is always good advice, not just because things are happening right now, but because it’s always just good to be building a community around your brand. And we’re going to look back at this time, and this is going to be a tiny little blip in the internet.

We’ve seen over the last decade, there’s always algorithm updates. There’s always new places on social media that you could show up and build a community. There’s always new things. There’s always ups and downs. So if you just, like I say, stay in the game and use this as a really testing period for your content, know that maybe you’re not going to have your big season, you’re not going to have a big quarter this year, and that’s okay, but if you stay in and you keep creating content, your chances are much better for next season and the season after to get back up and get those numbers back up. So that would just be my advice to sort of bring it back there is email list, Pinterest and focus on the community that you can build around your brand, where do they hang out? Where can you be? And how can you be more helpful to them?

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Yeah, it’s interesting when you look at, if you are working with an ad network, some of the ad networks will highlight, “How much are you earning from different traffic sources?” And I remember going to a roundtable where you were speaking at a conference that we were at and listening in and you were like, “Pinterest is actually, it’s monetized really well.” And I was like, “Oh, interesting.” I had never thought about that. I’d never looked at that area of the dashboard. And I pulled it up and I was like, “Oh, Pinterest, in some cases is earning almost double what we would get from Instagram or Facebook or even just Google traffic.” In our case right now, if I look at the RPM for Pinterest, for Pinch of Yum, it’s $71. So that means every thousand-page views you’re getting from Pinterest, you’re making $70, which is incredible. And if you have a pin that goes viral or a lot of people coming from that traffic source, it’s a more valuable traffic source than let’s say, in our case, Twitter, which is earning $11 RPM.

So for those who want to start focusing a little bit more on Pinterest, what are just a handful… I know the best way is to dive deep. We have Kate, who’s a Food Blogger Pro expert on Pinterest. She has a podcast people can follow along with her and she’s the expert on Pinterest, go to the expert, learn from them. But in your experience, what are some of the things that are working well on Pinterest right now?

Chelsea Clarke: Yes. And that was what I was going to say too is check out Food Blogger Pro. You guys have all of the information there for Pinterest, and that’s a genuine place to learn about Pinterest marketing. I can also recommend Carly Campbell. She is great with Pinterest. She’ll give it to you straight.

This is kind of a warning because now in this industry where we’re at, you’re going to see a lot of fake Pinterest gurus popping up and trying to sell Pinterest management services. And unfortunately, not all of these new people that are popping up and saying they know everything about Pinterest actually do. So that’s just a warning. Be careful out there, everyone on the Facebook groups and what people are selling to you because not everyone actually knows Pinterest, so go to the people that you can trust.

But really, if you’re looking at it like, you go into Pinterest, you want to create a really great optimized profile first. So your profile for your business have a really great image, which is this very basic, have keywords in your actual name on Pinterest, because those do show up in search. Pinterest is a huge search engine, so anytime you can put keywords somewhere, do it. So your name, your profile, have your keywords, explain what it is that you do, who you help. Sorry, my dog’s growling at the window there, lucky.

Bjork Ostrom: Love it, yep.

Chelsea Clarke: She always pops in, anytime I… I had the doors closed and she opened it with her nose.

Bjork Ostrom: She waited all day until you hit record on the podcast, and then that’s when-

Chelsea Clarke: I know, right? It was the cat last time. You get one link in your Pinterest bio so you can make it be the link to your website. You get one website link. You don’t get to do a link tree with Pinterest. So have it go to your website, get your website verified on Pinterest. You’re also going to want to make sure that you create maybe five to 10 Pinterest boards that are also really well keyworded to your niche, to the things that you sell, to what people will be searching on Pinterest when you want them to find you. Those boards, the title of the boards, the descriptions of those boards. Of course, keywords, again, really explain what is going to be in that board because the cool thing about this is, okay, so some of our websites have lost search traffic, but guess what’s showing up, Pinterest boards that are well optimized are showing up in Google searches. So this is a great time to really optimize those boards that everyone here has.

And then just your pinning content, do it every day. Create new pins. You can have the same posts, the same link go out across multiple different pins, but just make the actual image and the descriptions of those pins different. So you never want to just pin the same content over and over, but you can pin the same link, just make the content a little bit different, if that makes sense. And that’s just a very quick getting started with Pinterest SEO, and you’ll be off to a good start with that.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great, yep. And then I had mentioned Kate from Simple Pin Media and her expertise. And then you had mentioned Carly Campbell, does she have a dedicated Pinterest site or somewhere that people can follow along with what she’s up to?

Chelsea Clarke: I would recommend going to Facebook. She has a Facebook group called Blogging like We Mean It. You can go and find her in there. She shares some resources and she has a Pinterest course called Pinteresting Strategies, so she’s a great one. And yeah, Kate too. Those are great resources. And then on my website at HerPaperRoute, I just have free tips and resources on Pinterest as well. So I welcome anyone to come check that out too.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. And so much of what we’re doing is figuring out the balance between continuing to do what’s working while also thinking about the future and knowing that the thing that’s working now isn’t always going to work. And I was just on a podcast yesterday and used this analogy of, there’s waves and there’s surfboards, and then there’s us, and we need to figure out what type of surfboard we’re good at. And for some people it’s video content, for other people, it’s written content. For some people, it’s strategy. We’re all good at these different things that we could apply to building a business online.

And then we need to be aware of, where’s the wave? And we need to think about catching that wave, but we also need to think about where the wave is going to be. And so when you look at what’s happening in the world of search, in the world of SEO or just content sites in general, where do you see things going? Where do you see things evolving to? And as we think about being content creators, how can we be aware of what’s next in coming down the line? Not that we immediately go to a different beach, but just so we can start to think, what does it look like to potentially look at different waves to surf?

Chelsea Clarke: Yes. And as a content marketer, I see it one way and then I have to stop myself and say, “No, look at this as a consumer, as a person who consumes content, because that’s really where the wave is going to go.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great.

Chelsea Clarke: As marketers, we can be like, “Oh yeah, people will always just find us on Google because they will always want to buy something.” But not many people, and especially younger generations, people just aren’t even using Google as much. Where people are is TikTok, let’s be real. People are on TikTok, people are scrolling. You know?

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. I had this conversation with my brother-in-Law, and we were talking about Roth IRA or something, I don’t know, I was describing what it was, and he was like, “Oh, Roth IRA.” And I was like, “Oh.” He was 19 at the time or something. I was like, “How’d about that?” And he’s like, “Oh, TikTok, TikTok Finance.” I was like, “Oh, you’re using TikTok not only to learn, but also to go and search. You’re using it as a search platform.” So anyways, I interrupted, but it’s like, that’s exactly what you were saying.

Chelsea Clarke: No, that’s such a great point because that is exactly it, and that highlights it so well is TikTok is search. That’s where we are going to look up things. That’s where we are… If we look up one thing, TikTok is saying, “Oh, you like that? Okay, I’m going to show you more of that and more of that and more of that.” And we’re just being fed all of these things. And when you use TikTok, the algorithm is so great, it’s feeding you all of the things that you like all day long, and you’re pretty much… You don’t have to go anywhere else, because…

I had an example today, I saw one video where this girl, she was talking about how she uses Korean skincare and the video of her, it’s so obvious, her skin is glowing, beautiful, amazing. And I was like, “Oh, that’s cool.” I like the video and I kept on scrolling. My next five videos were people telling me the exact products that they use for their Korean skincare. I instantly went and I bought six products. It was just like, “Boom, that’s so easy. It’s so convenient.” I didn’t even have to go to Google to do any research. I didn’t have to read a blog post. I just watched people on video tell me about that thing. And I think that’s really where it’s going.

And now that’s not to say that our blogs are going to be a thing of the past, I think that if we use TikTok and other video platforms as a way to engage our audiences, build a community, and then also be like, “Hey, I have a website, come and check it out for more detail. You want to learn about this? Okay, I have all of the step-by-step process. Here’s the link,” kind of thing. So we’re actually just using it to our advantage to feed our websites without needing Google. That’s how I see it, at least in the next couple of years. But things could change really fast.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. It’s interesting, one of the things I’ve seen on the podcast, we’ve done this for a while, is this shift from people who start a site and then start social accounts around that site to people who start social accounts and then start a site to support their social accounts, and there’s a change there. And one of the things that is interesting is there’s this desire, people are like, “Hey, I really love the idea of not having to do sponsored content ad nauseum.” Or, “I really like the idea of having ads on a site and earning from that.” And that will continue to happen, you can continue to do that. There will continue to be value with your website, but what you’re saying is how people get there might change.

Like people, as the world of search changes, maybe how somebody discovers a recipe isn’t going to be by randomly googling a pumpkin pie recipe, but they start in TikTok and they search, or Pinterest, pumpkin pie recipe, they find one and maybe they just make it there within the app or if they need to go to the site for more information. And that’s where we as content marketers can think strategically around, do we want to try and get people to a site or is there inherent value and just interacting with people on the platform and trying to get them to sign up to an email list or working with a brand and having the brand pay for getting in front of an audience. And so in the world of email, that’s one where you’ve done a really good job of building a community and building a strong list over the years. What have you done that’s helped you build a successful email list, and then how do you use that strategically?

Chelsea Clarke: A couple of years ago, it was really just I would pin something, I would pin directly to a landing page where my lead magnet was, and that really helped to grow my list. I saw that slow down in the last year or so. And so what I’ve been studying is on things like YouTube Shorts, TikTok, Instagram Reels, things like that, how people are using that content to teach a very quick simple little thing, catch someone’s attention, teach a little thing, and then lead them to their lead magnet page that way. So that’s something that I’m finding is working better, at least in my niche right now, is just creating short-form content, ending with the call to action as the lead magnet. People are coming and signing up that way. And through that I have a backend funnel where it would lead to a low-cost tripwire offer, and then potentially down the line, if I have a program open, then they could hear about it later. But I’m really not doing any big direct sales, it’s all just free content, lead magnets, educational kind of thing like that.

And I think that that’s really important too because a lot of people are burnt out on courses, I’ve been noticing too. I think being able to package your expertise and your knowledge into a course, it’s a convenient way for people to access that. Yes, I don’t think that’s ever going to go away, but I am seeing that it’s not as hot as it was maybe five, even four years ago. So thinking about that, can we create what used to go in our courses and have it as free content on YouTube, and then that leads into a lead magnet which goes in deeper. That’s where I’m coming from this year. That’s how I’m focusing on what I’m offering my community, and so far they seem to really like that too.

Bjork Ostrom: Before we continue, let’s take a moment to hear from our sponsors.

This episode is sponsored by Raptive. You may have heard of Raptive, formerly AdThrive as an ad provider for over 4,000 of the world’s top digital content creators, Pinch of Yum included, but they’re not just an ad provider, they’re a strategic partner that helps creators build their businesses with the resources they need to grow and monetize their audiences. They offer customized industry leading solutions like an engagement suite called Slickstream, resources on email strategy assistance, HR guidance, and more, so creators can focus on what they want to be focusing on, creating great content.

If your blog has at least a hundred thousand monthly page views, a hundred percent original content and the majority of traffic from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia or New Zealand, you can apply to become a Raptive creator by going to raptive.com and clicking the apply now button. And even if you’re not quite at the point of being able to apply to Raptive, they can support you in your traffic growing goals through an 11-week email series. Head to foodbloggerpro.com/raptive to get access to this free series.

Everything Raptive does is in support of creators like you, whether you’re just starting out or bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to your site each week. Thanks again to Raptive for sponsoring this episode.

Can you explain, so you had talked about a couple of different steps in a marketing funnel. The first one being the content, we’re all familiar with, you create a piece of content, you put it out there. In our world, that kind of is sometimes where people stop, it’s like piece of content and it’s monetized with ads into a website or you maybe work with a brand to do sponsor content. Sometimes you maybe have a product that you’re selling, cookbook, things like that. But you had talked about a couple different steps along the funnel. One is the content marketing, so you’re creating content. You had talked about a lead magnet and then a trip wire, and then potentially a bigger offer down the line. I think people are probably familiar with a lead magnet, but talk briefly about that and then what is a tripwire.

Chelsea Clarke: Yes. Okay, so let’s say that you have a recipe and maybe you have a small ebook for a couple of your breakfast recipes. That’s the lead magnet. That’s what the people are going to sign up for. What I would recommend is when people put in their name, their email address, and they go to hit that submit button, we want that to redirect to a page on your website that is going to give them an instant offer. Something else that’s paid that is low cost. I’m talking like let’s say $7 to $12, something just really accessible. And this could be something like if you have maybe a meal planner for a week, that could make a really great trip wire offer. So something that makes sense to your breakfast recipes. It’s not too different. It’s not like, how to fix a bike. It’s related into your niche and what you think the next thing someone would want. So if they take your breakfast recipes, maybe they want meal planning for a week of fun breakfast with their kids, something like that. So that just gives people a little bit more content.

And the tripwire, it’s called the tripwire page because usually we’ll put a timer on it so that it’ll encourage a fast, quick action, fast decision, “Okay, yes, I’ll give you my $7.” As the timer goes down, if they decided it wasn’t right for them, the page would just redirect maybe back to your blog or wherever you want them to go, the offer has expired. So they have that, let’s say five, 10 minutes to make a decision if it’s worth seven bucks to them and then they go on. If they say yes, they get that thing. If they say no, it doesn’t matter because they’re still getting the free offer that you’ve got it set up in your email service provider that that lead magnet is still being sent to them, regardless if they buy your tripwire or not, they’re still getting the free thing that you promise and they’re getting onto your list so you can chat with them and engage with them more moving forward.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great.

Chelsea Clarke: That’s really all the tripwire page is.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think it’s a great point. One of the things we should always be thinking about is what’s next. And so somebody comes to your site, what’s next? They’re going to consume the content, maybe they’re going to make a recipe, but if they sign up for a lead magnet or your email list, what’s next after they fill that form out? They put their first name in, they put their email in, after they hit submit, what does it look like? Or in our world, it’s like after somebody pins something, what’s next? We have a little prompt that shows up and it says, “Follow Pinch of Yum on Pinterest.” There’s all of these ways that we can be thinking about what’s next, and we can lean into the eighth wonder of the world, compounding, to say, okay, if we make these tiny incremental changes and improvements to our site and we go from having a hundred people sign up to our email list and none of them see an offer to all of them see an offer and 2% of them buy it, we’ve created a little incremental win for our site.

And so much of what we do as creators and content business owners is figure out the compounding of those things and then stretch it out over a decade. And you’ve been doing this a long time, we’ve been doing it a long time. And when you do that, it can have a really big result. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but it can make a really big difference over a long period of time.

So let’s talk about the idea of, in this world where let’s say we have been really diligent, we’ve built a traffic to our site, we’ve diversified it, suddenly we have what is in and of itself a valuable thing. It’s a valuable product. And I know that you’ve been in the world of buying and selling websites a little bit or a lot. You’ve done some brokering, you’ve also bought and sold on your own. So talk to the audience about how you view the value of a website, the value of an online business, and how we as entrepreneurs can think about the value of these things that we are building.

Chelsea Clarke: Yes, and it’s so cool because every dollar that you earn from your business, it’s actually worth 2 to $4 when you think about resale. So if your business is earning about a thousand dollars a month, then you could potentially sell it for up to $40,000 because buyers will pay up to 40 times what a site earns per month. And that would be based on the profit, not necessarily the revenue. So we take the expenses out and how much profit a business has, that’s what a buyer would be valuing your site on. So think about things that can make your site more valuable, and I’ll say site or business interchangeably, but they’ll be the same thing. I mean, revenue, profit, that’s going to make it the most valuable. Buyers will pay more if your site is earning more. That’s just how it is. But there’s other things that you can do that make it more valuable.

So things like getting traffic from diversified sources. So like we were saying before, you’re not just counting on one traffic source, you’ve got traffic from other places, different social media, you have an email list. This becomes a valuable asset to your business as well because that email list can go with the business when you sell it. So we can’t just sell an email list on its own, that’s usually not good business practice, but if you’re selling a business, the email list is just included in that sale. So that’s how that can go. As well as the same thing for your social accounts, that goes with the business too. So if you have a really engaged Instagram following that’s going to be really attractive to buyers, or it doesn’t have to be Instagram, wherever your community hangs out.

And digital products. So creating your own digital products, you have your own product to sell, that is also very attractive. Being monetized by a premium ad network. So something like having Raptive ads on your site, that’s going to look good too. You just want to make sure that you have diversified traffic and diversified revenue streams. And also with affiliate marketing too, that’s a great thing to have on your site as well, because that’s something that the new owner, they can just swap their code or swap their links out and just if the site’s earning from affiliate revenue, they could expect that they probably will be able to as the new owner as well. So these are all really great things that can just help get that higher end of the valuation.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. And I think if nothing else, if we can put that mindset, if we can wear that kind of hat of investor as well as business owner, we’re going to benefit because a lot of us, ourselves included, we’re not looking to go out and build, like with Pinch of Yum, a site that we’re going to sell. We know a lot of people who have had very similar or bigger sites earning more than a site like Pinch of Yum who have sold, and it’s been a life-changing thing for them. But even if you’re not somebody who’s looking to build a thing that you’re going to sell, I think it’s helpful to have the mindset of, “Hey,” like you said, you earn a dollar and that dollar in business value is maybe worth $3.

And so if you meet with your financial advisor and they say, “Okay, let’s take a look at your financial statement…” And this happens for us, if we do a commercial real estate deal, they’ll say, “Hey, we need your financial statement.” And on the financial statement, are our businesses, the value of our businesses. I don’t know to what degree they look at those, but we view that as something that’s, we have stocks and we have a checking account and a savings account and emergency fund, and we have businesses that it’s not Apple, you’re not investing in the stock market, but for a lot of us, we have a hundred percent ownership of-

Chelsea Clarke: That’s it, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: … a small business, and that’s really valuable. So it’s such a great perspective that you have where you are an operator, you are a marketer, but you also work in the world and understand the world of the inherent value of these companies. How about on the flip side, because you also have bought these companies before. And kind of like in the world of, I’m trying to think, like the HGTV world, like Fix It or Flip It, or I don’t know what the names of them are.

Chelsea Clarke: Fixer Upper.

Bjork Ostrom: Fixer Upper. You can go in and, I just had a conversation yesterday with somebody who did this and had a really successful flip of a site. It’s very different than I think how a lot of people listen to the podcast think about it, but there’s an opportunity to see a website that we as operators know could be improved, tweaked, changed, acquire that, and the result of it could be you increase the inherent value of it by applying some of these best practices that you talk about, diversifying traffic, increasing traffic, adding different revenue sources. And not only are you getting more cash flow from it, but you’re also then increasing the inherent value of the business. And then later down the line, you can either just keep it as a valuable business or work with a broker to sell that business and have a profitable fix and flip of a website. So talk to me about your experiences in that world and what you’ve learned doing that.

Chelsea Clarke: Yeah, so I started… Before I left the workforce, I worked at a business brokerage, I was in the marketing department and I was helping business brokers market their businesses that they were representing, but it was all brick and mortar. And me coming from a digital background, I was like, “You know what? There’s a huge market for brokering digital businesses.” So before I went and I launched the marketplace and started being a broker for website selling, I flipped a couple of my own. So I wanted to test my theory and see if I could really make it work. And so I started, before buying a site, I started a site from scratch and monetized it with affiliate links, ad revenue, I think it was on Mediavine at the time, and I sold it for $40,000 on its 1-year-old birthday. And I was like, “Okay, this could be done, now let’s try this by buying a site.”

So the next one, I bought a site for under $500, but it had a lot of content. It didn’t have any traffic, it wasn’t getting any rankings, but it had all of these different categories, all of these different topics on the site. So what I did is I split out each category to be its own site. So I put all the travel articles, they went on to a new domain, now it’s a travel niche site. All of the money articles on the site I bought, I split that out and I put that onto a niche site, now that was just about finance tips. And I worked on that for about six months, growing a couple of different niche sites. And then eventually I sold them all off. Some, I sold them for under $2,000 because they were just very small, but the ones that were earning revenue that were monetized a bit better, I was able to sell those for more.

And I just did that for about two years, and then I went through the International Business Brokers Association, and I launched the Niche Investor Marketplace where now I can help people buy and sell sites. So we have a great resource where you can just list your site for sale or buy another one. Now, my experience these days with buying sites, I don’t start sites from scratch anymore, I always just buy established sites that have traffic rankings, really great content. I want sites of backlinks, social accounts, email lists, and I take where it’s at, and then I just apply growth strategies from here to ramp up to now start pinning that content, start engaging the email list, creating more content, improving the older stuff, just things like that and that’s sort of where my head space is.

And then what I’ll do is I’ll either run it for six months to a year, sell it, or it’ll just become part of my portfolio family, and I’ll just hold onto it. So one example is a food blog, a vegan food blog that I bought about two years ago, and my plan was to grow it and sell it, but now I love it, so it’s just going to stay with me for a while. Whereas another one that I bought, it was a design tips website. I bought it for $38,000, right before Black Friday. So what I did is, it came with an email list, so I ran a Black Friday sale on the digital products that it offered. So I ramped up sales. I got it to earn $25,000 in three months, so that was with the Black Friday sale and then selling the products that it had just regular at that time. And then I was able to sell that business for $130,000 three months later. So that was a very quick, very big flip. And they’re not all like that, that was just a really good one.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, totally. But it’s fun-

Chelsea Clarke: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s fun to have those success stories because it shows you what’s possible.

Chelsea Clarke: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s not necessarily like this happens every single time. It’s like-

Chelsea Clarke: That’s right.

Bjork Ostrom: … this is the story of something that’s possible. And I know what’s going to happen on this podcast is somebody’s going to hear that and they’re going to think, “Oh, but that is a new concept.” That’s something that they hadn’t thought about before. It kind of is that four minute mile where you’re like, “Oh, this is a world that exists. I can potentially do this.” A lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of energy, all of your experiences in marketing through the years we’re rolled up into that transaction, so that’s another piece of it as well. But it’s possible. And I think it’s important for us on the podcast to look at all of the different angles. One of those angles is, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can acquire a preexisting thing and build it over time.

Chelsea Clarke: That’s it, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, inherently, there’s risk with that. There are people who bought a site right before helpful content, and maybe they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. And then after helpful content, the traffic goes down and then it’s not worth as much. So it’s one of the reasons why those multiples 3X, 4X, like you talked about on profit, are smaller than they would be if you buy a commercial building, and it’s because it could all go away, whereas a building is going to be a building and you still have the land and all of that so it’s not quite as risky, but it is something that’s really cool. And if you know how to do it, you can have some real success with it. So talk to me about Niche Investor. What is that and how can people interact with that site, even if they’re just interested in looking around on it?

Chelsea Clarke: Oh, absolutely. And I do want to say too, yes, of course there is risk in everything, and we can’t always assume that every purchase would be a success. One really cool thing that I have been doing recently is I’ve been buying a bit smaller sites, and by smaller, I mean the price tag was about $6,000 and it wasn’t getting a ton of traffic. And what I did is I just merged that content into a site that I had in the same niche, and I looked at my Raptive per page revenue in the last month, and my top 50 highest RPMs and highest paying pages of that, only 17 of them are ones that I wrote that were native to my site, all of the other ones that I’m now earning from are from sites that I purchased and then just merged into that domain.

So there’s definitely different ways to do it. And if you buy his site and traffic goes down, you don’t need to just throw it in the garbage, there’s other things you can do like merge it into a site you already have, put some more effort into it or hold it until the market picks up. There’s always that too. But Niche Investor, yeah, it’s a marketplace where you can buy and sell online businesses and e-commerce sites, content sites. We have a team of listing agents who actually represent the sellers and help sellers and buyers with negotiations and providing the legal sale agreements and everything like that, and managing the escrow closing steps, the stuff that sometimes people, if it’s their first time buying or selling a website on their own can be a little bit scary, so it’s nice to have that team support there. And that’s really just what we do, we wanted to start a place that could help content creators sell or buy a business and just kind of give more light to this industry, which I think is really cool.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Somebody I met recently, his name is Kevin, he has a huge gardening site called Epic Gardening, and he had this great post about how he acquired a site from somebody else named Jason, who I also recently met and merged it into Epic Gardening. There’s a tweet thread, we’ll link to it in the show notes, but he shows just the immediate impact that if you do that right and you execute it well that the merging of those two sources of traffic and content into one can have and is really cool to see that success story that they outlined, and we’ll make sure to include that in the show notes.

Chelsea Clarke: I love that.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious to know, in this world of things changing so quickly, there’s AI, there’s algorithm updates, there’s all of these different places where you can be producing content. You alluded to it a little bit, but where are you focusing the majority of your time right now as an online business owner?

Chelsea Clarke: Yeah, and that’s where we’re all kind of figuring it out now. And I think for me personally, I am still creating blog content. I love doing that. I think there will always be a need for tutorials and information, but I am creating video content for everything now, and I feel like I should have done that years ago. So it’s just like now I really have to kick my butt and do that. So I’m focusing on creating video content for all my resources and really just focusing on my community, asking them, “Hey, where are you guys at?” Because a lot of the people in my community, and similar to yours, is that we have these content creators, bloggers who are now like, “Oh, no, things maybe are different. Things are changing. Maybe I’m not selling as much, not getting as much traffic. So we kind of need to pivot.”

So by being that person from my community, I’m just like, “Hey, I see where you’re at, what if we do this differently?” And doing a lot of testing, doing a lot of Pinterest email, like we talked about, things like that. And I’m finding that I’m getting a lot of engagement through my email list right now, which I’m also seeing a lot of sponsors now are taking interest in that. That was something I hadn’t thought about before. I had never monetized my email list that way.

And now, this is great that we’re kind of wrapping up with this area because when I started my business, I was like, “Okay, I will create content and sell to content creators and create products for these people to help them build their businesses.” And now I think that the industry is a little bit different. I just want to give all of that information away for free. And instead, I am monetizing my content through sponsorship, so through my email list, more through ads in my videos and things like that, featuring brands a little bit differently. So my monetization efforts are switching a little bit from customer, more to just being more of a sponsorship kind of style and giving all the content for free.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting, we’re just getting, anybody who listens to the podcast knows this, we’re just getting into that world as well. We’re starting to work with brands and sponsors on the podcast, and it’s like, “Duh.” 10 years in for me to be like, “Wait, there are brands who would be interested in getting in front of the audiences.” And we did it and have done it for a decade with our food site Pinch of Yum, but had never realized or had never taken the time to think like, “Oh, there’s a lot of companies,” and especially companies that are more B2B, it’s not like Pinch of Yum will work with a grocer, and it’s maybe more PR, they want to get in front of people and get the word out. Whereas in our world, sometimes you can have somebody who works together on a sponsorship and they get one new client and it justifies the spend that they have for the podcast.

And so I think the point with it, and I think this is a really good one, it comes back to that diversification, and you talked about that from traffic sources, but we can also think about it from revenue sources. And there’s all of these different places that we’re getting in front of people or developing an audience, or there’s value to be captured, and one of those ways you can do it is through sponsorships. You can do it through selling your own product, like you talked about. Maybe it’s just traditional ads, so many opportunities for us.

And I think it’s a great note to end on because there’s all of these changes, all of these difficult things happening, and it can potentially be the kind of thing where you’re like, “Ugh,” you throw your hands up. But there’s also a ton of opportunities, and that’s what I love about what you’ve said. It’s like, stick with it. A change doesn’t mean that something’s bad, it just means that it’s new and to commit to the longterm, which we talk a lot about on this podcast. So if people want to follow along with you and what you’re up to, if they want to learn from you, you’ve talked about a lot of different things, everything from traffic sources to Pinterest, the SEO, I know you cover a lot of those in what you have on your podcast, which you do as well as written content, your email list, where can people follow along with you?

Chelsea Clarke: Yes, well, absolutely. I talk about all of those things on my blog at herpaperroute.com, and you can find my email list is there too. You can get on that where I send exclusive stuff. I send a weekly love letter that helps content creators thrive in the creator economy. And we talk about a lot of these ups and downs and things that some people are very worried about right now, and we always keep it positive. So that’s where you can find me and also on TikTok and Instagram @HerPaperRoute.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Chelsea, thanks for coming on.

Chelsea Clarke: Thank you so much for having me again.

Emily Walker: Hello, hello, Emily from the Food Blogger Pro team here. Before we sign off for the day, I wanted to pop in and chat a little bit about a resource that all Food Blogger Pro members have access to, and it’s called our Tools Page. The Tools Page is home to tons of different tools and downloadable resources that can help you stay organized and working towards your blogging goals.

So a little sneak peek at some of the resources that are available to you on the Tools Page. We have an amazing SEO checklist, a social media checklist. We have a brand email template for pitching yourself to companies for sponsored content and an email marketing workbook. We also have a great super handy image size checklist and even more resources available to you. So you can download any of these resources right to your computer and reference them whenever you need them. If you’re not yet a Food Blogger Pro member and you want to join to get immediate access to these resources, head to foodbloggerpro.com/join to learn more about the membership and community and get started today. We hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast and we can’t wait to bring you another good one next week. But in the meantime, hope you have a great week.

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