The Unconventional RD Podcast Episode 19 with Chrissy Carroll - Life as a Full Time Blogger

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More About Chrissy

Chrissy Carroll is a vibrant dietitian, blogger, and social media enthusiast. She has grown her primary site, Snacking in Sneakers, to a full-time income. After finding success in building her blog, Chrissy became passionate about helping others start profitable sites. She shares tips to help wellness bloggers grow on one of her other sites, Build a Wellness Blog.

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Episode 019 show notes

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Read the transcript

Welcome to The Unconventional RD podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We'll talk all things online business to help you start, grow, and scale your own digital empire.

What to expect from this episode

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a full time blogger?

I know, some people are shocked by the idea that you could make a full-time income creating content online, but you really truly can!

And as you guys probably know, I am absolutely obsessed with blogging and content creation and I'm so over the moon excited to have fellow blogger Chrissy Carroll on the show today. Chrissy runs three different blogs for a living and is seriously one of the coolest people you'll ever meet. She's been blogging since way back when and has learned a lot, often through trial and error about strategically creating content and promoting it so that actually gets eyeballs on it and earns revenue.

So today we have a nice fun chat all about life as a full-time blogger, how she makes money, what her typical week looks like, and her best advice for new bloggers getting started today. I've been dying to get this interview on the books, so I'm so excited to share it with you.

Register for the Free Make Money Blogging Webinar

And PS… since we are talking about blogging, I am actually hosting a Make Money Blogging webinar this Wednesday, May 13th at 10:00 AM Pacific. And this is a free webinar where I'm going to walk you through six different ways that you can earn money online so that you can replace your nine to five and take back control of your time. This webinar is for you if you feel stuck trading your time for money, you want to create more freedom in your life and business, and you're ready to learn real ways that real people make money online.

So in the webinar, I'll give some examples of dietitians who are absolutely crushing it in the online world. By the end of the webinar, you will have a clear understanding of six different online income streams, understand which income streams are the best fit for you (because not all of them are right for everyone) and why that is, and be excited about the insane possibilities that online business offers.

So if you want to check it out, you can head over to the unconventional rd.com go to the podcast tab and go into episode 19. That's this episode and you can find the link to sign up all right there in the show notes. It's going to be amazing.

Last time I did this last year, I talked for a pretty long time, like almost two hours, I think, about this topic, but that's how in-depth we're going. Like this isn't fluff content. This is me really pulling back the curtain and being like, Hey, these are six real ways you can make money. Here are examples of people who are really doing it. Here's an overview of the pros and cons and like, the tools you need to get started.

And this is sort of a higher level preview of the topics I will cover in my Make Money Blogging course, which is opening up um, on Wednesday for registration. And, uh, it'll be open for about a week or a week and a half. Um, and then the price is going up when we kick off the live round of that course. So more information on that within the webinar.

I'll talk about it again on the podcast next week, but please go to the show notes for this episode to sign up for the free make money blogging webinar. If you are at all interested in learning how to monetize online, it's a great way to diversify your income, give yourself some flexibility. And also adaptability. I mean, talk about these crazy times we're in right now. Thankfully those of us who have online income streams are weathering it kind of all right, because we don't have to meet anyone in person.

Everything's done through the internet. So really, really valuable information to learn about even if maybe you're not ready to implement. Definitely come by, check it out, learn more. Um, yeah, it's, I'm here for you. So anyway, without further ado, let's dive right into the interview with Chrissy.

Let's dive into the interview

Erica: Hi Chrissy, thanks so much for being on the podcast today. I am just a super fan of yours. I am super impressed with your blogging journey and just like your overall attitude and refreshing-ness online. Um, yeah, I just feel like we're kind of friends even though we've never met in real life, just like through Facebook. But I'm just excited to “meet” you on zoom today and chat more about your experiences with blogging.

Chrissy: Yeah, I am super excited to be here and uh, same to you. I feel like we've been quote unquote friends for a couple of years now but have never met in person.

Erica: I feel like it's on me cause I've literally never been to a nutrition conference so I don't know how I'm supposed to be meeting all my RD friends, but maybe that will change, uh, post-pandemic.

Um, so you are seriously one of those magical people who makes a full time living blogging, which is amazing. That was my initial career goal. I kind of got sidetracked with online courses, but like blogging is so near and dear to my heart. I've been doing it since what, 2010 on and off. So I'm obsessed with the topic and can't wait to dive into it more with you.

Chrissy's blogging journey

Erica: So can you give our listeners some background today on your blogging journey? Like how long have you been blogging and what made you kind of get into it in the first place?

Chrissy: Sure. I started blogging actually same time as you, 2010. Uh, at that point I had been working in school nutrition for awhile. Uh, and I kind of had this like life changing moment where my apartment burned down in a fire and I was like, I'm going to start my own business now. Like life is too short. So I ended up deciding to start my own business of course at the beginning did not know what the heck I wanted to do.

I was doing corporate wellness, I was doing one on one nutrition, I was blogging, just kind of doing everything. Um, and the blogging really started, I wasn't planning on blogging at the beginning, but I had met with a business coach from the Massachusetts small business development center and she was like, I think you would make an amazing blogger. Like you should start blogging. And I was like, ah, this is stupid. Like I don't want to be a blogger. And then I started doing it and I really just kind of fell in love with it.

And so I kept like fumbling for a little bit after starting in 2010 just trying to figure out what I really liked doing. And eventually I really narrowed it down to corporate wellness, which I did for quite a while. And then my blog. And so I don't have the same site that I had back in 2010 I rebranded in 2014 but I've had that site now, you know, that's been six years that I've had it. So it's pretty awesome.

Erica: What was the topic of your very first blog?

Chrissy: So it was wrapped into my initial website, which was like corporate wellness slash weight management slash sports nutrition slash farmer's market ideas. Like basically anything that I could think about. Right?

Erica: That sounds about right. I think that's what most people do with their blog in the beginning. And then so with the rebrand in 2014 what do you blog about now?

Chrissy: Sure. So I have a couple sites, but the one that's been around the longest is called Snacking in Sneakers. So it is all about food and fitness for active women, especially runners and triathletes.

So there's a lot of running training plans and triathlon training plans. A lot of really good beginner-friendly content. So like people that want to do their very first half marathon and want something that's not super overwhelming. Um, and then there's some sports nutrition content and healthy recipes geared towards that crowd.

When Chrissy realized she could make money blogging

Erica: Cool. And what was the moment when you realized you could actually like make money blogging and it could maybe be your job?

Chrissy: Yeah, so I was doing both the corporate wellness business and the blog back at that time.

So 2014, 2015, um, my son was born in 2015 and life just got way busier than it was and I really started seeing some traction on the blog at that time and I kind of had to decide, okay, which direction do I want to go here? So in 2016, I went all in on the blog and shut the corporate wellness site down, corporate wellness business down, uh, and just decided to focus on the blog for real. Try to grow the traffic, try to make passive income.

And it took a while before I really did that well. But yeah, that was kind of around the time I made the decision.

Erica: Did you have any mentors or people that you looked up to that made you realize this was even possible?

Chrissy: That's a great question. Uh, there are, I mean, there are definitely bloggers in this space, so like Alexis from Hummmusapien or Lindsay from Pinch of Yum, kind of those ones that I think are pretty big names now that we're making a good income from blogging.

And I was like, Whoa, this is a thing that, I want to be these people. So yeah, I mean I think I paid attention to some of the bigger food bloggers, nutrition bloggers at that time.

Erica: Yeah, same. I was like reading every income report, like, Oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing ever. I want this.

How long it took to create a full time income

Erica: So how long would you say it took you? Um, I guess, I don't know if we're counting from 2010 or 2014 but, um, once you, maybe once you started taking it seriously, like how long did it really take you to be able to make enough money to where it could be considered like a full time income?

Chrissy: Yeah. So I would say it was a pretty decent income in 2018 so kind of like from 2016 when I started taking it seriously, I was profitable. I would say 2018 it was pretty serious. 2019 was like, okay, this is a solid full-time income. Um, so it did take a little bit of time.

There was like some floundering there for a bit, but yeah.

Erica: Yeah. Which is again, for everyone listening. Totally normal.

Um, so then did you kind of gradually wind down your other side jobs or was there a moment you were like, I'm done and I'm going all in? How did that look?

The gradual progression from side gig to full time

Chrissy: So I did not stop my other side jobs until early 2019. I was still, I had left my school nutrition position back in 2011. Um, and I was working side jobs pretty much from 2011 until 2019.

So I was an adjunct professor and I ran a program at a community college. And then I also would take just random side jobs, like I was a search engine evaluator for Lionbridge, which is like one of the companies that Google sources out to do the manual, like human search results. So that was actually really helpful because now I know a lot of those things that went into how raters decide on search rankings and whatnot. So it was a very tedious side job, but it was actually very helpful for learning more about blogging and search engine optimization.

Erica: How did you even get into that?

Chrissy: It was one of those things where I was looking for something when my son was born, right after I shut the corporate wellness business down, I was looking for something else to supplement income that I could do in short breaks. Like when he would, he rarely napped, but when he did for maybe a half an hour, I could just do a little bit of time here. Or like if I got up early for an hour. And somebody in a like baby center forum thread mentioned that they were doing it and I was like, oh well it sounds kind of cool.

So you had to take this big exam to prove that you understood the concepts of it and then yeah, you could just kind of log in and do your tasks whenever you had to do so many hours a week. But it was, it was great for what I needed it for at the time.

Erica: Yeah, and like you said, totally invaluable experience for you as a business owner. Yeah, I resonate with that a lot too.

I also kept my side jobs till 2019 at least a little bit. I had like, I would write like one freelance article a month, like then I finally let it go. So lots of parallels, I feel like, in our timelines.

How to find time to blog when you have a job

Erica: Okay. So I was talking about about blogging with another dietitian and one of the things that comes up a lot is like how the heck do you even find the time to work on your blog when you also have side gigs or maybe a full time job? Like how did you make it work?

Chrissy: Yeah. So I think when I did this at the beginning, I probably made it work the wrong way, which was that I would just be like, Oh, I'm going to write this like 400 word posts and put it up there because I want to get content up and who cares what happens with it. Like somebody will read it. And so I just kind of threw a lot of stuff up.

This is kind of back, you know, 2010 through 2016 probably. Um, and I would just, yeah, I would just put a ton of short, not probably great content up there.

So that I would say is not the correct way to do things if you're looking to grow. I would say definitely focus on quality over quantity at this point. Really grasp things like SEO and Pinterest and focus down.

I mean my advice would be to focus down on those two things and let all of the other peripheral stuff like the Facebook page and Instagram and that kind of stuff. That's great if you love those things, but if you're really looking to grow traffic, I think Pinterest and SEO are really going to give the two biggest bang for your buck when you are limited in time.

Erica: I totally agree and just a little plug. Chrissy has a Pinterest course so if anyone's looking to get better at Pinterest, definitely check it out. I would say that's something that's not a strong suit of mine. Like I haven't really focused a lot of attention on, but it's like on my list of things to do so I'm excited to report back to everybody like after I've actually given it a go for a little bit like what I can do for your traffic.

How Pinterest can help grow your blog traffic

Erica: I don't know…. Do you have any insights or examples of like why it's important to focus on Pinterest for traffic?

Chrissy: Yeah, I think Pinterest gives you really quick wins, which is nice.

When you start blogging, uh, we all know that SEO search engine optimization takes a while, right? You're looking at three to six before you really see traction with that.

Whereas Pinterest, I mean, you could get lucky, you could put a pin up and all of a sudden it could go viral and you could get 20,000 views in a week just unexpectedly. That's more the exception than the rule. But it does happen and that's kind of what really drove home Pinterest for me at the beginning. I did have a couple of viral pins and it was a little easier.

Yeah. Back in the day it was a little easier, but you still can see those successes somewhat quickly. So Pinterest can really give you those, those quick wins at the beginning.

Erica: Yeah, I think I saw someone recently talking about how they just, I think it was a food blogger they got onto media vine and one of the biggest reasons why was because they were going so hard on Pinterest.

And I also think sharing in Facebook groups, which obviously has to be done in a certain way, so you're not being spammy, but there are certain groups out there where you can share and potentially get a lot of traffic. Especially for recipes.

Chrissy: Yeah, definitely.

Chrissy's multiple blogs & why she runs more than one

Erica: Yeah. So, okay. Just to give our listeners a picture of where you're at now, um, can you tell us more about the different blogs that you're currently running and maybe share a little bit of the rationale as to what made you want to start multiple blogs?

1. Snacking in Sneakers

Chrissy: Sure. So I have the main site still. I have Snacking in Sneakers that's been around since 2014. That's my biggest site. Uh, I love it. I can spend a ton of time there because it's just a person, you know, personal passion of mine. I love running, I love triathlon, so it's really fun for me to be able to create content there.

2. Dairy Free for Baby

Chrissy: I have a secondary site called dairy free for baby. When my son was born, he had a dairy, soy and egg and tolerance.

So when I was nursing him, I had to cut all three out for a year. And it really gave me a look at what families with food allergies go through. We were lucky he outgrew everything in a year, but I was like, Oh my goodness, I never realized just how hard this is to overhaul your whole diet, your, you know, everything that you're used to buying. And so at that time I thought, you know, if I have time in the future, I really want to start another site to be able to share dairy-free recipes.

And in particular, honestly, most of the stuff on my dairy free site, it's desserts things because that's what I really missed most. Like I knew for meals I could have, you know, chicken and broccoli and those kinds of things. But I really missed the more indulgent stuff. And so that's what I had a lot of fun kind of developing during that time and now translating into blog posts there. So that's the second site.

3. Build a Wellness Blog

The third site is called build a wellness blog, which is just blogging and social media tips for other wellness entrepreneurs. Um, I don't spend as much time on that site. I kind of write on that site when I'm, when I feel inspired to, when I want to share something that's like relevant, um, or timely.

But, um, I do have a Facebook group related to that site where I share blogging tips and helpful stuff there. That's just kind of a fun way for me to connect with other dietitians, other wellness entrepreneurs in the field.

So those are the three sites I had. Uh, or that I have, um, my husband has a site as well. And so like I ghost write on there a little bit too.

Um, and then I do some occasional freelance writing.

Erica: Super cool. And we'll link to all of that stuff in the show notes. So yeah, everyone, if you just go to the unconventionalrd.com and then click on the podcast section, you can find this episode, episode 19. Um, and then all the links to all Chrissy's stuff will be there.

Build a wellness blog is fabulous, although you say that you don't spend a lot of time on it. The content there is so good, it's worth, worth checking out.

How to prioritize your work across multiple websites

Erica: So, okay. A) how the heck do you find the time to juggle all of those websites? Um, and B) how do you like prioritize working strategically?

1) Don't spend your time creating posts that aren't going to rank in Google

Chrissy: I really don't waste time writing posts that I don't think we'll have a good chance of ranking on Google.

Very occasionally I might feel inspired to do like a random recipe or I, you know, I wrote a post recently on build a wellness blog about like what to do when you feel like everything's going wrong. Uh, so those are more kind of from the heart random posts that I'll do.

But in general, I'm really strategically focused on what posts am I going to do that are going to give me the biggest bang for my buck as far as traffic. What is getting good search volume but low competition? So I really try to focus on things that are going to be helpful SEO wise.

2) Divide up your time based on your schedule and mental availability

And then I try to divide my time up as far as where it makes sense.

So on the days I'm a mom (I have a five year old at home), uh, he goes to school, well he went to school two and a half days a week. Right now we're all home, but he, when he was in school, those two and a half days a week on the days that he was there, I would focus on writing and projects and sponsored work.

And then when he's home with me I can have him help me with more of the recipe development, testing things in the kitchen and you know, helping me do pictures or he'll hold up the whiteboard in the background.

So I try to work strategically as, as far as maybe involving him in the things that I can do while he's home and maximize that time and then spend the more focused work time on things that, that deserve that additional focus.

Erica: That makes a lot of sense. I think about you a lot when I'm doing keyword research cause I'm like, oh, dairy free, dairy free. It's everywhere. Like it's such a good niche for finding good keywords. That and like, can a dog eat ______? Like that's seriously everywhere. Someone needs to make that website.

Chrissy: It's funny because I have a blogger friend that also has a dairy free site. And so I feel like when each of us are doing keyword research, it's just like the other person coming up in Google, in the top 10 Google results. Oh, but we always hope that we'll take number one and two together.

What are the actual ways people make money blogging?

Erica: Right? So can you share for the people listening, like how do does someone actually make money from their blog and maybe what are the ways that are most successful for you personally?

Chrissy: Yeah, I think that there's a lot of ways to make money. I think there's a couple pretty common ones.

1) Affiliate Marketing

So the first one that I would say is a great, because you can start it really at any point would be affiliate marketing.

So you can use affiliate links where if somebody clicks on it and they buy something, you earn a percentage of that sale.

And that's great because you can start it from the, from the beginning. You don't have to have a minimum traffic threshold for most affiliate programs.

2) Sponsored Content

The second way would be sponsored content where that's like working with brands to highlight their product or their service on your website.

So whereas with affiliate marketing, you're getting a commission based fee on a sale, with sponsored content, you're earning money upfront and you're creating content around that program or service.

3) Ads

And then the third way would be ads. So ad revenue. Uh, I'm a huge fan of Mediavine. I have them on um, both dairy free for baby and snacking in sneakers and we have them on my husband's site as well.

They are just such a great ad network to work with. Uh, but obviously you need some traffic before you can get there.

So with a first site it's generally around 25,000 sessions a month. And they just fabulous to work with though that if you get to that level, it's great passive income to have from the ads.

And some people, you know, I just want to put this out there. Some people may not like ads, right? A lot of people forget that ads are based on your search history for the most part. There's some weird stuff with California laws and GDPR and everything, but um, so people will say like, Oh, well you had an ad for, you know, this on your website. Like are you okay with that?

And for the most part I am, you know, if somebody's searching for Reese's peanut butter cups and they search that and they want to buy them, then yeah, that might show up on my sidebar. I think that most people understand what an ad is on a website.

So while I wouldn't take a sponsored content piece, well maybe, I love resees, so maybe I would! You know, it's more normal that it would show up in an ad and people would understand that it's an ad.

Erica: So like, an ad's not an endorsement.

Chrissy: Exactly, exactly. But some people aren't comfortable with that and that's okay too. Like you might choose that that doesn't fit. And that's okay. There's other ways. So affiliate, sponsored content, ads.

And then the other segment would be using the blog as leverage for either one on one services or digital products or courses or things along those lines.

Chrissy's first income stream

Erica: So what was the first income stream that you implemented on your blogs?

Chrissy: Mine was sponsored content on the main blog. On the other two sites I did affiliate marketing from the start and then dairy free for baby we added ads on when it got to the threshold there. So yeah, sponsored content on the main site.

Chrissy's current income breakdown

Erica: And then now, today, like now that you have a decent number amount of traffic on pretty much all your sites, like what's the breakdown? Like which one brings in the most revenue?

Chrissy: The main site definitely brings in the most. That's kind of the breadwinner there. Um, I would say the breakdown, I looked it up before hand….

So the breakdown for last year was around:

  • 40% sponsored content
  • 20% ads
  • 15% affiliate marketing
  • And then a little bit from freelance,
  • a little bit from one-on-one,
  • a little bit from speaking kind of, you know, all the other drops in the bucket there,

But the big ones are sponsored content and ad revenue. Um, I think that, well it was on track to shift a little bit in 2020 until everything that's happened recently has happened. So, um, it was on track to be a little bit higher as far as ad revenue coming in because we, we did have it across three different sites now and that was going to be great.

But, uh, obviously with coronavirus and whatnot, the advertisers are spending less money and so you're making less per visitor on your site. Um, understandably so. So I'm not sure how it'll end up panning out for this year, but yes, for last year, mostly sponsored content and ads.

Erica: That's so helpful, I think, for people listening. And I think again, I just, I mean I don't want to ask you to share numbers if you're not comfortable sharing numbers, but I just want to highlight, like this is full time income.

Like this is enough money. Like you don't have to have another side job. So if you like creating content, I hope this excites you and makes you feel like you could do this as well if you want to create a blog and make an actual living from this.

Chrissy: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think that people think that a lot of times that a blog is like, Oh, that's, I just do that as a side to my private practice. But if you don't like private practice or that's not your thing, this really can be a full time income stream.

Erica: Yeah. I remember listening to the food blogger pro podcast like years ago when I was still doing all my side hustles and would like drive around. Um, I always had that on in the car. And I remember them talking about how they moved into this like exclusive, fancy, gated community or whatever, where there's all these CEOs and someone was like, Oh, what do you do?

And they're like, Oh, we run a food blog. And they're just like, Oh….. Like, you know, patting you on the head. Like, that's nice. Like, they're like, no, really, like, this is a real business, you know? So it definitely can be. Um, even if it has the impression of being more of a hobby.

Chrissy: Yes. And people will, I mean, they say that all the time. Like if I'm in a mom's group or something or at an event with my husband and people say, Oh, what do you do for work? I'm a blogger. And they're like ohhhh, that's cute. And then sometimes people are just like, how do you make money? You know, super intrigued by it. So it's, yeah, it's a funny conversation starter for sure.

Erica: Totally. Um, so do, do you think you'll ever expand into any of those other, um, monetization channels? Like a product or something like that or, I think you're going to keep it with a more, I mean, obviously sponsored content is not really passive, but you know, like ads and affiliate income and that type of stuff?

Chrissy: Yeah. I have some digital products, like I have a couple eBooks and I have the Pinterest course and whatnot. So there's a couple of them floating around. I'd probably just need to do a better job advertising those to bring the income up on them a little bit.

I did write a cookbook this year, so that'll be out at the end of May. So that was something new for me for this year.

Um, but yeah, I really, I mean I really enjoy, I love, I love working with sponsors. I have great sponsors that I work with. So I really like the brands that I partner with and enjoy that side of things.

And I love, I mean SEO and keyword research, that's totally my jam. I love growing the traffic and seeing the ad revenue go up that way. So I definitely think those are probably going to continue to be my two biggest income streams.

Erica: Yeah. And just from my personal experience, to do a course well, it really takes up your time and then there's some sacrifices to be made, maybe, on the other fronts, unless you have a team or help, you know? So yeah, I can relate to that for sure.

How to partner with a sponsor

Erica: I guess before we move on from this topic, I think people listening might be like, oh, sponsored content. That sounds really cool. How the heck do you land a sponsor for your blog?

1) A brand reaches out to you

Chrissy: Yeah, I, there's a, there's a couple of different ways to go about it. Uh, so the hope, I think, that everybody wants is that somebody will just reach out to you and you'll naturally partner up with them.

And now that's amazing. And that does happen occasionally. At the beginning it's probably not going to happen super frequently. I get a lot more outreach now that you know, I have a bit of a bigger site. Um, so that would be Avenue one.

2) Joining a network

Chrissy: Avenue two would be using some type of blog network. I did do that a lot, you know, back in 2014 I used those networks. They are far lower paid than you will get if you are negotiating with a brand directly. So just keep that in mind.

Some of them do have decent fees and sometimes even now, sometimes something will come up on a network where maybe it's a brand that, uh, I really wanted to work with and I couldn't find a contact for them. And it might be a good avenue for me to, you know, make that introduction. And start things. So I do still keep an eye on them even though I don't really use them super frequently anymore.

But blog networks would be things like influence central or social fabric or clever, you know, there's a bunch of them out there.

Erica: Can you just really quickly explain like what is that, what is the company doing for you? Like why are they kind of taking a cut from you?

Chrissy: Yeah. Great, great question. So essentially they're kind of like conglomerating opportunities into one spot. I don't even know if that's the word, but they're bringing a lot of opportunities into one place. And so they have the brand connections and they'll basically put up, you know, Oh, we have these different opportunities and they'll have them on the website and you can kind of quickly click and apply for things.

And it's usually a very short, like, here's a paragraph on why I think I'd be a good fit. And yes, I accept the amount of money that they're offering and the terms and everything. Um, so again, the rate is lower because they're, they're the middleman. They're taking a cut of that.

Uh, but it is very easy to apply for some of those. Um, you do have to these days it's, it's a little bit different because the terms and a lot of them, they really want a lot of rights to the content, you know, they want your name and likeness and all of these different things that at the beginning I never considered, um, just know that sometimes you can push back on those things. Even with networks.

Um, I pushed back on them a lot with individual brand partnerships, but a lot of people think, Oh, just, you know, it's a blog network. There's no flexibility there. And I've had success in, in getting modifications to things on there. So just keep in mind that you can always reach out and talk to the contact there directly if you want to.

So yeah, they're, they're kind of a middleman that brings a bunch of opportunities together.

Erica: That's a really good tip. And I think that helps clarify for everyone listening. And then I'm assuming you were about to say like, or you could connect with brands directly?

3) Connect with brands directly

Yes. And that would be my biggest recommendation as far as how to develop really good long lasting partnerships.

That's been something that I've been really lucky with the last couple of years. That I've been able to cultivate relationships with a couple of brands that now I've worked with, you know, long term for three or four years.

And it's just, that's so valuable because A) if you can build this year-long contract, you know you're going to have so much work throughout the course of the year and B) it's good for your audience.

Like if they're consistently seeing, Oh she works with like these three brands and these are the three things she recommends, um, and you're not doing a ton of, like this week I'm talking about this and next week I'm talking about that and like swapping from one thing to another. If you're constantly doing one off stuff and switching brands and all of, you know, working with competitors and all these different things, it does feel sometimes a little inauthentic maybe to an audience.

Whereas if you're working with a similar set of brands and you're consistently sharing them, people will just come to understand that you really love those things and you really just want to be able to share that.

So definitely reaching out to brands directly. I will say my biggest successes with all the brand partners that I have right now, all my longterm brand partners has been meeting them in person.

Um, so like one brand that I work with, I had pitched them on something digitally. They completely ignored me. I had never heard from them and then I met them in person at this event and we got stuck at the airport together with delayed flights and like we had tacos and margaritas. The next thing you know, we've got a year-long contract outlined and sometimes it's just that human connection. We forget that like we do business with humans and when you meet people in person, whether it's at FNCE or a food expo or something like that, you can start to develop that relationship.

Um, I'll give one more tip on that note for brand partnerships. When you're making those connections and starting those relationships, think about reaching out to those people for something other than just, Hey, can we do a sponsored blog posts? Can we get work together?

So like if I meet a brand and they mentioned to me, Oh yeah, we're thinking about doing more Pinterest marketing, I might send them like a couple of quick tips or a helpful article about Pinterest marketing or something that's going to be useful for them that I'm showing them that I can provide some value to the relationship.

Um, and I think that sticks out in people's minds. There's a really good book called the go giver sells more and it kind of really made an impact on me as far as trying to really be helpful for others, as far as those brand partnerships.

Erica: Mmm, I'll have to look at that one. I've never read that book. Um, but yeah, that's a really good tip cause that was literally going to be my next question. Like what, do you just walk up to them and be like, Hey, I have a blog. You know what I mean? Like, how do you, how do you build the relationship without just jumping in with the ask?But yeah, you basically answered it, so thank you.

Um, yeah, and that's so funny that you just mentioned that story about getting stuck at the airport because really weirdly that a similar thing happened to us when we were flying out of LA we were sitting next to a girl who works for a food company who was supposed to be at expo west, but it got canceled because of everything happening. And so we struck up a conversation and exchange business cards and like you're so right like that it can totally happen like that.

The best part about blogging full time

Erica: So yeah. All right. So kind of switching gears, I'm just curious like what is your favorite part about blogging full time?

Chrissy: I mean, I love the keyword research. I know not everybody, some people do not like it, but that is totally my thing.

I can get, I use keysearch, and I can get lost in it for hours. I have probably like 600 keywords in a word document right now that I should write blog posts on at some point. Definitely have more ideas than I could probably ever use. But like I love going in there every day and just trying, it's like a treasure hunt, like trying to find those diamonds in the rough. And when you find one that you're like, Oh my gosh, I know I can rank for this. It's just like so fun and exciting.

Erica: I know! I'm like smiling really big and you can't, you guys can't see me. But like, I am the same person. Like, if I could just spend all day doing keyword research, I would. I, yeah, I agree.

And it's so funny, like even in, I'm sure both of our communities where we talk more about blogging. It's like there's definitely a dichotomy. I don't know if it's a personality thing, but there's like the people who are die-hard all about keyword research. And then there's some people who are like, Oh my God, this is like the most frustrating thing I've ever done. So it's just so funny how like some, it just naturally hits for some people, then other people would like probably gladly outsource, which is true about anything. But I just think it's funny.

A day in the life of a blogger

Erica: Um, so what does your day to day life look like? Since probably most people listening don't know anyone who's a full time blogger.

Chrissy: Sure. I would say I, I kind of divide the tasks between keyword research, uh, recipe development, testing and photography, and then writing.

Those are like the three big things. And then social media scheduling. I, like I said, I focus mainly on Pinterest.

I don't do as much with Facebook or Instagram, so, uh, I will do a lot of Pinterest scheduling on tailwind. Like at night while I'm watching something on Netflix, you know, it's not something that requires a, a high level of focus, so I can kind of get that done, uh, in the fringe hours there.

But yeah, I think most of the day is generally okay, what, what do I have to write about today? What projects do I need to do?

Brand pitching is another thing. So if I have, you know, lost a brand partnership maybe or like during these times where people are pulling budgets back, trying to think more creatively about how I can work with some of those brands on different, different projects maybe we might be able to do.

So for one of my brand partners, we were supposed to do an in person event and we're shifting that to be a virtual event now. And so today I was working on the framework for that event and how, you know, what that's gonna look like now that it's virtual and not in person.

So I think that um, yeah, I mean mainly it's recipe testing, photography, writing, and the keyword research. Those are the big tasks that I spend most of my time on.

How often should you post new content?

Erica: And how often do you post new content on your website?

Chrissy: Ideally, on snacking in sneakers I try to get one to two posts up a week. It's, it really depends on what else I have going on in life. So when I was doing the cookbook, I probably did not get as much posted there. But generally I'm pretty good with one to two times a week on that site.

And dairy free for baby, I tried to get up one post a week, and then on build a wellness blog, it's more when I have time or when the inspiration strikes.

Erica: Totally. And I don't know if people listening are aware, but not every single thing you put out has to be a hundred percent brand new. It could also be going back to something that's older, maybe not as optimized, or you want to switch it up a little bit, improve it, you can redo the photos or whatever. So that can be a way to put out more content that maybe doesn't take quite as much time.

Chrissy: Yeah, I mean before I learned about SEO, I had probably 300 old blog posts that are not well done. And so little by little, you know, you prioritize the ones that make the most sense to update.

But that's definitely a great point about updating. My, my old photos were horrible. So updating all the photos and adding more relevant content besides like, Hey, I made this recipe and it's good. Like, that's it. Try and add some more stuff to that.

Is this a one-woman show?

Erica: Do you hire anything out or is it a one woman show?

Chrissy: Right now? It is for the most part, a one woman show. I will occasionally get a VA to help me with certain things. So I had a VA that worked with me who was great, who did just a bunch of Pinterest images. So one of the big pushes with Pinterest this year is fresh pins, right? They want new images for stuff. So I basically just gave her a list of a bunch of different blog posts that I had, which only had one pin image and asked her to just go create new pin images for all of them.

So that was really helpful because it didn't require, you know, like my focus or kind of my zone of genius there and she was able to get that done for me.

Um, occasionally if I'm in, there's a couple of VA content-selling type groups. So occasionally if I see maybe an article topic that I think will work well for one of those sites, I might buy that. And then I'm generally adding on to it pretty comprehensively. But sometimes it gives me a nice framework to start with where I don't have to do as much writing on my own.

And then I do hire out for training plans, which has been a very interesting process. But I hire out for training plans on snacking in sneakers for a couple of the more specialized training plans. So I'm a, I'm a USAT certified tri coach myself. But um, for certain things like for uh, obstacle course racing or an advanced iron man plan where maybe I don't feel as comfortable with that or it would just take me a long time to do, I'll hire out for a coach, another coach to do those.

What are the major things that have contributed to Chrissy's success?

Erica: And looking back, what are some of the major things that you really helped contribute to your blog or helped contribute to your blog's success?

Chrissy: At the beginning it was definitely Pinterest. I had a pin go viral a couple of months into blogging and it was like, wow, like this is amazing. It comes up in my Facebook memories every year where it's like this has been pinned 10,000 times. It was so exciting. So definitely Pinterest at the beginning and then definitely learning how to do keyword research, which I kind of started doing that back in I think 2017. That made a huge difference for growth.

Pinterest helped me grow to a certain level and then I was stagnant for a bit. And then the keyword research and focusing on SEO really made all the difference as far as kind of continuous growth since then. So I would say those are the two biggest things.

And then the other one would be just like not giving. Most people when they start blogging they think, or I don't want to say most people, they think it's a quick success, but I think most people don't realize just how long it takes.

And so one of the things that I've seen with a lot of fitness bloggers, food bloggers, nutrition bloggers, is they start and they go at it and then like in six or nine months they give up because they're not seeing a ton of success yet.

And really like if you stick with anything for five to 10 years, you're eventually going to get it right. So I think just sticking with it is really helpful.

Erica: I know I've already like had a podcast episode on explaining keyword research and stuff and as much as I could, but can you give us kind of your summary of what keyword research is and why that helps grow traffic?

Sure. So keyword research in my eyes is looking for things that people are actually searching for. So things that have a decent search volume and then things that aren't really competitive to rank for.

So as an example, when I started blogging, I have this amazing post on butter bean blondies and they're delicious and the pictures are nice and all, but nobody searches for that term. So I get some decent Pinterest traffic from it. But it's not something that anybody is finding on Google except maybe like the random people who have seen me make that recipe in the past and want to find it.

Um, on the flip side, if I did a recipe for like chicken noodle soup, that's great. Lots of people are searching for that, but I'm never going to outrank food network or Ellie Krieger, you know, these big name people that are ranking for chicken noodle soup.

So it's kind of about finding the things that check off both boxes. People are actually searching for them and it's not super competitive to rank for them.

Erica: Yep. And then for people who didn't catch it earlier, um, a very moderately priced tool that you could check out is keysearch that would help with this. And I know you have a tutorial on it on your blog. So I will put that in the show notes for people who want to check it out. Um, but yeah, so cause sometimes people are like, okay, but like then how do I figure all that out while you use the tool? And it tells you everything right there.

So like just trying to circle it back around and what that looks like day to day….

So you spend some time, at some point, doing all that keyword research and then you have your ongoing list of kind of ideas and then that's how you kind of plug it into your schedule every week.

Like these are the recipes I'm going to develop and photograph and then write the blog posts and then publish them and then put them on Pinterest, schedule them on social media.

Chrissy: Yeah, that is it. That's all. That's it.

Erica: And do you have an email list too or um, is it mostly social media?

Chrissy: I have email lists for all the sites. I am not very good at email marketing and it is one of my 2020 goals to become better at that.

Especially right now with everything going on where we've seen like different traffic changes like for snacking in sneakers I've seen a drop in traffic because nobody is looking for training plans right now because there's no races for anything.

So it's been very interesting for me and really kind of pushing me towards wanting to do more email marketing. So that's definitely something on my list for this year.

Erica: Interesting. Interesting. I, and you're so right, like we can never predict a future. So like just having, you know, a variety in how we get our traffic and things like that is always a good idea. And sometimes, you know, it takes something, some crazy Google algorithm update or a pandemic to remind you.

What Chrissy wishes she knew earlier on

Erica: Are there any specific moments you can remember along your blogging journey where maybe you made a mistake or a misstep that you're like, oh, I really wish that someone had told me about this earlier. Or, you know, something that you could pass on to our beginner bloggers who might be listening?

1) Stop caring so much about what other people think

Chrissy: Sure. I have two. The first is getting too wrapped up in what other people think.

At the beginning I remember getting like the first rude blog comment and like crying and thinking, Oh my gosh, I'm not a good writer. Like this person was so mean. And now I get a lot of them and it's really easy to just let it roll off your shoulder.

I think the more you get used to that, the easier it is. So I have up in my office, there's a thing on my wall and it's like wolves don't lose sleep to the opinions of sheep. And I just try to remember that, um, that you're going to get rude comments no matter what you write about, no matter how much you straddle the line of like balanced opinions, there's always going to be somebody who's just rude to be rude.

So that would be one. Just don't worry about as much what other people think.

2) Focus less on yourself and more on your readers

The second thing would be to, uh, the mistake that I made was focusing too much on me at the beginning.

So back, I mean back in 2010 when I was blogging, like search engine optimization wasn't really as big of a focus for people.

And a lot of blog posts were more diary style. Hey, here's what I ate today, here's what's going on in my life, that kind of thing. And I think I spent too long doing those. Even maybe after I realized it wasn't the best thing to do and didn't really shift to more reader-focused posts until later in the game.

And I think that that's really important. Like you can weave in personal details, you can weave in stories to connect it, but really your reader wants it to be about all about them. You know, you want to solve a problem for them, whether that's the recipe that's going to help with their needs or whether that's a training plan, that's exactly what they needed at that point.

So I would say that would be the second thing. Try to make it focus on that.

Erica: Oh my gosh, I agree a thousand percent with both of those things. Yes. I'm glad you brought them both up because I don't think we've touched on those too many times, but um, really, really, really great points for bloggers at any stage of blogging.

To be honest. I remember when I started out I, I would get email notifications of when someone joined my email list or unsubscribed, which is the worst idea in the entire world. Turn that off. Cause I similarly, would be like, Oh Betsy from Iowa unsubscribed from my list. Like what am I doing wrong? But like it's so normal and it is not personal at all.

Chrissy: I'm going to tell you the first time somebody unsubscribed from my list, I like sent them a personal email and was like, what did I do wrong? I swear. And they were like, nothing. I just don't have time for this.

Erica: Oh my gosh, that's so funny. I'm like, yeah, I mean that's all part of the growing process. And thank you for sharing that because there's probably someone listening who's like, Oh man, I did that too.

How to move the needle when you feel stuck

Erica: And the last tip or piece of advice I wanted to ask you about was, what if someone feels like they really have been giving it their all and they're trying and they're blogging, they're putting out content, but something isn't aligning and they feel like maybe they're not getting as much traffic or growth as they were hoping.

What would you suggest they look at or what are some actions maybe they could take to move the needle?

Chrissy: I mean, I think ask for advice from somebody, whether it's in a Facebook group or whether you're hiring somebody for one-on-one advice.

If you feel like you're doing everything right, like maybe there's a technical problem that you don't know about that exists on your site or maybe you feel like you're doing it right because you followed the advice of somebody and at that time, perhaps it was the right thing to do and now maybe it's a little bit outdated. So I would say just ask for help.

I think that's the best thing you can do. If you feel like you're really spinning your wheels and you feel like you've really gone above and beyond yourself and learning what you think will move the needle and it's just not working.

Erica: That's a good point too. Like things move so fast in the internet world and blogging and online business in general.

Whats the deal with Tik Tok?

Speaking of moving fast… I know this is totally off topic, but Tik Tok is like the new thing.

Chrissy: Yes.

Erica: Yeah. Which I think, I am so not an early adopter of anything. So I um, admire people who are, even though at this point it's not even really early adopting like it's been around for awhile, but I, it's so cool. Like I see people sharing and they're like, Oh my video got like a hundred something thousand views, which is crazy.

So can you just like share what your experience with Tik Tok has been like? Do you think it is like a worthy platform to check out if people like to make videos? Is it hard to make videos? Like any insight.

Chrissy: it's not hard to make videos. I love Tik Tok. I hate Instagram and I love Tik Tok.

So I think, um, Tik Tok is… to me it feels like sillier, more authentic and more off the cuff. Then Instagram, my pet peeve with Instagram is that everything's like very filtered, various settings, very picture-perfect. And I know not everybody is like that, but I think just in general like that's, I feel that's how I perceive it.

Tic Tok is just like craziness and silliness and entertainment all wrapped into one and it's just a place I feel like that you can have fun and really be yourself and the videos are very quick to create.

Like you'll want to spend a little bit of time in the app to get an idea of like the culture and the trend. You know, there's a lot of trending things or challenges or specific dances maybe that are going on, but like you don't have to dance if dancing is not your thing. Like that's okay.

Um, the more that you interact with the things that you're interested in, those are the things that are going to be posting about in the algorithm. The more that stuff will show up on your, for your page. So I think a lot of people join, Tik Tok and are like this is all 14 year old kids. Like why am I on here? But on my “for you” feed, like the main feed that I see, I'm sitting here scrolling imaginarily on my hand phone as I'm describing this, but when you're scrolling through the videos on your feed now I see mostly dietitians and doctors and fitness experts and things along those lines.

So it's actually like a super valuable place for me to be and explore as well. Um, so just keep in mind that the more you interact with those kinds of things, the more you'll see of that on your page. So don't be discouraged if you go on, you're like, I don't fit here. I'm not like a 16 year old dancer.

Erica: You know, that's super insightful. I didn't even think about that. I just downloaded it like my second week of quarantine, after we got back from our trip. And um, I, I didn't even realize like that's how it worked. Like you open it and it is just kinda like you just keep scrolling and there's new videos, like endlessly. I guess kind of like how, um, like your Instagram feed is where it could keep going on forever, except you don't even have to be following the people. Which I feel is probably part of why the reach is good, because you could technically pop up on someone's scrolling feed of videos at any time.

But yeah, I was dying laughing at the videos that were coming up and I closed the app after like 30 minutes being thoroughly convinced that quarantined bored people are geniuses.

Chrissy: I think there was some data that got passed around in a Facebook group that I'm in (and I'm in two Tik Tok ones ,so I'm not sure which one it was in, but it, um, there was something along the lines of like, the average tick tock user spends like 60 minutes a day on the app in bursts of 12 minutes a piece.

So, I mean that's insane when you think about spending 60 minutes, with volume on, listening to things over the course of the day. It's just, it's crazy to me and fun and cool.

Erica: I was totally annoying my husband being like ohh my gosh, watch this one. Oh, this one's so good. And he's like, I'm playing my video game, okay?? So yeah, it's on my list of things that I have to figure out. Cause I want to kind of use it in a business sense and I'm sure there's business people on there, but I just need to like explore and figure out like what, what I even posts, you know? Like what would be the format?

Chrissy: So yeah, there's a lot you can do. I mean if you go to some of the business hashtags, you'll see people and you'll see, I think you'll start to get ideas for the type of content you could put out there.

For nutrition stuff, you know, nutrition, food, content, all of that. Um, there's a lot you can do with that. You can do, I do a lot of quick form recipes. So like, you know, a recipe that's easy and done and eight to 15 seconds on there where it's just quickly edited together.

You can do nutrition education content where you're sharing just quick little bursts of information. Like there's one about starfruit the other day, you know, and it's just quick, 10-15 seconds. You can put text overlays on and do it to music and stuff.

So it's really fun and it's not super hard to edit the videos. The editing is native within the app. There's some editing tools in there so it makes it pretty quick and easy to put together a video.

Erica: I think that's my hiccup. I'm like coming at it from the like highly produced, like, like you know, what I envision seeing Tasty videos on Facebook, but it's so not like that. It's so much more normal. I need to start getting with the program.

Chrissy: Yeah, it's me with my cell phone. Like here I'm making kale chips, mixing it up, putting it on a pan, coming out of the oven. That's it, you know? Quick and easy.

If you really love it, stick with it

Erica: So any final tips to wrap up the episode, if someone is aspiring to be a full time blogger, that you'd like to share?

Chrissy: I think just what I said before, stick with it. If you really love it, stick with it. And if you don't, it's okay to give it up. Don't feel like you have to do it endlessly just because you started it. But if you do truly love it, stick with it long enough.

Learn about SEO and learn about Pinterest. Get those two strategies under your belt and it's, it's a time game. You just keep putting in the time, keep staying up to date on those kinds of trends, or not trends, but stay up to date on what's happening in the world of SEO in the world of Pinterest, any changes that are coming with those and yeah, you'll see that success over time.

Erica: And I'm going to plug my own newsletter here, because I try to send out updates if anything is changing in the world of specifically SEO or online business, I try to let people know in my weekly newsletter. If you're not on it yet, which a lot of people aren't (cough cough), check it out at theunconventionalrd.com. There should be opt-ins like all over.

And then you have something to share for people listening today, right? Can you tell us more about that?

Chrissy's 30-Day SEO Challenge Book

Chrissy: Yeah, so I have a 30 day SEO challenge ebook, um, which is actually like a really great lead in to Erica's SEO course. It's kind of the thing where if you're not sure you want to like fully invest yet, but you want to maybe dip your toes in and see if it's the right thing for you. I feel like the SEO challenge you book is like a great middle of the road option.

So it's only $10. You can buy it on my website at buildawellnessblog.com. It's right there at the top – 30 day SEO challenge and it just brings you through day by day tasks of what you can do to improve your SEO.

Some of the day by day tasks will be a little bit shorter. It might be brainstorming something, some will be a little bit longer where you might be writing an entire post. Um, so you can kind of spread it out as to what feels right for you. But if you kind of stick with it over those 30 days, I think you'll make a lot of progress.

Erica: I did notice that at one point, maybe earlier this year, you were putting these out as prompts in your Facebook group and then compiled them into one workbook to go through. So I can vouch and say that they're really good tips.

But for anyone listening, like you could do that too. Like you could like come up with 30 like actionable small tips, bundle it into a little ebook and sell it on your website. I think it's such a good idea.

Has the reception been good?

Chrissy: Yeah, I think, I mean it's been pretty good. Like I said, I don't do a particularly great job of marketing my products. It's something that I need to improve upon. But the reason I put together the ebook is, I wasn't planning on it, and then when I started the challenge in the Facebook group I realized, wow, I have a lot of content here and it's silly for this to just sit here and go to waste.

So it made sense to compile it. I mean the eBooks like 80 pages long, it's not super short. It's a ton of content. So it was a great way of breaking it down into day by day for me. Then I realized I had so much content that could be put into this book.

Erica: Great great example of strategic re-purposing, because we all need to probably be doing more of that rather than reinventing the wheel for every single thing we do.

So I hope everybody got so much value out of this episode. We went down so many rabbit holes and I'm excited that we got to chat about blogging cause it's my favorite topic ever. So thank you for spending an hour here with us.

How to connect with Chrissy

Erica: And where should people go if they want to connect with you? Where would be the best place?

Chrissy: Sure. There is like a billion places, but the easiest is probably snackinginsneakers.com or buildawellnessblog.com and then, I mean I'm in Erica's Facebook group, I'm all over the place online, so I'm sure you won't have a problem finding me.

Erica: Awesome. Well, thank you again. For everyone who's looking for where to get the ebook and all that, I will put links to everything, any products or websites or resources that we mentioned in this episode in the show notes on my website at theunconventionalrd.com. This is episode 19 so if you want to check it out, you can easily find it there and have easy access to everything. So thanks again Chrissy and I hope you have a great rest of your day.

Outro + Webinar Reminder

I hope you guys loved that episode as much as I did. Again, just head to the unconventional rd.com/episode zero one nine to get the links to anything that we talked about. And connect with me and Chrissy in my Unconventional RD Facebook Community if you want to chat with us more kind of one-on-one. We hang out there every single day and are always answering questions about blogging and online business. So that's probably the best place to go to connect with either of us.

And again, don't forget, I am hosting a free Make Money Blogging webinar on Wednesday, May 13th. Yes, if you can't make it live, if you sign up in advance, you'll get a replay. So you don't have to miss out if you can't make that specific time, but you do need to register in advance.

So again, you can find the registration link in the show notes for this episode@theunconventionalrd.com slash episode zero one nine thanks guys, and I will see you at the webinar.

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