This week I’m interviewing Melanie Betz, the founder of thekidneydietitian.org, which is a blog and online business that helps people with kidney stones and chronic kidney disease.
Melanie is also an SEO Made Simple student success story. She joined the course in January 2020 while still working a full-time job.
Now three years later, she’s fully self-employed and making more money in her own business through passive income streams.
In this episode, we talk about:
- The journey that Melanie went on to this point in her business
- The different income streams she has set up
- How long it took her to become eligible for Mediavine
…and more. If you’ve ever wanted a peek behind the curtain to how someone built their successful online business from scratch, then this is going to be a fun episode for you. Tune in right now.
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More About Melanie Betz
Melanie Betz is the founder of The Kidney Dietitian, an online resource to help people prevent kidney stones and other dietitians to learn about kidney stone nutrition. Melanie is passionate about providing evidence-based information and making kidney-friendly eating easier and delicious! In her free time, Melanie loves to cook, do yoga and spend time with her adorable twins.
Connect with Melanie
- Website: thekidneydietitian.org
- Instagram: @the.kidney.dietitian
- Facebook: The Kidney RD
- Twitter: @thekidneyrd
- LinkedIn: Melanie Betz, MS, RD, CSR, CSG, LDN
DIETITIAN KIDNEY STONE COURSE DISCOUNT
Use coupon code SEO to get 10% off the dietitian kidney stone course (offer valid through 5/10/2023)
Have you ever felt so burnt out with your job or business? Like every single thing has to run through you. And if you take time off, you’ll lose momentum and everything will fall apart. A lot of us start businesses in very scrappy ways. And sometimes we look up a few years in and realize that we’ve essentially just created other jobs for ourselves instead of the time, freedom and flexibility that so many of us crave when we venture into entrepreneurship.
And this is where the power of creating passive income streams slowly and intentionally really shines. This week I’m interviewing Melanie Betz, the founder of the kidney dietitian.com, which is a blog and online business. That helps people with kidney stones and chronic kidney disease. Melanie is also an SEO made simple student success story.
She joined the course in January, 2020 while still working a full-time job. With hopes and aspirations of building an online business that did not require any one-on-one client work, because like many of us, she just knew that was not her thing. She was willing to put in the time and the work over a longer time period, perhaps to build a sustainable online business that actually gave her space in life.
Now three years later, she’s fully self-employed and making more money in her own business. 100% through digital passive income streams. Again, no one-on-one client work at all, and she never did it in the first place. She just kept her job until she was ready to switch to full-time entrepreneurship.
And to top it off, she gave birth to twins last year. Talk about super woman, right? Today, we talk through the journey that Melanie went on. To this point in her business,
the different income streams. She has set up including ad revenue, core sales, digital goods, affiliate income, and speaking gigs. And in what order she implemented those. We chat about how long it took her to become eligible for media vine and how much content she had on her site at that point. And hint, she got there super quickly in the grand scheme of things. So definitely listen up if that’s one of your goals.
We talk about which income stream is her favorite right now.
And how she strategically uses email marketing to earn more income in her business. And of course we had to talk about how she manages to run her successful online business. While being a mom to two young children. Cause we all know how crazy that can get. If you’ve ever wanted a peek behind the curtain to how someone built their successful online business from scratch.
Then this is going to be a fun episode for you. Let’s dive in.
Erica Julson: Hello, Melanie, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. It really is a treat to be able to actually kind of like speak with you in quotes, um, on the on video after being connected online for so many years. This is one of my favorite parts, honestly, about doing this podcast. And yeah, so I know you’ve been working really hard to grow your online business and recently we’re even left your full-time job.
And just had twins not too long ago. .
Melanie Betz: Minor detail. .
Erica Julson: Yeah. Uh, I think sharing those details though is really gonna resonate with a lot of people listening, including myself. So . Yeah. I would love to hear your journey on this episode today of. You know, where you started in the online space and how this sort of like perfect series of events aligned to where you were able to leave your job right around the same time that you’re about to have twins and be able to, to balance that.
So thank you for being on the podcast and sharing your story.
Melanie Betz: Yes. Thank you so much for having me. I’m truly honored to be here. I’m excited to share my story and chat a little bit.
Erica Julson: Am I correct in saying that at this moment you’re not doing any one-on-one work like you were able to?
Melanie Betz: Correct. Yep. That was never, never my intention. Um, cuz this all started as sort of a side hustle, , um, and just a side like fun thing that I was gonna do, I was like, this seems like I could do it. Uh, let’s do it and see where it goes. . Um, and so, um, at that point I was working at the University of Chicago and seeing a lot of patients.
You know, definitely didn’t want to add to that. I knew I was sort of starting to feel burnt out seeing patients, so this was meant to be something totally different. And so yes, never, never meant to see patients and that’s not in my, my long-term plan as of now, , at least myself. Yeah.
Erica Julson: Great. So I guess my first question is like taking us back to the beginning.
what made you even like, get into the idea of creating more leverage online income streams that don’t involve one-on-one work?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, absolutely. So I initially, um, didn’t even mean for this to be a money-making thing honestly. Um, I , this is kind of embarrassing, but I believe it was November of 2019. I like joined Instagram , which is maybe a little bit after people, um, and realized that there’s all these dietitians doing stuff and it’s like, well, Fun, I could do that.
And then I just, my mind just kind of ran with it and maybe the next month I was like, I’ll take a website. And I threw a website up on w um, and Katie dod, who I have volunteered with in the future or the past, and I know that she’s been on this podcast as well, very politely in a very Katie way, reach out and was like, uh, maybe that’s not the way you wanna do this.
Maybe you should check out this girl Erica . Um, you know, just fyi, if you wanna do this. I was like, okay. Sure. Katie. And so that is when I kind of realized like, oh, like this is actually something that you can monetize. And so then I kind of ran with it. But, but truly initially I just thought like, hey, like this seems like a really cool way to share information with the world.
Um, like I said, I was working at the University of Chicago when I was just like so sick of people coming to me with just really crappy nutrition information. So at that point I almost felt this ethical. Pushed to be like, oh my gosh, like I’m a dietitian. I have to go out there, put myself out there and put like actual good information out there.
And so that’s truly kind of why it started and it just kind of grew from there.
Erica Julson: Did you do any investigating, like were there already other dietitians, who were putting out somewhat good information online or were, were you feeling like there was a bit of a gap? .
Melanie Betz: Yeah. So at that point there was definitely a few other kidney or renal dietitians that I knew on Instagram.
But not very ma. Many of them had strong blogs. Now there’s a couple, um, and, and definitely more on Instagram, which is wonderful. Um, but definitely not. And at, at that point, I think we might talk about this a little bit later when we talk about niching down, but, you know, I kind of wasn’t sure what, you know, I just wanted to do like kidney stuff and so.
worked a lot with, um, patients who had polycystic kidney disease. In my job is okay, that seems cool. And then like sort of general kidney disease and I also knew a lot about kidney stones and so I kind of did all of those things at once. Um, but I’ve kind of found myself sort of nicheing down even further into stones, which I think has been a lot of, um, why I’ve been so successful.
Erica Julson: Mm-hmm. . I love that you found the niche by doing . Yes. I think that’s a common, common thing that comes up, uh, for people listening who are feeling intimidated. We talk like a lot about, yes, it’s important to have a niche. It really helps you, you know, talk to the right person and. Collect the right people online and rank your website.
But all that being said, most people don’t have their perfect niche dialed in from the go. Like you gotta do some experimenting, uh, and it will come to you so. Mm-hmm. release the pressure slightly .
Melanie Betz: Yes. Yeah. And it is stressful. Like, I remember thinking, well, like, isn’t kidney specific enough? And it, it may have been, you know, But I, I think a lot of my success has been kidney stones since there aren’t other dietitians doing that, as far as I know.
Mm-hmm. , so,
Erica Julson: yeah. And I love, uh, like you were saying, you were getting a little annoyed of people like bringing not great advice to you. Were they like printing out, stuff from the internet and bringing it or just like telling you,
Melanie Betz: I feel like, yeah, a lot of people would say, oh, you know, I looked online and I was limiting pat uh, potatoes and tomatoes and bananas.
You know, all the things that are quote, no-nos on a kidney diet, which is just simply not true. Um, and these poor people were just, Like overs, restricting and felt like they had nothing to eat, you know? And that there’s been a lot of change in what, how we approach kidney nutrition the last couple years.
And that really, I mean, was never true, but really isn’t true now. Um, and so it was just kind of heartbreaking that people were living their lives like that, honestly. And so I thought that the internet and social media would be a good way to kind of reach more people and hopefully improve their lives, honestly.
Erica Julson: and if you do it right, which well, I’m sure we’ll get to later in this episode. Yes. Then when people are Googling their question and that you have the sort of expert answer to, uh, if you optimize your post properly to address their search needs, you have a good chance of showing up at the top of the search results and then they’ll get your good information.
Hopefully, um, yes, above some, whoever else would’ve been there if you never made your content, so. Mm-hmm. . I feel like it’s true. I like what you’re saying, kind of as dietitians, like if we don’t make the content, then someone will other people. Yeah. They’re gonna be educating your audience. Uh, and so yeah, there’s definitely a lot of opportunity there to be the perceived expert, with your content.
Melanie Betz: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I know, we’ll, we’ll talk about, I imagine keyword research later, but, um, it was really frustrating cause I wanted to write about like kidney diet or renal diet. And obviously I’m never ever gonna rank for that. Like DaVita and like SIUs and the big dialysis companies are obviously gonna rank for that.
But I found that, you know, saying something super specific like low potassium pizza is, which is one of the keywords that I’ve targeted, right? Like something super random. Um, I’m, I, you know, tend to, for those very specific things, pop right up at the top. Because I think there’s just not a lot of other blogs doing kidney stuff, so, yeah.
Erica Julson: Yep. Yeah. And depending on your niche, if, if someone’s listening and they have a specific like M N T related niche, it could very well be like that. Like sometimes there’s a very common mistake. I’m sure , you might have gone through this as well, when you’re looking at the keywords that are available, uh, a lot of times you’re just thinking of the big picture ideas and something so specific like you just mentioned.
Potassium pizza or something like isn’t even on your radar. And so you’re like looking at all the, the bigger terms and you’re like, this stinks. There’s no opportunity here. But yeah, being a little too,
Melanie Betz: you have to get creative. It’s, it’s an art, I think totally trying to find those good keywords
Erica Julson: and I find that people either love it or they absolutely hate it.
Melanie Betz: Yeah. Depends on the day. For me, I think I have to be in the right mood. .
Erica Julson: Okay, so let’s see. What year was this then that you, did you stay on Wix initially or you switched it over to WordPress?
Melanie Betz: So, no, I, I think probably like a week or something. . Katie got me quick , thank goodness. So, so yes. So I think probably.
November December, 2019, um, is when I launched my Wix website. I’m gonna started my Instagram account. And then I learned about you and it took your Seo o course. And Covid happened, as you may remember, right around that time in March of 2020. And so that honestly, You gave me the time to really dive into your course and really get everything set up correctly.
Um, and then in April, 2020 is when I launched officially the, my real website will say the kidney dietitian.org .
Erica Julson: And were you also posting on Instagram at the same time? Like did you ha, were you trying to kind of like. Co-create, like repurpose stuff across both platforms or what was your strategy there
Melanie Betz: at, at that point I was not that smart.
I’m still not that smart. I need to do a lot more cross, uh, using my content in multiple places. Um, so no, I was definitely posting on Instagram, but it was, you know, it’s funny, I go back and look at my stuff at the beginning, I would tell you and your listeners too, but you shouldn’t because it’s really.
That’s really embarrassing. But yeah, I was kind of doing both. I was kind of just like, Hey, here’s what I had for dinner and I didn’t really have a good strategy, which I have slowly evolved with, uh, social media as well. But honestly, um, I probably am spending a lot more social time on social media than I should be because most of my people come from, uh, my website and, and then my email list.
Um, yeah. Anyway, so. .
Erica Julson: Well, that’s good to know. I mean, that information is super valuable. Mm-hmm. when plotting out what you should focus on. Um, okay, so you said it was like April, 2020 ish that you launched? Yes. And then I’m just throwing out a ballpark number. Like I think the low hanging benchmark for a lot of people, they’re like, I just wanna get my first like 10 K visitors a month.
and then that once they hit that, they’re like, it’s like proof of concept , and then I think it snowballed quickly from there. So how long did it take you to maybe get to that level, uh, and how often were you posting?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, so I went, went and looked and to prepare for our interview today. Um, and in February of 2021, I had 8,500 sessions or so.
So that was 10 months after I launched initially. Um, but the next month it jumped all the way to 1500 sessions or. , yeah. 15,000 sessions, excuse me. Um, in March, 2021. So like 10, 11 months is when I started to, to hit that. And it really does, like once Google kind of like knows you’re there and starts picking up your stuff, it just exponentially, at least for me, and it sounds like for a lot of people, really just jumped.
Erica Julson: Yeah, that’s might have been my experience as well. Mm-hmm. . But the caveat is once Google, like is aware of you and that. may take a very time, a long time amount of time. Yeah. Depend, especially if in the beginning you weren’t really honed in correctly, with, with creating content. Mm-hmm. , it, it can happen that the first three, six months you thought you were doing everything right, but, you may not have been
Mm-hmm. , and then you have to add on another three to six months. Like once you’re like dialing it in, you’re like, oh, this is what Google likes and like what they’re ranking me for. So,
Melanie Betz: yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I, I do feel very lucky that I was doing it. Correctly, um, from the beginning essentially. Um, and I, I’m sure that really contributed to all of that relatively quick success, I feel like.
Erica Julson: yeah. Yeah, yeah. So I’d say one of the goals that a good amount of people, uh, in my course have, is to qualify for Mediavine, which requires 50,000 sessions per month. So how long did it take you to reach that be? .
Melanie Betz: Yeah. So I qualified for Mediavine, um, in October of 2021. So about one and a half years after my website went live.
Erica Julson: honestly, like Pat on the back to you, that’s an incredible timeline. Oh, thank you. That’s really great. Yeah. . So yeah. And then how often were you publishing to get there?
Melanie Betz: Um, so I also went back to look at this. So I have, at that point I had around a hundred posts, which sounds like a lot, but it’s not like I was like trying to pump out a ton of content necessarily.
I mean, I, I was, but it wasn’t like, that sounds like a lot more than it was. A lot of those posts are recipes, um, that aren’t even necessarily optimized for s e o. So I think that that sort of overestimates what it really would’ve taken, because I definitely. Recipes that I just like had created before, like, might as well throw them up for people that are on my site anyway.
I’ve, you know, should go back and probably optimize them, but like they’re there. Um, so, but yeah. But technically I had around a hundred, both recipes and blog posts on my site when I qualified.
Erica Julson: and I mean there’s 52 weeks in a year and over a year and a half period. That’s like, you know, one to two posts a week.
Melanie Betz: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. A hundred sounds like a lot more than it is over that, that timeframe, I suppose, .
Erica Julson: Yeah. So that’s manageable for a lot of people. Yeah. Uh, were you doing it all on your own? Did you have any help?
Melanie Betz: At that point, no, no. I was doing everything myself. Um, I, I do have a virtual assistant now.
Um, she started like two months or so, I think before the babies came. Um, so in, February-ish of last year. Um, thank goodness. And I, you know, knew that I would likely need some help with, with twins in my life, . And so, um, so now she, Fields, the crazy number of emails that I get from people from my site and helps people, helps accept people in my Facebook group and puts their email on my, um, email list and that sort of thing.
So that’s been wonderful and, and thank goodness, um, she existed because I went into labor a little bit before I thought that I would , um, as maybe happens to a lot of people. Um, and so I literally was like emailing her or texting her from the hospital, like, oh, like this is happening me. And she’s like, it’s cool.
I got it. Do your thing, don’t worry about anything. So I’m really glad that, that I have her. She’s wonderful.
Erica Julson: Yeah. Well, good planning, , it really seems like things just like lined up really perfectly for you, so that’s awesome. I’m sure we’ll get into a little bit more about like the other income streams you have.
But yeah, before we get there, where are you at today? Like how much traffic
your site getting today?
Melanie Betz: Yep, so I am at around 120, uh, K 120,000 sessions.
Erica Julson: Yeah, and I know not everyone listening is super dialed into what that means, but basically it’s, it’s roughly equivalent to 120,000 people coming to your site every single month, like.
Which has been like, that’s crazy. It’s so crazy. I, every time I talk, we talk about numbers at, on this level. I’m like, just like, can you imagine having a room of 120,000 people like listening to what you have to say? That’s, yeah. That’s just, I would be terrified. .
Melanie Betz: Yeah. . Yeah. I, I like to think about, um, so every day I touch between people who come to my site or see something on Instagram or Facebook, around 10,000 people every single day, and.
That’s just so cool. You know, especially kind of going back to my initial, you know, like impetus for starting all of this is like, I just wanna like put good information out into the world and help people eat kidney friendly diets in an easier, more delicious way. And like I do that for people, so many people every single day.
And so whenever I’m having sort of a down day or feeling discouraged, I like to think about that and that kinda helps keep me going.
Erica Julson: And it sounds like, do you think that the articles maybe were, performing better for SEO or, or maybe the recipes would have, but you didn’t really like take it, take a SEO forward approach with some of them?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, it’s a mix honestly. Um, some of my very top posts are recipes, um, and I think honestly, so I do a lot of like low sodium recipes, which are obviously gonna appeal to a much larger audience than just kidney stones or even just kidney disease. And so, Think, um, for, for the recipes that I do have optimized for seo, uh, my low sodium sausage is my top polar of people.
But I have way, way more blog posts, so overall I’m sure that they do bring more people. So it’s kind of a mix, which is kind of fun, you know, like I can kind of mix it up and if I’m feeling like I wanna do recipe, then I do a recipe. Or if I’m feeling like I wanna write more informational stuff,
Yeah, it’s, it’s kind of a mix.
Erica Julson: And the beauty of that too is it plays to like both income streams. So with a recipe, like even if the people who come are maybe looking for it, because I don’t know, their doctor told them to reduce their sodium for some other unrelated reason. Mia maybe they’re not gonna buy your course, but you’re still earning ad revenue from that traffic.
So yeah. That’s nice.
Melanie Betz: Definitely . Mm-hmm. absolutely.
Erica Julson: and, okay, so you have ad revenue, we just talked about that. What other monetization streams do you have right now?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, so, um, a lot of different things, which is good. You’re supposed to, uh, diversify your income, right? They say. So, uh, Mediavine is my big one in my course.
Um, I. One, gosh, I launched, I think in early 2021. I launched my Kidney Stone Nutrition School, which is my course for kidney stone patients. And I also sell a variety of e goods on my site. So I have like e cookbooks and I have some resources for dietitians. Um, a little bit of a fill in income and a couple other random income sources.
But my, my biggest ones are definitely media, vine, and my course.
Erica Julson: Great. And is the course like a set period of time? Is it like evergreen? Is it once they buy, they have access forever? Is it time limited? There’s just so many ways to set it up. I’d love to hear what you did.
Melanie Betz: Absolutely. So, so initially I had it in sort of a launch cycle.
Um, so I think I did three launches maybe that first year. Um, so people signed up and it was a six week course and they got. Joined in a group call with me once a week for those six weeks. But then I was pregnant with twins , and doing those launches was a, a surprising amount of work. Like every time coming up with different, like, emails, stuff and like social media stuff, and it was just kind of exhausting.
Um, and so I decided that given my life changes, that going evergreen would be a much better idea. And so while I was pregnant, I got all of that set. . And so now when people, um, come to my sites, hopefully they see one of the cool ways to join my email list with one of my lead magnets. Um, and then once they’re, they’re on the list.
I, I, I actually have two different ways. So they can, when they join, they have to say that they’re interested in either kidney disease or kidney stones. Um, because I have some affiliate things that I push for kidney, people who have kidney disease, since I don’t have something. But if they sign up and say they’re interested in kidney stones, um, then they get my welcome sequence and, um, eventually get sales emails for Kidney Stone Nutrition School and, and the other resources that I offer.
But that’s my big one, my big offering.
Erica Julson: Love that. . And I’m just curious, how did you figure out, you know, what lead magnets to create? Was there any strategy behind that in terms of figuring out what might work the.
Melanie Betz: I think it’s kind of just knowing my audience, like knowing that, an oxalate list is something that everyone is looking for , and so putting that behind sort of the, not a paywall, but a.
You know, lead magnet wall. I don’t know, I dunno what that’s called. But so that, that was a big one. Um, and honestly, kinda just getting ideas from other dietitians, like people do such cool, cool things. Um, I, I actually, so you have a roadmap, or at least at one point you had a roadmap for seo and I was like, that’s a fun idea.
And so I created a roadmap to, to personalize getting some nutrition. And so kind of getting, um, coming up with different, like ways of presenting content from other people is, is helpful. .
Erica Julson: Yeah. That reminds me, I was just recently talking about this as a tip. The oxalate food list, for example. I imagine that’s probably a really competitive keyword that perhaps, maybe you don’t have the chance to rank for it in a blog post format, but you might see like, oh, geez, like 7,000 people a month are Googling this or something.
So, A sign that it’s popular and people want to know it. So then you can just, instead of writing the blog post, if you think it might not get a lot of traction, you just make it an opt-in cuz you know it’s popular like mm-hmm. . Yeah.
Melanie Betz: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. Or I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, if you see something that’s super popular, like Oxalate, then kind of figuring out something that’s more specific about that mm-hmm.
um, is, you know, kind of how you can go about that. He research to find something. you want to, or, or could realistically rank for?
Erica Julson: Yeah, definitely. Like, I’ll just flesh that out. Maybe there’s like people looking for like low oxy lip breakfast ideas and like that’s one of . That’s funny. I just,
Melanie Betz: one of my first ones.
Yeah. Or low oxy beans or low ox lip nuts. Like, you know, like just kind of never ends.
Erica Julson: Yeah. And then once they get to your site with that niche topic, obviously they’re interested in that broader topic and then they might opt in for the opt-in that’s related, so. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. . Yeah. It sounds like you really like, you just like, got it.
You know, like you understood how it was all supposed to play together and then you just were like, okay, go. Like implement.
Melanie Betz: Yeah. I mean, I do feel very lucky. Like I feel like everything just kind of fell into place like, And I don’t know, I, you know, I probably don’t give myself enough credit, but I wonder if sometimes it all fell into place.
Cuz I wasn’t like putting pressure on myself. Like this was all just a fun side project. Like this was not my main job. Any income I made was just fun at that point. Right. Um, and so I just kind of like, Took the pressure off. I was like, just do it Melanie. And, and it’s worked out and, and I feel really lucky that the timing just happened to work out so that I could leave my, uh, full-time job when twins pop into my life.
So, yeah, it really, really is a pretty, pretty cool thing.
Erica Julson: So, let’s see. I know we just talked about how it takes a while to become eligible for Mediavine. So people, some people listening might be like, oh man. Like even though in the SE world, a year and a half is a fabulous timeframe, like that is really on the, the quick side, I would say, um, in the grand scheme of things.
But some people might be like, that’s a long time to wait to try to get ad revenue. So, um, I will say that a lot of people, they’re not. Not doing anything until they get there. They might be coming up with other ways to monetize. So what was the first monetization stream you implemented on your site? Yeah.
And why did you pick that one?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, so the first way that I made money was my e cookbook, , um, stop kidney stones from your Kitchen, uh, summer edition. And I sold that, uh, as for 1995, I believe. And like that sold really, really well. And so I definitely was making a fair amount of money that first year before, first one year and a half before I, um, was on media Fine.
So, yes, so that was my, my e- cookbook. Um, I did it honestly because I had the idea in my job at the University of Chicago. Like, I was like, man, these people with stones just. To eat all of this calcium and like they get so sick of milk. So I was like, well, I can come up with some fun ways to do that.
So I just kind of had this in the back of my mind and knew that, that it would be something that would be helpful for my audience. But also I did it because it’s so easy and it wa wasn’t scary. Like coming up with a course at that point was like, Overwhelming and like, oh my gosh, I could never charge that much money.
Like I could never ask someone to pay me that much, but like a $20 e- cookbook E even $20 at that point was like, oh, like I dunno if they’ll pay that , but they do. So yeah, so it was just really easy and you just like throw it up on your side and, and off you go. It’s really that, that is one lesson that I’ve learned through all of this is that most of this stuff is a lot easier.
Think that it’s gonna be, you know, . The, the only thing that stresses me out still to this day is like tech, like back, like behind your website, stuff like that stresses me out to no end. And I always go back to your course and like, be like, okay, what does Erica say? And like, walk through it. Um, or I now just fight with people to do that because I can do that.
Oh. And that’s worth my mental health. Mm-hmm. , but most stuff is, is way easier like, . You know, keyword research in general is a lot easier than I thought it would be. Or creating a course or the E, like everything just kind of, you just have to do it. Mm-hmm. just, just.
Erica Julson: And is your cookbook still selling today or is that
Melanie Betz: Yep, definitely.
Yep. It’s still there. And now I have the winter edition, so I, you know, sell them, um, individually or I have a bundle. So, yeah, I have that and I also have a kidney stone guide for dietitians on my site. Yeah, so those are all the egos that I have directly on my site. I also sell some handouts and stuff at R D 2 R D.
So the income that I make from RD to RD as well as most of it comes from my site is only about 9% of my total income, but it’s totally passive. You know, it’s there. People come to my site, I literally do nothing. So, that’s pretty great, I’d say.
Erica Julson: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. It’s like the idea of creating the content once and then profiting from it forever really , as long as it’s still relevant.
Yeah. Uh, do you promote it like on your email list at all, or is it just. People finding it on your side?
Melanie Betz: Uh, yes, it is part of, it’s kind of like tucked into some emails in my welcome sequence, um, since I wanna, you know, I don’t wanna feel like I’m selling all the time and I wanna kind of direct people to my course.
But it is definitely in the emails as well. .
Erica Julson: And are you happy that you started there? Like if someone’s listening in, they’re not sure you know what to get started with selling on their site. Did, do you like that you started with the cookbook? Would you do it again?
Melanie Betz: Definitely. I, I think especially for where I was at that point, and again, just kind of that fear of selling to people, it’s a perfect way to kind of get your feet wet.
Um, there’s basically no cost that goes into it other than your time, of course to create it. And. It just, it made me feel comfortable selling and that everything works out and like the tax gods are not gonna come after you and you’re not gonna get in trouble . You know, so, yeah, I’m, I’m glad that I did and, and then kind of worked myself up to that course.
And, and now actually just this week I released my Rd kidney stone course. Um, so I’m, you know, kind of more, more and more things, creating more things all the time.
Erica Julson: Awesome. And going back to. niche selection, just listening in the online community. Sometimes I hear people say like, oh man, like renal is so competitive.
Did you feel like that before you got started or were you kind of just like, I’m just gonna go for it? ? You know, I feel like this translates to other niches. Like it’s not just renal, but sometimes I see, see people being like, oh, I could never carve out my own space here. It’s so,
Melanie Betz: oh, really hard. I mean, it’s, that’s really hard for me to answer cuz I have nothing to compare it to
I’ve never, I’ve never tried to write for anything else.
I, I didn’t, I think it was, it was, um, I, I will say the little bit that I’ve talked with other dietitians is I think I had to be okay with very low volume keywords, and really, really internalize the message that low volume, even like 150 searches a month, like if, if that is a. Competition value. Like you are gonna get a large percentage of that 150 searches a month, whereas the 800 searches per month, you’re never ever gonna rank for with a difficulty score like 80, you know?
So I, I do think that perhaps it’s competitive in that. , like most people are searching like these big terms and I feel like it’s harder to find these lower competition words. But I made it work like maybe you have to write a few more posts. Like eventually that 150 searches a month adds up.
Right. So yeah. And I imagine, go ahead.
Erica Julson: Oh, I’m sort of taking a similar approach on our newer site. I think we’ll go anywhere, like as long as it’s like over a hundred searches per month, like mm-hmm. , I’m trying to go deep into content clusters instead of broad and just experiment and see how that goes.
Mm-hmm. . Um, but I have anecdotally, so far, we just started getting like, picked up in Google over the last few months really. But we’re. quickly able to grab featured snippets. Um, and you know, that we get really good click through even on the lower volume ones. Um, if we can get the featured snippets, so it depends on your goals, experiment, yeah.
Melanie Betz: Mm-hmm. for sure. And, and I think it probably did help that I had some of those higher volume recipes that were reaching a larger audience, like we talked about earlier. probably if I didn’t have those, it would’ve taken me some more time. But, but still not impossible.
Erica Julson: and it sounds like as well, like not being afraid to keep nicheing tighter and tighter. I feel like what that’s gonna send, the message it’s gonna send to Google is like, okay, this isn’t just a renal blog. It’s like, oh, lots and lots of content. Interlinked, enriching content that they can clearly see how it’s all related and relevant, for people with kidney stones, for example.
Uh, and then that gives you a little edge in anything related to kidney stones. Like if you have like a mass. kidney stone related content and Google can clearly understand that you’re like an authority in that topic, then that gives you a lot, greater chance of ranking well versus another renal dietitian who’s has two posts on kidney stones and two posts on this other thing and two posts on this than this and this.
And then they never really go deep in anything. Um, so yeah, I imagine that probably was beneficial over the long run too.
Melanie Betz: And I feel like I’m starting to really capitalize on that, like specificness, , um, cuz just the last, uh, couple months, I’ve been allowing myself to write for, for keywords that are kidney stone related that have a slightly higher competition score.
And I found that I’m still like jumping like the next day until like, Position six or so, so mm-hmm. . Um, so I like it has to be benefiting me. The fact that I just read about kidney stones all the time. .
Erica Julson: Yeah. I also feel like, this is something that has been becoming more and more and more important like each year, like, you know, 2018 or something when we were start, when I started my courses, it’s like this wasn’t as big of a deal.
You could get away still with like being a little more broad. But as the years have gone on, it does seem. Google is favoring like niche expertise a lot more. So
Melanie Betz: yeah, I suppose that makes sense cuz there’s probably a gazillion more people doing it. Right. , there’s probably way more blogs and so they just, they can find specialty people perhaps.
Erica Julson: Yeah. . Yep. And, okay, so just a recap, the ways that your blog is making money today. Uh, you said Mediavine was your number one with maybe like a third of your income or so. Yep. Um, and then your course, they’re, they’re close, right? Yes. Um, and then digital goods. And then how does affiliate stuff play in?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, so I, do have some content on there for kidney disease.
And so I and also have kind of like that separate email list, like I said, for people who sign up who have kidney disease but don’t have anything to offer them. Um, and so I’m an affiliate for a couple other dietitian. Um, dietitians courses and, and um, cookbooks and other, other things. And so I sell that, those affiliate sales through my email list.
Mm-hmm. , so that’s just a little bit like 5% or so of my income, but it’s again, pretty much passive, right? It’s in my welcome sequence there. You know, it just kind of comes in once a month, so That’s great. And I also, About 10%, um, of my income comes from different presentations and speaking types of things.
Um, one, one totally unforeseen benefit of kind of putting myself out there is that I’ve found that it’s really catapulted my career as a whole. I have. You know, spoken this year I’m speaking at the National Kidney Foundation’s National Conference, and I did a couple years ago, and like I’ve just, like, all of a sudden all these people just know that I exist and so I have all these opportunities.
I, I kind of dabble in the research world as well, and so I’ve had ways to connect with other researchers and publish and do these presentations and. Do projects with national kidney, like all sorts of random cool opportunities have just fallen in my lap because people just know that I exist. It’s not that I’m that cool , it’s just that people know that I exist.
Um, and so they, they know to reach out to me when they’re looking for, for a kidney dietitian basically. Mm-hmm. . So, um, so that’s cool. It’s only like 10% of my, my income, but it’s just fun to kind of put myself out there and, and help teach the field and, and other healthcare professionals. So, like I said, that’s, 10%, and then the last 10% is from, different ads, that I sell.
So like, you know, people say like, Hey, I want to touch your email list. Can I, you know, send it a, dedicated email, uh, to sell my product? So I have a little bit of that. I would love to do more of that. Um, maybe that’ll be a goal that I work on this year. But, but I have done, started, started to dabble in that a little bit.
Erica Julson: Yeah. Well that’s exciting. And out of all of those, do you have a favorite.
Melanie Betz: Definitely the course. Yeah. Um, yeah, it’s just like, I don’t know, selfishly it’s just so easy, , you know, like you do all, it’s a lot of work upfront to be fair. Um, but then once it’s there, like it just is there and like, it’s so fun to like log into my email, be like, oh, like I sold another course.
Like, this is so great. But also it’s just cool to know that without doing much of anything right now, . Um, I just like help that person prevent stones. Right. And, you know, it’s just such a personal way to help people, I think, but also you can reach so many more people with it compared to doing one-on-one work.
Mm-hmm. . So definitely my, my course is my favorite, which is why I’m so excited about my dietitian Kidney stone course. , that’s just again, came out this week.
Erica Julson: Yeah. And I mean, , it’s going a little off topic, but can, what was it like to be able to rely on those, non trading your time for money income streams as a new mom?
Melanie Betz: Oh my gosh, like. The biggest blessing in the world. Yeah, being a mom and parenting is a lot more work than I anticipated. I feel like a lot of people probably feel like that. And I actually took six weeks off of work, um, and decided to not go back to work after those six, sorry, six months, not six weeks, six, six months off.
And so. You know, before the babies came, I was like, oh, this’ll be great. Like I’ll be able to, they’ll nap and then I’ll be able to write stuff and won’t be able to do as much, but like, I’ll totally still be able to write blog posts and do all the things. No, like I could do nothing. I think I wrote one blog post that I basically had totally written before the babies came the entire last year, like between May when the babies were born and December.
Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s just a lot of work. Um, and I think, you know, especially if I had no income from a full-time job, the fact that all of this was passive, like would have been, and it was, you know, the, the best thing and the entire world, like so much stress taken off of you knowing that these streams are set up, like the income is just gonna, just gonna keep coming even though you don’t have to do that much.
Erica Julson: Yeah. Yeah. It really speaks to. The power of just like setting up the right systems. I think, because that is one of, like you said, a lot of your, your leads and stuff are coming from s e o and your audience, and that’s like one of my favorite parts of it. It’s like once you’re ranking for a keyword word, I mean, granted, yes, there’s algorithm updates that could smack you down, but for the most part, , as long as the content is good and stays relevant and up to date, it’s like you probably have a good shot at maintaining those rankings and your traffic’s not gonna go from, like, usually isn’t gonna go from like 120,000 people down to like 10 or something So, it’s a nice, relatively stable stream and if you know how to capitalize it on the backend with your email and all those other methods of selling, like. , yeah, you can take a step back and everything doesn’t fall apart . So that is really nice. Yes. Really, really nice. Yeah. So let’s see. In terms of marketing, so we know that you get a lot of traffic to your website from, uh, search, but getting the audience and getting eyeballs on your band is different than necessarily like selling something.
I think so. Like where, how are you selling, uh, what’s your most successful channel?
Melanie Betz: Just my email list. I’d say, um, this marketing in general, like marketing 1 0 1 is on my to-do list this year cuz I feel like this is not something I know very much about, I’m not very good at. But I feel like I have this huge audience that I’m probably not monetizing or izing on as well as I could be.
But as of right now, Basically all of the selling is being done via my email list, which is essentially seo, right? Cause that’s how people find me is Google, and then they sign up for my email list and then they go into those funnels and that’s how they learn about my stuff. Um, there is a little bit of selling that I do on social media, but not very much.
And that is where I, I really need to spend some time to figure out how to do that a lot better. So yeah. So that’s what I do.
Erica Julson: Yeah. I’m sort of, I feel like I’m sort of in a similar place where it’s. . Once you have your systems with blogging or podcasting or whatever your evergreen content creation is, like once that’s in place and it’s working and growing your audience, it’s like then you can kind of layer on in the next strategy.
Mm-hmm. , uh, because you, you just kind of know what to do and it’s working. , those systems you have now, uh, and it gives you the space to kind maybe outsource some of it and like pull back your own time and, experiment with something new. Uh, so that’s. So how, how big is your email list right now if you feel comfortable sharing?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, I have around 11,000 people on it.
Erica Julson: I mean, that is a, that’s a large amount, but in the grand, grand scheme of like the world, it’s not that many people and it’s enough to make, I don’t, I dunno, if you feel comfortable sharing how much you’re making, but enough to replace your, your full-time income, uh, with, I mean, a product.
Is your course, I imagine it’s probably not more than like a couple hundred dollars. I don’t know what it’s .
Melanie Betz: Yeah, yeah. There, well, there’s two levels. . Ok. So, um, so as, as of right now, there’s, uh, like just a basic enrollment that is about three 50. Um, or it is like, uh, 500 to be able to get my feedback on like urine tests and join in group calls.
So, mm-hmm. Not, not a ton. Right. Okay. Um, when you think about replacing an entire. Your entire salary. But I actually, in 2022 made more money from my blog about 30,000 more than my salary.
Erica Julson: Wow. That’s incredible.
Melanie Betz: Doing nothing. Well, not doing nothing. Raising two babies, but, but not doing anything basically for, um, for my website.
Erica Julson: That’s amazing. Mm-hmm. . Oh, congratulations to you. Cause that’s a huge, huge win, , thanks. Yeah. Thank. and I don’t, are you feeling like, kind of like you’re coming up for air? Maybe not yet. I don’t know. It took me like a full year to feel like I could do anything else. . And that was with one baby
Melanie Betz: Yeah. People say, I’ll like, how do you do twins? I’m like, truly, I don’t know. Like literally hour by hour. Um, but yeah, I do, I I feel like six months was a big. Sort of, oh, like I kind of start to feel like myself again. And that is also when daycare started, which I think was a huge piece of that. Like, oh, I can go get my nails done and just like, feel like myself.
But yeah, I think, I think I’m starting really, really starting to feel like myself. And I, one of the biggest things when I went back to work was just feeling like I couldn’t produce like I could before. You know, I. I think I sort of pride myself on being just really good at like, doing stuff. Like I, can do lots of things and I just, I couldn’t, like, my mind wasn’t there.
I was so, still so tired, but , but at that point really, really tired. But now, the babies are almost 10 months, they’ll be 10 months next week. Um, and now I’m starting to feel, you know, even more in my groove. So hopefully I’ll be even totally back to normal Melanie at one year, right? . Yeah. Nothing’s changed,
Erica Julson: right?
So then how, do you have any tips on like staying organized in this season where you’re, you know, gosh, at least trying to maintain your business, uh, with the hours that you have? .
Melanie Betz: Yeah. Lists are my best friends. Like I could not, I have this very elaborate system of lists, , like I have, um, you know, like, all right, this, these things I wanna get done this year.
And then I get massively overwhelmed, like, that’s my issue. I’m like, oh my gosh, I wanna do all these things. So I have to literally like break it down, like, okay, so in February I’m doing these things and then. Week, at the beginning of the week, I say, okay, these are the things I’m doing this week. Um, cuz otherwise I just like can’t focus and I wanna do everything all at once.
So that forces me to kind of just focus on what, what I can do. I think also I have to be a little more realistic about what I can do. You know, I, I can’t do all the things that I could before because I do have two babies, . Um, they’re, they take up a lot of time and a lot of energy. . Um, so just kind of giving myself that space to be a mom, um, and being okay with that.
And there’s a lot of, uh, self growth that comes with being a mom. But you know, just kind of allowing myself to be okay with doing less. But, but keeping those lists, of course, to, to make sure to keep myself on track and not overwhelmed.
Erica Julson: Yeah. Do you, could you share like maybe what your typical week looks?
Melanie Betz: It’s like totally different each week, which is what I love. You know, it keeps things interesting. But like usually in a week I’ll, you know, maybe write a blog post. Um, I’m still doing a lot of volunteer work. It’s still publishing a little bit, so I’ll just work on that, like, just kind of a mix of, lots of, of different things.
Um, and one thing that I’ve had to get used to since I’m officially full-time, the kidney dietitian, um, and that I’m like back to work now that the babies are in daycare is kind of like getting used to not working like. You know, seven to four or whatever like you do in sort of a traditional job. Like, you know, I, I go to yoga twice a week at 10:00 AM Like, I didn’t do that before, but that’s pretty sweet , um, to be able to do and kind of getting used to not working nonstop during those hours and just you know, letting, like, making it work for you, which is, which is so great for anyone, but especially for me right now, as, as a new mom.
Erica Julson: Yeah, I don’t know. Are you someone who enjoys kind of like every day being slightly different?
Melanie Betz: Yes. Yeah, definitely. . I would get very, very bored if every day was the
Erica Julson: same. I rebel against too much routine, like if I try to like, yeah, really micromanage myself. ,
Melanie Betz: that’s funny. Yeah. That’s funny cuz I do love routine, like overly love routine.
But I guess when it comes to every day it has to be different. I dunno. . .
Erica Julson: So, um, I know. Neither of us probably are really in the season of like mega growth. But, where do you kind of envision things going over the next few years?
Melanie Betz: Uh, you know, I don’t know. , I feel like I’ve kinda, I’ve like hit all my goals.
Like this, this dietitian stone course was my big, like this is what I wanna do. Um, I just did it literally this week. And so, you know, I have to kind of. Take a step back and like, look at the big picture now, I think, and see where do I want the kidney dietitian to go. You know, I’ve, I’ve dabbled with the thought of hiring other dietitians to see patients, because I don’t wanna see patients necessarily myself.
So maybe that, um, maybe doing more courses, um, either for patients or dietitians, I’m not really sure. But yeah, so I’m, I’m not really sure. .
Erica Julson: Yeah. Well, the best part is you have options.
Melanie Betz: Yes, yes. Lots, lots of options. I, I need to do some soul searching and, and looking at like, the data that I have for like, where my money’s coming from and what kind of is gonna be like, make the most of my time, you know?
Erica Julson: Yeah. Do you get a lot of inquiries from people wanting one-on-one?
Melanie Betz: Oh my gosh. Uh, yes. I would say at least like four. .
Erica Julson: Wow. Yeah. That’s crazy. . Yeah, I definitely relate to that. Like I’m not really, the stuff I’m publishing now is not like m n t focused at all, but when that was more like the angle. Yeah. Like a lot of people.
ask, do you work with people? Can I work with you? And it’s like, yeah,
Melanie Betz: yeah, no, and I have to like fend people off, which seems so silly. Like, you know, feels like you’re just turning down income. But, but that’s not what I wanna do. Right. You know, I have to stay steady.
Erica Julson: Yeah. No, I totally get it. . Mm-hmm. Okay.
So I guess. A really great way to round out this interview today might be to, kind of share your top three pieces of advice for rds who might be listening, who really resonate with your journey, and they’re like, wow, this is inspiring. I could see myself totally trying to set up the same sort of business.
what advice would you give them if they’re starting today? .
Melanie Betz: Yeah. So I can just speak from my experience. Of course, I’m sure everyone is different, but I would say number one is to get help with seo. Cuz like you can, I’m sure Google all these things and you could figure it out yourself, but it would take you years, and so, and probably would not be very good.
So I would say get help, if you are interested in starting with a blog and make sure that you have a good foundation of SEO so you can get going and hopefully qualify for Meine in that year. And. Like I did. Because if you, if you are doing this blog and you don’t have a good SEO strategy, like what’s the point?
Like no one’s gonna read it. You know, it could be fun and like, that’s cool and you know your family can read it, and that’s fine if that’s your goal. But if you really want like to get lots of eyeballs on it, then then definitely make sure that you have a good foundation with SEO O. My second piece of advice would be to not be afraid to niche down like we talked about.
You can always change what you are doing later. Like there’s no rule book. You can do whatever you want out here. in, in this world. You’re not working for anyone. So, so don’t be afraid to niche down. , um, and even like as, as, uh, specific as you can get. Like I said, I, I started out doing just kidney stuff in general and, um, I probably would have been more successful even earlier if I would’ve, done just kidney stones right out of the gate.
But, I’m very happy with , with where I’ve been so far. Um, and then my last thing would just be, um, to start daydreaming about ways that you can monetize now. Like, there’s so many different things and people are doing so many equal things and, you know, unique ways of, of making money and helping people out there.
And so just start thinking about all the things that you could do, right? Be, be curious and. . Yeah. Just to start thinking about it. Yeah. Cause you can do it .
Erica Julson: Yeah. And I love your, tidbit that you shared earlier where like you’re kind of like just keeping an eye on like what other people are doing for inspiration.
Like not, it doesn’t, you don’t only have to look at people serving the same niches. You, it’s like, look at totally different niches and what kind of offerings are they creating or, and. Would you be able to adapt that to your space? I think that’s always a great idea too. And even outside of dietetics, like just ab Absolutely.
Online in general. , yeah.
Melanie Betz: Honestly, I feel like, you know, dietitians are kind of all the same in some way. So you could get a unique perspective outside of the dietitian world.
Erica Julson: Great. Well that was really helpful and thank you for sharing all the details. Um, and your, just your journey in general and the timeline.
I, I really genuinely. , that’s not that long of a time period to be able to qualify for a media bind. So like, really, really good job. And where should people go if they want to follow along and connect with you further?
Melanie Betz: So if you wanna check on my website, um, that is the kidney dietitian.org. Um, I’m also on Instagram at the kidney dietitian with periods in between each of those words.
Um, and if you wanna check out that dietitian’s stone course, um, I actually have a coupon code. Um, so if you use coupon code s e o through May 10th, 2023, um, you’ll get 10% off that dietitian kidney stone course. If you are all interested in kidney stones and listening to this podcast.
Erica Julson: Yeah, so like who’s the right, who’s the ideal buyer?
Melanie Betz: Yeah, I would say any dietitian who works with people who have kidney stones, which is a lot of us, 10% of the , 10% of the population will have a kidney stone at some point in their life. Just a lot of people. And so yeah, if, if you’re at all interested, I just think that dietitians. Don’t know anything about kidney foods.
Right? Like I barely knew you had to drink more water when I graduated. Right. , like, it’s just not part of our curriculum and there’s really a ton to know. So, yeah. So I wanted to, uh, help dietitians learn a little bit more about that.
Erica Julson: Great. Well, thank you for sharing all of your resources and your journey.
We’ll have to connect again and see where you are in a couple years. .
Melanie Betz: Sounds good. . Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.