In episode 402, Megan chats to Maren Epstein about how she reached 85k page views from 5k page views in 7 months after 7 years of failing.

We cover information about putting perspective into blogging because slow success is normal, it’s good to remember there’s a natural evolution of learning about blogging and SEO and the technical parts that build on each other as you blog longer, why adding articles to your website can help build your reach and display your expertise and remember to embrace YOUR story.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

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Guest Details

Connect with Eating Works
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Bio Maren Epstein is a health-supportive chef with a degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute which is a part of the Institute of Culinary Education and a bachelor’s Degree from Drew University. She specializes in developing diets and recipes for gut health that are Gluten Free. She has published food pieces in The New York Daily News and The Independent along with many recipes for Mashed, Healthline, Tasting Table, and more.


  • Write supplemental content to serve your audience and boost the recipes you have.
  • Your blog is a web. The more connected your recipes are with supplemental posts, the faster you’ll raise your visibility of recipes.
  • Use Google trends to find valuable content to publish Google web stories.
  • RankIQ is helpful in building supportive content to go with recipes.
  • Find a post that did well and copy that format for success with other topics.
  • Stay focused and stay in your lane. Don’t get distracted by being on all the platforms.
  • Quantity is valuable as you’re growing
  • Use Google search console to see what you’re known for write more about that topic
  • Look at your competition to see what other bloggers in your niche are ranking for.


Click for full script.

EBT402 – Maren Epstein

Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.

I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. 

We get to hear a pretty amazing story today inside this episode. Maren is a member of my mastermind group. As people who have watched her story unfold, we’ve all been so inspired. By the progress that she’s made that we encouraged her to be on Eat Blog Talk. So she finally is here to share her story. She went from having 5,000 page views in May 2022 to upward of 85K page views here in early February 2023. You are going to be so inspired by this story. It’s not a story of fast success. She had previous years of failing over and over a lot of us do, and she just decided to dig into the work, join a mastermind group, invest in us, and learn as much as she could to get the job done and get onto an ad network, which she did. So enjoy this episode. You guys are going to be so inspired. It is episode number 402 and it is sponsored by RankIQ. 

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Megan Porta: Maren Epstein is a health-supportive chef with a degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute, which is a part of the Institute of Culinary Education, and a bachelor’s degree from Drew University. She specializes in developing diets and recipes for gut health that are gluten-free. She has published food pieces in the New York Daily News and the Independent, along with many recipes for mashed, Healthline, Tasting Table, and more.

Hello Maren. Thank you for joining me on the podcast today. Super excited to have you here. 

Maren Epstein: I’m so excited to be here. I’ve been listening to your podcast for years, and now I can’t believe I’m a guest. 

Megan Porta: Yay. 

Maren Epstein: It’s very exciting. 

Megan Porta: So you have quite a journey to tell us about. You’ve had seven years of failure, followed by seven months of awesome success. I want to hear about it, but first, we want to know if you have a fun fact too. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah, actually lots of fun facts, but the food-related fun fact was that I had a food related essay for my college acceptance letter. Admissions essay, not acceptance letter. Sorry, I’m thinking about kindergarten because my daughter’s kindergarten and I’m getting all these letters. Anyway. So I didn’t have anybody to tell me at the time that this was a bad idea. But I wrote a satirical essay about ketchup for my college essay, and I can’t believe I got in anywhere. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, that’s hilarious. 

Maren Epstein: It was about how I put ketchup on my ketchup and it was about how when I was a little kid I didn’t like food, so I would just mask the taste of everything with ketchup. It was humorous. 

Megan Porta: That’s hilarious. My son would so relate to that. Our 15 year old puts ketchup on everything, and it’s so gross. Mac and cheese the other day we were like, really? Come on. So I wonder if he’s, I wonder if he’s trying to mask the flavor of stuff now. Now I’m curious. I need to read your essay.

Maren Epstein: I’ll have to find a copy of it.

Megan Porta: That’d be awesome. 

Maren Epstein: I would put it on everything. It was disgusting. 

Megan Porta: Do you like ketchup now? Is it something that you even can tolerate? 

Maren Epstein: Now I do. I was so healthy I would never touch ketchup and now it’s organic and I have a five-year-old, there’s ketchup everywhere. I love it on my eggs still. It’s still weird, but not as weird as was. 

Megan Porta: That’s awesome. All right, you have an amazing story, Maren. Had a front-row seat in your story too. So it’s been really fun to kinda watch these last seven or eight months evolve for you. It’s been so cool. So I would love for you to tell us about those seven years of failure that I referred to earlier. Sure. 

Maren Epstein: Failure might be a strong word, but that’s not untrue. So basically I always wanted a food blog. I used to read some of the more common ones. Pinch of Yum, than in my own niche Detoxinista I loved. I just thought it was so cool how they developed recipes. I loved the photos. It just seemed so much fun. So I started a food blog and after years of thinking about it, my previous career, I had a sabbatical from work because my cousin died who I was really close to. I just decided, screw it, I’m going to culinary school. So I went and got a health-supportive culinary degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute, which is now part of ICE. I decided to make a blog that I said to everybody, was really just to help my clients. Because I had a very successful practice in brick and mortar, and it was a suppository of recipes to help people because I was a gut health specialist, a colon hydrotherapist, and I would tell people what to eat, but I couldn’t tell them how to make it taste good.

Megan Porta: So after moving from the back end to the front end with food, I started the blog and I started doing all the things, Pinterest, Facebook. I joined Food Blogger Pro and I got going. But there were some pretty big mistakes right from the get-go. I just posted whatever I wanted with no attention to keywords. I just wrote about things that were very niche and no one would ever find it. So I got most of my clicks from my email, and then some things flowed into the top of Google that had searchability, but that was all by accident. Truly. I had no idea. I think all of my traffic came from one Guatemalan hot sauce post.

Maren Epstein: Nice.

Megan Porta: It’s like literally that was it and an eggplant pate, which nobody calls eggplant pate. They call it an eggplant spread. But because I did something a little bit off base, again, I floated to the top of the search. But I was always busy with my practice. Then I opened up a second location and the blog, took a backseat. So I updated it maybe once a month. Never really got anywhere. Then I tried to learn, so I joined Food Blogger Central Group, and started learning a little bit this is an embarrassing one, but I’ll tell you, I broke a Pinterest rule. I don’t know what I did and I got kicked outta the group. So I was like now bogging is a black box and I have no idea what I’m doing. I just let it go. 

Maren Epstein: Then my daughter was born and blogging became a really fun outlet to just explore, while I was home with her to shoot recipes and I got into it again. But again, I only posted maybe a recipe a month. There was very little search done and it was more just a service, the clients who were already coming to me. But then the pandemic hit, and of course, everybody who could, did start blogging. But I just didn’t really know what to do with myself with the two year old in tow and shutting down both locations where I was working. I couldn’t go ride my horse, and I just didn’t know what to do.

So I decided not to focus on what I didn’t have, but to try to focus on what I did have. I had this kind of crappy little food blog that had a DA of 25, so at least it had longevity. I was like let’s dig into this. So at the beginning of the pandemic, I wanted to qualify for Mediavine. I think it was still at 25,000 at the time so it felt doable. I was plugging away with, again, my crappy host. I was on Blue Host, another Mistake, and a custom theme which was also a terrible idea. So there were just a lot of things. I had no idea what I was doing with analytics and just to move this along a little faster, I just didn’t know what I was doing.

So I started doing SEO, updating posts that were better but not great. Not seeing a lot of results, and it took me so long to do one single recipe post that I felt like I wouldn’t even know if my strategy was working until six months down the line, and then I could have just wasted a whole other six months. So I became just so frustrated with the lack of knowing if something was working, having to wait so long to see if something worked that it just seemed insurmountable. I didn’t know how anybody succeeded. I had friends like Melissa from Vegan Hugs helped me and I just didn’t get it. So I decided to go into more VA work. I got an email. I signed up for HARO, Help a Reporter, which I highly recommend for anybody building backlinks. It was a great way to get links built. 

But I decided I want to write a book instead. So I took a class on publishing during the first week of the pandemic, and I got two pieces published. One in the New York Daily News and the other in the Independent, which was pretty cool. My teacher, who published 17 books herself, thought that was enough to get me a cookbook deal, and I appreciated her help. So I went to an agent, I made a huge proposal and it wasn’t enough. 10,000 views on my website didn’t do it. Versus people who publish a lot of memoirs, they don’t necessarily need a huge platform. They just need three good pieces published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and things like that will get the job done for a book deal. Whereas for Food bloggers, you need a huge audience. So I decided to pull back and work on my blog.

But as I got frustrated, I started doing client work. So on HARO, there was a pitch from MASH for recipe developers and I applied, and they hired me. So for a year I just pumped out 25 recipes for them a month. It was actually really freeing because I made what felt like at the time, good money. Now I know it was not good, but I worked in such high volume that I was making a full-time salary from it.

But in the meantime, that left no time for Eating Works, so it again, continued to slowly wither away. After that, my contract ended with Mashed. Then I picked up another freelance job with a company called Orderific and I started doing a lot of blogging for them, which slowed down my growth as well. So that’s why the growth was so slow. Then I met you. I joined the Mastermind. I said this is the year of Eating Works. It’s either gonna make it, it’s gonna sink or it’s gonna swim. 

Megan Porta: I remember that call. You were like, either it’s going to make it in a year or I’m leaving. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah, literally I was like I’m going to sell it for whatever I can get for it, or it’s gonna make it, but this is it. This is the last year. I get to Mediavine or nothing. So you guys really helped me dig in and the one tidbit I discovered from your podcast before I even got to you guys was supplemental content. 

My husband for years has been telling me to write articles. I’m like, nobody wants articles. Articles are boring. They want recipes and pictures. He’s like, no articles. Then I went into my analytics and I realized all of my articles were ranking, whether they were searchable or not. Google clearly found something searchable in each one. So I was like, ah, there’s something to this. So I wrote a really simple article about Tahini. Is Tahini Keto friendly or is Tahini gluten-free? Before I knew it, my search traffic doubled from this one post and it was fast. I was like, oh, there’s something to this. Then I learned about RankIQ and saw that there was a whole new world of supplemental content. Because what that did for me was allowed me to compete in a less competitive space and also to turn out content a lot faster. Because, unlike a lot of bloggers, I love to write. I write all day, I could do nothing else. I could just write articles. So I loved that. I started publishing up to two posts per day at one point. While it felt insurmountable, my search traffic grew. With your help, web stories also helped a lot, through searching Google Trends, and somehow finally I hit Mediavine. But it was seven months of grinding after seven years of failing and flailing that finally did the trick. 

Megan Porta: Such an amazing story. It’s not like an overnight success as we hear frequently. Oh, I just started last year and I’m on Mediavine. That somehow is just what?

Maren Epstein: Good for them. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. Yes, absolutely. Everyone has their own story and I always say that, embrace whatever your story is. But your story is so amazing and we’ve just had the opportunity to watch you, Maren, grow. Go from feeling like you were flailing to now you are on Mediavine and you’ve surpassed it. You’re not just at 50k. I think you went from like just barely 50K to 63 and now upward of that. So it’s gaining momentum.

Maren Epstein: 67,000. It went from 5,000 in April to 67,000 to date. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. So amazing. So exciting to see that. So rewind a year ago, or not even a year ago, when you were like, oh gosh, I don’t know if I can do this. Now you’re here. 

Maren Epstein: Shocking.

Megan Porta: Yes. So talk about the supplemental content on RankIQ a little bit, because I think that really was the thing that changed everything for you when you saw the opportunity there. Being someone who liked to write and who could write fast, I think you were just like, oh, this is it.

Maren Epstein: Yeah, 100%. So before I even found RankIQ, I just started looking for keywords on Keysearch for supplemental content, like substitution articles and articles about ingredients. Is this, is this that, and then how to posts, like how to reheat something, how to store something. Then when I found RankIQ, I just started downloading reports and running with it. I really taught myself how to write comprehensive posts. I didn’t just use the content checker. I also would compare my stuff to other bloggers out there and really take the time to cover absolutely every single point about broccoli I could. Get really nitty gritty. So that was a real turning point. Not to mention, RankIQ IQ makes it so much easier because I don’t spend hours and hours doing keyword research all the time anymore. I just go in there and sometimes I can find something that will work and if I do, I use it. Even if I can’t, it’s always a great way to find H2 topics.

Megan Porta: It’s like you’re hand delivered the silver platter of keywords that are guaranteed to work, basically. They don’t all get me on page one, but a lot of them do. If I’m not on page one, I’m usually not far behind. 

Maren Epstein: Oh yeah. The stuff usually ranks on the first three pages, like within a day or two for me.

Megan Porta: If somebody listening is I don’t know what you’re talking about with supplemental content, you did give a few examples like the Tahini example. What else can people expect? 

Maren Epstein: To me, supplemental content is any kind of content on your blog that supports a recipe or concept that you blog about. So let’s say you have a really popular chicken recipe. A way to boost that post would be to write other articles to support it and link to it. So you create a whole web of content that supports that recipe. So basically you wanna look at your blog as a web. The more connected you can make your content, the better it’ll be.

So not only will you rank for your chicken recipe, but you’ll rank for your supportive content, which will then draw more eyeballs to your chicken recipe. It also gives you more authority. So what that would look like is if you had a chicken recipe, you would then make different posts about it. Top 10 pans for baked chicken. How long does chicken last in the fridge? What’s the best way to reheat chicken? What are the health benefits of eating chicken? Then if you have a diet-specific type of blog, is chicken gluten-free? Is chicken keto-friendly? Is chicken paleo friendly? There are just so many things that you could cover. What you could do in your post, in your recipe post, is that you then go back and you make all of your content in the recipe H2s, that link out to those supplemental posts. Then in those supplemental posts, you link to that recipe. Then you also can link that recipe into bigger pieces of content like roundups.

Megan Porta: So I have noticed, if I start writing multiple pieces of supplemental content about a topic, so let’s say chicken, since you used that, that even if I have a chicken recipe that’s like super competitive, I start ranking better for that just because I have the supplemental content lifting it up. Then if I add web stories to it, if I add maybe a web story about, how long chicken last in the fridge or something really specific like that, and then link to your chicken and all of that other supplemental content, that everything gets lifted up. 

Maren Epstein: It’s true. Everything lifts. The supplemental content acts like a floater, and it helps lift those boat anchors off the ground. So if you have more competitive stuff that you want to rank, it’s a great way to help it float.

Megan Porta: You just said it way better than I did. That was the best analogy. So you use web stories pretty effectively too. So talk about your strategy with that. 

Maren Epstein: Sure. The best strategy really has been to write like a RankIQ article and then find using Google Trends, what’s trending in web stories. Then make a web story about that trending piece and link it to the RankIQ article 24 hours after that article was posted.

Megan Porta: Ah, that’s good.

Maren Epstein: Then to duplicate that story and change it a little bit and just redo it, because web stories are a bit of a crapshoot. You don’t know what’s going to work, or what’s not, so you just have to do a bunch of them. 

Megan Porta: How often do you duplicate stories? 

Maren Epstein: You won’t like the answer to that, but I would say I duplicated each one twice and would change the title. Sometimes I wouldn’t even change the cover photo, although I started doing that after one of our meetings because I was being a little lazy there with my VA. I would always press the duplicate button just to make it easier for myself. After I made one web story, I would just duplicate it and then swap the photos and the texts and the alt texts out, just to make it faster. While I was trying to qualify, I was publishing about 12 web stories a day. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, Maren!

Maren Epstein: It was wild. I’ve since pulled back, so the web store traffic has gone down a little bit, but I’m also no longer focused solely on the numbers. 

Megan Porta: That’s a lot of hard work you’ve put in. Do you believe in quantity over quality? I know that you write very quality posts, but what are your thoughts about quality versus quantity?

Maren Epstein: For web stories? I think quantity. 

Megan Porta: Okay. 

Maren Epstein: To be honest, I think there are probably people who’ve had more success on web stories than I have, but you just never know what’s going to be successful and when you need to get to a certain number, increased traffic within a 30 day period, you just have to go for it. You have to do quality and quantity at the same time. But if you’re spending hours on one web story and making it beautiful and then it goes nowhere, you’re just going to get upset. Because that’s what I did in the beginning. I had a few instant successes, got really excited, and then kept going with really quality web stories and got nothing for a month and was totally disheartened. So whatever you do, whatever your level of perfection is, it just has to not take that long. So find a basic structure that works for you and stick with it. If you want really nice web stories, eventually you could always hire somebody or focus on that more. But I wouldn’t take away from the building. Build your foundation. Your content is the most important thing, and that’s what you should be prioritizing in your workday if you’re trying to qualify for Mediavine. Content is always king because web stories will give you a boost of traffic and then they tend to die off. A lot of my web stories still send traffic, but the wild success of my web stories was from the rapid-fire strategy.

Megan Porta: Consistency, just putting out content consistently. I see that all the time in the Mastermind. People come into the group and we are always promoting web stories. Like you’ve gotta do these, if you want a traffic boost, this has to be part of your plan. People start doing it, and then they fall off and they get frustrated. We’re like no, you have to keep going. It is such a good way to get steady traffic, but it’s something that you do have to push through because most people do fall off for a period. Yours was like a month, you said you had like nothing. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah. I just didn’t, nothing really took off. My first one was summer yellow squash recipes and got 200,000 impressions and 15,000 clicks from it or something. I was like, wow, this is gonna be the thing that gets me to Mediavine. So then when it didn’t, it was very disheartening. Just find the amount that you can realistically do and just do that and try and do it consistently, whether it be yourself or somebody that you hire.

Megan Porta: Yes. Great advice. I want to ask you about writing again because I know you love to write. You’re so fast with kicking out content and articles. What if somebody listening does not necessarily like to write? Do you have any advice for them? 

Maren Epstein: Yeah. I think writing is always hard to do, especially when you’re starting from scratch and even if it’s a topic that you don’t know a lot about. I really like to just break things down and don’t look at a whole blog post, but look at the outline. So I always start by outlining and make it as comprehensive as possible by reviewing the top 10 to 30 posts on a topic and writing down all of the H2s that they cover in a document. Make an outline that way, and take a break after that. Then come back to it and look at each H2 and just answer one at a time, very simply and quickly. In my notebook, when I’m having trouble writing, and it feels like a grind, I tally off every H2. Then after I’ve done five, I’m like, okay, I did five. I only have 15 left. I just keep going. Not to mention, if you writing about something, you probably already wrote about it in the past. So you can dig into older blog posts and lift content from those posts and put it into your supplemental content, which is another great way to do it. So once you have something like, I don’t know, a hundred articles of supplemental content, you’ll start to cover a lot of topics over and over again. You can use H two s from the previous supplemental content to round out the current articles. So you’re not always writing a whole article from scratch, sometimes 33% of an article, you took it from another relevant post, changed it around a little bit to suit this topic, and went from there. Then if you are really brain foggy, if you have a specific format, that really helps. So I like to do a lot of, is this gluten-free posts, or is this keto? I will go into a post that’s been successful for me and follow line by line how I wrote that post. 

Megan Porta: Oh yeah. That’s really, that’s good advice. Just take things that do well and look at what you did. I did that with me, what to serve with posts. I think I’ve told you guys about this in the mastermind group. I wrote a post about what to serve with sweet potatoes, just on a whim. Honestly, I had no strategy behind that at all. It did really well. It took off and I was like, what the heck? At first, I thought it was because it was about sweet potatoes. After all, I have quite a few sweet potato recipes on my blog, so I started writing more about sweet potatoes, and that wasn’t it. Those didn’t take off. So then I looked at, okay, it’s the, what to serve with X. So I started writing more of those in the exact structure that I wrote that initial roundup post in, and now pretty much everything I write in that format does well. So look at what works and just keep doing that. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah, exactly. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Google already thinks you’re good at something, just keep going, and then Google will think you’re good at something else and then you can start to spread out your style. 

Megan Porta: Don’t argue with what Google thinks you’re good at. Go with it. Roll with it. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah. Google will always win. We’re all here to serve Google. 

Megan Porta: Yes, we are here to serve you, Google.

Maren Epstein: And our users. 

Megan Porta: There’s that user. 

Maren Epstein: There is that user.

Megan Porta: On your path to massive traffic, I know other things tried to pull your attention away because you’re a food blogger. There’s all like Pinterest and social media and all the things. How did you deal with that? 

Maren Epstein: I just said no to Pinterest. Yeah, I said no to Pinterest, and you and everybody else in our group were like Maren, Pinterest. I would try and every time it would just suck too many hours away. I just eventually said, you know this, it’s just not worth it. Let me stick with what works. I knew that I only have a few hours. We all have limited time, right? But I don’t have a lot of protected time during the day where I can sit down and really focus. I just wanted to use that limited time where I knew it would best benefit me in the long term, which I knew was in Google search. So I said no to growing my Instagram. I said no to anything that wasn’t bringing immediate traffic to my site. So I say, stay focused and stay in your lane.

Megan Porta: I love that. And social media for you, how did you deal with that? 

Maren Epstein: I posted a lot to Facebook and I did still post on Instagram. I did maybe one post per week and if engagement was really falling off, cuz I worked so hard on it in the past, I’d run like a $2 ad on a post just to kinda keep it up. Pinterest survived. If anything, it just increased because as I wrote more content, more people started pinning my stuff. 

Megan Porta: Gotcha. Yeah. 

Maren Epstein: So I still had growth, even though I wasn’t active on Pinterest itself. None of these things are going away. Even your website, if you took a three-month break from your website and you’ve done good SEO as your content matures on Google, you’ll still see improvement. It may just not be as fast as it would be if you were consistent. Nothing will die if you leave it alone on the internet. It just won’t do as well. 

Megan Porta: I think after a burst, like what you’ve just done of just pumping out a ton of content, things will mature very rapidly. If you were to step away for a while and come back, I think you’d be really surprised at how well your stuff does. 

Maren Epstein: I think you’re right. Yeah. Because since I’ve qualified, I’m not going to lie. I’ve hit blogger burnout. I went from posting maybe twice a day to three times a week, and I’ve also wanted to focus on fun things. I missed doing new recipes. So I’ve been doing way more new recipes, which take way longer to do for me than articles. Which has just slowed me down. But things are still going up. Every couple of weeks my Google traffic goes up by like a hundred clicks or so. You know, again, you can’t discredit all the work you’ve done in the past. Even if you’re not doing a lot of work now. But it is good to be consistent. 

Megan Porta: I am going Maren style and I’m doing six months, it started November 1st of 2022. 6 months. I’m doing 80 articles slash some of them are recipes, but not many. 80, and then I’m gonna take writing off for the entire summer.

Maren Epstein: Good for you. 

Megan Porta: I’ll report back. But I anticipate that’s going to increase my traffic by a lot. 

Maren Epstein: Oh, it’s going to, for sure. I really do wanna take two months off from writing

Megan Porta: Yeah, you should. You deserve it. 

Maren Epstein: Thank you. My VA, who I’ve told you about, she’s very sweet, but she’s like, why aren’t you publishing the same amount of stuff? Because I’m tired. 

Megan Porta: Because that’s a lot of stuff to pump out. 

Maren Epstein: I’m tired. 

Megan Porta: Yes. 

Maren Epstein: I turn on my computer sometimes and it’s like when you turn on an engine and it just doesn’t catch like sometimes that’s what burnout feels like and you just need to step away.

Megan Porta: Yeah. What if people are listening too and they’re like, this sounds like a lot of work. Do I want to do this? What would you say to them?

Maren Epstein: I would say you really have to be honest with yourself because it really is a lot of work. I’ve built businesses in the past, different types of businesses. I see my husband’s businesses. Blogging is a lot of upfront work for very little. If I think about how much I’ve made versus how much work I’ve put in, just because I have not been doing, not including my freelance work, because that was a full-time salary. Not including that. It’s just not, it’s just a lot. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of money upfront. So you have to really want it. You have to be patient and you can’t have the stress of having to make money from the blog right away. If you do, then you need to focus more on sponsored work than just SEO. So I think you need to set goals based on what you enjoy. Since I enjoy writing and I don’t really enjoy schedules, I like the idea of making most of my income from ads so that I can write what I want when I want and not have somebody to answer to. Even though I’d like to do some more sponsored work, I just don’t want it to be the bulk of my work. So that’s why taking the time to qualify for Mediavine was worth it. But if you are a great photographer and you love recipe development, then you know you can build slower and charge great fees to develop recipes for other companies or blogs. There are lots to do. 

Megan Porta: You’re about to find this out, Maren, but there’s a tipping point that you get to when all of that work that you talked about, just creates this massive flood of revenue. It takes so long to get there and it takes so much work to get there. I shouldn’t say so long, because for some people it’s shorter, but it does take a massive amount of work to get there. But once you’re there, it’s so fruitful and so worthwhile. 

Maren Epstein: That’s what I keep telling myself. Now that I’m in Mediavine, I’m starting to see the money roll in. It’s only been a few weeks, so the RPMs are still low, and I’m now going through their content on how to optimize their ads, which is like learning a whole new type of SEO and makes my brain wonderful fall out of my head, I know that once I get those RPMs up and the traffic keeps developing. Like I’m sure if I continued at the rate I was going at, the traffic could probably grow to about 150 or more, sessions per month. That will be a much more substantial income. So it’s amazing to have a business that you could step away from that keeps making money for you that is not tied to your time. Ultimately, the only way to ever build a great, not a great business, but the only other way to build true wealth or sustainability is to not have a service tied to your time. Being on an ad network, having a blog allows you to do that. But it does not negate the fact that you have to put in a lot of time to build it in the first place. 

Megan Porta: Yep. Upfront time, tears, and sweat. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah. Any business, a restaurant usually is in the red for three years but the great thing about a blog is that your costs are low. Sure it costs money to keep a blog running and it costs money to build one, but you’re not renting space, you’re not building anything. You don’t have to hire full-time employees. You don’t need a special degree. You could be from any country. Your barrier of entry is really low. Being successful is hard, but anybody could do it. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s a really great point. I love that. 

Maren Epstein: Anybody could start, no matter where you come from. How much money do you have in the bank or your education? Which is what makes it so appealing. 

Megan Porta: Any type of human, any age, any ethnicity, any country, like anyone can do this. 

Maren Epstein: Anybody. Yeah. Even though food blogging and blogging, in general, have become so competitive, there’s always somebody there willing to help. Whether you’re in a mastermind like Megan’s, which I highly recommend to everybody. Or if you’re in a Facebook group or an accountability group that you’ve created on your own, people are just really helpful. You’ll always have to do the work, but there’ll usually be somebody to point you in the right direction or at least what they think is the right direction.

Megan Porta: How do you recommend people find that? I know some of the Facebook groups I’ve been in have been a little bit more on the toxic side. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. So you have to find the right space. You have to find a space that’s filled with supportive, encouraging people, and there are a ton of food bloggers who fall into that category. But how do you find them?

Maren Epstein: For me, joining your mastermind was really key. I’ve been in groups before. I used to work with Liz from the Clean Eating Couple. She was my blog coach for a few months. I jumped on board with her a few months before she decided to move her business in another direction. I was devastated when she moved on, but she connected me with other members of her program and we ended up just keeping each other accountable. So we would have weekly phone calls, which were great. So that was a really good way. But the truth is, I think if you want to find motivated people who are going to show up all the time, they have to pay for it. We join your mastermind and there was an upfront cost, but that cost was a barrier to entry, saying that we are committed. We’re gonna show up for each other and we’re there to do it. So there has to be some form of accountability, whether it be money or time. You just have to keep going around and asking people. But usually, you can tell who’s genuine and who isn’t by what they’re posting in Facebook groups. 

Megan Porta: Yes. 

Maren Epstein: Just asking more, more established bloggers like yourself. They usually have readers who reached out to them and started blogs and they’re happy to connect you with smaller bloggers. Also seriously just go on Facebook and instant message people in similar niches. If you’re a vegan blogger, message other vegan bloggers. There’s one blogger I messaged to, went to the same culinary school as me. They’re always happy to chat, and you may have to go through a few, not everybody has time, but you’ll find people to put in your circle. 

Megan Porta: Use your intuition with that too, I found, because we all have good intuition. We know if somebody is honest and if we should put our trust in them. So just lean into that. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah, use your judgment. Also, educate yourself enough to know which advice is bad. If somebody’s telling you to sign up for Blue Host, they don’t have your best interests at heart. Sorry, I don’t care if they’re a big food blogger and they’re pushing you, but they just don’t. So you know, you have to educate yourself and also, yeah, use your people skills.

Megan Porta: Right. This is so great. Okay. What are we missing, Maren? Is there anything else you feel people should know about your journey or maybe their own journeys that might be similar to yours? 

Maren Epstein: This is again, supposed to be helpful for the masses, so I want to keep it more about other people. But at the end of the day, quantity. Even if you’re really feeling disheartened and you just feel like your posts don’t get so many clicks and you’re just never gonna qualify for Mediavine off of less than a hundred posts or something like that, don’t sweat it. Go for quantity. I don’t care what you say. Eventually if you write 500 blog posts, even if they all get, do the math, take 50,000, divide it out by the number of posts, and see what minimum page views you will need per post. Even if you keep writing, you will get there.

Megan Porta: You’ve gotta hit a few home runs within 500 posts, right? 

Maren Epstein: Yeah. You’ve got to hit home runs and sometimes your home runs are gonna be so unexpected. There are some things I wrote that just seemed absolutely ridiculous. I could tell you one of the titles. 

Megan Porta: Ooh, I wanna hear. Yeah. Tell us some of your unexpected.

Maren Epstein: Is soup good for diarrhea, post? It got 800 clicks lit this month. It’s so random. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s hilarious.

Maren Epstein: Yeah. So apparently 800 people a month read about is tomato soup good for diarrhea and is soup good for diarrhea. Again, I am a colon therapist, so I have expertise in this area.

Megan Porta: Extensive knowledge of diarrhea. 

Maren Epstein: Extensive diarrhea knowledge. So we all know a lot about something and people search for the nuttiest, grittiest things these days. It’s like people don’t pick up the phone and call their moms as much as they consult mommy Google anymore. If you’ve got something, write it. Also, Jen in our group taught us so much about Google Search Console, but go into your Google search console and see what queries you’re coming up for. Because Google thinks that you’re good at those things. So write about them. Those will be immediate home runs. 

Megan Porta: Great little nugget there. Can I tell you one of my favorite pastimes when I’m bored? I go into RankIQ. I like to laugh at some of the keywords that people search for. The high volume of things that people search for on Google is so funny.

Maren Epstein: It’s true. You always bring them up in the groups and they do seem absolutely ridiculous. I just think of my husband or something, every time, put a pan in the microwave or something.

Megan Porta: Yes. Or what was the other one – can you put a banana peel in the air fryer? Can you put a banana peel somewhere where it did not belong? I was like, what? People wonder about this many times a month. That’s crazy. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah, people apparently do. It is pretty wild what people search for. Another good trick. People are gonna probably hate me for saying it. But a good one that you can do is you can go and look. There are a lot of bloggers out there who make a lot of money from content, but they’re not big on social media. They’re just answering questions. I think those are the ones who are those huge successes. They’re just pumping out content. But the way you could see what people are doing and pick apart strategies that work is to go into people’s blogs and check what they’re ranking for. Like when I really couldn’t get it, I would look at other blogs. Be like, how are they? Why? How? I would go into the Hth Rank checker and type in their things and see with whatever accuracy it had, what people are ranking for. It would give me ideas about things to target and what I could maybe rank for if it was a lower blog. 

Megan Porta: That’s a great idea. Yeah. 

Maren Epstein: Because everybody’s got a strategy. 

Megan Porta: Dig into their strategies by doing that. Just seeing what they’re ranking for. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah. That’s how I found my strategy. I would study other bloggers. What they would rank for and what they would write and how they would structure their posts. 

Megan Porta: Maren, you are so inspiring. I’m so just proud of the progress you’ve made. It’s been so much fun to watch and I’m just really grateful that you’ve shown up here on the podcast to share this with everyone. I think everyone will be really inspired by it. So thank you so much for your time. 

Maren Epstein: Thank you. This has been amazing. For anybody thinking of joining the Mastermind, just do it. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make for your business. 

Megan Porta: Yes. I love it. Agree by the way.

Maren Epstein: Even better than coaches, because you don’t just have a coach pushing you through a program. You have many people there to work through your problems with you, which is so much more powerful. 

Megan Porta: So many different perspectives and skill sets and history areas of expertise like, yeah, it’s so valuable. 

Maren Epstein: Everybody knows something. 

Megan Porta: Everybody’s really good at something or some things. 

Maren Epstein: Or there are some people in our group like Kara, Britney, and Jen, who are good at many things. You. 

Megan Porta: It’s true. 

Maren Epstein: So I’m lucky, I’m in a group with a lot of very mature bloggers. And as a new blogger I’m getting to learn from all these people who have been doing this for way longer or at least just more successfully. 

Megan Porta: Yes. It’s been amazing to have you in the group. You’ve inspired all of us as well. Feelings are mutual, Maren. 

Maren Epstein: Thank you. 

Megan Porta: To end, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with us? 

Maren Epstein: I like the Dr. Seuss quote. Off the top of my head, I believe it goes, if you have a brain in your head and feet in your shoes, you can go in any direction you choose. 

Megan Porta: Woohoo. I love it so much. I think we all have brains and feet. Most of us. 

Maren Epstein: Yeah. We all have brains and feet. 

Megan Porta: At least brains. 

Maren Epstein: We have wheels. At least brains. Brains and wheels. 

Megan Porta: Yes. So we will put together show notes for you, Maren. If anyone wants to go look at those, you can go to Now tell everyone where they can find you on your blog and social media.

Maren Epstein: Yeah, I blog over at, and on social media, I’m @EatingWorks, which is my Instagram handle, Pinterest handle, and my Facebook. TikTok is yet to happen, but that might be a project for 2023. We’ll see. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, to be continued. All right thanks. Thanks again, Maren so much, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.

Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.

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