In episode 282, Megan chats with Alison Corey, blogger at Keeping The Peas, about which tools has helped her to streamline her business and be more efficient in her work.
We cover information about how you can work smarter, not harder with her tool recommendations such as Keysearch, RankIQ, Canva, ConvertKit and Convert Pro.
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Bio Alison helps plant-based vegans, omnivores, and picky kids find peace in the kitchen with approachable, satisfying, and delicious whole-food plant-based recipes. Alison is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (Mayo Clinic), wife to an omnivore, and mom with two picky eaters.
- Keysearch – a keyword search tool is easy to navigate. It has easy tutorials and you can narrow in on specific keywords that you can rank for without getting stuck down a rabbit hole.
- RankIQ – keyword research tool that you can use in tandem with your main keyword tool. It’s great for non-recipe content to support your other content.
- Canva – the Pro Version is worth investing in so you can be efficient at creating templates. This saves time and opens up more tools within Canva to make great graphics. You can save templates and create folders for each recipe or project.
- ConvertKit – able to connect and target your audience. Create multiple signups and create different groups within CK to send tailored messages. Use these functions to increase your open rate and click throughs. They have visual automations which can be helpful.
- Convert Pro – create popups for your email sign ups. It works with many email providers.
Keysearch – 20% discount code: KSDISC
Rank IQ – affiliate
ConvertKit – affiliate
Convert Pro – affiliate
Canva – affiliate
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282 Alison Corey
Alison Corey: Hi, this is Alison Corey from Keeping The Peas and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk, scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast, it adds value. I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay. Now onto the episode.
Megan Porta: Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and confidence that will move the needle forward in their businesses. This episode is sponsored by RankIQ, who we will be talking about inside the episode. I am your host, Megan Porta and you are listening to episode number 282. Today Alison Corey and I are going to have a conversation about what those best blogging tools are to help you work smarter, not harder and that will help take your blog traffic to the next level.
Alison helps plant-based vegans, omnivores, and picky kids find peace in the kitchen with approachable, satisfying, and delicious whole food plant-based recipes. Alison is a national board certified health and wellness coach from the Mayo clinic. She is a wife to an omnivore and mom with two picky eaters.
Alison, I’m a mom to two picky eaters too. I am super excited to talk to you today. Before we dig into this awesome topic though, we want to hear what your fun fact is.
Alison Corey: All right. Fun fact, back in my twenties I always loved writing. So back in my twenties, I lived in Los Angeles and was a screenwriter. Won a few screenwriting contests, but never actually had anything made into a movie. But that’s a long time ago.
Megan Porta: That’s awesome though. That has to support your food blogging, right? Writing is a big piece of food blogging, right?
Alison Corey: Yes, exactly. Yeah. So fun. I love that one. Thank you for sharing that. Again, thanks for joining me today. I’m excited to hear what your tools are. I kinda know cause I have notes here, but I’m excited to share this with food bloggers because I think these are all really great recommendations. So maybe we could just start by talking through what your favorite blogging tools are that help you personally work smarter and not as hard so that you can take your blog traffic to the next level? So let’s hear what number one is.
I would say that one of the best tools that I started using was Keysearch. I’m sure that there are a lot of bloggers out there who are using search tools, possibly Keysearch, or other search tools. I personally found that. Keysearch was extremely helpful for me just because of its ease of use and the information that it provides.
I think there are some of the tools out there that can be a little bit overwhelming in the amount of information that they give. I found that with Keysearch, I was able to be more focused rather than going down a rabbit hole, searching in these other kinds of tools and wasting some time sometimes with those tools.
With Keysearch, I find that it really helps me narrow in on specific keywords and helps me also explore when I have a particular ingredient or an idea for a recipe, how to take that idea and then put it into a keyword that has a search volume and a ranking score that I feel comfortable with going after and achieving.
Megan Porta: First to preface this. I have used Keysearch. I’ve dabbled in it, but it’s not ever been a part of my consistent keyword research strategy. So you are the expert here. So tell me if I’m right in saying that it is less intimidating than other keyword research tools, such as, I don’t know, like SEMrush. Hrefs, some of those bigger tools.
Alison Corey: Yes. I would say it’s much less intimidating. For me, one of the reasons I started with it was when I first started blogging, I wasn’t making any money at the beginning. So I was putting all of my own personal finances into it. So I was looking for a tool that wasn’t super expensive, but also one that was accurate and gave some great information. So after doing some of the trials with Ahrefs and the trials with SEMrush I found that Keysearch just had the amount of information I needed and for a user. I found it to be much more user-friendly.
Megan Porta: Okay. So not overwhelming. It’s less intimidating than other tools and it’s very affordable as well. So those are like three heck yes’. Give me this. Do you have any specific tips about Keysearch? I know it’s hard because we don’t have the visual here on a podcast, but is there anything like once people get inside, just maybe some main tips for people to look for or things that are at the top of your mind?
Alison Corey: Yeah. One of the things I find really helpful is that with the keywords it’ll give a score as far as how difficult it is to rank for. So the keywords could be red. If they’re very difficult, they could be orange if they’re fairly difficult. Green if they’re in that medium range and then light green would be easy. Then there’s even a blue that’s very easy to rank for. So what I do is when I’m looking for a keyword, I use my domain and it will tell me what score I want to go for. So it’ll tell me a particular number or anything below that number. So that kind of gives me an idea of where to start from.
That doesn’t mean I never go for keywords that might be like a few points over, but I do try to aim for that number or less. So that really helps me narrow in on those keywords. So I’m not going for something that would be impossible for me to ever rank for. The way that you can do that is you can go into, it’s called explore, and that will give you some fairly good information about your domain. So you just put your domain name in there and it’ll tell you what score to look for. It’ll tell you who some of your competitors are based on the keywords that you’re already ranking for as well as like how many backlinks you have. So it does give you some information there. But I usually use that for the score in particular.
Megan Porta: I think for keyword research tools in general, we get intimidated and for me personally, I put up blocks. Oh, it’s just intimidating going into those tools and seeing all the numbers. They’re not always intuitive or really made for food bloggers, creative individuals. But I think with Keysearch, it’s a little bit different. They are a little bit more user-friendly. Even if you’re hearing what Alison is saying and you’re thinking, but I still don’t understand what she’s talking about, it is easier when you go in it, you’ll see that it’s really not as difficult as you think in your mind.
Alison Corey: The one thing I do, if you haven’t used Keysearch before, that I really recommend is, right within that tool, they have videos that you can watch and it takes you through how to use the tool. They’re not very long. But they’re comprehensive and it really helps to introduce you to the tool and learn all of the features and how to best use it for your needs.
Megan Porta: That’s a great recommendation too. I love it when there are intro videos like that, because you can go in and be like, okay, now what? I have no idea where to go. So that’s helpful to know that. Okay. Talk to us about your second tool. This is a tool that I am mildly obsessed with. RankIQ is a sponsor of Eat Blog Talk, because I genuinely love this tool. I think it’s like the best kept secret out there. It’s so powerful and so great. So I want to hear your thoughts on RankIQ.
Alison Corey: So I signed up for RankIQ, I think in the early stages when they were just starting to get going. I heard about it from another blogging friend of mine and signed up for it right away. Not really completely knowing what it was or what I was getting into, but as I dove into the tool and started to get to know it, there’s just such a wealth of information that you can get from there. I find not only is it helpful for me to be able to edit my older posts to help them rank higher, but it’s also a great tool to find keywords that you may not have ever thought of using. So for example, they have a keyword library where they have different niches that you can look at specifically. So they have a food nation, they’ve got several different categories within that. One of the things I found really interesting was that it wasn’t always a great tool for me to find a specific recipe keyword that I wanted to use. But there were a lot of questions in there that users were asking that I wouldn’t have thought to make a full blog post about.
But once I took a look at what the question was, just how much search there was for that particular question about a kind of food or, whether or not something is vegan or not. I found that writing a blog post around that question has really helped me drive traffic to my site.
Megan Porta: Oh, I’m so glad to hear that you’re using it in that way. That’s very similar to the way that I use it too. Okay. So it’s a keyword research tool, but it’s very pared back. So the founder who created the tool, Brandon, actually hand-picked all of these keywords and optimized them in a way that is really different from any other tool. So every keyword that you find inside the tool has been optimized and you can run it through this optimizer.
You’re not going to find as many, but the ones you find, they hold a lot of power. That supporting content that you’re talking about, there’s so much power there that I didn’t realize before. But things like, I don’t know, what to serve with banana bread or how long can pickles last in the refrigerator. All of these questions that people type into Google that you forget people type into Google and need a blog post helping them with that question. So it helps you think through those other questions and it can support your existing content. So if I write a post about how long do pickles last in the refrigerator, I can link that and mention it in all of my recipes that contain pickles. So that’s my strategy right now.
Alison Corey: Yes. One of the things I also really like about that tool is that those keywords are handpicked by Brandon, but also it’s reassuring to know that the one keyword has been searched or used three times it’s taken out so that fresh content is always being added. Not everybody’s going to go after this pickle post, for example. So that’s really nice to know and it’s helpful.
Megan Porta: Oh, great point. I’m so glad you mentioned that. Yeah, that’s a really awesome feature. So I don’t know if you’ve heard on the podcast before, I know I’ve mentioned this a few times, but 2022 is my year to do this experiment and I’ve started the experiment back in the summer just to make sure it would fly. It has done really well. So now I’m going to go all in. So in 2022, my goal is to post three new posts a week. All of them run through the Rank IQ optimizer and like really focusing on those low competition keywords. So I know I can get on page one or two of Google. Then my idea is that if I do that a lot, I’m going to get a little to moderate traffic for each one, which is going to add up to a lot collectively. So that’s my thought and I am so excited about 2022 for my blog for that reason. I always love hearing people who use RankIQ too, because some people are just, they’re set on Keysearch, which is great, but there’s a certain portion of the food blogging sector that really loves RankIQ like I do. So I’m glad to learn that about you, Alison.
Alison Corey: I like to use Keysearch and RankIQ in conjunction with one another. So even if I find a recipe that I want to make and I search it through key search and I find a keyword that I think will work. It might not necessarily be on RankIQ, but I can still run it through that tool and put my blog posts through that tool to make sure that I’m hitting all of those topics that Google wants me to hit and will help me rank a little bit better.
Megan Porta: Also a great point is that you can do more than one in conjunction with each other. You don’t have to just focus on one or the other. You can use these together for sure.
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Megan Porta: Okay. Talk to us about your third tool that you’ve found.
Alison Corey: I love Canva I’m sure as food bloggers we use a lot of Canva. I use the pro version and I find that I’m able to save so much time using the pro version by creating templates for each of my social media platforms. Then all I have to do is just drag in a few images that I want from my post and then I can just snap them right into each of those templates that I’ve created. Within minutes I’ve got all of the images that I need for Pinterest or for Instagram or for Facebook. It just makes it so quick and simple and easy. I can also format it so that the pixels are correct and all of that is working. Then the other thing I love about it too, is that if you’re going for multiple pins, that you can go ahead and use a particular image and you can really simply either trade out the image, change the title really quickly, or even just add a little GIF on top of it and it will create a video pin. So you’re able to really quickly create numerous new pins for one post in less than 10 minutes.
Megan Porta: Efficiency. Yeah. That is definitely working smarter. The pro version tip is a great one because I went on for years. I don’t know if you did this too, but years using that free version. I was like, I can do it. I can make this work. But I don’t remember what the tipping point was. There was a point where I was like, okay, I just needed to level up on that. I paid whatever $100. Is it a year or something like that? It’s not a huge investment. I did it. So glad I did. I wish I would’ve done it far sooner. So great tip there.
Alison Corey: The other thing I love about it too, is once you have that pro version, you can create all the folders and then you can just simply put your images in a folder. So I have a list of all of my recipes and then a folder for each one. So then when I want to go back and make a new pin for a recipe I made several months ago, I don’t have to dig through all the images I’ve uploaded. I just look at that folder and I’m able to quickly put it in to make a new pin.
Megan Porta: It is like one of the best tools ever. Isn’t it? I rely on it every day. I make something there every single day. My VA does as well. We use it constantly. I use it to create the social graphics for the podcast. So you can turn them into little audio snippets, I guess I call them. It’s so easy because I have a template and I just duplicate and then swap out the photo, a little bit of text, and it’s just magically done.
Alison Corey: It’s such an easy tool to use and learn. So I know I’m all about simple tools that are very intuitive.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Yes, me too. Okay. You have another recommendation for tools for food bloggers. What is that?
Alison Corey: So last year, one of my goals last year was to really up my email marketing game. I wasn’t doing very well with that. So I was sticking to a particular platform. I was using MailerLite before. I just wasn’t consistent with my emails, but also, I just wasn’t able to target my audience very well. So one of the things I did last year was switch from MailerLite to Convertkit. I found that making that switch has helped so much for me in being able to not only create multiple signups for email signups for my blog. So that on a particular post I’ll have something very specific to help capture my audience there, but then also be able to put those audiences into different groups and funnel emails, particularly those that are for those interests. As a result of making that change and also making more of a commitment to email, I found that my open rate has gone up by quite a bit. My click through rate has also increased and every day I’m able to capture more and more email subscribers, which has helped me sell my products and be able to share my blog posts more quickly and easily.
Megan Porta: Do you use that in conjunction with something to produce pop-ups right?
Alison Corey: Yes. So I started at first just using the Convertkit popups and their templates. What I found was they were just a little bit limiting in the design of them. So I started to use something called Convertpro and I know there’s several other different types of tools that you can use. However, I found Convertpro was very affordable and easy to use. Also, I’m able to create these different pop-ups and specifically tell them where they’re going to go on which post. But then also the tool allows you to have a different kind of pop-up look when you’re on desktop versus on mobile so that when you’re on mobile, it’s not as large or overwhelming. It’s just a little bit simpler to look at, which I think is helpful.
Megan Porta: Is Convertpro, is that an additional cost? You have to pay for that?
Alison Corey: It is an additional cost to Convertkit. Convert Pro work actually with any other email provider. It doesn’t have to be Convertkit. They just called it something similar, but they’re two different companies. I think that the cost is maybe $99 a year, but you can also buy a lifetime subscription for slightly more like $120, I think. I can’t remember exactly. But it’s slightly more than if you have a lifetime subscription to it. So I almost just say, go for that because it’s not that much more than paying the yearly costs.
Megan Porta: Then as far as usability and ease of learning, how would you say Convertkit and Convert Pro are on that scale?
Alison Corey: I’d say for me, I found that Convertkit is much easier to learn how to use. I had previously used MailChimp and Mailer lite, and I just found MailChimp in particular to be the most clunky and un user-friendly. MailerLite was a little bit easier, but with Convertkit, they have these visual automatic automations. I think for me being a visual learner and seeing it, it’ll show you these different blocks and it’ll say, okay, they come in on this pop-up and then they’re filtered to this particular email series. When they’re done with that, they’ll go to this. So I think seeing that visual is helpful to me and also just the way that you can create emails and separate funnels and the way to look at it is simple to use. It’s hard to say without showing, but it’s just a lot more user-friendly and they also have a lot of videos on there that you can use to help you get started.
Megan Porta: Okay, cool. I used Convertkit a few years ago and then switched over to Flodesk. It’s just a personal favorite of mine, but I know that so many food bloggers absolutely love Convertkit, and I have heard of Convertpro as well. That being a good combination to use in tandem. That’s great. Wow. This was super short and sweet, but efficient. You shared four of your favorite tools that are just going to help food bloggers to work smarter. I know that all of us listening want to work smarter because we have so much to do.
Alison Corey: Yes, we have a lot of things on our plate.
Megan Porta: Yes, we do. Let’s pretend there’s a new food blogger listening who loves the sound of all these tools. Maybe one path to take first for trying or a main takeaway or something along those lines.
Alison Corey: I would say if I was just starting out, the very first thing I would use would be Keysearch. I would get familiar with how to do keyword research and how to use that tool in particular. I think, as food bloggers and the way things are assertive, shifting with traffic, a lot of our traffic is coming more and more from Google rather than from social media, from Pinterest. I think people are attending to stay on those platforms rather than going to our blogs from there. So investing a little bit of money doesn’t cost a lot. Then just look through those videos, which come right with it to help you understand how to use the tool and how to best find the keywords that are best for you. I would definitely get started with that first.
Megan Porta: Oh, great thoughts. Thank you so much, Alison. This was great. So helpful. I have to tell you, I love the name of your blog, by the way. It’s super catchy and clever. When I read it, I was like, dang it. Why didn’t I do that? That’s perfect. I think it can fit so many homes. Keeping The Peas. Do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with us?
Alison Corey: Let’s see. One of my favorite quotes is a Thoreau quote about going for your dreams and moving towards your dreams. For some reason, the whole quote is just blanking for me right now. But it’s about moving in the direction of your dreams. I think it’s something that I’ve always carried with me since I was a kid. At first, when I was young, I wanted to do screenwriting and went for that. But then later in life, as I became a mom and had such an interest in food. I started this as a hobby, but I think putting your passion and really going for it. Going all in. It’s possible to make this work for you as a career. So I would say, just keep going, if this is your dream. You can make it work.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love what a great little bit of encouragement. Thank you for sharing that. We will put together show notes for you, Alison. So if anyone wants to go look at those, you can head over to eatblogtalk.com/keepingthepeas, not peace. Why don’t you tell everyone where they can find you online and on social media and everywhere else, Alison.
Alison Corey: Yes. So you can find me on my blog at keepingthepeas.com. You can email me at Alison, with one L, [email protected], and then I am on Instagram and Facebook at Keeping the Peas.
Megan Porta: Great. Everyone go check Alison. Thank you so much again for being here, Alison, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
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