In episode 327, Megan chats with Addison LaBonte about pursuing a passion project while still maintaining another job. They discuss how to handle various responsibilities, time management hacks and keeping motivated while your food blog grows.
We cover information about how to decide how much time to dedicate to blogging, how important is key word research and at what point you should invest in learning it, how photography plays a key role and understanding what is expected of a blogger on both the technical and creative side of things.
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Bio Addison is the content creator and recipe developer at Organically Addison! Her blog features all gluten free recipes that are easy, delicious, and great for the whole family. She also includes other diets and allergy friendly recipes so that no one ever misses out on their favorite foods!
- Having a niche that you’re passionate about is beneficial to get you going from the ground running
- Digging into SEO and keyword research early in blogging is valuable.
- Batching blogging duties is valuable in getting content up consistently and doing a good job with what’s in front of you.
- Updating old content should be in the mix each month.
- Invest in photography to build your skills because quality photos to compliment your good content to attract a wider audience.
- People want to follow a person, not just a website so foster community through socials and engage with your audience.
- Work smarter, not harder and be strategic.
- Be intentional with your time as a blogger.
- Don’t let fear hold you back from blogging, getting started or forging ahead after a dry season.
Casey Markee Audit
Click for full transcript.
Addison LaBonte: Hi, this is Addison LaBonte from Organically Addison, 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 on to the episode.
Megan Porta: Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers, looking for the value and the confidence that will move the needle forward in their businesses. This episode is sponsored by RankIQ. I am your host, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode number 327. Today I have Addison LaBonte here with me and she is going to talk to us about pursuing a passion project while still maintaining another job. Addison is the content creator and recipe developer at Organically Addison. Her blog features all gluten free recipes that are easy, delicious, and great for the whole family. She also includes other diets and allergy friendly recipes so no one ever misses out on their favorite foods.
Addison, hello, thank you for joining me today. I’m so excited to have you here.
Addison LaBonte: Hi Megan. I’m so excited too. Thank you for having me.
Megan Porta: Yes. I love this topic. I think this is such a good one because a lot of bloggers are viewing their blogs as passion projects while they maintain a separate life, really in other areas or other jobs. So I’m really excited to talk about this with you today, but before we talk about that, let’s hear your fun fact.
Addison LaBonte: So my fun fact is that I was a division one college soccer player. I played soccer my whole life and it’s probably my first love. But getting to play at the college level was a dream come true. So that is my fun fact.
Megan Porta: Oh, my gosh. Soccer is so awesome. You soccer girls kick butt. You were so amazing. I love that.
Addison LaBonte: No pun intended, right?
Megan Porta: Yes, exactly. As I said, I was like, oh wow. I didn’t even try. Awesome. Okay. So let’s talk about our topic. I love this. A lot of people listen, a lot of my listeners are in this boat where they’re managing so many different things. So they have maybe families and. Jobs that they go to from nine to five and then they come home and they love their blogs. So many people I know are literally in love with their businesses and they’re blogging businesses. So this is going to align with a lot of people. So I would love to hear your story. I know you grew your page views pretty significantly while having a full-time job. So would you mind just talking to us through your story Addison?
Addison LaBonte: Yeah, sure. I’d love to. So in college I was a math major with a business minor, and I always thought that I would have a career in finance. Both of my parents are in finance and it just seemed the right path for me. So a couple years after I graduated college, I was working in the finance world and it just wasn’t as fulfilling as I had hoped it would be. So I started to think about what sort of side hustle, passion project I can do that would fulfill me a little bit more or would at least add some fun into my life.
Right after college is when I discovered that I had to be gluten free. I was actually training for a half marathon and had severe pain and numbness and tingling in my legs when I ran. So I saw, I think it was three doctors and a sports specialist doctor. They all said you have something called compartment syndrome, which basically means that the muscle fibers that surround my muscles in my legs don’t expand when I’m running. So in a normal person, these muscle fibers expand, the increased blood flow goes to these muscles and everything works out well. For whatever reason, my muscle fibers do not expand. So my muscles are trying to literally get swollen while I’m running and they can’t, there’s nowhere for them to go. So it’d start off as tingling numbness. It was super painful and the doctor said you have two choices. You can either quit running or you can get surgery on both your legs. It would be like a 12 month total recovery with no activity. So I was like, this makes no sense. I was just a college athlete in the best shape of my life. It made absolutely no sense to me. So I knew that I had to change something. Thankfully, my aunt is a seasoned marathon runner and she encouraged me to go gluten free because she said that she felt great when she was gluten free and training for her races. So within a week or so of going gluten free, my entire life had changed. I no longer had any numbness or pain when I was running, which I could not believe. It’s now been almost six years that I’ve been completely gluten free and I feel amazing. I used to get one to two headaches every week growing up and for the first 22 years of my life. I just thought that was normal. So I’ve had several symptoms just disappear and I feel great. I was able to finish two marathons so being gluten free absolutely changed my life. So here I am, this gluten free person. In a finance world, something just wasn’t clicking. So I used to follow several food bloggers on Instagram and thought it might be fun one day to just have an Instagram for my gluten free recipes.
So I started it in July of 2018 and thought this will be just fun. I’ll maybe post once a day. Maybe a hundred people will follow me and. It just ended up growing and growing. Then finally at the end of 2018, I decided that I should probably start a blog to host all these recipes in one place. So I started a blog. I hired Bluehost to build the blog for me, cause I had never built a website and had absolutely no idea where to start. Then it just was a series of. Posting my recipes, trying to figure out some very basic computer programming things so that I could change up my website. For about a year or so, it was still just this fun hobby. Then I’d say once I got close to 2020, obviously the world shut down. I realized that this is such a great time for me to start treating this like a business. So I was still working full time, but I was able to work from home. Which gave me a lot more. Flexibility to blog and to create new recipes. So I would literally wake up and blog and then I would log on for work. Then as soon as 5:00 PM hit, log off. I would be making recipes on the weekends when I would photograph a lot of my recipes because that was before I used artificial light, which is a whole nother story, but I’m obsessed with artificial light now. So I would say 2020 for me was the turning point where I started to treat this less like a hobby and more like a business.
Megan Porta: Wow. So you took the pandemic and just ran with it. But did you still have your full-time job? You were still working, correct?
Addison LaBonte: Yes. I still had my full-time job, so it was a lot to juggle.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That is a lot. So I guess, how did you grow despite having so much to do? Because when you get home from work, I’ve been there. I was always so tired, that I had to structure my days. Okay, I had a minimum, I don’t know how you do it, but I would be like, you need to work on the blog for 15 minutes at least every night. Then that would turn into you getting carried away. And then it would be like, oh my gosh, I need to take care of my family. So how do you do everything without getting carried away or just not starting at all.
Addison LaBonte: Yeah. That’s a great question because I’m so passionate about this, it has never felt like work to me. It’s a ton of time and so much effort. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this blog. But I’m lucky that has never felt like a chore or like work for me. So I’m excited to do this every day. For me, I would get so excited when 5:00 PM hit and I could switch over from finance to my blog. I try not to set hard and fast rules for myself, even though I’m a very type A person. I don’t like saying, two hours this night or three hours this night, I have let my blog become somewhat of a, not so structured. I’m a very structured person, but this is my creative outlet. So I would say most nights after work, it was like three to four hours of blogging. That would be testing recipes, updating old posts, Pinterest, Facebook newsletter, all that sort of stuff. So I’m lucky in the sense that I don’t have children so I’m able to devote so much time to my blog. But I would just encourage people, however much time you can give it that time. If you’re watching TV at night, why don’t you just open up your laptop and blog. Or why don’t you go on Pinterest and pin or Facebook and post or Instagram and add some stories. So if you can weave it into your everyday life I feel like that will be super helpful.
Megan Porta: So I feel like just hearing your story, that part of the reason you’ve been able to grow so fast is because you did find a niche that really resonated with you and your story, and you were able to focus in on that and just really give it your attention. What are some other growth strategies that you feel support your page views that you’re getting now and all of the growth and success you’ve seen?
Addison LaBonte: I would say the biggest thing for me has been learning how to keyword research. That was the biggest turning point in my blogging career, so to speak. I took a keyword research course and it really showed me how much I was doing incorrectly. Prior to this course, I would create recipes that I wanted to create. I didn’t think about the length of the post or what the title would be or how to add alt text to my photos, or what to put in my headers. It was very much my personal recipe. Whereas now I put a lot of time and research into keywords. So how can I take my recipes, find a great keyword for them and then optimize my post. So learning SEO has been a game changer for my blog. It has increased my page views more than I ever thought was possible and really took my hobby and turned it into a business.
Megan Porta: What do you use to do your keyword research? Then also, how often do you post new content and do you also repost old content? That was a lot of questions in one.
Addison LaBonte: I think I got it. I use KeySearch for keyword research, and then I also use Google. I have several Chrome extensions that I added to my Chrome browser. That will tell me once I type something in on Google, it will tell me how many monthly searches there are, and how difficult this keyword is. So that has really helped me. Then I’d say for new content, I probably average about 10 new recipes per month, but I feel like it goes in cycles. So some weeks it’s only one or two, and then other weeks it’s four or five. That’s because I like to batch work my content. So one week it’ll be all testing recipes and then it’ll be all photographing. Then I’ll sit down at my computer one day and type out two or three blog posts. So the blog post part is a lot more critical thinking, whereas being in the kitchen is a little bit more creative and fun. And I absolutely love the photography aspect of it. So I really enjoy those days, but I would say overall, maybe 10 or so per month.
Then I’ve been trying to go back and update my old posts because they’re cringeworthy. They are terrible, honestly. There’s no thought or process behind them. Some of them, I can’t even come up with a good keyword to rewrite them for. So a lot of my old stuff has just remained old and sad. When I can update, I do update. That’s always fun because I get to remake the recipe and rephotograph the recipe and also cringe at my old photos, which were taken with my iPhone in horrible lighting. There’s no rhyme or reason to them, but yeah, I think that answered all of your questions.
Megan Porta: Yeah, you didn’t take guacamole photos that look like dog vomit that’s sitting on a ledge in your loft with a yellow lamp light shining on it. That you probably don’t have. I can claim that one.
Addison LaBonte: Okay. Not quite, but I have similar ones.
Megan Porta: Oh, my gosh. I feel like we should start a gallery of all of our old cringey photos. We’ve gotta have, between all food bloggers, we have to have a massive collection of those, right?
Addison LaBonte: I’m like, no wonder, no one’s made that recipe. It looks horrible.
Seriously. I have so many of those and my blog is ancient. I have a lot of them.
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Megan Porta: So keyword research is magical, right? If you do just a little bit of it, it goes so far and it’s eye opening because the first time you start doing it and see the results, it’s crazy. Then you realize how much power there is. So then you start going back and putting more effort into it and it can really grow your traffic and your blog quickly. Do you have any other strategies outside of keyword research and SEO that really helped you grow?
Addison LaBonte: I would say second to SEO and keyword research would be my photography. So another great thing that came out of early 2020 was, once I was working from home, I decided it was time for me to finally learn how to use a DSLR camera. So I picked up my mom’s camera and honestly, I taught myself a lot of the basics. I have watched hours upon hours, probably days upon days of YouTube videos, all about how to blog and the back end of blogging, but also food photography. Then I ended up taking two different courses about food photography, and then about artificial light. But I feel like for me, that was a big turning point because it was another aspect of my hobby that I had then turned into a business. So these weren’t just amateur photos that I was taking on my iPhone really quickly. There was a thought process behind my photo shoots. My photos started to do much better on Instagram. So even a couple years ago, I feel like it was a lot easier to grow on Instagram. I had a couple, I think it was my gluten free cookie dough recipe that was the first one that really did well on Instagram. I think I had 5,000 likes on that one photo. At the time I was like, wow, I don’t even think I’d hit 1000 on a photo before and that one climbed up to 5,000. So it was further proof that food photography can also be a game changer. So I would say that in addition to SEO and keyword research, having great content, especially aesthetically, makes a huge difference.
Megan Porta: Oh, I so agree with that. But with that said, do you agree with this? What if somebody is listening and all they have is their phone and they’re okay with that for now, just to go with that and then change to DSLR when they’re ready?
Addison LaBonte: Absolutely. Yes. For the first two or so years of having a blog, all I did was take photos on my iPhone. The good thing about SEO is that SEO does not take into account how pretty your photos are. So you can absolutely still rank high up in the Google search results with iPhone quality photos. I also have several friends who only use iPhones and honestly, their pictures are beautiful.
Megan Porta: I know that’s kinda my point. We hosted a retreat here in Minneapolis over the weekend. There was a newer blogger there who takes photos on her iPhone. She was like, do you think this is okay? She showed us her photos and they were great. I was like, what, if that is working for you right now, just keep doing it. Don’t stress about needing to upgrade yet until you’re ready.
Addison LaBonte: Yes, absolutely. That’s another piece of advice that I wanna give people is things will never be perfect. You have to work with what you have and with what you know, and just start. If you waited until everything was perfect, if you had a pretty looking blog and a really nice camera, you might never get started. So if you only have your iPhone, just work with what you have, do as best you can. Then, maybe someday you upgrade to a digital camera.
Megan Porta: I love that. Okay. Anything else outside of SEO, keyword research, camera, photos to grow. So what, I don’t know, like anything else or social media, how much of a focus did that have for you?
Addison LaBonte: Yeah, so I poured a lot of time and effort into my Instagram, especially at the beginning. I feel like another growth tip I have is to really build that sense of community around your blog, around your recipes and especially on Instagram. I think that people really like to follow bloggers because they’re people and they don’t necessarily just wanna follow a website. So if you can really foster that sense of community On your social media channels, then that will make a big difference. So the way I try to do that is I try to ask questions of my audience on Instagram, or I’ll do polls on my Instagram story so that it’s an interactive experience for people. Another thing that I think makes a difference is I answer every single DM that I get. I don’t even have that many DMS, but every single time someone reaches out to me, whether it’s a comment, a question, even if they say, why didn’t this recipe work or can I substitute this? I always, 100% of the time will answer them. I don’t want anyone to feel like I’ve forgotten about them, or I don’t have time for them. Because as bloggers, we literally wouldn’t be here without our audience. So I think it’s really important to answer to your audience and to make them feel important and a part of the process as well.
Megan Porta: That’s a key point. It really doesn’t take a huge time investment to do that. Like you said, we might not have a ton of DMS that trickle in, but when they come in, take a minute and just reply to let people know you’re human. I think people really appreciate that. Is there anything you would do differently, having created this blog that has so many page views. Looking back, what would you change?
Addison LaBonte: I would start keyword researching from the very beginning. Like I said, a lot of my early content, there’s no strategy behind it. I just was putting up random recipes that I thought sounded delicious, but if no one can find them on the Google search results, then they’re not going to really get any page views. So that is probably the biggest thing that I would do differently. I wouldn’t really change all that much though. Everything that I did wrong, I have learned from, and I have since fixed it thankfully. I really feel like it’s given me this sense of fulfillment and being a food blogger is incredibly rewarding because this is something that I’ve built and this is something that’s on my own. I don’t have anyone who works for me. This is all me. So getting to pour my heart and soul into this blog and having it become what it is it’s honestly a dream come true. I never, in a million years, thought that I would be a food blogger. I was a math major. That’s another thing I might just go back and do an easier major because I’m like, what was I thinking? But it’s been a huge dream come true. So I wouldn’t necessarily change all that much. I just think I would probably work smarter, not harder from the start. Just be a little bit more strategic about how I do things.
Megan Porta: That is great advice. Let’s talk a little bit about balance because even if you are just absolutely in love with the work that you do on your blog, it still does require balance because otherwise we don’t sleep. You have to eventually put it down and do other things, even if you don’t have children. So how do you recommend people find balance with blogging and having a full-time job and or family?
Addison LaBonte: I would just say to be very intentional with your time. This is something that I am working on as well. So if you’re going to blog, you need to be very intentional with how you spend your time. I would also say to batch work your content. What I mean by being intentional is if you’re sitting down to write a blog post, don’t have your phone next to you, maybe don’t have other distractions going on. Sit down and write the blog post, and then go and do whatever you are going to do. Obviously that’s a luxury. The fact that I’m able to just sit down without distractions. But there are some days when I’m tired or I’m half writing a blog post, half scrolling Instagram and things take twice as long. So my biggest piece of advice would be to be very intentional. I’m gonna sit down and write this blog post, and then one to two hours it’s gonna be done. Then I can do whatever I like, scroll Instagram or do something else. I feel like that’s the biggest thing. Then also batch working on your content. So if you’re spending a day in the kitchen, why don’t you make three or four recipes? Or two to three, if they’re a little bit more involved and then photograph them. Then the next day you can edit your photos and write the blog post. That way you’re not in the kitchen for a few hours, photographing then writing. Then you repeat the whole thing the next day. I find that I save a lot of time if I devote one or two days in the kitchen, which for me is the weekends because I have a full-time job. Then at night I like to write blog posts. So if you can do that and just, like I said, be very intentional with the time that you do have and try not to waste time. So sit down, write your blog post. Or if you’re in the kitchen, make the recipe, photograph it. Yeah, I think that would be my biggest piece of advice.
Megan Porta: I found that batching is one of the biggest things that food bloggers, I’m just generalizing. I know not everybody resists this, but a lot of food bloggers resist, that also holds the most power because there’s that flow state you get in, no matter what you’re doing. You can get so much work done if you enter that state as opposed to what you were saying, doing a bunch of different things and then starting again the next day. It’s just not the same; batching is so powerful. I love it. I love that you do that. Do you batch with keyword research? Writing? What tasks do you batch that you find the most effective?
Addison LaBonte: I do batch my keyword research to an extent. I also have a list on the notes section of my phone, and it’s probably a hundred keywords long, and these are all recipes that are to be made in the future. But for instance, the other day, I bought a huge thing of strawberries at the grocery store cause they looked delicious. So I came home and immediately went to Keysearch and just typed in strawberries. I found three or four good quality keywords all about strawberries. So in that sense, I will batch my keyword research. It depends on seasonality, or things that I already have in my kitchen, but I think the biggest thing for me, for batching work is the kitchen days. Because those are long, they are definitely tiring, but I find that it’s so much easier to just pump out two to three recipes in the kitchen in one day than to dirty my kitchen every single day. I’m always left with a huge mound of dishes in my sink. Then I have meals for the next couple days, and I don’t have to think about cooking while I’m writing my post. So it’s like a cycle. It all works together. But yeah, I would say that my kitchen days are definitely the biggest bang for my buck in terms of batching content.
Megan Porta: Do you have any wise pieces of advice for people listening who want to maybe have a blog? Maybe they haven’t even started a blog yet, but they have a job and they’re hesitant to start because they think it’ll be too much work.
Addison LaBonte: It is a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun. If it wasn’t so fun, I would’ve stopped a long time ago. My biggest piece of advice is to dream big. That’s something my parents always instilled in me growing up. They always said you can be and do whatever you wanna do as long as you work hard enough to get there. So I always think about that. When I first started my Instagram and my blog, it was a far off dream like, oh, maybe someday. I’ll get this many page views or work with this brand or earn this much money. I’m at that point today and if I hadn’t had that little, I shouldn’t say little. If I hadn’t had that big dream, almost four years ago now, I probably would’ve never started. The other biggest piece of advice I would give is don’t ever let fear hold you back. That doesn’t come to just blogging, that comes to life in general. One of my favorite quotes is, “never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” So think about how many different things in your life you would do if you weren’t letting fear hold you back. Just start, take your dream and make it a reality with lots of hard work in between.
Megan Porta: That is such great advice. Thank you, Addison. Is there anything we’ve forgotten that you wanna be sure to mention about this topic before we start saying goodbye?
Addison LaBonte: I don’t think so. Yeah. There’s nothing that comes to mind necessarily. It’s just, it’s a pinch me moment every morning when I wake up and I’m like, I get to have this blog. I get to have my full-time job, but I also get to do this. It’s fulfilling and rewarding, and it’s so much fun. I jokingly tell people that I make cookies for a living, which is obviously a joke. But some days that’s what it feels like. I’m in the kitchen on a Saturday or a Sunday and I’m making cookies and brownies and I’m like, I get to do this. People care about what I say and it’s just, it’s so much fun. So my biggest thing is just please, start. Take your dream and just start with what you have, start with what you know, and never ever give up. Keep working hard. It is so much time and so much energy, but it is beyond worth it.
Megan Porta: Thank you Addison. This was amazing. I appreciate you being here today and sharing all of this value. So just thank you for all of your time.
Addison LaBonte: Thank you. It was so much fun. Thank you for having me.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So you did just share a quote. I don’t know if that was your quote you wanted to share, or do you have an additional quote or words of inspiration to share with us?
Addison LaBonte: So that’s my favorite quote. I love that quote, but I think I would say, just dream big. Life is too short, and don’t let fear hold you back. If you knew you could not fail, what would you do? I’m so glad that I didn’t let fear hold me back when starting this blog. I went for it and I said, I don’t care what people say about me. I don’t care if anyone sees this and thinks it’s stupid or weird or whatever. I am so thankful every single day that I said yes to myself and to making this blog. It is my absolute favorite hobby and I love talking about it.
Megan Porta: I can definitely hear it in your voice, that it is indeed a passion project for you. So I love that. I love it. We’ll put together a show notes page for you, Addison. If anyone wants to go look at them, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/organicallyaddison. Tell everyone again where they can find you on your blog and on social media.
Addison LaBonte: Great. So I’m super easy. I am Organically Addison on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. If you could show me some love on TikTok, that’s been an interesting journey, but you can also find videos of a lot of my recipes there and they’re very amateur videos on my TikTok, but fun to create those. Give you a little glimpse inside my gluten-free kitchen. But yeah, just Organically Addison.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Thanks again, Addison for being here and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
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