In episode, Emily Rhodes teaches us the value of a hyper-niche blog and how to make an income from it.
We cover information about how to do keyword research for a narrow niche blog, how to diversify your income and how to deal with becoming the go-to person in your category.
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Bio Emily started Steam & Bake a little over 10 years ago. Emily is now a journalist and nutritionist,but at that time, she was a home economist and demonstrator for a global appliances manufacturer. Clients kept complaining about the lack of steam oven recipes and resources after they’d bought these fancy new ovens. She thought surely one of the huge food sites or famous chefs would cotton on and start writing about them soon.
After a couple of years in the job, Emily realized no one was coming to save these people! The manufacturers were not much help and no one else was writing recipes specifically for these appliances, so she figured she’d put a few posts up and see what happened. Fast forward a decade and Steam & Bake is the number one source of steam oven recipes on the internet, earning her an income from home while raising three boys. It absolutely blows her mind that a tiny little website in Australia has taken her to this point. Emily is grateful every day for what she gets to do.
- Don’t choose a niche you don’t know anything about or have no interest in.
- You have to be willing to go deep and wide into your topic.
- What to do when you’re the ‘first one’ or have no role models in your niche.
- Your food blog role model does not have to be a blogger (for example who inspires you in the way they connect with their readers?)
- Writing in a very small niche means you aren’t competing with a million other blogs.
- You don’t have to follow the same rules about SEO, social platforms and posting.
- Find keywords that cater for what your audience wants to know and tailor popular keywords to your niche.
- Diversify your income by creating cookbooks, e-books and memberships in your niche.
- If you become the go-to person in your niche, you can create more opportunities for monetization.
Click for full script.
EBT468 – Emily Rhodes
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 your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional. I’m Megan Porta. I have been a food blogger for 13 years, so I understand how isolating food blogging can be. 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.
The topic of niching down or starting another site that’s very, very niche is a hot topic. I think right now, for good reason, you can get a lot of traction. You can get an easily engaged audience. Your users love you. You can be kind of the go-to person in your niche for your topic. All of these are really attractive points that a lot of food bloggers want right now. Emily Rhodes from Steam and Bake joins me in this episode to talk about her very, very hyper niche blog and how it has served her really well over the past 10 years. She talks about things like how to do keyword research when you have a really specific niche, how to diversify your income, how to deal with that whole comparison thing, and also how to deal with becoming the like Go-to known person in your industry for your specific niche. I absolutely loved this conversation with Emily. I hope you enjoy it too. It is episode number 468, sponsored by RankIQ.
Megan Porta 01:42
Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favorite 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 and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now on to the episode. Emily Rhodes started Steam and Bake a little over 10 years ago. She’s now a journalist and nutritionist, but at that time she was a home economist and demonstrator for a global appliances manufacturer. Clients kept complaining about the lack of steam oven recipes and resources after they had bought these fancy new ovens, she thought surely one of the huge food sites or famous chefs would start writing about them. Soon after a couple of years in the job, Emily realized no one was coming to save these people. The manufacturers were not much help and no one else was writing recipes specifically for these appliances. So she figured she’d put a few posts up and see what happened. Fast forward a decade and Steam and Bake is the number one source of steam oven recipes on the internet. Earning her an income from home while raising three boys. It absolutely blows her mind that a teeny little website in Australia has taken her to this point. Emily is grateful every day for what she gets to do. Emily, how are you today? How is it going over there in Australia?
Emily Rhodes 03:11
I’m great, Megan. Thank you. I’m very excited to be talking to you today.
Megan Porta 03:14
Yes, and it’s super late at night and very early here, so we’re making it work though.
Emily Rhodes 03:19
We’re making it work. Yeah, it’s late. It’s a good time for me. All my kids are in bed. Oh yeah. It’s nice and quiet here.
Megan Porta 03:26
Oh, good. Well, thank you for joining us on E-Log Talk today. I know we’re going to talk about the value of Niching down and get your insights on that. But first, do you have a fun fact to share with us?
Emily Rhodes 03:37
I do have a fun fact. My fun fact is that when I was 17, which is quite a long time ago now, I went and spent a year in a very small town in South Africa on student exchange.
Megan Porta 03:49
Oh, a whole year?
Emily Rhodes 03:51
A whole year. January to December.
Megan Porta 03:53
Oh my gosh. Okay. That had to be the most amazing experience.
Emily Rhodes 03:59
It was. I knew I was going for probably a year before I went, so I had a lot of lead up to learning about going and learning a bit about the country, but it was a massive culture of shock and then it was the best experience that I’ve ever had, I think.
Megan Porta 04:12
Oh, I love that. Yes. I know. It’s scary though, right? Doing something like that, especially for a year, that’s a big chunk of your life.
Emily Rhodes 04:20
Yeah, and I had never been, I think I had been on a plane once before, but I had never left the country and I’d never left my parents for more than maybe like a couple of days at a time. Yeah. It was a big, oh, a very big thing. But actually I think it sort of catapulted me into being a lot more independent, much earlier than I would’ve been otherwise.
Megan Porta 04:39
Okay. So I should send my children off for years, is that what you’re saying?
Emily Rhodes 04:44
Not that I wanna send my children, now that I have children, I think about what a big deal it was. I also think that they should go, they all should go.
Megan Porta 04:51
I know. It is good. I mean, it’s hard, but it’s good I think all around, whether it’s you or your kids, right? Yeah. But good, so glad you experienced that. So we’re going to talk about niching down, but first I think that might just kind of frame our chat a little bit if you told us a bit about your blog.
Emily Rhodes 05:07
Sure. I started my blog 10 years ago now when my eldest son was a baby. I think, I don’t know, I, I feel like it resonates with a lot of bloggers that you have a baby and you think, oh, I’ll just start a blog because it’ll be fun. It’ll be a nice hobby while the baby is small and I’m, you know, at home a little bit more. And like a lot of other bloggers, it took over my life and now it is my, now it is my job. So my blog is a quite unusual and very hyper niche blog. I blog about steam oven cooking, which if you have a steam oven, you find a amazing, and for the 97% of the population that don’t have a steam oven, and dunno what one is, they’ve probably never seen my website before.
Megan Porta 05:52
I have no idea what steam. Okay, I’m looking it up right now. This is intriguing. Oh my gosh. Okay. So when did you niche down to Steam oven cooking?
Emily Rhodes 06:02
I started the blog for Steam Oven cooking. So it was always this day. I had worked for probably five years before I started the blog. So before I had kids, I did a job where I was demonstrating or developing recipes and training and things for a couple of really big global oven brands. And those brands, they had, you know, we had a lot of other products as well, but the steam oven and combi steam oven was a really new thing then. And they really pushed this idea of teaching people how to use this wild appliance that no one had ever seen before, but they were pushing people to have in their home kitchens. So I already had that background and the reason I started the blog was because everyone I had spoken to in that sort of frame didn’t understand the product, didn’t understand what recipes they could make, didn’t understand how to convert their normal cooking into steam oven cooking. So yeah, that’s where I started and it’s kind of where I still am. I’m, I’m surprised a little bit at how, how 10 years have gone by and I’m still teaching the same thing, but I do love it.
Megan Porta 07:09
Oh my goodness. Okay. I feel like that was kind of lucky, right? Like yeah, I, I just assumed that you started out the way I did 10 plus years ago in like just publishing anything and everything and then you decided to niche down. But the fact that you started with this really, really, really niche Yeah. Is so cool. And I don’t usually hear about that.
Emily Rhodes 07:32
I almost took it on, I must have come at it I think from the other end that, that most people do when they start blogging. And I came at it with this viewpoint that I had always wanted to have a food blog and I had never known what to write about and I knew I needed a sort of some kind of hook. I don’t think niching down was a thing 10 years ago. I think most people that had food blogs, they just, like you say, you just pop some recipes up and hope for the best . Yeah. But I knew I needed some kind of hook even if it wasn’t a specific niche and I knew the topic. So it almost, I don’t know, it just almost turned into its own thing without me thinking about it very much.
Megan Porta 08:10
Wow, that’s really cool. I think you, you have a leg up on a lot of people. So how have things gone in recent years with all of the, you know, the fluctuations and the updates and all of that? Have you stood pretty strong with your traffic?
Emily Rhodes 08:24
I have. I was thinking about this today and I’ve thought about it a lot over the last, I don’t know, six weeks when Google has rolled out the really big recent update, which most people will Mm-Hmm. Be well aware of. I have been with that update and with every other update prior to that, I seem to be really minimally impacted by updates and that’s not, I don’t sit there and feel smug about it. I just think that it’s maybe a fact of me being one of the only people real, like genuinely one of the only two or three or four people in the world specifically writing on this topic. . Yeah. So I think either Google thinks I’m an expert, which is wonderful. I hope I am after 10 years of doing it or they haven’t noticed me at all. Which is also fine because if they’re not impacting my website when they do updates, that makes me really happy.
Megan Porta 09:10
Oh, that’s good. Yeah, this is really intriguing. Okay, so we’re going to talk about, I think if somebody is listening and just feeling like they do need to niche down or maybe they want to start a second site that’s really niche, like how to go about that. So what do you, what is your advice for finding a niche? And I’m assuming you don’t want us to go steal your niche.
Emily Rhodes 09:35
You can steal my niche. I would love if more people wrote about my niche then I would have other people to ask for roundup topics.
Megan Porta 09:42
I like that you said that because people always assume that I am like, don’t take my niche or my keywords or whatever and I’m always like, go for it. If you wanna take my keywords, let’s do it together.
Emily Rhodes 09:54
Oh my gosh. I always think that and I think, I think, gosh, I would love if there were more people writing about the same thing that I write about because it would make that world a little bit bigger. Yeah. It’s a very strange thing to be, I think for a lot of people to say, oh you know, I don’t want your competition, I just want you to collaborate and let’s talk about the same things that we write about. But I find that really valuable. Yeah. From a food perspective. But I would find it really valuable if anyone else wanted to niche into steam ovens.
Megan Porta 10:22
Okay, I love it.
Emily Rhodes 10:23
If you’re looking for a niche, maybe you just need to go and write about steam ovens. So I think as far as advice goes, I’m weird because my niche found me, but I definitely would say don’t go a niche into anything that you don’t know about that. That’s probably my number one piece of advice for it. If you would like to niche down, find something that you actually enjoy for a start. I know I’ve heard this advice before and it rings really true. There’s no point finding a niche that you think, oh that’s a cool, like a cool trendy thing now. So I’m going to write about it if you have no knowledge. But more importantly, no interest in it. I think Megan, I remember, are you vegan, is that right?
Megan Porta 11:02
No, I am not.
Emily Rhodes 11:04
Ah, I don’t know where I got that from. All this time I’ve been thinking you’re vegan.
Megan Porta 11:08
Oh that’s funny. I have, I love vegan, I have vegan friends.
Emily Rhodes 11:11
Yeah, I love vegan too, but I’m not. Yeah. So my point anyway with the vegan thing was just more that you wouldn’t go and write about vegan food if you weren’t vegan or if you didn’t enjoy vegan food. So it runs the same for every niche. You know, take inspiration from someone else who’s writing about the thing that you like. If there is someone to take inspiration from, and if there’s not, you can still write about it. I did and I’m still here 10 years later, so you know, you don’t need to write about something that a lot of other people are already writing about if you feel really strongly about something.
Megan Porta 11:44
Yeah, no, I think that is a good first really good piece of advice. You have to know it well, you have to love it because if you wanna do it for the long haul, you’ve got to keep loving it. Right. It can’t just be like a passing fad or something.
Emily Rhodes 11:58
You do. And you’ve gotta be really happy to, to understand. And I don’t think I even understood this. I’d never thought I would be doing what I’m doing 10 years later. Yeah. But I think if you’re not willing to really go deep and wide into a topic, then it’s not going to be the topic that’s going to, like you say, get you for the long haul.
Megan Porta 12:17
So that’s where people start. They just think okay, if something that they’re really into that they really like, whether it’s an appliance or a style of cooking or, I mean there’s so many ways to think through niches, which is really cool. I know some people trying to think of the blogger, I can’t think of her off the top of my head, but it’s like a five ingredient niche or something. Like you can go ingredient number of ingredients, amount of time, cookie, I mean you can go so many different like categories really.
Emily Rhodes 12:42
Yeah, you can, it does, you know, I use an appliance. I know other people do things like instant pot or slow cookers or pressure cooking, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of appliance niches you can go into and then we talk about, you know, special diet niches as well. But there are lots of other ways to think about a niche and I think I struggled with that for quite a long time. I always, I don’t know, in the early days I didn’t really think what I was writing about was a niche. I just thought it was a weird thing that no one else was doing.
Megan Porta 13:09
Right, yeah. Yeah. And then you can also combine categories too. So you could do like air fryer breakfasts or you know, it doesn’t have to be just air fryer recipes. You can think get really, really like drilled down into something super specific. And I think those are the bloggers that do better, honestly.
Emily Rhodes 13:28
I think they’re the bloggers that end up with really solid followings. That’s been my experience of it. So you can do really well as a blogger blogging about something more general and you can grow your blog and you probably will almost certainly will have much bigger numbers than I’m ever going to have. But what I have that a lot of bigger bloggers complain about not having is a really engaged following. So I think if you do that hyper niche kind of thing or that hyper topical thing, you will end up with people following you for that specific reason rather than just thinking that you’re someone who makes good recipes. Also useful, but not the only thing.
Megan Porta 14:06
Yeah, the engaged following is kinda huge these days. That’s one of the buzzwords. That’s what you want. You want those people who are your super fans and who really love you and they want to engage with your content and they’re just on the edge of their seat waiting for the next thing to publish. Like that is what we want.
Emily Rhodes 14:22
Well I think that’s what everyone wants, right? That’s what I have always wanted and I’ve spent a long time sort of nurturing those people who follow me and who’ve been with me from the beginning. There’s lots of ways to do that. But I think just by virtue of having that single topic that they know they can come to you for, that’s a really helpful thing because they know they’re not going to come to you and go, oh, you know, I wonder if maybe she might write about a steam oven recipe this week, but then she won’t write about one for another three months. Yeah. So for me it’s been always remembering even though I would love to write about other things and sometimes I do, but always remembering who I’m here for and it’s not me really, it’s my readers.
Megan Porta 15:03
I was going to ask you that. How often do you write outside of your niche?
Emily Rhodes 15:07
That’s an interesting question at the moment because I’m just sort of toying with, and I’m speaking to my, I have a business buddy who I catch up with. She’s not a blogger actually, but she does have an online business. I catch up with her every couple of months and we were talking last week about the sorts of things that I would like to write about, which are other more general kind of food topics, but still within the same, kind of the same approach as the recipes that I write now, which is that sort of really approachable, family friendly kind of food. I have not done a lot of writing outside of my niche, or not on my own website anyway. I do some freelance occasionally, but we’re looking at ways that I can kind of combine a bit more of that general cooking without alienating the readers that I’ve got. And I think a lot of that comes down to the user experience of your, of your website. So making things easy to filter or easy to search in different formats, if that makes sense. It sounds a bit vague. It’s still a little bit vague in my mind.
Megan Porta 16:06
No, that doesn’t sound vague to me. That’s, I love that. I love hearing you talk through that. And then I have a question about if somebody does pick a really super niche, there’s someone in my mastermind group currently who is starting, I don’t, I think it’s a, she’s starting a second blogger, she’s just trying to niche on her. She has a handful of blogs and I think she’s niching down on one of them. And she chose a, an appliance that nobody uses, nobody blogs about. Literally it’s like you, it’s like there’s zero other people doing this, which is so cool. And we’re like, oh my gosh, you found the gap. But then it’s like, oh wait, how do I do this because I don’t have anyone to follow or like anyone to gimme inspiration. How do you recommend, you know, like getting inspiration when you don’t have any other kind of people to join you on that specific journey. Do you know what I mean?
Emily Rhodes 17:00
Yeah, I do. I know exactly what you mean and you definitely should send her my way. because I’d love to talk to her and now I wanna know what she’s writing about. I still feel like I’m the first one after 10 years in my niche. So I’ve got fairly strong feelings about role models and how I, you know, how I take inspiration from other places. And the big thing is that because I cannot take inspiration from a direct role model. Like I can’t look at another food blogger and go, oh, they’re writing about the same thing as me and I love their style and the colors of their website are beautiful. I’m just going to copy that and do the same thing. But in my own little way, I have never been able to do that. So I have found, and it’s taken a long time, probably only in the last four or five years, so maybe half my blogging career, that what I look for in role models and what I have done all along without knowing it, is looking for people who write still about food.
Emily Rhodes 17:57
I tend, most of my role models are still foodie, but I’m looking for people who almost adopt the same tone that I’m going for. Rather than looking for a specific food or ingredient or appliance, I’m looking towards people who are really warm and really engaging and who value their readers. And you can tell bloggers who value their readers. So I tend to sort of look up to those people. And also for me, and I think for most bloggers we really wanna be helpful. So I tend to look for role models that are the most helpful in whatever it is they’re delivering. So, you know, if you’re delivering great vegan food, I might look up to you for amazing, like the amazing way that you deal with your readers and that you help ’em in the comments section of your blog. And I think, oh my gosh, that’s so awesome. I would love to do that on my blog. So then I might start engaging more in the comments section. I hope that makes sense?
Megan Porta 18:50
Yeah, I like that. So I think we would typically get stuck in the mindset that we have to find someone who’s in the exact niche when we don’t. What you’re saying is that find someone who inspires you in other ways by the way they write or the way they connect or whatever, and go with that. And it doesn’t have to be within your niche at all.
Emily Rhodes 19:11
No, it doesn’t. And it doesn’t even have to be in food at all. I know I said that I look up mostly to food bloggers or food writers. A lot of the foodie people I look up to are not bloggers. They, they might be Nigel Slater is one the English food writer because he writes in a really warm and engaging tone, but he, I don’t think he’s ever had a blog, you know, that’s not his thing. But I look up to his tone and his warmth and his availability to his readers. So yeah, you can do that. You don’t have to find a role model who’s just writing about the same thing that you wanna write about.
Megan Porta 19:39
That is like such a simple thing. But like, oh yeah, I guess I don’t have to do that.
Emily Rhodes 19:44
Yeah. I feel like it’s not revolutionary at all. I know it’s almost a silly thing to say.
Megan Porta 19:48
Exactly. But it’s good to say it because we do get stuck in those little tracks. Right. And it’s hard to get out of them until someone’s like, wait, it’s really easy. Just look this way.
Emily Rhodes 19:58
Yeah, look this look a different way.
Megan Porta 19:59
Great look a different way. So how do you manage or navigate I guess SEO and keyword research with a really small niche like yours?
Emily Rhodes 20:09
Well, I will confess to not having done really very much with SEO at all until probably 2018 or 2019, which is not that long ago really. That’s, you know, maybe half the length of my blog I have not at all even… Not that I didn’t know that SEO existed, I just had no interest in it. I figured it didn’t apply to me. So now I know that it does apply to me. I just have found some more creative ways of sort of working with keyword research particularly, because if I go onto any of the keyword research tools, any of the big ones, so Ahrefs or SEMRush or KeySearch, even Google, you know, like the Google trends that you can look for. Yeah. In the search console, all of those, when I search any of the things that I write about or would like to write about, they pretty much universally come up with like a zero search volume or maybe like, you know, a hundred search volume. They’re certainly not coming up with like millions or even thousands in most cases. So I kind of attack it in two different ways. One is that I just don’t worry about that and I write about the things that people ask me about. I have a really engaged Facebook group, so I often will ask what people would like to see on the website. In there I write about things that I just generally know will be helpful to people who have the appliance that I write on. But then I also, I kind of use keyword research to dig around and find topics that do have really good search volume and then I will tweak them to steam oven cooking because a lot of my readers, that’s all they want. They just wanna know how to cook the regular, like the latest TikTok trend. They wanna know how to make that, but can they do it in their steam oven? So I almost attack it from those two different ends where I look for the really popular stuff and then change it to my own purpose or I don’t look at it at all.
Okay. Food bloggers, this is it. This is the last call to apply to join the 2024 Eat Blog Talk mastermind program at the time. I am recording this. We only have two spots available by the time this airs. I’m not sure if either of those spots will still be available, but head to eatblogtalk.com/mastermind to find out. This powerful group will not open again until we take applications for 2025. So if this has been on your radar, now is your time. December 15th is the date that the doors will close. Officially, we have incredible guest experts lined up for 2024. We are getting geared up for our in-person retreat that is included with membership and that is happening at the end of January. Weekly calls are set to start right away in January. Things are in motion and powerful transformations are about to take place. Head to eatblogtalk.com/mastermind to apply now back to the episode. Yeah, that’s really smart. To find good like trending things or high search volume keywords and then just tweak it to your own niche. You could do that with any appliance really.
Emily Rhodes 23:12
Yeah, you totally could do it with any appliance. So it’s, again, going back to that niche thing. If you, you know, if there’s an appliance that you wanna write about that has no search volume or no, no one else writing about it, write about it anyway and write about a few things that are popular just so that you can get some, some eyeballs onto your site but tweak them to fit what it is that you’re trying to share or trying to communicate to people. But the other thing I have done recently, only in the last few months is join RankIQ, which I know you’re a huge fan of. I put it off for a couple of years. I looked at it a long time ago and I’ve looked at it again a few times since. And every time I was like, oh it’s not going to work for me. They don’t have keyword libraries that even are remotely relevant to what I blog about. And then someone had said to me that Brandon from RankIQ would create a keyword library if you join up, he’ll create a keyword library that suits you. And I was like, oh, he’s never going to be able to do that. So I signed up and I emailed him and he made me a steam, not a steam oven library, but a steaming keyword library basically.
Megan Porta 24:20
Oh my gosh, I knew you were going to say this. I love that he did that. I knew you were going to go this way.
Emily Rhodes 24:25
He’s so awesome. So it took maybe like six weeks or something after I signed up, but I sent him a bunch of topics that I write about and I gave him some access to my website and then he came back in with this, not massive, but certainly like plenty for me to write about for a really long time to come. All of these different topics for steam cooking, which fits perfectly with my website. So I am, you know, it, it doesn’t hurt to ask the question, I suppose is the, the moral of that story for such a long time thinking it wouldn’t work for me. And then just asking one question because I had heard that he would help people, you know? Yes. When they didn’t have keywords that worked for them. Yeah. So I have just started getting into a little bit more keyword research on that side and that’s been really fun.
Megan Porta 25:11
So for the RankIQ content that you’ve been using, how has that been doing?
Emily Rhodes 25:16
Okay, I think. I’m probably two or three months into using some of the RankIQ keywords. So I might have like 10 or 12 posts on my site now that are RankIQ kind of optimized. They all are trending upwards in rankings. So that’s a really positive thing for me. And a couple of them are like sitting in the top five I would say on Google now. So they’re not massive, again, not massive search volume, but that’s I think RankIQs whole thing. Yeah. And for me that’s really familiar because I’m used to working with very low search volume. So I’m really excited when I see something shoot to number five on number four on Google rankings because I think, oh that’s really cool. That might’ve taken me two years on my own because I didn’t know how to optimize it properly.
Megan Porta 26:00
Right. I think this is one of the key points for people listening who are thinking about niching down. RankIQ is such a game changer for that because like you Emily, people go along thinking, oh, there’s no way this niche is too small. I can’t find keywords. But you just asked and he created this library for you.
Emily Rhodes 26:21
And then once I asked and I started using my library, I did, I’ve branched out a little bit and now I know that there are certain other ways that I can look for keywords within that system and I can find other things to write about too. And again, it’s like the thing where I said, you know, I look for things with big search volume and then tweak them to steam oven cooking. I’ve been able to do that within RankIQ as well. So that’s been really helpful and almost like a whole new way of thinking about the content on my website.
Megan Porta 26:51
Yes, right. Yeah, there is like a mindset shift that goes along with RankIQ because yeah, once you get into it you just start thinking differently. If that makes sense.
Emily Rhodes 27:01
I really have. And I was surprised it was super overwhelming when I first sort of went in there and started digging around. But I would say maybe two or three weeks into like really pushing myself to use it a couple of times a week, all of a sudden this switch kind of flipped in my mind and I was like, oh, I love this tool.
Megan Porta 27:19
I know, I know. I have people all the time say I’ve had it for like a year, but I don’t like it because I just don’t get it. And like you have to get in, dig in, play with it a little bit, get to know it, and then once people do, they’re like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner. I love it. It’s a game changer. It changed my life, my traffic. So cool. I’m so glad that you found that I was, you don’t have this in your notes, but I was wondering if you would talk about RankIQ, because I’m like niche site, I don’t know, but super cool that that came up. And then outside of SEO keyword research and getting traffic that way, are there other ways that you monetize your site?
Emily Rhodes 27:59
Yeah, they are. Like I said, my numbers are not huge. So I am on Media Vine, I got on Media Vine I think in 2020 or maybe 2019, but I’m still, you know, I’m a baby blogger on Media Vine, so I’m never going to make a full-time income off the numbers that I have on my website. And also because I have a really global readership, my ad income from Media vine is lower than other people who might have the same traffic, but theirs is all US traffic. So only about half of my traffic is US. And that does impact your ad earnings. But I have, I’ve tried quite a lot of different things for income diversification over the years and I used to do a lot of freelance work that was outside of my blog, but I decided a couple of years ago that if I was really going to make it my job then I didn’t wanna do, well, not, I didn’t wanna do any freelance work, but I only wanted to do freelance work if I thought that it looked fun and I was really interested in it. And that was a huge mindset shift for me. So I have had to find a few other ways to make money on my website. One is cookbooks, which do really well for some people and not so well for others. I have found both eBooks and print books do pretty well for me. So I’ve got a couple on Amazon and I’ve got I think three, no four eBooks on my website now. And they do, you know, like when I launch, I have a really a pretty nice kind of bump in income for that launch period. But then they all just sit there on the site and I always sell a few copies a week just from, you know, they’re linked into my, my welcome series in my email. So people will find them that way or people will just go to the shop and be like, oh cool, she has a book and they’ll buy it. So that’s been really helpful for me. But I would say, I think I see a lot of bloggers complaining about how they put a lot of time into making an eBook or a print book and that it hasn’t worked for them. So I really think they work better for niche sites.
Megan Porta 29:57
I totally agree with you.
Emily Rhodes 29:58
In what I’ve seen over the last 10 years. They work really well for niche sites with that very concentrated kind of topical matter and not so well for the really big broad generalist kind of sites.
Megan Porta 30:09
Yeah. I know a few bloggers who have put together eBooks who do really well and they’re the ones that do really well, are all super niche. I put one together a few years ago that was like Thanksgiving side dishes or something, just something really broad that like, now looking back, I’m like, what was I thinking that was really stupid and boring? Like who’s going to get it? Just random whatever.
Emily Rhodes 30:32
Oh, I don’t know. I always think about doing a general book as well.
Megan Porta 30:35
Yeah, I didn’t do well.
Emily Rhodes 30:37
Write a lot of cookbooks in my life and I find it really fun.
Megan Porta 30:39
Yeah, I know they’re fun to put together.
Emily Rhodes 30:41
It definitely makes a difference.
Megan Porta 30:42
If you’re really niche. Yeah, definitely.
Emily Rhodes 30:44
And people are happy to pay for something that they just cannot get anywhere else. And so true. I started out with a lot of exclusive content in my books and I have almost pulled that back. And the last eBook I released is just like a really small collection of a dozen recipes and they’re all on my website, but I charge like, I don’t know, 7 99 or 8 99 for this eBook. And that is the highest selling book that I have. So, oh wow. Yeah, that’s another lesson. And you know, it’s okay if you, you can repackage things and it’s okay to do that and to ask people to pay for it.
Megan Porta 31:16
Yeah. And that’s not nothing, I mean that all adds up throughout the year and gives you extra money.
Emily Rhodes 31:23
It’s, you know, it’s little trickles of money, you know, every couple of days I get a little notification that says I’ve sold a book and I still get really excited even if it’s like $5.
Megan Porta 31:32
Emily Rhodes 31:33
And I hope I never lose that because it’s really fun. But yeah, so that’s one way I monetize. And then this year I started a membership. I used to have a Patreon and it was kind of okay, but I always found it a bit clunky. So this year I brought that kind of same idea onto my website and I started like a sub-domain off my site. And I have a membership which is really just two newsletters a month. So I guess it’s a paid newsletter more than a membership, but we call it a membership. And that’s done surprisingly well. So that’s something I would really recommend again to, to niche bloggers who’ve got maybe more to say them is than is warranted on their websites. If you wanna go a little bit deeper into a topic, but you know it’s never going to bring any traffic to your site and there’s no point putting it there. That was sort of my impetus to do it. I thought, oh, I’ve got all these things that people want more detail on, but I can’t be bothered putting them on my site. Google will never see it, you know, it’s not, it’s just not a worthwhile thing. But it turns out if I put those really long kind of detailed articles into a newsletter, people are really happy to pay for that and they pay quite well for it.
Megan Porta 32:41
Oh, that’s amazing. So do you do Substack or something similar to that?
Emily Rhodes 32:44
No, I looked at Substack and then I went back to, I use Mailer Light for my regular list, my standard email list. And my readers are really used to the format of the emails and so I just thought, oh, I’m just going to go really simple and see how it goes. And three or four months into the membership, I’m still doing that and people are really happy with it. So I don’t know, I vote for using what you already have instead of going to a new thing maybe.
Megan Porta 33:08
Yes, right. I love all of this. So membership, you’ve got a membership that’s doing well, you have cookbooks that are doing well and you’re, everything on your site is doing well. What else? Do you have any other avenues for monetization?
Emily Rhodes 33:20
I don’t think that I do apart from freelance work now. I’m trying to think again. I’m like, I feel like maybe I’ve forgotten something.
Megan Porta 33:29
That’s good if you have so many things that you’re forgetting.
Emily Rhodes 33:32
It’s ad revenue and cookbooks and the membership I have just launched like a couple of weeks ago, a really simple printable, like a chart kind of printable. Yeah. I’m not sure yet how that one is going to go long term, but we had a really good launch and that’s literally like three black and white pages that you just download and you can print and stick on your fridge. So, you know. Yeah, it’s, yeah, it’s same thing again, it’s sort of that repackaging of things that people could find on my website. I turned it into a chart that tells you how to convert like a regular recipe or regular ingredient into a steam oven cooking because the timing and the temperatures are a little bit different between like a regular oven and steam oven.
Megan Porta 34:11
Sure. And with really niche topics too, you can get so into the details. There’s so many details to get into. Whereas like a site about comfort food like mine, it’s like, well , there’s not much to talk about with details, but you have so many details that you can help people with. And for those people who really wanna get into steam oven baking or cooking, they need those details. Right. So that’s such a good opportunity.
Emily Rhodes 34:37
Yeah, I think they do. And I think a lot of people have kind of come up with me, like the people who followed my blog since the start or since early on, they’re interest, you know, if I go a little bit deeper now, they’re happy with that because they’ve gone beyond the basics of, oh, I don’t know how to turn my oven on now they’re cooking my things or you know, cooking my things and then branching out to cook their own things for say seven or eight or nine years. They want those extra details. Yeah. So that’s, that’s that extra value I guess in the long term engagement as well. None of this stuff happened for me overnight and it’s really only been the last couple of years that I can say I solidly make, not even a full-time, but a good part-time income from my website.
Megan Porta 35:17
Have you noticed that you’ve become like a go-to person in your niche? Like do people see the topic and just think of you and vice versa?
Emily Rhodes 35:26
Yes. And I find it really, really flattering and really weird at the same time because I don’t, I dunno, I don’t think I aspire to ever be like a, a thought leader or something . But yes, I do find that. And there’s a couple of Facebook groups that are run by other people in the steam oven cooking space and I’m a member of those groups, but I don’t post very, you know, I’m not regularly on Facebook just crawling around answering comments except in my own group. But now I have readers who, when someone posts a question in a different group or even on Reddit, I’ve noticed there’s a, like a steam oven community on Reddit, which is not at all my thing , but the couple of times I’ve looked at it, people will say, oh you know, I have a question about like X, Y, Z for steam ovens.
Emily Rhodes 36:11
And someone will jump in and say, oh, you need to go and see her website and she’s got like this article and they’ll link out to like certain articles that I’ve written or you know, certain Facebook posts that I’ve put up in the last couple of months. So that’s been, it’s really lovely actually because that means I’m not having to constantly feel like I’m promoting myself, which is always really awkward. I think it’s awkward for everyone. Yeah. So that’s been nice. And I do get brands contact me now as well for the same reason. So I’ve had a few really good freelance gigs based off the steam oven knowledge.
Megan Porta 36:41
Oh, I love that. And that applies to any niche, right? Like any super, super niche. You could become the go-to person for fill in the blank if you just keep showing up and delivering value for that niche.
Emily Rhodes 36:54
Yeah, you could. And if it’s something you like doing, don’t give up on it. Keep like keep going with that thing. As long as you’ve got a few people reading you and following you. because The rest will come.
Megan Porta 37:03
Yeah. Also podcasts, that’s always a good opportunity to get on podcasts, which I love this just concept of getting food bloggers onto as many podcasts as possible. If you wanna become the go-to person for whatever your niche is because you get back links, you get, you know, access to a whole new audience. There’s so many benefits to being on podcasts. So I bet, I don’t know if you have Emily, but I bet you’d have a lot of opportunity to go talk about this really niche thing on podcasts.
Emily Rhodes 37:35
I don’t know. You are my first podcast Megan.
Megan Porta 37:38
Oh well you’ll have to branch out and go check it out.
Emily Rhodes 37:41
I was really nervous about podcasts for a long time and then I did a radio spot for something completely unrelated in my personal life a few months ago and I was like, oh, that was kind of fun. Maybe I should do more of it.
Megan Porta 37:53
There you go, you’re on a roll.
Emily Rhodes 37:55
That’s a thing for me now, I dunno.
Megan Porta 37:56
Yes. And also TV segments, like new segments or yeah, like radio, whatever. I think any opportunity you can see to spread the word about your niche and your love for it, I think is great.
Emily Rhodes 38:07
Yeah. I think people get excited when, when someone else is excited talking about a topic. So yeah, if it’s something they’ve got any kind of peripheral knowledge of, they’ll probably stop and listen. Absolutely. That doesn’t apply just to me, that applies to everyone.
Megan Porta 38:21
What do you think about the hangup of people saying like, maybe there’s a niche that’s really niche but there are other people already into that niche so they get stuck on, well they’re already doing it, they’re doing a great job, I don’t wanna intrude on their space, that sort of thing.
Emily Rhodes 38:37
This is going to sound really trite and I used to hear it and think, oh, what a stupid thing to say. But I honestly think you always have your own perspective on something. So even if everyone is writing about it, it’s still okay for you to write about it in your own way, in your own voice, with your own lived experience. It’s okay to bring your own thing to something that already exists.
Megan Porta 39:05
Yes. I love it. And I don’t think that’s trite at all. I think that we need to hear that in our.
Emily Rhodes 39:10
Oh, yeah. I used to hear it and think, oh, ugh. I dunno. I just think maybe as I’ve gotten a bit older, I think, oh, you know, that’s, that’s really very true because you follow people for people not for stuff, if that makes sense. That’s true. But you know, the stuff is useful, but you really follow people because you like them and you like their delivery and their way of sharing something.
Megan Porta 39:32
Absolutely. So get out there and get into those niches. I know, it’s, it’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison trap though, in our food blogging space. It’s so saturated, there’s so many of us. So I know a lot of people who are like, oh, I don’t know, there’s, they’re already, you know, so many people doing it, but I love your words. We need to hear your voice and your audience will find you because of you, not because of your niche necessarily.
Emily Rhodes 40:02
Yeah, they really will. And it’s, it’s such a mindset shift to think about it that way. But it’s really, it’s so true. And it’s just, if you can just tweak your mindset a little bit and remember that you’re running your own race and not somebody else’s race, that’s, for me, that’s really helpful to keep in mind all the time and to remember that maybe your version of a good life or a good job or a successful business doesn’t actually look just like everyone else’s. So from my, you know, my successful business or successful life is not working 80 hours a week and making a million bucks. It’s sitting in the little studio in my backyard and having my kids playing on the grass outside while I do some work. You know, it’s just different things for different people.
Megan Porta 40:47
Yeah. Well I love that you painted such a lovely picture.
Emily Rhodes 40:50
It’s not always that lovely Megan.
Megan Porta 40:52
Oh, well trust me. I know. I sometimes like paint pictures like that and I’m like, you know, my life isn’t always like that . It’s, it can be ugly at times. We’ve been sick for three weeks literally. So yeah, life can be.
Emily Rhodes 41:05
I dunno, life, life is also rough. It’s not all peaches, but it’s, it can be really lovely. So it’s nice to take joy in the little things.
Megan Porta 41:14
Absolutely. Well thank you for all of this. Is there anything you want to touch on before we start saying goodbye, Emily?
Emily Rhodes 41:19
I don’t really think so. I think we’ve touched on, yeah, most of the things that I wanted to talk about today. Mostly I would just say to people that, you know, I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I still feel like a newbie. So maybe if you’re a new blogger and you’re thinking whether it’s about a niche thing or a not niche thing, whatever you’re thinking about doing and going, oh, I don’t think I can start because everyone’s been doing it for so long. We all feel like newbies as well. None of us feel like we’re experts in this or I certainly don’t. And no, no other food blogger that I am in touch with feels like an expert in their, in their field. So yeah, do it.
Megan Porta 41:58
I love it. Thank you for all of this and for joining us today, Emily, and sharing all of your experience with niching, having that awesome niche side of yours. You already kind of gave us words of inspiration. Do you have anything additionally, like a favorite quote or anything?
Emily Rhodes 42:13
My favorite quote is just be kind, which is a really boring quote, but it’s a good rule for life.
Megan Porta 42:19
Oh. It’s so simple and powerful.
Emily Rhodes 42:22
Super simple. It’s one I teach my kids all the time.
Megan Porta 42:25
I was going to say that. I tell my boys like, it’s really very easy. Two words, you just have to be kind and that’s it.
Emily Rhodes 42:30
Just be kind. Yeah. Everything else will happen. Just be kind.
Megan Porta 42:34
Yes, absolutely. Well, we’ll put together show notes for you Emily. If you wanna go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/steamandbake. Tell everyone where they can find you, Emily.
Emily Rhodes 42:46
I’m pretty much everywhere as Steam and Bake. My site is SteamAndBake.com. You can find me on Facebook and Pinterest and sort of on Instagram, although I don’t post there very often. Yeah, Facebook is probably the best place to get me if you ever wanna get in touch or have a chat.
Megan Porta 43:04
Go check Emily’s stuff out everyone. And thank you Emily for being here. Thank you so much for listening food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
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