Sarah Bond’s interest in food led her to get degrees in both nutrition and sensory science, but she didn’t know a whole lot about cooking.
But that certainly didn’t stop her from moving forward with her entrepreneurial plans. Now, just a few years, Sarah runs not one but three food blogs: Live Eat Learn, Brew Buch, and Bone Appétreat, which are bringing in a total of $32k per month.
Sarah not only got into Mediavine with no SEO knowledge, she’s now grown her main site to over 1 million page views per month.
Keep reading to find out:
- Why she created her 3 sites
- How she got into Mediavine
- Where her income is coming from
- Her marketing strategies
- How she approaches keyword research
- Her content creation process
- How she grows and manages her email list
- Her go-to resources and tools
- Her biggest challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- The advice she would give to other entrepreneurs
Meet Sarah Bond
I have a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and a Master’s in Sensory Science, which all just basically means… I love food.
I’m currently based in Denver, Colorado, where you can find me hiking, camping, and cooking with my boyfriend and little dog, Rhubarb.
Why She Created Live Eat Learn
I started Live Eat Learn in 2015 as a creative side hustle. At that point I knew everything about nutrition, having majored in it in college, but I knew nothing about cooking.
My goal was to create a space where I could learn about food and cooking while incorporating some of my travels, hence the name Live Eat Learn. Somehow, despite not knowing a thing about SEO or recipe writing, I made it onto Mediavine in early 2016, and haven’t looked back since!
During that time I didn’t know anything about SEO. I think I got lucky with a few recipes going viral on Pinterest, and that brought me my first few readers. It snowballed from there, and about a year in I started learning about SEO, which was the real game changer.
She Creates 2 More Sites
In 2019, I launched BrewBuch.com, a kombucha brewing website catapulted by the success of my Simple Guide To Kickass Kombucha.
One of the recipes that went viral was for my post on how to brew kombucha. I think at the time there just weren’t many resources for learning how to brew, so my post quickly hit the top of Google.
I started getting hundreds of comments and emails about questions people were having when it comes to brewing. After spending 2 years answering all these questions people were having, I decided to just turn the answers into blog post articles, and that became BrewBuch.com.
Honestly, it was mostly just to save time on my end. Rather than answering the same questions over and over, I could just send them the link to the answer they needed!
In 2022, inspired by the hours spent researching and cooking for my pup, I launched BoneAppétreat.com, my dog food blog.
All of the sites are currently monetized primarily through display ads on Mediavine, as well as some affiliate marketing on Amazon.
How Much Sarah is Earning
Live Eat Learn typically brings in about $30k per month with ad revenue, followed by Brew Buch with about $2k, and Bone Appétreat with about $200.
The trajectory of Live Eat Learn and Brew Buch were both a steady incline every year until quarantine happened in 2020, and suddenly everyone was cooking at home and looking for home projects.
Both sites gained a ton of traffic (and thus ad revenue) in 2020, and those readers have stuck around.
I dabble in Amazon affiliates and sponsorships, but they make up a small fraction of my total revenue. I also sell a few ebooks and meal plans that supplement the ad revenue nicely.
And finally, I have a published cookbook called For The Love Of Popsicles that brings in a decent royalty check every summer.
Her Main Marketing Strategy
I use the usual social channels to promote my content: Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. I don’t think I do anything too unique on those channels, and in fact, most of them are quite small, but I try to repurpose content as much as possible.
When photographing every new recipe, I’ll also shoot a quick vertical video on my phone. I’ll turn that into a 30-second video to post on virtually every platform.
That’s a lot of social media accounts, but it’s hard to say which is “best” honestly! Facebook is probably best for driving clicks back to the site. Instagram feels like the best for building a true community. And TikTok is great for helping new readers to find our content.
I use InShot to edit into short vertical videos and to do voiceovers on the videos. I’ll use CapCut to auto-caption the videos, and from there I’ll just post that video everywhere!
That being said, the bulk of my traffic comes from SEO. I would say SEO is my major marketing strategy!
In terms of the traffic breakdown for Live Eat Learn, 77% comes from search engines, 10% from email marketing, and 6% from social.
As for traffic, Live Eat Learn gets a little over 1 million page views per month, Brew Buch gets about 100,000, and Bone Appetreat gets about 15,000
Keyword Research and Link Building
I don’t create a piece of content until I’ve done keyword research on volume and competition. I typically use KeySearch and Keywords Everywhere for this.
High Google rankings are a natural way of building links. For example: when someone is creating a roundup and needs links for it, they’ll often just select the top Google-ranked posts.
Sarah’s Content Creation Process
After extensively keyword researching to make sure I have a shot at ranking (as well as making sure I think it’s something my audience would like), I’ll plan and test the recipe.
Once it’s perfect, I’ll cook and shoot the recipe step-by-step (both DSLR photos and a vertical video on my phone).
I’ll write up the actual recipe and assign it to a writer (or use AI, more on that below), who fleshes out the blog post. Then I’ll edit the images and put together the vertical video.
I usually shoot a few months ahead, which gives everyone (me and the writers) time to finish our tasks. When it’s time to publish, I promote it all over social media and in our email list, then wait for Google to start ranking it!
I publish new content on Live Eat Learn about 5 times per week. That’s usually 2 new recipes, 1 how-to post, and 2 informational articles. Brew Buch rarely gets new content, but I do keep up with comments. Bone Appetreat gets 2 to 3 new pieces of content a week.
I’ll speak about Live Eat Learn, because my system there is so structured (compared to Bone Appetreat, where I’m still finding my way in content creation). I’ll batch create recipes, so I’ll typically spend a day testing and shooting multiple recipes.
As for writing, while I used to use writers for fleshing out the posts, honestly I’ve been using AI lately to help with writing. It’s sped up the process significantly.
If I had to guess, I would say one recipe article, start to finish, takes 8 hours.
I do work with two content creators: a Canadian husband and wife team based in Mexico. They produce informational pieces for Live Eat Learn that supplement the recipes I create (like how to cut certain ingredients, storage guides, and very basic recipes).
I’ve worked with many contractors through the years though, and usually find them through Facebook groups!
Her Email List
Email marketing is a huge part of building our loyal community. I grow our email readership by having hyper-targeted opt-ins on each page.
For instance, if they’re on our Pickled Red Cabbage recipe, they’ll see an opt-in to get our “Quickstart Guide To Pickling.” I’ve created a targeted opt-in for every major category under Live Eat Learn, so people really get emails for what they’re interested in!
My list is relatively small because I prune it like crazy! We’re at about 30,000 subscribers now, and every month I cull about 2,000 “cold” subscribers.
I figure, why pay to have people on the list if they’re not even opening the emails? This has helped my open and click rates get pretty high. I usually see a 50% open rate and a 3-5% click rate—and I send a LOT of emails to that list, like 4 per week!
I use ConvertKit for managing the list and sending emails. I use Mediavine’s Spotlight Subscribe to show the opt-in forms on the site. And I learned everything about how to create the system from Matt Molen!
How Many Hours She Works on Her Sites
I work a lot, typically 40 to 60 hours per week. With that said, I make my own schedule and can work from anywhere!
Last year I spent a week working from a boat off the coast of Croatia. And I’ll often take random days off when something fun comes up. Gotta enjoy the perks of the job!
Her Favorite Resources
I’ve learned almost everything about making money from a food blog via podcasts! “Food Blogger Pro” and “Eat Blog Talk” are great for keeping up to date with developments in the industry. I also like the “Small Business Tax Savings” podcast for business strategy, and “How I Built This” for entrepreneurial inspiration.
Sarah’s Go-To Tools
The things I need for my business to thrive are as follows:
1. Hiring Out: Time is my most valuable commodity and is usually the bottleneck in stopping website growth, so I hire out tasks when it doesn’t make financial sense for me to be doing them. This goes for personal and business!
So let’s say I want to make $100,000, the hourly rate to get you there would be $48. If you can find someone to create social media posts for you for $20/hour, hire them and focus your time on $48/hour tasks.
Currently, my team is just 4 of us. I have 2 content creators. I found them from a job posting I put in a Facebook group. Then my dad actually does a ton of help with keyword research and writing informational articles. Then there’s me! I have a few writers I work with occasionally when I get busy, but as I mentioned, a lot of those tasks are moving to AI.
2. Network: It sounds like a cliche, but a ton of growth happens when you can connect with people who have the same goals as you. Facebook groups are great for finding other people in your niche!
3. A To-Do List: I live and breathe by my to-do lists! I use Todoist to automate repetitive tasks that I do every day (like answering comments). It frees up my mental space so I don’t feel like I’m forgetting something!
Her Biggest Challenge
I’m a creative who likes the idea of business but gets totally lost when it comes to numbers, forecasting, taxes, etc.
The most challenging time I had as a business owner was before I found my accountant to make sure we were good-to-go business-wise. Find the right people to have in your corner when it comes to accounting and legal!
Her Greatest Accomplishment
Being able to do what I love as a career while living a comfortable lifestyle with a completely flexible schedule feels like the biggest accomplishment!
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I had known about SEO! I can’t imagine where the site would be if I started it knowing what I know about SEO and content strategy now.
I actually learned the foundations of SEO from podcasts (just search SEO and listen to everything!), as well as being a member of Food Blogger Pro.
Then I took a course, Stupid Simple SEO, which gave me a better framework for how to use SEO more effectively. And nowadays I work closely with my SEO gurus over at Foodie Digital. They do all of my tech and help with SEO strategy. I’ve learned so much from them!
Her Main Mistake
My biggest mistake was not hiring help sooner. Not only does it take the workload off your plate to allow you to focus on the work that only you can do, but it makes you look at this as a business. And that mindset alone can be encouraging to keep going.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
You don’t need to have a social media following to have a lucrative business online. I prefer to build up my websites with loads of useful evergreen content that will provide years of passive income, rather than putting all my time into an Instagram reel with an 18-hour lifecycle.
So if you were looking for someone to tell you that you don’t have to post to Instagram or TikTok or whatever new app they make tomorrow, permission granted.
I see social media as three things:
- A way to build community
- A safety net for if there’s ever a Google algorithm change, or if people just stop using search engines
- Fun! Sometimes “writing for Google” can get robotic and soul-crushing. Sharing your creations on social media can be a fun way to keep things creative and keep the spark alive. If it stops being fun and becomes a source of stress, that’s when I would rethink the time you’re putting into it.
If your time is very limited, I think building evergreen content that will rank on Google is the way to go. But if you find yourself with a little spare time, that’s the time I would give to social.