Jules Grasekamp has always had a passion for baking. In fact, she has a lengthy track record in the industry, having started her first baking business when she was 16 years old.
At 20, she opened her first physical bakery, and over the years her business grew to two bakeries with a team of 16 employees.
She eventually left the business behind, but she still had a passion for entrepreneurship and baking. After buying a camera on a whim, she did what any ardent baker would do: she started her food blog, Bonni Bakery.
Jules leverages the fact that she’s a former bakery owner, as she can offer readers a unique angle and they know they can trust her recipes. Today, her site brings in $12k per month from just over 100 recipes.
Keep reading to find out:
- What made her sell her bakery
- Why she set up her website
- Where her income comes from
- How much traffic her website gets
- Her main marketing strategy
- Her thoughts on SEO
- How she approaches keyword research
- Her content creation process
- How she grows her email list
- Her favorite resources and tools
- Her biggest challenge
- Her most important accomplishment
- Her main mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Jules Grasekamp
I’m Jules, I’m a Scottish dessert blogger who runs Bonni Bakery.
I ran my own bakery for 10 years before moving to Canada, where I met the love of my life (my husband, Chris) and lured him in with sweet treats, before dragging him back to Scotland this year where we are about to start our family.
As well as being a dessert enthusiast, I am an organization freak, I geek out over systems and processes, and I have always had a passionate involvement in small business communities and supporting other business owners to grow.
Why She Created Her Website
When I was 16, I started my first business: a bakery.
Originally I was selling cakes and cupcakes locally through my website and taking orders for weddings, birthdays, etc. I juggled this with my studies at university, growing the business as I went.
When I was 20, I graduated from university and opened my first store. It was a huge learning curve, as all of a sudden I had a team of employees and overheads and I had to learn so much basically overnight.
I ran that business until I was 26, so 10 years in total. We had ups and downs, but by the end we had two store locations as well as a commercial kitchen and a wonderful team of 16 employees.
At this point, I decided to sell up and move to Canada.
I started a brand new life and moved with just a suitcase and my cat, Jasper. While living in Vancouver, I was working as a business coach, helping other business owners with how to scale their businesses.
I really enjoyed the work and it’s something that came naturally to me, but I really missed working with food!
One evening I decided to purchase a camera, on a whim, and started learning about food photography. I set up Bonni Bakery as a way to share some of my old bakery recipes and practice my food photography.
I’m not really one of those people that can do anything just for fun though, so within a few weeks I had already decided I wanted to turn this into a business and I started learning about the business of blogging and what it takes to be successful.
That’s how Bonni Bakery was born!
Bonni Bakery is a dessert blog where I help the average home baker create impressive, professional-quality desserts in their own kitchens.
Every recipe is developed and tested by me and I use my years of baking experience to break them down into easy steps to help you create your own kitchen magic.
How Much Jules is Making
The revenue has been growing pretty steadily every month, and the more I learn and hone my processes, the better it’s getting; the results are pretty direct.
This month I’m on track to bring in around $12,000. This is mostly ad revenue. I do have a very small amount of affiliate sales, and I do take on coaching clients very occasionally, but 99% of my revenue currently comes from ad revenue.
That’s something I actually plan to focus on more in the new year—diversifying my income.
It took a while to get to a point where I was making any money at all from the blog though. I’d say there were a few months in the beginning where I didn’t have a clear path for how I wanted to monetize.
Then, when I decided I wanted to go down this route and started all my learning, I got really serious and intentional about how I was posting.
From that point, it took about 9 months to qualify for Mediavine. My first month on Medavine I made $2287, and that was in November 2022.
As for traffic, we’re currently getting an average of about 120,000 pageviews per month. I’m aiming to double that by the end of the year though, as we are seeing a lot of growth at the moment.
Her Main Marketing Strategy
Everything that’s posted on Bonni Bakery is intentional and meticulously planned. I don’t post anything without doing a lot of keyword research first to make sure it’s going to be worth the time it takes to make it. I think this is something a lot of bloggers do though.
Even though I plan out a lot of content in advance, I use Google Trends on a daily basis to stay on top of what is trending and what people are searching for.
My to-do list auto-populates every morning with “Check Google Trends” and I start each day with 30 minutes of current research. I think this has helped me survive through things like the recent Google Helpful Content Update, which has decimated a lot of bloggers’ income.
Her Thoughts on SEO
SEO is absolutely everything for this business.
I think there are three main strengths that a food blog can have: genuinely reliable recipes, extremely good food photography, and then a strong technical understanding of SEO, keyword research, and website management, which is arguably the most important one of all of them.
Even if you have the most stunning food photography and the best recipes, nobody will ever get to see them if you don’t know how to get them in front of people.
I believe the reason Bonni Bakery has done so well in a short space of time is down to having strength in all three of these areas.
I do keyword research on a daily basis, constantly adding to my list of upcoming recipes.
I start with a list of ideas either based on recipes I’d like to make or I might get inspiration from Google Trends, then I research the whole list and weed out which recipes would be worth pursuing.
I search for low-to-medium competition keywords that have a minimum of 1000 searches a month in the US, but preferably more, and I compile a list of potential recipes.
I will pencil those recipes into my content creation schedule, then on a weekly basis I revisit every keyword for the week coming up and I re-check them, usually culling a few out as I go so I am only pursuing the top keywords.
This is an area I haven’t paid quite as much attention to. I participate in a few Facebook groups looking for recipe submissions for round-ups from other bloggers, but that’s as far as my link building goes right now.
In the past, I tried using sites like HARO, but I just felt the time I was spending on sending submissions was better spent elsewhere.
Her Content Creation Process
Once I’ve decided on a recipe I want to post through keyword research, I start developing and testing that recipe. I have an advantage as I have years of experience running the bakery, so recipe development comes quite naturally to me. Sometimes a recipe works quickly, and sometimes I have to tweak it many times before it’s exactly how I want it.
Once I’m happy with the recipe, I’ll make it one last time and photograph the process shots as I go. I’ve found process shots have a big impact on the success of a post, people love to have a visual of what each step should look like.
As soon as the recipe is completely finished, I’ll do a final shoot to get those gorgeous hero shots that will draw people in and make them want to try the recipe.
Once photographed, I write up the recipe into a recipe card on my website, and then I’ll begin drafting the actual recipe post.
I like to include as much detail as possible in the actual post, for anyone who might want to know more about why certain ingredients react the way they do or helpful extra tips and hints for success.
After that, I will import all the text and images into the blog post and format it, ready for publishing.
I’d say each recipe post takes an average of 15 hours, from the point of having a developed recipe.
I currently have 117 recipes published on the site. That’s very small compared to a lot of my competitors, but I really try to focus on quality over quantity.
Her Email List
I do have an email list, but I haven’t done any major pushes to get sign-ups yet, I just have a “subscribe” box on my website.
I do get a decent amount of signups, which I like because I know that each of those people sought out the email subscribe button and chose to sign up specifically for my content. I currently only send out one newsletter per month.
In the new year, I may look at better ways to grow and leverage that email list.
How Much She Works on Her Business
I go through phases.
Some weeks I’m at it for 16 hours a day, and other weeks I might do just a couple of hours a day. I think there’s a lot to be said for listening to your body and working when you are in the right flow.
One of the major advantages of working for yourself is you have the luxury of listening to that and adjusting accordingly.
I will say, though, that when I’m working I am very structured and organized with my time. I love to time block and am a massive nerd about being efficient with my time.
I try to split my week up so I have certain tasks on certain days, e.g. bake days and writing days. I also time block every morning to split my day up and assign myself scheduled tasks throughout the day. I always get much more done this way.
Her Favorite Resources
The good news is you can learn anything on the internet. Everything you need to be successful in this business (or most businesses, really), can be found online, you just have to put the work into learning.
I’d say start off by learning about SEO, there are tons of YouTube videos out there about this. TopHatRank has some great information, as well as Mediavine.
For podcasts, I particularly enjoy EatBlogTalk and The Blogging Millionaire. Both of these podcasts tend to provide practical, actionable information that you can apply to your own business right away.
I don’t have any blogging-specific book recommendations, but there is a book that completely changed my perspective back when I ran the bakery, and that is The E-Myth, by Michael E Gerber.
It taught me to see the bigger picture with my business and how to have a better perspective for scaling my business.
Jules’ Main Tools
My most used tool is hands down Asana. I use it for everything, from basic to-do lists to content calendars to my entire business roadmap. It’s also fantastic for collaborating with employees or freelancers.
RankIQ is another essential part of my process when it comes to keyword research and content creation. Their Facebook group is also invaluable for information and tips.
This is not so much a “tool” as a technique, but I’ve seen a huge benefit in being mindful of my environment.
I recently joined the RBS Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme, which has me in amongst all these vibrant, motivated business owners on a regular basis. The energy in the office is electric and it has really helped me to be more focused and driven.
I guess what I’m trying to say is if you surround yourself with people and places that support and understand what you are trying to do, it will make it a lot easier to keep going.
Her Main Challenge
I honestly think I am my own biggest obstacle! And I mean that in two different ways.
The first is that my biggest challenge currently is figuring out how to scale beyond what I’m personally physically capable of.
My time is limited, especially with this baby on the way, so I need to find a way to grow a team and delegate some of the work while still maintaining the integrity and spirit of the business.
The second way is that I struggle with the “online personality” side of this business.
It’s completely inevitable though that this is something I’ll just have to get over if I want to keep growing Bonni Bakery.
Her Most Important Accomplishment
There was one particular low point with my previous business where I had gotten into a sticky spot.
We had planned to sell the first shop location. We had a buyer lined up, had wound down our operations, and had everything ready to go. The week the deal was meant to close, the buyer disappeared off the face of the earth; nobody could get a hold of him.
We were left in a very difficult situation where it would cost a lot of money for us to get back up and running so we had no choice but to close that shop rather than sell. I had foolishly signed a personal guarantee on the commercial lease, which immediately became debt on closing the store, and left us in a really bad position.
Things were not looking good, and there were about a million voices in my head telling me I should just give up, but I didn’t. Despite the debt, despite the odds stacked against me, and despite all the difficulties, I pivoted the business and essentially rebuilt it from the ground up.
I rented a large unit in an industrial lot and started again, with just myself and one employee, who was a very dear friend of mine and was willing to put in the long days and late nights to help me rebuild the business.
This became our commercial kitchen and we started supplying to trade. We began making cakes and desserts for restaurants, cafes, commercial events, etc, as well as continuing the online private orders from our website.
Pretty soon, the business was doing better than it ever was before, and we were out of the woods and back in a good position. We ran just the commercial kitchen for a while before reopening another storefront, in an even better, city center location.
I consider this my most important accomplishment as I am so proud of being able to turn such a dire situation around and make it into something good, even better than before. It would have been so easy to throw in the towel, but I kept going and that is the thing I am most proud of in my entire career—so far!
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I had known that failure is not a bad thing.
There is something to be gained from every bad situation, so don’t beat yourself up if something goes wrong, just figure out what you can take from it and move on to the next thing.
Her Biggest Mistake
My main mistake is trying to do everything by myself. I learned everything I know about business “on the job,” and that’s a good thing, but there are so many areas where I really should have asked for help or gotten some advice, when I naively just thought “I’ll figure it out by myself’ and I could have avoided a lot of mistakes if I had had the humility to ask for help.
For example, I was only 20 when I had my first team of employees and I did so many things wrong: not setting enough boundaries, often trying to be too much of a “friend” and not enough of a “manager,” handing out too much responsibility to young employees who really weren’t ready for the pressure.
I learned how to be a good manager over time through sheer trial and error, but I could have gotten there a lot faster with some guidance.
I also had one incident where I had to appear in court for something, and I stupidly decided to try and represent myself rather than hire a lawyer. That was complete and utter naivety. I can’t think about that now without rolling my eyes!
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Spend less time thinking about doing things and just start doing them.
When I was coaching, I saw so many business owners paralyzed in the planning stage and trying to decide what their next move should be.
Your future self will thank you!