Lacey and Dustin are a couple, and together they run A Sweet Pea Chef. Find out how they’ve grown it to $14,000/mo.
Revenue of $14,000/mo
Email list size of 16,000
Founded in 2009
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
Hi, we are Lacey and Dustin Baier and we are the couple behind A Sweet Pea Chef. We make healthy and clean recipes and help people make better choices around food.
We started this blog as a project to try and jump-start a different business that would allow Lacey to stay home with our first kiddo in 2009. Fast forward to today and it’s our main source of income for both of us and we have 4 kids now.
In 2017 we cleared six figures for the second year in a row and have had over 9 million unique visitors and 17 million page views. Although we both still vividly remember turning on Adsense for the first time and seeing pennies come in and being so excited 🙂
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
We started a personal chef business and Dustin thought it would be a good idea to create a blog so people could see Lacey’s recipes and get to know her a little bit. One thing led to another and the blog was way more fun and more successful.
We actually almost quit a few times and Lacey even went back to work but over time we figured it out.
Finally, we started doing video and focusing on healthy clean food and that helped grow the blog a ton.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
We make most of our revenue from Ads on the blog. We usually get 700,000-1,000,000 page views a month and generate 10-15 RPM on that.
We also have some products and affiliates like a clean eating course a 30-day healthy eating challenge and meal planning service.
It took us a few years before we were making anything significant, but back when we first started there weren’t as many roadmaps out there as there are now so we were kind of winging it.
Now we make around $14,000 a month depending on the time of year. Q4 is our best quarter since that’s when all the ad revenue comes in.
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
We have two main pieces to our traffic social/viral shares and SEO. SEO is our most consistent and best form of traffic. We have gotten pretty good at predicting what terms we can rank for (We use a tool called ahrefs) and then creating a bunch of content around that term. We usually target terms that generate 5,000-10,000 searches a month as well as aren’t too competitive that it will take forever to rank for it.
We also redo old posts to improve them quite often this is one of the easiest things to do for a blogger that has already started but is having trouble gaining some traction. Find an earlier post and then look at the term you really want to rank for then create a post that’s better than the post that currently ranks for that term.
This could mean adding video, pictures, a better how-to you get the idea. We do this all of the time and it can add a bunch of traffic relatively easily.'Set your goal tiny and then go get it. Then set it a little further and go again.'Click To Tweet
For the second piece, we make viral food videos. We started this around the time you first started seeing them pop up on Instagram and Facebook. This helps with a lot of traffic, social signals for SEO and engagement with our audience.
How have you grown the email list?
We added a free cookbook to our blog right when we started it back in 2009. These weren’t readily available back then like they are now but it crushed it for us and as gained like 5k email subs right away.
Now we are around 16k. We regularly prune our email addresses we don’t like paying for a bunch of people that haven’t opened emails in a long time.
Now we offer free challenges and/or clean eating guides to gather email addresses. Options are something that are always evaluating in order to grow.
How do you write great content that performs well?
This is really two pieces we look on social to see what is doing well and what looks interesting. This can be something we see that looks cool and we want to do our version or it can be asking our audience what they want.
Then Dustin will check SEO for it and find out how many people search it. We usually like to find once we think will perform on social well but also on SEO. This can be hard and sometimes we have to alternate and no it will be better on one than the other.
Then Lacey will test and photograph the recipe while Dustin watched the baby 🙂
After that, we make a video if that post is getting a video and then Lacey writes up the post. Usually, there are some anecdotes about life, family or healthy tips that go along with it.
We also try answer as many questions as people have around that recipe or ingredient as possible so that people have everything they need when reading the recipe/post. This helps with SEO also as it leads to a bunch of long tail searches.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome with your blog? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Wow, this is a tricky question. Number one is never giving up. We had a number of times were we almost quit. We would fight with each other and it became no fun and then we quit and then we try again rinse and repeat.
Having a better more reasonable gameplay from day #1 would be ideal. Back when we started there weren’t income reports of food blogs really so you didn’t how much people were making or if it was really possible to make a living at it.
So when you would only make $50 and then a year into it you were making $300 that was a little frustrating it would seem like it couldn’t be possible to generate that kind of income with a food blog that would keep two people working on it.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The first thing was learning that you are always making choices about priorities. When you chose to watch a show you are choosing that overworking and thus saying the show is more important than freedom.
It can be super hard when your tired and you have 4 kids and they were you out. Maybe you just came home from work and then you cooked dinner and then you had a fight and then you took one of them to soccer.
At some point, you have to choose the business or recognize that it isn’t that important to you.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
Find a small goal and go reach it. Maybe it’s making enough a night out for dinner or for a car payment. Set your goal tiny and then go get it. Then set it a little further and go again. When you are feeling down and like this can’t work having those little goals and then getting them really gives you energy and confidence and eventually, it starts snowballing.
Where can we go to learn more?
We are both on Instagram @laceybaie and @dustinbaier or you can check out our blog.