Cynthia Salgado has been blogging only for one year, and has been able to take it to $500/mo. The craziest part is, that her email list is almost non existent. Read how she did it.
Revenue of $500/mo
Email list size of 15
Founded in 2017
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
Hi! My name is Cynthia and I am a designer and photographer living with my family in Cape Town. I’ve been a designer for over 15 years and 5 years ago decided to take photography more seriously.
Food photography was the area that I liked the most so decided to take more courses and make it my main photography topic.
My blog, Foodie Food Mood was born in January 2017, seeing the light finally in June of the same year, and as of now it is a blog that focuses on recipes seen in movies, tv shows, and any sort of pop culture we consume.
I occasionally post about traveling or other topics that might interest me at the moment. It is mostly read by females that are arts and theatre aficionados.
Right now I am making about $500 a month give or take, but only started to see real growth in September 2017 when I made my first $100! That felt like a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve also noticed that was the month where my pageviews started to increase.
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
I started my blog mostly as a creative outlet and therapy. I was going through a rough time and was in need of something to keep me busy. Photography helped me accomplish that.
At that time I was in look for a new job and got a job offer to work for a food blog as a designer, job that I couldn’t accept due to location (I am currently living in South Africa with my husband, we both have jobs here and the new offering was in North America). That made me wonder that having a food blog could be profitable enough to hire people.
I started to research more and more about food blogs and felt a bit intimidated by their beautiful photos, so I decided to polish my photography knowledge and took a course with renown food photographer George Seper, a decision that I think changed my life.
I have a passion for creative fields but despite my experience designing didn’t feel like I could give something of value to people (I think the job situation at the moment might have take a toll on my self-esteem), so sharing my photos and watching movies to later make food inspired by it, seemed like an awesome hobby at the time.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
This is an aspect I have neglected because I didn’t really think I could make any money! All the money I am getting right now is thanks to Google Adsense.
I have a very old account and just to see what happens I set up ads on my blog. To my surprise, on September I saw I had reached the minimum payment limit, so I started to set up my accounts to withdraw the money.
I’ve also joined some affiliate programs but I haven’t earn anything from them, mostly because I don’t really promote them and it’s been a very steep learning curve for me.
I think the best advice I can give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to believe you can make it! And even if you think you won’t make money, treat your blog as a business!
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
Here are some things that have helped me a lot:
- Post consistently, and quality is definitely better than quality. At the moment and due to my pregnancy I am posting only on Mondays and use the rest of the week to promote.
- I am very active on social media, especially Facebook groups have given me a much-needed push when I was starting. It is also great to build relationships as people are more likely to help you if they know you.
- The support of my family has been immense. You will see them sharing and “reacting” to my Facebook posts all the time!
- I went into this blogging business without a clue, and only in September I started to do keyword research and to get more involved with SEO, it’s starting to work! Currently, I am taking an SEO course with Udemy as I see it as a more valuable tool than just relying on social media.
- Pinterest is awesome. I’ve been using Pinterest for ages and since I started to use rich pins I’ve noticed more and more people coming to the blog. I also tried Tailwind and hope to go back to it after my baby is born (not enough time these days!).
Things that haven’t worked that well:
- Post a lot. At the beginning, I was posting 3 times a week, and hoping that people would come. Now I see it is best if I post once a week and dedicate the rest of the time to promote my content.
- It’s good to be present on social media, but some channels are just not for you. I love Instagram but it doesn’t really bring people over to my blog. I keep it just because I like it. Same with Twitter, it barely helps, but I “feel” I should have it, still haven’t decided if I’m right or wrong on that!
How have you grown the email list?
I currently have an email list of about 15 people, most of them friends. The reason I didn’t focus on this, against all the advice I’ve heard, is because it was too much work, and also, how much I hate to get emails from bloggers!
This year, however, I decided to give it another try since I learned that I can send automated emails via RSS. I still don’t have a growth strategy as it is in its trial stage (first one goes out this Friday!)
How do you write great content that performs well?
Some say the ideal blog post has to be around 2,000 words, and I agree to a certain point. Definitely, my most elaborated blog posts get more attention, but the people who come to my blog are looking for recipes, not my life history.
Regardless, I try to tell them a bit of how are things going and also talk about little details about the recipe that I think they should know.
I usually search on the Internet for recipes from movies and have a list of the ones I’d like to recreate. I also have a couple of books with traditional South African recipes that I hope to include more often; there are also some festive family recipes on the blog. After I have decided what recipe goes next, I tried them.
Sometimes I fail a lot of times before I get it right. When I’m finally happy with the result I set up a photo shoot, which is my favorite part, followed by edition and finally the writing of the blog post.
My first language is not English so have found that one of the best tools for me has been Grammarly! About the headlines, since I know that what people look for is recipes, I don’t bother that much.
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?
My biggest challenge has to be balancing my blog with my day job. Every blog post takes me between 5 and 6 hours to write, take photos and code. Add to that, around 5 hours a day promoting.
You have to wear many hats being a solo-preneur, and you HAVE to learn to do the things otherwise you’d hire.'I think the best advice I can give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to believe you can make it!'Click To Tweet
So far, I’m comfortable with how I’ve managed my blog, but I regret not treating it like a business from the very beginning. Due to me being a foreigner in South Africa, I have to sort out legal matters before I even commence to take clients, had I known this was going to be like this (that the blog and my social media channels were actually going to grow) I would have sort out everything when I started!
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
There are some bloggers that I respect and take their word to heart. They probably don’t know how much they inspire me! I am glad I invested in my food photography course and also in the SEO course; there are other things I’d like to learn but these two are helping me grow.
Also, my background in design helped me to have a clean and beautiful website, and I know I don’t need extra help when it comes to web development, that is a huge plus!
Like I mentioned before, Grammarly is like my personal assistant, and I am using an editorial calendar and a posting schedule that keeps me on track.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
- First and foremost, believe in yourself! You can do it, but have a plan!
- Find your own voice. It’s ok to get inspired but be yourself, because everybody can notice a fake!
- Don’t follow the trends. Everybody told me to go with WordPress, I went with Squarespace because it made more sense to me.
- Nothing is written in stone so don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
- Try some free tools before you make an investment!
- Get organized from the beginning. Aim for success and start building your empire from the beginning, otherwise, you’d be running around like me to get things in order!
- If you don’t know design or coding, please ask for help! The main reason I won’t read your blog is because I don’t like your design!
Where can we go to learn more?