Randa Derkson runs a lifestyle blog that offers recipes (both healthy and decadent), health and fitness tips, travel features and much more!

Revenue of $3,500/mo

Email list size of 6,600

Founded in 2009

 

Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?

Hi! I’m Randa Derkson, and I’m the woman behind the blog The Bewitchin’ Kitchen. My blog is about bringing people together like you would at a kitchen table. Whether that’s discussing our newest travels, our health goals, or just to enjoy each others company over some delicious food. You’ll find a lot of recipes, but I also share health and fitness stories (and tips) plus travel advice.

I’m now working towards 80k/year income goal while still having freedom to be there for my son.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

The Bewitchin’ Kitchen started in 2009 by me being bored. That’s simply it, I had no exciting epiphany or motivation, I just wanted to share recipes to my friends. I was home, pregnant, making no money and wanted some outside communication (I recently moved to a new town and was lonely). I had no idea that I could make a full-time career by being a blogger.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I took blogging seriously and decided to invest in myself and set goals. I bought a used DSLR and a few lenses and took it seriously. Since then, it’s grown from 20,000 pageviews a month to 300,000 pageviews a month.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

I make an income from ads, sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, courses, and eBooks. It all started with small sponsored posts, and a small ad network. This year I decided to focus on affiliates and passive income. With the passive income in mind, my partner and I have launched Click Start Club to help bloggers grow with better photography and videos.

'I had no idea that I could make a full-time career by being a blogger.'Click To Tweet

As of today, I’m bringing in roughly $3500/mo passively, but I’m working towards doubling that. This doesn’t include my sponsored posts. It’s a relief to feel that if a bad month happens, I’ll be still able to pay our mortgage and bills.

My number one tip would be to just do it! Don’t be afraid to pin your posts or share on your social channels! Your content is worthy and YOU WILL HELP OTHERS! You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be one step ahead of someone else. Your advice is useful and helpful.  

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

For the past two years, Pinterest has been my main source of traffic. I make two pin images (images with a text overlay): one long pin (720×1800) and one vertical image. When I write my description in the alt text box, I ensure I write out thoughtful sentences with keywords people may be searching for.

Changes happen often with Pinterest (and other social media). Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, or else you could find your self with a blog with not that many readers.

'Start with SEO. Learn it, and start implementing right away. The earlier you start, the better your results will be down the road.'Click To Tweet

I also want to say that building an email list is crucial. Give your readers a gift to sign up for your email list (an ebook, a guide, a checklist, 25 of your top recipes) and build that relationship! If social media goes away tomorrow, you’ll still have communication! That’s huge.

As I said, I put most of my efforts into Pinterest, SEO, and building an email list. I don’t write too many email newsletters (yet) but that is something I plan on changing for 2018. I don’t do too many guest posts anymore, but I do welcome other bloggers to include my recipes in roundups for themselves and their clients, and that is a great way to get some link juice back to my site.

I’m going to say this one more time: work on your SEO. Find ways to naturally add your keyword to your content (and related keywords), use your H2 tag and ensure that your alt tags are filled in with Pinterest descriptions. 

A great way to grow is to network. Meet people in your related line of work and connect. I have a Facebook group that anyone is welcome to join. Please remember, there are no questions to small! Someone has been there too and you’ll find that people are willing to help if you ask.

How have you grown your email list?

Right now my blog’s email list is close to 7000. I’ve been working on growing my list with freemium offers. I have a recipe binder and meal planner, meal plans, a travel checklist, free recipe book, and more. I try to have a free offer (opt in) for all my blog topics (recipes, health, travel) and have the readers segmented by using ConvertKit. I do have an RSS feed for those who want all my emails, but I’m working on cutting that off and writing more personal emails to everyone.

 

My plan is to send an email once a week to my segmented followers:

  • 1 a week with the week’s worth of recipes.
  • 1 a week with health tips from previous posts (automated).

What I have learned is that you will get unsubscribers and that’s okay. Here’s a post my partner and I wrote on Click Start Club on why you WANT people to unsubscribe.

How you write great content that performs well?

Usually, I’m inspired in the most random places, so I always have my phone on me so I can jot down ideas on my Notes or Wunderlist app.

I then bullet point the post out in a draft and expand those bullet points into sentences. I don’t have much of a process, I just let it happen and what comes out, comes out. There isn’t much of a selective choice on what I write about but I do dive into Google Analytics and see what does well. My readers prefer healthier/healthish content so I tend to keep it loosely tied towards a health subject.  

I recently started using more H2 and H3 headings to split up my content so it’s easier to read (well that and I use my images too). I like to start the post with a summary of the recipe (or content) insert a title photo, H2 tag and more content, another h2 tag and the recipe.

The biggest lesson when comes to writing is that I shouldn’t make the content about myself. Instead, I flip it, and think about how I can help my readers. What are the questions I have about the subject? If it’s a recipe, I like to add tips and tricks throughout the content that will help my readers that much more.

It’s all about serving others.

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?

One of my mistakes was to think I had to be everywhere. I was expanding myself so wide that I was exhausted. I experienced blogger burn out and I was confusing my readers. It wasn’t until recently that I have decided to focus on three topics (the three topics that I love): food, health, travel. It’s so freeing to say “no” to opportunities, and trust me, it seems that the more I say no, the more opportunities that match what I stand for show up in my inbox.

Saying no was another thing I had to learn to do! I also felt that I had to say yes to opportunities, again this lead to blogger burn out (and being inauthentic). Now if I don’t like the brand, they don’t meet my rates, or I feel that I can deliver what the brand wants – I say no.  

I also waited a long time to connect with others and networked. I feel that I missed out on a lot of friendships and opportunities this way. My opportunities grew with the friendships I made because we help each other out. Find the people who support you and want you to succeed as much as you want them to. It’s incredibly satisfying to find people who love what you do as much as you do. My friendships I have online I hold so dear to myself. We live thousands of miles away but we take trips together, talk every day, and we’re so close. They mean so much. Open up to others.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Speaking with other bloggers on social media, email and utilizing Facebook groups is a great way to join together and brainstorm ideas for improvements and education.

I’m also a HUGE fan of online courses, there’s a very good chance I have a slight addiction to them. I purchase at least one a month.

Whatever your choice is, just remember to always keep learning whether it’s personal development books, Podcasts, courses, eBooks. Never stop learning and you’ll never stop growing.

Also, please stop doubting yourself. YOU CAN DO IT! We all have moments where we take a pause and have a little fear that holds us back but push through it. 

Work on your organizational skills, whether it’s organizing your inbox so you don’t miss emails (working on this) or using an editorial calendar, being organized will make your business so much easier to manage. I recommend the apps: Wunderlist, Asana, Evernote, and an email organizer like Boomerang or MixMax.

What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?

Start with SEO. Learn it, and start implementing right away. The earlier you start, the better your results will be down the road. Think of it as a snowball rolling down a hill, it starts small but it gained momentum and size as it carries on.

Pin your images using a long-form pin (not wide) and ensure your alt text and Pin descriptions include descriptive keywords on what your blog post is about.

Learn photography! If you don’t have the money to start with a pro camera, that’s okay! Look for a DSLR on ebay or Kijiji or use your phone. The quality of the iPhone is pretty amazing (although I still recommend DSLR for food). Also remember that when it comes to the DSLR, spend more money on the lens. You can always upgrade the body later but the lens is what makes it.

Know the rules, ethics, and laws. Copying and pasting content is not okay. Saving a photo from a Google search and posting it on your blog and social media is also not okay, it could also cost you a lot of money. 

There may be a little research you have to do in the beginning but it’s worth it to save the headaches that could happen in the future.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about my blog, connect with me via Twitter or Instagram.

If you would like to learn more about blogging, check out Click Start Club’s website and our Facebook community.