To qualify for Mediavine in one year as a food blogger is no easy feat. But it CAN be done! I am living proof of that! No guarantees, but I want to share with you my top tips on how to grow your food blog quickly.
This post may contain affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission when you click on the links and make a purchase. I will never recommend products and services that I don’t support 100%. You can read my full disclosure here.
The first “big” goal for most food bloggers who want to make money is to grow their blog enough to qualify for an ad network.
Mediavine is by far, one of the most respected ad networks in the industry, so it’s no surprise that most of us food bloggers see “making it to Mediavine” one of their first blogging milestones!
I started my food blog on January 1, 2021 and reached Mediavine requirements in November of 2021. I’ll share my tips on how I got there in a short amount time!
What are the requirements for Mediavine?
First and foremost, Mediavine requires at least 50,000 sessions in one month. This amounts to roughly 60,000 page views.
After that, Mediavine looks at overall site quality and “original, engaging content.”
But let’s be honest, it’s those 50,000 sessions we’re all chasing.
Top Tips to Grow Your Food Blog to 50k+ Sessions
Tip #1: Focus on SEO, SEO, SEO
My very first post was titled: “5 Recipes Your Family Will Love!”. If you know anything about SEO, that’s a major fist palm!
When most bloggers start out, they are writing for their friends and family NOT a target audience who types search queries into Google. And when you write blogs posts with friends and family in mind, you get titles like “5 Recipes Your Family Will Love!” Whoops!
Get on the SEO train as soon as humanly possible and embrace it with all of your might. It’s what will reap rewards in both the long term and short term. It’s an integral part of your success as a food blogger.
“Get on the SEO train as soon as humanly possible and embrace it with all of your might.”
In fact, Mediavine prefers the majority of your traffic come organically. And once you are a Mediavine publisher, posts that have high organic traffic tend to pay at a higher rate (RPM) than those coming from social media. Of course there are exceptions to this and when evaluating your site, they look at overall quality and many other factors. However, solid organic traffic is never a bad idea.
I figured out what keyword research was about two months into my blogging journey (and I deleted the 5 Recipes You’re Family Will Love” post, along with about 20 others!). I used and still use, Keysearch, Keywords Everywhere and Google’s Keyword Finder and found some decent keywords and a few of my posts began to rank.
But it was NINE MONTHS into my journey when I really started to figure out keyword research after I took the course Cooking with Keywords. Aleka’s course is like keyword research on crack! It’s intense but it’s so worth it.
After her course, I immediately had several posts ranking on the first page in less than two weeks.
She teaches you so many different strategies on how to find solid, rank-able keywords for recipes that YOU ENJOY MAKING!! It’s intense, but it’s a game-changer!
Some of the major takeaways from her course for me were:
- How to find recipes I TRULY enjoyed making, yet I could also rank for!
- How to use modifiers to narrow down the competition (for example Lasagna recipe WITHOUT ricotta)
- How the color/number in Keysearch doesn’t always matter – there are so many other things to look for!
- How to outrank the “big sites.”
- How to properly optimize your posts for keywords.
The course is a goldmine of info that I use every single time I write a post. I often go back and listen to parts of the course as well for a brush-up!
Tip #2: …But Don’t Discount Social Media
SEO is KING but if you are clawing your way to 50,000 sessions don’t be afraid to take a little help from social media. In fact, it can be more than a LITTLE help!
Staying consistent with Pinterest, making Google Web Stories and posting in Facebook groups are a huge part of what got me to 50k sessions so quickly. Let’s break down each one of these social media platforms and I’ll tell you how I handle each one:
Finding quality Facebook groups in your niche can be a game changer when you’re building your traffic. Choosing the RIGHT groups and posting the RIGHT posts can help you build massive traffic…and get a lot of new readers and email subscribers, too!
Keep in mind, finding solid Facebook groups will take some time and it’s an ongoing assignment! You should be constantly evaluating groups to see if they are worth posting in and looking for new groups, too!
Here are some tips on how to find good Facebook groups:
- Search for Facebook groups IN YOUR NICHE (for example: Paleo, Healthy, Easy Meals, etc).
- Look for groups with 50,000+ members (if possible).
- Once in the group, pay close attention to ENGAGEMENT. Are people just posting with a few likes on each post? Or are there hundreds of likes and shares for posts? Find groups with solid engagement!
- Study the posts in the group with super high engagement (likes/share/comments). What types of recipes are they? What is the photography like? Then, try and craft your recipes and posts to appeal to this type of audience, IF IT FITS YOUR NICHE. For example: If colorful salads and fruit are getting high engagement, but comfort food is your niche, don’t just make healthy stuff for the sake of it! Stay in you lane and be true to your niche. Find groups that fit your brand.
Google Web Stories
I hesitated on doing web stories – it’s ONE MORE THING, right?! But I bit the bullet and web stories, coupled with Facebook group posts are really what gave my blog the momentum it needed to reach 50k+++ sessions!
Here are some web story tips:
- Your first web stories may not take off. I would plan on doing 10-20 before you see any real results. Yes, you have to put in the work!
- Create a template and keep it simple!!! Then you can duplicate each template for every story and just drag and drop in your new photos and add links. You should be able to create web stories in 15 minutes or less using a template! You can check out my web stories here (and one below) and you’ll see mine are SUPER simple and all have the exact same format.
- Make making a web story for every post part of your workflow. Just as you make Pins for every post, make a web story, too. You don’t need to POST them right away, but have them in your DRAFTS folder and post when seasonality is right.
- Use Google Trends to see what is trending a certain day. If you have a web story that matches this topic, POST IT ASAP!
- Just like with Pins, you can make multiple web stories leading to the same URL. Just change up some of the photos and some text and in a matter of minutes, you have yourself and whole other piece of content!
- Put a link to your blog post on EVERY PAGE of the web story.
Pinterest has been a fickle friend in the past year and no one can quite figure out what’s going on right now. I never really tried to figure it out. Instead, I just kept my head down and stayed consistent.
It’s way too easy to get roped into long Pinterest rants in the blogging groups and this does nothing for you but bring you down! Your time is better spent just staying consistent and creating content.
“It’s way too easy to get roped into long Pinterest rants in the blogging groups. Your time is better spent staying consistent and creating content.”
My Pinterest “strategy” (it’s not really a strategy at all!) is posting 1-2 pins for every recipe plus a Story Pin for every post.
By staying consistent with Story Pins (and regular pinning), my audience grew 2000+% in less than a year. PLUS, when I started to do Story Pins a few months into blogging, I noticed my direct traffic sky-rocketed.
I can’t say that this traffic is SOLEY from story pins, however in all of my story pins (since you can’t link), I always put a call to action that sends people to my homepage to search for the recipe.
I also noticed that doing story pins also increased by visibility for my regular pins as well, too!
“But I don’t want to create story pins!” you say!
“But I don’t want to create Story Pins!!!!“
I have a hack for creating story pins…..
If you already create Instagram Stories for your recipes…GREAT! If not, you can start and kill two birds with one stone. 🙂
Here is how I create Instagram Stories AND a Pinterest Story Pin at the same time:
- I make a step by step recipe story on Instagram for almost all of my posts.
- Before I post each story frame on Instagram, I click the three dots on the top right and hit SAVE. This will save that frame to your camera roll.
- Repurpose those story frames from your camera roll for your Story Pin! Head on over the Pinterest and post those frames and you have yourself an easy breezy Story Pin! Don’t forget to add a call to action on the last slide!
Tip #3: Write Some Non-Recipe Posts
Some of my highest ranking posts with the most traffic are not straight-recipe posts. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to round out your content with non-recipe content that you can interlink from others posts on your blog. Google LOVES when you link to posts within your blog (when it makes sense, of course).
Two examples would be:
- Tutorial Posts: Tutorial posts teach a reader how to do something step by step. For example: “How to make homemade pasta” or “How to cut a watermelon.” You could interlink this to any pasta or watermelon post you have on your blog!
- Side Dish Posts: These round-up style posts are fantastic because you can not only link to them when your recipe is relevant, you can also include some of your own recipes in the roundup! For example: “Best sides dishes for chili” or “Best side dishes for meatloaf.” If you have 5 different chili recipes on your blog, you can link to the side dishes post in all of them!
As always, you will need to find topics that aren’t SUPER popular that you also have a chance at ranking for. As a newer blogger, “side dishes for chicken” or “side dishes for Easter” might not be your best bet to rank for just yet.
I try to aim for at least one of these non-recipe posts per month.
Tip #4: Have a Workflow
Having a solid workflow in place every single time you sit down to write a blog post is essential. I wish I would have done this right off the bat. Instead, it took me about 9 months to really get a good flow going.
Having a work flow and a checklist keeps you focused and and helps “automate” content creation which helps you crank out content quickly and efficiently. Because more (quality) content = more eyes = more money!
Here is a rough outline of my content creation AFTER my recipe is developed and photographed:
- Write blog post using a template. All of my blog posts follow the exact same format. You can see an example here with my Chicken and Broccoli Lasagna post. I have a draft post called “Template” in WordPress. This post contains all of my headings and placeholders for photos plugged in. I use the Yoast Duplicate Post plug in which allows you just to hit “Clone” and start a brand new post from your template. This makes blog post writing a BREEZE!
- Create 4-5 pins and write pin description: I use Tasty Pins for this.
- Create a Google Web Story: You should be able to do this quickly with my tips above.
- Rate the recipe: Yes, you can and SHOULD rate your own recipes!
- Go back to 3 (similar) published posts and link to the new post where it makes sense. By doing this your post will always be linked to something else on your blog and it will never be “orphaned content,” which Google doesn’t like 🙂
I do this for EVERY new blog post. You can get my entire checklist HERE:
Tip #5: Be Willing to Change, Adapt, and Pivot…always.
One of the biggest mistakes a food blogger can make is thinking they aren’t a small business owner. We think because we’re in the kitchen with flour on our hands and taking photos and spending countless hours in front of the computer, that we forget we’re actually RUNNING A BUSINESS.
If you have any interest in making money on your blog, you are a small business owner. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t made a dime yet.
According to Forbes, it takes most new businesses 18-24 months to reach profitability. 25% of new businesses fail in the first year. For bloggers, the stats are WAY worse. According to Bloomberg, 80% of blogs fail in the first 18 months.
Why aren’t you going to be a part of that statistic? Grit. Determination. Positive mindset. Willingness to learn & grow. Loving what you do.
It’s that simple.
Blogging is (fortunately and unfortunately) a cross between two of the most dynamic, rapidly changing industries on the planet: Technology and Marketing.
If you don’t have a growth mindset and a strong willingness to adapt, change and pivot, it’s going to be difficult to run your business in this industry.
“If you don’t have a growth mindset and a strong willingness to adapt, change and pivot, it’s going to be difficult to run your business in this industry.”
Think of ALL of ways other business owners have to change and adapt. Take a restaurant owner, for example. Beef shortage? They might have to rethink some menu items! Employees sick? Call in the backups! New health and sanitation requirements? They gotta get on that STAT!
Restaurant owners go through challenges like these EVERY SINGLE DAY! But they don’t have the time to whine, complain or play the blame game…they have a business to run! Know what they do? They get straight to work adapting, changing and pivoting to continue to make their business profitable.
Time is money. And spending time complaining doesn’t make you a dime.
Embrace being part of an industry that is fun and dynamic. Embrace being able to work from home. Embrace doing what you LOVE. There are downsides and hard times in every job, in every industry. The more you lean into it, the happier (and more profitable) you’ll be.
Tip #6: Love What You Do
I LOVE this quote from Steve Jobs: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”– Steve jobs
As a small business owner, we wear so many hats, have to deal with so many crazy (daily, hourly!?) changes, and there really is no HOW TO guide that covers everything! If you’re a parent, it’s pretty much that same feeling!!
But at the end of the day, if you aren’t truly LOVING what you do (content creation, etc.) and you just see blogging as a means to and end (making money), then it’s gonna get rough…real fast.
No one will enjoy EVERY aspect of being a food blogger. Just like we don’t love every aspect of being a parent (dirty diapers and boyfriend break ups immediately come to mind). But at the end of the day, be honest with yourself.
Because if you truly love it. You WILL be successful. You’ll embrace, lean in, pivot, change (and maybe shed some tears along the way)…and create an amazing business! I am rooting for you (us!)
So stop reading this and GET BUSYYYYYYY!!!! Reach out anytime: [email protected] I read every email.
All My Love,
XO ~ Casey