This is an interview with Eb Gargano of Productive Blogging and Easy Peasy Foodie.
Hey, Eb. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi – and thank you for inviting me! I am the blogger behind Easy Peasy Foodie and Productive Blogging. My passion – and main business – is helping bloggers and online entrepreneurs become more strategic with their time, so they can ditch the overwhelm and achieve MORE while working LESS.
I offer lots of free support and advice via the Productive Blogging website and Productive Blogging Community Facebook Group, and for those who want to go deeper and get more support, I offer a range of ebooks and online courses – including my signature program ‘Profitable Productivity’.
When not working (I practice what I preach and that leaves me with plenty of free time!), you’ll find me either lifting weights at the gym, hanging out with my family or curled up on the sofa with a good book. I am also obsessed with Duolingo – right now I’m learning Spanish!
What’s your professional background and how has it helped your blogging career?
I studied business and management at one of the UK’s top business schools, before working in the wine trade for many years – mainly in buying and marketing roles. I then switched tack completely and taught English as a Foreign Language for 7 years – both in the UK and in France.
I then went on to study a writing course and have some babies before embarking on my blogging career.
It’s a crazy career path, I know! But the perfect one for what I do now. After all, there can’t be many people who teach business blogging and productivity, who have a business degree, teaching qualifications, years of teaching and business experience, and 2 successful blogs under their belts!
Having solid business and marketing skills definitely gave me a head start when it came to starting my first blog. I went into it with a clear business plan, I understood the importance of niching down and having a USP, I wasn’t afraid to invest where I could see that would fast track my success. And I knew that if I wanted to make money from my blogging business, I had to be strategic with my time and focus on the activities that would give me the most bang for my buck.
When and why did you start your first blog?
I started my first blog, Easy Peasy Foodie, back in May 2015. I was mid-way through a writing course at the time and I was offered work writing the blog content for a local recruitment firm.
As a newbie writer, I jumped at the chance of regular paid writing work. The only problem was I didn’t know a thing about blogging at the time! So I turned to my best friend, Mr Amazon Prime, and bought a couple of books on the subject…
By the time I’d read both books from cover to cover I KNEW I wanted to start my own blog. And the most obvious thing for me to blog about was food, which has been a lifelong passion of mine.
But I also knew I needed a niche! I’m a real foodie… but as a busy mum of two (who were 4 and 6 at the time) my ‘thing’ was I would always simplify recipes to make them quicker, easier and less effort (and less washing up!) – but still delicious! (My motto is ‘minimum effort, maximum taste’) And so Easy Peasy Foodie was born.
How long did it take you to make your first money blogging?
Well, thanks to my paid blogging gig, I was actually earning a regular monthly income from blogging from Day 1! That freelance blogging job helped me bridge the gap until Easy Peasy Foodie started making money in its own right.
It took about a year for Easy Peasy Foodie to start making any real money – and initially that was from a mix of sponsored posts, affiliate income and Google Adsense. (This was before I’d even heard of Mediavine!)
How did you grow your blog traffic in the first years?
I was really fortunate to stumble across SEO very early on in my blogging career – much earlier than most bloggers.
Thanks to those two books I bought from Amazon, I knew a few basics even before I started my own blog, but then got serious about SEO in May 2017.
In May 2017, I had around 15,000 pageviews – by May 2018 it was 150,000 and it just kept on growing! (And in February 2018, I finally joined Mediavine!)
When did you start your second blog? And who is it for?
I started my second blog, Productive Blogging, in May 2018. I started it firstly as a way to ‘give back’ to the blogging community that had given me so much. And secondly, as a kind of ‘insurance policy’…
I could see that a food blog that got almost 100% of its traffic from Google and was almost 100% monetized via ads was risky – I wanted to NOT have all my eggs in one very precarious basket!
Productive Blogging is all about helping bloggers start and grow profitable online businesses – but with a strong emphasis on productivity… helping bloggers and online business owners be more strategic with their time, so they can earn more, while working less.
I’m passionate about helping online business owners overcome the overwhelm, cross timewasting busywork off their to do lists and figure out ways to make their business more lucrative AND more passive!
How important is it to pick a blog niche you’re passionate about?
I think it’s very important – if you play your cards right, you’ll be writing about that topic for years, or even decades, so being passionate about the subject will certainly help with motivation.
But it’s more than that. Enthusiasm is infectious… if you write with passion and enthusiasm, that will shine through, and come across as more authentic and inspiring, than if you write about something you are not interested in.
Ultimately, if you monetize via digital products or services, you’ll find it much easier to ‘sell’ if you are passionate about what you are selling.
But there’s another thing that’s just as important – but often overlooked – and that’s being passionate about business. After all if you want to make money from a blog, you’re in business!
I think, my entrepreneurial spirit and my passion for business has been one of my greatest assets over the years. On the other hand I think many bloggers struggle because, while they love their subject, they don’t love the ‘business’ side of things.
What are your current top traffic sources?
My top traffic source is still Google! But these days, I put a lot of effort into converting those casual Google visitors into email subscribers – so they become return visitors!
As a result, both blogs have a lot of regular readers and so actually my second highest traffic source on both blogs is ‘direct’, and then email. I get very little traffic these days from social media and Pinterest.
For me it’s a productivity thing – I get a much better ROTI (Return On TIME Invested) when I focus on SEO and email marketing… so why waste time on traffic sources that I know won’t deliver as much traffic.
As I always say… time is finite, so you have to spend it on the activities that move the dial the most!
What are your best Pinterest tips?
Ha – I’m afraid my best Pinterest tip is… spend as little time as you can on Pinterest… so you can spend more time on the activities that really move the dial!
When I first started my food blog – way back in 2015 – Pinterest was really worth spending time on. But it’s not the platform it once was. I literally spend less that 5 minutes per week on Pinterest, these days!
How have you monetized Productive Blogging, and what brings in the most revenue?
I monetize Productive Blogging via a mix of affiliates and digital products – both online courses and ebooks.
My online courses bring in the most revenue – particularly my SEO course ‘SEO Jumpstart’ and my signature program ‘Profitable Productivity’.
What about Easy Peasy Foodie?
EPF is still mainly monetized via Mediavine ads.
What’s your favorite blog monetization method and why?
Definitely online courses! It uses all my skills… My teaching skills to create the curriculum and teach the lessons… And my writing, marketing and entrepreneurial skills to launch them and build automated evergreen sales funnels to sell them all year round!
I also love that you are 100% in control with digital products – and that the money builds year on year, as you add more products and build more automated sales funnels.
Oh and I love that the RPMs on digital products are way higher that the RPMs on ads 😉
How much does your blogging business bring in every month?
I never share the precise figure, but my business comfortably brings in 5 figures per month, and has done for some time.
For a long time Easy Peasy Foodie accounted for the vast majority of my income, but recently I passed a big milestone – my first month where Productive Blogging brought in more money than Easy Peasy Foodie!
What is particularly interesting is that Easy Peasy Foodie still gets far more pageviews per month… One of the (many) reasons why I am so passionate about digital products!
Read also: How Many Pageviews Do You Need to Make Money Blogging
How often do you publish content now?
On Easy Peasy Foodie, I still consistently publish 1 post per week.
When I first started Easy Peasy Foodie, I used to publish 2-3 recipes per week!
However on Productive Blogging it’s much more erratic. But that’s 100% on purpose.
I had an epiphany a while ago, when I realized that consistently writing 1 post per week on PB was actually HOLDING BACK my business… and my time was better spent, creating new products, improving my email marketing and building more evergreen sales funnels.
How do you come up with content ideas?
I have the type of brain that is CONSTANTLY coming up with new ideas… I am NEVER short of an idea.
But I always keyword research to help me pick which of my million and one ideas will actually send me the most traffic. Another example of how I am always trying to get the best return on my time!
Is your email list your biggest asset? How do you nurture relationships with subscribers?
It’s certainly one of my biggest assets (I’d also include my websites and my digital products on that list!)
Email marketing is a hugely important part of my business – it’s how I turn casual Google visitors into regular readers, how I turn regular readers into customers, and how I turn customers into raving fans and advocates!
I write a newsletter every week, which helps nurture those relationships and build up that all-important ‘know like and trust’ factor.
And it’s really worth it – almost 100% of my sales come from email subscribers. It’s also hugely important for future-proofing my business. Google traffic, social media traffic, Pinterest traffic – it’s all borrowed traffic, but your email list is one of the few assets you actually own and are fully in control over.
I’ve seen so many horror stories where bloggers have lost all their income because of an algorithm change or a social media platform randomly locking them out. By converting my traffic to email subscribers, I am much more protected and much more in control!
How do you manage your time between the 2 blogs?
I actually spend very little time on EPF these days – just 2 days per month. The rest of my time is spent on Productive Blogging!
What blogging tasks have you outsourced?
I try to outsource tasks where I know someone else can do the job much better than me and where I can see a very clear return on my investment.
Right now, I outsource food photography, styling and editing to my photography team; graphic design to my designer; and worrying about tax, accounting etc. to my accountant.
Read also: A Blogging Schedule That Works for You: Here’s My New Daily Blogging Routine
What are your favorite tools as a business owner?
Hands down ConvertKit and ConvertBox for email marketing, Teachable for course hosting and Deadline Funnel for building evergreen sales funnels.
What has changed about the blogging industry since you’ve entered it?
Just about everything! I think the biggest changes are:
1) The increased professionalism in blogging.
Back in 2015, you could get away with a pretty scrappy looking blog, basic photography skills and a very laidback approach to the ‘business’ side of blogging, and STILL make money.
These days, blogs look much more professional and bloggers are much more business-focused.
2) The increased complexity of blogging.
I do think blogging is a lot more complex and a lot more technical, these days.
Since 2015, I’ve seen a lot of changes (SSL certificates, GDPR, Gutenberg, Core Web Vitals, GA4…) and they have all added an extra layer of complexity and extra hoops to jump through!
3) Much, much more competition!
I remember back in 2017 when I was first getting into SEO and keyword research, there were so many ‘golden nugget’ keywords, as I call them – keywords with tons of search volume and almost zero competition.
But it is very noticeable how, over the years, those golden nuggets have got fewer and fewer, due to massively increased competition.
We have Covid, in large part, to thank for that. So many people had a lot more time on their hands during that period and so finally found the time to start that blog, or get serious about an existing blog.
I think all this has made it harder to start and monetize a blog the ‘old’ way – getting traffic from Google and converting that into money via ads.
But, conversely, I think it’s actually much easier too these days to start and monetize a blog IF you focus on email marketing and digital products from the get-go. Certainly, if I were starting a new blog tomorrow, that’s what I’d do.
What’s next for you and your business?
My plan is to keep on focusing on what’s working… and for me that’s creating new products and building more automated sales funnels.
I’ve just launched my signature program, ‘Profitable Productivity’… so my very next project is to build an evergreen sales funnel for that course.
I’m also planning to do some more work on my EEAT. With the advent of ChatGPT and the ability to use generative AI to write blog posts at scale, it’s clear that Google is going to double down on promoting websites with high EEAT in the SERPs. So boosting my EEAT will be a big focus for me in the coming months!
Where can people find you?
Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview! You can find me at http://www.productiveblogging.com and http://www.easypeasyfoodie.com
I’m @ebgargano on Twitter and @productiveblogging on Facebook and Instagram.
And if you want to boost your productivity, then you can grab my FREE productivity guide, Blog Smarter Not Harder, here >>> http://www.productiveblogging.com/BSNH