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How This 35-Year-Old Earns 6 Figures/Year From Her Baking Blog While Working Part Time

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How This 35-Year-Old Earns 6 Figures/Year From Her Baking Blog While Working Part Time

Jessica Holmes was working as a copywriter when she decided to start a blog as a side hustle.  As she was teaching herself to bake, she thought she’d start sharing her creations. 

Over the years, Jessica built up a solid fan base through a combination of consistent posting, high-quality recipes, and lots of engagement with her followers. During lockdown, her traffic went through the roof, and after the pandemic, her readers stuck around. Eventually, she was able to quit her day job. 

Today Jessica is earning 6 figures a year from her baking blog, Sweetest Menu, which allows her to work part-time and stay home with her daughter and newborn baby.

Keep reading to find out:

  • Why she created her blog
  • How she made her first dollar
  • What happened when Covid hit
  • How long it took for her to be able to quit her day job
  • Her top marketing strategies
  • Her views on SEO
  • How she approaches keywords
  • How she creates content
  • Her favorite tools and resources
  • Her greatest challenge
  • Her biggest accomplishment
  • Her main mistake
  • The advice she would offer other entrepreneurs

Meet Jessica Holmes

My name is Jess and I’m the self-taught baker and writer behind the food blog, Sweetest Menu. I live in Melbourne, Australia, with my husband, Josh, my two-year-old daughter, Lucy, and my newborn son, Jack. 

I graduated from university with a degree in communications and worked for over a decade as a copywriter. In 2014, I created my website, Sweetest Menu as a side hustle.

After six years, my blog started to make more money than my full-time day job. I decided to pursue blogging as a full-time career in March 2020—quite a time in the world to make a big change!

Why She Created Sweetest Menu

Rewind back to 2014. 

I was working full-time as a travel copywriter. I was also finishing up a diploma in graphic design and was looking for somewhere to channel my newfound creative skills.

It was also a time when food blogs were taking off. Since I was dabbling in the kitchen and teaching myself how to bake, I decided to make my own food blog, without any intention of creating a business. 

I started publishing and sharing my own dessert recipes. They were very basic and so were my photography skills, but I was having the time of my life. 

After 18 months, I was completely obsessed with blogging and had cultivated a small readership online. I decided to put some ads on my blog and in the first month I made $50. I was in awe that I could make money doing something so fun.

My growth was slow and steady from that point, growing gradually year after year. Once I began to really understand SEO and the concept of creating good-quality content, my growth began to accelerate.

And when Covid hit and much of the world was in lockdown, my growth hit the roof, with millions of monthly pageviews. 

1685097748 538 How This 35 Year Old Earns 6 FiguresYear From Her Baking Blog

How Much She’s Earning

I currently make over six figures a year almost entirely from ad revenue. It took six years to get to that point, but I have managed to sustain that level of income for over three years now. 

The downside of relying on advertising revenue is that it’s very unpredictable. You earn different amounts throughout the year, which can make it hard to plan and budget your income. 

Bloggers typically earn more in quarter four with higher RPMs. And if you’re a baking blogger like me, Christmas is a particularly profitable time of year. 

I used Google AdSense for a few months but I already had enough of a readership to apply for Mediavine. I heard great things, so switched over as soon as I could.

I’ve been a member of Mediavine since 2016 and they manage all my advertising for me. I can’t speak highly enough of their amazing customer service, I see them as part of my team! 

I’m currently on maternity leave so I only spend around 15 hours on the business a week. Prior to that, my work hours would be around 20-25 hours per week. 

As for traffic, my blog receives about half a million page views per month.

Jessica’s Top Marketing Strategy

So much of blogging and content creation is focused on SEO and social media. But one thing that I have always tried to do is make time to prioritize my audience. 

I love connecting directly with my readers and I plan in time and space to do that regularly. Answering comments and questions in a timely manner is one really easy way to do that. I read and answer every blog comment or question on my website myself, and I chat with my readers every day on Instagram. 

Even in the content creation process, so much of our time is directed towards keyword research and SEO. But if I get constant reader requests for a certain recipe, I will definitely add it to my plan. 

At the end of the day, if SEO and social media went away, there’s still a strong cohort of readers who come directly to my website when they want to bake. And at the core of it, they’re the people I want to create content for!

The Importance of SEO

SEO is the lifeblood of my business and currently accounts for over 65% of my traffic. 

For social, I focus mainly on Pinterest and Instagram as they are the biggest traffic drivers and the best places for me to connect with my readers. 

My strategy with both as changed significantly over the past few years, and I’m still learning how to use video to best connect with my audience. 

My favorite thing to do is teach readers how to bake, so I love to use step-by-step videos to show my readers how to make my recipes on Instagram Stories. 

1685097748 578 How This 35 Year Old Earns 6 FiguresYear From Her Baking Blog

In 2017, I had my first SEO audit with a professional consultant. It really helped me understand the purpose of SEO and how I could be more intentional when creating my content. 

SEO is complicated, but when I finally understood that many of the rules are really just directing us to make the best possible content with the reader in mind, I was able to do a much better job. 

When creating recipes, I currently use KeySearch to double-check traffic volumes and do a little competitor analysis. I’m usually looking to ask two questions: 

  1. Are people searching for this recipe? And if so, how are they searching? (For example, what words are they actually using?)
  2. Could I rank for this keyword?

But as I mentioned above, even if I can’t rank for it, it doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t create and publish that recipe.

I want readers who come to my website to find whatever recipe they are looking for, so I do a mix of SEO-focused content and reader-inspired content. 

Jessica’s Content Creation Process

As a creative person, I love to create recipes and content that I’m genuinely passionate about. I always start with an idea that is sparked either by something I’ve tasted out and about, seen on my travels or has been requested by a reader. 

After doing some keyword research and competitor analysis, I then go through the recipe testing process. This is one of the most time-consuming parts of blogging for me. 

I try over and over to create a reliable recipe that works for everyone, whether they’re a novice or experienced baker. Amazing results for minimum fuss is my motto!

Once I have the recipe down, I’ll take and edit the photos and then craft the post. After it’s published, I’ll promote it using social media and my newsletter. 

I try to publish one new recipe a week but sometimes it can take longer if the recipe is particularly challenging. I’m still consistently reminding myself that it’s not about quantity but rather, quality. So if I have to take a bit more time to publish the best possible recipe so be it! 

I use Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Her Email List

I do have an email list and I encourage readers to sign up for my newsletter in order to receive new recipes, baking tips, and ebooks. 

I love to keep in touch with readers that way, and often encourage them to write back and tell me what recipes they want to see or what baking questions they have. 

Email marketing is something I really want to prioritize this year.

At the moment there are over 10k people on my list.

Her Favorite Resources

I absolutely love the Food Blogger Pro podcast and Top Hat Rank webinars. They’re full of amazing advice for bloggers, whether you’re a novice or an experienced online publisher. 

Her Top Three Tools

If I had to list my top tools, they would be:

Google Analytics and Google Search Console: Two free tools from Google that are so helpful in tracking analytics and keyword rankings. 

KeySearch: A basic but affordable keyword research tool, KeySearch is great for beginner bloggers.

Canva: I use Canva to easily create pins for Pinterest and marketing materials like ebooks and media kits. 

Jessica’s Biggest Challenge

For sure this would be time and trends!

In this blogging game, you never seem to have enough time to do everything. There is always more content to create, more improvements on your website, and more things to learn.

It’s a wonderful thing because it means it’s never boring, but I constantly have to fight the feeling of always being behind. It’s like having a to-do list that never gets smaller—it only grows. 

Keeping up with changing trends is also a big challenge, particularly with the changes in social media we’ve seen in the past few years. How the platforms are responding to content can really impact your traffic and your content creation strategy. 

To do this job well, you need to be flexible and agile—two things that don’t come easy to me personally.

As the blog has grown, I’ve had the ability to outsource a few tasks. I work with NerdPress to manage the technical side of my blog (they are incredible at what they do). And I have two amazing virtual assistants that help manage my Pinterest, Facebook, and email marketing.

Her Most Important Accomplishment

When I first started blogging, I was too shy to tell anyone about it. But when my blog overtook my day job in earnings, I was finally able to be really proud of what I had accomplished. 

How This 35 Year Old Earns 6 FiguresYear From Her Baking Blog

I also had my recipes published in one of Australia’s biggest food magazines. To walk into the supermarket, open a magazine and see my work—that was a highlight! 

What She Wishes She Knew When She Started

In many ways, I wish I knew that it’s possible to make a full-time income (and more) online. But at the same time, I’m glad I didn’t have that pressure on myself straight up. Instead, the business was born out of a genuine passion for creating and sharing amazing recipes. 

I do wish I started my blog on WordPress. I began on Blogger, then moved to Squarespace, and then finally made the switch to WordPress. I immediately saw an uptick in traffic and had so much more control over the backend of my website. I regret not making the move sooner. 

Jessica’s Main Mistake

My biggest mistake was not treating my blog as a legitimate business sooner. It’s very easy to feel like it’s just a hobby or a small side endeavor. But the truth is, it’s a real business and it should be given that respect, by you and those around you.

Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs

Never stop learning.

Everything online is constantly changing, whether it’s SEO or social media platforms, we have to be agile as content creators. 

We need to keep up with trends and rules and not be afraid of change. So keep learning, keep listening to podcasts, reading blogging resources (like this one), and keep on top of what’s happening in the industry.

And make sure you take yourselves and your business seriously. It could change your life!



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Broaden Your Horizons by Learning to Play the Piano with Skoove

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Broaden Your Horizons by Learning to Play the Piano with Skoove

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Running a business can be all-consuming. However, business people who only talk about work can sometimes struggle to network and socialize, ironically stunting their potential for growth as salespeople and entrepreneurs. That’s why taking up a hobby and developing a skill that might not relate directly to your work can help your company and career.

For a Memorial Day sale running through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to Skoove Premium Piano Lessons for only $119.99 (reg. $1,198). Rated 4.5/5 stars on the App Store, this platform is designed to help users develop their piano skills with interactive lessons powered by artificial intelligence.

Skoove uses cutting-edge AI technology that can recognize notes as you play them and then offer adjustments and notes in real time. With this approach, the platform can teach you a wide range of chart-topping songs with over 400 lessons and thousands of instructional videos. With the subscription, you can study tracks by artists ranging from the Beatles to Bach.

Skoove is also convenient to use and practice with. It’s compatible with all pianos and keyboards, including USB/MIDI and acoustic ones. It also works with both iOS and Android operating systems on tablets, smartphones, and computers. To broaden your horizons, consider adding it to your life today.

Remember that during a special Memorial Day sale that runs through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to Skoove Premium Piano Lessons for only $119.99 (reg. $1,198) with code ENJOY20 at checkout.

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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Save on Business Travel for Life This Memorial Day with an $80 Deal

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Save on Business Travel for Life This Memorial Day with an $80 Deal

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Growing businesses around the world rely on traveling salespeople and representatives to fuel expansion. For those in the accounting department who are trying to make enough room for airline ticket budgeting, you can do them a lot of favors by hooking up yourself or a team member with this special deal.

Through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to this OneAir Elite Plan for only $79.97 (reg. $790). This deal gets you indefinite access to OneAir’s deals on business, first, premium, and economy class flights to and from destinations of your choosing and interest. These deals include mistake fares and advantageously priced ones that happen to pop up.

OneAir’s platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scan the web around the clock for deals so that they are ready for your team when someone needs to hit the road. In addition to getting to choose up to 10 departure airports with deals, Elite users can also take advantage of OneAir’s one-on-one business and first-class planning support.

Conveniently, the OneAir Mobile App lets you access these deals, book trips, and complete bookings all in one place. It is available for both iOS and Android devices.

One recent user, Ashok, who saved $1,080 on flights using OneAir, wrote, “I am so pleased with my decision to sign up with OneAir! Just booked a super cheap flight deal to Vancouver along with 5 nights of hotel stays.”

Remember that only through 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31, you can get a lifetime subscription to this OneAir Elite Plan for only $79.97 (reg. $790).

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Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson’s voice? 5 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs in The AI Era

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Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson's voice? 5 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs in The AI Era

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Did OpenAI steal Scarlett Johansson’s voice? OpenAI has since paused the “Sky” voice feature, but Johansson argues that this is no coincidence. In response, Johansson delivers a masterclass for entrepreneurs on navigating the AI era successfully.

In today’s discussion, we delve into what this controversy means for business owners, highlighting five critical AI strategies they must deploy. We also explore essential methods to protect your intellectual property and leverage AI for a competitive edge—insights vital for keeping your venture ahead in the AI revolution to remain your competitive advantage.

Take the AI skills quiz here (available for a limited time) and equip yourself with practical knowledge by grabbing a copy of my new book, ‘The Wolf is at the Door – How to Survive and Thrive in an AI-Driven World.’

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