Building a Successful Content Empire in a Crowded Field with Christine Pittman

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Finding time as a busy creator or small business owner can be tough. But what about being a single mom, running a content business, in a competitive space, and making money doing? That’s exactly what Christine Pittman does, running her hugely successfully cooking blogs and podcasts. Tune in to get tips about starting, staying consistent, making money, and the important role analytics plays in all of it. Plus, in Build Something More, we talk about what it’s like cooking for our kids as business-running parents.

Top Takeaways:

  • Batch your content! You want to plan ahead, build a stock pile, and release it slowly. That way you can create consistently and build your content empire.
  • Analytics is the key to everything. You will best serve your audience by understanding what resonates most with them, and putting out more content like it. Christine found her niche in a crowded field by focusing in on a couple of specific food types.
  • Repurposing content allows you to reach more people based on their preferred way to consume. Christine has thousands of recipes she can resurface thanks to her podcast, which she uses to drive traffic to her blogs.

Show Notes:


Sponsor: Today’s episode is brought to you by Riverside, the leading podcast and video recording platform. And quite literally, I was using Riverside before they became a sponsor. My journey to good recordings is a long one that started with me clumsily using Zoom and explaining to my guests how to record their audio.

Now, Riverside takes care of everything for me. I get to separate tracks of high quality audio with no fuss. It sounds like we’re in the same room. And I’m not the only one. More than 70,000 people use Riverside, including Guy Raz, Andrew Warner, and companies like the New York Times.

There is a reason why so many creators use Riverside. So check them out and all their features over at and get an exclusive 30% discount with the code JOE30. That’s JOE30 over at Thanks so much to Riverside for their support of the show.

Sponsor: This episode is brought to you by Ahrefs, an all-in-one SEO toolset that gives you what you need to rank your website in Google and get tons of search traffic. And now you can use their Webmaster Tools for free.

Ahrefs has been instrumental for me in increasing traffic to my sites. Over the holidays, I had the best quarter for affiliate income because it showed me my most popular pages and topics, and I was able to optimize and update accordingly.

Their Webmaster Tools are made for small website owners. Connect your website through Google Search Console and get your site audits, backlinks, and keyword data. If you create content, this is a must-have. Gain a following and increase traffic to your site for free. Sign up for Ahrefs at That’s

[00:01:58] <teaser sequence>

Joe Casabona: Finding time as a busy creator or small business owner can be tough. But what about being a single mom running a content business in a competitive space and making money doing it? That’s exactly what Christine Pittman does, running her hugely successful cooking blogs and podcasts. Tune in to get tips about starting, staying consistent, making money and the important role analytics plays in all of it.

Plus, in Build Something More, we talk about what it’s like cooking for our kids as business-running parents. Christine and I recorded this episode shortly before my third child was born. And so I had a lot of questions for her. It was a great conversation.

And today’s episode is brought to you by Riverside, Ahrefs, and Nexcess. You can find out more about them and get everything we talk about all of the show notes over at But for now, let’s get into the intro, and then the interview.

[00:03:00] <intro music>

Intro: Hey, everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast that helps small business owners create engaging content that drives sales. Each week I talk about how you can build good content faster to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.

Wants to know the best way to get new episodes, top takeaways, and other tips, tools, and tricks to become a more consistent creator? Sign up before Build Something Weekly. It’s totally free, totally weekly, and it will provide you the resources you need to build good content and drive sales.

On top of having these episodes delivered straight to your inbox, you’ll get some quick thoughts, recommendations, and a content roundup, the perfect way to start your week. You can sign up for free at, that’s to get my free weekly newsletter.

[00:04:04] <podcast begins>

Joe Casabona: Christine, how are you today?

Christine Pittman: I’m doing great, Joe. Thanks for having me.

Joe Casabona: My pleasure. Thanks for being on the show. We were introduced through mutual friend and awesome person, Brittney Lynn, whom you heard from my friends earlier this year. Or actually, you know, this is a little bit out of time because Brittney and I are recording after this. So maybe you’ll hear about her later. That’s a little behind-the-scenes time travel here in podcast land.

But I was telling Brittney about my goal for the show for this year and she mentioned you. And I did a little research and I felt like you were perfect for the show. So thanks for coming on.

Christine Pittman: Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m really excited to share this stuff.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. So let’s jump in. I have a lot of notes here about kind of how you’re using analytics, how you are repurposing your content for books, how you have two podcasts, one which I feel is tailor-made for me.

And then in Build Something More, we’re going to be talking about something that I struggled greatly with, which is cooking for my kids. Now as this episode comes out I will have three, cooking for my kids as a self-employed busy parent with a wife who’s a nurse. So that’ll be over in Build Something More. You can sign up over at if you want to hear that conversation.

But before we get into all that, Christine, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Christine Pittman: So I am a single mom of two living in Florida. I started Cook the Story as a personal, almost journals-style cooking blog back in 2010 to connect with friends and family back home in Canada. I just had moved to Florida.

And it just evolved over the years and started to get traffic. It was very surprising. And then sponsors wanted to work with me and it started to turn into a little business. And then I launched The my second site almost to like make up for the mistakes I made the first time: if I could do it all over again, how would I do it differently knowing what I know now? So that’s been a fun experiment.

And then I just have my hand in all kinds of food media. There’s cookbooks, there’s podcasts, there’s all the social media that goes with it, there’s videos. We’re all over the place.

Joe Casabona: So tell me a little bit more about that. First of all, when did you start your blog now?

Christine Pittman: Cook the Story was 2010 and then The Cookful was 2015.

Joe Casabona: Okay. So you started your blog in 2010. What kind of inspired you to… Like did you start it as like a hobby or were you like, “This is definitely gonna be a side hustle”? This is before the side hustle term side hustle became a thing, right?

Christine Pittman: I had no idea that the blog would turn into my career in any way, shape, or form. I had been working on a PhD studying the language Inuktitut in Toronto. When we moved to Florida, there are not a lot of Inuktitut speakers in Florida, unfortunately. And so that kind of faded.

My parents had restaurants full time when I was growing up and so food was a huge part of my life. I knew I didn’t want to work in restaurants, I didn’t want to go to culinary school, but I wanted to be involved in food in some way.

So as I was thinking about that transitional career, if I’m not going to be in academia anymore, I was quasi stay-at-home mom while my then husband worked, you know, what was I going to do with my time? And the idea of trying food writing, like trying to actually pitch publications and do some food writing was one of the things in my mind. And I thought that to get a little credibility to work those chops to get something going I would start the blog as that hobby and place to practice and yeah, get some credibility. So that’s how it started.

Joe Casabona: Wow, that’s amazing, first of all. Can you still speak Inuktitut. Is that? Am I saying that right?

Christine Pittman: Yeah. You know what? This is a question I get all the time. So I was a linguist who studies the structure of language, not so much speaking the language.

Joe Casabona: Oh, interesting.

Christine Pittman: So I was doing it more almost like a grammarian, looking at the language and trying to figure out how it works. I mean, obviously, it’s an indigenous language. We don’t know as much about those languages as we know about sort of the Indo European languages that we’re more familiar with. So finding out what is even possible in all the world’s languages and digging into that and seeing how they’re different and similar from the languages we’re more familiar with.

Joe Casabona: Wow, that’s super cool. Really interesting. I’ll try to remember to link this in the show notes. But there’s a fellow on YouTube who kind of kind of breaks down dialects, he’s a dialect coach and talks about accents. Accents are something I’m incredibly interested in. I feel like it all kind of fits in there.

Christine Pittman: Yeah, yeah, it’s fascinating. All the variation we can have.

Joe Casabona: If you get me worked out, my New York accent will come out later. But I try to keep it to a low burn so people understand what I’m saying on the podcast.

Christine Pittman: I’ll match with my Canadian one.

Joe Casabona: Perfect. I thought you had a Canadian. When you said “about,” I heard it a little bit, a little bit.

Christine Pittman: “About” and “story” yeah.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. That’s like “coffee” and “dog” are really the two words where my accent hits. So food was a big part of your life. You had no idea that this was going to become part of your business. 2010 we were just kind of still recovering from the housing bubble economically. When did you realize that this blog, that creating content was a viable income option for you?

Christine Pittman: It was probably around 2013. It’s actually a great story because what was happening was that’s when I started working with sponsors and I started getting, not a lot of money, but some product, some big giveaway items, the KitchenAid mixers, and the Blendtec blenders that people were really excited about back then. And then some paid sponsorship opportunities.

And what I started noticing was that I couldn’t keep up with doing the content that the sponsors wanted while also doing my own unsponsored content. And so that summer, summer of 2013, I hired our babysitter to work for me for the summer.

She’s 16-year-old, she wanted a part-time job, she was here most days in the summer, I taught her how to edit photos, how to put together blog posts. I would literally take a picture of my written up recipe and she would plug that into the post, I would go for a walk and like speech to text the blog post and email that to her.

And so I was cooking all day, four or five recipes a day and she was putting them together and scheduling them out for the year ahead so that then I’d have all this unsponsored content and could really focus on pitching sponsors and doing the content really well for them while not having my site only be sponsored. I wanted to have that mix.

Joe Casabona: That’s really important, right? Because I think that your readers catch on pretty quickly if you’re only doing sponsored content or affiliate content. If you’re only sharing affiliate links that kind of takes a hit at your credibility.

Christine Pittman: Yeah, sure.

Joe Casabona: So that’s really interesting. So summer of 2013, you hired your babysitter essentially to help you batch a bunch of content, right?

Christine Pittman: Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s exactly what it was.

Joe Casabona: This is something I try to teach my students, especially my podcasting students, because podcasting as you know is… I mean, my blog is just kind of thoughts that I have. But a recipe blog, that’s a lot of work because you’re cooking and going through the steps.

Good content takes a lot of work and batching so that you’re really intentional about when you’re going to create that content. And having a kind of stockpile of it, so that you’re not going “Oh, man, I need a new blog post for tomorrow, what am I gonna write about?” And then you end up rushing and it’s gonna be crappy.

Christine Pittman: Yeah, no, exactly. And it really gave me time to plan out the content. I mean, Madison was her name. She’s coming over for the day and I need to make sure that I know what I’m making, that I’ve planned it, that I’ve done the grocery shopping. And I really started also, I guess, batching in terms of making sure some things we’re using the same ingredients. Silly things, you know, chopping onions at once, instead of onion and having them off to the side ready to use. And then she was of course batching the photo editing which can be very time-consuming. So that’s what that was about for sure.

Joe Casabona: That’s amazing. There’s also like a real cost to being a recipe blogger, right? Because you are buying the ingredients. And presumably your family is consuming what you make for the blog, but still, you know, if it’s not something you would generally make… It’s just like if I review software, and I can’t get a free license, I’m paying for it so I can do the tutorial or the course on it.

I guess tell me a little bit about that. How much grocery shopping? I think we spend too much on groceries. How much grocery shopping do you do to prep for these blog posts?

Christine Pittman: Well, back then I was at the grocery store every probably second or third day. Because I was making four or five recipes a day, we weren’t eating all that. My neighbors were very happy. I would send them a text kind of midway through the day with a list of anything that I knew my family wasn’t going to probably be fond of. And they’re like, “Okay, here are the options. Here’s what I can bring over later.” I fed part of the neighborhood for that summer.

Joe Casabona: It’s amazing.

Christine Pittman: But now I don’t do… I don’t like admitting this necessarily all the time. But I don’t do any of the recipe development or photography or videos for any of my sites anymore. I have contributors on one site and then I have a ghost recipe developer photographer on the other one.

Joe Casabona: Oh, wow. That’s great. And that’s another way for you to kind of manage the business is you’re able to kind of take yourself out of it. I think that’s something that a lot of especially freelancers, small business owners worry about right is if I have other people doing the stuff, is it going to look poorly upon me? I don’t know, I teach people how to podcast and I don’t edit my own podcasts. That’s just the least favorite part of podcasting for me, so I hire it out.

Christine Pittman: I mean, I had to come to terms with this over time, that giving away of the things that you think are the essential part of your business, but it’s not where my time is best spent. Like to be clear, I’m still super behind everything that happens in terms of the recipes that we do. I’m diving into my stats and into keyword research and I’m content planning based on writing things that I’m sure we’re going to talk about.

And then I’m working closely with the recipe developer to say, “Okay, we’re going to do one pan baked spaghetti dinner? Okay, what should that include? What is my recipe style? You know, when somebody new coming on, we have a lot of conversations about, like, I don’t use fresh herbs in the recipes on my site, except for maybe as a garnish, optional garnish because I don’t think that most people have them.” Or certainly not.

I feel like the kind of people who don’t have fresh herbs in their house don’t want to see them and don’t know what to do necessarily when they see them in that recipe. People who do have fresh herbs in their house, they are all about it and they know when to add them. They know when to… I can kind of guess that.

So I can say, “Use dried basil in this sauce.” And if your cooking knowledge is there and you’ve got some fresh basil, then you might be like, “Oh, I’ll also garnish it with that,” or “I’ll throw that in there too.” So the recipe philosophy and what I want to shine through, how easy I want the recipes to be, the kind of equipment that we use, all of that, that is still coming from me. It’s just the actual making it and testing it and then taking the pictures that somebody else is doing.

Joe Casabona: And that’s really important, right? Because you understand your audience, right? I say the same thing about when I make, like… again, microphone recommendations. I’m never gonna recommend like a Neumann or Telefunken microphone because if you know you need that microphone, you don’t need my advice on which one to get. So it’s that exact thing.

So you mentioned analytics and keyword research. Before we get into that, I have a burning question that I’ve always wondered. You have a blog post with a recipe. This seems to be the format for most recipe blogs I’ve been to. There’s a long story before you get to the recipe. Why is that? What’s the purpose behind that?

Christine Pittman: Yeah, we get a lot of flak about that as food bloggers, especially. I’ve been doing this food blogging thing for not as long as some people. There were some people before me, but I go pretty far back. And way back then, 2010, you couldn’t really make money on food blogs. Nobody was starting it as a business. It was just hobby sharing. I think it was really like a form of journaling.

And so we would get these stories that were… I mean, my favorite example is always we just moved to Florida and my son and I were out for a walk and there was a woman picking lemons off of a tree. And I’m like, “Wow, there’s lemons growing on a freakin’ tree in somebody’s yard. That’s crazy.” And she ended up giving us some and then we went home and made lemonade.

And then, of course, I wrote that story and then put the lemonade recipe at the bottom. And that was what we did. My parents could read about it, my friends could read about it. Then over time as it switched from hobby to business, I started realizing that the posts that did best on traffic were the ones that were showing up in search results because they were really about the recipe.

So this would be a blog post about lemonade, the history of lemonade, how different cultures make lemonade, how to make it sweet, how to make it sour, all those sorts of things. Those posted better. So back in the day, that long story was there because the recipe blog started as sort of like journals that mostly stay-at-home moms were building but not exclusively.

Now I think that we still have all those paragraphs at the top because that seems to really help with the SEO. Google, the search engines are looking for particular keywords, making sure that you’re talking about the right things. And you don’t get all of those things inside of the recipe. You talk about them in other ways.

I will say I do love that most food blogs, including mine have that “jump to recipe” button at the top now. So you can just very easily just flip and go down to the recipe. And I’ve started, if we end up talking about Recipe of the Day podcast, I’ve started actually sharing that link. Like I right-click on the jumped recipe button and get that link. Not always but I share that in places where I’m putting pretty sure people are just wanting the recipe.

Like if I’ve just done a podcast episode, and they’re getting it in the podcast, if they’ve heard me talk about it already, they don’t need to read about it. So I share the jump to recipe link instead of the post link.

Joe Casabona: I think this is really important because it’s storytelling. Most people love storytelling, right? My best YouTube videos are kind of the same. And I’ve gotten comments that are like, “Why is everybody treating these tutorials like a podcast where they’re telling us all about it?”

And I was just like, “Sorry, that my free content upsets you. Sorry, I’m creating context around the thing I’m going to show you. But I have chapter markers in it if you want to jump to the installation process, we can do that.” But people love the story. It helps them connect with your content, and it keeps them coming back for more. Right?

Christine Pittman: Yeah. And I think you mentioned too that “sorry my free content isn’t what you wanted it to be.” I mean, a lot of us, me included, make a lot of money from the advertising income. And that depends a bit on keeping people on the page, the amount of time we keep them there. Fortuitously keep them there.

I’m not doing anything unnecessary. The “jump to recipe” button is there, people can skip it. But if I can give you compelling information that’s going to make you go more slowly, I make more money for that. So it’s like a reciprocal sort of thing. Right?

Joe Casabona: Right?

Christine Pittman: I mean, I make money off you by you staying on. And I’m going to give you really great content in between the top and the recipe to try and keep you there.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, right. The good content or the longer content helps you make money so you can provide that good content for free. I think that’s really important. I mean, look, if I want recipes without the story, I’ll just go by Betty Crocker’s whatever. Like her latest recipe book. Her latest? Like Betty Crocker still writing them?

Christine Pittman: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, the latest recipe book or whatever.

Christine Pittman: No, that’s a great point. Because we can just get cookbooks or magazines. But the beauty of the way the web works is you can search for exactly what you want. If you have a cookbook with 100 recipes in it, it’s not necessarily going to have those pancakes when you need them. Or those crispy chicken wings when you want them. So that’s what we’re doing is we’re making all of this available.

And then with all the commenting and that referral, like you do from Amazon or anything else, this like, Oh, this is five stars from 20 people, this is probably good. So we’re getting all of that information which you don’t get in a cookbook either.

Joe Casabona: And then you’re also getting the why is this different, right? Like, why is this recipe standing out instead of whatever is in that cookbook? Which I think I called it a recipe book before because that’s how in tune I am with cooking. Which is not fair. I’m an Italian, I should be able to cook. I just don’t do it often.

So let’s talk about this because it’s come up a few times now. But the content strategy, what you publish, how you publish, it all has to do with leveraging your analytics. So, first, what do you use for analytics? Is it just Google Analytics? Is there some other tool, super-secret sauce that you use?

Christine Pittman: I’m just using Google Analytics and I use Google Search Console and I use SEMrush for keyword research. And I do a lot of, like, I cut my own organic searching. There are certain things that I do that I’m sure the various software programs does. I’ll just give you an example.

If I’m thinking about doing a particular recipe and I want to see if I can compete for it, I’ll search for it in an incognito window and then see who’s showing up. If it is like page after page of like powerhouse publications that I don’t… I mean, sometimes I do win out over some of these. Who knows why! But it’s a little bit harder.

Whereas if I see it’s a whole bunch of blogs that I haven’t heard of or… sometimes if there’s a lot of old recipes showing up because they have very thin content, they don’t have a big description at the top, I’ll think, “Oh, if I hit the right keywords, if I do a great recipe and explain things well here, I have a shot.” So that’s kind of my more organic key like just me getting a sense, just looking around and feeling on top of the tools.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. I mean, that makes perfect sense. So Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush for keywords, and then doing your own organic search to kind of see what the competition out there is. That’s great. Full disclosure, a competitor of SEMrush, Ahrefs, I should say Ahrefs is a current and former sponsor of this podcast. So full disclosure there.

So let’s start kind of at the top here. You have an idea for a new blog post. First of all, do you come up with your own ideas or do you go to Google Search Console or analytics—I guess search console would be or SEMrush—to see, what should I write about? Or is it a combination of both?

Christine Pittman: It’s kind of a combination. I actually start in Google Analytics. I’m always looking at what my sort of top 10 to 15 posts are on each site. And they don’t change that much over time. But I’m always trying to continue to do content related to a lot of those.

So most of my traffic comes from Google. I’ve never been great at social media. A little bit of Pinterest, but mostly Google. And so my general feeling on things is if something is ranking well on Google, that means that the algorithm thinks that I am an expert on this topic. And so if I do more content on that topic, it will probably do well also.

So my top-performing post on cook the story is how to roast pork perfectly. It is almost always number one on any browser. When you search for roast pork, it is there. I don’t even cook that much pork, to be honest, in my own home. But there’s every kind of pork recipe you can ever find on the story because that is what works.

On The Cookful it’s chicken wings. How to bake chicken wings crispy gets over 200,000 hits on Super Bowl Sunday every year.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Christine Pittman: It’s like when people are searching for oven chicken wings, that’s where you go. And so we have, I don’t know, 100 chicken wing recipes. We have the homemade buffalo sauce. Every everything you want to do with chicken wings, all kinds of buffalo chicken recipes too.

So anything that’s doing well, that is like my starting point. And then that’s when I start doing the SEMrush or keyword research into what have I not done before. So if I type in pork recipes, pork, whatever, it’ll start giving me various things. So that’s one set of content ideas comes from there.

The other set comes from… So on Time Management Insider, my podcast, I do a meal plan at the end of each episode. Like a five-day meal plan. And I realized, you know, around Episode 20, that I didn’t have as many like quick simple recipes as I thought I did. Not full dinner. They were like I have lots of side dishes and lots of entrees and lots of… but not like everything’s in a pot. Those sorts of things.

And that’s what really worked best on the meal plans. And so it’s when I realized there’s a gap, we don’t have enough of something that I actually think serves my demographic and my readers, then we’ll do more of those.

And then I’m looking a little bit at my own stats. You know, I would do maybe some things that include pork or chicken wings, just for that example. But also going and looking on places like Pinterest, and what is just trending, what will catch people’s eyes.

So there’s both the strategy of maximizing that expertise in the Google algorithm sort of idea, like continuing to be the queen of pork and of chicken wings and at the same time looking for the new trends and things that somebody visiting my site already would be like, “Oh, that’s cool.” They might not get super excited about how to roast pork, that’s kind of a little boring. It might be something they search for on Google, but not get excited about when they see spontaneously. So then there’s this other set there.

Joe Casabona: Very cool. This is super interesting. As I’m asking this question, I’m realizing that it’s probably absolutely the case. But do you find that like certain recipes are cyclical? Is there a set of recipes that do super well? We’re recording this right after Thanksgiving? It’s coming out shortly after the new year. So you have recipes that do well around this time versus like over the summer?

Christine Pittman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, I always find it super fascinating. So there’s the cyclical yearly schedule. So that’s where I’ll see gravy and stuffing a few days before Thanksgiving. And then we have tons of recipes for how to use leftover cranberry sauce. I just love cranberry sauce. Those go crazy the day after. Even actually the Thanksgiving night. It’s like people are putting away their cranberries sauce and are already looking.

Joe Casabona: “Should I keep those?

Christine Pittman: So there’s that. But there’s also this really fascinating like weekly schedule that I just find… So every Sunday, the how-to roast pork post goes pretty crazy. That to me means… because I don’t think it’s the same people who search for how to roast pork every Sunday. But it seems to be the same amount. It’s like 40,000 hits every Sunday or something right now, which means that every Sunday there’s a different 40,000 people who are suddenly researching for how to roast pork.

Joe Casabona: I have time to prepare Monday’s meal because it’s Sunday, so I’ll roast the pork.

Christine Pittman: Or the roast dinner. I think people sometimes do that [inaudible 00:30:04] instead of roast dinner on Sunday. And then Monday without fail I have a how-to cook chicken breasts from frozen. This post cracks me up so much. So it does really well on Mondays. Every Monday that’s where that spikes.

But what is hilarious to me is I can’t get anybody to click on anything else from that page. I have tried other frozen chicken recipes, I have tried a little eBook, newsletter subscription, get more, I’ve tried everything I can think of. But I actually think that what’s happening is this is like busy parents got home on Monday, forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer, and are literally sitting there at their computer with frozen chicken on their lap being like, “What do I do? What do I do?”

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Christine Pittman: So they get the recipe, they read it and then they go cook. But yeah, so there’s that. Sunday is the roast pork. Monday is the frozen chicken breast. Saturday is the chicken wings. And you can just see that.

Shrimp cocktail, I don’t know why, Shrimp cocktail, every single holiday. That is New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day. It’s like the whole country is just like, “Oh, I want to make something special. Shrimp cocktail.”

Joe Casabona: That’s so funny. Wow. Gosh, I love that. I mean, understanding your analytics helps you plan all of this content, which then of course allows you to monetize, right? Because this is… you know, I guess I hit the bell because I said monetize. But you know what’s getting good hits, you know how to shape your content to keep people coming back. So what are some of the ways that you make money off of? Let’s go with your blog specifically and then we’ll talk about kind of how you repurpose into this content empire?

Christine Pittman: So the blogs is almost strictly advertising income. I’m with AdThrive, I love them. Even some of the stuff that we’re talking about right now, I can see which of my posts get the highest RPM, that’s like the payment per 1,000 visitors that I get. I can see which ones get the highest and which ones get the lowest and then I can tweak things to try and…

So if I know that something’s getting really hot high money per 1,000 visitors, I can then try to get more traffic to that post. Whereas one that’s getting low dollars per visitor, then that I might try tweaking the actual content.

Of course, always if it’s a high traffic post, I tend to leave it alone. Like if the high traffic post, it’s not making very much, I’m afraid to fiddle around too much there. The hope is the traffic’s going to come and those people are going to maybe click on something else and maybe that will bring in more revenue. But I try not to screw around with those things too much. So it’s mostly ad revenue very little affiliate marketing.

And I don’t work with sponsors almost at all anymore. I’ve one small just a project because I would love the company coming up in I think the spring. But no, no sponsored content anymore.

Joe Casabona: Interesting. And so you’re with AdThrive. This is one of those ad networks, they kind of dynamically insert ads right into your blog posts. I’ll pose both questions here in case I forget them. One is, do you have to have a blog of a certain size to be part of this network? And the other is completely unrelated. Do you find that adblocking technology has kind of hurt your bottom line? Or I guess not since it’s worth it to keep running it. I guess I’m more curious about kind of ad blocking technology from your perspective.

Christine Pittman: So, yeah, blog of certain size, they do have a minimum. And I can’t remember what it is but it’s over 100,000 per month for sure. But there’s other ones. Mediavine I think has a lower threshold and they work with a lot of food bloggers too. So that’s that.

The ad blocking, since I started monetizing and using ads, it has only grown. Like the income is only grown so it’s hard for me to know if ad blocking is having an effect. We are all of course in this industry worried about… I don’t remember the name of this. Something is happening. It was supposed to happen this year, it’s happening not this year, but soon where Chrome is going to stop allowing the cookies that tie with the ad in the same way.

Joe Casabona: The blocking party cookies which other browsers are also kind of doing and Apple has their whole privacy thing within Safari.

Christine Pittman: Yeah. So for instance, I know that I make more money from people on Chrome than from the other browsers. And that’s because the advertisers who are inserting the ads for Chrome know that they’re very targeted because of those third party cookies. It was supposed to happen this year, and it’s delayed. I know that everybody’s working together to try and figure out solutions that has something to do with email address tracking or something are the solutions. I’m trying not to worry about it. But that is partly why I’ve always diversifying.

Most recently, I mean, we can talk about this at some point, but the podcasts and a lot of the things that I’ve been doing. I don’t have any ads on them, I’m not really monetizing them. What I’m doing is just that brand awareness of myself and my business, hoping that I’m getting in front of more people so that they’re not just coming from Google, and they love me and then they’re easier to have them subscribe and sell things to. All of that kind of things. So that is part of that strategy to buffer against the adblocking or the third party cookies going away.

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Joe Casabona: For some context, this show started basically talking to WordPress developers on how they built their WordPress products. I don’t know if you’re using WordPress for your blog. Nice.

Christine Pittman: Yeah, yeah, I use WordPress.

Joe Casabona: And then it kind of moved to small business owners and freelancers. I feel like I started very niched and then I expanded and now I’m niching back down. But this has been a common thread throughout the life of the show, right? Diversify. With freelancers, you don’t want that one big client, because if that one big client disappears, there goes half of your revenue or whatever.

Let’s talk about your podcast now. I didn’t write the number down in… maybe we didn’t get an exact number in the pre-show but you have a ton of content at this point. You have over 10 years worth of content that you can pull from now, right?

Christine Pittman: Yeah, yeah, there’s thousands of recipes on the two sites. And so the first podcast I started a year ago. I was one of the COVID podcasters. I’ve loved talk radio since I was a kid. My parents listened to talk radio. I used to listen to—you know what, it just politically not aligned with me—radio shows just because I liked the format of the talking and the conversation. So I listened to anybody back when it was just airwaves.

And the only obstacle for me was I kept worrying about how you actually recorded and edited. I knew I could talk, I knew I could do that part, and it was that that was a stumbling block. And then I just happened to meet a friend during COVID online who was an audio producer. He was like, “Oh, that’s easy. Here. I’ll get you a microphone, you start talking and we’ll figure it out.”

And then he moved on to other things, and I’ll say, my second podcast, I now do the editing myself. I love it. They’re short. They’re three to five-minute episodes. And I have a blast fixing them up and doing them. But yeah, I started it a year ago. And it’s Time Management Insider the first podcast. It’s meal planning and time management for inside the home. So it’s like a lot of laundry and food talk and mental health stuff.

I’ve lots of different guests, cookbook authors and people on time and all kinds of things. But at the end of the show, I ran through this meal plan that I was telling you about. And that was sort of one of those repurposing ideas. Like I have all this content, what if I start packaging things together in a different way? These like, you know, five day meal plans that like link to just recipes on my site. So it’s another interlinking sort of thing. But it also gives my readers something else to come to. So that was part of that.

And then the second podcast is Recipe of the Day. That is every single day, three to five minutes long. And I’m running through a recipe from the site, tips for making it, how it fits into your week, that sort of thing. And that’s just all pulling that content too. And so it’s been amazing what you can do when you already have the content.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, Recipe of the Day is super great. I’m subscribed to that podcast because I feel like I can’t just keep making chicken nuggets for my kids even though my kids love… My son he’s like one and a half and he just eats whatever you put in front of him food or not.

But my daughter is four and a half and so she has entered the picky eater phase where she likes something one day and decides the next day she doesn’t like it. So finding ideas that are kind of time appropriate, just a fantastic idea. So before I lose this question, you edit your second podcast yourself. What do you use for editing?

Christine Pittman: Audacity.

Joe Casabona: Nice. Nice.

Christine Pittman: I bought the license to send little fee music and dinging noise and make that all the way I wanted and made a template. It actually reminds me of when I first learned to edit food photos. That like power of like you do something and it’s pretty good and then you can make it so much better. It’s really fun.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s great. And something that I’ll say here as a podcast consultant and coach is you have a good setup there. And I feel like that’s like more than half the battle when it comes to editing right is you sound good. It seems like you’re in a quiet place. I don’t know how old your kids are but I suspect they’re probably at school right now as we record.

So you have a quiet house. And so you don’t have to worry about some loud noise or rephrasing something and cutting. It’s generally a pretty clean recording that you just need to kind of tighten up a little bit. Right?

Christine Pittman: Yeah, yeah. I record on Audacity and then I edit the file a little bit, pauses or whatever I have to get out of there. And then I run it through Auphonic. Have you heard of this?

Joe Casabona: Yeah.

Christine Pittman: A-U-P-H-O-N-I-C. So much time is free a month. I don’t know any of the terminology, but I just dropped this file in there and it seems to make it louder and make some of the… I don’t know. Not background noise.

Joe Casabona: Boost the vocals and probably applies like a high pass filter and a noise gate to kind of get those consistent low sounds. If you have a dog barking, the dog is going to be barking. But if you have like a fan or even a washing machine, because like my… you can probably see the closed door behind me that’s our laundry room. You know, you have a washing machine and your hvac running and it’s consistent, tools like Auphonic can figure out that and get rid of it.

Christine Pittman: So that’s what I do. It’s pretty simple.

Joe Casabona: Nice. A tip here. The reverse of that is to record about 30 seconds of what’s called room tone. So that if you need to add a pause, you can add the room tone underneath. That way it’s not like you talking with a little bit of white noise and just dead silence and then you talk with a little… So the room tone makes it more consistent. I learned that from LinkedIn Learning.

Christine Pittman: Thank you very much. I’ll write down so I don’t forget.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Like that very much. I’m ready to get down. Don’t forget also. So your recipe of the day podcast specifically you pull from one of the many recipes you have across both sites. So this is straight up repurposing content, putting it into a new format. Do you read the stories kind of verbatim like a script or do you add your own flourish to them? That was a pretty heavy eye roll. I just saw there.

Christine Pittman: I’m so sorry.

Joe Casabona: No, no, that’s great. This is great.

Christine Pittman: It’s super funny. The first few that I recorded I just kind of reread the recipe to familiarize myself and then talked about… it was for chicken cordon bleu stacks. So instead of taking a chicken breast and stuffing it and then breading and frying it, instead you layer everything so you can get it together really quickly and into the oven.

So I was talking my way through just explaining the recipe and then I played it for my boyfriend and he’s like, “So you just explained the recipe but I just learned three things about cooking that I didn’t know before.” And that’s when I realized that those little tips, the little like what I talked about with the ham at the bottom of the stacks catches any cheese that drips down so it doesn’t just go and stick to your pan, it actually comes off with the ham.

So I’m like giving these little tips all through the show. I think that they’re buried sometimes in that longer blog post, but a lot of it is just coming from like my intuitive knowledge. If I’m going to explain to you how to make something, I explained the why as part of that. And I think I maybe do it verbally even more naturally than I do it in writing.

I jot down a few notes just so I make sure I don’t forget to mention this and this. And then I have it open in front of me the recipe as I’m talking. And because I’m editing it myself, I can stop the recording and like think for a second. And I think I figured out how to be like, “And then…” Stop. Okay, what the then? And then like find the… or leave it running and edit out the pause later. Like, it doesn’t really matter. But either way. So that’s how that is. I feel like anybody listening now is gonna hear all the places that I’ve clearly paused. But that’s okay.

Joe Casabona: No. But that makes perfect sense. That’s my preference as well. If I script a show, it sounds robotic. And it takes time. We’re kind of nearing the end of the show now and there’s a couple of pointed questions that I hope we’ll be good tips for the listeners. But the more you record, the more comfortable you get speaking. And when you’re not doing it live, you can pause and think and get your thoughts together.

But speaking off the cuff unearths… It’s like stream of consciousness thinking. That kind of unearth things that you might not have thought of if you had scripted the show, which is huge.

Christine Pittman: Oh, yeah, it’s so true. The Time Management Insider, the first few episodes I did kind of script them, and then realize that it did feel how I wanted it to feel. But the speaking off the cuff, interviewing people, those conversations and having to be present and hear them while thinking about what I’m going to ask them, not what I’m going to say about myself next, which is like a normal conversational strategy, but that interview skill, I think that all of that has made me a more effective communicator in all parts of my life.

Like as a parent, talking to my kids’ teachers, and self-promotion, elevator pitches, like all of that kind of thing has become so much easier partly from doing it all the time but then listening. I have to listen back to everything that I make at some point to just to give that final approval. And I hear, “Oh, wait, oh, it’s kind of weird when I do that thing.” Or I get really quiet in those moments, and learning to modulate.” All of those sorts of things, I think have really changed me in the last year in a way that I didn’t expect.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like especially with recorded content, it’s like you’re either like the quarterback who’s watching the tape the next day, or my approach is more like Johnny Depp. This is the only way I’m like Johnny Depp where I don’t like listening to my own work.

If I am on somebody else’s podcast, I will listen to that. I will probably listen to this again to make notes to send to my editor. But once it’s out, it’s like, All right, I know it’s out. I don’t want to go back and listen and pick it apart. I mean, if you’re doing the editing yourself, you have to. I did the editing myself for the first six months or so of my show. So you do. You learn a lot about… I used to say “um” a lot, and I still do. But when I’m on, like when I’m on stage, will say, I am more intentional about my phrasing.

Christine Pittman: Yeah, that’s true. You learn to sort of pause instead of um. There’s all sorts of things. I will say I don’t edit the longer one. The TMI podcast is more like 30 or 40 minutes. That, I have a producer who does it. It’s the Recipe of the Day because it’s every day. I wanted to be able to just do them whenever I wanted to and not have somebody else’s schedule to worry about or anything like that. So um… I just um’d. But yeah, no, it’s been such a learning experience and really beautiful. I really love podcasting. It’s wonderful.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, so much fun. I can’t say enough nice things about it either. So I forget now if we’ve said this in the pre-show or the main show. But with the Recipe of the Day, before we wrap up here, you mentioned a few things that you’re able to do. You have one recipe and you have like… I think you said 12 pieces of content maybe?

Christine Pittman: It might be more like four. But yes.

Joe Casabona: Maybe with 12 options, right? Like 12 different things you can do with it or whatever.

Christine Pittman: Yeah. What I realized early on, so it’s only been going… I’m going to say this. Only been going for three weeks and we already have over 3,000 downloads, which is super exciting.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Christine Pittman: But when I first started recording them, I realized that the hardest part was choosing which recipe to do. I’m trying to make them like, if it’s a Monday, it might be more like a super easy get into the week dinner. If it’s Saturday, it might be like an appetizer for big friends over. You want some wings for game day. So I’m trying to do that. I’m trying to follow you through your week through your days like that. And so I’m sitting down with the calendar, and I’m like, oh, geez, what’s gonna be next Wednesday? What should that be?” And so choosing them is almost the hardest part.

Then I record it. My social media person does graphic, and then we have the links. I do a branded bitly link. So we have all that made for the show. And it occurred to me that once that decision is made that there’s a bunch of different options that we can give people. So you can listen every day to recipe of the day and get that inspiration for your dinner from there or we can text the link to you. We have a phone number you text dinner to. I don’t have it off head.

But in terms of repurposing content, like when you have that one idea and then you do a whole bunch of stuff with it, right? You can subscribe to a newsletter where you get it sent to you every day to newsletter. There’s a Facebook group.

And then the thing that I’m most excited about is we’ve actually… once the podcast episode is recorded, we’re embedding them in the blog post right in recipe card. So where that “jump to recipe” button takes you, right down there is the player. So if you don’t want to read all those paragraphs, you can click and listen. And it’s right there. So it’s reaching possible podcast listeners, but it’s also giving the regular blog visitor something new and different to have as well.

Joe Casabona: That’s awesome. I think that’s a really good takeaway for those listening, right? You have a blog post or a newsletter. Usually, my newsletters will be the kind of first idea, the first like ruminations that will then turn into a blog post later. So there’s a bunch of ways where you can be on different platforms and repurpose with… I’m not going to say no effort, but just a little extra effort. You know, you’re not starting from scratch each time.

So as we wrap up here, Christine, this has been such a great conversation. We went through kind of starting the blog, how important analytics are, how you make money, and then repurposing the content. By the way, with your podcast, you mentioned that you don’t have ads, you don’t have like the embedded AdThrive ads. Do you do sponsors there, affiliates or is this really more about driving traffic to your blog?

Christine Pittman: I just recorded this weekend the episodes that are going to be going up in the early part of December. And I’ve just tried mentioning some of the more Christmas gift affiliate sort of people that I have in there.

My general sense of this when I start something new, and I would love to hear other perspectives, but when I started The Cookful, my second sight in 2015, I waited until it was getting 100,000 page views a month before I put any advertisement on it. And what I thought was, instead in that sidebar space and those places where you put ads, I advertised my own stuff. I was putting more links to related recipes and trying to do that and make it a very good experience for everybody before I started advertising on there.

I guess that’s what I’m planning with a podcast. But really right now the biggest goal and the reason that I wanted to do it was because most of my traffic to my sites comes from Google. And that feels like it’s, you know, one client, like you said, almost. It’s like one traffic source, which is one revenue stream really. And if I can get the traffic coming from somewhere else, then that buffer could be a little bit if ever, you know, the Google algorithm changes and decides that it hates me. That could happen any day. Right?

Joe Casabona: Right.

Christine Pittman: I always say if Google ever buys, we’re all screwed, because they’re just gonna start putting first. I don’t think that’s in Google’s best interest because that’s not how they want things to be. But it’s still there in my mind.

So the idea with the podcast and some of the other things that I’ve been doing is really to get that brand awareness and have people coming to the site through other things, whether through the podcast or even just like, “Oh, I wonder if Christine has a recipe for that,” and coming to me directly.

And I’ll say since I’ve been working… so Brittney, the printouts that we have in my PR, head of my PR team, head of the PR company I work with since I’ve started working with her the traffic to my homepage people coming directly to click the story or googling for Christine Pittman blog or Cook the Story website has like… I think it’s like… I don’t even know. It’s like quadrupled a couple times over at this point.

Joe Casabona: Wow.

Christine Pittman: Which I think it’s just from that PR work, but also possibly from these other avenues of people coming directly instead of going through Google.

Joe Casabona: That’s amazing. Big shout out to Brittney Lynn. I will link to The Human Connections Agency, which is her agency in the show notes for this episode. Which I haven’t said, the URL because we’re recording this a little early, but I know this is gonna be episode 253. So you can find the show notes over at I’ll have where to find Christine, which she’ll tell us about in a minute.

But first, I do need to ask you, if you do have any trade secrets for us. And trade secrets, of course, as I move this show from running a plugin business to being a content creator is what’s something that you don’t think enough content creators do or take advantage of or something to make their lives easier?

Christine Pittman: Maybe this is gonna be a little bit more touchy-feely. But I feel like when I first started using analytics to decide on my content, it felt a little inauthentic. It wasn’t necessarily what I was making for my family. It was what I thought was going to drive traffic, and it felt inauthentic.

As my site has grown and I’ve seen more and more people love what I do, I’ve come to realize that by having the analytics and using like, what is doing well on my site? The roast pork, the chicken wings. What trends do my readers and listeners want? The easy meals for weeknights.

When I start looking at that, I am giving my visitors what they actually want and need, what serves them, and what helps them. And that isn’t inauthentic. It’s not necessarily what I’m making in my kitchen, it’s not the content that I am creating for myself, but it’s the content that is most going to help people.

And the analytics are the tool to figure out that and they’re not necessarily like evil genius trick or something. It’s really like, how do I get insight into what people want? I look at the data. And that can actually feel empowering and good and doesn’t have to feel like a weird sell-out for traffic thing.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, I love that. Because we’re not our target audience. Our audience is our target audience.

Christine Pittman: Exactly.

Joe Casabona: So why am I going to tell people only what I want to know? I want to help people understand and help them solve their problems, not my problems. So I think that’s great. It’s funny that you mention that because I was just having a conversation recently with my friend Brian Richards about sending email. Because again, we’re recording this in Cyber Monday, Black Friday wrap up.

And he said, “Getting over the hump of realizing that sending people emails about the sale is not annoying. It is a service.” He’s helping them realize, “Hey, if you are or have ever been interested in my product, now you can get it at its best price.” Or, “Hey, you only have like an hour to take advantage of this pricing before it goes away.” That’s providing a service.

If they didn’t want to know, they’d unsubscribe. And some people do, and that’s great, because I don’t want to crowd their inbox and I don’t want them on a list where I’m paying basically per subscriber and where they don’t want to buy anything from me. So flipping that switch and thinking about what you do a certain way in the service of your audience is so important.

Christine Pittman: Yeah, no, I totally agree. And the newsletter point is a really good one. I don’t think I’ve learned that one yet for myself. I still feel a little, oh, gosh, I’m going in their inbox. And it’s actually sending that text every day too or sending the recipe of the day text every day I feel a little invasive. But they can unsubscribe if they like it, and it helps them and it’s good.

And like that’s what the one that goes directly to the jump to recipe button too. So I’m sending them right to the recipe. Like, I don’t know, we’ll try and if people hate it, they can unsubscribe.

Joe Casabona: That’s exactly right. I’ll keep you posted. Today is the last day of my big sale where, it’s a big discount on my membership and my ala carte courses are going away. And I had two emails scheduled for today. One that’s like less than 24 hours one that is like 10 hours.

And my friend Brian was like, “You need four emails. You need 24 hours, 12 hours, two hours, 20 minutes.” I ended up doing 24 hours, 12 hours, 4 hours, 16 minutes just because that felt more in tune with where my audience is. I don’t know how many you’re gonna be checking at like 11:30 p.m. Eastern time. I think my British and European audience is really taking advantage of the sale already.

But I’m like, “Four emails? That feels like a lot.” But you know what people check at different times of the day, sometimes it gets buried. And invariably, I’m probably going to get emails from people who are like, “I missed the sale, is there anything you can do?” But at this point, I’ve done everything I could do.

To bring it back to your point—this isn’t about me—to bring back your point using analytics, not inauthentic. It helps you serve your audience. I think that’s a really great takeaway and a good place to leave it before we get into Build Something More where we’ll talk about cooking as a busy parent, as well as I am going to talk to you about your production schedule a little bit.

So if you are interested in either of those things, you can sign up for just 50 bucks a year. That is less than five bucks a month over at You’ll get ad-free extended episodes, which you’ll be able to sign up for over at

Christine, this has been a pleasure. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find you?

Christine Pittman: I mean, my site is and that is my own personal blog where I’m happiest, but also the… Well, social media, I’m Cook the Story everywhere. That is the best place. Well, even on TikTok now. That is recent.

Joe Casabona: Me too. Me too.

Christine Pittman: And then the Podcast, I think, Time Management Insider. I mean, we’ve been talking about Recipe of the Day a lot, but I feel like for anybody who wants the inspiration what to make today and to learn those little cooking tips and those things along the way, three to five minutes. And I think my personality is there quite a bit.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Awesome. Well, again, I will link to all of that in the show notes over at Christine, thanks so much for your time and your great insight. I really appreciate it.

Christine Pittman: Thanks for having me, Joe. It was great.

Joe Casabona: Thanks to everybody listening. Until next time, get out there and build something.

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