Monetization Case Study – How This Food And Nutrition Blog Can Get More Opt-Ins And Sales

In this blog monetization case study, we take a look at a nutrition blog by a nutritional therapist. He is getting 1,000 visitors daily, but needs to increase his opt-in rate and wants to make more sales. Let’s dive in and see how we can enhance this blog…

 

When I put out the offer to my email subscribers to give them a free blog audit for a once-per-month public case study, my email inbox got hammered. I got a TON of submissions – everything from mommy blogs, to parking tickets, to personal development.

But, I can only pick one per month. And this month, I’ll be looking at Fearless Eating, submitted by Craig Fear. Craig is a nutritional therapist and his business is helping people overcome digestive issues, tackle heartburn and IBS.

Craig’s biggest areas to focus on his blog were:

  • How to better grow his email list (he is currently averaging about 6 signups per day)
  • How to grow traffic
  • How to tweak the design
  • How to make more sales

Craig reports that the blog is doing roughly 35,000 views per month. The email list is sitting at around 5,000, and monthly revenue is around $500. And it looks like that $500/month is direct blog monetization, since he isn’t currently using the blog to attract 1:1 clients.

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Now, he did launch an online course – something I’m a big fan of. The first time, he launched it as a live class which he delivered over the course of 8 live webinars. He sold it for $197 and sold 35 of them for a total of $6,895. This is a great model because (a) it is live, which introduced urgency to sign up before it begins, and (b) it allows you to validate the offer with actual sales BEFORE you actually do the work.

Later, he re-formulated the course into an on-demand course. On the advice of another instructor, he raised the price to $497. He built an interest list of 1,000 on it, but come launch time, only sold 9 (for a total of $4473). Craig considers that a loss (seeing as he invested more than that into creating everything beforehand) and is considering relaunching with a cheaper price.

So, with the background all in place, let’s get started.

But First, A Heads Up…

The blog profit audit is a service I offer to blog owners who are looking to increase their leads and conversions from their blog. What you’re going to find in this post is more or less what I do for clients, with two notable exceptions:

  1. I am not doing a 1:1 phone call as I usually do, which means I am primarily going only off the information sent to me during the application process.
  2. I am doing this blog audit with a public post in mind to make it most actionable for everybody. Usually, these blog audits are completely private.

If you’d like to schedule a blog profit audit for your blog, click here.

The Walk-Through

Every blog audit I do starts off with a video walk-through of the site. And during that video, I simply “talk out” what I find and what I’d do differently.

Here is the video for Fearless Eating…

With that, let’s break apart what I said into the key points…

How To Grow The Email List

An email list of 5,000 is nothing to dismiss. That’s a respectable list. At the same time, with traffic of over 1,000 per day, we can do better than just 5-6 new subscribers per day.

Here’s the areas I would focus on with this blog:

  • Instead of a traditional blog homepage which lists the latest post, I would switch to a custom homepage which emphasizes the opt-in and downplays (if not ignores) the latest posts.
  • The blog’s sidebar is overloaded – AND has more than one opt-in form. Too many choices means most people won’t make any choice at all. Solution is to thin out the sidebar and move the opt-in form to the top.
Fearless_Eating_Sidebar
  • You need to construct a well-formed lead magnet. Instead of concentrating on the features (i.e. “get my free video series”, or “1st 4 chapters of my book”), you need to concentrate on giving them an immediate solution to a problem. Focus on that solution.
  • I see Craig is doing the “content upgrade” strategy I often do here at the Academy. Good. 🙂 Keep that up.
  • Redo the “5 Simple Foods” squeeze page. The video focuses too much on you. Instead, I’d get rid of the video and instead focus on a very catchy, benefit-driven headline and then bullet points which are designed to sell the report.

Two of the biggest mistakes blog owners make on their opt-in is (a) having no lead magnet at all and instead just saying “subscribe for my newsletter”, or (b) making the lead magnet way too generalized (“Get my free video series”). I’d HIGHLY recommend to secure access to my Creating An Effective Lead Magnet Action Plan. Its just $7.

How To Grow Traffic

Every blogger wants more traffic – and it is often the common assumption that more traffic solves all problems. However, Craig is averaging over 1,000 people per DAY to his blog. While more people would certainly be nice, the issue we have here is a CONVERSION problem, not a traffic problem.

The two main elements of conversion are:

  • Attracting the right people to begin with.
  • Presenting them with the right offer in the right way.

In terms of the makeup of the readership, I have no way to know who they are. Obviously, who we WANT is more people with digestive problems to be solved. My main concern right now is that Fearless Eating is not branded properly and many of the posts aren’t presented well so as to make it obvious that that’s who we’re talking to.

For instance, the main byline is “Traditional Food For Modern Times”. That branding says absolutely nothing which makes it clear that this blog is about solving IBS, heartburn, etc. That byline makes it seem as if this is a recipe site. And, quite frankly, many of the blog posts (judging from the headline) just compound the problem:

  • “How To Make Bone Broth Without Being A Perfectionist”. While bone broth might be great for somebody with IBS – don’t assume they know that. From an SEO perspective, you may attract somebody interested in making bone broth here, but NOT likely to get somebody who has IBS.
  • “How To Make Chicken And Beef Broth”. Same exact deal. Is this a recipe site, or a site with IBS solutions?

Over and over again, Craig is creating really great blog posts, but unfortunately the packaging of a good number of them is completely off for a target market of sufferers of IBS.

My suggestion in terms of traffic isn’t that we have a quantity problem, but that we have a TARGETING problem. I would focus on:

  • Change the branding of the blog. “Fearless Eating” is totally fine. It is the idea of eating without fear of upsetting your IBS. But, the byline drops the ball. Don’t be cutesy with it. Make it specific. Something on the order of “IBS Solutions For People Who Want To Eat Real Food”. Point is, smack them with a “pain point” and present YOUR blog as their solution.
  • You need to specifically target your blog content toward presenting solutions to these issues. The headline needs to make it clear that THAT’S the point. For instance, instead of a blog post about “The Best Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes”, it should be something like “How To Make Thanksgiving Mashed Potatoes That Won’t Set Off Your Heartburn”. See? Benefit.

How To Tweak The Design

The design of Fearless Eating is actually fine. The big things I would change on it have more to do with conversion than aesthetics.

  • Redo the blog tagline. (see above)
  • Simplify the sidebar. Just too much stuff in it.
  • Consider simplifying your category structure and focusing it on benefits.
  • The top navigation is using phrasing which won’t matter to a visitor. For instance, simply linking to your “Fearless Digestion” course like that does nothing for your conversions and it means nothing to a visitor. Also, “Heartburn Ebook”. That’d be like calling your blog “Blog”.
  • Email opt-in forms are quite under-stated right now. Need to use some CSS and make them more noticeable.
  • Your Disclosure and Disclaimer should not be linked in the top nav. Top nav is prime real estate and wasting it on legal pages like that is pointless. Move those pages down to the very bottom.
  • Just too many banner ads – and they’re very poorly targeted. I’d recommend you get rid of them. I know they’re making money, but you’re actually harming your long-term prospects to turn this site into a real revenue stream by having those banners on there.
  • The Subscribe page has too many options. Its confusing as well. Ditch this whole thing and turn it into a real squeeze page. OptimizePress is a great WordPress-focused solution for squeeze pages.

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How To Monetize More Effectively

When Craig submitted his application to me for the blog audit, he started off with this: (emphasis added)

I’m a Nutritional Therapist and I work with people 1:1 to help them with dietary changes. About 3 years ago I started my blog and had no idea what I was doing. I looked at it as a vehicle for growing my clientele but learned to monetize my blog in other ways.

And right there is where he went off the rails, in my opinion.

First, he is very clear what he does. He said, “I’m a Nutritional Therapist and I work with people 1:1 to help them with dietary changes.” But, when I look at this blog, that isn’t clear to me. Not only that, I see nothing to BUY to seek those changes except for the “Fearless Digestion Course” (which we’ll get to).

He was on a good track, but then he “learned to monetize in other ways”. Why? See, this is the problem with the advice so many standard “blog gurus” out there give. And quite frankly, it pisses me off to no end because somebody like Craig would do MUCH better using this blog to BUILD BUSINESS, not to waste time on low leverage “monetization” like Amazon affiliate links and Adsense.

“Unlearn” some of that monetization stuff you’ve been taught – and instead focus on BUILDING BUSINESS. (click to tweet this)

For starters, your original intention of using the blog to get 1:1 clients was a good one and it is unfortunate that you got lured away from it. If you use this blog as lead generation for high ticket consulting (aka 1:1 clients), then this blog can generate FAR more revenue than it does now. I would imagine that even just one new client would far surpass the $500 you’re making with this blog in a month.

So, consider this as a potential funnel:

  1. Use the blog (and your existing list) as a lead pool to get people enrolled onto a webinar.
  2. That webinar is super focused on their core problem. Not recipes. You want them to come off that webinar with the firm knowledge that a solution is not only possible, but YOU are the guy to guide them to it.
  3. The call to action for this webinar is to get onto a free private call with you. The purpose of that call is to see if they’re the right fit to work with you directly. If they are, you bring them on as a private client.

You would be able to charge much higher price points for this than you probably think you could. And this is in direct contradiction to your instinct on your DIY course, which is to launch it with a much LOWER price.

About that…

How To Sell The Online Course

The Fearless Digestion course is currently priced at $497. Craig mentioned that he had gone through a course about creating courses, had invested a fair amount of money into making it, and was then advised to price the course with a higher price tag than he originally intended.

He sold 9 of them, for about $4,500 in total revenue. Problem is, he invested more into it than that so it is a loss at this point. The current thinking is to relaunch it with a lower price.

But, here’s the thing…

I bet that the problem here isn’t the price tag, and I fear that Craig is making the same mistake which is all too common and that’s devaluing the offer and competing on price. Sure, price is most definitely a factor, but it isn’t THE factor. And simply relaunching this course with a significantly lower price tag isn’t necessarily going to do the trick.

In most cases, the problem of lack of sales isn’t simply due to price. It is about the offer itself. As the price point goes up, the quality level of the offer must increase. The copy which presents the offer must be really effective in getting into their problem, putting it into perspective, then amplifying it enough so that the price point you’re asking becomes a non-issue. Difficult task? Definitely can be.

Now, a few notes about the sales page:

  • The headline lacks punch. Grab some of the swipe files in this post as a guide to improve your sales page headline.
  • The video is a little stand off-ish. It is also way too focused on the features (the modules themselves) and spends WAY too little time really getting into the problem.
  • Most of the sales page copy focuses too much on the modules.
  • The offer concentrates way too much on the content of the program. But, people don’t buy content. They don’t buy modules. They buy OUTCOMES. The Internet is already bloated with content, so positioning your offer as “pay me $497 so I can give you a bunch of videos” isn’t going to hit home.
  • The design of this sales page is pretty weak compared to what you could create with pre-built solutions like LeadPages or OptimizePress. I know Craig paid somebody to design this, but in all honesty, he could have done better using OptimizePress.

About the offer itself, it needs to be designed specifically to get the outcome they want. And it needs to stand over and above just content. For example, the only real feature you mention here which is more than just content is “A private Facebook group to connect with class members, ask questions and get support.” Aside from that, it is almost as if the person is paying $497 just to get a bunch of videos to watch. Well, there’s a lot you can watch on Youtube for free.

Remember, they’re investing in an OUTCOME and you need to really make that outcome real to them – and make it clear why YOU are the person through which they will get there. They’re investing in themselves – and an outcome you’ve proven you can produce (you need to clearly show that). They are NOT buying a bunch of training (yet that’s what your sales page does now).

Lastly, consider moving this course to a launch model rather than direct sale on the sales page. Instead, have them opt in for a super targeted lead magnet. Walk them through a short sequence designed to market to them over the course of a few days. THEN present the offer. And if you did that using a webinar, you’d convert a lot better. Also be sure to use urgency to make the sale (deadlines, etc.).

I don’t think you need to lower your price. I think you need to enhance your marketing.

Wrapping It Up

I think Fearless Eating can be shifted into quite a powerful marketing vehicle for Craig’s business – and be a fundamental arm of his business rather than an independent thing that he’s “monetizing” using the typical low-hanging fruit that most bloggers do.

There’s a lot of revenue potential here.

I want to thank Craig for being willing to put his blog on the hot seat this month. I hope he’ll get a lot out of this.

… and I hope all the rest of you did as well. In looking at as many blogs as I have, I see many of the same common issues. There’s a good chance that Craig’s site is ahead of your’s in terms of traffic, list, etc…. but that doesn’t mean the same advice doesn’t apply to you, too.

Craig has done what most don’t – and that is that he stepped out there and actually made offers. And while he isn’t happy with the sales amounts, he still made FAR more than most have with their blogs. And not only that, with the right tweaks, Craig can make a lot more money using the work he’s already done.

Take This Blog Post To The Next Level

If you’d like to do a little evaluation on your OWN blog to see how you could improve it, I have prepared a Blog Self Evaluation Checklist.

This checklist doesn’t include every possible thing – because every blog is different. However, it will guide you through a good starting point for some of the things I look for when I am doing a blog audit for a client.

blog-self-eval-cta

Leave A Comment Below And Answer This…

I did all this so that my readers can get actionable take-aways. So, my question is…

What is your biggest takeaway from this case study that you intend to put into action right away on your own blog?

About David Risley
David Risley is the founder of the Blog Marketing Academy, a 20-year veteran blogger and online entrepreneur. His focus? Building a reliable, recurring business around his "lifestyle" and the lives of his students. He has this weird obsession with traveling in his motorhome around the country with his wife and 2 kids. David also likes to talk about himself in the third person. In bios like this one. Read his full story.
  • Ellie says:

    David, this is an absolutely informative post. I’ve even forwarded it to a client. Thank you for taking the time to share it in both video and text.

    • Ellie says:

      I need to add that my take-aways, besides all the ‘detail’ about the blog technique, is (1) know and appreciate your own ‘value and (2) your reader/subscribers needs to know the benefits much more than all the details of the offer.

    • David Risley says:

      Thanks so much for sharing it, Ellie. Glad you liked it.

  • Kari says:

    I just found your blog and LOVE this walk through case study! Thank you so much for putting this out there! I’m just starting to figure out where my focus audience is and getting serious about blogging. This is so packed with info to help me with that!
    Thank you!

  • Hi David. Thank you so much for such great detailed information. I have a coaching website and just started blogging regularly this year. My goal is to build an online business. Before I change my entire site I’m trying to determine benchmarks from other sites. Your case study using video has helped tremendously. I’ll continue to watch and search your site for other valuable information. Thanks again for generously sharing your knowledge.

  • Jason says:

    I’m working my way through your 30 day transformation program and finding it very thorough and straight-forward. This post is gold and demonstrates in a very practical sense all that you teach. Nicely done. Keep up the brilliant work.

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