Are you ready to learn about building a massive, loyal tribe from one of the top food bloggers who has 100,000 YouTube subscribers, 275,000 Instagram followers, 10 million monthly views on Pinterest, and millions of blog visitors?
My guest, Carolyn Ketchum, is a photographer, founder of the popular keto blog All Day I Dream About Food, and best-selling author of The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking and 5 other books. A major carnivore with an unrepentant sweet tooth, she is devoted to creating innovative and delicious low-carb recipes that don’t sacrifice flavor.
In this episode, Carolyn shares how she started her blog and branded it, her experiences with the changes happening on the internet that affected her business, and how she deals with it. She shares some of her best tips about YouTube, Pinterest and blogging. As a bonus, she also explains keto versus paleo, how diet regimens differ for each person, why she is on a keto diet, and the best sweeteners for those who are sugar-free.
Without any further ado, let’s do this!
In this Episode
- [00:20] – Stephan introduces his next guest, Carolyn Ketchum, a photographer, founder of the popular keto blog All Day I Dream About Food, and best-selling author of The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking and 5 other books.
- [02:01] – Carolyn shares her learnings from blogging which has been going for 12 years with traffic between two and three million page views a month.
- [06:08] – Carolyn explains the difference and the approaches between keto and paleo diets.
- [07:00] – Stephan talks about his metabolic reset diet for 42 days with an eight-hour eating window that made him lose 20 lbs and eventually feel an energy boost.
- [09:57] – Carolyn says that her thing in keto is about blood sugar maintenance, and since she loves baking, she makes sure that desserts are part of her diet.
- [12:54] – Stephan and Carolyn discuss their ways of monitoring blood sugar levels and stabilizing them.
- [16:52] – Stephan remembers his learnings about the concept of a soul contract, which is that all these things that seemed to happen to us were part of our agreements before we incarnated.
- [22:22] – Stephan wants to talk about Carolyn’s strategies in building her amazing brand, blog reader base, followers, and videos.
- [27:44] – Stephen and Carolyn talk about the impact of being part of blogger conferences and groups.
- [29:50] – Carolyn uses AdDrive to monetize her traffic and explains her learnings about the concept of how to do a newsletter.
- [33:59] – Stephan and Carolyn discuss the advantages of having timestamps in youtube videos and podcast interviews.
- [35:20] – Stephan looks at the impressive stats of Carolyn’s youtube channel.
- [39:54] – Stephan recommends that Carolyn hire a Virtual assistant and shares the benefits of having a team he can trust.
- [51:16] – Stephan asks Carolyn about the best sweeteners, their differences, and their impact.
- [55:55] Visit Karen Wilson’s website to learn more about her and her services.
Carolyn, it’s so great to have you on the show.
It’s wonderful to be here and see you again.
We used to work together many, many, many years ago, and you were actually a guest on my other podcast probably six years ago or something.
Gosh, was it that long? Oh, my goodness. It doesn’t feel that long. I used to work for you, but I guess we could say with you. It sounds better.
Yeah. I think it is better. Let’s see when that episode was. It was 2015.
Wow. That was before I wrote a cookbook and you were encouraging me to go for it, and then I did. Then I wrote six of them.
I’m so glad you did. You had a really popular blog back then, but I don’t think you had your cookbooks.
I did not have my cookbooks.
The blog is titled All Day I Dream About Food. It’s kind of a hat tip to the Adidas brand, right?
Yes. It is.
All Day I Dream About Sports, Adidas. What have you learned from blogging all these years? Because your blog has been going for a decade now or something?
This is 2022. It was really not something big at the beginning so it’s been 12 years since 2010. Things have changed dramatically. What have I learned? Don’t expect things to stay the same. Don’t get into a rut so that you’re like, oh no. It changed and I didn’t change with it.
And that applies to the business models, it applies to your fan base, it applies to the routines and potentially the ruts that you get into, and the processes and systems that you develop.
It applies to everything. It definitely applies to what I do day to day. I feel like, fortunately or unfortunately because I like it, but I think I get sucked into it. The social media landscape has changed a lot and it’s definitely more demanding. As much as I would love to pass that off to someone, I find it really hard to do because I’m very much my blog. It’s very personal to me.
No one knows keto baking like I do, so when I hire someone, I have some help. When I hire someone and they try to sort of answer questions, I’m like no, don’t say that. It just affects everything.
The SEO landscape has changed. It always does.
The SEO landscape has changed. Of course, it always does. I think the thing is, it kind of keeps you on your toes, which is good. Also, you hit points where you go what do I want from this now? I think that one of my things, writing cookbooks, has taken some relief off because I really love writing the recipes and I can put them in cookbooks now, even some online sort of ebooks, then it doesn’t all have to be just about the blog. There are other ways to kind of branch out and make a name.
The blog gets roughly how much traffic?
Anywhere between two and three million page views a month.
Yeah, it’s big. It was growing really well, especially at the beginning of the pandemic because everybody was home and wanted to learn how to cook and bake. A lot of people (I think) came to keto at that point, and then it slowed down a little because once life got back a little more to normal. People were out and about and they want easy, deliverable recipes. They always ask me if I deliver.
Excuse me. This is a cooking site. You’re supposed to cook.
It’s awesome. People can be kind of rude, demanding, and unrealistic.
Absolutely. It’s really interesting because there’s a lot of troll behavior, too. On YouTube, I currently have a video that goes viral every so often, and then I get people just coming making random comments. They’re obviously not interested in keto at all. They want to tell me what I’m doing wrong the whole time. I’ve learned, don’t fire back, just delete, delete, delete.
Yeah, which video is that?
It’s a no-bake peanut butter bar, and it’s almost a million views. It goes quiet for months at a time and then it explodes again. I don’t know why YouTube decides to start showing it again. Then I get people telling me to eat a different diet. We’ll never agree there.The social media landscape has changed a lot. It's more demanding. Click To Tweet
Oh, my goodness. For our listener’s benefit who don’t understand the difference between keto and paleo, could we just get that out of the way right now?
Sure. There are lots of crossovers. It’s usually about whole foods and things like that, but I love to bake so I do use sweeteners. There are plenty of crossover but people approach keto differently. Some people do dairy-free, which paleo is. I don’t do dairy-free necessarily because I like cream and butter. There are a lot of things on paleo that you can’t eat on keto like sweet potatoes, bananas, or plantains, because they just have too many carbs.
There are plenty of crossovers and sometimes I get inspired by paleo blogs. Sometimes somebody from a paleo blog will take one of my recipes and adapt it for paleo so there’s plenty of sort of connection there.
It’s funny because I just learned that I can’t be keto because of my genetics. I just learned it last week.
Were you doing keto?
I did a metabolic reset diet for 42 days. I lost 20 pounds. I lost 5% body fat.
Yeah, I got rid of my gut. It was awesome. All I ate was four ounces of vegetables, four ounces of fruit, and four ounces of protein. For me, the protein was either cottage cheese or tofu. No carbs and no oils. It was super strict and only an eight-hour eating window.
Oh yes, so intermittent fasting?
Yeah, I would eat between 11 and 7. No snacking, only two meals.
The four ounces, 4-4-4, twice a day.
How did you feel?
Amazing. Full of energy. It was incredible. The first few days were hard. I had to do two days of really heavy-duty loading where I pigged out 4000 and some calories a day, which is really hard to do. I was supposed to get up to 5000 calories. I’m like no way. I’m barely able to get the 4000 and I was eating so much junk. You’re not really supposed to eat the junk. You’re supposed to eat mostly clean calories, but I just ate the most garbage.
It might be kind of fun.
With the keto culture, there’s a bit of a one-size-fits-all mentality.
It was fun. Then the next few days were rough. But then I got this amazing boost of energy. I never would have imagined that I could do this for that length of time without cheating, without making any screw-ups, but I nailed it.
My wife, Orion, was very proud of me. That’s really cool. That’s my biggest foray into kind of the low carb, but it wasn’t a keto diet, it wasn’t a paleo diet. It was the metabolic reset diet, which I got from Sachin Patel, who I know from Genius Network; he was a past guest from my other podcast. That was amazing and I’ve kept much of the weight off. I’ve gained a little bit, but not a ton. I lost 20 pounds and probably gained about 6 or 7.
That’s great. My thing for keto is I never had weight to lose and it was always about my blood sugar because I like to tease my youngest that she gave me gestational diabetes and then it didn’t really fully resolve. A couple of months after I had her, my blood sugar started to rise again, so it’s always been about blood sugar maintenance.
For a long time, I was just what I would say, just low carb, and then I realized the most control I had over my blood sugar was when I would sort of do the stuff that fell into the keto category. I do like my desserts so baking was very important to me and it always will be, so I make that a part of my diet.
People always ask me, do you actually eat all that? Well, I don’t eat the whole thing. I mean, if I make a thing that serves 16, my husband’s eating it, my kids are eating it. I take some to friends because mostly I’m ready to move on to the next recipe. I always have some of what I make. I always have dessert, but I tried to save dessert for dessert, as opposed to eating it in the middle of the day. If I make a cake, I have to wait till after dinner to have some.
Got you. I went 2 ½ years without eating dessert. That was really hard as well, but I got into this mode where it didn’t faze me at all. I was like, yeah, that’s just who I am now. Then I slipped and now I just chow down on sugar. I’m back with a vengeance.
I have a taste for sweets, but being sugar-free (I think) makes it so that I can pass things up pretty easily. If I’m at a party or somewhere out to dinner and somebody gets dessert, they’re always apologetic. I’m like, don’t worry, it doesn’t bother me. I am not fazed by it.
The interesting thing for me is that a lot of my readers want me to create bread and pizza and fake pasta. I don’t crave those things so I create some of those recipes and write them mostly for the readers, but I don’t myself crave bread things very much. I’d rather have the meat, the vegetables, and a little bit of dessert.
Got you. Do you still have gestational diabetes?
I have prediabetes. I’ve never been fully diagnosed with Type II, but I’m positive I would be if I ate too many carbs. If I went back to a standard American diet, which no matter what diet you approach, the standard American diet is not the one I want to follow. If I went back to that, I’d have. If I eat a little too much of something, I can spike, not crazy full-blown diabetic but enough to be if I ate more of that I’d have some problems.
I might suggest to you what I do and what works for me, but I’m not trying to force anybody into a mold.
Do you wear one of those monitors that checks your blood?
I wore one. Those are really fascinating. For somebody who’s a Type I diabetic, they’re super important. A parent of a Type I diabetic creates kits and she was like, I will just be really curious for you to wear one for a month. She sent me a kit and I wore it because they’re really expensive unless you have insurance to pay for it.
I wore one for a month and it was fascinating. Things like heart exercise can spike your blood sugar because your liver starts putting out glucose to keep you energetic because you’re putting your body under stress. It was really interesting to see some of those little spikes or something like a glass of wine can drop your blood sugar significantly. It was really interesting to see that but mostly, I just have a little monitor that I prick my finger and test two or three times a day.
Yeah, got it. I did wear CGM for the entire time I did the metabolic reset, the 42 days, and then maybe a month after that, and a couple of weeks before that to establish a baseline. What was really cool—this sounds kind of out there—I was able to bring my blood sugar back up without eating, just by breathing.
Oh, interesting. Just kind of concentrating.
Yeah, just the breathing. Doing deep Wim Hof breathing would help stabilize my blood sugar so I didn’t have to break my fast early.
Oh, wow. I have done some intermittent fasting. The longest I think I’ve ever fasted was probably about 18–20 hours, but it didn’t seem to have an effect on my blood sugar because I work out sometimes. I work out fasted a lot of the time, but then I’m really hungry afterwards.
Intermittent fasting actually works or doesn’t work, depending on your genetics.
There’s something I’d like to test because there are things that don’t fit the keto mold. This is one of my frustrations with the keto culture is that there’s a bit of a one-size-fits-all mentality, which happens in every diet, and I’m sure happened with paleo and all of those things, too. People tell you, you shouldn’t eat dairy, or you shouldn’t eat this. There’s so much misinformation online as well. It’s very painful to see.
I definitely think that there are things that work for some people and things that don’t and I’m not going to tell you you have to do keto or that your best approach is this way. I might suggest you what I do and what works for me, but I’m not gonna try to force anybody into a mold.
Yeah, that’s good. Now the prediabetes, do you actually consider that to be a gift? Or do you consider that some unfortunate thing that’s happened to you?
It’s a gift. I’ve created a whole career based on it. I wouldn’t go back to eating. My dad interestingly asked me a long time ago now, but I’ve been doing low carb for five years or so. He said, what if they’re wrong, this is all a mistake, and you’re fine? I was like, I wouldn’t change the way I eat. I love it.
I love experimentation, coming up with an idea, and seeing if I can make it a reality.
I also love creating the recipes and having learned skill and developed a skill because I think before I came along, there wasn’t that much in the Keto baking world. I love experimentation, coming up with an idea, and seeing if I can make it a reality. I wouldn’t change it for the world. So yeah, a gift. I like to tease my daughter, but she’s always like yes, but I gave you a career. I’m like yes, you did.
It’s awesome. I learned sometime last year about this concept called soul contract. I had Vasundhra Gupta on my other podcast to talk about it, because that’s how I discovered about soul contracts. I was reading her article on My Spiritual Shenanigans, the name of her blog. She wrote a great article about it and I got to have her on my show.
The concept is that all these things that seemed to happen to us, many of these things that are life-altering—both positively and negatively like gestational prediabetes—were part of our agreements before we incarnated. We chose it, we knew it was coming, but then with spiritual amnesia when you come into this body, you forget all the stuff.
Let’s say you go to watch a movie, but you’ve already read the spoilers and the plotline in the Wikipedia article. That wouldn’t be a very enjoyable movie, right? Spiritual amnesia actually works to your benefit because it’s a game you enjoy playing, hopefully, a life that you’re enjoying. All the spoilers coming to you would kind of ruin it for you. It wouldn’t be a fun game or it would be a movie that you know how it turns out.
I don’t know. What do you think about this was a soul contract you agreed to and actually chose to get gestational prediabetes before you incarnated so that you end up with all this revelation of light, all the amazing things that you’re doing for people in the world, helping change their health and their diet.
I liked that. I think there are people and I would come off as one of them who roll with the punches pretty well. At the time, I’m usually mad, and then how can I work this to my advantage? I kind of think that that makes sense to me where I’m like okay, this is the hand I’ve dealt and this is what I’m going to do with it.There are things that work for some people and things that don't. Click To Tweet
None of it is like that, though, and maybe the spiritual amnesia for them is just too strong or they agreed to something they didn’t really actually want, I don’t know. I know a lot of people who just end up fighting what comes their way and that makes them so unhappy, and I don’t know how you get them to change that mindset.
I wouldn’t change things, so maybe I did sign a contract because that’s the other thing you said, I’m helping people. One of the things that sustain me when I’m frustrated with how things are going or just exhausted by it—as I think we all do, no matter how much we love our jobs, there are times when we’re like ugh—is when somebody writes and says it can be a diabetic, or the parent of a diabetic, or somebody who lost 100 pounds, and they just thank me and say that my recipes saved them because a lot of people don’t think that they can sustain keto or low carb.
For me, it’s the same way. I sustain it by having some enjoyment in things like dessert. A lot of people agree that it keeps them on track rather than derailing them. When somebody writes to me and says—sometimes people are hyperbole here—that I saved their life, I’m like, no, you saved your own life. I just gave you the tools to do it.
I remember Anil Gupta who was on my other podcast some years ago. He’s the author of Immediate Happiness. At the time, my wife wasn’t really pursuing her coaching and her career that much. He said something that I found very applicable to me, too, and I think for everybody, that is, if you don’t show up and not really stand in your power and do what you’re meant to do, people are dying. People are literally dying.
You just gave me shivers. Wow. I mean, that makes sense.
By the way, those shivers are angel bumps. That’s confirmation from the angels. I learned that too last year. Goosebumps are actually angel bumps. When you get this intuition, like I really need to stop this person, tell them to be more careful, or watch out, or something. You just get this intuition that I need to say something and then you get the goosebumps. That’s a confirmation. That’s like the thumbs up.
I just got a whole bunch of them, a whole bunch of thumbs up. It makes really good sense to me that this is something I was meant to do. It can be a drag sometimes, but there’s always that moment of it’s either when I’m creating a recipe that just works, and it’s so good, and I’m so excited to share it with everybody, or when somebody emails me and says your recipe has helped me so much. It feels good and it feels right.
That’s awesome. You’re on the leading edge of creation. You’re turning ideas into physical manifestations and it’s an amazing thing. Everyone who’s creating something, whether it’s an app or anything, they’re creating. They’re turning nothing into something. They’re turning an idea into reality. They’re manifesting. They’re co-creating. It’s really cool.
Let’s talk a bit about how you built up this amazing brand and following, blog reader base, followers and all that. What are some of the things that worked and what are some of the things that haven’t worked?
It makes really good sense that this is something I was meant to do.
That’s a good question. When I started, I had no clue. I just thought you put something up and suddenly you were being picked up by Google. I mean, whoo. Now I know that’s just so ridiculous.
It took a while. At that point, food blogging was relatively new to a lot of people. I didn’t think there was any way you could make a living off of this, so I was just doing it for fun. Then I joined some networks. I was like, well, I want this stuff to be seen, so I joined some blogging networks. Those kind of helped because other bloggers would come to your blog and say, oh, that looks so great. And you do the same for them.
It was just finding ways to constantly put it out there. Social media at that time consisted of Twitter, which I don’t even really use anymore. Facebook existed, but people didn’t really use it to promote.
Working for you helped, because then, I would proofread some of your stuff and be like, oh, okay, I haven’t been applying that to anything that I just thought I wrote and put some photos up. The first few photos were absolutely awful.
Teaching myself photography was highly important, because you want something to look appetizing. You can’t just say it’s good. Google obviously loves good photos. People are so much more likely to click on a recipe if it has a decent photo beside it.
What about timelapse, those videos where they speed up? I’m whipping the eggs and I’m putting it into whatever. It goes really fast and then it’s slowed down to show you the key moments. It seems like there’s an art to that, too. You do that?
Yeah, I love doing that with some I do mostly. I love teaching. When I started doing YouTube videos, at first, I did those hands in the pan style where it’s just you don’t see me. Then I started doing ones where I was talking to the camera, and setting everything up, and showing people.
You can speed up parts of it. If I’m showing you yet another section where I’m whipping some egg whites, that gets pretty boring, so you can speed that up. But I just really like talking to people and giving them. While I’m doing it, I’m thinking of the tips that make this recipe good, so I really like doing that.
Those have helped too. Things have moved a lot from being photography to being video. Video is so much more work, but it’s also more rewarding. It’s more of a connection with people, so I love that.
Google loves good photos.
It’s like blogging networks, particularly, food blogging networks were a huge part of my growth. I learned a lot from other bloggers, how to kind of maximize things. You also only have so much bandwidth. There has to be things where you try it and then you just think, I don’t have time for this, or it’s not worth it right now.
One thing that I do is I wait till everybody else tries it out. Then I’m like, oh, yeah, it might work. Do you remember Google+ and all of that?
That was going to be so big. It was going to take over Facebook and everybody’s putting a whole bunch of energy into it. Guess what? It didn’t go anywhere.
That’s why I didn’t. I put pretty much zero time into that.
I tried it a little and then I thought, this isn’t helping me in any way. It is about experimentation, so yes, I’ve sort of jumped on. I haven’t jumped on every bandwagon. I’m not on TikTok. I am on TikTok, but I put up a single video just to kind of grab my username.
When something new comes along, it’s like, grab your username. Then sit back and figure it out, because it can be too much and too overwhelming if you’re trying to do it all.
Yeah, you got to deep dive on probably one platform, maybe two. You’re just a dabbler. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin because you couldn’t do everything really well.
It can be too much and too overwhelming if you’re trying to do it all.
Exactly, which has taken me a bit of time to learn. You can feel a measure of anxiety when everybody’s saying, ‘oh, we’re doing this and you’re not doing it.’ But then again, sit back and watch. Observation really helps. Those groups have helped me.
There are a lot of Facebook groups devoted to helping bloggers and helping each other to figure things out, which makes a huge difference, I think. I learned a lot along the way just about promoting myself.
I get to the point where I’m sick of hearing the sound of my own voice. It becomes sort of just, okay, take a backseat for a little while. Just do stuff on social media and then jump back in when you’re ready.
Is one of those communities Blogher that you got a lot of value out of?
I did. They were great for a really, really long time. I went to some of their conferences. I was in Miami for one, actually. They were an ad network and I was with them for a long time.
I’m no longer with them because they just can’t offer the kind of RPMs and revenue that other ad networks can, but they still send great information. I don’t hear people going to those conferences as much anymore. I guess the pandemic changed everything.
Yeah, that definitely had an impact. But also, it seems like once they sold the SheKnows Media, it kind of didn’t. I spoke to a couple of Blogher events. My oldest daughter spoke at several of them. She actually got that that really launched her career as a teen blogger and speaking at a Blogher event when she was 16 years old. That was 2007.
Wow. Oh, my gosh, I didn’t even know of blogging back then.
Yeah, that’s pretty amazing. Anyway, that was a great conference for a very long time or set of conferences. Then there are these more specialized, even more niche blogger conferences, blogger groups. I didn’t know until I got invited to speak that there’s a pet blogging conference.
Yeah, I bet there’s everything now. Blogher was a really great network for a long time. I’ve worked with them on lots of things. It really helped for a long time. It just became evident that as an ad network, they weren’t pulling their weight, so you had to move.
By the way, I was trying to remember the name of the conference that was for pet bloggers. It’s BlogPaws.
That’s cute. That’s very cute.
What are you using then to monetize your traffic? Are you using Google AdSense, using Mediavine?
I’m with AdDrive. They’re really great. They have helped me along. I think they maybe see potential in certain blogs, so they’ve given me a number of opportunities. One was working with a man named Matt Molen, who is like an email guru. For your newsletter, he totally changed my concept of how to do a newsletter.I love experimenting, coming up with an idea, and seeing if I can make it a reality. Click To Tweet
I was doing a weekly one that was just my last three recipes of the week and my RSS feed. That was it. It wasn’t really growing. Then he came along.
First of all, to get people to engage, you do ‘five secrets of…’ Mine was the five secrets to keto baking. If you sign up, you get five emails in a row, day to day that tell you my tricks and tips. But they also linked to recipes. Then hopefully, people enjoy that, so they end up sticking around.
They go into a feed of what he calls the Forever Series. You’re constantly building that out, so that they’re not all getting the same email at the same time every week. Depending on when they signed up, they’re getting a new thing. It’s all your best content repackaged. It was the repackaging because I have thousands of recipes.
I’ve been doing this for so long. It was the repackaging and repurposing of them, that kind of blew my mind. My email list grew from 35 to 160,000 people in a year-and-a-half. It’s really helpful because I was using that boost. When something goes out to everybody, there’s a day where I know I’ll get a ton of traffic. It’s fun and I’ve made more connections that way, too, with readers and things. They feel like they’re getting something more personalized, which I think really helps.
Do you time it so that when your newsletter goes out, you had just posted a video that you’re trying to get to be in Google’s suggested list of videos and get the recommendation engine really kicking in there?
What I found was it’s actually more effective for older things that I’m trying to get re-seen. The Forever Series, if it’s something about my keto pancakes with almond flour, I do that. But that one goes out to people on the list, so people move through the list of things.
For seasonal stuff, there’s a newsletter that goes out every week that’s not necessarily my newest stuff, but more seasonally appropriate. So St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, or lemon recipes for spring, that kind of thing. I call it cross-pollinating between social media. It really helps.
I had a lemon muffin recipe that I did on YouTube. It wasn’t really getting seen, so I posted it on Facebook. Facebook hates when you do a YouTube link. They kill the views. They kill the views. But if I do little tricks, like I say something or I use the first comment, you guys have to check this out, it’s so great, suddenly, people are checking it out.
That one, which wasn’t seeing too many views, suddenly, I thought it got picked up by YouTube, but it didn’t actually then got picked up by Google, because I looked at where the traffic was coming from, and it suddenly was getting a bunch of Google traffic. That was good.
That’s cool. Out of curiosity, I was just googling keto pancakes to see how you’re ranking.
I’m not ranking well at that one anymore.
No, you’re like Barry.
I know. I used to be in the top five and it started to slip. Then I updated it completely and it just hasn’t come back. I don’t know why.
We’ll work with that.
One thing I need to do which actually has helped is doing the timestamps on the video in YouTube. Google really likes that. I haven’t gone back and done that for that one, and I need to.
One thing that I do or my team does for me in all of these podcast interviews is figure out what the table of contents or the major outline of topics are in the interview, and then assign timestamps to each of those sections, and those become clickable links. Each timestamp is then clickable.
Yeah, it’s really helpful.
Yeah, we use a plugin called Simple Podcast Press for the audio. It supports it just out of the box. It will look for any mentions of time that look like a timestamp and turn that into a link.
That’s great. Yeah.
I wasn’t really using YouTube that way. Originally, I was just using it to host my videos and then putting them in the recipe card on my site. Then suddenly, some of them started to do really well. I started to realize that YouTube was worth my time.Video is so much more work, but it's also more rewarding. It's more of a connection with people. Click To Tweet
It’s totally worth your time. It is the number two search engine. I search fine. You have really impressive stats. I’m looking at your YouTube channel right now. You got nearly 100,000 subscribers. You’re almost there.
I know. I’m hoping to get there by the end of March.
Of course, you’re going to get there. You could speed that up just by asking your fans to help push you over the edge.
I have done that a couple of times. I will, probably. If I don’t look like I’m going to hit 100,000 by the end of March, then I will probably do a little push.
Yeah. By the time this episode airs, I’m sure you’ll be at over 100,000. You have 5.5 million views. That’s impressive.
Where do you find that bit?
It’s under the About tab.
Joined May 6th, 2012, 5,578,669 views.
Wow, I didn’t even see that. That’s a lot. It’s interesting, though, because I keep thinking of it. My problem is I want to drive traffic to my blog, because that’s where most of the money comes from with ad revenue, also ebook sales and things like that.
Then I’ve started to realize that it’s okay for something to be a standalone thing, because YouTube doesn’t really drive a lot of traffic, especially because you’re basically giving them the recipe there. It also expands the brand, and gets people to know me, and trust me, because recipes are turning out well, and I’m showing them exactly how to do it, and I’m giving them extra tips for the kitchen, things like that.
You need a hook. You need something that will bait them to go to your website, some irresistible offer. I don’t know what it is, but I’m sure if you noodle on that for a bit, you’re going to come up with something.
Every video, every podcast interview you do like this one is an opportunity, not just for a brand impression, but also to get a new member of your tribe, a new fan, a new super fan. What would that super fan look like, kind of do a whole persona of that person, kind of get in their world, imagine what life is like for them, and what would really turn them on? What would really excite them? What would they find to be just so enticing, they can’t say no to it? Make that thing. I don’t know what it is.
One thing I’ve been meaning to do forever, which I think would really be good for the blog, because I have so many great recipes that are basic, easy, but creative at the same time. I’ve been meaning to do this. I’m meant to do it for January because January is what I like to call diet season when everybody suddenly jumping on a new diet and trying it out, is sort of a keto for beginners page that has all links to good articles that I’ve written, because I have a whole article on how to get back on track if you fall off the wagon.
I have articles on, because everybody thinks when they first start, that an alternative sweetener, they all work the same way. They don’t, absolutely do not. You’re going to have huge differences in the outcome if you use this one over that one.
Creating a thumbnail makes a real difference.
I have an article about that, and then I have articles that are just devoted to easy keto dinners or all my best keto muffin recipes. Muffins are a great place to start because they’re more forgiving than something like cake. I just need to put that page together that’s like a resource that I can keep promoting in so many ways on YouTube, on Facebook, so that people have everything at their fingertips, but those fingertips take you to individual recipes throughout the blog.
Yeah, and by the way, you really need to get this thing. It’s almost like a subtle commercial for something of yours, some sort of lead magnet, irresistible offer thing. I think that would be good for you.
Thank you for the tip.
Yeah. I see that you also have custom video thumbnails for all your YouTube videos. Good job.
I started to do that because it makes a real difference. Half the time, when you let it populate itself, you get this. You’re in the weirdest position, or your eyes are half-closed, or it just doesn’t look good. The lighting in my kitchen isn’t fabulous, so creating a thumbnail makes a real difference.
And you can do this with all your old videos, too.
Yes, I need to go back and do them with a bunch.
You need a VA.
Now my husband is sort of my VA, actually. His job ended in October. It was kind of coming for a long time. Actually, just before the pandemic, he was going to quit and work with me. Then the pandemic came along and we thought, it might not be the time right now. He stuck it out for another year and a bit. They were changing things anyway and he’s like, okay, I’ll go.
He resists social media, so I need to train him to do some of that stuff. He does a bunch of things for me like editing ebooks and helping me behind the scenes. Because I was the one who worked from home, it was always, oh, a kid’s sick, who gets to pick them up? Me. And oh, a kid needs to go to the dentist or the dog needs to do something. It was always me, me, me. Now it’s taken a little bit of pressure off for him to be home.
That’s great. I think you need more than just your husband virtual assisting you.
My blog is me, and I’m my blog.
Probably. I do have some help with Facebook. But again, it’s really hard. I don’t think of myself as the controlling type. The problem is, as I’ve said, my blog is deeply personal to me. I’ve tried to describe it to people. My blog is me and I’m my blog.
I’m not going to hire writers, because I don’t feel comfortable if it’s not my recipes and my tips. On things like social media, when people want a question about, can I sub this for that, I don’t know who to trust to answer those questions properly. That’s my tricky part.
A VA could rattle off all these different questions that they’ve collected. She or he could assemble all of the questions in one place, and get you on a zoom call, and just go over. Okay, what about this one? Oh, what about this one? Okay, I’ll type all these up.
I’ll put them in the Google Sheet. You can approve them, and then I’ll get them published on all the different social places. We’ll repurpose some of this into quote cards and paste to social media and stuff.
It seems like you could really grow this just with another team member or two. They’re not expensive. Somebody out of the Philippines could be as low as $4 or $5 an hour. That’s a really good wage for the Philippines.
Yeah. I have a blogger friend who sort of dabbles in keto and low carb who helps. One of the things you know, and this was a learning process for me working for you, working with you, was emulating somebody else’s voice. That’s a tricky one.
It is, but it’s doable. It is doable. I have not written my own blog posts in many, many years. I have not been tweeting myself for years. My Twitter, @sspencer, tweets apparently multiple times a day. I have no idea what I’m tweeting. My own newsletter, I don’t write. I don’t even review it. I have no idea what’s going out on a weekly basis.
You have somebody now you really trust for that.
Yeah, my team, I trust. There are different people. Trish is handling my Twitter. Rebecca is handling my Thursday, three newsletter.
If I need to replace somebody, if they’re leaving or whatever and I need someone else to step in, then they’ll get trained. A handover will happen and I’m not going to get pulled back in and write my own newsletter again. No, thank you. I got other things to do. I’m way too busy.
I can’t imagine if I would be the one to do A/B split testing on my video thumbnails on YouTube. No way, never ever. Anyway, that’s another thing that you should be doing, A/B split testing your thumbnails so that you can see what will perform better. I have a feeling that you’re going to get better results with a bigger picture of you zoomed in on your face. Not only a half body shot, but big thing of your face.
Some of that is own personal comfort level, though.
All growth happens outside your comfort zone.
True, I know that.
The numbers won’t lie. You can run the test and see what happens. It’s pretty low risk. Use TubeBuddy. TubeBuddy is the tool that supports A/B split testing of your video thumbnails and your titles.
You could look at the one like ‘keto thin mints,’ ‘easy girl scout cookie copycat recipe.’ That one could do really well with a tweaked title tag. I don’t know. You have 15,000 views on that. It seems like people are probably googling for girl scout thin mints recipes or something like that.
Yeah. The A/B testing, which I’ve done, I did a lot of that on Pinterest. Unfortunately, Pinterest has died a very slow and painful death for what it was before. They’re really pushing those story pins, which I do some of them just to kind of please be there, but they’re not helpful.
I don’t know what you think of Pinterest. I’m not a big fan anymore. Part of it is that the user experience isn’t fun anymore. You get served to these idea pins, but you can’t click through to the actual recipe or anything. People get very frustrated, and then they’re mad at you if you do them. You’re sort of walking a fine balance between trying to please Pinterest.
Please the algorithm, yeah. For example, any of these algorithms penalize you (essentially) for link-based posts. If you’re trying to drag somebody to a recipe and you’re posting that on whatever platform, it’s going to get dialed back by the algorithm, versus if it’s just an image, or it’s just a textual tweet, or post that gets rewarded because you keep the person on the platform.
They think they know what they’re doing, but they’re not serving anyone except somebody who’s paying for ads.
Absolutely. That’s where Pinterest went. But unfortunately, had it been something that users loved and readers loved, I would have been, sure, okay, I’ll play this game. Users hate it, as evidenced by the fact that Pinterest’s stock went really low for a bit. They think they know what they’re doing, but they’re not serving anyone except maybe somebody who’s paying for ads. I don’t know.
I don’t know what the thought process there is, but it’s not a good experience for my followers. It’s not a great experience for me anymore, either, when I’m on there. I would spend hours on Pinterest getting recipe ideas and think like, oh, there’s a high carb recipe that I think I could make low carb. Now, searching is not fun on there.
Yeah, that’s a shame. Do you think that Pinterest is a platform not worth bothering with anymore?
I keep hoping it’ll come back. I think they’ve lost their way. I’m hoping they’ll come back to something that’s a little more friendly for people who create, because it used to be basically like a big old search engine. I think it’s still worth putting some stuff up and seeing what comes of it.
You asked what works and what doesn’t. You have to sometimes just disengage a little on something. You can say, okay, I’ll feed it a few things. But it was really disheartening to see where it went. It was just this, okay, I can’t care about this too much anymore. I can care a little, but I can’t give you more of my heart at the moment.
Yeah, but your stats are amazing. You are a big Pinterest influencer, 412,000 followers, 10 million monthly views.
I used to see more than that. I used to see something like 15–20 million. It isn’t what it used to be. Every food blogger has felt this way. I don’t know if it benefits other fields. It might.
The other problem is TikTok came along and every platform wants to now be TikTok, which I don’t get, because I think, well, you had something unique. Instagram, for example, had something unique going with its photo sharing. Now it’s trying to compete with TikTok. I think well, why put yourself in competition? Why not stay as you were or change what you were but change it to be something stronger in that area, as opposed to throwing yourself up against a new and very popular platform?
I see what you’re talking about a frustrating user experience. I see on your dream about food, Pinterest page, keto thin man. I clicked on it and then it’s got the four things, panels, or whatever that rotates through. You can see generally what the recipe involves, but doesn’t give all the detail. Then it says, see the full recipe at, and you can’t even click on the link.
What’s interesting is you can put the full recipe in there. Okay, so that doesn’t give me any traffic and there’s no way to monetize it. I don’t want to, but at the same time, people still, when I do that, even when I’ve occasionally tried that as a way to get something going, users can’t find the recipe. It’s right there, but they can’t find it.
Particularly on mobile, it’s that same story. I’m assuming you’re looking on desktop. It’s easier to see it on desktop, but when you move to mobile, it’s really hard for people to find anything, so they’re going, well, great photos or great video, but where’s the damn recipe? They get mad at you and you’re like, blame Pinterest, not me.People are just getting demanding these days and expecting. Click To Tweet
Also, excuse me. How much are you paying me? I didn’t know I was your employee.
That happens a lot. There is an interesting thing about people just getting really demanding these days and expecting.
Entitlement. It’s rampant.
Yes, and the one that kills me, especially over the holidays. I spend time with my family. I take breaks. I’m not going to answer your question on Thanksgiving morning when you decide you’re going to make my keto stuffing, and you want to know if you can sub this for that, and then you get mad that I don’t respond. It’s Thanksgiving.
Oh, my goodness. I didn’t know I was supposed to be on speed dial.
What was the turkey company that used to have a hotline on the day? That’s not me. I’m not going to have a hotline for keto recipes on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
That’s funny. I didn’t hear about it. That’d be Butterball?
Yes, that’s exactly who it is. Butterball had a call-in hotline, like a crisis for your turkey.
Oh, funny. I know we need to wrap up here, but I’ve got one more question. You said it can really change the recipe if you swap in a different sweetener. What are the best sweeteners to use? What are the differences? And what’s the impact?
Okay, I love this. This is my favorite topic. I’ve written a big, long article about this, so I’ll try to summarize quickly. What is the best sweetener? It depends on a couple of things. Everybody tastes sweeteners differently. Somebody will say, the one that I prefer the most is Swerve, which is mostly erythritol. A lot of people get a distinct cooling sensation with it. They assume that everyone gets that, and not everyone does.
Half the population does and half the population doesn’t. But then on my end, anything made with monk fruit has a really awful aftertaste. Some of it’s about your own personal tastes.
The problem there is, if you switch something that’s erythritol-based, which will give you a nice, crisp cookie, it’s the only sweetener that will really give you a crisp cookie. You will try something like allulose, which is actually a sugar, but it just doesn’t register in your blood sugar for some reason.
Yeah, of course. I should know this. I have a master’s in biochemistry, I should know this.
Right. There’s -OL is the alcohol. It’s really a great sweetener and it tastes like sugar. It’s not quite as sweet, but it tastes like sugar. The problem is, you can’t get any crispness out of it. I tried to make meringues with it and it was like marshmallow fluff. I couldn’t even get it off the pan.
I did a video for this, where I showed the same cookie baked with erythritol and one bake with allulose. The erythritol one, I could snap. Then the other one, it just curved right over. They tasted good, but it’s not if you’re looking for a crisp cookie. It just depends so much on what you’re trying to make.
People hate it that I can’t just give them like a single answer and say, this is the one thing and everybody should use it. If you’re keen on baking, you need to know how these things work. You can make the substitution. Just be aware of how it’s going to affect the result.
That’s great. All right. I learned something important. It’s going to be good for my sweet tooth and for my health to start going down this route rather than all the sugar.
You’re a vegetarian, so there are lots of ways to make sweets. Are you vegan or you’re just a vegetarian?
Okay. There are lots of easy ways to make sweets that satisfy that sweet tooth that don’t have sugar.
By the way, I can’t or I should not be vegan. From that same podcast guest, the CEO of The DNA Company, Kashif Khan, he went through my genetics test as a follow-up interview. We talked about all the things I can’t do.
I did learn some cool things that I have some superpowers, too. I have super strong arterial walls, so that was exciting. I don’t have those paper-thin ones that will end up with heart disease.
But on the negative side, I can’t be vegan. I can’t be keto because my genetics don’t support it. I also will have gut issues if I’m not careful, too. I have trouble with too much toxins coming into my body making it past my defenses because my defenses are a bit weak, especially at that level.
Yeah, it’s really fascinating. I highly recommend getting a DNA test from The DNA Company. I’ve done a lot of these different tests like 23andMe, ancestry.com, blah-blah-blah. Simplified Genetics is another one that I’ve done. I had the CEO of that company on as well.
That was a cool one, too, because I told you how to exercise. Should you do high intensity or low intensity? What percentage? High fat, low-fat diet, et cetera, and what percentage based on your genetics? The DNA Company test was awesome, so I highly recommend it.
Okay, good. I’m willing and can keep up.
All right. We got to wrap up.
Thank you so much, Carolyn. It was great to reconnect and to hear what you’re up to. You’ve got such a successful and helpful online presence just doing great things for people. Keep it up. You’re saving lives.
If our listener or viewer want to buy your cookbook, follow you on social, or read your blog, give us all the places for them to go and to support you.
You can find me on my blog, which is All Day I Dream About Food. You can purchase one of my many cookbooks, which are usually available on Amazon. I got The Ultimate Guide To Keto Baking right here. I’m on YouTube.
And that is not a small book that you held up there.
No, because it’s not just recipes. The whole front of the book is all about everything I have learned over the years, over the decades, of what works and what doesn’t. There’s that. Facebook is All Day I Dream About Food. YouTube is All Day I Dream About Food. Pinterest is Dream About Food and Instagram is Food Dreamer. That’s me.
All right. Did you not be able to fit in the full username into Instagram or it was already taken?
It was already taken by a vegan. It was really funny. The poor woman actually had all people constantly reaching out to her going, I love your recipes. She ended up having a tagline on Instagram that said, not associated with the blog of the same name. I don’t think she ever did anything much with her Instagram.
You can always try and buy it from her.
I don’t know if I can. I don’t know. I thought about it.
Yeah, we’ll talk about it offline. Everything’s for sale, you just have to know the right price. Thank you, Carolyn, and thank you, listener. I hope this has inspired you to try some fun and tasty out-of-the-box recipes. Get out there in the kitchen and have some fun. We’ll catch you in the next episode. I’m your host, Stephan Spencer, signing off.
Facebook – All Day I Dream About Food
Instagram – All Day I Dream About Food
YouTube – All Day I Dream About Food
Keto Cookbooks – All Day I Dream About Food
Carolyn Ketchum – GYO previous episode
Anil Gupta – GYO previous episode
Kashif Khan – GYO previous episode
Kurt Johnsen – GYO previous episode
Sachin Patel – GYO previous episode
Vasundhra Gupta – GYO previous episode
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
Don’t expect things to stay the same. Remember that change is constant in this world. So deal with change with an open mind and heart.
Don’t force anyone into a mold. Everybody is different, and I have to respect other people’s ways. I can suggest what I do and what works for me, but I’m not forcing it on them.
Be open to learning new things. This will give me a feeling of accomplishment which boosts my confidence in my capabilities and will help me feel more ready to take on challenges.
Don’t jump into a new trend immediately. Instead, wait till everybody else tries it out and see if it will work out for my business.
Relax and figure out one thing at a time. It will be too much and too overwhelming if I try to do everything at the same time.
Learn to repackage and repurpose my content. This will allow me to appeal to multiple audiences with different content preferences.
Always have a hook and irresistible offer. Have a strategic plan on how to bait my audience to go to my website and buy my service or product.
Hire a VA. A VA will help me stay productive and give me valuable free time to relax.
Always please the search engine algorithm. Search algorithms will help determine the ranking of a web page at the end of the search when the results are listed. Each search engine uses a specific set of rules to help determine if a web page is real or spam and if the content and data within the page is going to be of interest to the user.
Visit Carolyn Ketchum’s blog, All Day I Dream About Food, to get some of her Keto recipes. Also, purchase her cookbooks: The Ultimate Guide To Keto Baking, The Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen, The Easy Keto Dinners, The Easy Keto Breakfast, The Easy Keto Desserts, Keto Soups & Stews, and many more.
About Carolyn Ketchum
Carolyn Ketchum is the evil mastermind behind the popular keto blog All Day I Dream About Food and the best-selling author of The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking. A major carnivore and an unrepentant sweet tooth, she is devoted to creating innovative and delicious low carb recipes that don’t sacrifice on flavor. See Carolyn in action on her YouTube channel or catch her on Facebook.