[Update] Reaching $250K/Year With My Portfolio Of Niche Sites

Published: December 15th, 2022
Mason Woodruff
Kinda Healthy Rec...
from Austin, Texas
started April 2017
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hey, Starter Story readers! My name is Mason Woodruff, and I’m a food blogger with a small portfolio of niche sites. In 2022, my sites are on pace to make around $250k in profit. For the origin story, check out my first Starter Story about starting a food blog and update about doubling blog revenue in 2021.


I’d encourage you to make sure you’re working on the right things and not be afraid to scrap what’s not working.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?

In my last Starter Story update, my business had just experienced its biggest month ever with $35k in revenue thanks to sky-high Q4 advertising rates and a booming 2021. But as you know, 2022 has been a slightly different story.

This is the first year since starting my first blog, Kinda Healthy Recipes, that I’ve seen a year-over-year decline in monthly revenue. Thankfully, it’s easy to nail down the root issue—Pinterest referral traffic.

In March of this year, Pinterest finally turned off the traffic spout from traditional pins in favor of promoting more Idea Pins (their version of Google Web Stories and a vertical video competitor). Traffic from Pinterest on my largest site is still down around 75% year over year. And traffic to my second largest site, With the Woodruffs, never gained any traction on Pinterest in the first place since it’s a newer site that was started in 2021.

Mediavine dashboard for Kinda Healthy Recipes (masonfit.com)

On the bright side, Pinterest did launch a creator fund for Idea Pins, and it pays quite well. Where we lost around $8k per month from Pinterest traffic, I’ve been able to make up around $2k to $3k per month with the creator fund.

Pinterest aside, SEO has been a big win this year. Even with every American traveling their pants off in 2022, I’ve seen organic traffic growth across all sites. Being a newer site, With Woodruffs saw a 250% increase and has softened the blow to revenue with a consistent $3k to $4k per month in advertising earnings.

Having a decent social following, my Patreon continues to drive a small but steady source of revenue. I’ve also launched a new feature in subscriptions on my Instagram. Both subscriptions give supporters early access to new recipes in an ad-free recipe card. Instagram subscriptions are cool because people can easily pay through the app and get the recipe card without ever leaving their Instagram feed.

Instagram subscriptions tab

Advertising revenue and subscription revenue are still my primary revenue sources, with affiliate marketing and partnerships making up the final piece of the pie.

What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?

What hasn’t worked this year? I know video is the future and TikTok is eating the world, but I decided to bow out of that race. After the Pinterest decline, I decided to spend 6 months going all in on video for TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube. And while I saw some great growth on TikTok on Instagram, it wasn’t converting to blog traffic or revenue.

Additionally, I despised making video content. I started this as a lifestyle business to enjoy work and make a decent (it’s gone better than I expected) living. I think video is a great way to see fast, huge audience growth right now, but it’s not the only way to grow a business.

Another challenge that hasn’t changed in 2022 for my business is email marketing. Similar to video, it’s something I just can’t get into. I recognize the value, but managing to send more than one update email a month is like pulling teeth. This is something I’ve always talked about outsourcing but never have. Maybe 2023 will be my year?

And finally, I’m growing more concerned with the future of digital advertising and blogging each year. I spend some time each week thinking of ways to future-proof my business (video, I know) and about what’s next. Will I stay in my lane and continue launching niche sites? Will I try to bundle my portfolio of sites and cash out to pivot into real estate? Or will I get involved with the AI craze? We’ll see!

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

A small burn rate in business and your personal life leads to better sleep at night. If you’d told me last October that I’d see a 40% decline in traffic to my site this October, I probably would have freaked. But dealing with a drop in traffic and revenue this year hasn’t been all that stressful.

Earlier this year my wife/business partner and I bought our first house. It was well within our means and we could cover our living expenses for a long time even if the business went kaput overnight. There aren’t any employees to lay off or big recurring expenses we have to cut back on. Sure, it’s limited our scale/growth in the business. And while we’d love to have a crib in the heart of central Austin, I’ll take low-stress living any day.

If you look around, most people seem to be overspending and living beyond their means. It’s arguably never been more difficult to ignore “The Joneses” than it is right now, but things can’t continue as they have. Reign it in, practice moderation, and you’ll be rewarded in the upcoming years.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

The big project for 2023 is a new site, Man with One Pan. Now that we have three food blogs rolling, it’s very easy to create symbiotic content. One pan enchiladas that work for Man with One Pan are easily turned into Traeger smoked enchiladas, for example. And having a “healthy” food blog means any full-flavor, calorie-rich recipe on the other two sites is relatively easy to convert to a Kinda Healthy version.

Overall, more content across all my sites is the number one priority for the foreseeable future. I view every blog post as another cash-flowing asset or property, almost like digital real estate.

Following up on my last Starter Story update, the macro-friendly frozen foods business I invested in is trucking along. The company officially launched its branding as Counter, and I even took a trip to Sam’s Club HQ to pitch two of the first products—a chicken street taco bowl and carnitas street taco bowl. They’re doing cool stuff by bringing on influencers as investors and collaborators. Check out the @eatcounter Instagram for some examples.

First pitch meeting for Counter frozen foods at Sam's Club HQ

The other big potential plan for this year circles back to video content. I’ve considered outsourcing this to at least have some video presence, but I’m sitting tight at the moment with current economic conditions. If we truly have a soft landing and things seem to be trending in the right direction, I’ll likely pull the trigger on this. Video is undeniably important for a content business.

What’s the best thing you read in the last year?

I think I mentioned it in my last Starter Story update, but the My First Million podcast is phenomenal. If you’re the type that gets inspired by stories like you read on Starter Story, I’m confident you’ll feel the same. The two hosts, Shaan and Sam, highlight businesses that are crushing it and occasionally have great guests on the show as well. Unlike some other shows, the hosts and guests are people who’ve built huge businesses.

My only other weekly listen is the Animal Spirits podcast, with Ben Carlson and Michael Batnick. I like their non-sensationalist views on the financial markets, and it allows me to keep an ear to the ground without following earnings reports and individual companies too closely.

I stopped consuming content about blogging or things directly related to my business years ago, for better or worse. I’m definitely in the do stuff and just-in-time learningcamps.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

In my last update, I mentioned focusing on SEO and not falling into the ephemeral, viral content trap. But that was a bit hypocritical since I fell victim to it earlier this year.

So this year, I’d encourage you to make sure you’re working on the right things and to not be afraid to scrap what’s not working. My primary site started as a personal portfolio to land freelance writing gigs in the fitness industry and online coaching clients. It was more of a side hustle, but the upside was always limited. I would’ve always been trading time for money in that business, which is another lesson in its own right.

Who am I to put a time limit on your business, I’d say if you’ve been working on something for more than a year (maybe even 6 months) without gaining any traction, it may be time to quit or pivot to something else.

The exception to this might be a brand-new blog that’s in a good niche. If you’ve only created a small amount of content, you may just need to learn more about SEO optimization or building backlinks. Landing a great HARO link with any expertise or authority you might have, for example, could take your blog from zero to hero in days.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

If you’re a freelance food and recipe videographer and think you could make great video content with our recipes, please contact me.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!