How Karolina Klesta Grew Her Food Blog to 6 Figures/Year Using SEO and Facebook

Karolina Klesta always goes after the things she wants. She knew she wanted to travel the world, so when she met her husband, they set off on a 4-year journey.

They started their first online business, a travel blog, so that they could be digital nomads. It never really took off. 

When they started a family, she started a second travel blog. But that didn’t bring the success that she was hoping for.

Since she was cooking for her family all the time, she decided to create a food blog, Polish Foodies, where she shares the recipes she prepares and Polish food culture. And while she's still building up her travel blogs, this blog has really taken off. 

She built her business because of her love of comfort, food, and freedom. And not only has it led her to publish 10 cookbooks and create and manage a Facebook group with 76k+ members, she’s also earning 6 figures a year.

Keep reading to find out:

  • More about her 3 blogs
  • Why she created her food blog
  • Where her income comes from
  • Her strategies for growing her blog quickly
  • Her thoughts on Facebook groups
  • Her thoughts on SEO
  • Her approach to keyword research and link building
  • How she creates content
  • How she grows her email lists
  • How much time she spends personally on her sites
  • Her go-to resources and tools
  • Her main challenge
  • Her most important accomplishment
  • Her biggest mistake
  • Her advice for other entrepreneurs

Meet Karolina Klesta

I was born and raised in Poland, Europe. 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamt about traveling the world, maybe even living abroad. When I met my future husband, we decided to start our first online business that would allow us to become digital nomads.

We traveled the world for 4 years full-time, and we started our first blog, Lazy Travel Blog.

When I got pregnant, we settled down in Poland. Even though we wanted to keep traveling with the kids, it’s been just too exhausting for us to do it full-time.

While in Poland, we started our second blog, Travel Poland. During the pandemic, when the entire world was closed, we started our third blog called Polish Foodies.

I was pregnant with my second child and I was cooking all day, just for fun. I love cooking and I love Poland and I really wanted to share it with the world.

To my surprise, Polish Foodies turned out to be the most successful of our blogs!

Why She Created Her Food Blog

Since I’ve been blogging for many years before, I sensed that it was a good niche. The keywords seemed easy to rank for. I’ve always loved cooking so I just decided to start sharing my recipes.

I believe that if you want to succeed, you need to share from your heart. It’s not just about making money, but also about bringing real value to the world.

I didn’t want to share the same content others do; I want to provide something unique.

My second goal was to create a community of Poles living abroad. That’s why the blog is named the Polish Foodies and not Polish Foodie. I didn’t want it to be focused on me, but on other people too!

Our Facebook group currently has 76,000 members that are sharing their recipes with each other every day. I absolutely love the fact that I created a place where people can talk to each other, share their family stories, give each other cooking tips, etc.

The Polish Foodies blog was founded 4 years ago so it’s still quite new. 

I can’t wait to see what the future will bring because the numbers are growing like crazy!

How Much She’s Earning

This year, we’ve already hit 6 figures. Polish Foodies got accepted to Mediavine in December 2021, so it took 2 years to get there. On average, we have 200-300k visitors monthly.

My main sources of income are from ads (Mediavine) and selling my cookbooks (I’ve published 10 so far).

As for the cookbooks, I self-publish and use Print on Demand on Amazon. That means that I design the entire cookbook in Canva and then I upload it to Amazon. They also handle the shipping for me.

When it comes to content, I include the same recipes in the cookbooks that I have on the blog. I am 100% transparent with that. If you want free recipes, you can get them on the blog.

If you want them all together in a beautiful cookbook, you can buy it from me!

I also make some money from working with brands, and I earn affiliate commissions.

The strategy that helped me accelerate growth is publishing quality content as often as possible. 

I published 5 times a week at the beginning. 

It’s also important to engage with your readers. I read and reply to every single email I get. I love these people. They are so amazing. I cry with them when they are sick or they miss their Polish families. I celebrate with them when they are visiting Poland.

I feel like we are just one big family.

The Polish Foodies community is so supportive. I learn as much from them as they do from me. I feel like I’m acting like a bridge between Poland, the land of their ancestors, and their current homes.

Lazy Travel Blog is also on Mediavine, I am currently working on adding my third site, Travel Poland, to Mediavine too! I hope to succeed in the next few months. That will make my earnings more stable. 

I earn about $300-$400 monthly with Mediavine from Lazy Travel Blog. Travel Poland is not earning yet.

Polish Foodies gets the highest traffic in wintertime. It’s also when I sell the highest number of cookbooks. We have Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Fat Thursday (the Polish version of Fat Tuesday), and Easter.

In the summer, the number usually goes down, so I hope that the earnings from Travel Poland will balance that out.

Her Top Marketing Strategy

My best strategy is Facebook groups. Sharing quality content on relevant groups brings high traffic to the blog and enhances my authority as an expert.

The secrets to building up my group are quality content and a good niche. 

I felt like I needed a platform to talk with my readers. I started a group and added a widget on the blog, where I invited people to join. I also invited people from my mailing list.

Since I was sharing really interesting content, people were joining and inviting their friends. It all came naturally. 

I also feel it was (and still is!) a good time to start a group because Facebook’s algorithm is promoting it. Maybe it will change in the future.

I am an active member of probably all Polish food Facebook groups.

Karolina’s Thoughts on SEO

I’ve been focusing solely on SEO since I started the Polish Foodies. Right now, I have over 400 recipes on the blog, so I just share what’s unique.

That being said, I had no idea when I started to learn about SEO because it was all so natural for me. 

I started my first blog 12 years ago, where people didn’t really talk that much about SEO. I wanted to know how to reach my readers, so I was searching for ways to do it.

I had no money to invest, so organic traffic was my only choice. I watched YouTube videos about it, talked with fellow bloggers on Facebook groups, and read ebooks.

Keyword Research

I use KeySearch for research. 

It’s just to have a general idea of what to write about and what people are searching for. I stopped caring about including enough keywords within a text a long time ago. 

I just want the article/recipe to be high-quality and easy to navigate.

It’s different with new blogs. 

As I mentioned before, I am currently working on getting Travel Poland on Mediavine, and KeySearch is really helpful for that.

I write using keywords that have a score of 30 or less in KeySearch. Ideally, it’s less than 20, but those kinds of keywords are not that easy to find.

Link Building

I don’t think link building is important. I’ve focused on link building in the past and I think it’s a waste of time.

In my opinion, all that matters is unique and quality content. People will link to that anyway.

Her Content Creation Process

I share the recipes that I cook for my family, and I also listen to my readers and publish recipes they ask me for.

I currently have 401 articles on the Polish Foodies blog and 10 waiting to be published. They’re already scheduled, so I have the content planned for the next 2 months.

I find it very comforting to work with the editorial calendar because I never know what will happen in my personal life. If I get sick or my kids get sick, I can always focus on that instead of worrying about what to publish on the blog.

I believe it’s important to be consistent with publishing new content. It’s easy to plan 1 post every week. That makes about 50 new posts per year! Writing 50 new posts in one go is not that easy.

I don’t know how many articles I currently have on Lazy Travel Blog because I stopped working on this blog a few years ago. I just believe that the competition in the travel industry is too high. This blog has no niche and I struggle to find one.

When it comes to Travel Poland, I currently have 130 posts on this blog.

Her Email List

I do have email lists and I think it’s very important to have one because it makes you independent from big sites like Google, Facebook, etc.

I use my Facebook group and blog to grow my mailing list. I have almost 30k people on the list right now.

I use Sendy for sending emails and Stripo to build them. I send about 3 emails a week.

My tip for growing a mailing list is to ask for your readers’ email addresses anytime it’s possible while not being annoying.

How Much Time She Works on Her Sites

It’s different every week! 

I guess I would say it’s about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s important to say that I work on growing my business because it’s almost fully automated. I don’t have to work at all.

I use Buffer to schedule social media posts, and Group Leads to automatically accept group members on Facebook and add them to my mailing list.

I have 3 freelancers that work with me on a daily basis. One of them is handling the cookbook orders and the other two are creating content.

My job is to check freelancers’ work and reply to my readers’ emails. I just can’t outsource it; I love my readers too much.

My husband is also working with me on the Polish Foodies. He is a tech guy that handles all of the systems and automation.

Speaking of my husband, Pat—I couldn’t have done it without him! 

We are a team; we support each other every step of the way. We built it all together. My kids are also a part of the Polish Foodies team. They are a big part of our YouTube channel!

Her Favorite Resources

I believe it’s important to explore the books and podcasts within your niche. For me, these are cookbooks and culinary workshops.

When it comes to blogging in general, I like the work of fellow travel blogger, Sharon Gourlay from Digital Nomad Wannabe. I find Mediavine’s blog helpful as well. 

Her Go-To Tools

My first tool is Google Spreadsheets. I have an editorial calendar for each of my blogs. It makes it easier for me to remember everything. 

When I publish a blog post, I have a checklist of what I should do next (publish on Facebook and Instagram, add internal links, etc.). 

The second tool I use is Keep. That’s a feature of Gmail. I create notes and checklists there. I don’t like to have anything in my head, so every time I think of something, either personal or business-related, I simply write it down.

Last but not least is our internal CRM which I use to outsource tasks to the freelancers. Every time I add a new task for them, they get notified by email. When they’re done, I get an email too, which makes the entire working process easier.

I can see what they are currently working on, what tasks are already paid for, and what I need to pay in the future.

Her Biggest Challenge

This may be surprising, but owning my success. I love building everything from scratch and that’s what gives me my power.

When everything is working well and I’m earning enough money to simply relax, I tend to worry that something bad will happen. In my mind, I am thinking of the worst scenario and how I can avoid it.

That’s my biggest challenge! To learn how to stop my brain from scaring me. So far, I discovered that meditating and focusing on the next projects are what keep me relaxed and full of positive energy.

Her Most Important Accomplishment

That would be fully automating my business. I know that I will earn enough money to make a good living, no matter if I work or not.

I still need to take care of some things, but it’s up to me when I will do it.

The minimum time I need to spend on my business is more or less 4 hours a month.

All 3 blogs are automated but my main source of income is from Polish Foodies. I don’t think that Lazy Travel Blog can be grown, or at least I feel like doing it. 

Travel Poland is still new. 

First, people couldn’t travel because of the global pandemic. Then the war in Ukraine started. Since Poland borders Ukraine, many tourists are still worried that visiting Poland is dangerous (it isn’t).

So it’s a slow process, but I hope that next year this blog will get much more traffic.

What She Wishes She Knew When She Started

Finding a good niche is the most important factor to succeed. I spent too much time working on my travel blog and trying to compete with big websites such as TripAdvisor.

It’s better to write about something for which there is little or no information online.

I tried to grow my travel blog for many years. With Polish Foodies, the success came very quickly. 

Her Main Mistake

Nothing comes to my mind because I believe all mistakes are part of the learning process.

I think I could have outsourced all the tasks earlier and focused on growing my business instead of taking care of everyday tasks.

I started outsourcing when I started earning money. I couldn’t have grown it like that on my own. In the beginning, I outsourced the simple tasks, like designing something in Canva. Right now I outsource almost everything.

As for hiring people, I find them in Facebook groups and through recommendations. I have been working with my 3 freelancers for more than a year now.

Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs

Do it! There are still so many niches that are worth exploring! 

Keep moving forward and be patient. It takes some time before you will see your numbers grow. 

The reward for your patience will be freedom and financial independence. Think about this year (or two) when you don’t earn as if it were a test. The Universe is testing your patience to check whether you truly deserve to live the life of your dreams.

Don’t give up and you will get there. It’s truly amazing to feel like you are retired when you are still young.

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