LATEST: Nagi's 5 Biggest Mistakes

Australia’s number one food blogger and Insiders’ talent, Nagi from RecipeTin Eats dishes up the dirt on her biggest blogging fails and reveals the right ingredients to starting a six-figure blogging business.


I’ve grown my food blog RecipeTin Eats to over 3.5 million monthly views in 2 ½ years. 8 months after I started it, it was the largest food blog in Australia and I was generating over $100,000 annualised income.

And here are the five biggest mistakes I made along the way.

I don’t regret these mistakes because it’s only through bugger ups that I learn. But I can share them with you so you don’t make the same mistakes I did!

1. FOCUS on Growing My Mail List From Day #1. This is the top tip I have for growing and monetising a food blog or any existing social or online presence: Building an engaged list of email subscribers. It is the slowest and most frustrating strategy because you don’t see fast, immediate returns. And it’s the reason why so many bloggers and instagrammers neglect this.

But without a doubt, this is the single most valuable growth and monetisation strategy that I should have prioritised from day one.

Nowadays, new posts that do well are viewed by over 7,000 people on my website and 30,000 on Instagram within 24 hours of publishing, which puts it in an extremely strong position for SEO so I continue to enjoy traffic on that post. And I don’t do anything other than hit Publish, then it automatically gets emailed to my 40,000+ subscribers.

How to grow your mail list, build engagement and increase click throughs? It takes more than sticking a sign up box in your sidebar. That’s a topic for another session…. ☺ I have a bunch of secret easy tips for this!

Chicken Chow Mein

Chicken Chow Mein

2. Comparing myself to others – when you start out, you can’t take photos as great as the blogger who’s been doing it for 5 years. You won’t have their reach on social, you’ll spend hours on photos or videos only to have just a handful of people viewing it and you’ll see a crap recipe by a “power” blogger being viewed by hundreds of thousands on Facebook. Or even worse, when they blatantly copy a recipe.

It pissed me off big time.

Get over it.

Don’t waste your time or energy.

In the long term, quality counts. I’m specifically thinking of my Chicken Chow Mein recipe which, today, ranks highly for SEO. But at the time I first published it when I was a baby blogger, it was read by hardly anyone while I watched a terrible recipe by a “popular” blogger going wild on social media.

Quality always wins out in the long term. My Chow Mein is constantly one of my top performers.

PS Those bloggers to whom I refer? I block them on social. So I’m never tempted to compare.

3. Long Ugly Pinterest Pins (like this)– I hate them. I resisted for almost 1.5 years. Then I did them and my Pinterest traffic almost doubled. Do it. They are so ugly, but they work. Those who do not do them are missing out on the mass market.

I have a bunch of secret tips for how to dominate Pinterest even with just a handful of followers….. want to hear them? ☺

4. Pretty Photos Aren’t Everything – Social media is flooded with pretty photos and there are plenty of bloggers who prioritise photos over recipe quality. That’s a cold, hard fact.

I grappled with this for a long time. I hated that the food I loved was ugly – think curries, lentil soup, fall-apart-lamb-shanks. Sexy to ME, but not on social media.

A key turning point for me was when my fall-apart beef cheeks started to gain traction on Google. Ugly as hell, a brown blob that would never do well on social media. But to people who knew their food, who understood, they knew a great recipe even when they saw what most people think is an ugly photo.

That recipe today remains as one of my top recipe. Yes. Ugly beef cheeks. Utter proof that it’s not about pretty photos on social medial.

Beef cheeks

Beef cheeks


5. Fretting Over Things That Don’t Matter – The header isn’t centred perfectly, the text isn’t aligned properly, the heading isn’t large enough, the image on the sidebar isn’t crystal clear, the homepage isn’t set up the way I want.

My profile photo isn’t flattering enough, I look hideous, my hands are too chubby and small (<- story of my life), I hate my logo, I want a fancy website like that blogger. I wasted a ridiculous number of hours obsessing tiny little details that don’t matter. None of those things, even in aggregate, are going to have any material affect on your ability to grow or monetise your blog.

The basic requirement is to have a clean, easy to navigate website. Other than that, all that matters is having great content.

My website cost $70 to set up, it’s an out-of-the-box theme and I haven’t spent a cent on design. The ugly logo is a hangover from a previous project, my profile photo is a selfie I took in the bathroom (seriously).

Don’t make my mistake of wasting hours on details that don’t matter. Focus on your content.

That’s it from me today! I hope you find that help. ☺ If you have any questions, pop them down below and I’ll come back to respond (at least, over the next few days!).

Back for more soon! – Nagi xx

Nagi's notes:

But here are a few facts that might change your mind. Social media = at the mercy of an algorithm. Mail list = engaged followers under your control. Your engaged followers will promote your content for you so you don’t have to spend hours on social media. Engaged followers = more comments on posts = new readers landing on your blog for the first time seeing you as “popular” = more likely to follow you. Mail list = higher instant reads of new posts without any of your own efforts of promotion on social media = higher SEO position = passive future traffic. Mail list = audience to whom you can sell things, better rates for sponsored posts. Mail list = priceless ability to send personal emails to a group of people whom brands will pay top dollar for.