How This 30-Year-Old’s Food Blog Earns $8k Per Month from Ads, Sponsorships, and Brand Deals


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Even though Kayla Burton has an extensive background in STEM, a hobby let her down a different path. She was looking for a light hobby to take her mind off work, and since she had always had a passion for baking, she created her website, Broken Oven Baking

Although Kayla didn’t know about SEO and keyword research when she started, she quickly learned the ropes.

By sharing her creations on Instagram, she was able to grow it quickly. Then she grew her blog, started landing brand deals, and was well on her way to building a very profitable business.

Today, Kayla earns around $8k per month, and while she grows her website, she also coaches other food bloggers. 

Keep reading to find out:

  • What her original field was before blogging
  • Why she started her blog
  • How her blog got its name and why the name is tricky
  • How she grew her following on social media
  • Why she decided to get into coaching
  • Where her income comes from
  • How much traffic she’s getting
  • Her main marketing strategy
  • Her thoughts on SEO
  • Her approach to keyword research and link building
  • How she creates content
  • How she grows her email lists
  • The resources and tools she uses
  • Her main challenge
  • Her biggest mistake
  • Her advice for other entrepreneurs

Meet Kayla Burton

Hey, I’m Kayla! 

I grew up in small-town Wisconsin and graduated from UW-Madison as a biology major in 2016. After a few corporate jobs, I made an unexpected career transition from a research coordinator to a content creator!

I didn’t have any prior experience as a content creator; my background was completely in STEM. 

I started my blog while working as a clinical research coordinator.

Now I live in Chicago with my partner, Chris Pieta, and our cavapoo, Archie. It’s been a fun and wild journey and I’m so grateful for where I am today!

Why She Created Her Site

I created Broken Oven Baking in 2020 while working as a clinical research coordinator in oncology. I wanted a hobby to take my mind off of work, and I’d always enjoyed baking. 

So, I started baking a ton and sharing my creations with coworkers and friends. I even hosted a few cookie-decorating parties and fundraisers!

Chris was starting his product photography company at the time, so he took photos of my bakes and I shared them on Instagram. After posting consistently for a few months, I hit 1k followers and connected with some awesome, supportive food bloggers!

I’d never really read blogs before, but I enjoyed playing around with web design and logo creation as a teen. That, combined with my love for baking, led to the launch of my baking blog!

I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, but I was filled with excitement for this new adventure and intrigued by the possibilities! 

Despite the name, I don’t actually have a broken oven (anymore)! When I started my blog, I was living in a 100+ year-old Chicago studio apartment with a very small gas oven that had a total mind of its own. 

Thanks to an oven thermometer and patience, I was still able to successfully bake everything from cookies to macarons! 

I wanted my blog’s name to pay homage to how it all began. I didn’t think too much about how people with broken ovens might stumble upon my blog or how people might expect no-bake recipes (which I do have some of)! 

In the beginning, I spent my mornings, breaks, evenings, and weekends learning and implementing as much as I could. After a few months, I bought my own camera and took over photo duties.

In 2021, I hit 10k IG followers. I’d mostly credit consistency for my growth in the beginning, but I did also use hashtags, engage with the community on IG, and jump on reels in the early days!

After that I established my LLC, landed my first few brand deals, got featured on Good Morning America, and said goodbye to my 9-5!

About a year after going full-time, I qualified for Mediavine and started earning ad income. This was a huge milestone that I was super proud of!

I went all in on SEO and keyword research and diversified traffic from social media, recipe sharing sites, and Google web stories. 

Any time I’d see a spike in traffic, I’d do anything I could to keep it going! I even tried boosting posts on Facebook a few times.

As time went on, I realized that I enjoy the tech/business side of blogging and connecting with the community more than recipe creation. 

Other food bloggers started reaching out with questions about WordPress, SEO, working with brands, etc. and I was eager to share my knowledge!

In 2023, I launched my coaching services, which now include blog audits, 1-on-1s, and group coaching. 

It’s been super fulfilling and I’m excited to build it out and help more people grow their blogging businesses!

How Much She’s Making

I went full-time with my business in May 2021, and in 2023 it pulled in about $95k. This was almost double what I made the year before, and more than I ever made at any of my corporate jobs. 

While I was aiming for a 6-figure year, I’m proud of this accomplishment!

I currently have 3 main income streams. The rough estimates for 2023 are:

1) content creation/sponsored work for food brands – 50%
2) ad revenue from my baking blog – 25%, and 
3) coaching services for other food bloggers 25% 

I’ve recently started selling digital products as well. I have traffic and income reports for each quarter of 2023 on my blog if you’d like to dig in there.

In 2023, my blog came close to 1 million sessions (959k), and this January I had 100k sessions!

Overall 2023 sessions:

Overall 2023 traffic sources:

January 2024 vs 2023 sessions:

I usually spend about 8-12 hours working on my business every weekday. 

This year I’m making more of an effort to take breaks over the weekend, but I’ll usually still put in a few hours of light work on Saturday and/or Sunday.

Kayla’s Main Marketing Strategies

My main strategies for my baking blog are SEO and social media marketing. 

I always do keyword research and competitor analysis to get my recipes to rank on Google, and I create enticing photos and videos to share across social media platforms. 

Recently, ManyChat has been a game changer for increasing engagement and driving Instagram traffic to my blog!

ManyChat is a chatbot platform that allows me to automatically send my recipe links to Instagram users when they comment a specific keyword on a post. 

For example, during the holiday season I posted a reel for my Raspberry Crumble Cookies. I used ManyChat to set up an automation so that when someone commented “recipe,” they immediately received a DM with the recipe link.

The reel ended up getting 2.7m views on IG and over 13k people commented to get the recipe via ManyChat.

As for blog coaching, my main strategy is focused on community. 

This comes naturally and is more fulfilling to me! Since I love helping bloggers and giving back to the community, I share free tips and resources via a weekly email newsletter and Instagram content @foodblogcoach

Those who want to learn and excel faster invest in my paid coaching services.

Her Thoughts on SEO

Around 47% of my blog sessions were from Google organic traffic in 2023, so I’d say SEO is important for my business. In fact, it’s so important that I invested in an SEO audit with Casey Markee in 2022!

My social traffic is mostly from Pinterest, but I’m also active on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube (shorts) and get a bit of traffic from those, as well.

My current process is formulating sweet recipes with keywords that I can rank for. The main tools I use are Google, KeySearch, SEOquake, and recently I’ve added Semrush into the mix.

Keyword Research

While there’s more that goes into it, I typically shoot for a main target keyword of at least 1000 monthly search volume and <50 difficulty in KeySearch. 

I also go back and update posts every now and then to try to bump them up in the SERPs.

I think link building is important to help drive traffic and increase authority.

My main strategies for gaining backlinks have been sharing recipes in Facebook roundup groups and getting featured in podcasts, online news/magazines, etc. 

I tried HARO a while ago but I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t stick with it.

Her Content Creation Process

My blog has a little over 200 posts at the moment. 

I’m currently focusing on updating old posts, but to summarize my new recipe creation process: first I come up with recipe ideas that fit inside of my niche and I think my audience would love.

Then I conduct research to find keywords to rank for and make sure my posts match user intent. 

Once I’m set on a recipe, I’ll test it, write it up with the post, and shoot photos and videos for it. I currently have contractors helping me write blog posts, manage Pinterest, and edit photos and videos. Finally, I’ll publish and promote!

As I focus on updates and blog coaching this year, I’m only publishing 1-2 new posts per month. 

However, I was consistently posting 2 recipes per week for quite some time. I have a few contractors helping me out: a Pinterest manager, a blog writer, a photo editor, and a video editor.

Her Email List

I have 2 separate email newsletters.

Every other week I send out recipe and life updates to my baking blog audience. I grow this one via IG story promotion, a baking tips freebie, and the ConvertKit Creator Network.

I also send tips and resources to my blog coaching audience once a week. I grow this list via free and paid resources, like my LrC Photo Export Guide, Analytics Dashboard, and more!

I’ve learned a ton about food blogging from the Food Blogger Pro podcast, Eat Blog Talk, and TopHatRank webinars. 

For all things business and mindset, I’d recommend Alex and Leila Hormozi’s content and books. I’ve also really enjoyed Ali Abdaal’s new book, Feel Good Productivity!

As for tools, I’d be lost without my calendar, and I use Asana for daily planning and project management. 

A tool that’s been helping me focus lately is

Her Biggest Challenge

I think the biggest challenge I struggle with is overcoming imposter syndrome. I’ve always had high standards for myself and it’s hard for me to judge how I’m doing as a new entrepreneur. 

No matter how many great reviews I get on recipes or testimonials from coaching clients, I still feel like I’m not doing enough. To combat this, I try to look at the evidence of what I’ve accomplished in the past few years and just keep going despite my feelings of insecurity. 

I tell myself it’s normal to feel this way when you’re pretty new to something and things will feel better the more you do it. 

I also try to look at it in a positive way. It’s good that I care and want to do amazing work and continue improving!

I asked my current group coaching members something like this during our first call together and one of their answers was “not giving up.” 

I wholeheartedly agree with this. I’m proud of my willingness to try new things, ability to solve problems, and resilience overall!

What She Wishes She Knew When She Started

Food blogging is way more than just making recipes and taking photos.

I had absolutely no idea what SEO or keyword research was when I started out. Having that and website knowledge would’ve saved me so much time and money in the beginning.

To learn these skills, I watched all of the free TopHatRank SEO for Bloggers webinars, listened to podcasts like Food Blogger Pro and Eat Blog Talk, and purchased the Cooking With Keywords course. 

I also invested in an SEO audit with Casey Markee after listening to every interview of his I could find!

Her Biggest Mistake

I don’t dwell on mistakes so nothing really stands out as significant.

I view everything as a learning experience and quickly move on to the next test.

When I launched my blog, I was on with a poorly optimized theme and cheap host. Those were mistakes that I had to correct, but I learned so much from them (including that I should invest in myself to avoid future mistakes)!

Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs

Love the core of what you do and don’t expect things to be easy or constant. Technology is advancing so quickly right now that things are always changing!

Your strategies and goals will probably look a little different in a few years, and that’s okay. I’ve only been blogging for about 4 years now and things already look so different from when I started!

Keep an open mind and keep executing. The more you do, the more you’ll learn about yourself, the industry, and what direction you want to move in.

Say no to things that don’t align with your vision or values. If you’re in this for the long run, think long-term when making big decisions.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Outsource tasks that drain you, invest in coaching, etc.

Be your authentic self! Build your personal brand and establish a community.


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