Back in 2010, when Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack initially started her blog, Muy Bueno, her only objective was to share her recipes with friends and family. That’s all it was: just a simple website where she could document her cooking to create a family cookbook.
Fast forward to today: Yvette has published three cookbooks, her blog is earning 6-figures a year, she has several lucrative brand ambassadorships, she gave a signed copy of her cookbook to Michelle Obama, and she won an Emmy.
Keep reading to find out:
- How Yvette got started in blogging
- What led to her Emmy award
- How she connects with brands
- Her views on collaborations
- Where her income is coming from
- How she approaches keyword research
- Her thoughts on link building
- Her favorite resources and tools
- Her greatest challenge
- Her biggest accomplishment
- What she wishes she knew when she started
- Her main mistake to date
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack
My name is Yvette. I’m a Latina food blogger and cookbook author. I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. I currently live in the beautiful state of Colorado with my husband and two children.
I keep my heart in two places because I’m completely in love with our home in Colorado and also a proud Tejana!
Why She Created Muy Bueno
I created the Muy Bueno blog in 2010 as an online journal to document the journey of writing a cookbook. Over time, it evolved into a place where I could celebrate my culture, my grandma, and my mother, by preserving the generations of traditions en la cocina (in the kitchen).
My first cookbook is Muy Bueno, co-written with my mother Vangie and sister Veronica, and was published in 2012. Latin Twist was published in 2015, and my latest cookbook, Muy Bueno Fiestas was just published this month.
I was a full-time graphic designer and my daughter gave me the idea to write a family cookbook. Initially, the idea was to design a Shutterfly-style type of book for my children, and then a friend of mine suggested I start a blog to share recipes with friends and family who were asking for recipes.
This was in 2010, and I honestly had to Google, “What is a blog?” As a graphic designer, I designed a logo and my blog, and soon after strangers started asking how they can order my cookbook.
I realized others appreciated my homestyle Mexican recipes and stories. Eventually, I looked into the idea of self-publishing and then decided to write a proposal and pitch my cookbook to a traditional publisher.
How She Won an Emmy
In 2017, I was awarded an Emmy for the “Day of the Dead Celebration” video I produced and wrote in the category: Short Format Program – Informational.
My videographer, Chris, with Pure Cinematography, is the one who entered the video into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Inc., (NATAS). He won an Emmy for editor and director for the same film. This was a small-budget video; Chris is a superstar!! You can read all about the details on my blog.
I never would have imagined in a million years that I would be cooking or writing for a living—let alone win an Emmy. Life is a mystery, but I believe if you go after something with all your heart magic happens.
Yvette’s Thoughts on Working with Brands
I’m also a mom, full-time food blogger, cookbook author, recipe developer, influencer, and brand ambassador. I have worked on projects with Toyota, Land O’Lakes, Kroger, Quaker, Barilla, Pillsbury, and Avocado from Mexico to name a few.
Initially, brands reached out to me. When I first started the blog I had no idea that partnering with brands was even a thing. It was all very new to blogging and brands.
I decided to design a media kit and a rate sheet to look professional. My main source of revenue was brand ambassadorships when I first started. I did not incorporate ads on my blog for the first couple of years.
I was laid off from my full-time job in 2012, two years after I started blogging and the year my first cookbook, Muy Bueno, was published. I was determined to make the blog my career.
My advice is to fake it till you make it! With my media kit, I could look professional and share my story in a PDF.
For example: Yes, we can collaborate on a blog post, but I can also produce a video and upload it on my YouTube channel or post a reel on my Instagram feed. Always think outside the box! This is my business and I have to sell myself.
Now I have a business manager, Johanna Voss, and she deals directly with clients, which helps me focus on my business.
I have grown year-over-year (traffic and revenue). My revenue is a combination of brand ambassadorships, ad revenue, and affiliate income.
How Much Money She’s Making
I make 6 figures a year in ad revenue with Mediavine with an average of 700,000 organic visitors per month. I never wrote my blog with SEO in mind until 2020, and once I did, my traffic nearly doubled every year.
Currently, I work on my site for about 40 hours per week.
When I first started, I was just sharing recipes and stories and pushed SEO away for many years. I had no interest in writing for the Google Gods.
To be honest, I had no real idea about the ad revenue potential. I finally decided to invest in my business when I learned about other bloggers who started around the same time I did, and they would talk about their ad revenue.
I invested in my business by hiring an external company for an SEO audit, and they gave me really valuable advice.
Her Top Marketing Strategy
My marketing strategy is SEO. I rarely pay for advertising, but when I do, it’s minimal Facebook advertising for my new cookbook.
I keyword search the recipes I want to post and try not to “keyword stuff” my posts. I write with the reader in mind and include step-by-step process photos, expert tips, and FAQs.
I put my target keyword phrases into Google and look at the People Also Ask questions and the Google Related Searches and see if those would be best addressed in the content. I ask myself: would that be helpful to my users?
Backlinks increase your domain authority. I try to be active with Facebook groups for blogger round-ups, I have also applied to be on podcasts.
I also highly recommend accepting interview requests (like this one). HARO is also a way to push out more brand mentions. They email you a digest of bloggers, editors, and journalists looking for quotes or people to feature.
Yvette’s Content Creation Process
I don’t follow trends. I write recipes I’m craving and/or I want to share. My main goal is to update and republish older content with SEO in mind. I have over 1,000 recipes and hundreds of those posts are buried and need some SEO love.
Her Email List
I have an email list. I do not have my subscribers segmented and need to learn tips and tricks, but I do have very faithful subscribers, +32k of them!
Yvette’s Favorite Resources
I’m a huge fan of podcasts. The Food Blogger Pro is one of my favorite podcasts. I also like to hear tips from Top Hat Rank and Mediavine via their Facebook page.
I also belong to a private mastermind group called Amy’s Circle, where she shares great tips, encouragement, lessons, and business growth challenges.
Her Top Tools
My Mediavine dashboard is a great tool for me to quickly check my traffic and earnings.
I also rely on my amazing team. I work with a virtual assistant who helps with keyword research and blog writing and I have a photographer who assists with styling and shoots all the photography on my blog and my latest cookbook.
I also have a business manager/agent who negotiates all my sponsorships. I wouldn’t be where I am without their amazing assistance.
Her Biggest Challenge
My biggest challenge is not to micromanage. After doing it all for many years, it was hard for me to release control. I am blessed with an incredibly talented team.
Years back, I was getting very close to burning out. It was challenging to grocery shop, develop recipes, take my own photos, clean up the kitchen, make dinner, be present as a mom and wife, and then edit photos and write blog posts after my kiddos went to bed.
Don’t even get me started on social media. I realized I needed to let go of some things that did not bring me joy. Now, I order my groceries via Instacart, I work with my talented photographer, Jenna Sparks, and I batch recipes and schedule photoshoots twice a month.
If it’s a large project like my cookbook or sponsored projects, I hire an assistant who can help with prep and cleaning. I also have a magical virtual assistant who helps me draft and keyword search my blog posts. I have another virtual assistant who schedules my Facebook page, and a VA who manages my Pinterest page.
Her Greatest Accomplishment
These would be meeting Michelle Obama, winning an Emmy, and being a published author.
In 2012, I was invited by Mamiverse to meet Michelle Obama and participate in a roundtable to discuss our lives and key issues impacting Hispanic families across our nation.
I was beyond nervous, but when she walked in the door I felt as if I knew her. She was a mom just like the rest of us. The longer we all chatted, the more comfortable I felt with her.
I sat right next to her and spoke from the heart about what I’m most passionate about: food and family. Eating home-cooked meals is important to me. So, discussing with the First Lady the importance of creating healthy eating habits for our children seemed like a natural fit.
Before Mrs. Obama had to leave, I gave her a signed cookbook. She read my dedication and then flipped through the book, complimented it, and asked me questions about some of the recipes. It was the very first cookbook I dedicated. It truly felt like a dream!
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I would have invested in an SEO audit sooner. Casey Markee shared some great words with me: “You don’t know, what you don’t know.” That really resonated with me.
I thought I fully understood this business, but I actually didn’t. I’m still constantly learning!
I find it amazing to learn how bloggers and influencers monetize and love learning tips on how to diversify my income. I think it’s important to keep learning, but don’t let that stop you from doing it!
Yvette’s Biggest Mistake
I think I’m guilty of trying to take on too much on my own and not investing in assistance.
There are so many resources online for virtual assistants. I highly recommend the Facebook group “Food blogger virtual assistants” for food bloggers.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
So many people are notorious for researching and learning and never begin. Then there are others who start full force and want quick results, and then give up.
Don’t over-research or overthink it. Find your passion and start a blog, a YouTube channel, or social media channel and just do it!
My passion for sharing my traditions, culture, and recipes is what motivated me and continues to motivate me. Hearing from complete strangers who make my recipes brings me so much joy. As they say, money doesn’t buy happiness. Find your joy!