Updated: Apr 15
Writer Name: Erica Kastner
Years of Experience: 10+
Available for writing projects: Yes
Niche/Beat/Genre: From-scratch, healthy, sourdough
Website: Buttered Side Up
Favorite food: It’s between sourdough bread, matcha, and grass-fed butter!
Writing tip for fellow writers: If you’re feeling stuck, do something mindless: take a shower, exercise, draw, or sleep on it!
Erica Kastner runs the Buttered Side Up blog, where she shares from-scratch recipes with a healthy touch.
She’s been writing and blogging about her love of good food since 2008, including 10 years writing for The Pioneer Woman's website.
Tell us a little about your background. Were you a writer before you started your blog?
I started my first food blog when I was 18, so I didn’t really have the time or opportunity to do any other official writing after high school.
Why did you decide to start a cooking website?
It’s kind of a roundabout story. My crush (now husband) was somewhat of a health nut, and that got me interested in the nutritional aspect of food.
I started experimenting with recipes to make them a bit healthier: swapping out white flour for whole wheat, and white sugar for maple syrup and honey. I wanted to share my successful recipes with the world, and that’s how my first food blog was born!
It's pretty cool that you contributed to The Pioneer Woman blog. How did that come about?
Back in the early days of my blog, I would faithfully submit every one of my relevant recipes to Tasty Kitchen (Ree Drummond's sister site). One day, I was asked to guest post on the Tasty Kitchen blog while Ree was on vacation.
I was so nervous, because I had never written for anyone else before. But, it was such a great learning experience!
Then, I was asked to be a regular contributor. I wrote for the Tasty Kitchen blog for five years, and then switched to writing for the Food & Friends section of The Pioneer Woman’s blog.
The community of readers was so supportive on Food & Friends, and I created many recipes and how-to posts that I’m so proud of. I was able to hone my writing and photography skills over the five years I contributed.
Last year, Ree’s website was taken over by another company, and the Food & Friends section was retired. So now I’m working for myself!
You’ve had your Buttered Side Up blog for a long time; what have been some of the most popular food topics you’ve covered?
My readers seem to really like my sourdough posts. I have a sourdough pull-apart roll recipe that went a little viral during the sourdough craze last spring. I also did an in-depth grass-fed butter review, which is my all-time most popular post. My homemade latte recipes are also some of my most popular.
Your site is part of Mediavine Food. What does that mean, and how do bloggers qualify for that?
Mediavine is an ad network that has a much higher payment rate than AdSense. You have to have a crazy amount of traffic to your blog to earn an income from AdSense, but Mediavine makes it doable for a medium-sized website.
But, you have to reach a minimum number of monthly sessions (the number of people who view your blog) in order to qualify for Mediavine.
(Editorial note: Mediavine requires blogs to have at least 50,000 sessions per month).
What has been the most rewarding part of what you do?
Getting reviews from readers who absolutely love a recipe. It makes me so happy to enrich someone else’s life with scrumptious food.
What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about food bloggers that you’d like to clear up?
The amount of time that goes into each post!
Back in the early days of food blogging, a lot of people were using their website as a food journal. You would try out someone else’s recipe, make a couple of changes, and post the recipe. These days, if you want Google to pick up your post, you’re going to have to put in a lot more effort than that.
From keyword and recipe research to grocery shopping, recipe testing, photographing, photo editing, and writing, it takes many hours to get a post published.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Writing for an online audience is multifaceted. Not only do you need to write interesting articles, you also have to format those articles in a way that’s optimized for search engines and ads if you intend to make a living. It can cramp your creative style at times. But, the ability to inspire so many people to get into their kitchen is very rewarding!