In 2009, recently married and with spare time on her hands, Kristin Porter started searching for her next project. "At the time," she recalls, "I was reading a lot of blogs written by women my age who were in similar life stages, and thought ‘I can do that too.'" So she did. That year Kristin launched her website, Iowa Girl Eats, a space filled with recipes, workouts, and general life updates. "I quickly attracted an audience of like-minded women and have had many of the same readers since that time. We've grown up together."
Iowa Girl Eats
Kristin Porter, Founder
How Kristin Porter built her dream business helping 7.5 million people each year navigate cooking with Celiac Disease, food allergies and sensitivities
Since 2013, Kristin has built her business around supporting her 7.5 million annual website visitors with Celiac Disease, food allergies, and food sensitivities. "I'm very passionate about helping the gluten-free community and providing guidance around how to safely prepare foods for those with special dietary needs," she says. "Our tagline is ‘Easy gluten-free recipes made with everyday ingredients.' The idea is that you don't have to go to a specialty store or spend a ton of money to make a safe and delicious meal for your family." As someone who made the transition to gluten-free eating, Kristin knows the challenges families face during such times. "I've found the aftercare for people diagnosed with Celiac Disease to be lacking and there's very little support offered after a diagnosis," she explains. "I'll get emails from people saying, ‘I was just diagnosed — what am I supposed to eat for dinner tonight?' It's an instant change in your life, so to be able to help people navigate that transition and get the information they need quickly is so critical, and makes this really meaningful work."
As Kristin built her audience and improved her site, she began to consider working on it full time. "When I started the site I was still employed full time, but I grew up with a dream of working for myself," she shares. "Believe it or not, I realized this could be full time business after a smoothie recipe I shared went totally viral and the traffic never slowed down. I had no children at the time and I thought, if there's ever a time to go for it, it's now."
She began monetizing the site with Google AdSense and eventually sought extra support from AdThrive, a Google Certified Publishing Partner. "I went through a few different ad networks before landing with AdThrive," she says, "and they've done an incredible job – my ad revenue has gone through the roof. It's been huge for our family. I always tell our AdThrive team, you have no idea how life-changing this relationship and ad revenue has been for us. We're actually just coming up on the one year mark of my husband leaving his job to stay home with our kids so that I can work on Iowa Girl Eats full time."
Not only does ad revenue help to support her business and family, it also allows Iowa Girl Eats to stay competitive and serve a wider audience. "Being ad-supported allows me to keep the site content free to access, which is great for readers," Kristin shares. "I'm lucky to have super supportive, longtime readers who will buy anything I release, but that's not the majority of visitors. I could put up a gluten-free cookie recipe and try to push readers through a paywall to access it, but there's half a million other gluten-free cookie recipes on the Internet available for free – so I'd lose that traffic and those readers. Keeping my content free helps me to best serve my audience and attract repeat visitors."
For Kristin, being able to support her audience and build a business has been the opportunity of a lifetime. "Earning ad revenue with Google and AdThrive lets me fulfill two of my most important goals in life, which are to work for myself running my own small business and have a flexible schedule to be home with my kids. Achieving perfect work-life balance is impossible, but to be able to have work that fulfills me and be able to be home with my kids while they're young is a dream come true."
And as she sees it, it's a dream others can achieve too. "A lot of people might think there's too many bloggers or influencers out there to get started themselves," Kristin says, "but we each have a unique voice and perspective and can serve a unique audience. I never thought this would be my job, but technology has made starting an online business possible for just about anyone. My husband and I were just saying it's such a cool time to be alive – with digital tools you can start any business you can dream up, build a following, and pursue your passion."