Food Network Star Coley Gaffney makes her blog her staple ingredient
Case Study

Food Network Star Coley Gaffney makes her blog her staple ingredient

Nicole “Coley” Gaffney is a professionally trained chef, writer, photographer and media personality with over 20 years of experience in the food industry. She was second runner up on season 10 of Food Network Star, is host of the syndicated cooking show, The Chef’s Kitchen, and makes regular appearances on QVC. She’s also been a featured chef on The Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, House Hunters and My Family Recipe Rocks with Joey Fatone. In 2017 Coley founded Soulberri Smoothies + Bowls in her hometown of Brigantine, New Jersey and is the author of a cookbook called The Art of the Smoothie Bowl. Coley’s main passion, however, is creating mouthwatering recipes and sharing them on her blog, Coley Cooks. She can be found on social media @ColeyCooks and at her website, ColeyCooks.com.

Working as a professional chef in Brigantine, New Jersey, Nicole “Coley” Gaffney had a flourishing career. “I was working as a personal chef,” she recalls, “preparing daily meals for clients, catering at parties, and selling homemade granola bars at a local farmers market.” And in 2014 Coley got the opportunity of a lifetime - she was selected to be on the 10th season of Food Network Star, a show where chefs from across the country compete against each other live and viewers vote to keep their favorite chefs on the show each week. “Being on Food Network Star was a surreal experience,” she says, “and it helped to put my business on a national stage. I was really lucky to have a long run on the show and came in third place overall.”

Being on Food Network Star opened a lot of doors. Coley started working with QVC, opened up a smoothie shop, SoulBerri, in Brigantine, and even released a smoothie bowl cookbook. “I started expanding my business into new areas, wearing a lot of different hats and learning a lot.” But one business remained essential throughout: her food blog, Coley Cooks. “I started my blog back when I was working as a chef,” she says, “so I could have an outlet to share more about what I was cooking for myself, and it really stayed with me throughout everything as a side project.” With so many opportunities swirling, Coley is excited to get back to focusing on her blog as the core of her business. “I’m excited to re-narrow my focus back onto my blog because it’s something that I’m super passionate about. I love the ability to teach people how to cook and share amazing food with their families. And it’s proven to me that the ad revenue I get from my blog is a sustainable, growing business. I’m able to share recipes for free and still earn a living.”

<p><em>Coley teaching how to cook on her YouTube channel.</em></p>

Coley teaching how to cook on her YouTube channel.

I love the ability to teach people how to cook and share amazing food with their families. And it’s proven to me that the ad revenue I get from my blog is a sustainable, growing business. I’m able to share recipes for free and still earn a living.

Coley Gaffney, Founder, Coley Cooks

Coley turned to Ad Manager and partnered with CafeMedia, a Google Certified Publishing Partner, to help monetize her content. “Ad revenue is my main source of income on my blog,” she explains, “and it’s enabled me to do a lot; I’ve hired someone to manage my social media, it’s helped me re-invest in my site, open my smoothie shop, even build my new house.”

<p><em>The Coley Cooks website.</em></p>

The Coley Cooks website.

As a small business owner, the ad revenue and time saved gives Coley the space to focus on creating delicious new recipes, which is a lot of work. “When developing a new recipe I do a ton of research,” she explains. “I like to look on Google Search and see what questions people typically ask so that I can make my recipe as helpful as possible. Then there’s perfecting the recipe, photographing it, and sharing it with my readers.”

Looking ahead, Coley is excited to continue sharing her passion for cooking with the world through her blog. “It’s so rewarding to be able to teach people to cook,” she says, “and I feel so grateful that I found this business that allows me to continue doing what I love.”

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