Articles about Growing Your Food Blog
We recently received an email from long-time FBP members Dustin and Lacey Baier with a PDF blog post draft that Dustin wanted to share with us. In the email, he said,
"I was starting to write a post for A Sweet Pea Chef that was based off Food Blogger Pro - kind of a success story post. In part, because of the recent success we have seen and, in part, to be a good affiliate piece for Food Blogger Pro. Then I realized that, if I was in your shoes, I might want to use something like this as a case study on Food Blogger Pro or Pinch Of Yum."
Welp, we were definitely interested. We love to think that we help people here at Food Blogger Pro, but there's nothing like hearing from bloggers who have found success through hard work, determination, and a tiny bit of help from FBP.
Today on the Food Blogger Pro podcast, we're turning up the heat (pun intended) as we talk about some tech-geek stuff with Dr. David Darmanin from HotJar.
If you haven't implemented HotJar on your site yet, you most likely just haven't heard of it yet. What Google Analytics can't do for you (or does with way too many details), HotJar makes as simple and beautiful as you can imagine. Dr. David Darmanin, the founder and CEO of HotJar, worked for years as a professional conversion expert and as a user experience (UX) designer for websites. When you put those two skills together, you get a tool that is so easy to use your grandmother could do it, and that is so good at converting your visitors into customers or subscribers that you'll wonder how you ever survived without it.
We all love social media. We love it! I know there are some of you out there who are saying "Ugh, how can she say that?? I hate social media!" But deep down, under all that prickly disdain, you know that social media is one of the keys to blog success. And isn't it?
While we all love social media, we all probably have a fondness for one, maybe two, platforms that really pull our heartstrings. For me, it's Facebook. I can surf Facebook for minutes to hours every single day given half a chance.
But Twitter? Nah. Not me. Twitter was "after my time" - meaning only that Facebook was the thing right after MySpace took a dive, and it stole my heart. Twitter was late to the party, and who wants to truncate all the wonderful, descriptive things that you have to say? Let's just say Twitter is not my cup of tea, er, coffee.
That is, Twitter was not my cup of coffee until I learned about Twitter. No, it's not just a way for teenagers to send mass messages about their daily activities. Used properly, Twitter can be a really powerful tool. Let's explore how some Twitter nuances can really help you grow your blog, all in 140 characters or less.
This post is about Little Things.
In staying true to its theme, it’s a little post.
Building a successful blog (or business or non-profit) doesn’t happen by doing Big Things. It happens by doing hundreds of Little Things that lead to Big Results.
I’m convinced that the #1 issue that people face with building a blog (or any creative endeavor, really) is The Resistance.
It’s not a lack of time, it’s not a lack of knowledge, and it’s not a lack of skill.
It’s The Resistance.
Here’s how Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, describes it:
Resistance comes as a voice in our heads. The voice tells us not to work today and it gives us a reason. Our daughter’s dance recital starts at seven; this headache is killing us; the boss wants us to organize the Penske file.
Sound familiar? I know it does for me. I’m fighting that voice right now.
“You’re in Chicago, Bjork. You can write the post when you get back home…”
“It’s New Year’s Eve…”
“You’re heading out in an hour. It’s not worth it to start now. You’ll have a good chunk of time on the car ride home, you can do it then…”
Sometimes inspiration hits. Other times the creative tank is running on E.
Either way the show must go on. A recipe needs to be made and a post needs to be published to your blog.
So where you do go when you’re fresh out of ideas?
Here are five places you can look to find inspiration for popular and trending recipes. Not only will these recipes give you inscription and ideas for creating your own adaptations, but they’ll also give you an idea of recipes that are currently popular or trending.
Blogs are a lot like bands.
A blog takes years to build up followers, a band takes years to build up fans.
A blog needs to continually publish new posts, a band needs to continually record new songs.
A blog has viral posts, a band has hit songs.
There aren’t many things I’d rather be doing than accounting.
Okay, well… actually…
…now that I think of it there are quite a few things I’d rather be doing than accounting.
- Juggling porcupines
- Taste testing cardboard
- Listening to Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini on repeat.
Are you with me or are you with me?
Here’s the deal though: if you’re working to build your blog into a business then you need to treat it like one. That means doing a good job with your accounting.
While I don’t like spending time in Excel or QuickBooks, I do like knowing that our books are in order and that we’re keeping track of our income and expenses.
So how do anti-spreadsheet people like Lindsay and I manage to keep our books in order?
We do it by using a system I call Zen Accounting for Bloggers.
It's a simple system that we developed over the past few years. This system allows us to keep really clean books while spending less than 30 minutes a week on taxes/accounting/bookkeeping.
And today I’d like to share that simple system with you.
If you don’t get a lot of email right now, you will someday.
That might sound negative, but I'm predicting your future success.
Here's how it'll work: Your blog will continue to grow, and as your blog continues to grow so will the number of people you impact, and the more people you impact the more people will email you.
It’s a good problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless.
But it's possible for emails to be a pleasure, not a pain, and to be helpful, not hurtful. You just need to make sure that you approach email with a purpose, and that purpose should be to help you grow your blog.
There are two general types of emails:
- I want to say hi.
- I need some help.
The first type of email gives you a chance to connect with one of your readers. If you can, you should try and respond to these emails. Showing someone you heard what they said (and that you genuinely care) can go a long way.
The second type of email comes from someone that has a problem. The primary goal for this emailer is to solve their problem, not necessarily to connect or say hi.
These emails, the “I need some help emails,” are the type of emails I’d like to talk about in this post.
Confession: I’m a complete rookie when it comes to YouTube.
Our subscriber base just recently climbed out of single digits (40!) and we’ve released a total of 10 videos.
So, naturally, I’m writing a post giving advice on using YouTube.
I know it seems a wee bit cray-zee but I’m a huge believer in the idea of expert enough. As a matter of fact, I’ll go so far as to say that sometimes not being the ultimate expert can actually make you a better teacher (see the above link for reasons why).
So if this isn’t The Expert’s Guide to YouTube, then what it is? I think a better way to describe this post would be A Look into my Notebook: 5 Things I Learned in my First Month Using YouTube.
Over the last few weeks I’ve piled up an impressive stack of (digital) notes on building a YouTube channel. I’ve tinkered, explored, researched, Googled, YouTubed (ironic, I know), and even Skyped with the channel manager for a top 20 YouTube channel.
After awhile I started to notice some common themes with the advice that people were giving me. That advice, along with some other “ah ha” moments, are included in this list of the five things I learned in my first month using YouTube.
Here they are:
Are you looking for a certain company's takedown notice form?
You’ve come to the right place.
Does my word not convince you? I bet this ninja karate chopping a computer will.
Before we look through the list I want to talk about what a takedown notice is and when I think you should use them.
Quick tip: Want to watch a video instead of read the post? You can scroll to the bottom of this post to check out the "video recap" from our YouTube channel.
Analytics: The discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.
Google Analytics is a funny thing. On one hand, it’s a powerful (free!) tool that offers you seemingly limitless data about your blog. One the other hand, it has the potential to be a huge distraction and an emotional roller coaster, as your mood directly reflects the ups and downs of your blog’s traffic.
If you’re new to blogging I recommend that one of the first things you do is install Google Analytics so it can start collecting data right away. After that, however, I’d do whatever you can to check it as little as possible for the first year of blogging.
Why? Food Blogger Pro member Beth (of Eat Within Your Means) said it best in her forum post 30-Day Challenge: No Analytics:
I’m finding that checking my traffic stats is becoming something of an addiction and is distracting me from doing the right work. I’ve decided to take a 30-Day Challenge to refrain from checking my traffic stats.
As I said before, Google Analytics is an incredible tool. But if you’re using it to just “check your stats,” which in turn distracts you from doing “real work,” then the tool is hurting you more than it’s helping you.
After a year of intentional, focused blogging you’ll have developed your blog to a point where you can start to think about using the “ninja” level (i.e. advanced) tools available in Google Analytics, like A/B testing your important pages or setting up goals for your blog.
Until then, however, I’d recommend you stop frequently checking your blog’s stats. Beth did this and had great results (**high five** Beth!).
Instead of checking in on your Google Analytics you should start checking in on a different type of analytics: user controlled analytics.
This type of analytics is less about “discovery and communication” and more about “meaningful patterns.” More specifically, it’s about meaningful patterns that you can control.
Here are three important user controlled analytics to track in your first year of blogging:
The Matrix holds a special place in my heart. It was the first rated R movie that I saw. I can remember it like it was yesterday…
The year was 1999. My brother was nice enough to let me go with him to his friend’s house, where a few “older kids” were hanging out for the afternoon. I was 13 at the time and my brother and his friends were 16. They were trying to decide what to do when one of the guys said, “Hey! I rented The Matrix last night, we should watch it!” He proceeded to pull the movie (a VHS rental from Movie Gallery, of course) out of his backpack.
My brother, being the good brother that he is, let the guys know that I’m not allowed to watch rated R movies. There was a collective groan from the guys and I immediately felt like a middle schooler kid in a group of high schoolers (which I was).
In an effort to gain some dignity I said; “Wait! Maybe Mom and Dad will let me watch it. I’ll call and ask them.”
Phone: Ring ring ring…
Trying to build a blog without good applications is like trying to build a house without good tools. You can do it, but it will take a lot longer.
Have you ever searched for a password you wrote down on a piece of paper and put “somewhere safe” (but you’re not quite sure where that is)? Have you ever tried to communicate a design concept over email using written text? Have you ever written the same sentence over and over in different emails to different people?
All of those things are examples of ways that we try and build our virtual house (i.e. blog) using crummy tools.
If you’re looking to build an awesome blog then you need awesome applications for your virtual toolbelt. The following seven apps are the first "tools" that I'd suggest you purchase (or download for free).
Note: Some of these apps are specific to Mac OS. If there’s an alternative option for Windows then I include it at the end of the description.
Three months ago I wrote a post called How to Increase Your Conversion Rates with A/B Testing. In the post I promised to put together quarterly updates to let everyone know how the A/B testing is going.
My hope with these quarterly updates is to:
- Encourage you to do A/B testing if you have the time and energy.
- If you don’t have the time and energy then I want to show you the changes we made to help increase conversion rates.
You can take the things we’ve learned about increasing conversions and apply them to your sales pages without having to do any A/B testing on your own (but I still think you should do A/B testing if you have the time).