We know that blogging keeps you busy, which means you may not always have time to actually read blogs. So, we’ve now got the podcast where we’re going to cover all sorts of topics to help you take your blog and biz to the next level.
You have a food blog, now what?
Maybe you’ve been blogging for a while, or you’re just getting started, but you’ve probably realized there are A LOT of things you could be doing to help grow your blog. If you’re not sure where to start, we’re covering 6 different ways that you can dig into your blog a bit more and help it grow.
1) Take a look at your blog from a visitor’s perspective
You work on your blog a lot; you look at it all the time. But what about your visitor? You need to take a fresh look at your site from the eyes of a person who’s just landed there. If you want a one-time visitor become a raving fan, you need to make sure your site is conducive to a good user experience.
2) Take a look at the trends
To take your blog to the next level, you may want to know what the trends are, both in the food blogging space and within your niche. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing (you probably shouldn’t!) but it’s important to know the trends because your readers may be looking for that type of content.
3) Examine your content
When you’ve been blogging a while, it’s good to take a look at the content that you’re creating- can you make it even better? You might even want to try using an editorial calendar to help yourself get organized for your upcoming content.
If you’re using Pinterest, you know this is a topic of its own. And if you’re not using Pinterest, you should be! Take the time to learn more about this visual search engine, including creating really great “pinable” images using a tool like Canva.
5) Examine your whole site
After you take a look at your site from a visitor’s perspective, you also want to examine your site as a whole to see how it’s functioning. See if anything is slowing it down, do you have obnoxious ads, but also do you have a way for people to stay connected to you, like giving them a way to join your mailing list?
6) Create sponsored content
When you’ve been blogging for a while, you may be ready to start making more income with sponsored posts. This will help you not only bring in money for your hard work, but can help to grow your following and amplify your message.
When you’ve been blogging for a while, there are any number of things you can do to dig in deeper and take your blog and biz to the next level. Take one or more of these six ideas and see where your blog goes next.
Learn about creating an editorial calendar
Check out Canva for making “pinnable” images
How to drive more traffic to your blog using Pinterest
Check out our podcast on working with brands
Join our newsletter!
Transcription of This Episode
Welcome to Feast Food Blog Talk, where we share how to take your food blogging to the next level, and inspire you to do more with your blog and business.
On today’s episode, we are talking all about, what do you do when you’ve had a food blog for a while and you’re not quite sure what to do next to help you take it to the next level? Let’s face it, there is so much that you can do, and lots of different ways to improve what you’re doing. We’re going to take a look at six different ways.
One, you need to look at your blog from a stranger’s point of view. Two, you want to look at the trends about what’s going on in the food space, but also if you have a niche, what’s happening there. Three, you want to take a look at your content. Four, you need to think about if you’re utilizing Pinterest. Five, you want to think about what’s going on with your website as a whole. Six, you could start looking at creating some sponsored content.
Now like I said, you don’t need to do all of these, but we’re going to talk in depth about these six different ways that you can step your food blog up a notch or two, and maybe eventually six.
Welcome to our very first episode of Feast Food Blog Talk, brought to you by Feast Design Co. We know you’re busy. You might be working on your blog right now. You obviously want people to read it. You’re working hard on it, but you might not have the time to read, so now we have the podcast for you. I’m your host, Sarah, and we’re excited to help you take your food blog to the next level. Let’s get into things.
All right, you’ve had your blog for awhile now, you’re posting recipes, maybe you’re adding in some other lifestyle type posts, and you want to make things better. You want to make the time and energy that you spend worth it. We’re going to be talking about some different strategies to help you take that blog to the next level.
The very first thing I want you to do is to actually take a look at your blog from a stranger’s point of view. Think about it, they landed there, what do they see? Go to your home page and check it out. You could also start at a post that people tend to find, either through Google search or through Pinterest. Get to your blog.
When they’re there, do they know what your blog is focused on? They see a recipe, do they realize that you’re a blog that specializes in gluten free food, or quick desserts? Do they just think, “Oh, I’ve found a good recipe and now I’m going to click off and look for something else.” When people get to your blog, you want them to stay there. You want them to look around. You want them to become loyal fans.
Your blog needs to be user friendly. It’s not enough for you, as the creator of the blog, to know how to find things and where everything lives, your user needs to be able to navigate your site easily. If it’s a pain to get to a recipe from wherever they land, or if they want to find more but they can’t figure out your categories, you’re going to lose people, and that’s not what you want.
Again, when you’re looking at your site as a brand new user, you want to think about it. Is it cluttered? Is it maybe is there too much going on? Do you have ads all over the place? Do you have photos that just, they’re nice but there’s too many of them? Think about who your user is, and with all the food blogs out there, photos, photos matter. Your photos need to be crisp and clear.
Now listen, you can have your own style. Your blog does not need to look like anyone else’s, and in fact it’s probably better if there’s something about the way that you style your food, the way that you take your photos, that stands out, but it needs to look appetizing. If this is a hobby and you’re just snapping photos and you want to show people what you’re doing, that’s fine. If you really want to make this into a business, you need to have good looking photos. Because in the world of food blogs, great pictures go a long way, especially when it comes to pinning your content.
We’ll talk about Pinterest a little later. Pinterest is one of the best ways to get traffic to a food blog, so your photos need to be Pinterest friendly.
Still thinking about your blog when people get there, your theme, is it professional looking? We’ve already said easy to navigate, but you really want to make sure that the theme that you’re using does what you need it to. That’s one of the things that we really want to help you with, but if you haven’t thought about your theme, if you just chose something haphazardly when you got started, now might be a great time to reevaluate your theme and to check out some really great, clean, minimal professional themes, like ours, if you haven’t already.
Your site needs to be mobile friendly. Now listen, people might be at home and they’re going to find your blog and they’re going to pull it up on their laptop or their desktop, and they’re going to work from that recipe, but a lot of people are on mobile. You need to make sure that your design and that your recipes are mobile friendly. Again, you’ve been doing this blogging thing for awhile. These are some things that you want to be doing to help take that blog to the next level.
Okay, next point. Here’s another way to level up. Look at the trends, both in the larger food space, but also in your niche. Now, you might not have a niche. A niche might be things like you’re not just a food blog, but like we said, gluten free recipes, or maybe you focus on desserts. Maybe your thing is party food, maybe it’s Southern comfort food. You might have already narrowed in, but think about, what are those larger food space themes that people seem to be looking for?
Like instant pot, instant pot seems to be all over the place. I personally don’t get instant pot, but a lot of other people do. Run with that. If you don’t have instant pot recipes, you might want to start looking into instant pot recipes.
Also, think seasonally. If your audience is really into seasonal foods, you might need to be thinking ahead and planning for the holidays, but also what is being grown now, what’s local, what’s fresh? Really think about the trends to help you develop content that people want to come back for.
Now we just said holidays, keep in mind that people plan early for holidays, so it really is okay to get your recipes out there early. This is especially important for SEO purposes, search engine optimization. Those search engines like content that’s been there longer, so if you are a blogger who is looking to build their business and part of what you do is have recipes that are appropriate for certain holidays or certain times of year, you don’t just put those recipes out right before the holiday happens. They need to be out well ahead of time.
Now I get it, you might not want your main page cluttered with thanksgiving recipes in the summer, so you can hide those within your theme. They don’t need to live on your main page, but you do want to have them on your blog. Like we said, you’ve been doing this for awhile now, you’re wanting to kind of level up, take your food blog to the next level, and we’re covering different ways that you can do that.
The next point, take a look at your content. You’ve already looked at your blog from a user’s perspective. You know what’s working well, maybe what isn’t. You are aware of the trends and things you might want to be doing differently. It’s now time to look at your content. Not just the organization and does the post look good, but take a look at your recipes.
Now this might be a no brainer for you, because you have a food blog, so you’re into food, maybe you love to cook, things just make sense to you. Keep in mind that people coming to your blog may not be as food friendly, let’s say. They may not necessarily understand what you mean by a technical term. You want to make sure that you are looking at that content from a user’s perspective as well. Your ingredients being listed. Are your measurements correct? Have you tested it?
You might want to make it even easier for the people who find you by adding in adjustments for double batches or half batches. Does anything need to change for those? Because I know for me, one of the things that I look for, that I hardly ever find, is I go to a blog I’m like, “Oh, this recipe looks great.” I love crock pot stuff, but those recipes are so huge. I typically cut them in half, but then I always wonder, does my cook time change? Over time I’ve figured this out, but as a user it’s kind of frustrating when they don’t tell me. Make it easier for your readers, that’s part of what’s going to turn just someone who stumbles onto your site into an actual fan, and they’re going to continue to dig around if you’ve made it really easy for them when they get to your recipes.
The other thing that is good to think about is, where is your readership coming from? If you’re in the US but you tend to have UK people come to your site, think about adding in the measurements for them and vice versa. There’s more things frustrating in life, but one thing that’s frustrating when I’m looking for recipes is I find something that looks so good, and it’s from like Australia or England, and I can’t. I could figure it out, I could figure out how to shift the measurements to cups and teaspoons and tablespoons, but I don’t want to take the time to do that.
Take a look at your analytics, see where people are coming from, and if you’re in the US but you do have a lot of readers outside, you may want to consider leveling up your blog by adding in those variations of the measurements. You’re doing the work for your readers.
The other thing in terms of your content is if you’ve been posting haphazardly, which is totally normal, we’re all busy. When you have a blog you can be really excited in the beginning, you post regularly, and then as things go on maybe it becomes harder. If you’re a mom with kids at home, you may not always be getting the posts done when you want. If you really want to take your blog seriously, think about creating an editorial calendar with a plan so that you know what you’re working on and when, and you can have a bigger picture idea.
Now an editorial calendar can be a whole talk in itself. We’ve got a really great post on the blog, so I’m going to link to that in our notes here. Really think about an editorial calendar as a way to up your game with your blog if you’ve been doing this for awhile now.
Okay, next way to step things up with your blog. Now before I get into this I do want to say, well let’s see, blogging is great, right? Obviously you’ve been doing it for awhile, but it can get overwhelming at times. There are so many different things that you can do at any one time to continue to grow your blog and your business. Don’t get overwhelmed by these ideas. Don’t feel like you need to tackle all of them. You might have already done some of these.
Think about what you want to try, and don’t feel like you have to do all these, because this next one is, it’s a whole day lecture in and of itself. This is Pinterest. If you really want to take your blog to the next level and you’re not utilizing Pinterest, you should be. If you are utilizing Pinterest, there’s probably more that you can do. We’ll have a whole episode on Pinterest. For now just know as a food blogger you should be using it.
Now, if you think that, “Well why should I be on Pinterest? It’s a social media site.” Nope, stop right there. Pinterest is not social media. Pinterest is a visual search engine. If you’ve not heard that before, let that sink in. It is a visual search engine. Now you’re probably using Pinterest, right? You go on to find things like unicorn party details for my daughter. I go on for Lego birthday party ideas for my son. We’re there all the time, right? That’s usually where I find my recipes, because people know they’re going to get good content, and it’s visual.
If I google vegetarian crock pot recipes, I get a lot of words. I can read those, that sounds great, but if I go to Pinterest and I search for vegetarian crock pot recipes, I get pictures. I get pictures of the things that I might make, and I can see what looks appetizing, and then I’m going to make a choice. Keep that in mind. This goes back to what we said, the photos that are on your site, they really need to be great and appealing so that people want to click through.
However, simply having great pictures isn’t necessarily enough to be Pinterest friendly as a blog, because what you pin on Pinterest is likely different than the photos that you might put on your blog. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you’ve probably read about Pinterest, but just about platform algorithms in general, and they are often changing. None of this is really a hard and fast rule.
Generally speaking, on your blog you’re probably putting a lot of just sort of typical photos that go along with your recipe. Maybe it’s the ingredients, it’s step by step, it’s the finished product, it’s the pretty fork digging it. Those photos are great on your blog, but that’s not what’s going to do best on Pinterest. Pinterest typically you’re going to want thin and long images. Square images used to be okay, they might be coming back, but generally you want to go a little longer, and you want to have text typically on that pin.
People can pin from your site, and if they pin one of those just sort of standard food images, that’s fine, but it’s better if you have created a pinnable image that maybe is a collage of a number of those photos, that has some keywords like, “Easy vegetarian crock pot dinner, kid friendly.” Whatever your keywords are, that you have that on your blog that someone then pins to Pinterest. Also that’s the sort of image that someone will find when they type in keywords that are associated with your recipe.
Again, if you’ve had a blog for awhile and you haven’t really dug into Pinterest, this might be a really great place for you to focus some time, because the payoff is great for bloggers in general, but it’s often really great for food bloggers. Again, this is because Pinterest is a visual search engine, and if you are really great at taking photos, Pinterest can be used to your advantage.
Now, if you have not done Pinterest, again, there’s a lot to it so don’t get overwhelmed. Another platform you’re going to want to become familiar with is Canva, this is how you’re going to be able to make these really pretty pins. Other people use PicMonkey. There’s lots of different platforms you can do. My personal favorite, and a lot of bloggers that I know, Canva is the way to go.
Okay, so we’ve talked about a few different ideas. You’ve got to look at your blog from a stranger’s point of view, look at some trends to what’s going on. Take a look at your content, what’s going on there. Think about Pinterest. All of these are ways to take another step sort of deeper into blogging, to get a little more serious, to maybe do what you’re doing but in a way that’s a little more business like, that’s a little more focused on growing, whether that’s your following, your revenue, your content. Taking your blog a little bit more seriously.
We’ve talked about kind of the blog itself. We’ve talked about Pinterest. You also want to just take a bigger picture look at what’s going on with your website. Do you have plugins that help? Are your recipe widgets working for you so that people can see what they want and it’s formatted correctly? Also, are those things slowing down your site? You may have beautiful photos, but if you have too many and they’re not optimized, well then people aren’t going to wait for them to load and they’re probably going to go back to Pinterest, put in those same search terms, and then find a new recipe.
Once people land on your site, whether it’s through Pinterest or through a Google search, you want them to stay there. Really make sure that your website is optimized as best as possible. Once they are there, you want those people to become dedicated fans. Now the great thing about Pinterest is that again, someone searches and they could be driven to your website, but how often does this happen to you? You find something you maybe mentally store it away, you take a note, you cook the recipe, you close, and then it’s gone. Yeah, maybe you pin it to a board and you save it for later, but we don’t necessarily keep track of that. We don’t become a fan right away.
What you want to do when people are on your blog is you want to have a way for them to get connected and stay connected with you. Having a newsletter or a way that you stay connected with them is really important. Think about having a way for people to join your newsletter. I have to tell you, if you don’t know this already, people are not going to give their email away easily. A great way to do this is to have an opt in for them.
Maybe it’s an ebook with five recipes that they can’t get on your blog, or you’re taking several different blogs that you have and you’ve put them all together. Maybe you’re sending them a weekly bonus recipe that is not on your blog. Come up with a way to entice people to get onto your mailing list, and then you have a way to connect with them.
Because your email list really is the only thing that you own, in a sense, in terms of getting in touch with your followers, because you can’t rely on social media. You probably already know this, algorithms change all the time. Even if you have 10,000 followers, your content is not getting to 10,000 followers. If you have 10,000 people on your mailing list, well no they’re not all opening, but that’s 10,000 email addresses that you have.
You do want to make sure that you are following all of the correct guidelines when it comes to email. If you’ve been blogging for a little while, GDPR is the big sort of buzz phrase. If you’ve got subscribers in the EU, there’s certain steps you need to be taking to make sure that you’re being compliant. Really think about starting or focusing in on growing your newsletter if you haven’t already. This is another way to just take your blog and your business a little more seriously because you’re able to grow your fan base.
Then lastly, if you’ve kind of done all these things and you’re feeling like, “You know, I’ve got good solid content. My site looks good, it’s clean, it’s user friendly. I’m focused in on my content. I’ve got a pretty good editorial calendar. I’m utilizing Pinterest. I’ve got some good traffic.” If you’re not already doing this, you might want to start looking at creating sponsored content. This can be a really good way to increase your revenue.
We haven’t really talked about ads, but you might already have ads on your site. If you don’t, you could look into that. If you are just starting your blog, you’re just getting started, there’s probably been good information in this for you as well, but you might want to think about starting with ads in the very beginning if that’s something you intend to have.
If you plan to make your blog your business and you eventually want to have ads, you might want to start with them. Make sure they’re not obnoxious. There are fewer things annoying when you get to a blog and there’s like a screen, you can’t find the X, you just want to see the recipe or the article. Don’t be annoying with your ads or your popups, but you can certainly have them on your site.
If you’re doing that and you’re thinking, “You know, I’ve been working hard. I want to make money for my time. I want this to pay off.” Sponsored content can be the next step for you. We’ll have this in our next episode, but basically people are going to pay you, in some way, shape or form. Sometimes it’s money, which is awesome. Sometimes it is with product, which can be okay. You can apply through different networks. You can pitch brands directly. This is great for your income, and it can also help to just show another professional side of you. If you are looking to step up what it is that you’re doing, and you’re feeling brave, you can start to develop some sponsored content.
Now if you’ve tried this and you haven’t been able to get brands to say yes to you, or you’re with networks and you’re not getting offers yet, don’t stress. One of the things that you can do is to create content that isn’t sponsored, but you can develop it as if it were. What I mean by that is think about if this product was paying me for this blog, how might I write that differently? How might I take those photos differently? Create some posts that if a sponsor were to come to your page and see what you’re doing, they would really like it. They would say, “You know what? Yup, that’s the kind of blog that we ultimately want to spend our money on.”
When you’ve had a blog for awhile, you’ve been spending a lot of time, you’ve been spending a lot of energy. You might not be making a ton of money yet, that’s okay. You’ve realized you’re at a point where you want to be doing more, and so there are a number of ways, and we’ve only touched on some, but we’ve covered a few ways that you can definitely take what you’re doing and kick it up a notch or two.
Like I said, there’s a lot of information here. Each one of these points we hit on could easily be its own show, and maybe it will be its own show at some point in time. For now we just wanted to give you some ideas of ways that you can spend a little bit more time focusing in and leveling up on what it is that you’re doing. We will have some links below, so that if you want some more information on some of the things that we talked about today, you can find out more information.
Hopefully you have been able to have a few ideas for the direction that you would like to take your blog. You don’t have to do it all. Pick one, maybe two. Set some goals, think about some action steps. Now that you’ve had that food blog for awhile, you can take it to the next step.
Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, where we will deliver straight to you more tips, ideas and blog posts related to what is going on in the food blogging industry. We’re so glad that you joined us today for all of these ideas about how to take your blog to the next level.