Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe it is already 2015? I can't. Time is going by way too fast.
Yesterday was a big day for the blog. It marked my blog's 3rd birthday! I can't believe it was 3 years ago that I started this thing. Although to be honest I really didn't start regularly blogging until 1 year ago. Last new years I decided I wanted to take blogging more seriously and tell more than just my close friends and family about this thing. I kept seeing so many other amazing paleo blogs and reading so many inspiring stories of people finding health and wellness through better eating and I wanted to be a part of that community. The problem? I had no idea where to begin. SEO what? Social media? These were things I had barely considered before. Luckily I was able to connect with an amazing group of paleo bloggers who have held my hand this last year and taught me so many amazing things. In hindsight I would have done many things very differently with the blog had I known what I do now.
So in case you are in the same boat that I was, I wanted to share a few of the lessons I have learned over the last 6-8 months in the hope that you can benefit from some of these lessons. Now I realize that in the food blog world I am still a very small fish in an ocean of much bigger blogs (you like that cheesy analogy there?), but that doesn't mean that I haven't seen significant growth over the last 8 months and learned some great tips that you can benefit from. So with that in mind I have put together my Top 5 Tips for Food Bloggers.
But before I get to my tips I just wanted to re-cap some of my favourite moments from 2014 on the blog:
1. My first post using my new camera: Lavender Infused Cherry Ice Cream
3. Having a recipe published in Healthy Recipes Magazine
4. Having Mark Sisson share my Cinnamon Spice Pancake post on Mark's Daily Apple
5. Guest posting over on Empowered Sustenance: Dark Chocolate Orange Ice Cream
1. Take Pretty Pictures
Although I say that I started seriously blogging about a year ago, it wasn't until this past July when I really started making progress with the blog. And the reason why? I invested in a decent camera and started taking better pictures. Because no matter how good your food is, if the pictures are bad and it doesn't look nice, no one is going to be interested. This is especially important when it comes to social media. Pinterest is all about the pretty pictures, so if yours aren't up to par they just won't be pinned or shared. True fact my friends. I did a lot of research on entry level DSLR cameras before I bought mine and after getting a lot of advice from others I finally purchased a Nikon D3200. And it has changed everything. Seriously. I am actually embarrassed by my old food pictures now. One day when I have more time (after my Royal College exams perhaps?) I plan to re-do all the old images on the blog to make them prettier. Because there are some real goodies in there, but unfortunately the pictures are so bad that most people just aren't interested. Below is a sample of my photos before and after investing in my new camera (please don't judge the old photos). I also purchased the Pinch of Yum's Tasty Food Photography e-book which has been an amazing resource. I very highly recommend it! And at only $19 it is much cheaper than most other photography resources out there.
This has been the major driver behind my blog's growth over the last 6 months. If it weren't for some awesome fellow paleo bloggers (you know who you are!) my blog would not have nearly the traffic it does today. By sharing the posts of others, commenting on their posts and making connections on social media you can gain an audience you otherwise wouldn't have access to. I am lucky to belong to a Facebook group for paleo bloggers and we are always looking for ways to help each other out. It is amazing. I seriously can't thank this group enough for everything they have taught me.
3. Start a Newsletter
Now I have to be honest and say that I just added a sign up for my newsletter a few weeks ago to the blog. In all honesty I wish I had done this ages ago. People kept telling me to do this, but I kept putting it off since I have very little time to actually put a newsletter together. But why is this so important to have? Your newsletter is your connection to your readers. Since Facebook posts and other social media shares only reach a small percent of your audience, it is important to start collecting the emails of the people stopping by your blog. Because chances are, these people do actually want to hear from you, and are missing out on your posts since social media is so selective on what gets good reach or not. So while you may not have any control over social media shares, you have total control over your email list and the emails you send to your readers. It doesn't matter how big or small your blog is, if you have no way to connect with your readers you are going to have difficulty driving traffic to your blog. Simple as that. Even if you don't send out a newsletter for months, by having a sign up on your blog you are constantly growing your email list of potential readers for when you do finally get around to creating that newsletter. And while we are on the topic… please head over and sign up for my newsletter (yes subtle I know… the sign up is at the top right hand side of the blog...).
4. Start Social Medial Pages
This is one big mistake I made with my blog. I didn't have any social media pages until about 8 months ago. I started with Facebook and then slowly added a Pinterest and Instagram account. I wish I had started these from the very beginning because I am now just learning the power of social media. I have been told that Facebook used to be much better for bloggers but now that they favour paid posts and advertisements the reach that most bloggers get is quite low. But it is still a nice connection to have with your readers. Pinterest is actually one of the biggest traffic drivers to my blog these days. And again I don't think this would have been possible without stepping up my photography game.
There are actually many ways to monetize your food blog. Most of these I am still learning about and only recently discovered through the help of my fellow paleo bloggers and their advice. One of the easiest is to add Adsense ads to your blog. Once you have these up there is no maintenance required. When people click on the ads you make money. Simple as that. I also recently joined the BlogHer Network which is another way to place advertisements on your site. This works differently as the money you make is based on the number of visits to your blog, not the actual clicks on the advertisements. You will notice the BlogHer ad banner at the top right hand side of my blog.
The third way I have started making money on my blog is through the Amazon affiliate program. When I link to certain products in my posts, if you then go and purchase these items on Amazon I make a small percentage of that purchase (neat right?). This is actually my biggest money earner at the moment. The final way I have been making money is by promoting other affiliate products. This can be anything from recipe books to food items. To be honest I haven't made nearly as much money through this route as I probably could have, mainly because I didn't have a newsletter to share these products until recently. It is hard to promote a product when you have no way of letting people know about it (again see tip number 3).
Alright everyone there you have it. My Top 5 Tips for Food Bloggers. Now I realize I still have a lot to learn and am by no means calling myself a blogging expert. But as someone who just recently started expanding her blog I wanted to share the invaluable information that I have learned over the last 6-8 months in the hopes that some of you can benefit from my mistakes! I hope you found this helpful! So until next time, happy eating!