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Today I am beyond honored and thrilled to introduce you to a very special guest for Expert Interview Thursday, Chris Ford. He and his partner Andrew Nicora launched StitchesnDishes.com the very influential and sought after food blog focused on the mobile food movement in the summer of 2011.
In just two short years Chris and Andrew turned their passion for food, photography, video production and media into a blogging and social media empire that averages over 5000 unique visitors daily, and over 12k fans on Facebook.
Among their achievements SND has garnered the attention of The Food Networks hit television program Eat Street as well as Celebrity Chef’s Gordon Ramsay and most recently Paula Dean.
On today’s podcast Chris shares the hard earned insider tips and strategies he used to turn an ambitious idea into a highly recognized blog and rapidly growing brand. Enjoy!
Blogging Based On Your Passion:
1. Why are you launching a blog? Decide if your purpose for creating a blog is about a desire to share a passion for a particular hobby or interest? Or is your motivation more of a strategic move, like growing your companies brand for example?
2. Create goals with specific targets you want to reach in mind. In Chris’s case he wanted to attract the attention of the major media outlets like the Food Network. So he set out to create a highly professional looking blog, with superior content that would attract their attention. Besides the actual production of the blog, what’s your first target goal? Who’s radar are you trying to get on?
3. Know your reader? Describe them in detail, what do they want? What are they looking for? Create content for them, it’s the cornerstone of your blog.
4. Establish a strategic marketing and public relations plan to reach them, using your blog as the vehicle.
5. Who are the centers of influence that reach your ideal reader currently? How can you get on their radar?
6. Try to create a small team to help you build your brand, especially in the areas that you’re not strong like graphic design, blog development, copy editing, etc.
7. When you’re first starting out try to post at least once a day. Make sure it’s high quality content that the search engines will pick up in order to help you reach your audience. Once you begin building momentum you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
Tip: For the first six months it’s really critical that you post a lot of content. Chris suggested focusing your early efforts on creating a bank of articles or other forms of content like videos, podcasts, images, etc and have them hand to pre-schedule out over a few weeks.
8. Using proper keywords and search engine optimization is still very important. Two tools I recommend are Google Keyword Tool and Keyword Spy to find relevant keyword terms on which to base your content.
WordPress, Blog Design & Hacking Issues:
It’s important that you keep up with all WordPress updates to keep your blog current, and reduce the chances of hacking.
If you purchase a themed template make sure that the developer has accountable service support system to help you with any changes or challenges that come up.
Chris chose Magazine 3 as the blogging platform – http://magazine3.com/
Key Point: Make sure what ever platform you select it’s a responsive theme. Response themes are key today because your visitors are not viewing your blog exclusively on their desktop computer. Readers today are mobile, many preferring to interact with your content via their smart phones and tablets.
Your blog needs to respond to whatever device they have and provide a seamless viewing experience.
The Marketing Plan: Getting Eyeballs
- Persistency and Consistency is key if you want to have a successful blog.
- Know where your core is based and create your presence on the platform they use. Be it any of the social media platforms.
- Interaction and engagement is critical, even if you aren’t receiving much in return in the early days of your blog don’t be afraid to put in the time. It seems pointless at times when no one seems to engaging but keep at it. Key point: Don’t give up!
- Announce all of your blog posts on your chosen social media platform. This must be the one your audience frequents. Constantly encourage engagement. For example, ask questions of your readers, in the form of following feedback, comments, shares, likes etc.
- Establishing relationships with brand ambassadors is also extremely key, in Chris’s case he had two: The popular show Eat Street hosted on the Food Network and the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
Additional Branding Tips:
Let your personality show, readers want to know that there is a real life human person behind the blog and not a corporate persona.
Watch and be mindful of your blog analytics. But more important, pay extra close attention to what your readers are responding to. What blog posts are they engaging with and which ones they aren’t?
Increase the frequency of the blog posts that attract higher engagement.
Having a tight focus is very important. Think niche audience, niche topic, niche focus, especially in the beginning. It will save you time and marketing dollars. Resist the urge to take on too many projects in the beginning, focus on content, and audience engagement before you add products, services, etc.
Your Top Priorities:
Define your niche
Set up a solid platform
Build your audience
Content, content, content
Engagement, engagement, engagement
Keep an eye on your stats, install Google Analytics when you first publish your blog
Continue developing content based on engagement
Find and establish relationships with your brand ambassadors
Have a goal before you start, with a targeted set points on want you to accomplish
Don’t become discouraged and quit too soon because you aren’t getting immediate results. It takes time to build a solid audience and longer to monetize, your audience wants to know you’re going to stick around
GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE! It’s the fastest way to create reader engagement and establish relationships with people that can help you get the word out.
Creating Brand Ambassadors
If you want someone influential in your niche to become your brand ambassador, you need to start by becoming theirs. Chris shares specific examples:
Retweet their Tweets
Share and comment on their Facebook pages and blog posts
Send notes of congratulations when they accomplish something big
Once they notice that you are featuring them, by sharing their content they will typically want to return the favor.
Ask for what you want without being disrespectful or pushy. If someone says no, or you don’t get a response, it may not be the final answer. Remember persistency and consistency!
- Click here if you’d like to learn more about Chris’s fundraising campaign to support Paula Dean and her Bag Lady Foundation.
StitchesnDishes – http://stitchesndishes.com
StitchesnDishes Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/stitchesndishes
Google Keyword Tool – http://www.googlekeywordtool.com/
Google Analytics for WordPress – http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/
Keyword Spy – http://www.keywordspy.com/
Magazine 3 – http://magazine3.com
Studio Press – (is another very popular WordPress Platform Tool) – http://www.studiopress.com/
WordPress – http://wordpress.org/
Additional Tutorials & Training Materials for WordPress
Darren Rowse is the godfather of professional blogging, he’s the founder of Problogger.net and had written numerous books on the subject. I’ve a provided a link to his extensive library of training e-books if you’re new to blogging.
Online WordPress Training
Check out the online tutorials WordPress Library by Lynda.com
Are You intimidated At The Idea of Creating Content?
I’ve created a special PDF report featuring three simple content creation tips that you create often with nothing more than your current smart phone. 3 Content Creation Options That You Can Create Quickly For Your Blog
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