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I’ve been reflecting on this amazing year. As a result of everything I’ve learned, I wanted to share with you my 8 Strategies to Grow Your Blog in 2016.
We had a crazy good year in 2015. Not only did we launch the Chopped Podcast, but we also had our second successful Chopped Conference. As a result I’ve met some pretty amazing thought leaders in the industry, from food bloggers to folks like Guy Kawasaki.
I’ve also grown and stretched as I hired a life coach, Jay Pryor, and invested in learning and tools to help me grow both personally and professionally. I’ve also read books (I usually have 2-3 books going at the same time!) and listened to some pretty amazing podcasts throughout the year as well. And all of this has led me to some realizations — 8 Strategies to Grow Your Blog in 2016— that I want to share with you today.
These are my 8 Strategies to Grow Your Blog in 2016
Strategy #1: Do What you Love
I’m reading the book Do What yo Love, the Money will Follow by Marsha Sinetar. It’s an amazing book. She of course speaks to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, particularly to the very top of the pyramid, self actualizing. I mean, that’s what we’re all after right? Because if we’re doing this food blogging thing and not really loving it, then why not just stick with the 9 to 5 job. Right?
But if your goal is to become self actualized, then Marsha Sinetar suggests creating a vision: Imagine your high self esteem and creativity creates skills and competencies that meet exactly what you need to get the work done.
You will be tenaciously creative and tenaciously optimistic. And your work becomes a way of being, a self expression of love.
When we are excited about what we are doing, when we are progressively moving toward the realization meaningful goals, the difficulties become solvable, problems, not insurmountable obstacles.
Strategy #2: Resist Resistance
Everyone credits Stephen Pressfield for coming up with the notion of resistance, but really Marsha’s book predates his by a longshot. That’s not an uncommon pattern, eh? The woman comes out with the idea, and the man says it later and gets the credit for it. 🙂
Anyway. Marsha dedicates an entire chapter to resistance in her book. When I read this chapter, I was floored. It sounded like she knew me or something!
However, people following their purpose do the following:
- They do not back way from problems, growth or difficult tasks.
- They protect their time for projects that stimulate them.
- They create habits that allow them to use their talents rather than blocking them.
The symptoms of people who are under the spell of Resistance?
- They prefer comfort over challenge
- They crave safety over growth
- They choose invisibility over visibility
- They avoid confrontation
This can lead to avoidance of the types of actions that are required on the road to success. Be aware of your Resistance. The best strategy for overcoming resistance is to do things that light you from within. You can do great things when it’s your passion.
Strategy #3: Grow your network.
Food blogging is entrepreneurial, be your own boss, kind of work. It’s gut wrenching. Do not try to go it alone.
You must build your network. Go to conferences. Meet people. Have business cards printed and hand them out.
Network, network, network.
The more events you go to, the more you reach out through email afterwards. The more connections you make the more opportunities that come out.
If you can’t afford to travel, find local conferences, even if they’re not within the food blogging niche.
Look, I used to think to myself, I will go to those blogging conferences when I can afford to do it. That’s kind of a I will spend money when I make money mindset.
It doesn’t work like that.
Rule #1 of business: You’ve got to spend money to make money. So invest in yourself and go to a conference. If you’re nervous about getting the most out of the money you’ve invested, listen to Tessa and I talk in Special Episode #1, about how to get the most out of a food blogging conference.
Strategy #4: Jumping from idea to idea is not a bad thing
It’s easy to let our success in one area hold us back from moving on to something else. Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, we don’t want to give up on an original project, even when it’s failing, because we’ve put so much time into it. We can become trapped by some arbitrary definition of what we think we should be doing.
I love my interview with Erin Clarke on rebranding tips in episode 32, where she talked about how even though she reached a level of success with her blog, she rebranded it – changed the name and everything. She needed to redefine success for herself.
That’s understandable, don’t you think? In order to find out What you love, you may need to play around until you find what you’re passionate about.
It may mean you start a second site, or it could be redefining the one that you’re on. Just don’t let fear rule the day and keep you from playing.
Think about it. This is your blog. As my life coach Jay says, don’t be “shoulding” all over yourself. You know? Like saying I should spend more time on social media, or I should post more a week, etc. Do these things if you love it. Or do them because you’re trying something different, but don’t do them because you think you should.
Strategy #5: Define Your success
One thing I learned from the interviews done this year – everyone defines success differently. Liz Della Croce back in episode #5 talked about how she doesn’t rely on ads as her main source of revenue. Tessa Arias, in episode one said kind of a similar thing – that you don’t have to rely on ads as your main source of revenue.
Some folks found photography to be their biggest goal and so they focused on that (pardon the pun). Others hated the photography. Some food bloggers generate income in other ways, such as Sara Cornelius (ep 20) who creates revenue through illustrations she makes and sells on her site.
And if you’ve listened to podcasts where people talk about having a million page views a month and that left you feeling kind of down in the dumps – like, oh, most all of us – then just remember the advice that Ali Ebright gave back in episode 10. Even if you have only a 100 page views a month, think about that and realize that if you were giving a monthly presentation to 100 people, that would be pretty impressive. Or if you have 2,000, same thing. Talking in front of 2,000 people? Wow! That’s amazing.
Take off the comparison lenses and just serve the people in your audience. Once you’ve honed in your definition of success, then you’re ready for what’s next.
Strategy #6: Create a Social Media Strategy
I talked with Kathy Patalsky about social media back in ep 17. And then I interviewed Cara Ansis about how she used Instagram to find her voice. And then I heard Amanda Rettke speak at the Chopped Conference.
Wow. Between the three of these, I was blown away. Here’s what I learned.
You have to learn to relax, play, and experiment with social media. We have a tendency to want to manage or control social media. Figure it out. When’s the best time to post. Understand the algorithm. Work it.
But what if we realized that even if we figure things out today, it could all change tomorrow anyway. So why not just have fun with it?
And if you’re hating something about Pinterest now, don’t worry, they will change it. For example, they made some recent changes to Pinterest, and I’m back to loving it again.
Cara used social media as an opportunity to cultivate authenticity. As a result it changed the way she approached her blogging. She simplified her photography and then started having fun with it.
Amanda described how we can let our fear of negative responses from our readers hold us back. She described a scenario where she posted a photo and a recipe on FB and received a negative comment. And let’s say the negative comment said, This is gross. You know what she did? Instead of cowering in a corner – no one puts Amanda in a corner! – she cropped the photo of that cake really tight and said “Some people think this recipe is gross.” Or something to that affect. And you know what? It sent a lot of traffic her way.
I read this awesome quote – Please do not feed the fears. It works because fears looks like bears except with an f.
English is so weird. :/
So experiment. Let social media be more of a playground. If someone doesn’t like something you post, just say Whatever. Or use it to your advantage like Amanda suggests above.
Strategy #7: Know SEO
I’m using the term “know” in a relative manner here. I think you should know SEO to the extent that you can.
Look if there were an MBA in blogging, SEO would be one of the foundational courses. It would probably be one of those courses we’d all groan about – like accounting – but we’d all have to take it.
If you’re confused about SEO, I encourage you to go back and have a listen to these two episodes, particular Amber’s interview on SEO hacks.
But the best tip I’ve heard on SEO so far, is to create content that you know your audience wants. If you try to write for everyone, no one will be interested. So pick a niche, and then become the go-to resource for that niche. And you can zero in on a specific topic, own that, and then gradually expand out.
There are some definite SEO best practices too. I highly recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin. I resisted it for a long time, but once I made the switch, I was really happy with it. Now with every post I look to make sure my SEO light is green, so I know I’m good to go.
Of course you can hire someone to do all your SEO for you, but you risk getting boondoggled unless you know it too. You at least need to know enough to be able to speak the language and understand the terms. That way you can trust your bull meter if your SEO expert says something that sounds kind of wonky.
Remember, absolute power corrupts absolutely so don’t hand over your power to some expert. Know enough SEO to keep you literate.
Strategy #8: Do what you love
Did I just come full circle? I did!
What I’m trying to say here is that, do what you love and nothing else.
Discover the things that you love. What makes you feel like you can’t wait to get up in the morning! Is it the food photography? Then do that with gusto! Is it the recipe development? The writing? Awesome!
But what happens if you kind of detest the bottom and right of the post. That’s what Christine Pittman referred to in ep 31 as parts of a post, that’s not the content. It’s the tags, and the meta descriptions and SEO plugin stuff. Christine didn’t like that part and so she hired a virtual assistant to do that for her. Actually, I think now she has two virtual assistants.
What if you can’t afford a virtual assistant? Well, this could be a good time to think creatively. For example, is there someone you know that you could trade services with? Maybe you make a cake or a weekly meal for them and in exchange they do a set number of virtual assistant hours for you.
Or, think about the things you would be doing if you had a virtual assistant. Would you be writing an e-cookbook that you could then create an additional revenue stream for? Would you be able to do another post per week which could drive more traffic to your site? I’ve also talked with other bloggers who have chosen to use money from their full-time jobs to help fund things like hiring virtual assistants.
So sometimes you just have to think creatively about how to get this to work for you.
Also, in the book Do What you Love, the whole point is that you need to do the things that make you come alive.
Our energy should flow, unobstructed, through us in the service of the work we’re about to do. — Marsha Sinetar
All of us can take steps, no matter how small and insignificant at the start – in the direction we want to go.
Marsh describes how sometimes the first step may be to clean out your space, organize your office or something unrelated to your task at hand. It’s ok. Taking small, gradual steps paves the way to taking larger steps later on.
Right here. Right now. What can you do to take action toward doing what you love? Is it reading the manual on your DSLR? Watching a webinar on food styling?
Maybe you can’t afford to hire a Virtual Assistant to do your social media, but you can afford a tool like CoSchedule to help you schedule your social shares more efficiently. Listen to episode 23 as Nicole talks about the best ways for food bloggers to use CoSchedule (see link below).
Identify the things that light you from within and move in that direction.
I hope you could identify with at least one (or more) of these 8 Strategies to Grow Your Blog in 2016!
Chopped Podcast Season One
I know we’re all looking for a magic pill. I know I have been. I want a magic pill for dieting, cleaning, laundry, and dishes too, while we’re at it.
But, blogging mimics life, I guess, because there is no magic pill. But according to Marsha Sinetar, that doesn’t mean it’s a drudgery either. If you’re finding yourself dreading too much of the work you’re doing, then listen to this episode. Find the passion, find what brings you alive and do as much of that in your day as you can.
Some of that may not even be related to blogging. You might be feeling your best when you’re working out. Then make sure you’re working out every day. Or if it’s spending time with friends, make sure you have something set up regularly. Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way suggests that you should take yourself out on an artists’ date every single week. Go by yourself to an antique store or a museum or even a movie. Do that and feel alive.
You’ll be surprised the way these kinds of steps make a huge difference in what you do with your blog.
This is the final episode for 2015, the conclusion of Season #1 for the Chopped Podcast. Wow. It’s been an amazing experience. We began this back in February, committed to a weekly podcast, and have had thousands of downloads and subscriptions. I’m so in awe of it. Blown away!
We’re going to take a couple of weeks off before we begin season #2. I’m excited to tell you we have some great things lined up for season #2 so be prepared!
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share with you. So, now it’s your turn. Send me an email or leave a comment on the site or send me a line via social media and let me know what’s working for you or what your biggest challenge is for 2016. I’d love to hear from you.
Happy holidays to you all and Happy New Year!
Show Notes: 8 Strategies to Grow Your Blog in 2016
This episode includes references to some resources you might find interesting. Here they are:
- Related Episode: Check out Episode 31 where Christine Pittman talks about her Blog Post Production Process
- Related Episode: Check out Episode 23 where Nicole Johnson talks about using CoSchedule for Food Bloggers
- Marly mentions the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- A great book for helping you find your creative groove is Marsha Sinetar’s Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow
- Check out the Yoast SEP Plugin for WordPress
- Connect with Chopped Academy Online: Instagram | Twitter
- Connect with Marly: Namely Marly | Instagram | Twitter
- Production, music, graphic art & sound design by Shawn Beelman
- Learn about future Chopped Podcast episodes by subscribing to the ChoppedCon newsletter. Just add your email in the subscribe section at the bottom of this page. You’ll be glad you did!
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