We’ve reached the final part of our series on How to Start a Food Blog. Congratulations – you’re almost there! Now that you have a fully-responsive, eye-catching and secure blog set up, you need to be able to contact your visitors, and have them contact you. Now is the time to think about getting connected.
Why do I want to be connected?
Unless you are using your blog simply as an online recipe book for yourself, then I’m going to assume you actually want people to cook your food. The good news is that food blogs are one of the most popular types of blogs out there; I always say it: you have to eat, and more and more people are turning to food bloggers and search engines like Google and Pinterest (did you know Pinterest is actually a search engine?!) to help them find something tasty to cook up for dinner.
Also, unless you are the complete anti-Scrooge, you also would like to make a tiny bit (or more) of money from your blog sometime down the road. You’re never going to do that unless you have customers waiting to part with their cash, and you’re never going to get them unless you connect.
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How to get connected with your audience
There are a number of ways you can promote dialogue between you and your followers:
This is the online form that your reader will fill in if they want to contact you directly. I strongly suggest NEVER publishing your personal email address or home address online unless you want to be inundated with all kinds of craziness; if you want people to email you directly then set up a food-blogging email address through your web host – something like firstname.lastname@example.org is ideal. However, an even easier way to do it is to install a contact form on your site like ours here, then it will send all your messages through to the email address of your choice without you needing to share your address at all. This site uses Contact Form 7, and Flamingo to store the messages.
The quickest way to interact with your followers is to allow commenting on your site. Luckily, there is a marvellous plugin called Akismet that filters out the SPAM for you, leaving just friendly and helpful people for you to deal with. The more you can reply, the more people will want to chat and share your food. Leave me a comment below; I’ll be sure to say “hi” 🙂
Ratings systems are great in the food-blogging world because we’re all about creating. It’s extremely rewarding when people can cook your recipes at home and then come back to your site and give them 5 stars – great for business and great for an ego boost too.
Setting up your Social Media
Social Media is THE way to talk to potential customers. If you’ve ever checked out the millions of recipe videos on Facebook these days or the how-to cooking guides on YouTube, you’ll know that direct contact with the public in this way is invaluable for any blogger. If you haven’t done it yet, start thinking about setting up some social-media accounts specifically for your blog.
Related: Should I be on Social Media?
Bear in mind that:
- Facebook does not allow you to share business-related posts on your personal page so you’re better creating one with your blog name. You can also branch out into hosting a Facebook Group where you can have more direct interaction with potential customers.
- Instagram is a great way to speak to the world if you’re a foodie as food is a visual medium and you can get instant feedback from others.
- Pinterest has to be the number-one resource for food bloggers as it is actually a search engine, and food is one of the most popular searches on Pinterest every day.
Email lists are big business in the blogging world. The saying goes “the money’s in the list” and it’s true that, without a decent, engaged following, you’ll never sell any products you create – whether an e-cookery course or a kitchen product. So it’s vital that you start a list ASAP and to make that nice and easy, you can sign up to one of the big “email marketing platforms” such as MailChimp, MailerLite or ConvertKit.
You can get a basic account for free; by the time you’ve reached enough subscribers to have to pay for the service, you’ll probably be making money anyway and so the two will cancel each other out. Which service you go with basically is up to you – they all do the same thing: allow you to gather email addresses from visitors to your blog and send out a bulk email as often as you like to everyone on your list. I use my MailChimp account to send out an alert for each new recipe I publish on my website; at the bottom of the email I include a link to the full recipe on my site and encourage people to click through and visit my site.
To get people to sign up to your email list, you can put a subscribe box on your website in the sidebar, posts or footer – or all three.
Related: Why you NEED an email list.
I’ve put newsletters in a different point to email lists because I believe that not everyone who has an email list needs to send out a newsletter. It depends what the purpose is for you; an email list can be used to simply alert your followers every time something new happens on your blog, e.g. you publish a new post or recipe or launch a product. But a newsletter can be a less-regular “summary” of what’s going on, e.g. a once-a-month recap of what you did. Again, you’ll want to use a service like MailChimp for this, but what you send when you get there is purely up to you.
Now that you’ve completed the steps to set up your food blog and you’ve finished getting connected, you’re probably raring to go! To help you get out there as quickly as possible, take a look at these recommended articles. Good luck!
Enjoyed the “How to Start a Food Blog” series? Drop me a line and let me know how it’s going!