Food Blogging FM 020: Understanding Your Blog Readers

Food Blogging Podcasts | Welcome to understanding your blog readers from RecipeThis.com

Welcome to our latest food blogging Podcast and here we are with Food Blogging FM 020.

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You can listen to the Podcast on the link above on Itunes, You can also listen to the Podcast also via SoundCloud, Audioboom & Stitcher. You can also read all about it below or click to download the ebook version on the banner above.

What Is Featured In This Podcast?

Introduction – What all bloggers should be doing when planning content for their site in order to receive the best growth and the best interaction with readers.

My old diet site – I will be sharing with you all the gossip about my old diet site and why market research paid off.

Recipe This – The keyword research we have done since we created Recipe This and how we have used it to our advantage to discover our readers needs and to expand our traffic.

Starting your market research – what you should do and when in order to grow your site.

The KFC experiment – how we used a KFC takeaway night of recipes to grow both our social media shares and our SEO positions at the same time.

More market research – Here I will share with you even more ideas to carry out your own market research and just by following these tips you can grow.

Content Calendar – In the final section I will be sharing you how to use a content calendar as your main weapon with your blog.

Links & Resources Mentioned In Food Blogging FM 019:

My blog is already 14 months old. I started it on the 15th of November 2015 with a selection of back dated blog posts so that it didn’t look bare and so that I could start sharing my food experiences with my readers. That was the start and it is hard to believe that we have been at it for 14 months as it feels like it has been a lot longer than that.

But we have loved it and the best thing about our food blog is connecting with our readers and growing a business from scratch.

If we had not learnt during the last 14 months who our audience was and what they wanted we wouldn’t have grown to more than 140,000 social shares during that time. We wouldn’t have a regular reader base and we wouldn’t be making money from our blog.

We have done all this over the last year and a bit by lots of market research and lots of content calendars planning exactly what we were going to publish and why that content would be important to our readers.

Along with this we have spent time and effort on making sure this is content that we like making ourselves and is not just for the sake of making money or traffic growth. What we wanted to share in this food blogging Podcast is the minimum steps that we should all be taking in order to grow your blog and how much fun you can have by taking this approach with your blog.

You could also follow these same steps regardless of your niche. The same rules would apply if you were in the travel niche, were a photographer or even worked in education.

So let’s get started.

My Old Diet Site

In January of 2016 I sold my diet site. I had owned it for over three years and it had great traffic, great interaction, sold me lots of affiliate products and was a fairly passive income blog site.

I had created it in late 2012 as I wanted to share my journey as I lost weight on Slimming World. Slimming World (for those of you that don’t know it) is similar in many ways to Weight Watchers and is very popular in England.

Our site shared our weight loss story as well as a lot of Slimming World inspired recipes and it did really well.

But about 4 months into it we quit Slimming World because the diet was not for us and instead followed the move more eat less regime instead.

At this point our readers were all Slimming World and new people that were finding us were new members of Slimming World. We could of course changed the theme of the site to another theme, but we knew this wouldn’t work and we would end up ruining our amazing SEO positions by trying to change the principles of our site.

So what did we do?

We carried on posting content about Slimming World and also focused on the products that Slimming World users liked. Such as the air fryer, recipes that were fat free, processed food recipes using classics such as baked beans and so on.

The site tripled in traffic and then continued to grow and grow.

When we hit our weight loss goals and went to our final weight loss targets we sold the site and instead focused on Recipe This. We didn’t want to spend our lives blogging about Slimming World and instead wanted to focus on family cooking for busy families using kitchen gadgets.

Out of what we had on our Slimming World site we were still blogging about the kitchen gadgets such as the air fryer, but that was about it.

So we were really shocked when the new owners didn’t carry on our success. Instead there was an occasional diet tips posts (you know the spammy low calorie tips posts) and no reference to Slimming World at all.

We watched and watched until the site lost lots of its SEO traffic and instead of readers clicking through to several blog posts per visit, there would be hardly any difference between sessions and page views.

But this is what can happen if you leave your site and move it away from what the readers want. The site sold for a lot of money and based on the current traffic I would estimate that the site is now worth about 5% of its original sale price. It makes me really sad as it had so much potential.

Recipe This

Now as far as RecipeThis.com is concerned and just like our diet site before that, we understand our readers just like we would understand our best friend.

We have YOU our food blogger readers that account for about 10% of our site. Then we have a lot of families that are interested in eating healthy the majority of the time from their kitchen gadgets.

Our biggest readers are those that use the air fryer, with good growth among slow cooker and spiralizer users. We are also on a campaign to widen our readers to those that use Electric Pressure Cookers.

But overall our recipes have a similar format for helping families and making easy recipes.

But we also appreciate that because our recipes are 80% of the time healthy that we have followers that fall into the following:

  • Slimming World Recipes
  • Weight Watchers Recipes
  • Gluten Free
  • Paleo
  • Whole 30
  • Vegans
  • Vegetarians

We actually expected this. When you get into using kitchen gadgets you do so because you want to make things easier and healthy. Therefore with air fryers being associated with being oil free and fat free it is no surprise that the dieters have all jumped on board.

Just because we have done our research and seen what our readers are into we have learnt this and made sure that we accommodate them in our content for our blog. Of course we can’t accommodate them all with every single blog post, but we can get close and we can help them.

Starting Your Market Research

So if you haven’t done so already, then you need to be looking at market research on your own website. The best starting point is looking at the content that you already have on your site and deciding why it is so popular and what kind of readers you have.

You may have a recipe blog where you put a bit of everything on your blog. Then going through your old blog posts you can see that the most popular posts you have are those featuring chicken.

Those chicken recipes might be healthy ones rather than unhealthy ones. You now have an audience that is into healthy chicken recipes. So what do you do?

You dedicate a month to a healthy type of chicken recipes.

If you normally get out 3 recipes a week then you would dedicate your next 12 to a type of healthy chicken recipes. Week 1 could be healthy chicken and avocado recipes, week 2 could be chicken and cauliflower recipes, the week after could be chicken and almonds, then you could finish this with a week of healthy chicken soups.

Not only do your readers now have extra content that they want to read, but the search engines also associate you with chicken recipes. This will then lead to great social media shares and better SEO positions.

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Not just that but you have had great fun making all these different chicken recipes. You could buy your chicken in bulk and then you could even make more than one recipe at once.

Our KFC Experiment

Well we already knew that we had a big chicken lovers following. We also had a big Slimming World following, as people had come from our old site and with us being air fryer focused this was expected to happen.

The most popular searched recipe for Slimming World followers is to make their own KFC at home. So we set to work. We had a full week dedicated to KFC copycat recipes.

I wrote the introductions for the recipes the day before and with my pen and pad along with Dominic’s amazing cooking skills we set to work. Our crazy kitchen turned into a factory production line with lots of pots of seasonings, different cuts of chicken, food processors, air fryers and such like.

We created the following recipes:

  • How To Make The KFC Secret Chicken Rub
  • How To Make KFC Chicken In The Airfryer
  • KFC Popcorn Chicken In The Airfryer
  • Easy Airfryer KFC Chicken Strips
  • Copycat KFC Zinger Chicken Burger In The Airfryer
  • The Ultimate Spicy KFC Chicken Wrap

From these six recipes we received the following social shares:

  • Pinterest = 1653
  • Twitter = 94
  • Facebook = 92

Plus we got a good amount of Yummly shares too.

From our SEO results from Google Webmaster Tools we have 9 different keyword phrases that are all on the front page of Google. For us we are really happy with this as instead of a keyword for each recipe we have 9.

This is also long term traffic that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It also helped the fact that we were already ranking in the search engines for quite a few air fryer chicken keywords. So in a way we were complimenting what we already had.

You could do the same for your own niche it doesn’t have to be aimed at KFC or chicken recipes. For example you could be a Chinese food blog and do a Chinese takeaway evening. Or you could do the same with Italian food focused around Pizza Hut or a burger night centred around McDonalds.

More Market Research

Another way of doing market research is what I do. Brands do market research all the time so why can’t us bloggers do the same?

If you are a book author and you are planning on telling a story about being in prison then you would go to the prison and interview people. Just like if you were telling an old fashioned love story you would quiz people in retirement villages for ideas.

You can do the exact same thing with food blogging. Say for example you have a healthy eating group of people that love healthy versions of the unhealthy food. What you should do is armed with a pen and paper, go around the supermarket and list all the bad and unhealthy freezer and canned food produce.

Then decide from those which ones you want to make into a healthy recipe. For example how about some healthy chicken nuggets? A healthy chicken kiev or even a healthy fish finger? These are all recipe ideas that would suit a lot of people and they would welcome a healthier option.

You’re not copying any of the brands recipes, you’re just using the name of a product that is known around the world that nobody owns the official rights to. Then you can re-market it for your blog readers keeping the principles of the recipes in place.

For example let’s say you do this research and you’re a vegan recipe blogger. You write down chicken nuggets just like you would if you’re a meaty blogger. Then instead you come up with a delicious recipe for vegan nuggets.

This might be something that you wouldn’t have thought about if you hadn’t done some market research.

We did exactly this for when we ran a copycat month on Recipe This. We spent a month dedicated to a healthier version of famous freezer foods. We had the fish fingers, mini kievs, baked beans and so many others.

We looked at what was selling well in the supermarkets and made lots of delicious healthy versions.

It did very well and we are now getting a lot of long term traffic from these posts even though they were produced in the summer of last year.

The recipes featured was also made into an ebook and sold on the Kindle and Draft 2 Digital so that we can have long term income from this content. Plus because of the brand mentions it makes it so much easier to get noticed and stand out on your food blog.

The other way to do this is Pinterest as it makes a fantastic market ideas tool. Say for example your niche is the chicken recipes, and then you would start by searching for chicken recipes on Pinterest. Then have a thorough look at what is being shared on there and what has the highest share rates.

You don’t want to be producing chicken recipes that are not going to get you any good social media shares do you?

So have a look through and see what they all have in common. What craze is taking over and how can you stand out and produce a high shared recipe.

I remember in my old diet blogging days I noticed that people loved potato and leek soup but with many people cutting out potatoes in their diet that it would be unsuccessful. So what I did instead was to bring out a butternut squash and leek soup instead and it did so well that it crashed our blog.

Though clearly at the time I didn’t have a VPS which I really needed at the time!

The Content Calendar

My life would be lost without my content calendar. It is my world. I have a simple one, no fancy programmes or expensive tools just a spreadsheet in Excel. I have one column with the type of post i.e. a food podcast, another with the title of the post, another with the date it will go out, then a row with whether it is done or not.

Then on another sheet I will have my ideas of future recipe ideas, future monthly themes and such like. Altogether it keeps me organised and keeps me on my toes.

For example right now I have the majority of February planned out and a huge other sheet with ideas that will keep me going until the end of 2018.

Yes – I am really not kidding I really do have ideas for 2018.

That is probably a bit extreme but it is important to at least preplan for the next couple of weeks if not longer and my posts are always scheduled in advance. This Podcast for example I am putting together on the 20th of December and it will be the last post that will be scheduled before Christmas.

That’s A Wrap

Thanks for listening to our Podcast and we have loved sharing with you our top ways to do market research on your blog. We thoroughly recommend that you follow these ideas as it can really make the difference to your blog. Just think of how much it can grow your readership and improve your readers experience.

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Meet The Milners

Samantha and Dominic
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Dominic & Samantha Milner are the founders of RecipeThis.com. They love cooking, blogging and being full time parents to their three food obsessed kids. They cook with their kitchen gadgets everyday and love sharing their homemade recipes. Their favourite foods include chocolate, air fryer burgers and macaroni cheese. You can learn more about them here or you can sign up for their free newsletter here.

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