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In late 2014, Crazy Vegan Kitchen, a blog solely dedicated to vegan food recipes with a twist was founded. Zero digital marketing experience, a handful of edgy articles and a short year later, this blog transformed into the founder’s primary source of income. An incredible story that truly illustrates the power of content marketing. This article will explore the steps taken to achieve an audience that grew from practically nothing to 280,000 unique website hits a month in just one year!
After speaking with the owner, it became immediately apparent that authentic blogging was the key decision that resulted in the rapidly growing fan base. As the saying goes, “you can’t turn *beep* into gold”. That cheeky little phrase is something to truly believe and subscribe to. This is where it all starts – regardless of what kind of blog you run. A blog without quality content is like Destiny’s Child without Beyonce – useless!
Cho 2012:32, Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community
Human beings are amazing creatures. Over time, we have evolved in many ways – touch, taste, smell, and the ability to smell nonsense from a mile away. When it comes to blogging, the same applies. People have the ability to tell when writing is inauthentic, fake, phoney, lame, and so on. Your blog is your own domain, and there is no need to fit into some vaguely defined status quo – this is something to take really seriously. Write as yourself, say the things you would say to anyone in real life, and do not pretend to be anyone but yourself. This has been one of the main reasons Crazy Vegan Kitchen has returning visitors who always comment on how refreshing it is to read through a blog that doesn’t seem like it is written by a pretentious charlatan.
Another crucial aspect in authentic digital blogging is quality content. As much as being true to yourself is important, quality information is one of the main reasons people will be enticed to return to your blog time after time. This means, making sure that what you write, or the information you provide your readers with are factual, tried and tested (recipes, in the case of Crazy Vegan Kitchen), and not just claptrap that you have pulled out of your rear end. For Crazy Vegan Kitchen, this means making sure that every recipe is something that she is 100% confident in, even if it means having to make it 2 or 3 times over. This may sound like a lot of work regardless of what niche you are in, but it works. Whilst you can’t please everyone, and you don’t have to, what is most important is that you are content with your content. Pun completely intended.
Let’s just say it as it is – Google is your friend with benefits. You please Google, and Google pleases you. No strings attached. Now, you may ask, how do you and Google please each other? It’s really simple. It’s a three letter word. SEO. Get your mind out of the gutter!
SEO Optimisation is one of the most important if not the most crucial step in building a successful blog that has the ability to reach out to the masses. You can achieve a good Google Search Engine ranking in a variety of ways. First and foremost, using appropriate keywords in your post in a natural, organic way is a must. In order to familiarise yourself with what keywords are appropriate or relevant to your blog/post, you should use Google Keyword Planner/Google AdWords. This ingenious tool helps you build search network campaigns by finding keyword ideas and estimating how they will perform on Google searches.
In this example, Crazy Vegan Kitchen utilised Google Keyword Planner to find out all the appropriate keywords needed to include in their “Vegan Tiramisu” post, including all the variations of keywords that were pertinent to the blog post. By not overusing or keyword spamming, and using keywords in a natural way, the post managed to rank #1 on page 1 of Google after a few months. Results are not instantaneous, but making sure that each of your posts has a good SEO score will, in time, enable you to rank high on Google search hits.
Another way of ranking higher on Google is to have quality back links associated to your blog. In the case of Crazy Vegan Kitchen, this meant allowing prominent websites such as PETA or One Green Planet to post the recipes on their websites, with a Do Follow link back to my blog. Acquiring relevant, quality backlinks is something that is very important in increasing your Domain Authority and getting your blog to rank higher than your competitors on Google.
Remember, in this day and age, people go to Google for everything – so you want to rank as high as possible and acquire a consistently high number of search engine hits over time. Following the steps mentioned above are a surefire way of growing your search engine hits which will be the main source of traffic to your blog in the long run.
Social Media – Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest – these are gold mines when it comes to finding and maintaining a following/audience for your blog. Below looks at how Crazy Vegan Kitchen utilised each of these social media platforms to grow the following and traffic below.
Creating a Facebook page for your blog is something that almost any blogger should do. Crazy Vegan Kitchen actively posted on their page each time a new recipe was published. Whilst there were not many “likes” at the beginning, over time, through word of mouth and smart/selective amounts of Facebook Promotion, Crazy Vegan Kitchen went from zero “likes” to 22,000 likes and growing today.
As a blogger, Facebook is one of the most powerful social media platforms at your disposal. Take the initiative to join dozens of relevant groups and communities on Facebook and post on their pages each time you publish a new post. They key here is to not sound desperate (people have also evolved to smell desperation from a mile away) or spam pages with your content. Subtle, non-pushy posts are the way to go. Whatever niche you are in, there will be a Facebook group or community that is relevant to what you are posting about – so this is the way to go.
Similar to their Facebook page, Crazy Vegan Kitchen’s Instagram page started off slow and with only a handful of followers. With consistent updates, relevant hashtag usage and constant engagement with other Instagram followers, this has grown to almost 18,000 REAL followers today. This is where your quality content comes in handy. Instagram is a very fast paced social environment, and you need posts that really stand out from the crowd. This means having good looking photographs, entertaining captions and good user engagement. Do not fall into the trap of buying followers or likes as these seemingly impressive tactics do not translate into real traffic to your blog. You want real people, with real interest in your content to follow you on Instagram.It it pointless to have a million fake followers who do not visit your blog or website.
Pinterest is a tricky one. No, it’s not just for stay at home moms or angsty teenage girls. 45% of Crazy Vegan Kitchen’s blog traffic comes from Pinterest these days. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, Pinterest takes a little more strategizing than just uploading pins of your content into your own board. You need to actively reach out to Pinterest Board Owners and ask them for permission to post on their boards. Seems mundane and a waste of time, but it isn’t.
Once you have joined a number of public boards on Pinterest (Crazy Vegan Kitchen is now part of almost 200 boards), you have to get cracking! For Crazy Vegan Kitchen, this means pinning four of five of their recipes to multiple boards every hour or two (an average of 50 individual pins an hour). Yes, every hour or two. The road to success takes some sacrifice, guys.
Over time, you will have people recognising your content and in turn following your profile on Pinterest, meaning they will see every new pin you upload for a new blog post. Again, Crazy Vegan Kitchen went from only a handful of followers to 26,400 followers today. Not through witchcraft or being insanely amazing, but just by working both hard and smart.
Last but not least, you need to interact with your audience. This means responding to email queries, blog comments, Facebook comments, Pinterest messages or Instagram comments and direct messages. As humans, we want to feel like we are engaging with a real human being rather than a robot when we visit blogs. No one likes a blogger who doesn’t respond to comments or ignores messages – this comes off as arrogant and puts a bitter taste in peoples mouths.
As your blog grows, it will become increasingly difficult to respond to all queries. Still, try your best to engage with your audience as much as you can. Crazy Vegan Kitchen tries to respond to blog comments, emails and direct messages as soon as they see them, even though it is a struggle to keep up with them sometimes. This is where a little self-discipline and structure come into play. Stick to a structured routine of getting all comments, messages and emails responded to first thing in the morning. Being humble and responding to people is the way to go. Your audience will truly appreciate this, and you will build a loyal following by doing this. After all, what is a blog or website without its audience? Nothing! Doh!
So there you have it, a detailed summary of how Crazy Vegan Kitchen managed to grow into a blog that received zero views a day to something that has had more than 2 million unique visitors and views today. There will be ups and downs in the blogging world, and on some months you may not have as much success as others. Nothing is ever perfect, but remain consistent and your hard work will pay off.