Everyone has those things on their “to do” list that sit there for what seems like forever. You plan on doing them, because you actually want to do them. However, you never take the plunge and get it done. It might be something small like cleaning out your closet. Or it could be something much bigger like traveling to Europe. One of the things that sat on my ‘to do’ list for a while was starting a baking blog. My sister and I have always loved to bake. Free time in our household always results in something sugary and covered in frosting being created. It also results in that sugar and frosting ending up all over the kitchen, and also somehow the dog (Sorry Sophie). We wanted to take this shared hobby of baking, mixed with my love for photography, to the internet with a blog. For months and months we pondered the idea of starting one. We knew we wanted to, we just didn’t know how to go about it. After a lot of research we finally started our blog five months ago in March. The blog is called The Cupcake Chronicles and can be found at www.thecupcakechronicles.com.
It definitely wasn’t an easy process. Starting a website when you have no knowledge of how any of it works can be quite a daunting task. There were hours spent teaching ourselves how to do certain things in the areas of web design, WordPress, plugins and post creation. Five months in and we are still learning new things.
Blogging is a very competitive area. Especially food blogging. There are thousands of websites dedicated to doing exactly what we are now doing. Therefore, it is difficult to get noticed. Growth at the very beginning was slow. This is normal for a new blog. You aren’t going to get attention immediately because no one knows you exist. So, we started spending more time on social media. We set up an Instagram page @cupcakechronicles and still, growth on there was slow. We utilized hashtags with every post to ensure people would see us. That led to a few likes and follows, however, it was still a slow process. Soon after, we created a Facebook page for our blog to reach a different audience. On our Facebook page, we post links to our blog whenever we add new content. As of today we only have about 100 likes on our page and they are mostly friends we invited from our personal Facebook pages to like the new page.
The actual daily views on our blog have increased slightly over the past five months. On average, we get about 40 views a day. That is not a lot, however, it is much more than we started out with. One thing that has helped has been Foodgawker. Foodgawker is a website that allows users to submit photos with a link to a blog post. If the photos are accepted, they will appear on the site for visitors to see.
After about two months of having picture after picture rejected, we improved our photography and started getting accepted on a regular basis. This has really helped bring people to our website. Getting one image posted on Foodgawker could bring an average of 200 people to our site in one day.
Things I’ve Learned at Good Monster
One thing I’ve learned at Good Monster in my time here is the importance of social media. Almost everyone is on social media. If you want the content to reach an audience, post it on a social media platform. With that being said, there are certain types of media that do well on certain platforms. For example, Facebook is great for sharing videos. Chances are, if you go on your Facebook feed right now you will see video after video being shared. That is because media has shifted away from text and over to more visual means.
As far as social media goes, our blog is present on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook with varying degrees of success on each one.
Whenever we post new content, we share it on Pinterest. There are so many people on Pinterest looking for new ideas. Therefore, Pinterest is critical if you want to get your stuff out there. If you are lucky, someone with thousands of followers will repin one of your links, leading to your pin to be seen by thousands of people. However, that has not happened for us yet. Sometimes our recipes get repinned 20-30 times. Other times, we do not get any repins.
Facebook is the platform we are struggling with the most. It has been very difficult to get new followers other than the friends and family we already have. One thing Good Monster has taught me is that you can pay to promote your page on Facebook. This is one thing that we are thinking about doing in the future. Once you gather a decent following, it will be easier to get other followers. Since Facebook is gearing more towards video, that could be one of the reasons our page links do not do that well. Therefore, we are considering adding a video element to our Facebook page. Recipe style videos could potentially do much better.
Instagram is the platform where we are having the most success. On average we see a gain of 1,000 new followers a month. One reason for these growing numbers is reaching out to others. Outreach is a very important aspect of growing your business or social media. Most likely, people do not know you exist and they probably won’t find you on there own. Therefore, you need to put yourself out there and let them know who you are. On Instagram, we do this by liking and commenting on other people’s images. Oftentimes users will then click on our feed to see who we are. If they like what they see, they will follow us. This has been a very successful practice for us. In addition, Instagram has been the most interactive platform. We get likes and comments on a daily basis from our followers. We also receive frequent messages from followers leaving us very supportive and encouraging words. One problem with Instagram is that most Instagram followers just like the visuals of our Instagram feed. They do not click over to our actual blog. This has been a struggle for us.
There are many things I have learned at Good Monster that I will be taking with me to help grow my blog. Since the outreach has been the most successful method, we will continue to do that on as many platforms as we can. Communicating with your audience is key. It shows your followers that you are there and that you care about them. It helps us build up a trust between us and them. Sometimes we share baking tips with them and other times they actually share new tips with us! The most changes will likely occur on Facebook. One thing we are planning on implementing is more video marketing. People are more likely to stop and watch a short video on a recipe, rather than clicking a link that will take them to another page where they will have to read through a page of text. Maybe using videos will work, and maybe it won’t. However, we won’t know unless we try. Furthermore, we plan to start promoting our page whenever we can. Although some may not want to spend money on Facebook, I believe it is important to spend even a few dollars to help your page reach a new audience.