Playing to your strengths gives you a natural advantage for establishing your credibility with readers and is key to growth. It’s a growth strategy that anyone can apply easily. So whether it be your ethnic background, professional training, experience, where you live, where you have travelled – make sure you take advantage of it. I do! 😉
This is a unique but very effective blogging tip that is so easy to start incorporating into your blog and start reaping the benefits immediately:
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
What do I mean by that?
Let me break it down because it’s not a one sentence answer – believe me, I have redrafted this post so many times!
“Playing to your strengths” means sharing posts and recipes that leverage off your background and experience so there is a greater and faster element of trust from readers which then converts into blog growth. There are two prongs to this strategy:
1. Focus on sharing recipes that have strong links to your background/experience; and
2. Repeatedly writing about your background/experience in an organic (natural) way in posts to establish credibility with readers. Consistency is key.
In this post, I’m going to show you how easy it is for you to start playing to your strengths to grow your blog.
If you are an authentic food blogger who shares recipes you really truly love and take pride in your work, then this is going to be super duper easy for you.
Back Up A Sec – How Does “Playing to My Strengths” Grow My Blog?
This “playing to your strengths” strategy is something I’ve been doing quite consciously from the very beginning with my blog RecipeTin Eats. The reason it helped me grow my blog at the pace that I did (you can read more about my blog growth here) is because I was able to establish trust with readers (quickly) who then converted into mail list subscribers / long term readers and shared my recipes.
Quite simply, in this day and age when the blogosphere is so saturated, you have to grasp every opportunity you can to convince readers as fast as you can that they can trust you and your recipes.
And there is no better way to convince a new reader in seconds than to have your credentials right up front so new readers can’t miss it by sharing recipes that have strong ties to your background and experience.
Here’s a basic example. Don’t get the wrong idea, leveraging off your strengths is not just about physical appearance, I’m just using this because it’s an obvious and easy example.
If I, born to Japanese parents, and the All-American Meggan from Culinary Hill, post a Chow Mein recipe at the same time, all other things being equal, whose recipe would you assume is more reliable? Even though Chow Mein isn’t even a Japanese recipe, I am betting you’d choose mine.
And think of the situation in reverse. If Meggan and I post a classic American Green Bean Casserole at the same time, whose recipe are readers going to think is more authentic? Of course Meggan’s. She grew up with it at Thanksgiving every year, watching her mother and sister make it.
That’s a very basic example of playing to your strengths – sharing recipes with strong ties to your background. In this case, readers don’t even need to read the post, they make the connection when they even see a teeny tiny thumbnail image of the blogger, even on social media.
But the same principle apples to things about you that aren’t visual. Read on to find out how.
How to Play To Your Strengths: Three Simple Steps
1. Identify your strengths and unique selling points.
2. Play to your strengths: Focus on sharing recipes with strong ties to your strengths and unique selling points.
3. Write about your strengths and experiences. Repeatedly. So every single post has strong “trust factor”.
1. Identify your strengths and unique selling points
Whatever food you blog about, it’s because of your background, your experience, the food you grew up watching your mother cook, or the food you’ve been making for years because you love it so much.
What I’m saying is this – the food you share on your blog is already inherently a reflection of you, your background and experiences. And that is your unique selling point. Your “strength”.
My main strengths are: my Asian (Japanese) background, that I have travelled quite extensively and I am genuinely a cooking nerd who likes to learn about new techniques and learn new cuisines.
If you look through my posts, I guarantee that the vast majority of them have a strong tie to one or more of these 3 things as well as (mostly) within my niche (fast prep, big flavours, showing people how to make incredible food even if they are time poor and cost conscious).
Now it’s your turn
Now let’s figure out your strengths and unique selling points. They are what sets you apart from every other blogger because no two bloggers are exactly alike. Here are some examples:
- training and qualifications (not necessarily just food specific!) that relates to the food you share;
- your background/ethnicity – physical appearance, where you grew up, your parents/family and experience/knowledge;
- where you live or used to live;
- your obsession with a particular cuisine (even if you haven’t ever travelled or lived there);
- how you grew up. Helping your mother in the kitchen, watching your grandmother cook, your aunt who was a caterer – anything;
- where you get your inspiration; and
- any relevant experience (personal, professional, leisure) that relates to the food you share on your blog and what you know about food and cooking.
That’s a non exhaustive list, of course. To figure out your unique selling point, you just need to ask yourself this:
What experience and memories drives the food you love that you share on your blog? How did you learn to cook, what inspires you?
The answer to that is your strength that is unique to you. It is anything about you that will help establish greater credibility about a particular post/recipe and you as a food blogger.
Now, let’s capitalise on that to grow your blog.
2. Play To Your Strengths
“Playing to your strength” means sharing recipes that tie in strongly to your unique selling points and talking about it regularly on your blog. If you blog authentically, you’re already probably (mostly) playing to your strengths and you just need to close the loop to reinforce it (step 3).
But perhaps you aren’t playing to your strengths enough. I know from first hand experience how easy it is to get waylaid sometimes, and I think this is especially a risk for bloggers who do sponsored posts frequently because you don’t have 100% creative control.
So take a hard, honest look at your last 10 posts. How many of them are really “you”, recipes that you are able to demonstrate that you have a strong connection with that leverage off your unique selling points?
Basically, the more recipes you post that tie in strongly to your background and experience, the stronger position you are in to gain the trust of your readers. And therefore to grow your blog.
3. Write About It. Repeatedly.
The last step in this is to write about your unique selling points and how they relate to the recipes you share as often as you can.
When I write up a new recipe, all I do is think about whether it clearly falls into my “niche” or what I say about myself in the “About” on my sidebar. If not – actually, most of the time even if it does – I always make sure I tie it into something to “prove” or demonstrate to readers that they can trust my recipe.
Because honestly, someone who lands on my blog RecipeTin Eats for the first time from Pinterest, why should the believe that my Mojo Marinated Pork is a bl00dy good recipe? I’m obviously not Cuban, I’ve never even been to Cuba!
Well, that recipe can be trusted because it’s a kick @ss recipe by Roy Choi (legendary LA chef who created the recipe for the movie “Chef”).
If you have a read of the post, you’ll see that I don’t just drop in a link to the recipe source in the recipe. I do much more than that, I talk about Roy Choi and why he’s a reliable source (noting his name obviously indicates he isn’t Cuban!) and also about the recipe itself, demonstrating that I know what I’m talking about.
Here are other ways I do “it”:
1. Around 25% of my recipes are Asian or of Asian influence because not only does that reflect how I cook anyway, I have a natural credibility advantage because of my background;
2. I share recipes from around the world where I have travelled. I talk about my travels and how the recipe I’m sharing is a recreation of food I tried and loved.
3. I’m a cooking nerd. I have a surprising amount of recipes on my blog which are new techniques or genius ideas I discovered, or cuisines that I’m learning more about even if I haven’t been there. Like Truly Crispy Oven Baked Wings, 30 Minute Ricotta Gnocchi from Scratch and Syrian Chicken (in my top 30 recipes!).
Some More Examples
Here is a great example of a blogger playing to her strengths. Lindsay from Cotter Crunch says on her “About” in the sidebar:
“Hi, I’m Lindsay Cotter, the gluten free house wife! Welcome to Cotter Crunch! I’m a Fitness Professional and Nutrition Specialist for Gluten Free eating. Here to FUEL you with EASY gluten free recipes, nutrition tips, and lots of no bake healthy bite recipes!”
No mistaking her qualifications, hmm? And also what recipes her blog specialises in! So when I land on her site for the first time via Pinterest for her Paleo Mango Coconut Almond Bars with Complete Protein (say that after 5 tequilas!) and her post talks about the nutrition and energy benefits of these bars, I spy her “About” and I instantly have faith in her recipe and the wealth of nutritional information she shares about it.
A+++ for you Lindsay!
Here are some more examples:
- Trained culinary professional? Mention it. A lot! Drop in casual references like “When I was in culinary school” or “One of my favourite teachers at culinary school taught me that…” and “this is one of the first things I was taught at culinary school…”. Do it in practically every single post because remember, if your blog is like mine and 98% of other blogs in this world, the vast majority of your readers will be new visitors to your blog.
- Food of the World – Travelled alot? Is your food inspired by your travels? Talk about your trips on your blog when you share recipes inspired by your travels! Don’t assume a first time visitor is going to trust that your recipe for a Cuban Fish Curry is proper (or even tasty) if you don’t have a Cuban heritage or any particular knowledge or experience in Cuban cooking. Cite your source or refer to your travels in your post!
- Registered nurse – Here’s a great example. A registered nurse with a food blog that shares celiac and gluten free recipes. Especially for something like celiac which does not have a flood of resources and recipe sources (like “trending” diets such as Paleo and Sugar Free), a qualification as a trained nurse is pure gold. Having your qualification on the sidebar and littered throughout posts (especially Resources) is a must!
- Restaurant Experience – So what if you were just the dish hand? You’ve been behind the scenes! Ordinary folk (like me!) are always so interested in how the “pros” cook behind the scenes. So regularly mention it in posts!
- Die Hard Paleo – Been living a Paleo lifestyle for the last 5 years? Fantastic, so you actually KNOW what you’re talking about and not just going through a “phase”! I see so many Paleo recipes from bloggers who are not strictly paleo. If I stumble across one of your recipes, don’t let me miss that you really do know what you are talking about because you’ve been living and breathing it for the last 5 years.
KEY TIP: If you can, get the key selling points about yourself in your “About” on your sidebar so it is displayed no matter what page new readers land on.
Niche, Niche, it’s all about your niche!
Playing to your strengths is really just another extension of the blogging philosophy that I continually harp on about that underpins everything from growth to successful monetisation…..regular readers know what I’m about to say….
Define your niche and stay (mostly) within it.
You can read plenty more about that in this post -> My #1 Tip: The Growth Tip You’ve Probably Never Heard and in this post -> How to Stand Out from 227 Million Blogs and in this post -> Proof: Earn More with your Current Traffic. Basically any post where I talk about blog growth or monetisation inevitably hounds on about niche.
Woah, I totally blew my word count quota with this post! I didn’t expect to, that’s for sure.
1. Capturing the trust of readers quickly is key to blog growth;
2. Focus on sharing recipes that you can tie in strongly to your unique selling points, being your background, experience, qualifications. This is how you can gain the trust of readers – new and existing;
3. Be sure to regularly talk about your experiences and background that is relevant to posts/recipes you share to gain the trust of readers; and
4. It’s ideal to include your key unique selling points about yourself and your blog in the “About” on your sidebar – if you can. That way it’s always visible and people can read it in mere seconds.
Questions? What do you really think? Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, I want to hear if you have other views!
– Nagi x
TO BE CLEAR….
This post is NOT about changing what you blog about. If you blog authentically (i.e. not just “viral potential” recipes), you should already be sharing recipes that have strong ties to your background and experiences. This post is just about being a little more strategic about which of your fab recipes you share and ensuring that you create the link between your recipes and your unique selling points to establish trust with your readers. – N x
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