This is a rule I religiously followed until I hit a “tipping point” in the growth phase of my blog. I believe that being disciplined and following this rule is how I created the opportunities that enabled me to grow my blog at the rate that I did.
This is another post where I’m going to talk really bluntly. So for those who blog as a hobby rather than with the objective of growing it for monetisation purposes, don’t listen to what I have to say!
The 50/50 Rule? What on earth is it?
OK. It’s not a real “Rule”. It’s a rule that I made up, one that I strictly followed until my blog hit a “tipping point” where I was able to take my foot off the accelerator a wee bit and spend time on other pursuits (like FBC ).
Here’s my 50/50 Rule:
Spend as much time promoting your new and existing content AND yourself (as a food blogger) as you do creating new content
If you aren’t following this, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. Pumping out amazing content, sharing family secret recipes, beautiful photos you worked so hard on…..and barely anyone reads them.
Does that sound familiar?
It hurts, doesn’t it? I’ve been there. I shared some of my best recipes right at the beginning, and hardly anyone read them.
Here’s my motto: You invest so much time, love and care creating your posts, make sure you make the most of every single one! MILK THE SOCIAL MEDIA. Pound the virtual pavement and promote the heck out of yourself!
Get your name, your face and your recipes out there! Because let me tell you something. No one else is going to do it for you. As great as your blogger buddies are, I guarantee that if you check their Pinterest page, they are pinning 20x more of their own pins than yours, or anyone elses – as they should be!
Gone are the days of growing your blog to a significant scale without promoting your own content. It might have happened in the past, if you were an early starter in the blogosphere (think 2012 and prior) and took nice photos.
But in this day and age, the blogosphere is more saturated than ever and the standard of photography is getting higher. (Have you read my post about How to Stand Out From 227 Million Other Blogs?) In the current market, the chances of growing your blog to a considerable scale without promoting your own content is about as likely as….well, winning the lottery.
Possibly less. (Hey, I won $2 on a scratch lottery ticket once!!)
I cannot stress this enough:
Just taking beautiful photos is not enough anymore.
Just posting eye catching “viral potential” creations is not enough anymore.
Sharing thoroughly tested recipes with precise instructions is not enough anymore.
Wit, humour and sharing personal anecdotes, no matter how well you connect with your readers, no matter how well you write – it’s not enough anymore.
You must, must, must promote your own content. A LOT.
My 50/50 Rule
My 50/50 rule says that you should spend as much time promoting as you do actually creating new posts.
When I say “promoting”, I’m not just talking about pinning your new and most popular posts over and over and over again, and Instagram-ing that same food porn photo again and again…..That isn’t an effective tactic and in fact, can backfire because I know of one blogger who was removed from a group Pinterest board for doing just that.
1. All the main social media channels that most bloggers use: Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Stumble Upon, Yummly
2. The social media channels that are not as popular with bloggers: Tumblr, G+
3. Submitting to recipe sharing sites: FoodGawker and TasteSpotting being the two most well known ones
4. Joining social media sharing groups, like the ones we run on the FBC Facebook Group. We’ve had members thrilled by the bursts of traffic they’ve experienced by joining these sharing threads. And there are plenty of other Facebook social sharing groups other than the FBC!
5. Contributing to online recipe sites – publications and even sites like allrecipes.com! This was a very clever way to reach masses of audience that I saw a major YouTube food blogger called Chef John do. Here is his All Recipes profile and recipes, and here is his You Tube Channel. (Sort his his videos by popularity…)
6. Researching, discovering and learning. Whether it’s discovering and trying new recipe sharing sites, testing new social media techniques or management tools, finding new social sharing threads, the time you invest in this is what’s really going to make the difference. At least, in my view.
The obvious things, like Pinterest, are saturated. Why compete? Find something unique, an undiscovered gem, or a clever new way to make your recipes stand out on Pinterest. RecipeChart.com, which is where my Crack Bread went seriously (seriously) viral, was a little known recipe site at the time that I joined.
You need to cast a wide net, try new things – you just never know when and where a recipe will take off. Don’t just rely on people to tell you what to do. Use some initiative, try things out yourself!
7. Everything else…..this list is just scratching the surface! I could go on and on and on, but ways to promote your blog is not the focus on this post.
Psst Don’t forget – promote your new content, old content, your blog and YOU!
Applying it in real life
Here’s how I apply it:
1. I exclude the cooking time because I cook what I eat so I’d be cooking anyway. But if I was, for example, a baking blog and I cooked specifically to blog, I would most certainly include that in the “blog time”.
2. I spend an average of 1 1/2 hours styling, shooting and cleaning up after shoots (on a normal day for a straight forward shoot).
3. I spend an average of 1 hour sorting, organising, editing and preparing photos for posts (eg. making web ready copies, resized versions for Facebook, long Pinterest collages etc).
4. I spend about 1 1/2 hours writing my post, including the recipe, keywords, inserting images – everything to create the post.
So in total, I spend (on average) 4 hours per post (and that’s a post that goes to plan!). And I do 3 posts per week, so that totals 12 hours spent on posts. So I used to spend at least 12 hours a week promoting my content.
It’s pretty confronting when you add things up and put it in that context, isn’t it?
What do you mean “I used to…”?
So here’s the honest truth. I was not sure if I was going to include this in the post because I don’t want people to misinterpret what I’m about to tell you.
I do not follow the 50/50 rule at the moment. Partly because I am so focussed on other things I am pursuing, FBC and the photography book being two main projects, amongst other things. But also because there comes a tipping point in your growth path when you can take your foot off the pedal – slightly. Growth will slow – and it certainly has for me – but you still grow.
I still promote my content. But right now – I can’t believe I’m about to admit this to you – my blog is not my focus. It is still the most important thing to me, out of everything I am doing, it’s where my heart and soul is. But it is not where I am spending most of my time.
As soon as I launch the photography book, I’m getting right back on the bandwagon!
Be more strategic with your time
Get off the hamster wheel!
There is no point continuing to punch out amazing new recipes if you aren’t making the most of what you do create.
Use your time, energy and effort more strategically.
If you don’t have the capacity to spend more time promoting your content, post less and promote more.
Or, if you don’t want to pull back on your posting frequency, spend more time promoting your content!
This is what it takes to do what you love
When I read back over what I have written, I wonder whether this invigorates, inspires or tires you.
Before I even created my blog, I knew that in order to build it, I would spend more time doing things other than cooking, writing and shooting. Not just promoting, but also all the back end technical stuff that reduces me to a puddle of frustrated tears and makes me freeze with fear when something goes wrong. Connecting with likeminded people. Keeping up with “trends”.
I wish blogging could be more about the food and my love of cooking and sharing.
But it’s not. The reality is that the cooking part, which comes so naturally, is such a small part of the time I spend on my blog.
It is not my intention to burst your bubble. I want to make sure you aren’t living in a fantasy. It’s a competitive market out there. That’s a fact.
And in order to succeed, if you really want to grow your blog, to make a full time living doing what you love, you need to make sacrifices.
Thank you for reading! And as always, this is my personal opinion only, my approach and what I found worked for me. You can read more about my blog journey and growth here.
So tell me – right now, how many hours a week do you spend creating posts and how many hours do you spend promoting your blog?
– Nagi x
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