Dianne Jacob - Will Write For Food
Food blogging is a growing superniche (is that a word?) with a wide variety of niches in which a lot of people seem to be using blogging either as the focus of their business or as a tool to build a bigger business. Even if you don't blog about food, there's a lot to be learned from succesful bloggers in this space.
Will Write For Food
Dianne Jacob is a writing and publishing coach who has also done quite a bit of writing related to food, including a book about food writing titled Will Write For Food. Her site includes a blog that is clearly a powerful marketing tool. It allows her to demonstrate her expertise, connect with the fans of other writers and present fresh content to search engines that helps her standing among searchbots!
I found Ms. Jacob via a recent post about Jenny McGruther of Nourished Kitchen, a multifaceted business that began as a food blog and related newsletter. She interviews Ms. McGruther about her business and, in addition to some fascinating details that are shared quite generously, McGruther gives some advice that's relevant to all bloggers trying to build businesses:
"They need to build a devoted audience based on their specialized knowledge. Once they have a way to convey that knowledge to their readers, they need to make it very clear about what the product will do for their readers. If they outline it directly and hit a price point that provides substantial value, they’ll be in a good position."
The Amateur Gourmet
"For starters, you have to decide if you’re food blogging for business or pleasure. If it’s for pleasure, that’s fine, but that most likely means you’re blogging when you want to, about subjects that you want to, in a format that may or may not appeal to readers. You can do that (many do) but that’s not going to allow you to quit your day job. If you’re food blogging for business—meaning, you’re doing it to support yourself—you have to approach things more strategically."
Mr. Roberts has also used food blogging to build his brand as well as an impressive career as a food writer.
Blogging can be a great career builder. In a recent interview with A View From The Cave blogger Tom Murphy, he explains how a blog designed to document a year in Kenya led to an editorial position and, now, a move into entrepreneurship.
Here's one tip from the interview with Tom Murphy:
"One of the beautiful things about blogging is you can write multiple posts in a day. It doesn't have to be one every night. So being able to put a bunch of things down and to have content that you're getting people to consistently read...whether it's a really long, in-depth piece or it's a video with a quick comment...being able to turn people on to different things has certainly been something that I've stumbled into and realized that works well."
And two tips from me:
It's generally a mistake to post audio or video one hasn't had the opportunity to review. In this case, I'm banking on the solid brand of Brazen Life which also began as a blog.
If you get into podcasting or vblogging, it's always a good idea to indicate the length of the podcast or video if your tech solution doesn't reveal that automatically. That way people know if they need to put a lot of time into listening and/or viewing and may have to schedule it for another time or can go for it if it's a short podcast or video.
One of the reasons I didn't preview this one is that I don't have the info and I'm guessing it's a bit long for my current schedule. I could be wrong but my best guess has cost them a closer listen.
Get Your Blog on Kindle Using RSS!
Periodic claims that RSS is dead will continue to appear from those on the cutting edge since, hey, they don't use it anymore, but RSS remains a primary tool for distributing content via multiple platforms from the web to mobile devices to Amazon's Kindle.
One of the cool things about blogging is that blogging software usually produces an RSS or Atom feed that some folks may subscribe to using a feedreader, which Business Wire explains to those new to the idea and Steve Gillmor derides with an obituary because he's too cutting edge for that sort of thing.
Actually, Gillmor is focused entirely on his personal use of RSS in a feedreader to keep up with breaking news as opposed to Twitter without considering that RSS may well be much more widely used to power widgets and to distribute content on various platforms beyond feedreaders and widgets.
Here are three ways I distribute content from my blogs and blog-powered sites that use RSS feeds to get that content out there.
Kindle: Blog Subscriptions
Amazon's Kindle, pictured above, has previously offered select blogs by subscription but just this week opened Kindle Publishing for Blogs as a self service platform. Earlier today I set up Kindle subscription options for ProHipHop and for Hip Hop Press.
The service basically requires an RSS feed and not much else but the preview shots of my blogs using the publisher's dashboard make it clear that it's very text oriented and I assume video's not a near-term possibility. Actually, I may start a feed that leaves out the music video posts that don't have additional text because they won't be functional on Kindle or a variety of other platforms and I don't like leaving people frustrated.
I think it's unlikely that my particular blogs will make any real money on Kindle, though I'll celebrate if they do, and I'm betting that direct subscriptions to RSS feeds will have to happen sooner or later. But, till then, I just want to have a presence there and see what happens. You can't learn about a platform without being on it and, again, the cool thing about having RSS is that I can get on Kindle easily and learn some things in the process.
Twitterfeed: Headlines on Twitter
I've been using Twitterfeed to distribute headlines with links to my blog posts on Twitter and I've been very happy with that service. I'm a little puzzled as to why Twitter doesn't have RSS feed subscription built in but they've got their own agenda and we'll see what we see when we see it!
Twitterfeed's free and it seems to work pretty well though I have to admit that I haven't been monitoring the Twitter feeds themselves so I may be missing problems entirely. Not monitoring one's output is not a good thing to do so don't do that!
The biggest drawback for high volume publishers is that Twitterfeed maxes out at 5 posts per half hour. Actually, that's fine for my blogging at ProHipHop but not for my press release distribution at Hip Hop Press. I find myself having to hold back releases from time to time or getting jammed up before my midnight deadline when I'm running late. Other than that, Twitterfeed's pretty cool.
I'm also getting enough subscribers at twitter.com/prohiphop and at twitter.com/hiphoppress that I feel it's a worthwhile offering, though Twitter is really about the public exchange of text messages with social network components. Nevertheless, it's up to the users to decide and providing my feeds has resulted in more subscribers than I expected.
MoFuse: Mobile Website
I maintain a full-feed mobile presence at prohiphop.mobi for the combined might of ProHipHop, Hip Hop Press and Weekly Hip Hop Albums via MoFuse and I have to say I'm really happy with these guys as well.
The most useful parts of the service are free and I think they may have miscalculated on the mix. I think they should have charged for allowing you to use your own domain, for example, so I'm hoping those choices won't undermine their business. I, for one, would be willing to pay a small annual fee for what I get though, given the relatively minimal mobile traffic I receive, there's a strong limit on what I'd pay.
That said, Mofuse is the best option I've seen for getting one's blog or other RSS enabled content on a mobile platform that can access the web. The stats are slow loading on the backend but, other than that, the performance has been really solid for me.
"But I'm not dead yet!" [Monty Python]
People say stuff like RSS is dead all the time and it's usually not true. So far, I'm finding more uses for RSS, rather than less, including providing updates on Twitter which may even be ironic given that Steve Gillmor bases his attack on RSS on his use of Twitter!
Remember when CD's killed vinyl LP's? Did you know we're in the midst of a vinyl resurgence even as CD sales drop?
Don't let the pundits' one-liners or the use of such one-liners by pundit parrots in business meetings stop you from checking things out for yourself. Absolute statements are rarely correct. Mind the gap!
Marshall Kirkpatrick gets a discussion going regarding the implications of Google using the microformat markup rel="me" to identify which site is most appropriate for a person's name/indentity.
I've basically been avoiding the topic in my daily life but Marshall's post made me realize that, if the search engines are going to start using them, then so will search engine optimizers, and that implies an early tipping point, of sorts, for microformats.
And, yes, they will be used for evil so do good deeds now while you still have time!
Or try to at least own your identity while you can.
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