Be consistent. Have a consistent theme for your content. I write a food and beverage blog, which means I don’t try to cover music, fashion or other lifestyle niches. I avoid telling stories of things happening in my life that don’t involve eating and drinking. Bite and Booze has consistently been about nothing other than bite and booze. Post consistently. That doesn’t mean post too much. If you only want to post once a month, stick with it. For me the happy medium between creating content and maintaining sanity has been to post two to three times per week. Rarely do we post more frequently than that, and rarely do we only have one post a week. We never go a week without any posts. That’s part of our consistency strategy.
Write something worth reading. This isn’t always easy, especially when you want to be consistent with how much content you’re creating each week. Early in the Bite and Booze days, I fell into the trap of feeling pressured to get content up, and I rushed a blog post that wasn’t worth publishing at all. These days we are focused more on the quality of our blog posts rather than the quantity. We assess the value of what we write, and if we decide we are writing a blog series that just isn’t working, we are willing to throw it out.
Know your audience. Audiences change and grow. When you first start a blog, your audience might be your friends and family. They probably already know you and feel obligated to like your Facebook page when you send them a personal invite. That’s how Bite and Booze started. I knew the only people reading the blog would be my friends, and that was still a big “if.” But knowing that, I wrote the blog as if I were writing to them. I included them in the posts when they joined me for lunch. I made sure to include their insights into restaurants and bars. But as the blog grew and I developed a larger readership, I transitioned out of that. My audience now doesn’t necessarily know my friends or care what they thought about a chicken fried steak. They want to read about my experiences.
Monetize gently. If you are starting a blog to make money, you’re going to find yourself in trouble. It isn’t easy. A blog should start as either a hobby or a branding tool, but not as a business in itself. A blog needs to be genuine and written with purpose. However, if it is evident to the reader that the purpose is to generate revenue, they won’t want to engage. The gray area between advertising and editorial can become ultra-pronounced in a blog where the same person is handling all the duties, and it is nearly impossible to keep the two totally separate. Ads also can look like garbage on a website. I made the decision in 2011 to take all the Google Ads and other ad networks off of Bite and Booze and only put up special banners and sponsor logos I curated myself. It meant I wouldn’t rely on tricking search engines to drive traffic so my ads would pay based on view counts, but rather I could focus on building an organic audience of long-term readers and have a much more subtle approach with my sponsorship partners to help monetize the blog and radio show.
Get yourself out there. The best marketing for my blog I’ve ever done hasn’t been online. It has been making personal appearances, shaking hands, meeting people, joining discussions and speaking to groups of students or professionals. I built the reputation of Bite and Booze more on the shoulders of building my personal brand than the other way around. The blog has been the constant. Since I started Bite and Booze in 2009 until now, it has been a steady stream of food and beverage content I can always point people to. But the blog wouldn’t be so well known if I hadn’t gotten myself out there to promote it. From TV appearances to the Bite and Booze Radio Show to talks around the country, I go out and market the blog even more than the blog markets me.