It’s totally normal to want a beautifully designed blog, but what about strategically designed? Thinking through the strategy of your website, including your goals for your audience, can take your blog to the next level. Learn what a strategic blog is and why it’s so important for your food blog’s success!
I’m so excited to introduce you to my latest venture, The Vine Podcast! This podcast is designed for food bloggers who want to grow their blogs and build a strategic business that they love.
Can’t listen to the episode? Read on for the transcript!
You guys, I am so excited to be recording the very first episode of The Vine Podcast today.
I’ve been thinking about starting this podcast for months, and it is finally here!
This podcast is all about building a strategic website and brand, so I figured the most natural place to start would be with answering the question, what is a strategic blog? That’s exactly what we’re going to do today.
Back when I started blogging, in 2012, the blogging world looked totally different than it does today. It was much less competitive, and a lot of people honestly were just doing it as a hobby. There were some people who were just starting to scratch the surface of making money with their blog, but things just were not the same as they are today.
When people wanted to redesign their blog with a new logo or a new theme, they were primarily focused on aesthetics. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with wanting your website to look good. I’m a web designer, so I can completely understand wanting your website to look good, but when that’s your only focus, you can miss the bigger picture.
What is a strategically designed blog?
A strategically designed blog considers all aspects of your website.
- user experience with stunning visuals
- strategic branding with an ideal reader in mind
- goal conversion – not just trendy colors or fonts
Consider User Experience
A strategically designed blog thinks about the audience’s journey when they land on your website. Think about where your audience is coming from when they land on a blog post.
For a lot of food bloggers, that audience is coming from Pinterest or Google, so they’re landing directly on a single blog post.
With any type of audience, understanding their motives can help you design your website in a more strategic way.
This type of audience is unlikely to trust you right away, because they may not have ever experienced a website before. They want to get straight to the recipe. They’re unlikely to take action, except for maybe saving the recipe to make later or actually making the recipe right away.
You might also have traffic that’s coming directly from Instagram, from promoting a recipe on Instagram stories or talking about a recipe in your feed, where someone clicks the link in your bio.
With this type of audience they already trust you, but they’re still coming for very specific content from your Instagram account. They’re more likely to take action by subscribing to your newsletter or saving the recipe for later.
When someone lands on your blog post, you want to think through how you want them to dive into your content deeper.
This could be things like category links within the blog posts or on your sidebar. It could be a navigation menu that is optimized to get people to dive into your content.
You could also have an opt-in for your newsletter after they’ve already made their first visit to your website. If they’re clicking from Google to a blog post, you would want to display that blog post somewhere like a homepage that they might click to after reading the first post.
When you’re thinking through your content, ask yourself some questions:
- What helpful content would someone need to have in order to make this recipe successfully every time?
- What tools would someone need to make this recipe?
- What other content would they enjoy?
By answering those questions, you can figure out what other content to link to within your blog post and how to help your audience dive into your content deeper.
For example, if it’s a dinner recipe, you want to show them other recipes that pair well with that original recipe they were looking at.
There are a lot of different ways to do this, but the idea is that you want them to get further into your website.
The more pages they visit on your website, the more they trust you, and the more likely they are to take action, whether that’s making a recipe, subscribing to your newsletter, or following along on social media.
All of these things are going to help them to come back to your website later on and eventually become one of your raving fans who makes every new recipe that you make.
With my web design and branding clients, the very first question that I ask them is what is their number one goal that you want to achieve when someone lands on your website?
For food bloggers the natural and easy answer is that you want them to make your recipe. But if you think about that, if that was really your goal for your website, you would have a much more simple website, wouldn’t you? You’d really only need the recipe card. You wouldn’t need much else.
I want you to really think through a strategic goal for your blog.
Think a few layers deep. Having a goal that is strategic is going to stop you from doing things just because other people do them.
It’s going to give you something to reference when you want to make a change to your website.
You can start asking yourself:
Will this specific change to my website help me reach my goals?
Strategic Goal Examples
Let’s take a look at what your goals could be. If someone just typed in your website URL and landed on your website for the first time, what would your goal be for that person?
Some of those goals might be:
Building trust with you
You want them to trust you, so that they will actually make your recipes.
Remember your blog over other someone else’s
So that when they are thinking about what’s for dinner, they remember your website and go directly to your website for the latest post.
When you are thinking about wanting them to remember you, you might have differentiators about what makes you unique throughout your messaging on your website.
You might have your photo on your sidebar or on your about page to help them remember your face.
Your branding, of course, is going to be something that helps them remember you over somebody else.
Then you can also think about the organization of your website and how you help your readers dive deeper into your content and find what they need to find.
Get them to come back for more content
This goal in particular is why we have things like social media links or a newsletter signup on your website.
It’s easy to just put those things on your website because it seems like it’s what everyone else does, but there is actually a strategic reason for doing this. It’s not just to get them to follow you on social media, to have higher follower numbers, and to work with brands.
The real reason to have elements like social media icons or a newsletter sign up on your website is because you want them to come back for content, and if they follow you on social media or if they get your newsletter, they’re more likely to come back to your blog to find more recipes they can make for their family.
When you think about these strategic goals, you can make smart changes to your website with them in mind and not just make a change because you saw somebody else do it.
You’ll know that every change you make to your website is helping you achieve these strategic goals, and you’ll also be able to track whether those changes to your website are helping you reach those goals by tracking your metrics, your page views, all of those kinds of things.
Strategic branding is going to consider what attracts your ideal reader.
What colors, fonts, or styles they might like and be attracted to, rather than what your favorite things might be.
This is something that is really hard for anyone in the blogging space to grasp, and honestly, it’s because your blog is your heart and soul. It’s your baby. It’s a reflection of you in so many ways.
Oftentimes it’s very hard to separate yourself and what you like from what your audience may like, especially if you’re speaking to an audience that’s different from you.
A Strategic Branding Example
Let me give you an example from outside of the food blogging industry because it’s so important to look outside of our industry for trends and to see how other industries are doing things!
Recently, I worked with a health coach, and she was starting a brand new integrative health coaching business.
When we were thinking through her branding, it was really important for us to choose colors that would resonate with her ideal audience.
While she might have liked bright, fun, and vibrant colors, someone seeking health coaching wouldn’t necessarily be in a position where that would resonate with them.
Someone seeking health coaching might feel like something is off in their life and not know why. There might be some anxiety or depression at play. The
Branding that feels bright and shiny may not attract that type of ideal client.
All of those sorts of feelings are not going to attract them to something that feels bright and shiny. You might think that they would be attracted to that, because it’s something that they’re seeking, right? Ultimately it might make them feel like they don’t belong.
We chose a combination of colors that were bright, vibrant, and invoked happiness, but also colors that kind of invoked the other side of how people might be feeling, some deeper colors, some colors with more emotions in them. We combined these two sets of colors into one in order to attract her ideal client.
If you’re a food blogger, I want you to ask yourself these questions:
- Does your current branding (meaning your logo, your colors, your website, even any extra marketing materials you might have, like an eBook) attract the right audience?
- Does your messaging attract the right audience?
- Does the content that you’re writing attract the right audience?
If you’re thinking, “I don’t really know who my ideal audience is,” I’m going to cover that in another episode, but for now I want you to think of how you want someone to feel when they are first introduced to your brand.
That’s whether someone tells them about it, they find your brand from Pinterest, they find a recipe from Google – how do you want them to feel when they land on your site?
Really think of that ideal person.
What is their cooking skill level? What kind of recipes do they enjoy making? Are they cooking for fun? Are they cooking for survival?
Ultimately you really need to remember that you are not necessarily your ideal audience. Because after all, you’re a food blogger, and you’re writing recipes for people who don’t know how to make the food that you’re sharing with them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t need your recipe. Right?
So, I want you to really think about all of those things when you’re thinking about your branding to really make sure that it’s strategic and that it’s going to connect you with the right people.
To recap, a strategically designed blog considers all of the aspects of your blog. It combines user experience and visuals, and it focuses on goal conversion, not just what’s trendy and what everyone else is doing.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your website set up in a way that helps someone find the content that they’re looking for?
- Is your branding strategic, and does it attract the right audience?
- How do you want someone to feel when they experience your brand?
If you have strategic goals set for your blog I would love to hear about them. You can send me a message on Instagram @graceandvine.