In today’s episode, Jessica Holmes, from the dessert blog, Sweetest Menu, shares her 9 secrets to write successful blog posts.
Before becoming a professional food blogger, Jessica was a copywriter, so she knows what she’s talking about.
In the episode, we discuss:
- How Jessica finds the most engagement by sharing her baking “fails” with her audience
- How she doesn’t always rely on keyword research when deciding what recipes to create
- How she is uncomfortable with people thinking of her as an influencer
- And why she thinks writing is one of the most important, but most overlooked, skills a successful blogger needs
If you want to write better blog posts, that your readers will enjoy, definitely listen to this episode.
Table of Contents
- New $10 WORKSHOP – Oct. 6th – How to Turn on a New Income Stream
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- Sweetest Menu
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Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, my friends. Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I’m your host, Jillian Leslie. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I love building businesses on the internet, and I love helping you build yours. Because I am #buildinginpublic, I wanted to give you an update on MiloTreeCart.
Jillian Leslie 0:29
This is the payment tool we’ve just rolled out to help you bloggers and creators sell digital products to your audience with ease. So, these are things like digital downloads, and paid workshops and memberships and coaching and courses.
Jillian Leslie 0:46
And I’m excited to announce that I am hosting a paid workshop for $10 on Zoom on October 6 at 1pm Central Time. And I am going to show you how to build your digital product empire because the goal is to find something that connects with your audience, where they will pay you for whatever this product is.
Jillian Leslie 1:09
And then you stack products on top of it. So, if you have an audience I recommend you start directly to them or you are leaving money on the table.
Jillian Leslie 1:09
So, please sign up, go to empire.milotreecart.com and I will be offering MiloTreeCart at a very discounted price. And if you buy it, you will get your $10 back. So again, empire.milotreecart.com.
Jillian Leslie 1:34
For today’s episode, I have Jessica Holmes on the podcast. Wait until you hear her accent. She is the blogger behind The Sweetest Menu and she is a dessert blogger. And what’s so interesting is she will test her recipes over and over again. And when she shares her fails with her audience, they love it.
Jillian Leslie 1:57
So, we talk about showing up authentically; what your audience wants from you. Also in a previous life, Jessica was a copywriter. She’s going to share her secrets for how she uses her copywriting skills when creating blog posts. You don’t want to miss this, and her blog is beautiful. And she’s delightful.
Jillian Leslie 2:03
So, without further delay, here is my interview with Jessica Holmes.
Jillian Leslie 2:26
Jessica, welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast.
Jessica Holmes 2:30
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Jillian Leslie 2:33
So, you are a delicious dessert blogger. You make all of these amazing mouthwatering treats. You were a copywriter in a past life. And we’re going to talk about that. But would you share how you became a dessert blogger when you started what your journey was like and where you are now?
Starting a Dessert Blog Inspired by Travel
Jessica Holmes 2:57
Yes, so I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I think I was born with those. But yes, I was working as a copywriter. That was my professional career. And it was back in 2014 that I started the blog.
Jessica Holmes 3:11
And basically, I was doing some night classes, I was actually studying graphic design part time and was doing that in the evenings and on the weekends.
Jessica Holmes 3:26
And it was finishing up and I just thought outside of my full-time job, what was I going to do with my time. And that was right around the time when food blogs were really huge.
Jessica Holmes 3:31
And I had really started to develop an interest in baking and being in the kitchen and I just thought hey, I’m just going to start a food blog jump in have fun with it. And that’s what I did. And I ended up blogging outside of my full-time job for six years actually.
Jillian Leslie 3:30
Jessica Holmes 3:55
Yeah, a long time until it finally became my full-time thing in 2020
Jillian Leslie 4:01
Wow. And then also you had a family, I’m sure. Were you working and had kids and doing a food blog?
Jessica Holmes 4:10
So, I was working and doing the food blog and then in 2020 when I took it full time I actually then also had my first daughter or my own daughter. So, I actually finished up my full-time job when I was five months pregnant.
Jessica Holmes 4:28
So, I kind of had this tiny window where I actually got to put a lot of time into the blog and then I had a baby and now it’s a bit weird but my time is split between being a stay-at-home mom and running the business at the same time.
Jillian Leslie 4:42
Got it. Let’s just go through your process, like dissect a blog post and how you think about what you want to create, and then your process of creating it. Because honestly I’m curious how you find these delicious desserts.
Jessica Holmes 4:42
I’m inspired a lot by travels. So, for many years, my husband and I, we really prioritized travel in our lives. And when we ate out at different places, or in different countries, that’s where I get a lot of my inspiration and a lot of inspiration on different flavors and different ideas.
Jessica Holmes 5:23
And then over the last couple of years with COVID, we haven’t traveled overseas in almost three years now, it’s been a little bit harder to get that inspiration. But I’ve probably turned to a lot of things like cooking shows, and obviously eating out like locally where we can.
Jessica Holmes 5:44
I usually just get an idea in my head. And often I actually get sort of a visual idea of how I want something to look and how I want something to turn out. And then I just jump in the kitchen. And I play around and do a lot of recipe testing until I get the results that I need.
Documenting Her Failures on Instagram for Engagement
Jessica Holmes 6:00
And I often document that on Instagram stories and show people my fails and testing. And I usually actually include a little bit of that in my blog post as well about different things I’ve tried. I might have tried an extra egg or a different raising agent, things like that.
Jessica Holmes 6:16
So, we’re kind of diving into a little bit of the science of baking, which I find my audience seems to really enjoy. And that’s something I really enjoy.
Setting Her Blog Readers Up for Baking Success
Jessica Holmes 6:26
And then obviously, just try to create a blog post that is going to set my readers up for success and help them create that recipe as much and replicate the results that I’ve done as much as possible.
Jessica Holmes 6:39
So, putting in lots of tips and helping them and process shots and all that sort of thing. It’s quite involved, actually, the old blog posts, it used to be like you just slap up a recipe and tell people how great it was.
Jillian Leslie 6:41
And how your grandmother taught you to make this.
Jessica Holmes 6:56
Yes. That’s right.
Jillian Leslie 6:58
So, I have a couple questions. So, you’re not starting with keyword research?
Jessica Holmes 7:02
Of course. That’s a good point. No, I do some, but I would say I’m 50/50. I know keyword research is definitely a strategic way to go about it. But I’m also a very creative person. So, I definitely create things that may not necessarily have the search volume or might be very competitive keyword.
When to Use Keyword Research and When Not To
Jessica Holmes 7:31
But if I think my readers are going to love it, my audience going to love it, or I just love it and I just cannot not share it. I will create that recipe anyway.
Jillian Leslie 7:41
That’s so interesting.
Jessica Holmes 7:43
Does that make sense?
Jillian Leslie 7:43
Yes. You’re kind of old school in that way. Versus today, it feels very kind of mechanical. Not that you can be creative, but like, oh, where’s the opportunity?
Jillian Leslie 7:56
I need to go towards that opportunity. I need to look at search volume, I need to look at my competing posts, I need to figure out how to kind of almost like gamifying it.
Jessica Holmes 8:05
Oh, absolutely. It’s totally a game. And it’s almost mathematical. If you can do A, B and C, you will get D and that’s great. And if you can operate your whole business like that, you probably will be successful. I definitely do some of that. Don’t get me wrong.
Jessica Holmes 8:05
But the other element is what I really enjoy. So, I cannot get rid of the more creative, free flowing side of things.
Jillian Leslie 8:30
A couple things too you said, which I think is interesting. You’re a baker and baking is much more like chemistry. You can’t mess it up in the way like I’m going to put together a stew and my stew today might look different than my stew tomorrow and they both could be tasty.
Jillian Leslie 8:52
But it’s like if you are baking something, you need to get the eggs right, you need to get the sugar right. You need to get the bake time right. You are the second dessert blogger. You are two of my favorite dessert bloggers who do treat it like science experiments and will do their recipe multiple times to really let nail it down.
Jessica Holmes 9:18
Jillian Leslie 9:19
And I feel like it’s not always common.
Jessica Holmes 9:23
No, it’s not or at least it’s something people don’t share if they are doing it but I love to share that. And honestly, it’s the most engaged that I will get my audience is actually when I share my fails.
Jessica Holmes 9:39
So, I use content for something like Instagram stories when I share a cake that didn’t work out or was the incorrect texture or it sank or something and I cut it open and I show why then as time goes on, it’ll be like okay, I changed this I added this and oh look how much better this one is.
Jessica Holmes 9:59
And then we ended up having all these tests. People absolutely love it. I get the most response from that. And also, a lot of people which is kind of funny, but they’re just really encouraged that they see me as this great baker has failed in the kitchen too. They feel better about themselves.
Jessica Holmes 10:23
And it makes them feel like they can maybe experiment with where they want to, and they can learn from my failures. So, I’m constantly learning I don’t know everything, if I did, I probably wouldn’t have failed. And so, I love to share that. And the little insights that I’ve learned, and it’s definitely hits home with my audience.
Jillian Leslie 10:45
They always say, in blogging or in life, share the scars, not the wounds. The gaping wounds. And by you going, look, this didn’t work. I think it’s because the eggs or the whatever. So, it’s not you crying in the kitchen but it’s you going this didn’t work. But let’s do like a recap.
Jessica Holmes 11:04
Let’s talk about it. That’s right. And people often say, “How do you not get upset?” And I’m like, “Sometimes I do.” Like, if this is the fifth time I’ve made it, I get really frustrated. But at the same time, this is I’m learning and this is great content and it’s interesting to share with you. And I love that.
Jillian Leslie 11:26
I love though that’s where you get your engagement. So, what was the most recent post you did?
Jessica Holmes 11:42
I just posted one. Posting it this morning.
Jillian Leslie 11:46
What was the recipe?
Jessica Holmes 11:49
That was actually a redo one. So, that was an old favorite. But the most recent one that I tested was a banana cake. And I had to make that four times.
Remaking a Recipe Four Times to Test It
Jillian Leslie 11:59
That was my next question. How many times? Four times?
Jessica Holmes 12:02
Yes. Four times for that.
Jillian Leslie 12:03
So, how long does it take you then to do a blog post? How often are you putting up new content?
Jessica Holmes 12:10
Jillian Leslie 12:12
So every week, you’re doing one new recipe? Are you again, taking an old recipe? Or are you updating old blog posts? How are you doing this?
Jessica Holmes 12:24
I’ve tried to do one recipe a week. Usually, probably, I would say that’s three new recipes a month and once a month I’ll try and update an old post because I have lots of old, thin content that needs updating.
Jillian Leslie 12:40
Okay, will, you theme them like this month we’re going to do Thanksgiving even though I know you’re not here in the United States. This month, we’re going to do summer fruit.
Jessica Holmes 12:51
I don’t typically. I did last month in July; I did my first cookie month. But that was the first themed month I’ve done otherwise, it’s purely what I want to do. What I feel like doing.
Jillian Leslie 13:07
It’s very refreshing talking to a blogger. And again, you’re having tremendous success. How many Instagram followers do you have?
Jessica Holmes 13:16
200k and something.
Jillian Leslie 13:18
Okay, so again, people look to you as an expert. So, it’s working. But how was it for you as a food blogger to be out there putting yourself out there, because a lot of food bloggers I talk to kind of like hiding behind their food blogs.
Jillian Leslie 13:40
I like to think of it this way now in today’s world, you’re standing in front of your food blog as if your food blog, let’s say was a brick-and-mortar store leading people in and saying like, “Hey, come take a look, I’m the face of this. I’m the creator of this, I want to share with you.”
Jillian Leslie 14:03
Instead of just saying like, here’s where my kind of blog lives and just go to the URL and go check it out. And I’ll just stand over here or like be in the closet.
Not Wanting to Be an Influencer
Jessica Holmes 14:16
That is something actually that I do struggle with. I think we were talking about this before. It’s that thing of whether that comes naturally to you or not. And I wouldn’t say like I never desire to be an influencer, as they say, or someone who has shared every bit of their life. I am quite like a private person.
Jessica Holmes 14:46
And also having a child now sometimes you get a bit conflicted, whether you put their image up on things. I’m still trying to learn that balance of that knowing so well that people are going to connect much more with you or your brand if they can connect with you personally.
Jessica Holmes 15:08
So, I do try to share more of, like you said, behind the scenes in the kitchen that we were talking about the recipe testing and things like that.
Jessica Holmes 15:16
I should put my face up a little bit more, I do struggle a little bit with that. But that’s something that’s like a goal of mine that I would like to do is share a bit more of having more of my talking head, if that makes sense.
Jessica Holmes 15:31
But yes, I do find that people connect with me, when I do that, and to connect with your brand in a stronger way, when they feel like they know you and I do know that core part of my audience do feel like they know me and have followed me for years, and they know my voice and they know who I am.
Jessica Holmes 15:55
So, even when I don’t maybe show my face, but I might show a video of what I’m doing or my hands making cake or things like that. I feel like there’s still that point of connection there, which is really important.
Jillian Leslie 16:08
It’s so funny. And I’ve shared this before my 15-year-old daughter. And the mantra that I tell her is nobody is looking at you, even though she thinks everybody is looking at her. It’s amazing how we have to hear this over and over again.
Jillian Leslie 16:20
Because I’m working with my designer, and she’s like, I need a photo of you and I send her a photo. And she puts it into an image and I go, “Oh my God, I hate this photo.” And she turns around because she knows me so well. And she goes, “Don’t worry, no one’s looking at you.”
Jillian Leslie 16:36
And I was like, “Oh my God, you’re so right.” Like, here I am, I’m so critical of me. And I think everybody is commenting on who knows my hair or what I’m wearing. And I thought it was so funny to get a taste of that myself. I was shocked a little embarrassed when she called me out on it. But that is true.
Jessica Holmes 17:00
It’s true. And sometimes that’s what I find like I said to my husband before, because there’s a lot of other bloggers and they got full makeup. And they’re all dolled up in their Instagram stories or wherever they’re sharing their TikToks and what not.
Jessica Holmes 17:15
And I’m just at home with my kid. And my hair is a mess, and my face is a mess. But there’s that thing is like, too embarrassed to be in front of the camera, because you’re not looking your best that day. But then also, I don’t want to just use filters.
Jessica Holmes 17:35
I want to use filters as little as possible. And I want to be a real person, that’s really important for me to be genuine and authentic. So, it’s trying to get that balance of being real and authentic, but not showing up in your pajamas.
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Jillian Leslie 18:33
Let’s talk about a couple things. How do you monetize?
Monetizing as a Food Blogger
Jessica Holmes 18:38
The main way I monetize is through advertising. So, I’ve done a little bit of sponsorship work, a little bit of affiliates, over the years, but definitely the primary income comes from advertising. I am very protective of my blog, very protective of my brand.
Jessica Holmes 18:58
And so, I find with sponsored posts and things like that, that it really has to be the right fit. And I find that that’s fairly hard to come by for me personally.
Jessica Holmes 19:11
And I’ve also found that with my time, it’s often more efficient for me and more profitable for me to spend time creating quality content than to spend time creating content for a brand where I get paid once and then that’s it rather than content that is continually paying off.
Jillian Leslie 19:34
That does make sense. But now you also you said you had this big email list?
Jessica Holmes 19:40
Jillian Leslie 19:40
And that you’ve been growing?
Jessica Holmes 19:42
Jillian Leslie 19:43
And how often are you emailing and what are you using it for to drive traffic?
Using Newsletters to Drive Traffic
Jessica Holmes 19:48
Yes, primarily to drive traffic and that point of connection. So, I’ve used it to update readers on posts or things that are happening. Send free eBook books and materials, things like that. But it definitely has a lot more potential than what I’m currently using it for.
Jillian Leslie 20:07
Absolutely. We’re going to lean into your email list. Again, your email list that’s like money, I’m looking at your business. And by the way, I want to eat all of your desserts and all of that, but I just go, oh, there’s money, like, we’re picking apples on an apple tree.
Jillian Leslie 20:22
Like, oh, I see money here and money there. So, we’ll be talking about that. Let’s talk about copywriting which I feel like people don’t even know what that is like that’s a thing it’s a skill you can learn. Tell me what is copywriting? How are you using copywriting in your business?
How to Use Copywriting Tips as a Blogger
Jessica Holmes 20:48
I was a copywriter for over a decade, professionally. And it’s basically writing. I was a UX writer, which is talking about user experience. Basically, it’s just using words in whatever form to get a message across, or to guide a user or reader through a process.
Jessica Holmes 21:16
It can be anything really, it can be something from the words on a button, it can be heading, it can be long form content on a landing page. Obviously, it doesn’t even have to be online, it can be print, brochures, like anything.
Jessica Holmes 21:31
But basically just using your words to get whatever message you need to get across but using them really clear writing really simply concise. And obviously, when you’re working for a brand or business, you’re using their tone of voice, etc. So basically, just using your words,
Jillian Leslie 21:53
So, tell me then how you think about it as a blogger, like where you’re intentionally using your copywriting skills?
Jessica Holmes 22:02
Yeah, 100%. So, for me as a blogger, it took a few years. And that’s partly because what we were saying before when you first started, it was much more about just slapping up a blog post and just writing a few words and not really putting much time into it.
Jessica Holmes 22:19
But as we’ve moved on and we’re playing more by Google’s rules. And we’re really trying to write content that shows our expertise and resonates with our readers, and also has a purpose, we’re not being long winded and waffling on about something irrelevant. It’s taking those skills and putting them into the blog.
Writing Is One of the Most Important Skills as a Blogger
Jessica Holmes 22:43
For me, I think bloggers focus a lot on recipe testing, or baking or their skill in cooking, and then their skills in photography. But I think the third bucket is writing and how you connect with your readers through your writing.
Jessica Holmes 22:58
So, that’s something that I now would almost put in an equal amount of time across those three things. Yes, and making sure that I put effort into my writing, and it’s even things like getting it proofread, like every blog post, getting it proofread by one or two other people.
Jessica Holmes 23:22
Just making it important in your structure of what you’re doing. Does that make sense?
Jillian Leslie 23:29
It does. It’s just not flat. The thing that you don’t think about it, the thing you go, oh I hate the writing.
Jessica Holmes 23:36
Yes. And it used to be like, even for me, because I was working full time as a copywriter. I would be like, “Ah, I have to go home and write 1,000 words on a blog post like boo.” And it would be my lowest priority be my last thing, you’ve done everything else. You’ve done the photos, you’ve done this.
Jessica Holmes 23:52
And it’s just like, quickly just slap it up with the words. But now like no, no, the words are very, very important to me.
Jillian Leslie 24:00
So, let’s get into nitty gritty. You’re writing your post?
Jessica Holmes 24:06
Jillian Leslie 24:07
Tell me about the tone. Tell me about the word choice. Tell me about your paragraph length. What do you think when you’re writing?
Blog Post Tip 1: Write short and sweet
Jessica Holmes 24:13
Short and sweet.
Jillian Leslie 24:14
How do you help me who’s like, “Oh, I hate the writing part of the post.” Tell me your tips. Your top, let’s say five tips to writing that post with intention.
Jessica Holmes 24:28
First, you have to decide what your brand voice is. So, for me as an example, my brand was an extension of myself. But it’s fun. It’s joyful. I’m also targeting the innovators. So, I want everything to be easy and clear. So, I’m sitting down to write I definitely want that passion and enthusiasm for the rest of it to come across.
Jessica Holmes 25:01
But I have to remember that this isn’t about me. And this is about someone sitting on the other side, who is going to attempt this, and I’m going to choose to write it to someone who I’m going to assume has never made this cake or whatever it is, and hasn’t stepped into the kitchen much at all.
Jessica Holmes 25:20
So, it’s always making sure that I’m not assuming too much knowledge. So, it’s very easy as the more skill you get, the more you assume people know. Very important when you’re baking to break down elements, or even when you use words like people say creaming the butter and sugar. What does creaming mean?
Jessica Holmes 25:43
I remember when I first started 10 years ago, I asked a lot of these questions but now that I know, it’s easy to just go, cream the batter into the bowl. Now I go, “No, no wait, what does that mean?” This person who hasn’t stepped in the kitchen will not understand what this means.
Blog Post Tip 2: Write For a Beginner
Jillian Leslie 26:00
Your first tip would be right, for a beginner. So they’re not overwhelmed. Give me Tip number two. I put you on the spot.
Jessica Holmes 26:11
Short and sweet.
Jillian Leslie 26:13
What does that mean?
Jessica Holmes 26:14
No, no that’s fine, short and sweet. This would be don’t make it too long. So, this isn’t not talking about word count, necessarily. Your blog can be as long as you need it to be, but no longer than that. You include all the information that you need, but I’m even talking down to the sentence.
Jessica Holmes 26:36
So, sentence length should be short, shorter the sentence, the better, less repetitive, the better. When you write something, sometimes one thing I like to do is if I’m going to write a paragraph, I might be writing about how to do this line your pen or whatever it is.
Jessica Holmes 26:54
But then I’ll go back and I’ll read it and I say can I say that shorter? My natural way to say it might be the waffle on in three sentences. But then I go back and go, you know what, I can say that in one sentence more succinct, more clear. So, I’ll shorten it.
Blog Post Tip 3: Write for the Reader
Jessica Holmes 27:11
Another tip I would give would be not writing like a robot, but writing for the reader, which is sort of what we talked about before.
Jessica Holmes 27:23
I think when bloggers go really into the SEO world, and like you were saying before, and they do the keyword research and writing that very structured post, kind of just forget that there’s a real person behind there.
Jessica Holmes 27:37
And that sometimes the easiest way to get information across is to talk like you’re talking to a friend. So, it’s having that friendly element.
Jessica Holmes 27:45
And also, that kind of changes your blog posts from being like every other blog posts, because it puts you in there and your personality as you write in a way that’s easy for people to understand. And not just write like your Wikipedia page does.
Jessica Holmes 28:07
It’s not just getting information across it’s getting information across in a way that’s easy to understand in a way that connects with the person on the other side. But in a way that’s short and sweet, really clear, really concise.
Blog Post Tip 4: Watch Out for Spelling Mistakes and Consistency
Jessica Holmes 28:21
And the other thing I would mention is spelling mistakes and consistency is really important. So obviously, these days, we really have no excuse for spelling mistakes. Again, it gets past the best of us. So, I highly recommend getting someone to proofread your work.
Jillian Leslie 28:44
Who proofread yours?
Jessica Holmes 28:46
My husband, who is very good, very good at catching mistakes. He’s a lawyer. So, he’s got that crossing every “t” dotting every “i”. And the other thing is inconsistency.
Jessica Holmes 29:05
One thing I highly recommend to people is putting together like a brand guideline or something, but it’s just where you choose how you’re going to spell certain words and how you’re going to capitalize certain word and write it down on a spreadsheet.
Jessica Holmes 29:22
Because over the years, you’ll find that you might spell things differently. And one thing that will make a website or brand seem more professional than another is consistency in that way.
Jillian Leslie 29:37
So like “ounces” you spell it out or you write “oz” or whatever it is.
Jessica Holmes 29:43
Yes, exactly. And even words for me things like over-beats or over-measure that can be two words, it could be one word, it could be hyphens.
Jessica Holmes 29:56
Sometimes you just need to write it down and choose what you’re going to do. And then you just stick to that forever rather than having it spelt three different ways across three different blog posts.
Jillian Leslie 30:10
This is terrific. So, when you’re writing your blog posts, be thinking about the reader, think about shortening it. One thing as I’ve started to lean into copywriting again, I see mistakes everywhere.
Jessica Holmes 30:30
Jillian Leslie 30:30
I want to take out my red pen, and get stuff out, like edit the crap out of stuff that I see other people doing. Oh, and by the way, these are brands, these are brands. It’s not like I’m doing this against blogs or anything.
Jessica Holmes 30:45
I notice it everywhere.
Jillian Leslie 30:48
You do. You’re like, “Isn’t there an easier way to say this?” Or whoa, here’s the other thing I think people forget. Most of us are consuming content on our phones. We are writing it on our laptops. And when you are consuming stuff on your phone, if I can’t scroll through and get the gist, you lost me.
Jillian Leslie 30:50
If I have to ask to read your stuff. Who has time for that?
Jessica Holmes 31:18
That’s exactly right.
Blog Post Tip 5: Write for the Skimmer
Jillian Leslie 31:19
I now have become a gist reader.
Jessica Holmes 31:25
And that’s how you use headings. That’s how you use our bullet point’s list. And that’s why it’s really important when you’re proofreading your work to proofread it on a different device. So like you said, you might write it on your laptop or your desktop.
Jessica Holmes 31:40
And it’s a great idea to proofread it on your phone, or someone else to proofread it on a different device. Because it does looks differently. The lines are different. It’s a great way to like refresh and really see those mistakes. Actually, you know, where I see a lot of mistakes is menus at restaurants.
Jillian Leslie 31:55
Oh, yes, yes.
Jessica Holmes 31:57
Jillian Leslie 31:57
What do you see?
Jessica Holmes 31:58
You want to go to the waiter and say spelling mistakes. And I think why doesn’t anyone tell them.
Jillian Leslie 32:09
Oh, that’s so funny. That is so funny. I would say too and again, I work with a lot of women. And there’s certain things I see which is we overwrite, we over explain, and we over apologize. So, there are so many words that we can just cut out and make things more direct, clearer.
Blog Post Tip 6: Don’t Overwrite
Jillian Leslie 32:34
Instead of the kind of like, hey, I find this with selling. So instead of somebody, let’s say at the top of their email going, “Hey, guys, here’s what I’m doing. And I think this is really cool. And I think this would really benefit you.”
Jillian Leslie 32:47
They’re kind of like, let’s get down to the bottom of the email or the bottom of the blog post and be like, hey.
Jessica Holmes 32:50
By the way.
Jillian Leslie 32:52
By the way. Here’s this little thing that I’m offering and you can buy it but like no pressure, because who am I to ask for this sale. And we just diminished, diminished, diminished, but we diminished too by overwriting.
Jessica Holmes 33:15
Jillian Leslie 33:16
Jessica Holmes 33:16
I absolutely agree. Yes, that’s right.
Jillian Leslie 33:19
So, I go through ruthlessly and will look at all the buts. Look at all the so’s, look at all the filler words and just start cutting them down. And I will read let’s say those sales pages from these experts.
Jillian Leslie 33:33
And I literally want to take out my red pen and go, “Are you kidding me? I’m supposed to read all this copy.” This is so overwritten. So, I have really worked on cutting down my words. Just to be super clear.
Jillian Leslie 33:48
Now let’s talk about though, how to inspire somebody to take action with our words. And do you have any thoughts about that?
Blog Post Tip 7: Get People to Take Action
Jessica Holmes 34:04
Yes. I think it’s like what you were just saying before with the email example. Sometimes I feel like there’s no reason to overthink it. You can just be short and sweet. And you can be honest, and people don’t have to take you up on it. It’s just encouraging.
Jessica Holmes 34:29
For me, obviously it’s always trying to encourage people to click over and read my recipe and make it. So, I guess I just try to use my words to encourage people to make it and to make it fun and yeah, I don’t really know.
Jillian Leslie 34:49
Because I would say that when it comes to selling we were talking about even like what text on a button, is it buy now, get the recipe, is it change your life. What is it to inspire somebody to do that?
Jillian Leslie 35:08
And one thing that I would say that’s super easy if you’re selling something, or if you want somebody to take action, whether it be in a blog post, whether it be an email, say it multiple times, ask at the top, maybe in the middle.
Jillian Leslie 35:23
And you can ask different ways, or you can direct people in different ways. But don’t be afraid to go, “Hey.” It’s this idea, again, of getting out of my own movie as a star of my own movie, but it’s like, if I know that if you make this recipe, you’re going to be happy.
Jillian Leslie 35:41
To go, do it now. Here it is, click here or whatever, and then say it again, this will change your life, or your mother-in-law is going to love you for that.
Jessica Holmes 35:52
Yeah, that’s right. And I think it’s also making sure you have one clear purpose for whatever you’re doing. Like you said, if it’s you are writing email that it’s the main call-to-action is that one is like go through to the recipe.
Blog Post Tip 8: Have One CTA
Jessica Holmes 36:07
People do get overwhelmed and confused. So, keeping it simple having that one thing that you want them to do, and like you said, directing them there in a clear way is definitely the best way.
Jillian Leslie 36:21
Because these are just things that I’ve been picking up. That if there’s an action you want people to take that you think will benefit them, you have every obligation to get them to do it.
Jessica Holmes 36:35
Jillian Leslie 36:40
Exactly. So, those are just some of the things that as I have been leaning into copywriting, I noticed that I will edit the crap out of my own stuff. Because I fall for all like, hey, don’t think I don’t do that, like, well.
Jessica Holmes 36:55
Oh, absolutely, we all do it.
Jillian Leslie 36:57
So, I have to go over and edit, edit, edit. I have to take out all the filler words I have to do like you were saying, think about my goal. And I would say what is the goal of this blog post.
Blog Post Tip 9: Think Like a Content Marketer
Jillian Leslie 37:14
While you are a content creator, you are also a content marketer, which is there’s a goal, there should be a goal in the post, and maybe it is like do this, make this recipe and it might be also get on my list. Make sure there is something.
Jessica Holmes 37:34
Or share it.
Jillian Leslie 37:35
Or share it or talk about this or the comment that there needs to be like a medical that you thought of, even before you start writing or at least during that process, so that everything again is aligning.
Jillian Leslie 37:51
One thing that I have also noticed in my own development is I used to think that if I created like a choose your own adventure, that was the best. And then I’ve realized nobody wants to choose your own adventure.
Jessica Holmes 38:05
That’s so true. It’s too much, too confusing for people.
Jillian Leslie 38:09
It’s too much choice.
Jessica Holmes 38:10
Too much choice people get lost along the journey. You have to keep it. It’s like what we were saying for short and sweet. You got to keep it really clear, direct people to that one thing, like you said that you want to do.
Jessica Holmes 38:22
And if you wanted them to do multiple things, then you might have to set up different things like different email lists or things like that. You’ve got to keep people on that straight and narrow.
Jillian Leslie 38:36
Definitely. If you were to give one piece of advice to a food blogger who is just starting out, what would it be?
Jessica Holmes 38:49
Just starting out.
Jillian Leslie 38:50
Yes. Like something that took you a while to learn that you went, “Oh, I should have done that.”
Overall Blogging Tip: Learn SEO Early
Jessica Holmes 38:57
SEO, I think is a big one. And I think the quicker you can learn that and really understand it not just learn the principles, but really understand the why probably the better your business will be and the faster it will grow.
Jillian Leslie 39:16
And how did you learn SEO? What did you do?
Jessica Holmes 39:21
I learned the core principles of it in my day job. When it came to the blog, I did understand what SEO was because I was doing SEO copywriting but I didn’t understand the why for quite a long time.
Jessica Holmes 39:37
I could follow the rules, like we’ve talked about before, but I didn’t understand that ultimately, the rules are there to provide some kind of structure and form but really, it’s for the reader behind it. And it’s trying to put your content in a way that’s best for them and that’s easy for them to read and that shows your expertise.
Jessica Holmes 40:00
A lot of those words, you go on Google wants you to show expertise, that’s easy to hear that but not really understand what does that actually means behind that. And how can I actually show my expertise in a blog post on what even is my expertise.
Jessica Holmes 40:01
There’s like a whole thing down there that you really do need to go through as a business and ask yourself those questions and understand.
Jillian Leslie 40:32
What is your expertise? And how do you show it?
Jessica Holmes 40:36
Well, that’s something that you would need to discover for your own business, obviously, for me, it’s baking. So, I say that would be my expertise. But it goes narrower than that. We were mentioning before, for me, it’s really going for the home maker, and it’s really going for the amateur baker that’s who I’m really targeting.
Jessica Holmes 40:59
So, that’s where I can shine. I’m not a pastry chef. I’m not doing complicated recipes, I’m doing recipes for the average person at home, and I want to set them up for success. And I’m going to use my knowledge. And then the way I can give that knowledge and teach someone to be an expert themselves.
Jessica Holmes 41:25
It’s how you take that knowledge, and then how you trade it and how you share it with someone. And that can take a while to find and often when you’re starting a blog, people often can change genres, they can change names and what they’re doing.
Jessica Holmes 41:30
And it’s the same thing as your writing style. The same thing as your photography style, sometimes these things just take time.
Jessica Holmes 41:38
The quicker that you can figure that out and stick to it and find something that sits well with you sits well with your audience, you can find an audience that responds to that, the better and the faster your business is going to grow.
Overall Blogging Tip: Get a Mentor
Jessica Holmes 42:02
In saying that another tip that I would have for beginner bloggers would be actually to get like a mentor, or to join groups with other bloggers and learn from other people who are actually in this industry. Because it’s a funny little world.
Jillian Leslie 42:17
It is a funny world.
Jessica Holmes 42:21
And there’s lots of little cliques. And there’s lots of little things, and there’s a bit of insight and knowledge. That’s something that you can look around forums or websites and things like that, but sometimes just getting that firsthand knowledge from people that are doing this and have built something and have that experience will probably be like goal to someone who’s new.
Jillian Leslie 42:45
And would you say, get into some Facebook groups and listen to what people are saying?
Jessica Holmes 42:51
Yes, absolutely. And if you can even take it offline, I’ve struggled with this to find people who actually live in my own city, but for some people, they live in a place where they can find people who live in their own city or something.
Jessica Holmes 43:07
And you can connect with bloggers or meet up with other kinds of entrepreneurs and things like that. That is just brilliant.
Jillian Leslie 43:18
Yes, it’s so funny. I did a podcast yesterday. And I asked the same question. And it was in a totally different niche, a guy who teaches Facebook ads. And he said the same thing, why he’s been successful is because he surrounded himself with a group of entrepreneurs who were doing the same thing.
Jillian Leslie 43:35
And they could share best practices and they could share each other’s audiences and they could do all of this stuff and that it really accelerated his growth. So, I think that’s so interesting you said the same thing.
Jessica Holmes 43:46
It’s quite a lonely business and if you don’t necessarily have colleagues and things like that, so it’s a great way to just even enjoy what you do and create more of like a friendship or co-workers and people that you can work alongside.
Jessica Holmes 44:09
It’s wonderful and will bring another element to your business and make you feel less isolated, I think.
Jillian Leslie 44:15
Totally. Alright, Jessica, if people want to reach out to you see what you’re doing, check out your blog. What is the best way?
Jessica Holmes 44:25
Yes, please come find me over at sweetestmenu.com. So, you’ll find all my recipes. And then come hang out with me on Instagram @sweetestmenu. I’m usually over there every day and love to hang out. Send me a message. I answer everyone. And yeah, I’d love to chat.
Jillian Leslie 44:42
Awesome. Okay, before you go, one more question. favorite desserts.
Jessica Holmes 44:48
Oh, no. That’s so hard. My goodness, but I miss cooking person so I don’t even know if they really necessarily dessert but I will take cookie any day over almost anything. So, I would put just a classic chocolate chip cookie in there.
Jessica Holmes 45:20
I do love a good croissant, which I cannot make and have never attempted to make but I love going to the best bakeries in town and getting good croissant and what else would I put in there? I do love a good brownie.
Jessica Holmes 45:41
But then if I’m going after dessert or something, it would be something special like a like a panic hotter or chocolate lava cake, or I don’t know just anything like super special and indulgent cheat Tuesday. I kind of cheating. Look, a terrible question.
Jillian Leslie 46:02
I just have to say this has been so fun. And I love talking to you. And I want to say thank you so much for coming on the show.
Jessica Holmes 46:09
No, thanks for having me. I had a wonderful time.
Jillian Leslie 46:12
I hope you guys liked this episode for me what resonated was how much respect Jessica has for her audience how protective she is of her brand. And I like that she’s willing to create recipes that don’t just follow the formula like where she’ll do it without doing keyword research.
Jillian Leslie 46:34
And you know what she’s been really successful. So, before I go first please come to my new workshop where I’m going to show you how to build your digital product empire. Head to empire.milotreecart.com.
Jillian Leslie 46:50
Also, we are going to be offering MiloTreeCart a lifetime deal at a very special price. So, you might not want to miss this. Again, empire.milotreecart.com and I will see you here again next week.
Other Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes You’ll Like:
- Boost Your Blog Traffic by Building Your Authority with Christine Pittman
- She Tripled Her Blog in Less Than 3 Months Doing This… with Anina Belle Giannini
- How to Build a New Income Stream Fast and Easy with Cristy Harfman
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