Blogging and audience development tips from Judy Doherty of FoodAndHealth.com
Judy Doherty has been in the food service industry since she was 15. By the time she was 18, Judy was accepted into the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She graduated second in her class with scholastic honors.
Doherty attended the Fachschule Richemont in Lucerne, Switzerland, where she studied pastry arts and baking. She has received many awards including the prestigious American Culinary Federation Gold Medal and Bronze Medals, Chef of the Year and finalist for the U.S. World Pastry Cup Team.
There’s no shortage of new subscribers for FoodAndHealth.com. After a recent website redesign, sales are up 100% and so is membership. The blog notes are included in updates to clients, the monthly members’ email newsletter, the subscriber list and listservs. Links to the blog are also posted on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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Mequoda – Has your blog enhanced your professional reputation? How?
JD – It has given us one more way to reach customers and to drive traffic to our site. It gives us an informative way to present more information about what we do in regards to products that we are developing. It’s a way to promote them but also to generate buzz and gain ideas. It’s more of a live medium than a piece of paper!
Mequoda – How often do you post a new blog?
JD – 1 to 7 times per week.
Mequoda – Who is your target audience?
JD – Nutrition education professionals including dietitians, teachers, diabetes care professionals, spas and gyms, weight loss centers, WIC centers, doctors and other health care professionals. We are here for anyone who may need need up-to-the minute wellness information and materials like recipes or food photos for their website, book, magazine, even recipe nutritional analysis for restaurants, food manufacturing or books.
Mequoda – What are you doing to grow your audience and create customer loyalty?
JD – We are communicating through multiple channels, providing EXCELLENT customer service and innovative materials. We do direct mail and massive email campaigns and are still building an SEO/marketing biased site.
Usually, when we have a few good posts that we know will interest people, we send a link to every contact we have. A good example would be the Portion Control post.
We posted it and then told all of our customers. Plus, we created a more specialized report and handout set for our paid members that got posted at the same time. They can see that their payment for editorial is worth it because they get a lot more (we are in the midst of a digital conversion from a print newsletter so we felt this is important – to put something new in the blog but to show that paid members get even more at the same time). We also promoted a few products in the portion control post.
We use our blog posts to generate buzz, build relationships, promote new products, gather ideas, and to increase traffic.
Mequoda – How are you using social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin) to promote your blog? Has that changed the way you blog?
JD – I like to call it the domino effect. Make a blog post and it gets put into Twitter and Linkedin. Write a tweet – it gets put into the sidebar of the blog as a live update.
Mequoda – Approximately what percentage of your overall revenue comes from product sales vs. advertising, sponsorships or other sources?
JD – 100% product sales.
Mequoda – What key metrics do you monitor to analyze the health of your business?
JD – Contactology, google analytics, and online sales volume.
Mequoda – How many sites have you linked to in the last 30 days?
JD – Not many. We currently have a campaign that features MyPyramid.gov.
Mequoda – What changes have you seen in your market since you began blogging?
JD – The market is more competitive – but we can now go much farther in our reach.
Mequoda – Any interesting experience you’d like to share?
JD – We were asked to be on the Corporate Alliance for MyPyramid and instead of just running a press release, we made a fun blog post with a poll, asking for comments and posted that everywhere. The response was very good.
Mequoda – What advice would you give a new blogger?
JD – Be innovative, be patient, be targeted, and have a plan.
Mequoda – What ways are you planning to expand over the next year?
JD – We just switched to a new webhost with a new shopping cart and the blog is FLYING now with hits because we have added video. We will work on more efforts for better SEO and transform product pages into landing pages that are direct marketing minded. They will include multiple calls for action, more 100% guarantee, more testimonials and more benefits. I have a lot of good direct mail tips and printouts from the gurus of SIPA!
Also, we are going to expand our product line AND we’re going to add a consumer product line in addition to being B2B.
Mequoda – Is there anything you’d like to share?
JD – I do have a shopping cart story – we worked so hard for 2 months and boy did we learn a lot about PCI compliance, shopping carts, improving the online experience, working with India outsources, etc. But boy is it paying off – we are gangbusters – and our membership is INCREASING. Our shopping cart company loved our site so much we are their featured client of the month. All good stuff!!
Thanks for asking me to participate! I would love to hear your thoughts and learn more!
Judy Doherty, Publisher
Food and Health Communications
If you’d like to learn more about the science of nutrition, check out FoodAndHealth.com.