Our main goal here at Simple Pin is to take the Pinterest piece off of our clients’ plates so that they can focus on creating more awesome content for their target audience. In today’s episode I am talking to Melissa from Bless This Mess who has been a client of ours for the past 18 months. I asked Melissa to come on the podcast to discuss her long-term results on Pinterest. Melissa’s blog serves as the perfect example of the slow burn that is Pinterest.
Long-Term Results on Pinterest: Melissa’s Story
Love of Food and Family
Melissa started her blog like so many people do – sharing recipes that people had asked her for at parties and family gatherings. But in 2012, after realizing that women were actually making a living blogging about food, Melissa bought a website domain that wasn’t part of her family blog and she started a real food blog.
She wanted her site to be a place where busy moms could come to get the answer to the question, “What’s for dinner?” The site has evolved a bit over the past 5 years since she began. A love of family (she has 5 kids of her very own) combined with her love of food and all things dinnertime are what motivates Melissa to continue to provide “kid-approved” meals made from real ingredients. Her mission is to help moms avoid the drive-thru.
Why the Numbers Matter
Here at Simple Pin, we don’t focus too much on the number of Pinterest followers a client has simply because that number doesn’t always mean more pageviews or more income. But for the record, in the 18 months that Melissa has been with us, she has gone from 23,000 followers to 55,000.
The great thing about follower numbers though is that they provide a form of social proof that can get you in front of more brands and bring greater opportunities for your business.
When looking at Melissa’s actual blog traffic, the real story is told. When she began with us, Melissa was averaging 125,000 pageviews from Pinterest per month. She has now crossed over the 200,000 mark.
Focusing on Your Target Audience
When I met Melissa in person this past year at the Indulge Conference, she told me about a chocolate cake that she makes for her family every single week, but she doesn’t have the recipe on the blog because it doesn’t speak to her target audience. That really blew me away that she knew her market so well that she was holding back a recipe that her family loves that much.
Melissa is quick to say that she is healthier on her blog than she is in real life. To clarify, her blog is less about being a mirror of her own life than it is a tool to help other women who are likeminded, but not her. Her target audience is busy moms who love whole foods. They respond more to quick and easy, healthy dinners than they do to desserts. So what she cooks for her family isn’t necessarily what she shares on her blog.
The way she accomplishes this is by having designated kitchen workdays. She doesn’t ever make a meal for her own family, take pictures of it, and then serve it. She just can’t make that happen. What she does on her kitchen workdays is make 5-6 main dishes and then immediately take the photos of those meals. Her family is happy to eat off of the leftovers, or she may even give some food away, but it doesn’t coincide with family mealtimes.
Redesigning Her Site
One of the big changes that Melissa has made recently is a complete redesign of her site. She wanted a more streamlined design so that visitors could see exactly what they needed as soon as they clicked over. She admits though to the change being difficult. Switching from the traditional blog design where everything is in chronological order felt scary. But she knew that she had hundreds of posts and recipes that nobody ever saw anymore.
A few of the highlights of the Bless This Mess Please site redesign (which you simply have to go see for yourself) include:
- a Dinner Tonight section, where she offers three recipes that compliment each other to create a total meal
- a Trending Now section, which is populated by her social sharing plugin
- the Latest Posts section, which includes her three most recent posts
Single Image Pins vs. Collage Pins
When it comes to blog photography, Melissa gave herself permission to do one simple thing – remember that she is not shooting for Country Living magazine. She is shooting for her blog, and while she would love to be in Country Living and while her readers definitely appreciate quality photos, she only needs three to four good shots of a recipe. She doesn’t have to spend hours taking shot after shot after shot, looking for the perfect one.
Another thing that Melissa does differently than many food bloggers is that she rarely uses collages. She has many posts that have more than one recipe in them and her pin for those posts is one photo with all of the recipes in it. She wants to convey to the Pinterest follower that with one click to her blog they will get all of the recipes in the photo without having to click all around her site (check out this post to see how this works).
Growing Her Email List
With all the growth that Melissa has seen in her Pinterest followers and her site pageviews, I was curious as to how much her email list has grown.
And in the four months immediately preceding this podcast recording, her list has grown 100%, up by 7,000 new subscribers. She does not send out an RSS feed of her blog posts, so the emails she sends are personally written by her for her list. She emails her list twice a month, and she does sell products via her email list.
One of those is an ebook called 10 Healthy Dinners from Costco for Less Than $100. This ebook is actually for sale now, but Melissa is going to do a real launch during the back-to-school season.
One of the ways that Melissa has used Pinterest marketing to grow an email list is by creating some special opt-in incentives. She went through her top 20 most popular posts on the blog and created opt-ins for them based on the content–things like grocery lists, meal plan calendars, etc. These opt-ins are spread throughout the posts. They help her email list to grow and they also served to increase her email open rate, which currently is at 30%.
Sticking With It for the Long Haul
I said in the beginning that Melissa has been a client at Simple Pin for the past 18 months. So what is it that keeps her plugging away, even when her growth was slow?
She freely admits to knowing exactly where the bloggers who started at the same time she did are now in terms of numbers, followers, etc. And she also says that comparison has stolen her joy more than she would like to admit. It’s easy to question why you aren’t experiencing the same amount of growth that others are.
Melissa compares growing this business to motherhood; she has been in a building and growing stage for a while now, so that when her traffic did start to increase, she was ready for it. She has been refining her process for her blog for long enough that she knew where she was headed and how she wanted things to be before it got ahead of her.
Continuing to learn new things, refining her goals, and narrowing her avatar have been most beneficial for her growth and being able to stay in it for the long-term. She isn’t interested in having one post go viral and then die. She wants steadiness and stability. The biggest piece of that has been figuring out who her audience is and then catering to them. It has helped her to be more successful, both on social media and on the blog.
How to Make it Through the Slow Times
A word to the wise when it comes to long-term results on Pinterest: if you are in a building phase with your blog and you feel like throwing in the towel sometimes, Melissa has a word of encouragement for you-
Figure out what brings you joy and hang on to that. If you are planning to make a career out of your blog, you need to love what you’re doing. Figure out how you can combine what you love with your target audience and mesh them together.
Connect with Melissa-
2:20 Love of Food and Family
5:30 Why the Numbers Matter
6:45 Focusing on Her Target Audience
9:45 Redesigning Her Site
14:50 Single Image Pins vs. Collage Pins
20:20 Growing an Email List
24:30 Sticking with It for the Long Haul
28:25 How to Make It Through the Slow Times
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