When Julie (of Julie’s Eats and Treats) moved to a small town after graduating (and working) with a degree in hotel and restaurant management, she thought that her days of working with food were done. Little did she know that a small food blog that she started on a whim would become her successful career.
She started a blog for the same reason that many others have started blogs. She was great at cooking and her friends and family thought it would be wonderful if she could share her recipes with others in a bigger way. So in 2010, Julie’s Eats and Treats, a recipe site geared toward busy moms trying to get dinner on the table quickly, was born.
It didn’t really take off, however, until she started to get serious. With no posting schedule and low-quality pictures snapped in the dark with artificial light at first, beginning work on the blog was a learning process. She quickly realized that it would take more to become successful.
In the last few years, I started realizing what my blog could do and where it could take me and just kind of embraced it and went from there.
She started Googling everything from how to take quality pictures to what kinds of tactics she’d need to employ in order to grow her blog. And slowly but surely, her little food blog took off.
Two (or More) Heads Are Better Than One
Julie realized pretty quickly that giveaways would be a big help in growing her social media outlets and making her blog more successful in the long run. These days, she says she runs giveaways fairly regularly – sometimes on her own and sometimes with a company or a group of bloggers. But she says she sees the most success when she teams up with others:
They [giveaways] work best if you have a couple of different partners in them – like a brand or different bloggers – because their readers find you and your readers find them and it really benefits you both. [That’s really when you gain the most.] Otherwise, it’s more or less just the same readers following you.
Julie says companies (like Golden Plump, with whom she’s teaming up in June) usually seek her out to run joint giveaways. They’ll give away anything from Amazon gift cards to iPads to KitchenAid Stand Mixers – all of which seem to be highly coveted by giveaway entrants. Julie herself tells us that she’d die without her own KitchenAid Stand Mixer.
When she creates an entry form for a group giveaway, she usually tries to focus on growing her 4 main social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Growing her social media following was her main goal when she got serious about running giveaways two years ago. She also quickly realized that Pinterest was the main area where readers seemed to connect with her most. In fact, three quarters of her traffic comes from Pinterest.
The Importance of Great Photography
There’s a reason why most of Julie’s traffic comes from Pinterest. When it comes to recipes (and really anything these days) people are super visual. They’re on Pinterest to see great images. That’s what draws them in. When we asked Julie about the importance of photography, she said:
It’s huge. People are so visual. And blogs are visually driven. If your picture looks like horrible slop, people are not going to click on your recipe.
Whether she’s posting an image on Facebook, on her blog, or on an actual entry form, she knows that the photo needs to be of the highest quality or it’s not going to connect with her audience. A good image has the ultimate power to draw people into content (and giveaways) that might otherwise be ignored.
When Julie started getting serious with her blog, she upgraded her camera to a Rebel and Googled all that she could about taking great pictures and cropping them in aesthetically pleasing ways. Her best tip for taking great pictures? “Natural light is your friend,” she says.
We were thrilled to hear what Julie had to say about using PromoSimple:
I just like how easy it is – it’s just easy to do anything. I don’t have to think – you have all the options laid out. Pinterest is here and you just insert a link. I don’t have a ton of time to spend on setting up giveaways, and with fill in the blanks approach, anyone can use it.
She told us that she used to use a competitor, but once she switched to PromoSimple, she never looked back.
“[Not only is it] easy to use; the customer service is second to none. I know I can email them and they’ll get right back to me.”