Stupid Easy Paleo just turned four, and to give back to the blogging community, I’m sharing some wisdom with 7 Ways to Get Noticed Online.
How do I best sum up four years of work into a concise post? How do I crystallize the lessons learned, the progress, the struggle, the uncertainty of the future, the pride in creating a resource for others?
Answer: With much difficulty, and it’d be a bit self-indulgent to sit here and tick off everything I’ve managed to do in the last 1460 days. (If you do want to know the Stupid Easy Paleo origin story, skip down to the end of the post.) I’ve decided, instead, to share some advice with all the aspiring bloggers out there.
See, blogging today ain’t what it was when I first logged into a strange land called WordPress back in 2009. (I realize how much that sounds like something from the, “Get off my lawn!” files.)
Nowadays, there are more people online than ever. Social platforms spring up daily. We’ve never been more connected. (Ironically, we’ve never felt more disconnected and alone, but that’s another story. Read The Village Effect for more on that.) Internet marketers constantly proclaim the virtually unlimited earning potential to be had online.
It’s exciting for sure, but it’s also enough to give some people a panic attack before they’ve even begun, setting them on a race to get noticed amongst the crowd.
The tl;dr version: Work hard, be a good person, and give more than you take.
If you’re just starting out, and you want my best lessons for getting noticed, here they are in no particular order…
Be for someone, not for everyone.
Fact: You can’t get everyone to like you. It’s an impossibility on par with the odds that I’ll ever win The Voice.
A while back, I heard my friend Bushra put it like this, “If I go to your About page, I need to know if you’re for me or for the world.” Or something like that. If you’re doing marketing online, do yourself a favor and go follow her.
Her point is that by vanilla-izing yourself to the degree that you don’t project what’s unique about you and who you’re best equipped to serve, you succeed in helping nobody.
Really. Who are you? What lights you up? What are the experiences, struggles, and triumphs that make you you?
If you spend your time trying to please everyone, you eventually lose the essence of who you are. And that leads to burn out, disenfranchisement, and drifting without a purpose.
Don’t work for free.
This is bound to make some people squirm and protest.
(In our house, we like to quote Shakespeare’s, “The lady doth protest too much,” when that happens.)
I’m 100% guilty of working for free in the past, giving away my time, intellectual property (IP) and effort in order to “get my name out there.” This behavior devalues our writing, recipe development, and photography and makes it harder for bloggers to demand fair compensation for our work.
When I’ve inquired about payment for IP use in the past, it hasn’t been uncommon for the requesting party to comment, “Well, there are tons of others who’ll do it for free.”
Just because you offer free, high-quality content to your readers doesn’t mean that you should do that for companies with advertising budgets or products to sell. There are certainly ways to trade your work, barter, etc. but when you’re giving your IP to someone for their paid program or ebook, think about the message you’re sending.
Realize the hustle mentality is bullsh*t.
If I had a dollar for every bloggerpreneur proselytizing about hustle.
Hustle connotes pushing, shoving, pressuring, forcing, rushing, and prodding.
Look, you’ve got to work hard and be consistent if you want to make it as a blogger. Sitting in your mom’s basement playing Call of Duty all day, eating Pop Tarts and writing a blog post once a month isn’t going to cut it. We all know that.
But holy mackerel, I know so. many. entrepreneurs and bloggers who’ve ruined their own health in the pursuit of hustle. Take care of you. Nobody else is going to. If you can’t show up with a clear mind, and a rested, strong, healthy body, how are you going to be the conductor to orchestrate this wonderful business of yours? Make it sound like Vivaldi, not a bunch of cats walking across piano keys.
Work hard? Yes. Have drive and motivation? Duh. Hustle? Be careful.
Related to that is the oak tree. With the right nurturing environment of mineral-rich soil, rain, and gentle sun it sprouts from an acorn. From seedling to sapling to mighty tree, it perseveres through lean times and fat times. (A check of the rings will tell you.) And yet, it still stands.
In contrast, the weed springs up almost overnight. Its paced is hurried. Frenzied. It soon goes to seed and then, it dies.
What the heck does this have to do with blogging?
Be the acorn. Do good work. Make mistakes and learn from them. Grow slowly and mature. You’ll end up strong. Viral blog posts and Oprah moments can happen, but they’re much less reliable than sun and rain and good soil.
Stop caring about what everyone else is doing.
I’ve wasted way too much precious time thinking about what everyone else around me is up to. I’m not saying that staying up to date on current trends, etc isn’t useful. But when you realize you’ve spent the last 2 hours tumbled down a Facebook mastermind group / rabbit hole, it’s time to step away.
I definitely have artists, photographers, authors, and marketers that I admire. People that I follow and learn from. The magic, though, is taking the lessons you learn from them and applying those nuggets to your own work.
Develop your own style. Use your own voice. If you do, you’ll never be wrong.
Comparing your progress to everyone else is also a waste of time. You’re on your own path, blazing your own trail amidst a cocktail of circumstances that literally does not exist for anyone else. Nobody has your experiences, your challenges, your ideas and your ambition.
When you compare yourself to online marketers proclaiming their latest 6-figure launch, remember you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. You don’t always know how long they struggled, what they failed at first, how big their team is, and so on.
As Teddy Roosevelt famously proclaimed, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
What do I do when I feel the tug of comparison? I go create something.
If you deal in food, learn to take great photos.
My first camera was a Canon Elph Powershot SD1000. I still have it.
Admittedly, my early photos sucked really badly because I didn’t even know how to use my little point and shoot. If I’d have taken the time to customize even a few of the settings, I would’ve been much better off.
Food blogging in 2015 isn’t what it was in 2009 or even 2011 for that matter. It’s highly competitive, with some bloggers turning out massively successful cookbooks and professional-quality blog photography. I don’t say that to dissuade you, but just know that if you want to stand out and you blog about food, make your photography drool-worthy.
It took me a while to spring for my first DSLR camera, and I wish I’d done it sooner. Every recipe gives me another opportunity to improve, and I learn something every time I shoot.
If you’re looking for some great resources, I have a free four-part series about food photography here on the blog. My other favorites are Creative Live’s courses called The Photography Starter Kit and Story on a Plate. For ebooks, check out Eat Pretty Things by my friend Trisha Hughes.
Help people. Offer solutions to their problems.
By giving more than you take, you’ll solidify yourself as someone with integrity.
So often, new bloggers race to offer their first paid product without establishing a readership. How do people know they can trust you? How are you building loyalty?
You’ve probably heard it before, but create a robust resource for people with your site. Give blog posts, recipes, how-to guides, resource lists, and so on—for free—before you ever ask for a dime from anyone.
Stand by your word, do right by people, and be there for them. Chase excellence instead of dollars and you’ll be rewarded.
Build authentic ties.
Networking. It’s important if you want to expand your reach or get on the radar of an influencer in your niche.
But just like everything, there’s a good and a bad way of going about it.
Let’s talk about the bad: Spamming someone’s social media with your links, copying their blog content onto yours and linking in hopes of getting a shout out or mention, or showing up out of the blue asking for a promotion. I get it: The worst someone can say is no, but if you really want to build the kinds of relationships that matter and will go far, don’t do the things I just mentioned.
Some of my best blogging pals turned real life friends are people I greatly admired—dare I say, fangirl’d over—when I first went paleo. It wasn’t magic. Rather, it was the result of being authentic and real.
Now, let’s cover the good: Genuinely have interest and interact with people on their social media. Engage in real conversation. Show up over time. Develop a rapport. If you have something that could help them, offer it freely and with no expectations.
To Sum It Up…
Have quality and integrity in what you do; it’ll help you stand the test of time instead of being a flash in the pan. It’s better to be the Pantheon than the Las Vegas Strip.
You’ll get noticed for the things that matter most.
As Rafe Esquith, award-winning inner city LA educator so simply puts it, “Work hard. Be nice.”
The Stupid Easy Paleo Origin Story
I suppose it makes sense to take you back to the beginning and fill you in on why I started this blog in the first place. “Going paleo” in January 2010 after friends of mine decide to do the same was the initial catalyst. Sprinkle in my love of cooking and desire to share recipes with friends, and when someone off-handedly remarked, “You should start a food blog,” I did.
Believe it or not, I’d already been blogging since 2009—mostly about my adventures in mountain bike racing—so it seemed logical enough to start posting recipes instead of ride reports.
So what’s changed since the first recipe I posted back in 2011? (If you want to see what it was, click here.) A ton.
Stupid Easy Paleo morphed from a hobby blog into a full-time business back in 2013 when I left my 12-year career as a high school science teacher. It was scary as hell to leave something secure for the unknown, but I’d reached the point where I couldn’t sink more time into growing the site plus working full-time and devoting 5 days a week to training.
Over the last two years, Stupid Easy Paleo has grown with your incredible support: I’ve written a couple best-selling books (Performance Paleo Cookbook and The Paleo Athlete); launched Healthy Happy Harder to Kill—a unique program for helping people develop sustainable nutrition and fitness habits; started a chart-topping podcast called Harder to Kill Radio; and spoken at conferences and seminars all over the world. It’s been quite the ride.
Here on the website, I’ve been a smidge busy, too…
In the last four years, Stupid Easy Paleo has accumulated:
- A few hundred recipes…I lost count after 325!
- A total of 504 blog posts
- 15,625 comments
- 1,223,256 spam comments (that’s only going back 2 years!)
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