I’m a big believer of the power of podcast, it’s selective learning. Why let others dictate the information you hear on the radio when you can control the exact content you want to listen to or educate yourself on a topic of your interest. I normally listen to podcasts while others listen to the radio — driving, cleaning the house, or anytime that I’m working with my hands. I think podcasts are going to be big in the upcoming years — iTunes recently surpassed 1 billion podcast subscriptions. Being that I’ve always wanted to do a podcast (and while I’m on this journey of starting up a business) I figured why not just do it. Here’s how I did it. Read more »
Back in January, I wrote an article asking readers to vote on the next salad dressing we make. One called Greek, Crack, or a Strawberry Vinaigrette and the winner will be at the farmers market to taste and to purchase (here is the article). Almost 50% of the votes where for the Strawberry Vinaigrette, so I got to work the next few days to make the perfect batch. Once I had a batch that I was comfortable with I pitched it to my top 3 selling grocery stores, asking them to pre-order 35 cases (12 bottles per case) to help me bring this to market. I only needed two of the three stores to make my projected batch of 150 cases, without hesitation from the store managers… I got all three. Read more »
I believe everyone has a good blog in them. There’s always going to be something new to learn or a challenge to face that others can learn from your story, your experience. It’s up to you to share your knowledge with the world.
By the time you finish reading this you will have everything you need to get your own blog up and running in 1 hour.
Let’s do it.
Step 1: What’s your theme?
I’m not talking theme as in your blog’s look & feel, I’m talking about the topic theme like: The Grammar Girl, Bite & Booze, Baton Rouge Mommy, Peppa Pig’s Oink — and so on, all of these blogs have a theme that they base their content around. Another way to find your theme is to find your true passion — here’s an article I wrote to help you find it. Once you know what you’re truly passionate about, you can easily zero in on your theme.
Get the domain
Once you have that theme, get a domain ($12/year). These are getting harder to get every year. 90,000 domains were registered in 2011 alone (21 million total), and most of the time they’re bought by someone squatting on the domain to sell it for more.
If you’re reading this before 1/1/13, you’re in luck — GoDaddy has a promotion for .99¢ domains. Go get yours now.
Step 2: Setup your blog
When creating a blog, there are several types of platforms out there and available. WordPress is one of the best options out there being that it’s an open source platform. Which means there are hundreds of thousands of beautiful themes and cool plug-ins to make your blog match your style. Plus, search engines love content on WordPress and it’s easy to use.
I recommending getting a hosting server ($4/month) with 1-click installation of WordPress like HostGator or GoDaddy , which will take you through a step-by-step guide. Just remember to write down all your names and passwords as you will need them in the future. Both of these companies have great 24/7 support teams you can call if you need any help with setting it up. Here’s a quick 4 minute video of WordPress and what it does:
Once you’ve setup your hosting server with WordPress, you can change the default theme (look & feel) to something that fits your style. I recommend getting something really simple to get started for now, you can easily change it later. I used ThemeForest, they have a great selection of professionally designed themes ranging from $0 – $45. Remember, you get what you pay for and $45 is pretty cheap for what they offer.
Step 3: Write something that matters
The third and single-most important step is to have killer content. Take your time writing your story, it’s a scary thing to put your own personal stories out on the web, I know. But it’s a rewarding thing to hear that you helped someone learn from your experiences.
Have a voice
When writing, try to imagine you’re talking to a good friend or family member after a few glasses of wine. How would you give that person step-by-step instructions to completing a challenge you’ve already done? What tips, contacts, or information could you leave them with? If you’re pissing people off, you have a good voice :)
Keep it green
Think about how relevant the information you’re putting out on the web. Try to write as much evergreen content as possible, meaning that it could be useful in the next 5-to-10 years from now. Example: “How to tie a shoe” vs “How to use an iPhone”, someone is always going to be looking to tie a shoe (hopefully).
Write killer headlines, with photos
Have you ever noticed that the majority of headlines on the web start out like this: How to…, 101 ways to…, 3 steps to…. There’s a method behind the madness. If your headline doesn’t attract the reader, no one will read it. And photos are just as important, they can tell a story in a fraction of a second. On Facebook, photos attract 110% more interaction than the average post.
For free beautiful photos you can use, search Flickr’s Free Use photos:
For great headline templates, try this formula:
Make a simple goal. 1 article a month — you can grow from there, but for the first year, just shoot for 12 articles. Quality stomps quantity content any day.
Network/promote the article
Once your article is finished, think of it as the start, interact with your readers in the comments and try to help promote the article as if it is a new product. Encourage interaction and feedback to get people engaged in your community.
Police your comments
You don’t want some douche bag going out there and criticizing other readers for expressing their feelings. Create an environment where people can come and share positive engaging conversations without being worried of trash talk.
I am notoriously the worst speller on the planet (here’s a $10k f*ck-up), there’s a part of my brain that’s just not programmed to spell properly. That’s why I put together systems to double-check my spelling and grammar. After I write an article, I run it through a checklist to ensure errors are reduced to the minimum:
[ ] Yourself — Read it word-by-word out loud, twice.
[ ] Have Mac read it — On a mac, select the text, right-click it and click Speech/Start Speaking (on PC, select the text and press the Windows logo + U, then Start Narrator).
[ ] Proofreader.com — Online proofreader that can catch misspellings, grammar errors, and word suggestions.
[ ] Have someone else proof it — Get a friend or family member that’s a grammar queen or king, to proof your articles. Pay them to do it, or you can try using Fiverr.com (a website where people will do just about anything for $5, including proofreading).
This might seem like it’s more than 3 steps, but really the rest is just tips. The only thing you need to focus on is writing great content and build on that.
Ideas for new content
– Read other blogs that inspire you.
Content Rules by Ann Handley
This book takes a new approach on ways to use renewable contents across multiple media, plus techniques to come up with killer content.
Content Rules on Amazon
Tribes by Seth Godin
Quick read, only 160 pages. Humans want to be lead and this is a great book to get you pumped up about starting a community in which people want to go to you, as the go-to-guy. The audiobook on 2x speed is even quicker — I listened to the whole audio book on a 60-mile drive to/from New Orleans.
Tribes on Amazon
Right now don’t think of how you can monetize on this blog, just think of how you can contribute to a cause. You’ll know how to capitalize once you get the hang of it.
I’ll review your blog
If you do start blogging, I hope that I’m the first person to hear about it. If you leave a comment about your new blog with a link, I’ll review it and get you my feedback.
Do what scares you.
First of all, I would like to thank every-single person that showed up to the launch party. This is the first time I’ve every done anything like this and it means a lot that you came out.
Secondly, I want to thank two special women that has helped me make all of this possible. My wife, Kate, who has put up with me during all this madness of launching a food business and has been extremely supportive. I also want to thank Gaye Sandoz with Editable Enterprise (an incubator for food entrepreneurs.) She helped me develop the dressing so that it could be on store shelves and has been extremely resourceful.
You know, I never thought a bottle of dressing could have made it this far, this is pretty amazing and I’m having a lot of fun.
Guerrilla Marketing — Undressing for honks
Being that I’m bootstrapping this project, I needed to find a way to tell the town about this salad dressing. So, the day before the launch, I made huge 15′ banner that said:
“A local favorite, undressed. The best salad dressing this town has ever made. Honk if you want some.”
I then tied the banner to a catwalk/road above the interstate (I10 westbound, past College Drive [map]), during rush hour, and undressed — waving my shirt in the air. At 8am, that spot on the interstate is a 4-lane moving parking lot. I know this, because I use to work downtown Baton Rouge and I was stuck in it every morning.
Using a counter, I split tested my waving techniques to see which would get more honks. Waving my shirt in the air or twirling it above my head. Well, it turns out that twirling it gets more honks, 2 to 1.
Here’s the results:
- 118 honks
- A ton of waves
- 3 peopled yelled at me from their car
- 2 birds (the finger)
- 1 cop, made me take it down an hour later
- 1 article by 225 Magazine featuring the dressing (which lead to several orders)
Lessons learned: No one wants to hold a banner over the interstate and take off their clothes at 7 in the morning. For favors. Here’s a craigslist ad I put out to get some more recruits.
Here’s the banner:
The launch party
The launch party was more of a goal than the party. I picked this day a year ago and said: “This, is when it will be in stores.” Once I marked it in the calendar and made an impractical checklist, it went from nothing but a recipe on paper to having it bottled in a month. I even left my day-job (which I work with them as a contractor) two weeks before the launch so I could put all my time and energy into making it happen.
Ok, it was also a hell of a party. Even though we had our own corner in a wine bar, we walked around talking to other groups about the dressing and letting them try it.
- Hats off to the great people at Blend for let us have it there
- My wife’s grandmother for the beautiful painting for our event
- Alan and Celeste for tossing salad
- Our close friends to helping us setup and take down
- To Wendy Overton, for writing a wonderful blog post about starting up
- And the taxi driver who drove us through Taco Bell at 4am
Here’s a few photos from the launch party:
The dressing will be in stores soon.
I ran into a little road-bump last week and the dressing should be on shelves next Friday.
Here’s to finally bottling Sensation salad dressing, cheers!