The Dish On Successful Blogging: An Interview with Macheesmo's Nick Evans
Most bloggers aspire to achieve the level of success you've attained. You have an active, responsive readership and no shortage of advertisers. Could you talk a bit about how you got started, how much time you dedicate to running the blog on a daily basis, and how you managed to get advertisers?
Thanks! I started Macheesmo in September 2008. At that point in my life I had just moved into my own apartment with my girlfriend (now wife) and I was spending a lot of spare time in the kitchen. As I cooked more and talked to people about cooking, I learned that a lot of people don't cook simply because they're scared of failure. So my goal became to document recipes I make with photos and clear descriptions to hopefully give people confidence to try the recipes on their own. I came up with the name Macheesmo, which just means having confidence in the kitchen. As of today, I've posted almost 800 posts on Macheesmo and most of those are recipes.
These days, I spend probably around 2-3 hours a day on Macheesmo, not including time to cook which I would be doing anyway since I love it. That time is split between writing, editing photos, or improving the site.
As far as advertisers go, I've experimented with a bunch of different models. While I do occasionally allow individual companies to buy advertising space on Macheesmo, I've found it easier to let an ad network coordinate my advertising blocks. Right now I use Blogher which is a great company. They serve ads to Macheesmo so I can focus on creating content.
What's the scoop on Twitter?
I've used Twitter for over two years now and I love it. I have a bit over 2,000 followers which is good, but I'm not Charlie Sheen for sure. I don't spend a lot of time trying to get new followers. I just let it happen organically. Some people use Twitter to directly promote their new posts and site and while I do that sometimes, I like using Twitter more as a way of meeting new people. I also use it to stay informed on what's going on in the food world. Since I follow a number of food writers and bloggers, I can usually get a feel of what's big just by monitoring my twitter stream for a few minutes.
I think the most important thing about Twitter is to remember that it's a two way street. You get what you give on it. If you just send tweets schlepping your own posts every day, you probably won't find it useful and people will stop clicking through on your links. If you use it as an information and networking tool though, it can be really valuable.
Are there any up and coming social media tools that are on your radar — or any that you find to a waste of time?
Ha. Well, there are a ton that I find to be a waste of time. I won't go into listing them!
Honestly, I haven't found any tools in the last six months or so that help me do what I do. Most of the tools that I use are the mainstream ones that have been around forever. I generally don't spend a lot of time hunting out new tools since you could spend all your time doing that and then get nothing else done. I'd rather let other people adopt stuff first and then once it's shown to be useful, I'll think about using it. I have very little desire to be the first person to discover stuff on the Internet
What's your day job? Ever plan on quitting it and doing this full time?
Right now I split my days between blogging and doing consulting for a company that I've worked with for over 5 years now. I actually really like working with the company so I have no desire to quit right now. Also, Macheesmo isn't really producing enough revenue to make that a reality at this point.
I'm not in any rush to super-monetize Macheesmo. I'm just letting it grow at its own pace and if I wake up one day and it's making a reasonable income for me, then I'll think about it. Like I said though, I'm in kind of a strange position where I really enjoy my work so I'm in no hurry.
Any advice to newbie bloggers?
My biggest piece of advice, I think, would be to spend more time writing and less time doing everything else. Assuming you love your topic (I hope you do or you're going to burn out quick) you should be able to write everyday on it without a problem. I'm not saying you need to necessarily publish new posts every day, but you should be thinking about new posts, brainstorming, and drafting pieces every day.
I think a lot of people get so caught up in the other stuff that comes with blogging: Twitter, Facebook, design, etc. But that stuff is all meaningless if you aren't creating content that helps people and that people want to read on a regular basis.
Don't worry about anything else until you're in a solid writing routine and producing content that you're happy with.