Blog Title: Page & Plate
About Laura: Back in 2017 when I started my blog, Page & Plate, I never anticipated that it would turn into the full-time brand consulting agency. BUT, here I am today, working as a food stylist, photographer, social media manager, and recipe developer from companies from small food start-ups to huge corporate clients. I feel lucky to be doing what I’m doing, slightly panicked about what the future holds, and full from eating delicious food most of the time.
Notes from Episode #016: Visual Branding with Food Blogging
We all know that we eat first with our eyes, but what we don’t realize is that having a specific style can actually help us cultivate our audience and attract clients.
Laura wears many hats! She runs a brand consulting agency and is a food stylist, photographer, recipe developer, social media manager
Did you know? PIttsburgh is a foodie destination! Craft beer/whiskey, pizza, etc. This is what inspired her food blog in the first place.
Page and Plate was started while Laura was working a full time job. It was a perfect outlet for her at first and filled time. Then her hobby grew into a business.
What is visual branding?
It’s the way you convey your blog’s voice, values and personality through all of the images you use on the blog and through all social media channels.
Visual branding matters because it takes your blog from something you dabble in and is just a food blog to being professional and enticing people to want to work with you.
Laura sat down with a graphic designer, came up with a color palette and thought about the message she wanted to convey with each post. She also wanted a visual style that would be recognized as hers even if the logo wasn’t seen based on the way she created her photographs with food/color/props, signature items that were in the content.
Squarespace is a great host for running your food blog. Megan and Laura have this in common.
Canva is a great tool to get the color and fonts the same across all channels.
When do you recommend putting branding on your radar as a blogger?
Creating a big library of content is important to have before you worry about visual branding.
Timing will depend on you – is this a hobby? Getting serious? Are you committed part-time, full-time?
You can overhaul your site later after you’ve built your blog and put together quality content.
You are creating a story with your content and the props and colors you incorporate into your photos and writing style.
When Laura has new clients come on board, they are asked to take a quiz to see what they want their branding to be. It’s a fun quiz she created. It’s basically a self-audit. She recommends doing it for yourself 2x a year to keep your eye/pulse on track.
Create a secret Pinterest board and save looks you liked and want to use to showcase who you are and what you’re about. That will help you make a plan for your VB.
Be sure not to copy another blogger! Just look for common themes and styles.
Keep consuming information and finding what you like to discover/study what your VB is.
How to use visual branding to attract clients
Step back and think about what you want your readers and brands to walk away remembering after being on your site.
Make sure that your site matches your facebook and instagram accounts. Your voice should match across all platforms. Your photographs should be quality across the platforms too.
Video and client invoicing needs to follow your brand as well.
If you have a strong brand, brands will know what you are trying to accomplish and who your audience is by visiting your site.
Your brand shows you have a sense of who you are and who your audience is.
Ask all kinds of questions! For example: Say to the brand that you’re a family blogger. Convey that you want to make sure these are the types of values you are conveying with their product in your photos. These are the elements and styles you want to see in the photos. This helps you with retention with the brand. You’ll show you care about their product and brand as well as your own. This sets you apart from the next person.
There are two kinds of clients out there and you need two kinds of portfolio to showcase your work and abilities:
Porfolio 1 – Sponsored content – to be able to articulate your brand so they will want to work with you. That shows you know how to naturally incorporate the brands products into your site that is smooth and enticing. Your media kit and portfolio should show this off.
Portfolio 2 – Have photographs and styling that matches the brands style, even though it differs from your style. Showcase the different VB you’ve been a part of creating so you can prove you are able to work with other styles. By having a second portfolio, you are showcasing your abilities to match what they are looking for and show that you can pivot to a different style and help them to complete a visual brand that matches what they want.
Have an image for every kind of brand relationship you’ve undertaken. Pick one photo from each shoot or brand work that you liked. Link to the clients web page and include a sampling/snippet of the kind of work you completed.
Be sure you have clients permission.
If you take an audit of your sites, and don’t like what you see, but you have an audience, you don’t want to completely overhaul the site unexpectedly. There’s a reason you have an audience following you, so don’t switch gears completely. It would be jarring. The answer is to involve your audience! Throw up questions/polls on Instagram to get feedback.
Take that feedback to build a plan. Make small changes to begin transitioning to where you want to be. You show you care about their opinion as you do this. The way you ask questions lets your audience get to know you too.
Articulate to your team your visual brand. Create a style guide for your blog. Even if you’re a team of one! Then it’s easily accessed and you will stay on track. You can also expand it easier when the time is right. It can be referenced at a moment.
This is a journey and not a thing you check off your check list once, it is an ongoing process.
You can be a successful blog and still find value in updating your Visual Brand.
Say yes to every opportunity you can!
Believe in yourself!
The best day to start something is yesterday.
Helpful references from the episode: