In episode 240, we talk with Emily Eggers about her success with using niche facebook groups to grow her audience and email list with traffic boosts from the social platform.
We cover information about how niche groups that align with your brand on Facebook can help you connect to an audience, how asking. a question begins the engagement and using emojis and real kitchen issues can let your audience know you’re a real person they can learn from.
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Emily is a plant-based recipe blogger who features a lot of Instant Pot recipes. She started her blog just over a year ago and recently quit her job to pursue food blogging full-time! Emily creates plant-based recipes that are approachable, easy, and delicious!
- Instagram is a great social platform but doesn’t allow for growth like running a food blog does for monetization.
- Commit to learning about SEO to get your blog up out to your audience.
- If you take the time to spend time in Facebook groups, you can find a wider audience.
- Facebook groups don’t create the same traffic that Google does, so ad agencies don’t consider that enough on its own.
- Facebook groups do help you connect people to your email list and widen your audience that way.
- In a roundabout way, your recipes that are popular within a Facebook group are the ones that do grow on Google as well.
- Use a question when posting within a niche Facebook group to get engagement.
- Emoji’s can help grab attention to your post within a niche Facebook group.
- Facebook niche groups that are bigger than 100,000 are worth diving into connecting with.
- Post at least 2 photos with each post and they don’t have to be crappy photos, they can be your photos from the blog.
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240 Emily Eggers
Intro: Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. We’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host. Megan Porta.
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Hey, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. Thank you so much for joining us today. I have Emily Eggers with me and she is from legallyhealthyblonde.com. We’re going to talk about utilizing niche Facebook groups to grow your social traffic by 50X in one month. Emily is a plant-based recipe blogger who features a lot of instant pot recipes. She started her blog just over a year ago and recently quit her job to pursue food blogging full-time. Emily creates plant-based recipes that are approachable, easy and delicious. Emily, I am excited to talk about this with you today, but we all want to hear your fun fact first.
Emily: Thank you so much for the introduction. My fun fact is not the most fun and interesting, but it is just that at the beginning of 2021, I was totally planning to go to law school. Hence the name of my blog. Then I actually will be enrolling in culinary school in New York City this year.
Megan: Whoa, what a change. Oh my goodness. Okay. So what changed your mind?
Emily: So I had always planned on going to law school, all through college. I made my major for that and even took the LSAT and actually even got accepted to law school and deferred in 2020 partly because of the pandemic and partly just wasn’t a hundred percent sure that was what I wanted to do.
Then I took a year to really work on my blog and worked in a restaurant and just fully decided I didn’t want to go to law school anymore and that I wanted to do stuff with food. Going to culinary school isn’t something that’s necessary to run a blog, but it’s always been a little dream of mine and I found an opportunity.
Megan: So do you think if the pandemic wouldn’t have paused you, that you would have pursued it?
Emily: That’s a good question. I am not sure. Because I used the pandemic as my excuse, but I think I was already unsure about wanting to go. So I think I still would have had those doubts, but I’m not sure I still may have just gone through with it just because. But in hindsight I’m pretty glad it happened.
Megan: Yeah. That’s such an awesome fun fact and something we can tie into your story and our conversation today. So thank you for sharing that. You mentioned the name of your blog, which I was going to tell you. I absolutely love it. When I was reading your application, I was like, oh my gosh. That is the best blog name ever – legally healthy blonde. There’s so many different plays there. So that’s really fun.
Emily: Yeah. A bunch of people, when I decided not to go to law school, they were like, are you going to change your blog name now? I’m like no, it still fits. I like it.
Megan:Absolutely. It was part of you for a long time, right? It was an ambition of yours for a long time. I dunno, it still lives in you somewhere. So cool. Let’s dive into your blogging journey and it’s evolved very quickly. I’m excited to hear a little bit more about your story. Would you mind just kicking off our conversation by talking us through, well, we heard, what turned you into starting food blogging, but can you just talk us through how your journey has evolved from then until now?
Emily: Yeah, absolutely. I went to college, I went to Clemson and was planning to go to law school, but I got really into cooking and food while I was in college. Mostly just because I didn’t have meal plans, so I just had to figure it out. I started actually a food Instagram, just taking goofy pictures of my food, normally with my dog in the background or something.
Then I wanted to turn it into something more and got more into the photography and the actual writing of recipes. Then for a while I thought I can just do this through Instagram. Then I realized, oh no, I need to really do the blogging route. That’s way more lucrative and easy to grow, more so than an Instagram is.
I’ve had a few different blogs in the past, but they’re usually like on Blogspot or Squarespace or something. So I officially started this one on WordPress, August of 2020. Really had no idea what I was doing for, I would say at least the first six months of that, like no clue at all. With just taking random pictures and posting random recipes.
Then started paying more attention, learning a lot more about SEO and all those kinds of things. Really started getting into it probably around March of 2020. Then I believe in March or April, I signed up for an SEO audit, which I just had earlier this month. So now I’ve just been doing this. I was working at a restaurant, like I said, and then I finally quit at the end of July. Now I’m doing this time.
Megan: Wow. What a very fast journey, because I feel like a lot of my listeners are on the other end of the spectrum where they’ve been doing this for quite a while and trying to find success over a longer period of time. So good for you for just digging in. Even though you didn’t know what you were doing. You’re willing to admit that by the way, which is awesome. You figured it out and you just took one step at a time and you went down the road, even though it’s probably not easy. Okay. So you sat around a certain amount of sessions before you decided that you just needed to get your numbers to budge. So talk us through that.
Emily: In March, I started really trying a lot more and learning, even what sessions I needed and things like that. It was probably around May or June that I really started figuring out the whole Facebook group thing. Which I had been posting in Facebook groups originally, but I just hadn’t seen much from it.
I would get a few likes and maybe a few clicks from it, but not much. Then I believe in June or maybe the very end of May, I had one post that just went viral in a Facebook group. I think it was like 1700 likes or something. I got all this traffic from this one post and I was like, obsessed. I was like, I have to figure out how to do this again. That was in a niche group. It was in a vegan vegetarian group. So I talked around a little bit, looked at other people that had grown pretty quickly using that kind of stuff. I noticed a lot of them were using appliance niche groups.
So instant pot but also like fryer or crockpot recipes as well. So I actually went and bought an instant pot for that reason. It was only like $15 cause I had a gift card or something. So I was like, why not? Let me just try. I joined a bunch of those groups and started looking around to see what really the posts that we’re doing well were doing versus the posts that weren’t doing as well. Then found the groups that were worth it as well. Just started getting like viral post after viral post. Not every single one, but it was days where I was having like 8,000 sessions in one day.
Megan: What was the theme surrounding the posts that were doing well that you noticed?
Emily: Yeah, so I noticed a lot of them started with a question and that’s probably the thing I focused the most on when I make a Facebook post in those groups is that initial question because it gets people to comment. You can’t do it, I don’t want to say boring, but sometimes I’ve had ones that I’m like, what’s your favorite pasta shape? No one comments on that versus do you like cilantro or do you hate it? That gets tons of comments cause it’s super controversial.
But that, and then good photos, usually one or two photos. Then also just being a popular recipe in the sense that it’s unique and geared towards that audience. So think of what a typical instant pot or AirFryer user might like in terms of what kind of recipe.
Megan: Okay. So everyone likes the controversial questions. So does it have to relate to the dish though? Or were you just asking a random question? Was cilantro in the dish that you were asking about cilantro?
Emily: Yes. So I definitely keep it related to the dish as much as possible. But I’ve seen a few things that are, not necessarily with my posts, but with other people’s. I’ve seen some that have done pretty well if it’s talking about personal stuff . If someone was like, oh, I have been helping out my neighbor and bringing them this dish or something like that, sometimes those things seem to do well also. I haven’t tried that though, so I’m not sure.
Megan: Okay. So I am a part of a few of those really big instant pot Facebook groups. One thing that I have noticed is, and tell me what you think of this. If I post highly curated photos, they often don’t get approved or at least that’s how it used to be. So my VA was like, Megan, you should start taking crappier photos basically. Because I feel like they were on to bloggers a little bit. Like here’s what you’re doing. So we stopped because things were not getting approved. Have you found that at all?
Emily: I have not found that I usually try to do two pictures of mine. If I have a good photo of the food in the instant pot or whatever appliance that seemed to do well, but I haven’t noticed specifically any really good pictures getting taken down or anything. But that might just have to do with the type of group. I know, like you said, some groups don’t like a lot of bloggers posting in them. Whereas some are much more friendly to that.
Megan: Which groups have you found the most success with? Is it instant pot and AirFryer or just one or the other? What are your favorites?
Emily: So I don’t have any AirFryer recipes, so I’ve only tried it out with instant pot ones. I’ve just seen similar things in other people’s with AirFryer and crockpot. But I’ve had a lot of success with instant pot groups and then I have a few vegan, vegetarian groups that do well.
Megan: Okay. So it’s just a matter of testing a little bit and experimenting with which groups work, and which people are responding to you. Do you have recommendations as far as how many to test with, because there are so many routes you could go. So what if somebody else is a vegan instant pot blogger? Do you start with one or maybe do one vegan, one instant pot? What do you think?
Emily: Yeah, when I started doing this, I had no strategy. I was just posting everywhere I could. Since then, I’ve stopped posting in some groups, and post more in others. If I can only get one out, I might just only post in the one that has 3 million people in it or whatever. But I have found that group size definitely seems to make a difference. I’m a part of a few that are maybe under 50,000 members that just almost get nothing in terms of traffic. But the ones, if there’s any over a million, those definitely do really well. Then there are a few that I do pretty well in that are around a hundred thousand members.
So definitely I would say group size. Then there are some, making sure you’re staying in a niche group which seems obvious, but instead of just posting in delicious recipes or healthy recipes, whatever, finding something that’s a little more specific. Because I think those people are going to be more engaged with the post as well. That, and then I also try to find ones that are not necessarily flooded with bloggers. Almost every group has a lot of bloggers in it, but if every single post is just blogger recipes, it’s probably not the greatest sign.
As opposed to posts where people are actually asking questions and engaging and getting responses and things like that. Another thing I’ve noticed is with pending posts, because they almost all have to be approved by a moderator. The ones that approve very fast, that’s not necessarily key to doing well, but I think you have more control over good times to post If they’re going to approve it immediately versus six hours from when you post it.
Megan: Oh, that’s a good point too. I never thought of that. How engaged are you outside of the posts that you hope to get traffic from? So do you go in and regularly comment and engage on other posts as well?
Emily: Yeah, I would say a moderate amount because I post so much in these groups, they actually show up at the top of my Facebook feed now. So I see a lot of them. A lot of times I’ll comment if I see other bloggers posts, just trying to help them out. If there is someone asking a question and I know specifically the answer, or if someone’s asking for recipe suggestions, I do engage a little bit on that. But not like over the top, I don’t have a dedicated time that I go in and engage with other posts.
Megan: Okay. So we talked a little bit about a few of the elements that equal the kind of a successful post or a viral post. That was posing a question that’s maybe controversial. Considering the type of image you’re putting up. What else? What other elements have you found are important for creating a really good viral post?
Emily: Yeah. I do every once in a while use emojis, which I’m not sure if that has a direct correlation, but this sounds weird, but almost using corny emojis like a crying laughing face, or the one where it’s raising your hand. Just those things that almost make it feel more like a regular person, and yeah, another thing was just being funny and relatable. I think I had one that was a recipe that used instant ramen noodles in it and that got tons of controversial comments from half the people saying, oh, they’re horrible for you. Half the people say, oh, they’re delicious. But it was like, oh, who else lived on these in college? So that, I think being relatable and not just being here’s my ramen noodle recipe.
Megan: Yeah. That’s a great one because, especially if people know you’re a blogger, it can be like, oh, she’s just providing us with this information. But if you present yourself as an actual human with emotions and stories and an opinion about ramen noodles, then I think people would be much more likely to interact with you and engage with you. That’s really interesting about the emojis and including the kind of corny or cheesy emojis that maybe you wouldn’t normally put in your standard communication. That’s something to experiment with. Find one that you’re like, oh goodness. I normally wouldn’t use that, but let’s see how it goes.
Emily: Yeah, definitely. It varies a lot by the type of audience in the group as well. Sometimes I’ll tweak the post if I’m posting it in an instant pot versus a vegan one. Because of the instant pot one, I might just slip in at the end oh, this is also dairy free, but you can use whatever. Whereas in the vegan one, I might say this is a vegan version of something and amplify that a little bit more. There’s some people in the instant pot that are like, no, we don’t want anything vegan. They just don’t like that kind of stuff. Really figuring out the audience and what the audience tends to like, seems to help.
Megan: That makes sense. Thinking outside of the world of instant pot and vegan, do you have any other thoughts for big groups that are successful or have you not explored beyond those worlds?
Emily: Yeah. I’ve tried a few just generalized healthy recipes and a few vegetarian ones. But those are the two, those are like my niche, really. So I haven’t ventured much out from those. But I would imagine other niches, such as keto, I would imagine there’s probably pretty big groups on Facebook with that. Same with air fryer and Crock-Pot, and then probably gluten-free ones would also be pretty big as well. I wouldn’t say I changed my niche, but I did branch off into my niche, almost just for this. Not necessarily. I also like making instant pot recipes, but I would just say don’t be afraid to expand and test out a keto recipe or a vegan one or something if you want to try different groups and see what kind of engagement it gets.
Megan: I can imagine for pretty much any diet or food program that you’re following, any of those main ones, like you mentioned keto or paleo or Whole30, there has got to be big Facebook groups focusing on those because people are always looking for recipes. Diabetic also. Diabetic recipes. Now I’m thinking; there could be so many different ways you could go and then you’ve got appliances. It’s worth looking and exploring and just seeing what’s out there and testing a few out.
Emily: Even in those groups, I had noticed people ask questions all the time. Oh, I just got diagnosed with this. I can’t have any sugar for a month. Can someone give me a good recipe without that? Or, they’ll have very specific questions or if they’re diabetic and people will just ask all the time, how can I make this recipe in this appliance? Some people say I would just use the stove, but there are lots of people that just have this appliance and they want to make everything in it. So I do think that those work pretty well.
Megan: So once you saw that you were getting massive amounts of traffic pretty regularly, where did you go from there? Did you soon after get into an ad management company or what evolved for you?
Emily: This is not necessarily the downside of it, but it seems that the ad agencies don’t love social traffic and not social traffic in and of itself. But I was having like over 90% of my traffic from Facebook. So I actually did not get into an ad agency from that but I still think that it can be a useful tool, especially if you’re really close to getting into an ad agency. If you just want to grow a little bit faster because while I didn’t get into an ad agency directly, my email list grew from less than a hundred to over 600, almost 700 within that month. I also got tons of share counts going up on my post as well as comments and ratings, which ultimately helps with SEO and actually looking in my Google search console. It does seem that some of the recipes that have performed the best on Facebook are also performing really well on Google because they have that boost of traffic to them.
Megan: That’s interesting. So it’s not necessarily a sole strategy you should use, but it could be a secondary or supplemental strategy to other ways to get traffic.
Emily: Yes, I definitely, I would say it’s like a supplemental or second. I’ve actually backed off of Facebook traffic a little bit. Just because I wanted to decrease that percentage a little bit while I’m focusing more on Google SEO. If I’m having a little bit of a slower month or slower week, I know that I always have that in my back pocket to just bump up my numbers real fast.
Megan: The community aspect of being on Facebook is huge.
Emily: Absolutely. Yeah. I would say almost 80% of my email list are probably people that found me from Facebook groups. So I mean that alone is a whole set of eyes that even if I don’t post a recipe in the Facebook groups, maybe it’s a different kind or, just haven’t posted it. They’ll still see the recipe.
Megan: This is so awesome. Okay. Any other little tips you have as far as which groups, what to do when you’re inside them? Anything specific with the posts? Anything that we’ve missed?
Emily: Just a touch on the controversial thing? I would definitely say don’t go too far with that. Cause I have, even on some kind of mild posts, they haven’t really been controversial. Moderators can turn off comments whenever they want. So if people start arguing in your comments, even if it has nothing to do with what you said, They might just totally turn off the comments and then that really stunts how well the post can do.
Megan: So safe controversy. So like cilantro, it probably is not going to turn political, but who knows about other topics?
Emily: Yeah, the cilantro one was actually probably one of my most commented on posts and I think it was because I said, do you like cilantro or are you wrong? People lost their minds. But it was all friendly, so it was fine. But another thing about comments that I just remembered and another good thing is you can’t delete other people’s comments on your posts, but you can hide them. Because every once in a while, especially if you’re in a group with over a million people, every once in a while, someone’s going to say something rude. It’s just inevitable and I’ve found that if it’s not constructive and you can respond to them nicely. If it’s just flat out rude or mean or something, just hide the comment. I think on social media people, if they see one mean comment, it just breeds more. So I totally am on board with deleting or hiding comments. But I think that’s a really cool thing that you have control over on these as well.
Megan: Wow. That’s great advice. So I have two questions that just came up. Do you reply to every comment or like every comment or how do you go about that?
Emily: Not everyone. Definitely some of the first ones, after I post, if it starts doing well pretty quickly, I try to stay on and pay attention to if people are asking a question. Definitely respond to that or just saying thank you to the first few people that say oh, this looks great or something like that. But I don’t do it the whole way. But I do still keep my eyes on the notifications and just look through them because every once in a while. One time my site went down in the middle of this and so I kept getting comments, oh my gosh, I can’t see the post. I was still looking at that and able to say it’ll be back up in a minute or now you can go check. It should be there. But not every single one I don’t.
Megan: Next question. What about video? Do you ever add video instead of, or in addition to, photos?
Emily: I have not really done a lot with video yet. That’s definitely something I want to get into. I would say that photos seemed to dominate the Facebook groups, but I have seen some people do videos and they seem to do well because they are eye-catching, especially if it’s something that really looks really good on video. I have not experimented with that, but I’ve seen other people and they have seemed to do well with it. So that might be something to test out.
Megan: This was super awesome. I always hear about those success stories like yours, Emily, where people just find massive amounts of traffic by focusing on Facebook. Because a lot of us, me included, discounted Facebook because it’s just gotten frustrating over the years and we don’t utilize the groups. We just go into our business pages and we consistently post there and see very slow growth if any, at all. So I love hearing about this. I’m so happy that you were able to just dig into it and find wild success. I love stories like yours, so thank you so much for sharing all of this. This has been so great.
Emily: Yeah, absolutely. I wouldn’t have even known about it if it wasn’t for other bloggers sharing how they did it. So I’m more than happy to share my tips and tricks for it.
Megan: Awesome. Thank you so much for being here today. Before you go, would you mind sharing either a favorite quote or words of inspiration?
Emily: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t necessarily have a favorite quote on the top of my mind, but words of inspiration, I would just say, anything is what you’re really passionate about and what you really want to do, just go for it as much as you can. Whether that means working on it as your nine to five, staying up late or getting up early to do it, or if you have the means to, quit and just put your whole heart into it until you get to that point. Then I think that’s always the best way to go is to just go all in.
Megan: That’s so great. Thank you for sharing that. We will put together a show notes page for you, Emily. So if anyone wants to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/legallyhealthyblonde. So we’ve mentioned where your website is, Emily, but is there anywhere else people can find you online?
Emily: Yeah, so legallyhealthyblonde.com is my blog. But I am also across all social media, just at Legally Healthy Blonde, no underscores or any numbers or anything.
Megan: Great. Thank you again for being here and thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.
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