In episode 397, Megan Gonzalez teaches us how to use PDFs and video to quickly grow our email list.
We cover information how to create PDF printables for your email list, why video tutorials are a great option for your own list to access, why the personal touch with video can create connections between you and your audience and where you can embed them so they’re accessed only by those you invite in.
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Connect with Nurture Knitwear
Bio Megan Gonzalez is the knitter behind Nurture Knitwear, and she strives to create a chic casual style for modern women. At Nurture Knitwear, they are focused on empowering women to carve out a little creative space for themselves to learn, to find peace and satisfaction, and to refill so that they can keep pouring out into the lives of those we love
- Offer PDFs of the free items you offer – even a printable recipe card that is jazzed up and helps them to be organized or have more info on it.
- Offer extras to your audience that you don’t offer on the blog.
- Find alternatives to recipes to offer as a freebie in a PDF.
- Share PDFs on your site, on socials and in groups.
- Create video content that’s only accessible with an email sign up.
- Share tips that make life easier.
- Ask users what they want from you on socials.
Blogging Millionnaire – Email List Growth Hacks
Click for full script.
EBT397 – Megan Gonzalez (1)
Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported.
Megan Porta: I always love talking to seasoned food bloggers, people who are in our industry and our niche. But I also love talking to people outside of our niche to get a little bit different perspective on our businesses, and this is exactly what happened in this episode. Megan Gonzalez, she is from Nurture Knitwear. She is a knitting blogger, had a great perspective on building email lists for us for food bloggers by using PDFs and video, and we talk about this pretty extensively inside of the episode. But I think this will give you a little bit of a renewed perspective on how to grow your list quickly. It’ll give you some good inspiring ideas. This is episode number 397, and it is sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Hey, there we are putting together an AMA episode. AMA stands for Ask Me Anything Coming Up here on the Eat Blog Talk podcast, and we would love your help with this project. Submit questions that you would like for me to answer in episode number 400 that will be published on April 10th. Ask me anything about myself, productivity, planning, food blogging, any of those topics that I talk a lot about. I will do my very best to get an answer. Send me an email [email protected] with AMA as the subject line and ask away.
Megan Porta: Megan Gonzalez is the knitter behind Nurture Knitwear, and she strives to create a chic casual style for modern women. At Nurture Knitwear, they’re focused on empowering women to carve out a little creative space for themselves to learn, to find peace and satisfaction, and to refill so that they can keep pouring out into the lives of those we love.
Hey Megan, thanks for joining me today. How are you?
Megan Gonzalez: I’m doing great. It’s great to join you, Megan.
Megan Porta: Yes. We have an exciting chat for today. We’re gonna talk about building your email list using PDFs and video, quickly. Doing that quickly. But before we do that, I would love to hear if you have a fun fact to share with us.
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah. So I use food blogs all the time. I’m on Pinterest and Google and always searching for something interesting to cook for our family. There was one night, just last month, that I had some mushrooms. This was the last day they were gonna be good and I had some frozen chicken and some pasta. So I typed in mushroom chicken pasta and found this great recipe. As I’m cooking and I don’t have the right kind of pasta and my chicken is prepared slightly differently and all these things, I just had this really interesting moment because I’m a knitwear designer. I’m not a food blogger, but I had this real moment of kinship with the food blogger of, okay, so I’m using some slightly different ingredients and I’m thinking she would probably feel about what I’m doing how I feel about when people are like can I use a different weight of yarn in a different style and all these things, and I’m like, yeah, of course you can, but I can’t guarantee your results.
Megan Porta: Yes. Oh my gosh. We all feel that. We all get those comments that are like, I changed half of the recipe, but why doesn’t it taste good? Yes. So I’m glad that you felt that kinship and kind of a bonded understanding of what it’s like. Both from a user perspective and from a food blogger perspective. So that’s awesome. So you are a knitter. I am just curious, what are your favorite things to knit?
Megan Gonzalez: I knit everything you can wear. I love knitting sweaters, cardigans and shawls and cowls, which are like…
Megan Porta: Oh yes. Love cowls. Yeah.
Megan Gonzalez: A lot of people, they’re like, what’s a cowl? So it’s a little thing that goes around your neck and I love it. I like them better than scarves because you don’t have to fiddle with them at all. You put it on and you’re done for the day. I just started knitting socks, which has been a great experience. I love to knit all the wearables.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s so awesome. So my mom taught me to crochet when I was young, so I’ve done that my whole life. But knitting I never got into. She now is gone and I’m like, dang it, I wish I would’ve had her teach me that because I think it’s so different, right? Because you use the two knitting needles versus just one crochet hook. So it’s like a whole new world.
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah, it’s quite different. But if you know how to crochet, it will actually make your passage into knitting easier. You just wanna knit continental instead of English style. I actually crocheted for 21 years before I picked up knitting needles. I had tried to learn a few times before and failed. Like utter disasters failed. But then, I was a new mom. I had a one-year-old and we had moved when she was six weeks old to Wisconsin, which was six hours away from my family. I knew absolutely nobody there. That first winter hit, and it was absolutely brutal. I was so isolated and just really into it, it was just me and my baby. It was so cold. Like it was brutally cold. I did not understand what cold was before we moved there. So then it started to thaw out in May.
Megan Porta: Yes. Early June.
Megan Gonzalez: So I was like, all right, the warm weather is starting. People are getting out. I have to make friends now if I’m going to survive this next winter. So that led me to a local yarn shop called the Lost Sheep Yarn Shop. It’s a phenomenal place if you’re ever in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I started going to their knitting nights and I was the only crocheter. Everybody was like, you should learn how to knit. You should learn how to knit. I’m like, I have a one-year-old, I can’t do anything. I have no brain whatsoever. But they kept going, you should learn. You should learn. You would like it. I just kept seeing all these beautiful things that they were. Because crocheting is great for scarves and blankets and home goods and crocheting is wonderful, but it is not as great for garments.
Megan Porta: Yeah.
Megan Gonzalez: I’d been crocheting for 21 years at that point. I had literally made three blankets for everyone in my family and was running out of places to give them away even. So I learned for my birthday that year.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s awesome.
Megan Gonzalez: I just took to it like nothing I’ve ever taken to before.
Megan Porta: That’s inspiring.
Megan Gonzalez: It was really wonderful. I had started crocheting when I was seven or I might have been six. I learned to crochet before I even learned how to read.
Megan Porta: Oh my goodness.
Megan Gonzalez: I grew up in rural Indiana. I had no access to crocheting patterns. We didn’t really even have the internet at that point, not where we were. I didn’t know how to read crochet patterns. I wasn’t accustomed to using them, and I just bought that with me into knitting and everybody was like, you’re knitting that without a pattern. What do you mean you’re knitting that without a pattern? But that’s just, yeah. I want it to look like this and I see it in my head and so I’m just gonna make it happen. So they encouraged me to start writing them down and posting them up on Ravelry, which is like Facebook for knitters and crocheters. But it’s a marketplace as well. It’s a really cool spot if you, for anybody out there who knits or crochets, you can get lots of great patterns and just chat with other people. So they encouraged me to start putting them up there. I very quickly got into it. So a year after I started knitting, I started publishing patterns every month and that turned into two patterns every month and it just blossomed from there. So I’ve been publishing patterns for about two and a half years now. But I had just been doing it as much as I could. I was publishing on a regular schedule, but I was basically just doing it all on Instagram. Which is an awful way to do things, as we all know. I should have known better, because you’re sharecropping. You’re building your entire platform on somebody else’s land. They can take it out from under you at any time, which Instagram has been doing a lot of recently. So I had been hearing forever, okay you need a blog, you need an email list. You need an email list. You need an email list. You need an email list. I’m like, ah, I know I should have one, but I don’t have the time. I really wish now that I had made the time a lot earlier. But you live and you learn. So I started my email list about midway through last year. Over the course of six months, I collected about 70, 75 email addresses, which for not doing anything or really anything…
Megan Porta: Was not bad for doing nothing.
Megan Gonzalez: But definitely not gonna help me sell the load of patterns. But during this last fall, I had been doing all the behind the scenes set up to get my blog going. I had blogged once before, before beginning knitting. I was a writer, I was a fiction writer. I had tried blogging them and I hated it. I really hated it. But that I think is intrinsic to trying to be a blogger as a fiction writer because there is nothing good to write about. Your fiction readers don’t care about your writing process. The only people who care about your writing process are other writers who are not your readers.
Megan Porta: Ah, yeah.
Megan Gonzalez: It’s a whole thing. So it’s really hard to write as a fiction writer. But the great thing is I learned a lot of my mistakes on that old blog. I have two kids now and they’re in preschool two days a week. Both of them are in preschool two days a week, and my eldest is in preschool Monday through Friday. So I have just a little bit more time and space. I’m like, okay, now is the time to get it set up. So I started doing keyword research. I started doing all the different things that I had done so wrong before. My key purpose in starting a blog was to get email subscribers. I want to expand it and monetize it and all that later on. But that is for right now my goal, is to get email subscribers through this blog. I did a soft opening in December and have started then full on in January with two blog posts a week. They’re very detailed. They’ve got a lot of technical information. They’ve got a lot of, here’s how you can make time to knit and as well as patterns. Because getting these email addresses is my key focus, I have done two main things that in one month alone allowed me to double my list of emails.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s awesome.
Megan Gonzalez: The first one, and the most successful one is to offer PDFs of the free patterns that I am offering. I think that this could be something that food bloggers could use as well, because it’s really convenient for the readers to have those PDFs that they can. A lot of them print them off so that they can carry them around. Some people might not wanna have their iPad in the kitchen with them, because every time I do, I manage to splatter it with grease or something. It’s nice to be able to have those principal copies. So what I do is I offer the basic free pattern on my website and then you can opt into my email list to get some more detailed information as well as the copy of that PDF. That helped me grow. The first one that I put out, I got 40 subscribers.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s awesome. So how do you think this translates to food blogging? Because we can print, or our users can print our recipes straight from the recipe card. So what other types of PDFs do you think would be valuable?
Megan Gonzalez: Are they formatted? When they are printed, is it just a plain sheet?
Megan Porta: It comes out on one page, usually if everything fits and yeah, it’s just like instructions. So it is everything.
Megan Gonzalez: Okay. I think you can make it more visually appealing. I think you could use Canva or even Pages. You can do a lot of really beautiful document work to really brand it, to use your colors, your styles, and make it something really beautiful that they’re going to want to have this copy. It’s not just the basics, but they get your vibe coming off of it. If there are any extra hints or tips that you can add in, to give them that more value added, if you can just keep back just a little nugget of something off of the actual post and then add that into the print off. Because a lot of times my PDFs have an extra size that you can knit or have something just a little bit more that you can’t get from the free copy on the website.
Megan Porta: I have never thought of this because it’s so easy. Our recipe cards have a standard print button. It’s okay, that’s all they need. It would be a little extra work, but not much. Once you have a template you could just plug in the information and if you’re giving extra information for each recipe, just communicating that would be something you would need to do. So letting people know. Because I think we’ve educated our users to just use that print button. So we would have to educate about okay, here’s a different formatted pdf with extras, right?
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah, I think people could use it to start creating their own binder of your recipes and to have something really beautiful that gives them a sense of you right there in the kitchen.
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Megan Porta: We could also put a binder together to start just so people can see it and maybe educate that way. So having a little video or something on social media just showing you could have this binder too. You need to go here to download the PDFs. That would be really cool. I can see an older and older demographic really liking that because like people, my mom’s age and up and around where she is, I think they really like having that hard copy, handwritten, just database of recipes that they can flip through.
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah, absolutely. You could even include a front page printout, but if they wanted to have something that on the very front of the binder that was with your name and your logo and your, some kind of, maybe even a line that they could fill in of, ” Mia’s recipe book” or, something like that to make it personal and to add that little extra touch.
Megan Porta: I love that. This doesn’t have to be limited to just recipes, I don’t think either. We could find other ways to create these PDFs outside of recipes. I think there’s so much that we could think about in food blogging.
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah, absolutely.
Megan Porta: That’s so cool. Okay, so you grew your list really fast, and then have you gotten any feedback about it? Oh, I love these.
Megan Gonzalez: One of the first things that I ask for is, to respond, how long have you been knitting? That started a lot of dialogues with different people that it’s just been lovely to get to know them. The people who are still following me on Instagram are really excited about the new patterns. It’s actually upped my traffic on Instagram a lot as well, because they’re excited to see what I have.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s so cool. So you’re getting more interest on other platforms. Do you get consistent downloads for those PDFs still or was i t an initial boost?
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah, I’m still getting consistent downloads. I am still sharing it on a few different locations. For us, there are places I shared on Pinterest of course, and I get some regular traffic from that, but there are also other places where you can share those patterns, and I get some regular traffic from that as well.
Megan Porta: Awesome. I love that. I love that you found success with this. Then you have another avenue that you’ve used too that has been successful. So talk about your videos.
Megan Gonzalez: So the other thing that I started doing when I was doing all this prep to kick my blog off, I was listening to a lot of podcasts. I was trying to learn some different techniques, things that I hadn’t thought of, and it had been a while since I blogged, so I knew that a lot of things were going to have changed as well. One of the tips that I absolutely loved was using your video content as an opt-in as well. I had planned on just putting my videos out on my regular post, but this recommended that if you wanted the video, you opt in and then you get a link to a page on your website. A separate page on your website, which then has the embedded video and will play. Mine is locked behind a password that you get when you sign up. That has not had as much, but still steady signups. So I was already making these videos anyway. They’re posted on YouTube, so you’re still getting traffic through that, but you get this additional kind of touchpoint with somebody to sign up, not just for me, it’s a knitting tutorial or is for you, it could be a cooking tutorial or a cooking recipe. So you see the pictures, the step-by-step pictures. If that’s all you want, that’s totally great. It’s there for you, use it. But if you would like that next step of the video, you can sign up. I’ve had a fair number of signups for that as well.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s so good. There are so many different routes we could go with this. I’m just thinking through all of the different kinds of videos we can do. So, you said you put it behind a password, you just put them on your site. In a place that’s password protected?
Megan Gonzalez: So I have them each on a separate page right now that is password protected. It’s really nice once I got that first page set up, I just used the Happy Clone plugin, so I just duplicated the page and put my new url for the YouTube video. So each page has got the same password, which makes it really easy on the user, on the newsletter subscribers that they’re not having to remember a new password for each video that they want to access. But it’s really nice this way because it increases my page views because people are clicking through multiple pages to view this video versus the photo tutorial. I don’t fully understand this, so don’t 100% take my word on it, but from what I understand, embedded videos get some kind of extra juice from YouTube. So these embedded views are then also boosting my views on YouTube. So people are also finding me on YouTube and then going back to my blog and finding more information and it creates this nice feedback loop.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s so awesome. Do you have any ideas, being outside of the food blogging niche, sometimes I feel like people who are fresh have ideas like, oh, why you could do this or you could do this. I’m curious if you have any just novel ideas for food bloggers in either the PDF or the video realm.
Megan Gonzalez: I think maybe like preparation tips, like pre-preparation tips. One of the best things that I’ve ever learned from a food blogger is to cook up batches, like big batches of shredded chicken. So I cook them in my crockpot, and I shred them with my KitchenAid mixer. That has just made my life so much easier. Because then I put them in the freezer. I separate them by cups. So then I can just take out a cup of frozen, precooked, shredded chicken and it makes my dinner prep so much faster in the evening. I think if there are things like that could be shared either via video or pdf that just make life easier because I enjoy cooking, but with two preschoolers running around and trying to run a business and all the things, I don’t always have a lot of time. So those things that save time, that make life easier in the moment, those I would definitely sign up for.
Megan Porta: Yeah. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be something that we’re writing about. We could just pull it out of our existing content, like you said, little tips about the process of making the recipe. Then I just had the thought too, that you could go through your comments and just see what people are asking about the recipe and if there’s anything there that could be expounded upon that you could turn into either a video or a pdf, I think that would be valuable too. But yeah, what a valuable way to offer content to your user that they’re wanting and in return get their email address. You can just continue to build your business.
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah, absolutely. Always ask your users. I love using Instagram stories and put polls out there all the time. Since I’ve started doing that I just started doing it last summer or fall and for a knitting pattern, it does take about a six month run up from me beginning to actually publishing it. So I’m just starting to see these patterns that people have voted on come out and they’re selling two, three times better than my previous patterns because I know exactly what they are. Because I’ve asked them and they’ve told me. That’s so valuable.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s powerful. With food, it doesn’t have to be as long of a wait. I can imagine it takes you quite a while to get through creating and all of that. But for food, we could do that within a few weeks probably.
Megan Gonzalez: Absolutely. Which would be even better because, half the time, by the time my patterns come out, they’ve completely forgotten that they’ve voted on it.
Megan Porta: Or maybe it’s built up excitement. They’re like, oh, I was so excited about it six months ago now I’m really excited. So it could go either way, I think. Any other little tips for us as we’re thinking through what to create or how to deliver it too? Do you have any special way to announce it? Do you have an email series? Once your pattern is out or your PDF or your video that you’ve created, how do you deliver it in a way that’s really exciting?
Megan Gonzalez: So I do a newsletter. I do multiple Instagram and Facebook posts. I do it on Instagram stories as well. I’ve been experimenting with doing live on Instagram with mixed results. It’s not been great traffic wise. But the big thing that I started doing last year is I have found different knitting Facebook groups that are not just my Facebook groups, and I have joined them and some of them have different days that you can share on about your self-promotion, but a lot of them are just knitting groups. I don’t go in here, here’s my link, come to my blog for all this kind of stuff. Just hey, I’m excited that I finished this new pattern and just posted a picture of me wearing whatever it is. Just getting in there and talking to different people. I don’t just go and drop a post. I go in and I comment on several different things and have started building some relationships there, and that’s made a big difference to my traffic as well. Starting to be in front of other audiences that are not just my own. So I don’t know what the equivalent in food blogging would be, I’m assuming that there are foodie Facebook groups and things that you may be able to do something similar. Not just here’s the link to my blog, but more, I’m super excited to eat this meal, and then somebody might ask. Hey, that looks great. What’s the recipe? Then you can share it, but you’re only sharing it once somebody’s asked for it. You’re not pushing it on people.
Megan Porta: Yes, there are groups like that definitely that we utilize and it forces us also to build those relationships like you mentioned. That sounds terrible, like we’re being forced to, but it’s one of those byproducts that happens that we don’t expect. Oh, I’m going in here to share my links and to get traffic ultimately, but then what ends up happening is that before we know it, we’ve actually made some friendships. So it’s cool the way that works. Is there anything else, Megan, that we need to know before we start saying goodbye that you feel like we’ve missed that would be really good to touch on?
Megan Gonzalez: I don’t think so.
Megan Porta: Alright. This was super valuable and what a new way for us to think around getting our email lists built up. I know that as there are so many changes always on the blogging front. So as we anticipate what’s gonna happen, I think the email list is one of those really important things that we need to keep our eyes on. So I think this will be a really valuable episode for a lot of people. So thank you so much for your time today.
Megan Gonzalez: Absolutely.
Megan Porta: Do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with?
Megan Gonzalez: Yeah. One of my favorites is, it’s actually on a t-shirt that I got as a free promotion ages ago, but it says, Create every day. I wear it all the time because I just, I love getting that reminder of what we’re doing. It’s not just work. It’s not just entering things into a database. We are creating. Whether that is with knitting or with food or through writing on our blog, we are creating. To me, that’s really inspiring.
Megan Porta: I love that. I do it too, create every day. I am such a creator at heart and I think it’s so important not just for people like us who label ourselves as creators, but I think it’s really important for everybody to just create something every day and put it out into the world. I think that is like something that is so overlooked because we get caught up in our busyness, but it’s super important. So thank you for that reminder. I love it. We’ll put together a show notes page for you, Megan. If you wanna go look at those, go to eatblogtalk.com/nurtureknitwear. And I want to hear where we can find you and where can I learn to knit? Tell me that as well.
Megan Gonzalez: Absolutely. I’ve been doing some beginner knitting videos on my Instagram. I’m gonna also be doing that on my blog coming up very soon. Yeah, come to my blog, which is on nurtureknitware.com. You can also find me on Instagram at Nurture KnitWare, and I have a Facebook group as well that is great for asking questions and sharing a photo, going, something’s gone wrong and I don’t know what, can you help me? That’s facebook.com/groups/nurtureknitwear. Also just ask me. I’m always happy to help people learn how to knit. You’re welcome to email me; [email protected], and I love helping people learn to knit. It’s a wonderful craft. It can go with you anywhere and it’s bringing a sense of calm and peace and protection with you, in your purse at all times. So it’s a really lovely craft. Of course because I love it, I encourage everybody to learn.
Megan Porta: There’s something so calming, you’re right about just that repetition of creating stitches, right? When I’m crocheting, I feel so calm and just zen. I just want to do it all the time. It’s so calming, so I hear you.
Megan Gonzalez: It’s very soothing, especially when I’ve got the water on to boil and the kids are running around screaming and I just pull out my knitting and grab a couple stitches while waiting for that water to boil and just go. Okay. It’s gonna be fine. We’re gonna be fine.
Megan Porta: I love that you use that. That’s awesome. Thanks again, Megan for joining me today and thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
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