In episode 330, Jessica Holmes teaches us how to use words to connect with our readers more deeply. This encourages them to consume our content eagerly, which leads to them staying longer on our food blogs.
We cover information about how word choice can determine how long readers will stay on. your blog site, create a writing brand style and stick to it, bring recipes alive through creative descriptors and apply the same principles to your social media platforms.
Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.
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Bio Jessica Holmes is a content writer and recipe developer. She worked as a UX copywriter and content designer for over a decade, while also creating her own food blog. She gained serious traction as a food blogger, and eventually took her side hustle full time in 2020. She now spends her time creating content and writing recipes for Sweetest Menu.
- There is power in words and are a key part in a bloggers world.
- Consistency is key in blogging. Create a brand guide for yourself so you plan it out and stick to it. Choose your layout and writing style.
- Find a spouse or accountability partner to look over your writing to avoid common mistakes.
- Inject your personality into your writing. Share just a bit of your inspiration for the recipe where it fits, without being a bother to the reader.
- Break out of using the same adjectives and try not to robotic. A thesaurus is free!
- Social media allows you to be more creative, flowery, sassy with writing to engage your audience. Think outside the box for better success.
- Rhyming and alliteration are good ways to jazz up your writing.
- Keep a little notebook or use an app on your phone when you get inspiration for writing or how to describe something.
- Superfans are created by you injecting YOU into the post and social media platforms. They are connecting with a person and like you.
- Bring the FUN back into blogging!
Click for full script.
Episode 330 – Jessica Holmes – Revised
Jessica Holmes: Hi, this is Jessica Holmes from Sweetest Menu, and you are listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
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Megan Porta: Hey, there are food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and confidence that will move the needle forward in their businesses. This episode is sponsored by RankIQ. I am your host, MeganP orta, and you are listening to episode number 330. Today I am super excited. I have Jessica Holmes with me for the second time. She was a very early guest early on. So now she’s back to talk to us about using words to connect with readers and how this can be your secret weapon.
Jessica Holmes is the content writer and recipe developer at Sweetest Menu. She worked as a UX copywriter and content designer for over a decade while also creating her own food blog. She gained serious traction as a food blogger and eventually took her side hustle full time in 2020. She now spends her time creating content and writing recipes for Sweetest Menu.
Jessica, it is such a pleasure to have you back today. How are you doing? I know it’s super early on your side of the world. How’s it going today?
Jessica Holmes: No, thank you for having me, Megan. I’m good. I’m very excited to be here. It’s been. I think it has been almost three years since we talked. A lot has happened.
Megan Porta: Yes. A lot has happened in the world and in your family and otherwise, oh my gosh. So I’m super happy to catch up today and dig into a new topic. But first we wanna know if you have a second fun fact to share.
Jessica Holmes: Yeah. I was thinking about this. I was trying to think about something exciting that I’ve done with my life. One of the things I thought was that I used to actually work at one of Australia’s biggest food magazines. I thought that was exciting to share because one of the privileges I had on the job was to go to the photo shoots and work alongside the chefs and the food stylists and the food photographers, which as a blogger is pretty exciting because it’s everything that you are doing, but on a very professional level. So that was super exciting and I learned a lot through that experience.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s so cool. Okay. At what point in your life did you do that? Was that recently or a while ago?
Jessica Holmes: Yeah, it was about, I think maybe four years ago. It was really fun. It was very eye opening actually as a blogger to see that a lot of the things that we do is what they’re doing just on a greater scale, if that makes sense. So they still have the same setup, with the boards or the photography, final backdrops or whatever it was. But then the photography set up was next level. But yeah, I was able to get a few styling tips from the food stylist, which was always really exciting.
Megan Porta: Oh, absolutely. That’s so cool. I’m sure that helps to round out what you do now.
Jessica Holmes: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I definitely went and chatted their ear off and tried to get the advice that I could.
Megan Porta: I bet. Yes. I think anyone in that situation would take advantage and learn as much as possible. That’s so cool. So last time you were here, Jessica, we talked about Instagram and we’ll talk a little bit later about how this topic copywriting kind of ties into your Instagram because I can see how writing really good social copy helped to grow your Instagram account because I know you grew it really fast. We’re gonna focus on the copywriting piece and how using words can allow you to connect with your readers more deeply and how it can be a secret weapon for you. Would you mind just talking through your history with writing? I know you’ve been a writer for a pretty long time in different areas. So just talk us through all of.
Jessica Holmes: Yeah I did communications at university. I bounced around the ad agency, media agency world for a little while. Then I landed my first job as a copywriter. I just really fell in love with it, to be honest. I never really thought of myself as a writer. I didn’t grow up with that as my aspirations or anything. But yeah, I landed a job as a copywriter and I really enjoyed it. I was doing a lot of digital writing. So that’s where first started learning about SEO. This was way before Sweetest Menu existed. Yeah, from there, I was able to really grow my career and work as a UX writer and work for some really big companies here and just really learn about words and how important they are. When you’re writing for digital products and platforms and websites, how they can really help users navigate the product and achieve whatever their desired outcome is quickly and easily and that they really are a powerful force.
Megan Porta: Words, not just in blog posts, words anywhere are powerful. So whether you’re writing emails or social copy, anything you’re writing for.
Jessica Holmes: Absolutely. One of the big eye opening things was when I started working more on things like products and landing pages and things like that it was so interesting how much time would go into deciding what were the two words that were going to be on a button, for instance, What were we going to do? We would have these meetings with a room full of copywriters, and we would debate these questions for hours. It might just be a headline or yeah, the writing for a button. It was so eye opening for me, because I never thought about the power of words in that way until I started doing that professionally. It really impacted me and made me take that into what we do as bloggers and really realize that a lot of people focus on photography and obviously the recipe itself, but the actual words are a key part in what we do as well.
Megan Porta: So I’m sure you peruse many blogs and you’ve had your own blog for a while now. So what are some ways that we as bloggers can change it up and improve the way that we use words to connect with our readers?
Jessica Holmes: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s two kind of things that you can break down there. One is just thinking about good writing. So one of the things, professionally, in my job, it was often one of the things I had to do was review a lot of other people’s writing. You began to see really clearly there was really clear mistakes that people would make when it came to writing. You could see it distinguished between good writing and really great writing. Some of those things include usually if it hasn’t been written that well, it’s usually too long, is the biggest thing. So a lot of our time was spent editing, writing down. I think as bloggers, length is something that depends obviously on the recipe and what you wanna say, but it’s even thinking smaller than that. Even thinking of like sentence length. If you put writing into one of these programs that will tell you your readability score, it’s going to look at things like sentence length. The shorter the sentence, usually within reason, is better. Because it’s easier for people to read and it’s easier for people to digest. So things like that spelling mistakes is obviously a big one. Obviously grammar and punctuation. And probably one of the other biggest things is consistency. What I notice with myself and obviously with professional brands and bloggers is one thing that you can do to make your blog very professional or to lift it up, is make sure that you’re consistent. One thing I recommend to people is to create a brand guide or a playbook or something for your site that has the rules that you’re gonna follow. So every time you go to write a recipe, you know exactly how you’re gonna write those words that might be one word, two words, hyphenated, things like that. You need to sit down and choose what you are going to do for your brand and your site, and then make sure you are consistent across the board. It’s the same with spelling or capitalizing. Are you gonna capitalize or use sentence case for your recipe name or for your blog name? Things like that. So you can put that in a guide and then just make sure you stick to it and keep it consistent throughout your site. That will immediately make your site so much more professional.
One of the other things that we always used to see was exclamation points. So people love to use exclamation points, but as a UX writer, it was a big no-no and you had to use it very sparingly. I think people just get so enthusiastic, especially when we’re talking about food. This is the best recipe ever!
Megan Porta: Five exclamation points.
Jessica Holmes: Yes, exactly. You just gotta pull it back, keep it professional and just use one here and there, where it’s needed. But yeah, just make sure you’re not yelling at your readers.
Megan Porta: Okay. A few of the things you mentioned are huge pet peeves of mine. I just wanted to point out the long sentences that are really wordy. Oh my gosh. I start picking them apart. I’m like, oh my gosh, you don’t need that. You could replace that with one word. It drives me crazy and also spelling mistakes. That’s such an easy way to just make your writing clean. When I see a spelling mistake on someone else’s content, I immediately think, oh my gosh, what are they thinking? That’s so judgemental, but I think, it’s so easy to run spell check. People should be reading through that. That is just a personal pet peeve of mine. That’s sorry. I just sounded totally judgemental.
Jessica Holmes: That’s the thing. I think we have no excuse these days, really to have spelling mistakes. It’s a big one. But you’d be surprised how much it’s out there. Obviously you’re probably aware as when you’re proofreading your own work. That’s another thing that I always recommend, is people get someone else to proofread their work. Because yeah, you can just get blind to anything in your own work. If you’ve just read your post over and over again.
Megan Porta: You could even pair up with a blogging buddy or an accountability buddy, and just read each other’s content. I think that would be a really good way to not have to invest money and get someone to look at your words.
Jessica Holmes: Yeah. Your partner. I always get my husband to read through my writing as well as a second check. Yeah and I don’t pay him.
Megan Porta: That’s funny. Do you have any quick tips for making your words more interesting? So maybe changing up verbs or I don’t know, just anything to make it more juicy.
Jessica Holmes: Yes. Exactly. Yeah. That’s the second thing I was actually thinking about before. They were like the common mistakes that everyone could work out. Then to make your words stand out to your readers. It’s really about trying to inject your personality into your writing. That’s a great example that you just said one way is to really try and break out of using the same adjectives. Get a thesaurus. It’s a wonderful tool and something everyone can use for free. It’s just a really good idea for bloggers when we’re writing about a very similar subject, usually every week or multiple times a week, you really need to break out of using, delicious and yummy and those really common words. I think that’s a great way of just finding other words that you can use. Also reading other people’s writing and outside of your niche is a great way of just seeing how other people are using their words. You might pick a word from here or there you go, oh, I love that sentence. Or I love the way they described that. Or I’m reading about a travel blog or something and how they’ve described something. You can use those words and bring that into your own writing. But I think injecting your personality with stories can really help create meaning and a connection behind your recipes. I feel like bloggers have had a really hard time. I don’t know, I’m sure you’ve heard, but you know how people get mad at food bloggers because they say we ramble on and on. They’re like, where is the recipe? That joke that flies around the internet, drives me crazy.
Megan Porta: It’s so annoying.
Jessica Holmes: I understand, way back in the day, blogging was more of something where people would write long form about something that may not be directly related to the recipe, but we’ve all moved past that now. I think you can almost swing the other way where you start to write quite robotically. It’s just this recipe. Here’s how to make it. Here’s what you need, the end. We’re missing that piece of, But who are you and why are you excited about this recipe? Why did you decide to make it? For me, it can be just something as simple as one sentence. So I’m not advocating for people to bring back your life story at the side of the blog, but yeah, it can just be something really simple. Like for me I usually like to add in a reason why I made it. I just say something as simple as, oh, I’m making. Beautiful biscuit, because it reminds me of a biscuit I had when I went to Italy on holiday. Whatever it is. Or another example was, oh, I made this because I’ve been watching this TV show and I saw them eat this chocolate cake that looked amazing, so I thought I’d make it a copycat version. You might go oh, I watched that show too, and immediately you’re connecting with that person just in a very small but different way. I think that’s really what can distinguish bloggers from the bigger media sites or the professional food sites that are more corporate. It’s a person. That’s our strength. We can bring that into our blog.
Megan Porta: It is so easy to get into the robotic mode, though, with all of the SEO chatter and how we need to focus on that 100%. I do it too. I’m guilty of this. I will get into grooves where all I do is write for Google and in that format, that SEO format we’re supposed to use. Then I forget that I’m actually a human being, creating recipes for other human beings.
Jessica Holmes: Exactly. That’s what I think it comes down to. That’s often what good writing comes down to is actually just not writing for even like in my professional job. It’s not necessarily writing as the brand for the brand. As for Google, like you are saying. But it’s actually for the person on the other side. That’s what I think is so fun about when you use social media, you really get to connect with your readers. It’s a really great reminder, oh yeah. You see someone, they’ll send you a photo of a cake they made for their dad’s birthday. You go, oh yeah, this isn’t just something I’m putting on the internet. This is something someone else is going to my site, reading my post and then inviting me, through that recipe, into their birthday celebration. It’s very real and it’s very tangible. But you’re right. It’s very easy to forget that.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So you mentioned, even if it’s just one sentence, injecting your personality in. How much do you personally and how much do you recommend others personalize the recipes and their blog posts?
Jessica Holmes: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it really comes down to what you’re comfortable with. Obviously there is that line between. You don’t wanna bore people. The other thing with writing is obviously keeping things clear, simple, and easy to read. You don’t need to waffle. You don’t need to go too far down where it’s going to be a bother to the reader. But I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. 1, 2, 3 sentences where it fits. It’s the same thing. It comes down where there’s not exactly a number of words or a number of sentences, but it’s just what actually makes sense. For me, a lot of my recipes come from a bakery in New York that really inspired me. I did a cooking class there. So I use a lot of what I learned in that class as my inspiration. So when I write the recipe, I do a good paragraph. This is where I went. This is what I learned. This is why I love what they do. This is why I took this and put it into my recipe. I think. Someone can skip over that paragraph. It’s the great thing about headings. You can just scroll past that, but if someone’s interested, then it’s actually relevant. It’s not me just talking about my weekend. People immediately get to know me. They know where I went, they know why I did this. Who’s my inspiration behind it. They get to know me as a person as well, even in that really small way.
Megan Porta: Some at niches, I think lend to this more naturally, if you are, let’s say your family is Italian and you are posting a lot about Italian food. Then obviously those stories about your family making food are going to fit in much more easily and naturally than if just me posting about my boring calorie laden, American food. I don’t really have many back stories aside from wow. It was really hot out today, so we made whatever. So it just depends on your niche too.
Jessica Holmes: Yeah. it can be as simple as something like, oh, this is my husband’s favorite. Just immediate, just, oh, she’s married. Oh, she’s cooking for a family. It can be very small. The other way you can also do it when we’re talking more about the food blog and the food post is actually in the recipe itself. I think people forget that that is your hero actually, you are a writer, you are a recipe writer and the recipe is the hero of your blog post. You can write it very robotically. I think we are trained to write it fairly robotic, which they need to be, because they need to be very simple and clear, but you can add a little bit of direction and warmth without being flowery. One thing I like to do is pair back and write the basic recipe as it is, mix this, add that. But then it’s adding just a few things back in to offer a little bit of direction. Like sometimes for me, because I make a lot of cakes and things. It might be like you’re a cake batter might be quite thick, but this is fine. Might be like, oh you’re cookie dough will be a little bit dry at this stage, but keep going, it’ll come together in minutes. It sounds like nothing, but it’s a little something to just hold your reader’s hand. And it’s what you would say if you were in the kitchen with them. It’s a little warm like that. Actually, Jamie Oliver is a really good example of someone who adds a lot of personality too. If you go on and read his recipes, he often adds his personality in but, he’s a cook, so he can be a little bit fast and loose with some of his measurements. He’ll say add a lug of olive oil, add a splash pass of water, a knob of butter and toss it with your hands and serve it with a piping hot gravy. He just, he has his personality. You read it, you can see it. Yeah, I think people forget that, that you can add a little bit of personality into your actual recipes as well.
Megan Porta: Oh, I like what you just said about piping hot gravy. I never think to add to descriptors like that. I just don’t. But what a cool idea to just use that little bit of extra something to describe your food so that people can envision it or taste it or smell it.
Jessica Holmes: Exactly and, even, yeah, the last line in a lot of recipes, you might say serve with ice cream or serve with, whatever it is. But yeah, there’s a little space there where you might go, Hey, serve this with my beautiful vanilla buttercream or whatever it is and when you’re linking to another recipe, like there’s a little space there for you to put a little something in there.
Megan Porta: oh, wow. I love that.
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Megan Porta: Okay. So I feel like part of the reason you have been so wildly successful on Instagram is because of your copywriting and the way that you write and connect with your readers that way. So do you have suggestions or tips for how to write snappy social copy specifically on Instagram or Facebook?
Jessica Holmes: Yes, that’s a great question. Instagram is a little tricky at the moment because they’re forcing us to do reels. Yeah, that’s a bit of a bug there for a few people. You have to write a caption for a real one as well. It comes down to, obviously, it’s a great place where you can showcase your brand’s personality and it also comes down to your readers and who they are. One thing I find is it’s just a really great place to, you can get a little bit creative. So all those rules we talked about before, they obviously, a lot of them still apply like spelling mistakes, et cetera, et cetera, but you can get a little bit more creative. You can get a little bit more flowery. You can keep it short and sweet, but you can write something longer if it’s going to be of use to your readers. But again, it’s like sitting down and just really tapping into that creative aspect.
I think you can really get into a rut on how you write and publish, especially if you’re just republishing the same recipes. You can just be like, oh, here’s this cake, here’s this cookie. It’s just about trying to get a little bit creative. I think outside the box, like we were saying before. Use a thesaurus to get a little bit creative with the words that you’re using and how you’re describing your recipes. It’s a great idea if you can find different brands and people online that are doing fun things and learning from them.
One of my favorite brands that’s completely irrelevant to food bogging is, there’s a skincare brand in Australia called go-to skincare. It’s run by Zoe Foster Blake. If you go on their website, they are so clever. I assume she hasn’t written at all, but she’s an amazing writer. But her personality comes through and everything that they do. It’s things like that where I can follow them completely non-related to food blogging, but I can get some great ideas on how they do their copy and how they engage with their readers on social and through their website. Yeah, it’s I guess my answer in short is really getting your inspiration, getting creative and getting inspired by other brands, what other people are doing and about your food so that you just make sure you don’t get stuck in that rut when you’re doing your social copy. Because you have to do it so often and so consistently.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Can we do an example? Would you mind doing that? Taking maybe two sentences and transforming them. Something that maybe I would put on social media and then tell me what your suggestions would be. So, first of all, wanna make sure that’s okay with you. I didn’t ask you this beforehand.
Jessica Holmes: Let’s give it a go. We’ll see.
Megan Porta: So I’ll just tell you how I write. I am like, just getting it out there ASAP as fast as I can. Then I don’t put much thought into this. So you are giving me a new perspective for sure. I do write the same way over and over, and that’s probably not great for the people reading because I just feel like I need someone to say, oh why don’t you talk about this? Or why don’t you use this kind of verb. Just a little bit of suggestion. I think maybe that’s what we all need for those of us who do feel like we get into ruts with writing, especially on social media. It’s bang, get it out. I just want it published. I get into that mindset.
Jessica Holmes: I completely understand. That’s why I often go to other people and other brands and things for inspiration. You can just get stuck in the right and you can sit there and you can’t think of another adjective to save your life, on how to describe it. That’s why it’s good to break out. And also not just look at other food bloggers or food websites, but other brands and people doing interesting things outside of your niche as well.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I like your idea about just opening a thesaurus. That’s so easy and something I never think about, but I tend to use the same descriptors for food. Like yummy, delicious, amazing. I use amazing or the best. So maybe I could break out of that. There’s so many ways to describe good food aside from those four descriptors. Like scrumptious or there’s so many ways to talk about it. Do you have some favorites? Know you do a lot of baked goods. What are some of your favorite ways to describe food?
Jessica Holmes: I do use a lot of the words you just said. Definitely guilty of that, I was just thinking. One of the things when I was working in writing professionally is I did have to have a thesaurus open all the time, because it really is hard to not use the same words. I’m trying to think of what other words that I like to use. I really like describing textures. So I like talking. If something is very. Tender. If something is juicy. I like being a little bit fun and laid back, so if I’m describing a frosting and I’ll say it’s a dreamy creamy frosting. Using multiple words, like lovely lemon and whatever it is, just trying to make it a little bit more enticing.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I like lovely lemons. I think I’ve used luscious lemon in the past. I really like the two L’s together. I think that sounds so fun.
Jessica Holmes: Bit of alliteration, right?
Megan Porta: Yep. Creamy, dreamy, dreamy, creamy. I’ve used that too before, and I kinda ran with it for a while. I was like, Ooh, I really like that. So I used it a couple times and then I stopped, but I love that too. The rhyming and the alliteration are great tips.
Jessica Holmes: Yeah. I’m trying to think of some other good examples. Obviously then, like you said, it’s hard when you find something that you’d not just keep using.
Megan Porta: I know. They’re like what is a dreamy creamy goodness? Everything is.
Jessica Holmes: That’s right. It’s a good idea actually to, like we were talking before. When I was saying, you can create a playbook and make sure you have your sort of rules on how you’re going to use words is to have a descriptor spreadsheet and jot them down so you can jot down obviously your favorites. Then if you come up with any new ones, and then, like I said, when you’re reading or you’re seeing something else, or you might see a billboard or an ad or something on TV and you think, oh, that’s a great word. Or I love the way they described that. Put it in your sheet because when you come down and you sit down to write it, all those things just disappear.
Megan Porta: That’s such a good tip. I love that. Or having a little notebook in your purse because yeah. I often think of things, like you said, when I’m out and about, and I completely forget it. I’m like, oh, I’ll remember that. Then of course I never do.
Jessica Holmes: Yes. Exactly. Or a note on your phone or something like that.
Megan Porta: That’s great. If anything else comes to mind, just fun, little words, or ways to spruce it up, let me know you can chime back in. But I was gonna ask you, because this is one of the things that I said earlier on is that you believe that changing up your writing and writing like a human being and not always being an SEO robot, can be a secret weapon for food bloggers because we do a lot of writing. So talk about that. How do you back that up? How can this be our secret weapon?
Jessica Holmes: So I think. It comes down to what we were talking about before with that really adding in your personality and giving some warmth to your writing. I think it’s a way to differentiate yourself from other bloggers. There’s a lot of us out in the world and a lot of food websites, but there’s only one you. So wherever you can, bring yourself and your personality and bring that to your brand and bring that to your writing. It makes a huge difference. It’s the way that you can be different from a more corporate food website. I get a lot of. Feedback from readers that they talk about how I write and how they feel like they do know me. I think sometimes we limit ourselves too. If we got an email from someone we might write back in a certain way, But we can write back in that friendly, kind or whatever it is that you want to be, and you are, we can use that across our whole site and all of our social platforms. It’s when you get a DM on Instagram and everything. I hope wherever I am on my site, whether I’m writing my blog posts, whether I’m writing a caption for Instagram stories, or if I’m answering comments, that I am me and I am writing exactly the same really, across all of those different platforms so that, I am me and Sweetest Menu is me and readers can get to know you as a person, and that’s how they make a connection to you. That’s why they’ll come back to your site eventually. That’s how you’ll get your super fans, if that makes sense. Anyone could come to your site to get a great recipe. They might come and use a recipe and then disappear. But for the people that are gonna keep coming back and keep wanting to connect with you and actually do things like go on your email list or join you on social media, they’re people that, you know what I think of your true fans, your true core readers. They wanna be there because they like you. They feel like they know you. That’s how it is with celebrities, right? Or people from TV. We might watch a reality show or something and we feel like we get to know them. Then we wanna follow them on social media and I’m not saying we’re reality stars at all. Please do not take that from what I’m saying. But I just mean, yeah. Humans are all about connection. We can just use our words to make those connections and to showcase our personality and who we are. I think when you do that and move away from being too robotic or too corporate, it makes it fun. It brings the fun back into blogging.
Megan Porta: Wow, Jessica. That was amazing. I loved everything you said. That was so well said. Words are powerful. We tend to shove them aside as food bloggers, sometimes because we place, I guess like creative power on photographs and the way we present visual things on social media and on our blogs. We often forget about the words and the words are just sitting there, like spruce me up. Use me. I’m powerful too.
Jessica Holmes: Which is crazy because at the end of the day, we are recipe writers. We’re writers. You’re a writer. Out there, if you’re wondering, if you think you’re just a blogger, you’re not. You’re a writer, you’re a professional writer. That’s an area that we can all up skill in and we can all use to our advantage.
Megan Porta: Yes. Oh, this is amazing. I just thought of the lemon drop thing that I mentioned earlier. I could say something like luscious lemon drop, since you mentioned the lemon and the alliteration. Luscious lemon drop on a beautiful summer day. Maybe more painting a picture about what it’s like to enjoy a lemon cocktail on a hot summer day or something like that would be more inviting.
Jessica Holmes: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Paint a picture. People think, yeah, I could picture myself out in my lounge, sun lounger in the sun by the pool enjoying A lovely lemon cocktail.
Megan Porta: That’s way more enticing than, my husband makes this in the summer. Okay. That’s cool. I’m just picturing my husband making slaving away in the kitchen.
Jessica Holmes: Yes, that’s right.
Megan Porta: That’s so good. Okay. Is there anything we’ve forgotten Jessica, before we move on and start saying goodbye.
Jessica Holmes: Just one more little piece of advice I would give, which I found quite interesting when I started working in writing, is that we are recommended to write only to a fifth grade standard. So the question often is can a 10 year old understand this? I think it’s just important to remember, to really write simply and clearly and with consistency. Sometimes people think, to be a good writer, you must use all these big words and you must write really long form. More like that journalistic kind of content. But as a copywriter and a blogger, it’s just writing really clearly and simply and so anyone can understand it.
One piece of advice I would have for people is really getting to know your readers, as well, because then you will know how to talk to them. One thing, for example, is so easy these days to create polls and to get feedback instantly on social media. When I would work as a UX writer, we would often do focus groups, and we would do them online and we would get people to come in and we would go over the words with them. It was like a big, complicated process. But now, you can just do that at the drop of the hat. The great thing about that is you can just find out more from their perspective, right? Because at the end of the day, it might sound like a bit like a vanity project when I’m talking like, oh, you can talk about yourself and about you and blah, blah, blah.
But it’s also, obviously a big part is about your readers and what they wanna hear, what they wanna know. One thing that I’ve done a few times as well is once I’ve published a recipe, and I really try to channel my readers and think, what is every piece of information that they want, when they’re gonna make this recipe. Sometimes it can be as simple as I will ask a question after I publish a recipe and I’ll say, oh, do you have any questions about the recipe? Obviously some people will ask questions that are already in the post and you’ll go yeah. I’ve included that information, but a lot of people will ask things, I think I never even thought of that. That’s so eye opening for me because I can take all of that, all of those insights and next time I come to write a recipe, I, I can include whatever it was that maybe was missing, or I hadn’t thought about, how they were using it. They will tell you how they’re going to use this recipe and therefore, what information is important to them. It will help you see their priorities, which is very important then when you’re putting together and crafting a post and a recipe.
Megan Porta: You were just giving extra tips, which are so amazing. I am so inspired to just go spruce up my social copy a little bit. Everything you’re saying is just incredible and inspiring. So thank you. Is there anything else? I didn’t mean to cut you off?
Jessica Holmes: No, not at all. No, that’s it. Thank you. I’m glad.
Megan Porta: I feel like this is gonna be a super inspiring episode and we have talked about writing before on Eat Blog Talk, but not like this. This is really unique. It’s like getting into how to make your writing juicy and interesting and just more desirable. Just like our food. We want our food to be that, but we can do that through words.
Jessica Holmes: That’s a great way to describe it.
Megan Porta: Thank you, Jessica. I hope you have a wonderful day in Australia. I know you’re just starting your day, so thanks for getting up early for us.
Jessica Holmes: No worries.
Megan Porta: Yeah. It was awesome to talk to you again, we are wondering if you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with us, this time around?
Jessica Holmes: One piece of inspiration that I have is one of my copywriting mentors who used to be my old boss, she just told me one day to write how you would talk. I know that sounds really simple. And it doesn’t have much meaning, but it really meant a lot to me. I use that often when I’m writing. I think just remembering, when you sit down to just write, like you would talk to a person. There’s a real person on the other side and a great way to check if you have written, how you would talk is to read your writing out loud. Once you write it and see if it actually flows and actually does make sense. That’s a really great way to just do a double check on your writing.
Megan Porta: That is a great tip too. I always love it when I read something from somebody that I know and I’m like, oh my gosh, that sounds just like the way they talk. You just know it right away. Then sometimes you’ll get something from someone, and it doesn’t sound like them. You’re like, wait, what? Would you really say that?
Jessica Holmes: That’s right. That’s right.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Great tips. Oh my gosh. This is packed full of awesomeness. So thanks again. We will put together a show notes page for you, Jessica. You can find those at eatblogtalk.com/sweetestmenu. That was a lot of S sounds. Tell everyone where they can find you online, on social media and everywhere else?
Jessica Holmes: Yes, you can find me on sweetestmenu.com or come join me on Instagram at Sweetest Menu. I’m over there every day and love to chat.
Megan Porta: Thank you so much for being here again, Jessica, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.
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