In episode 326, Megan chats with Monica Davis, creator of The Hidden Veggies, who teaches us how to use our niche to rapidly grow our email list, keep them engaged and make them feel valued.
We cover information about how this will improve our subscriber open and link clickthrough by making your audience excited about new content, grow your subscriber list by combing through your analytics, offer opt-ins that are specific to the main pillars of your content and remember if your free content is really good, the audience is more likely to pay for other resources.
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Bio Monica Davis, blogger from Pittsburgh, PA, lives with her husband and two teenage boys. Monica enjoys inventing new recipes since she went vegan over 22 years ago. Her speciality is creating recipes for “normal” everyday vegan comfort foods that everyone will love. If you crave it, Monica can prepare it vegan. She specializes in homemade vegan basics like vegan cheeses, butter, mayo, and dressings, plus faux meats, eggs, and seafood.
- Create an opt-in offer that is detailed, that fulfills an issue, solves a problem, then add them into a sales funnel for continued communications.
- Look at your analytics to see why people are visiting you, what they are landing on and then what opt-in to use to target the visitors.
- Categorize your most popular content and look at the themes in your traffic. What you can teach regarding a single product, meal planning or some tactic that will help them work smarter in the kitchen, solving a problem.
- You can have multiple targeted opt-ins going at once (not just pop ups).
- Your free e-book can be content you already have spread around on your site and be a small version of a larger product you are selling that has more details.
- Pop ups are valuable as well as opt-ins. Delay more than 30 seconds if you can so people can get into the content before asking them to commit.
- FloDesk offers 3 options for a subscriber so they can choose what they are interested in receiving from you; subscriptions have gone up.
- Your direct traffic can go up significantly from a solid email sequence when you’re solving a problem. Keep your emails short and sweet.
- Know what you want to sell in the future so you can work backward on priming your list for that and grow interest.
- Add a pinterest pin into your email – your pinterest pin will do better overall.
Click for the full text.
Monica Davis: Hi, this is Monica Davis from The Hidden Veggies and you’re listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk, scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast. It adds value and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay. Now onto the episode.
Megan Porta: Hey 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, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode number 326. Today I have Monica Davis with me. She is going to tell us all about her tips and secrets and whys and reasons for growing an email list. Monica Davis is the blogger behind the Hidden Veggies. She is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and lives with her husband and two teenage boys. Monica enjoys inventing new recipes since she went vegan over 22 years ago. Her specialty is creating recipes for normal, everyday vegan comfort foods that everyone will love. If you crave it, Monica can prepare it vegan.
She specializes in homemade basics, such as vegan cheeses, butter, Mayo, and dressings plus faux meats, eggs and seafood. I’ve had some of your foam meats and all of your amazing vegan stuff, Monica. It’s so good. I never thought I would say that about vegan food, but it’s so delicious. You are definitely a vegan magician.
Monica Davis: Thank you.
Megan Porta: Thanks for being here. I’m super excited to chat with you today. How are you?
Monica Davis: I’m doing well. Nice to be here. Thank you.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So I have to mention this before we get into your fun fact. Your vegan cheese magic happens on Instagram, and I see this. It’s so magical the way you put all of these non-dairy ingredients together and create this thing that looks like cheese and I have told you this before, but I’ve actually had all night long dreams about your vegan cheese.
Monica Davis: You’re the only one.
Megan Porta: Which is so weird, but it’s that magic. So you don’t dream about your vegan cheese?
Monica Davis: It is very good, but vegan cheese is one of the hardest things to make vegan and taste like the original. So yeah, it’s not for everyone, but it is actually the most popular recipe on my blog and it’s delicious, I think, but I haven’t had cheese in 22 years.
Megan Porta: Oh, okay. So beyond all of that, do you have a fun fact to share with us?
Monica Davis: My fun fact is that I hiked almost 900 miles of the Appalachian Trail alone with my dog in the year 2000, the summer of 2000.
Megan Porta: Wow. You met your husband that way, right?
Monica Davis: I did. I met my husband about a week into the trail. We were both staying at the same hostel and yeah, we started talking.
Megan Porta: The rest is history.
Monica Davis: Yeah. Cook stoves, and stuff like that. He was vegan at the time and I had just gone vegan. I was actually doing the macrobiotic diet at the time, a very strict version to get over some health issues. I had been sick a couple years prior to that and hiking the Appalachian Trail was just like my celebration hike of feeling better.
Megan Porta: I love your story and that’s such a cool story. Who meets their husband on a long walk? Goodness. Did you say 900 mile hike?
Monica Davis: It’s over 2000 miles.
Megan Porta: But your portion was…
Monica Davis: Yeah, I just had the summer. I was a teacher at the time and I had my summer off, I had nine weeks to hike and I hiked about a hundred miles a week.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. So fun though. I love hiking. I need to do a fun, big adventure like that sometime.
Monica Davis: Yeah. Through-hikes are really fun too because you don’t have to turn around and go back where you came from. I love through-hikes.
Megan Porta: You just keep going and eventually come out on the other side or somewhere.
Monica Davis: Yeah. You just have to have a ride somewhere on the other side.
Megan Porta: Okay you are in the Eat Blog Talk mastermind and we’ve talked at length about your amazing email strategies and growth. I think that one of the first times you talked about your email list, you were a little shocked to find that the rest of us were nowhere near what your email list was at. You were like is that normal? We were like, no, that’s definitely not normal to have that many subscribers, in a good way. We were just all in awe of how you did this. We were like, please tell. So I love your strategies and just the way you approach email and growing a list, because I feel like it’s a little bit unconventional. Kind of the way you approach your vegan food. You don’t necessarily go to your competition and do what they’re doing. You literally just create what you think works and it applies to your email strategy too. So what made you want to start growing your email list? What prompted you to go down that path?
Monica Davis: About three years ago, I was just randomly listening to this podcast and it’s not even a food blogger podcast. Just a general business and Abby and Donnie Lawson from Abby Organizes were talking about their strategy. I think it used to be called A Girl and Her Blog and now it’s Abby Organizes, but they just had such a brilliant strategy about how to grow their list and how to sell to their list. At the time I was, I think I was getting close to maybe having 2000 subscribers, where I knew I was gonna have to start paying for the list. I was like, why am I gonna pay all this money for this list that it really doesn’t pay for itself. I couldn’t see the ROI in it. But their strategy was to get people landing, on their website, on their most popular pages, coming from wherever and then creating an opt-in offer that was very targeted to the reason that someone was coming to their site to begin with. Then putting them into a sales funnel. So you just have this list of people who are very interested in what you were doing. So I just thought that was brilliant.
Megan Porta: Yeah. It is, and it is a little bit different than what we do now. I feel like we don’t necessarily target people to that degree. Like really giving them something that they want and then building our list with people that really wanna be there. I feel like it’s a little bit different than what most people do.
Monica Davis: Yeah. I think it’s hard on a food blog too, because we have recipes, especially general food bloggers. Our recipes are just all over the place. So you might get somebody coming from Pinterest to your salad recipe, but then your opt-in offer is for five chocolate desserts or something. They’re trying to get healthier, trying to make a salad for a potluck. They’re not interested in the desserts right then. So you lost them and they’re just gonna click out of it and not pay any attention to it. I decided I needed to look at my traffic and look at why people were coming, what they were landing on, and then what I could offer them as a free opt-in offer that would target the reason that they were there. Then in the future, sell them a product. In my case, an ebook and in the back of my mind, I had a few eBooks that I thought, oh, maybe I would write, but that hasn’t even happened yet. It was a long term plan, it’s three years of planning and I’m still in the process of carrying out the plan. I don’t have it all the way I want it yet.
Megan Porta: Oh, interesting. So it’s not like a quick thing. I’m gonna put up an offer next week and it’s going to be done in the next quarter. This is an ongoing, very long term situation.
Monica Davis: Right. I have three opt-ins right now on my site, that a lot of my recipes are either like the vegan staples I call them. I don’t really know a better word for it. But like butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, those kinds of things that you can make. I also have tons of vegan cheese recipes, and those do really well. Like I said, my main vegan cheese recipe is the most popular recipe on my site. So I get a lot of traffic from that. Then I also did, not this past holiday season, but a year and a half ago, I did a ham and a turkey that did really well. It’s made from seitan, which is a wheat gluten. I’ve made a lot more recipes since that have also done well in that category. So I’m getting a lot of people in that category as well. So I made a third optin offer for satan. So my three opt-in offers are a mini version of my eBooks that I have for sale. So say somebody Googles vegan cheese, they come to my site, they find me, they like the cheese recipe. They see that I have an opt-in offer to get this mini ebook that teaches them more about making homemade vegan cheese. They signed up for that. Then they get the cheese ebook immediately, as soon as they give me their email. Then they get into my sequence, the email sequence in general. Then I think it’s the next email. I offer them a discount on my cheese ebook that’s for sale. So they just get into that sales funnel. That was my idea of how I could also sell more eBooks because people say eBooks don’t sell or cookbooks don’t sell. I think it is very hard when we offer so many things for free, but I think it’s easier to sell to a very targeted list of people who are there for that specific reason.
Megan Porta: Okay. So how did you decide which topics to talk about in your eBooks? So you said that you went into your traffic and you just were trying to figure out where people going? Why are they coming? So how did you pinpoint those few things?
Monica Davis: Yeah. I just categorized what my most popular posts were and then what I could offer them that was similar enough content that I thought that they would want more of. Also what I would have something to sell. If they are coming to me for a seitan recipe and then I offer them a mini ebook with five more seitan recipes, then hopefully they’ll be interested in my full ebook with 30 seitan recipes that then they’ll purchase. So it was a matter of just really looking at my traffic and putting it into categories. Like I said, I’m not done. I have a lot more opt-in offers that I would like to do in the future. I think just easy vegan recipes for beginners. These are very specific. I know the people I’m getting on my list are not quick and easy dinner kind of people. These are people who are willing to spend their Saturday making vegan cheese.
Megan Porta: And then dreaming about it. ]
Monica Davis: And then dreaming about it. Yeah. If they come for a quick and easy pasta recipe, which I also have, I want something to be able to get those people in as well.
Megan Porta: What’s your ultimate goal for like how many opt-ins do you dream of having?
Monica Davis: Oh, I have no idea.
Megan Porta: Endless amounts?
Monica Davis: Maybe five or six different opt-ins at least. I have three now and then I have a couple more in mind. Yeah. Maybe at most 10. I think the people that I was referencing in the beginning from Abby Organizes, I think they have 200 freebies on their site.
Megan Porta: What?
Monica Davis: Yeah, it’s insane. They very specifically target almost every post that they have, or the majority of the posts that they have. They have a very specific opt-in offer that gives them more on the same post. That’s a different kind of blogging too. So I don’t know if that would really work with food blogging. But it’s interesting because people are in the mindset when they’re on your site for whatever post it is. That’s what you know, they’re interested in the moment and they’re excited about it, so if you can get them to give you your email, when they’re interested in that, then you’re much more likely to get their email.
Megan Porta: Is this the way you’re doing it, you’re thinking it down the road to your end goal. So your end goal is having ebook products to sell from different categories, and then you’re working backwards. So what’s the freebie that would support it and then what you need to do to get people to get the freebie. Is that how you think of it?
Monica Davis: Yeah. My eBooks, the free eBooks that I have are mini versions of my bigger eBooks, just to make it easier for myself partially. So the introduction is the same, the tips and tricks about making your homemade Seitan, those remain generally the same. Then I pick five recipes from that. The five recipes also are already on my blog. They can dig around and find them. I’m not recreating the wheel here. I am writing the introduction to a book that I’m going to be writing anyway to sell. Then I’m taking five recipes that are going to be in the book, but are already on my blog and sharing them. It comes out to be, I think my mini eBooks are about 20 pages, but it’s a lot of good high quality information on that very specific topic and people appreciate it so much. They love them. I get a thank you letter almost every day from somebody who subscribed saying this is so helpful. I’m so glad to have all of this information compiled together. So it’s nice to hear that people appreciate it too. I felt weird about it, it’s already on my site, do they really want it, but it’s nice to have it compiled, I think and a little extra explanation on things.
Megan Porta: And it saves people from having to search. That can take some time, searching. How do you put it all together? Do you bookmark everything? Then you have to come back to it. So yeah, I can see where that would just simplify everything for people. So your big eBooks, the big versions are everything inside of their content from your site, or do you have new content as well?
Monica Davis: I always have new content in those as well. There’s a lot of recipes that are the same. It’s about half and half, existing and then some new recipes that I don’t share anywhere else. I feel why buy the book if you can hit every single thing. Yeah. But even then people just appreciate having the book and having that work done for them and having it all in one place.
Megan Porta: So I know this is a hangup for a lot of food bloggers. We are recipe creators. We create recipe posts and we get to the point in our business where we make the decision we wanna make money. So we need to actually sell beyond what we make for advertising. So that is a huge thing for a lot of food bloggers. I remember going through that as well. They’re on my list? How do I sell to them? They’re here to see free recipes and get free content. So did you have to get past that and how did you deal with all of that yourself?
Monica Davis: Yeah, I had to really get over it. Because I hate emailing people. First of all, I always felt like I was bothering them like, oh, I have a new recipe. Should I really email my list? So I had to get over that feeling I was bothering people by emailing them. Then I think part of what helped me get over it is the fact that you have to pay for these email services. I was on Convertkit for a little while and then the more subscribers I was getting, the more you had to pay. It was like over a hundred dollars a month that I was paying to have this list and they had to give me something back. I just made this mental shift. If they’re on my list, they signed up for it. If I sell an ebook to them once or twice a year, then they can always click unsubscribe, it’s down at the bottom. If I’m making them mad, they can leave and also get okay with people leaving too, with people unsubscribing. I think your first year of blogging hurts your feelings. You’re like, oh, I got a new subscriber. Then you send out an email and then you lose five. You get over it after a while.
Megan Porta: You realize quickly that these people clearly weren’t meant to be on your list. They weren’t there for the right reasons. You don’t want those people there. It took me a while to get past that shift too. Yeah, if they don’t wanna be. I don’t want them here. That’s fine. We’re not a good pair.
Monica Davis: Also this I’m giving them free stuff. I’m giving them at least one, if not two or three new recipes every week. I’m giving them a free ebook for opting in. I’m giving, 99% of the time. Occasionally. I have a new book out. I don’t even care if people don’t buy it. Then you know, it’s not for them as well. I try not to let that bother me either. I’m giving them a product that they want.
Megan Porta: And a product they need, that is going to solve a problem. A really big problem.
Monica Davis: Yeah. That was another thing, when I was trying to decide what optin offer to have and what eBooks to sell. I was really trying to solve a problem. And a big problem for vegans is that the cheese just doesn’t taste good. I spent years in my kitchen playing around with different cheese recipes and those were the best ones that I had. So I felt like I solved this problem for a lot of people that wanted to give up dairy or needed to give up dairy and wanted a better tasting option that would help them give it up. So yeah, if you feel like you’re solving a problem and helping them, then it becomes much easier.
Megan Porta: Is that step one you would say for anyone listening, who’s yes, I need to grow my list. I don’t know how. Just digging into your analytics, figuring out what that one or two or three or five problems are that you can solve for people. Is that where we start?
Monica Davis: Yeah, I think so. I think, look at your most popular content. Look who’s coming in and why, and put those into groups. Maybe healthy recipes or quick and easy recipes for dessert recipes or whatever it is that you’re getting the majority of your traffic from. Then at the same time, think into the future a year or two ahead, could you make an ebook or a course or something to sell to that group of people so your list can work for you once you get the people. Then maybe even do two different opt-ins. Maybe you have tons of people who are interested in salads, but tons of people who are interested in desserts. Then, like on my site, I have embedded at the bottom of within each of my cheese posts, there’s an opt-in for the cheese free ebook and within all my seitan recipes or vegan meat related recipes, I have a different opt-in embedded specifically to my seitan ebook and the same with my vegan staples. So trying to categorize those and then having a highly targeted opt in offer within that post specifically, not just the popup. I do recommend popups, definitely. I have tested so many things over the years and I keep trying to give up popups cuz I hate them too.
Megan Porta: I know. So what are your tips on popups?
Monica Davis: Yeah. You have to have one. I try to have one on a 30 second delay. I would delay it as much as you can. I actually wish I could delay it even a little bit more because I feel like people need to get into the content a little bit. If they’re only on your site for 10 seconds, I don’t think they know enough about you to give you their email. So definitely do a delay or an exit intent pop up. So it’s not popping up too quickly before they even know what your website’s about. I also use FloDesk now and they have three options on their popup. I think it’s a new thing. I just started using it about two months ago and my signups have increased since I gave people options. Since I have three opt-ins on there now, I don’t want people coming to one of my seitan recipes and then getting a pop-up for the opt-in for the cheese recipes. That’s confusing. So now at least they have three options. They see, oh, she has three different eBooks that I can opt into and they can opt into all of ’em. That’s a whole nother story. It was a whole thing to get the email sequences to work when they opt into multiple choices. But I got that to work as well.
Megan Porta: That’s not easy, depending on what email service provider you’re using, some of them, or a little hard to use. Because that’s complicated. Did it take you a while to figure that out?
Monica Davis: Yeah, it did. I don’t even know where to start with that one.
Megan Porta: We don’t have to get into that, but the bottom line is that it’s worth it to just dig in a little bit and figure out how to make that work.
Monica Davis: Yeah. I think it is worth it. If you have more than one opt-in, I’m not sure if other service providers are having that three or multiple opt-in check boxes on their popups. I just know FloDesk is doing that now and it is working well. It’s nice that I can have that option.
Megan Porta: Yes, that is super nice.
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Secondly, the optimizer in RankIQ provides very specific recommendations about content to include inside the post. This makes my writing go so much more smoothly as the optimizer acts as a guide leading the way to a comprehensively written post. Last, I don’t do as much searching and waffling on the front end of landing on a keyword for all of the above reasons. So I dig into the writing portion really quickly and with laser focus. If this sounds intriguing, go to rankiq.com to check it out for yourself. You’re going to love it. Now let’s get back to the episode.
Megan Porta: I’ve seen yours. I love it because as the user, you can click one of the three categories that you talked about or one of the three opt-ins and then you get content based on your selection, but then you also put them into your regularly scheduled sequence, correct?
Monica Davis: Yes. So for each one, no matter whatever check box they check, they automatically get the email that has that mini ebook in it. Then the next day they all get the same welcome to my blog with background about who I am and what my blog is about and stuff like that. Then a few days later, I send another welcome email, giving them some of my most popular recipes and content that I don’t want them to miss. Then about a week after they get their initial free ebook, they get another email that shows them how to use the things that they made. Since my ebook has something like cheese so here’s my stuff, shell recipe, or my lasagna recipe or whatever that you can use the cheese on or in.
Megan Porta: That’s smart.
Monica Davis: Yeah, and I get so much direct traffic now as a result of these email sequences. I see people opening them and clicking on all of those posts that are within my email sequence.
Megan Porta: That’s so cool. Oh, I love your strategy. So aside from just figuring out that one or two or handful of problems, what other tips do you have for people who want to grow their lists?
Monica Davis: I guess just really taking the time to think about what they might wanna sell in the future. So that list is primed for whatever it is, any kind of product or course or whatever it is that they would wanna sell in the future. Also that they’re gonna be interested in the other recipes that you’re putting out every week. Another thing that I didn’t expect from growing my list is just how much direct traffic I’m getting. Every time I put out a new recipe, I know that I’m going to get an extra thousand clicks to my website that day, because people are going to click on that email and come and click to the new recipe. So just think about what recipes that you have planned in the future and is that group of people gonna also be interested in those recipes as well.
Megan Porta: So tell us how drastically you grew your list, because I think this is very good incentive, inspiration, encouragement for us to do this, to try the strategy out.
Monica Davis: Okay. In the last year of 2021, I grew my list by 20,000. The year before that I also had an ebook on there as well and I think it grew to about 8,000 that year.
Megan Porta: Still amazing.
Monica Davis: Yeah, but it’s also interesting. I had a lot more traffic in 2020 than I did in 2021, yet I doubled how many people had signed up for the ebook. I think it just was more, just more targeted. I was playing around with a popup, taking that off and things like that as well, but I think 2021 I had a popup on my site almost the whole time and that does help.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Popups help. Use them. Even though people tell you not to use them. You should use them. Yeah, that’s incredible growth. You can’t argue with that.
Monica Davis: I know that maybe some SEO people will say don’t use popups, they slow down your site or whatever pop ups do. But at the same time, I feel like growing my list has helped my SEO because my bounce rate has gone down significantly in the last year. As my list grows, my bounce rate goes down. On the days that I send out emails to my subscribers, my bounce rate is way down from the days that I don’t. So I know that those people are my fans that are coming, that are clicking, staying on the page longer. They’re clicking around my site more. Even though they’ve been there before, the time on page also goes up and my pages per session has also gone up significantly, since my list has grown.
Megan Porta: Wow. So it’s like a domino effect. It can affect other parts of your business positively if you just keep at it.
Monica Davis: Yeah, definitely. I also think that it helped. Grow my Pinterest, because I always put a Pinterest pin in every email that I send out. I’ve done that for a long time and my subscribers tend to pin the pin that I put in the email and it gives it a bump right out of the gate. Occasionally I have forgotten, I haven’t forgotten in a long time, but I did notice years ago when I would forget to put a Pinterest pin in my email to subscribers, the pin just never did as well on Pinterest.
Megan Porta: That is an excellent tip. Do you have any other, just more general tips for sending out emails, whether it’s subject lines or your tip about Pinterest, anything else along those lines?
Monica Davis: I would say keep the emails pretty short. You’re popping into their inbox and they have maybe 10 seconds to see what your email’s about before they just delete it or click out of it or don’t even click on it. So get right to the point about you having a new recipe or whatever it is that you’re emailing them about. Then, yeah, I always do the Pinterest pin within there and tell them to pin this to Pinterest for later because they might think, oh, that looks good but yeah I’m not interested in making it this week or this month, but it looks great for 4th of July or something. Then I will also add some related posts. So say I am doing a post for cream of celery soup. I say, Hey, I have a new recipe on the blog today for cream of celery soup. They might hate celery and if that’s the case, then I put maybe five or six other soup recipes that would be cream of broccoli or something similar and related but different. I noticed that I get a lot of clicks to those as well. When I just put one recipe, I don’t get quite as many clicks overall.
Megan Porta: Okay. Do you have a top number of recipes to include in an email? Because I know a lot of people put like a lot and some people put one. What are your thoughts?
Monica Davis: I do send out a Roundup, almost of my recipes for each holiday. Like on mother’s day, I sent out an email a couple days before mother’s day. These are all the things you might wanna make for your mom this weekend. I usually stick around 10 to 12. I think more than that, it just becomes overwhelming, but that’s also another way to serve your list because when a holiday coming up, everybody’s scrambling looking for those recipes anyway. Remind them that you have them on your site and it’s also great because I can control my traffic when RPMs are high. So I try not to send it out too far before a holiday. Because if I send it out that holiday weekend RPMs are usually higher or Christmas is happening on a Thursday. I might wanna send out some Christmas recipes to them the Saturday or Sunday before, because my RPMs are higher on the weekend. I just know that I’m gonna get more traffic from sending it out to my list on those days.
Megan Porta: That is so smart. That’s just such a simple little thing, but can make a huge difference. Yeah. Wow.
Monica Davis: So my RPMs are always lower on Fridays, so I never send an email out on a Friday. But Saturday mornings work really well or Sundays and then there’s time for people to open those emails and click on those links over the weekend. It’s just a little thing.
Megan Porta: No, that’s a great tip. How many emails do you send out in just your regular sequence, like just your main sequence, I guess.
Monica Davis: It’s only four. They get the first email with their freebie and then at the bottom of every email, when they first subscribe, I also tell them to look out for the next email. I think that’s also important to train your audience to open your emails and look forward to your emails and know that something else is coming, that’s also going to benefit them. So they just get in the habit of opening those emails and saying, oh, whenever I get an email from her, it’s usually something beneficial to me. Then I send a welcome email out. Just general about me, about my blog, who I am. I also ask people if they have any questions, hit reply to the email. If they have a specific recipe that they want help with, or if they have a recipe that they would like to make vegan, but it’s not vegan, reply and let me know how I can help them do that as well. I get an email almost every day, at least one, sometimes two or three from people. A lot of times thanking me. A lot of times it’s random stuff that I can’t help them with. Another tip would be to answer all of the emails, the best that you can, and then just engage with those people. If I send out an email and I might get a couple emails back saying, oh, this looks delicious. I could end it there, but then I try to hit reply, say, oh, I hope you make it. I hope you enjoy it. Just one or two words, sometimes not even a full sentence. But just enough to know that I received their email. I’m a real person on the other end and I’m glad that they’re on my list.
Megan Porta: Oh yeah. Just that little touch. It doesn’t take that long to do something like that. Small investment of time. It can go a long way.
Monica Davis: Yeah. Because, I love my list. They have helped out my business so much. They’re like my little family and if they email me, I email them back the best I can. Yeah. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but most of the time I do.
Megan Porta: Right. I love that you do that. What are we forgetting? Is there anything else people need to know if they really wanna focus on growing their list this year?
Monica Davis: I think we covered most of it. The only other little tip I would say is to send out resends to unopened emails. I forgot about that. Then someone in our group reminded me of it a few months ago. Since I started doing that, my open rate increased five to 6% for every email when I hit the resend. I send some out, usually send one out every weekend. People are busy on the weekend and things get buried in their inbox or whatever. So I’ll send that one out again, maybe on Tuesday. Then the same thing. I usually have another email that I send out midweek and I might resend that one Friday night or Saturday morning or something. Just to try to give it a couple days for them to open it and get them at a different time of day or whatever.
Megan Porta: Oh, this is great. Monica, thank you for the inspiration. I love thinking down the road to just what people are gonna want. Then figuring out what I need to do in order to get there. That is exactly what you’re doing. It’s a long game. It’s a long term strategy. So don’t get frustrated with it. Know going in that you’re going to be probably tweaking this for a while, but it’s going to pay off eventually.
Monica Davis: Yeah. This has been three years in the works. I’m not done yet, so it’s definitely a long game, but it’s also really paying off for me now.
Megan Porta: Which is awesome.
Monica Davis: A nice big engaged list. It’s been good.
Megan Porta: One last question. So I feel like vegan cheese, that’s a really painful point. Like you mentioned, if you’re vegan, people miss cheese and that’s a pain point. Feel like a lot of us don’t have that really significant pain point. But do you feel like there’s a pain point in every blog that we can hit on?
Monica Davis: I think so. I didn’t feel like there was anything that I had either. I racked my brain about this for months before it came up with the idea to do a vegan cheese cookbook or whatever. I think you have to be creative and really put yourself in the mind of your reader and what they would be wanting and what’s gonna solve a problem that they would have. Then once you do, they’re so grateful for you solving that problem, that they’re big fans, they open your emails, they buy your books. They’re happy that you solve that problem for them. I think getting creative and it’s gonna be different for everyone, especially if you’re a general blogger and you haven’t found your niche yet. I think that’s where the sweet spot is. There’s a lot of people making vegan recipes and it feels okay, vegan’s already a niche. But I had to go where no one else was going too, because there were so many vegan bloggers that I was seeing and I was looking okay, what are their op-tin offers? I wanted something different. I wanted to have somebody come to my site and say, oh wow, I’ve never seen this. This isn’t just another weeknight meal.
Megan Porta: Yeah, it requires some digging, I believe. Definitely some thinking and researching, but once you find those pain points are gold. So hold onto them and figure out how to solve those problems for people. Because think about any pain point we have in our lives and when it gets really painful, we would do just about anything to have someone swoop in and solve the problem for us. So it’s the same thing.
Monica Davis: Yeah, definitely. There’s lots of different ways to do it and lots of different creative things that people can do. It doesn’t have to be these like 20 page ebooks or that I give for free, which is also just an aside, is also a plan. If they’re getting this free ebook that’s pretty great and 20 pages long. Then the paid one has to be awesome. So that’s the mindset I have, is to give them something really good for free so they know how much better the paid version is going to be as well. But people don’t have to do that either. Just a little simple PDF that reminds people of cooking times for different types of rice. I was thinking the other day I was roasting some vegetables and I couldn’t remember what temperature I needed to roast different things at. I was like, oh, that would be a great PDF if there were just different roast times for vegetables. Just random things that maybe people could print out and put on their fridge as a quick guide in the kitchen.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I forget how long it takes me to cook different varieties of rice in my instant pot. I know there are entire posts online dedicated to this, but I would rather not pull up a post and read through it. I would love to have a quick guide on my fridge, like a magnet telling me how long to cook white rice versus brown rice versus other varieties. Just something really simple like that.
Monica Davis: Yeah, me too. Or different beans or lentils or so many different things that I keep in my head okay. I usually cook rice this amount of time, or I always cook lentils for this long, a reference guide that was a chart. Just some pretty little chart that you could make up in Canva that people would be really appreciative of.
Megan Porta: Yep. For sure. Thank you, Monica. This was so fun and so valuable. Thanks for joining me today. It was a pleasure having you here, finally. I’m so glad you came on.
Monica Davis: Thank you.
Megan Porta: So quotes or words of inspiration. Do you have either to share with us today?
Monica Davis: I’m not like a huge quote person. So I had a really hard time coming up with one. But I have a song that I listen to that inspires me. So when I’m not feeling like working or I’m getting down about my blog or whatever, then I just blast this song and it makes me feel better. It’s called Hey Mama, by Nathaniel Ratliff.
Megan Porta: Oh, I like that song.
Monica Davis: Do you know that one?
Megan Porta: I do.
Monica Davis: I love Nathaniel Ratliff live in general, but yeah. It’s like this conversation basically that he is having with his mother about, why haven’t I made it big yet? Why haven’t I succeeded? She’s just basically telling him you haven’t worked hard enough yet to say you failed.
Megan Porta: Oh, so yeah. Oh, that’s awesome.
Yeah. I think that’s way better than a quote, so that’s good. Thank you for sharing that. I love it. I wanna go hear that song now. I think I’m gonna do that right after here.
Monica Davis: Yeah, you should. It’s a good one.
Megan Porta: Okay. So we’ll put show notes together for you, Monica, and you can go find those at eatblogtalk.com/thehiddenveggies. I’m gonna have you tell everyone where they can find you online because they need to go look at your miraculous cheese and all of the other miraculous vegan foods that you make because they do not taste vegan at all. So tell everyone where to find you.
Monica Davis: I am at thehiddenveggies.com. I am on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, at The Hidden Veggies as well.
Megan Porta: It is miraculous. I’m telling you. Monica’s miraculous cheese. Go check it out. Okay. Thank you again, Monica for being here and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.
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