Social media has been around for more than a decade but content creators even precede today’s dominant social platforms. The term weblog, or blog, was normalized in the late 1990’s when individuals created content about a topic or idea from which they could speak about with experience and passion. Bloggers began as the original content creators who then became influencers when they created a following through an RSS feed.
In the beginning
Liz Della Croce has been blogging since 2010. Today her blog, The Lemon Bowl, gets more than 700,000 page views per month.
Liz lost 65 pounds inspiring her to take up blogging to share her weight-loss journey. “My blog started nine years ago, back when this wasn’t a career,” Liz explains. “Back then you weren’t writing a blog to make money. There was no money to be made.” In order for bloggers like Liz to create content and photography, a lot of time and energy is invested. Once the content is created, the next step is to promote so an audience can find and engage. All of this is a great deal of work resulting in a net payment of $0. You have to be genuinely excited about something if you’re not getting paid to do it.
When blogs originated, it was often driven by pure passion. Why else would someone invest so much without the promise of a payday? “People talk a lot about authenticity and that’s what it was for me,” says Liz. “My business is based on people finding my content through searches, like Google, when they’re searching for a helpful content like a simple recipe to make for dinner, a travel guide to a destination or tips for weight loss.”
Evergreen content wins
When you create content that doesn’t expire and can be meaningfully used any day of the year, that’s winning content. Often called ‘evergreen’, this content is the key to success for any blogger. The recipes on The Lemon Bowl will be available forever. And since most of us eat three meals each day, a blog with a recipe isn’t going to expire.
For Liz, it’s about creating something that is helpful to someone else. “As you may imagine, most healthy recipes don’t go as viral as a chocolate brownie with chocolate drizzle and ooey, gooey caramel. But I don’t care. I’m more concerned about solving problems for my readers and my community.”
Often the most successful bloggers have a background in communications or business. Liz earned her degree in hospitality administration from Boston University. “After college I worked for Marriott International for five years in regional sales,” said Liz. “I have also worked for the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as the Grand Rapids (MI) Convention and Visitors Bureau, so that’s the inspiration for my travel writing too.”
Beyond recipes, Liz’s blog also includes a handful of travel guides to various destinations. “I’m a huge fan of evergreen content with travel guides too,” Liz explains. “I want it to be useful when someone goes to visit that location. I don’t want to include a festival that happens only once and then when you go to that city, the festival isn’t going on. I want to talk things that will be helpful regardless of when someone comes across my website.
Some individuals today start creating content with the sole purpose of getting paid. They may be doing it to pay their bills or save to send a child to college. “Some new bloggers create a business for blogging. I think what happens is they can lose their authenticity because they’re more focused on SEO, or what’s going to go viral on Pinterest instead of what they’re really pumped up to share,” Liz explains
Liz has made blogging her primary salary for the last five years. Her blog remains her primary source for content. “I look at other social media channels, like Instagram, as an extension of my brand.” Once new content is created, she will share via her various social media platforms, each time driving users back to The Lemon Bowl.
“Many influencers today don’t even have a website,” Liz highlights. Once they post an image, a recipe or an idea to a social channel, it’s not easy to access 60 days later, proving the value of the original content creators on blogs.
Social media “stars” are born every day. But not everyone survives and thrives. Liz offers advice to future content creators, “If you’re not so damn excited about what you’re writing about, don’t write it! Your followers are savvy and are just going to see through it.” When a blogger builds up a significant following, brands are going to reach out to engage for paid content. In these instances, Liz advises that for every offer you decline, you’re making room for a much better offer. “Be protective of your brand. Have faith in the long game and don’t feel like you have to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. That will help you in the long run creating the most authentic brand.”
When asked what the future holds for The Lemon Bowl, Liz was quick to respond that she’s not looking to sell. It’s easy to see the pride she has for all she has created.