Taking on the Food Business World: An Interview with Jennifer Lewis

Okay, quite honestly, it’s impossible not to be interested in Jennifer Lewis’ blog, Small Food Business. With the amount of resources she shares, questions readers didn’t even know they had will be answered — like she states in our interview. I gave a sneak peek of what we discussed in my first post, Small Foodie Business: Seattle Style. Revert there first if you haven’t caught up already, and then read the rest of what we talked about!

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Me: How do you think WordPress and your blog has helped your entrepreneurship endeavors?

Jennifer: WordPress has been critical on two main levels.  1. Up until January 8th of this year I had a basic wordpress.com site that I set up myself.  The fact that it was so easy and inexpensive to set up meant that creating and maintaining a website was something I, without a tech team, could do.  Had it not been so simple I likely wouldn’t have started the blog four years ago.  2. The fact that it is a very simple CMS platform and the plugins can add additional bells and whistles means that the site has been able to grow with me.  The site is currently now on the wordpress.org platform but is fully customized to my needs (thanks to a small tech team) and I feel confident it will continue to grow based on what I and my readers need from it.  I already have some big ideas in the works for what’s next and I’m excited to be able to leverage the existing site to do that.

 

In terms of how the blog has helped my entrepreneurship endeavors, I believe that the blog has helped me build credibility that I know what I’m talking about better than simply having a resume online would.  That, in turn, helps me build trust with my readers – some of whom become clients in one realm or another (buy books, sign up for coaching, have me help with consulting projects, etc.).  It’s also helped me network with others in the industry and we’re starting to build a more formalized network of people who all want to help build a stronger artisan food culture in this country.

Me: How often do you weekly blog? (How much time do you spend overall?)
Jennifer: I tend to post articles about 2-3 times a week on average.  Every so often I’ll do a 4th or 5th post but I pay close attention to my analytics and know that there’s some drop off’s of readership on Fridays so if I post anything on a Friday I try to make it a little ‘lighter’ and more fun.  Truthfully, because my audience are busy entrepreneurs I have to be careful not to post too often (even though more topics would, theoretically, help my SEO even more) as I have to strike a balance between providing enough information and not cross over into providing too much and overwhelming already busy readers.   How much time I spend doing it…I’m not sure because it’s the type of thing I fit in and amoungst other things I have going on businesswise.  Today, for example, I wrote a blog post when inspiration struck in a coffee shop and I’m about to spend this evening working on some graphics that will crossover between my blog and pinterest in a few weeks.  I always carry a black book of ideas with me so that if I have an idea I can write it down.  So how much time do I spend – honestly, I enjoy it so much that I don’t really keep track because working late into the night on it or getting up early doesn’t bother me. 
Me: Do you plan to maintain your blog for years to come?
Jennifer: I hope so.  It’s very time consuming but I really enjoy it.  I was an English Lit major way back when – before I went to culinary school or got my MBA – and I always wanted to be a writer but when I graduated that meant you had to work for a magazine.  This lets me tap into my combined interests of food, business, and writing and, hopefully, provides value to the readers.  That being said, it takes a lot of time to keep the site up to date and I tend to get a little frantic before vacations making sure that posts are loaded into the site to autopost while I’m away.
Me: What do you hope other bloggers and readers can gain from your blog?
My main goal with my site is ‘accessible expertise’ so for me I want my readers to be able to get information that will help make it easier for them to start and run their small businesses.  Everything I do on the site is with that in mind.  As far as other bloggers, truthfully, there are other bloggers that I personally love to read but I don’t do a ton of business outreach to them because my site topic is so narrowly defined and I’m not sure there’s much cross over of our readerships.  As far as potential bloggers, I guess if anything I’d say that blogging is a great way to find your own voice and share your passions – whatever they may be – with the world.  You have to be prepared to put in the time though and, ultimately, to be successful I think you have to love doing it even if your mom is your only reader.
Well said, Jennifer!

 

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