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AP1107: I get traffic, but have no connection to my audience. What do I do?
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Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Welcome to AskPat 2.0, you're listening to Episode 1107, this is the show where I coach an entrepreneur just like you, and hopefully help them come out better on the other side. And today, we're speaking with Carrie Forrest from CleanEatingKitchen.com, and she has a really interesting predicament. She gets a lot of traffic. She gets 400,000 views on her website per month. That's amazing and she's worked hard on that. She's been doing this for quite a while. However, as you'll hear, she expresses that she's concerned because she doesn't have any real connection to her audience. She doesn't even know really who her target audience is. And they're coming in for one thing but not staying, so what can we do here? That's what we discussed today. So again, you can check out her website, CleanEatingKitchen.com and listen in, because I'm going to coach her and tell her exactly what to do. Here we go.
Pat: Carrie, welcome to AskPat 2.0. Thanks so much for being here today.
Carrie Forrest: Well, thank you so much for having me, Pat.
Pat: Absolutely. Why don't you take a quick moment to tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Carrie: Okay, hi everybody. My name is Carrie Forrest and I've been a health and food blogger for 10 years now, I can't believe it. And my website has always been focused on healthy recipes and healthy living. Of course, it's changed over the years, but the way it is now is: I mostly write for SEO purposes, meaning that because most of my income comes from the ad revenue on my site, I have to write articles and recipes that people are searching for. For a long time, I just wrote recipes about random things I was eating and I found I wasn't getting a lot of traffic, and definitely not enough revenue to support a business. So long story short, I'd say in about the last two years, I've really learned a lot about SEO and I've been able to grow my site to about 400,000 page views a month, and so I get a really nice ad revenue from all those page views; but unfortunately, I feel like I've really neglected making a connection with my audience, because I've really been writing for Google.
Carrie: And so, I do have a copy of your Superfans book and I'm reading it and I'm finding it so helpful, but I almost feel like when there's the question of speaking to your target customer, I can't even really say who she is. I know it's a she, and that's kind of the extent.
Pat: Okay. So first of all, congratulations. I mean, you have this massive growing blog. The food blog space, I know, is quite difficult to sort of get into, and I have a lot of friends in the space from the Everything Food Blogger Conference and pinch of yum, and nom nom paleo. Those are some of my great friends online, so I just commend you for what you've built and I think it's so admirable for you to come on here and start asking questions about how to better connect with your audience, because you're right. We are very much drawn to SEO because of what it can provide for us, and if you have ads on your website as well, I mean, that's your income. That's important. But I think that it sounds like you know something is missing and I want to dig in a little bit deeper about why you feel this urge to now go back and connect with your audience more despite the income growing, the traffic growing. What are the real reasons why you'd want to connect again with your audience?
Carrie: Yeah, I think that's a great question. And I think first of all, now that I kind of have a formula and I know what's working, that's exactly what it feels like when I'm writing, is that I'm writing a formula and 10 years in, that's... I mean, it's really only been about two years that I've been writing for Google, but it is starting to feel a little formulaic and I'm just... Yeah, I'm just yearning. I think the other thing is that I see online on YouTube and Instagram, I see how other influencers have built really, their super fans. And that is something that I really, I yearn for that connection. I mean, that's really why I even started blogging in the first place, was to build community. And I would love to have super fans, I would love to have... I've been kind of thinking about going into YouTube, because that seems like a way that you can really connect with people and I enjoy watching YouTube videos. And so I think it's just that feeling of just not feeling connected to my reader, and like I'm writing to robot and I'm not writing to a person anymore.
Carrie: And then I would say the second thing is, maybe more practically, is that I've kind of learned the hard way that Google changes its algorithm and it happened fairly recently and I did get hit. And I've had hits before and my traffic comes back and it already is coming back, but it's a little scary when your search traffic that you depend on 80% of your revenue gets hit 30%. And so I would say that just thinking more practically as a business person, if I have super fans, than I can create products or I could... I am thinking about videos. But I don't even know who I'm talking to right now.
Pat: Yeah, I mean, you're absolutely right. You said all the right things. So when you build super fans, you have people who will follow you or help you or serve you and be served by you no matter what happens in Google, no matter what happens in the social streams, and that's so important. And so I think having this conversation now is really key, so I hope everybody listening is listening intently, because this is stuff that I think we all struggle with, especially once we start to see a little bit of success doing something that's more robotic and forgetting about... not that you forgot about, it's just that's what Google wants us to do, right? But then we forget about the other part of it, the fact that there's humans on the other end. So I want to play the role of somebody who just visits your website and I want to understand how I can connect with Carrie.
Pat: So right now, I'm likely drawn to an article or a recipe or something, because you did a very good job of writing an article and targeting a specific keyword that I was looking for. So on that article itself, how might I connect with you, or how could you include something that would allow me to get to know you or just get a feeling like, "Oh, this person's really talking to me?"
Carrie: Well, I would say the thing that I've done fairly recently is I've created three different pop ups that try to appeal to whatever page that person has landed on. So, if... I'm going to say she, but that's not you. But if she has landed on an Instant Pot recipe, then there's a pop up that says, "Would you like more healthy Instant Pot recipes?" And then I've created a beginning kind of, I guess like a funnel of emails that are really targeted towards Instant Pot recipes. And so, I start to build the connection on email and then that's pretty much the extent of how she or you would get to know me.
Pat: Okay, so first of all, I was going to lead you into a conversation about email and how important that is and how we can use that as a tool for this exact purpose, so that is great. You're already doing that, and we'll talk a little bit about what happens when I join your email list or when she joins your email list and how we can connect even further there. Because that's really what the formula is. You would track people for the content and they're coming from Google and they have no idea who you are and when you get them on your email list, that's an amazing way for them to start to get to know you, because it's outside of Google now. They're under sort of "your control" at that point, and you can guide them any which way you want and you don't have to write for them in the emails like you would have to write for them in Google. You can point them to other articles on your website to have that sort of feeling, but you can add additional elements and like I said, we'll get into some of what can be included in those emails in just a little bit.
Pat: But I want to talk a little bit more about that article and then how you get me to subscribe to that email list. You're still telling me about the thing that I came there for, which is great and that's to draw... If you want more Instant Pot recipes, I love that you're deciding sort of different buckets of your audience. But when in the process do I get to know you? Tell me about the articles, and how much would you say is your personality a part of that? Are you writing stories about these recipes at all? I know some food bloggers do a really good job of telling about their grandma's recipe and what it was like to grow up in that house and how this has been an inspired recipe because of that. That alone gets me to feel a little bit closer to the person on the other end. It gets me interested in them, because that's the big challenge here. How can we get people to be interested not just in the recipe alone but then in you, in the community that you are building?
Pat: So, tell me a little bit about, if at all, that's included on the front end before I even subscribe.
Carrie: Yeah, I think that is a great point and I would say that I've really taken my personality out of my recipes on the front end so people really aren't getting that, and you're making me think that... because secondary, well, I have the Instant Pot bucket, and then I also have kind of a general clean eating bucket and when people sign up for those emails as part of that series, I do get really personal and I talk about my health journey and those are the emails that people reply to. Like, at least-
Carrie: Yeah. Exactly. And so I'm thinking yeah, that at least as part of the Instant Pot email series, I know I've made it very just black and white. Here's the recipe, here's more recipes, here's more recipes.
Pat: Right, right. How might you be able to include a little bit more of your view in those emails? Not saying you have to rewrite all of them, but you could insert one here or there. You could pop in a story as a paragraph before you lead into a recipe in a current email. Just those little things, like as you know in Superfans, can go a very long way with just having me go, "Oh, Carrie's cool. I want to come back or I want to subscribe," versus, "Okay, I got my Instant Pot recipe, I'm out."
Carrie: Yeah, and I think that there's some fear there that I'm... that the more I niche down, that I'm going to lose people. Because my instinct tells me, and this is what I do with my clean eating email series is I get really personal and I say, "My recipes are gluten free, they're dairy free, they're really... These are recipes that I developed as I was recovering from chronic health issues. I understand that you may be and these are really meant to help you," but none of that is with my Instant Pot series, because I guess I've been... I don't know. I have this fear of... Well, I guess there's a fear of being vulnerable and then there's a fear of yeah, that people, they're going to be like, "Oh, that doesn't apply to me. Delete."
Pat: If they were to say, "That doesn't apply to me, delete," how would that differ from what's happening now?
Carrie: I mean, in a way it'd be better because at least I would know who I'm talking to. But I'm just afraid that that audience is so small or that I'm going to be limiting myself.
Pat: Let's dig in a little bit deeper. You're headed in the right direction. I love that you said it might actually make it better because you'd know who you'd be speaking to. I'm going to tell you a quick sort of anecdote about... and likely, you've heard this story before and many people listening have heard this as well. But when I first started online business, it wasn't a business helping people pass all the architectural exams in the world. It wasn't even really meant for most just architects who were in a particular part of their career. It was for any one person who wanted to know how to pass this very specific exam. And because my guide was specific just for that exam, when people had pain of studying and just the difficulty of that, they knew exactly where to go and who to go to. But not only that, they knew exactly who to share and that was me, in this very tiny... a niche in a niche in a niche. Architects? Okay, sure. Architects taking an exam? Okay, sure.
Pat: Architects taking an exam about green building designs? There were a few, sure. Okay, no. One specific exam in that little space and sure, I was "leaving out" others, but as a result of... and I've coached... I wasn't purposefully like, "Hey, if you're studying for this other exam, you don't belong here." That's not what I'm saying and that's not what you would say too. You would sort of, in a connective kind of way, invite people into an inner circle within your space and as a result of that, and you said it yourself, as a result of knowing them better, knowing who they were, you can speak just to them and they will understand that you are their go-to person. And what if you had 1,000 people on an email list who came in from the Instant Pot sort of funnel if you will, but you knew that they knew who you were and they would open every email and you could speak directly to them via email, how would that feel if you had 1,000 sort of people on that list?
Carrie: Yeah, I would love that. Because I don't know who I'm talking to now, just like I kind of opened with. And versus that other email funnel that I have, I do feel more confident. They knew who I am, they know what they're going to get. I'm okay with saying, "Here's this recipe that's very specifically this diet," versus yeah, my Instant Pot funnel that just... and I haven't actually... Well, I guess I have looked at the analytics. I don't have it off the top of my head to see how those two funnels vary, but I would assume that the clean eating perhaps has the better open rate. I'll have to look at that.
Pat: Probably, because they're getting to know you. But here's the other thing. Outside of whether it gets more open rates or click through rates or whatever, the truth is on the clean eating side, you've got that triad, that group of people who know you for that. And on the Instant Pot side, even if that list was bigger, it would be more of the same. It would be more of just, "Well, here's a cluster of people, and I don't even know who they are." You're actually doing yourself a service and them a service by narrowing it down, and you don't even have to specifically say, "Hey, if you are this, you don't belong here." You just be you, and you are you and you're sharing you and you'll magnetically and automatically start to attract people who are going to like you for you, and if people don't want that and they just want the recipes, they know where to go. They're going to go back on your site.
Pat: They'll probably unsubscribe and that's okay, they're not a part of your tribe anyway and they're not the people that you're going to collect and speak to, and then ultimately what this does for you is you're going to start to see those replies come in like you said before. You're going to even start to go a little bit deeper with serving them beyond the blog content. I'm sure with your clean eating people, you could probably go and say, "Hey, I've helped you a little bit with recipes and stuff. What else are you looking for? What are some of the bigger struggles that you're having that I can serve you with?" And they'll listen to you and they'll reply and they might give you some ideas for affiliate products that you could promote, programs, other things that are even outside of the food space that they might need help with because they now are listening to Carrie, versus just they're following you because you are the Instant Pot person.
Pat: Right? And so, and you don't have that capability yet with the cluster of people in the Instant Pot sort of group of people, so I would just say replicate what you've done with the clean eating on the other stuff and use email as your connector. I think I would still go hard with providing what Google wants, because that's bringing people in, but guess what? Now, they're going to come into your funnel and go, "Now, I get to meet Carrie and I get to know her and I like her, so I'm going to stick around," or, "Hey, this is not for me. I'm out, or I'm just going to back to the blog," and that's okay.
Carrie: Okay. I like that idea. I really like the idea of having just a better sense, a better connection of who I'm talking to, and then when I do want to create more products or maybe really get going with my YouTube channel starting videos, then I think I'll feel just more confident that I can speak to that one person, that ideal customer who I just really don't... I can't see her face right now.
Pat: I think that you could ultimately get to a point where if you were to start a YouTube channel, I think focusing on the email first would be great, because then you could have that group of people who will follow you to YouTube. Because if you were to do it, like let's say for example you reach out to the Instant Pot people now, you go, "Hey, I'm Carrie, I'm the person who's behind all these recipes. Hope you've been enjoying them. I'm starting a YouTube channel here," some might go over and check it out, but if people have been following and they know you and they want to see you now because they've been hearing about you and they've gotten to know you through the email, they're more likely to then follow you on YouTube. And not only that, they're more likely to even share and bring new people in who are just like them, and more of the same kind of person. So I think that could work out to your benefit, to a point where I could imagine you even giving them a name. I don't know if you got to that chapter in Superfans yet, but Carrie's Crew.
Pat: "Hey, welcome to Carrie's Crew." I don't know. Some group of people who just know you for you and I want you to have that feeling of you are the leader of the community, and you're in it and everybody's there together where you could go, "Hey, guys. I'm going to be in this city on this date doing a cooking demonstration, who wants in?" And you just have people lining up because they want to be with you. And I think that can happen, and you've gotten a great start, obviously. You've created this amazing foundation for it. Now's the time to start in the way that you feel comfortable, injecting that personality in there. And I think the email would be the place to do that.
Carrie: Okay, yeah. And I really yearn for that connection. I really yearn for that day when yeah, I make a big ask for somebody to come to an event, or actually do something significant and that I can see the results of that.
Pat: That would be amazing. I think that would be so cool. So how do you feel?
Carrie: I feel more confident in what my intuition was.
Pat: Good. You just needed kind of permission.
Carrie: Yeah, exactly.
Pat: It's funny, that's a big theme here on AskPat is often times, I don't even need to figure out the answer because the person calling in kind of knows the answer, but they just want reassurance and permission. And so, I give you permission, not that you need it from me, but to go all in with being you and attracting the people who will like you for you and building that community that's going to really be thriving.
Carrie: Yes, exactly. Well, your next career could be a therapist.
Pat: I don't know. I guess in a way, I can see that this is kind of like that. But no, I don't know. I appreciate you, Carrie. So, what might your next steps be, just so we're clear?
Carrie: Well, I feel very motivated to go into my email funnel, specifically the Instant Pot email funnel, because it's a pretty good chunk of my email list and I feel confident about going in there, making tweaks to the individual emails and starting to introduce myself and my philosophies.
Pat: Great. I think you could do a few things specifically in that email list. Like you said, go in there and you could add stories within the emails that exist. You could even include an email somewhere down the road that is literally just your story, and it might just be a way to connect with people, go a little bit deeper there. And then I think that another email down the road, if you want to do this, not everybody likes this because then you get a bunch of replies, but you can have an email where now you're asking them for something. What are you struggling right now or hate? What's your favorite Instant Pot recipe? I'd love to put it together in a group... like a blog post compilation with members of the community's recipes featured on it too and I'll make sure to put your name on it. What a cool way to start inviting people to be a part of the community, because like I say in Superfans, when they're involved, they become invested and now they can feel like they're a part of it with you.
Carrie: Yes, and even just this idea of having a community is something I've always wanted but naming my community, feeling like I have a community, I'm part of it, I'm at least part of the leadership, maybe I'm the leader, but just this idea of inviting people to be part of the community, using that language even I think will have benefits.
Pat: Nice. I'm excited, Carrie. Do you mind if we reach back out to you later? Maybe later 2020 to see how things are going and get a check in and a pulse check on you?
Carrie: Yeah, that would be really cool.
Pat: Awesome, well, you know what to do and I don't think we have to talk about anything else. So keep up the great work and just congrats on providing an amazing sort of starting point for the community that you're going to build.
Carrie: Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for everything that you do.
Pat: Where can people go to learn more about you and where is your website? Where could we go?
Carrie: My website is CleanEatingKitchen.com, and that is the name of my little YouTube channel and my Instagram is @CleanEatingCarrie.
Pat: You rock, Carrie. We'll see you there.
Carrie: All right, thanks so much, Pat.
Pat: All right, I hope you enjoyed that coaching session with Carrie. We came up with a good plan there, and as you could probably tell, she's gotten really excited about the possibility of just going deeper with her audience, figuring out exactly who they are using the email list and all those great things. And I just can't wait to see what happens. CleanEatingKitchen.com is where you need to go. You also need to hit subscribe if you haven't already hit subscribe to the show already.
Pat: Thank you for doing that, thanks for all the reviews for those of you who have listened to the show before and have left reviews, that means the world to me. And as always, I just want to wish you all the best and make sure again, you hit subscribe, because we have a great lineup for the rest of the year here. I'm just looking at the schedule right now. You're not going to want to miss it, and yeah, it's going to be awesome. So, thank you all so much Team Flynn, just your incredible support, it just keeps me going every single day. And yeah, get at it, you know what to do. Cheers, take care, and as always, Team Flynn for the win. Peace.