We are so excited to publish our next SHE Media Partner Spotlight interview with Kevin Lee Jacobs of A Garden for the House. Kevin has been with SHE Media for years, but only over the past few months have I had the pleasure of working with Kevin directly on his SEO and audience growth. He is a wonderful writer, a passionate creator and a genuinely nice human. His experience with not only “good housekeeping”, as he says below, but with the blogging industry and cultivating a devoted audience is one we can all learn from!
Hi Kevin! Tell us a little about yourself and what you do!
I’m a website publisher, cookbook author, food and garden blogger, photographer, and teacher. All these roles demand a lot of time, typically twelve to sixteen hours a day, seven days a week No complaints — I love the work! (Also, what’s a “weekend?”)
What kinds of content do you write about on AGardenForTheHouse.com?
The website/blog is devoted to what I call “good housekeeping.” Readers learn how to cook, how to clean, and how to arrange flowers for a dinner party. The information I provide is gleaned from my own, personal experience with the subject matter. When you reach my age, you become proficient at a lot of things!
How did your blog come to be, how did you decide to blog about gardening?
I started blogging on March 20, 2009 – the same day my father-in-law passed away. The blog, I thought, could be my life’s “legacy,” even if my audience was just a few close friends and some charitable family members. In addition to recipes, I decided to photograph and document the gardens that my husband and I were currently creating on the grounds behind our early 19th-century house. I’ve loved gardening since childhood.
How have you managed to build such an engaged audience?
By being authentic! Also, I’m a gracious host.
I offer readers a virtual chair, a virtual drink, and a virtual taste of whatever I happen to be cooking that day. As a result, most folks continue to visit the blog. I love the time we get to spend together.
How has blogging changed since you first started writing content?
Blogging has changed dramatically over the ten years that I’ve been on the scene. In the early days you could build an audience by simply writing useful material in an engaging way. Now we are concerned with keywords, meta descriptions, and what Google laughingly refers to as “readability.” To achieve a decent SEO score, Google wants headings and sub-headings within a blog post. If a post is already broken up with tons of photographs – mine always are – such headings aren’t warranted. They look awkward on the page.
If you could tell bloggers who are just getting started one thing, what would it be?
Know your subject matter. If you write a tutorial called “How to Grow Pentuias,” you need to have grown petunias yourself, and preferably over a period of many years. Personal experience with a subject will prove to readers that they can trust your advice.
Also, ask readers to subscribe to your blog. This way, you can notify your audience whenever you publish new material. I send a newsletter to tens of thousands of subscribers every week.
What do you consider to be your biggest success as a blogger?
Building an audience from scratch. Thanks to the blog’s comment section, I’ve met kindred spirits from all over the world. They learn from me, and I learn from them.
Who are your favorite food bloggers out there today?
What are your favorite 3 recipes from AGardenForTheHouse.com?
Where is your favorite place to travel?
Paris and Rome, because…food.
What is the biggest myth about being a full time blogger?
That we blog in our pajamas! Okay, that’s not a myth. The biggest fable is that we don’t really “work.” I spend entire days – and usually nights, too – writing, photographing, and editing recipes. The recipe that takes only 20 minutes to prep and bake will often require 12-16 hours to become a blog post.
Tell us something you learned from your recent SHE Media SEO audit!!
First, let me say that I am madly in love with the entire SHE Media team. The SEO audit was a revelation. Lindsay Valdez showed me how to make my site more profitable, and how to establish my brand. She also introduced me to Yoast – a WordPress plugin that helps with SEO. Without a doubt, SHE Media is the perfect business partner for my blog.
Thank you, Kevin, we love you just as much!!