More Business is Just Icing on the Cake (Pop)

 In Audience Building

At some point during my junior year at Florida State I became obsessed with making cake pops, a dessert that combines cake, frosting and candy coating into a bite-sized version of everything that is right with the world. You may have seen them on the menu at Starbucks, but it all started with blogger Angie Dudley, aka Bakerella.

Not only did Dudley, for all intents and purposes, create a new dessert item, the woman is an expert at making sugar look cute. A baby chick I can eat? A Christmas tree cake pop with candy pieces for ornaments? I can’t handle it.

Despite all the expertise, Dudley doesn’t own a bakery or sell her finished products at all. Among other things, she turns a profit by writing instructional cake pop books. (Her book “Cake Pops” is the reason I own 20 different types of sprinkles.) This is what makes her blogging habits completely counter-intuitive.

Dudley systematically explains how to make specific (and sometimes web-exclusive) versions of her cake pops. She includes a photo for each instructional step along with troubleshooting tips. All this advice and instruction is available to readers for free. Visitors are not asked to log-in, sign up or come back next week for the rest of the recipe.

Granted, some of these are sponsored posts and some designs can only be found in her books, but she’s giving away book material and, it would appear, hurting her own bottom line. It’s hard not to shake your head a little.

That is, until you realize just how well it’s working out for the blogger/author/photographer. She routinely has 100 comments per blog post, large companies (think Disney) pay her to bake and blog, her first book was on The New York Times’ Best Seller list for six weeks and she has since published a second book and started her own toy line.

The thought of giving advice or spilling industry secrets for free can be a little daunting. There is the fear that you’re benefiting the audience at the expense of your business. In reality, providing readers with free resources is a win-win: they get useful information they were looking for and you establish yourself as an expert. You will see more interaction and your audience will grow as members share your advice with others. They will keep coming back for more. And when members of your audience need someone to trim their trees, do their taxes or bake their cake pops, they will seek you out because they know that’s your specialty.

The more your audience knows about what you do, the more they will realize the expertise, time and equipment required for an expert-level product or service.

Even with step-by-step instructions, not only did these “owls” take me hours to make, they look like they’ve been left in a hot car to die. Some things are best left to the experts.

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