It’s hard to count the number of celebrity chefs.
In the last five, ten, or even twenty years the Food Network has given chefs a platform to reach the masses. With this exposure talented chefs have shared their insight into cooking. People watching at home have taken the lessons from their favorite chefs and have used them to make delicious meals for their family and friends.
These celebrity chefs become stars of TV, but outside of that arena they also capitalize in the business world. They sell products to their fans. It’s big business how these chefs go from unknowns to having some of the biggest brands and biggest businesses in the world in a short period of time.
The idea of a person going on TV to provide how-to information probably started with Martha Stewart. She’s a great person to follow for business advice. I’m sure there were others before her and others that have become more influential since.
For this post we’re going to focus on one of biggest stars of the Food Network, Rachael Ray.
The Rachael Ray Guide to Content Marketing
The story goes that Rachael Ray has been involved with food her entire life. She started learning her craft from a young age and eventually went on to have her own show on the Food Network. She focused on providing easy ways for mothers to prepare good, inexpensive meals for their families. It was a great niche and people fell in love with her. Rachael went on to have numerous shows as well as regular appearances on other cooking shows.
Today, Rachael Ray is a huge cooking brand that sells merchandise, cooking products and cooking instruction guides and recipes. It’s a huge business, but it really all started with the basic idea of sharing content.
Let’s look at a few ways to use Rachael’s success story to develop your own blogging business model.
Use Content to Build Trust
Trust seems to be a key success factor for celebrity chefs.
The reason these folks have become successful with merchandise sales, product sales, and content sales is because they have an audience of fans. These fans watch the show and trust Rachael Ray – both the person and the brand. Folks have watched Rachael on TV. They have read her recipes in cookbooks and online. They know she isn’t just sharing a bunch of bologna content. Her recipes are good and people like them. These folks appreciate that Rachael would provide them with useful information.
And when it comes time for these folks to purchase cooking materials like pots, pans, salt shakers, etc. they prefer to buy from someone they trust. They purchase the items offered by Rachael Ray’s company.
For your business, content can build trust with a target audience. It’s difficult to build your own community just as it would have been difficult for Rachael to build her own TV channel. She allowed the TV stations the ability to make money off of her content so she could profit in the future from her community.
A good strategy for a company looking to build an audience that trusts its brand is to build your own channel, which is your website, but to also focus on guest posting on other established channels. Share your best content. Build trust. Sell to the audience later.
Build An Audience First
Building an audience was the focus for Rachael Ray in the early days. The business model was for her to make a salary from the Food Network. In return the station was able to use her show to sell advertising.
The entire model was built on the idea of building an audience. That was the main goal. For both partners in the deal to succeed their needed to be a group of people out there that would commit to watching Rachael on TV every week and eventually every day.
The idea is to build an audience with a content strategy. Focus on a niche you have experience in and would enjoy exploring in more detail with content such as a blog. As the audience grows (subscribers via email, RSS, bookmarks, etc.) you can interact with the audience to learn what they struggle with and want in life. This is where the products side comes in.
Even if you have a business already, you can build your online audience with a blog. You might end up selling your current products and services to the new audience or you might find opportunity to expand.
Expand, Change, and Adapt to the Audience’s Demands
It’s a general business lesson, but it’s important to note that Rachael Ray and her peers have all changed over their years at the top of the cooking game. The strategy to provide interesting and useful content has stayed the same. Rachael is still sharing recipes and cooking insight with fans.
But the business model has changed and grown over the years. She started with the show and then with the cookbooks. She’s moved into selling kitchen goods and kitchen supplies.
Blogging strategies change. You have to experiment early on with basic ideas and then adapt to what’s working. Focus on the post formats that are driving email subscriptions or even sales for your products. Then listen to what your audience is telling you about their struggles with life. Whatever your industry is there are likely products and services you can sell.
Once you have a trust built you can sell items to your audience and they will be happy to pay you because they trust you.
It takes time to build an audience. Don’t think you can start a blog today and have an audience in a month. It can take years. It’s the same as real life relationships. Trust isn’t built over night. It takes time and consistency to build that type of relationship. But it does only take a short time to break that trust.
Rachael Ray is a great example of a successful business person that built an audience around content. Her business model is different in some ways to yours, but in some ways it’s different.
Can you think of any other ways she can inspire content marketing?