An Interview with Kit Graham
“I’ve realized I’m at a point in life where I don’t want to have to do anything other than shove my foot in a shoe to get it on,” says Kit Graham. “I’ve just made that decision.”
Kit Graham is deft decision-maker and master of prioritization. Five years ago, she found herself stuck in a passionless job, a paralegal with a Master’s degree in Art History finding respite in her kitchen after work every day.
“My friends knew that I needed a creative outlet in my life because I was miserable at work,” she says. “My husband made it happen.”
Her husband recruited a mutual friend with a background in graphic design to create a logo and purchase a domain before delivering Kit an escape in a blank white envelope.
She recalls opening it up and pulling out the login details for a Wordpress site: “The next day, I started writing.”
Today, Kit Graham is a co-founder of the Windy City Blogger Collective, and the voice behind popular food blog, The Kittchen, whose byline has graced the likes of Better Homes and Gardens, The Everygirl, Buzzfeed, and The Huffington Post. Back then, however, the transition was not easy.
How did manage your schedule starting out?
I transitioned to working as a data privacy expert soon after my husband created my blog. The building I worked in was conveniently located across the street from my house, so I’d shoot things at lunch. I’d go home and cook lunch because you can do that when you work three minutes from your kitchen.
I worked my butt off on weekends. You have to build a following and you have to be consistent. You literally have to be creating a ton of content all the time. I would do freelance articles for free and contribute to get my name out there, with a link in my byline back to my site. I would post at least five times a week on my website so that whenever a visitor came back they’d find something new.
You’re writing all the time. How do you begin to pivot that free work into an actual business?
I did a lot of research. At the three year mark of the Kittchen, I started the Windy City Blogger Collective with a couple of friends and through that, we received so many questions from members on how much to charge, for instance, and started to compile industry standards and best practices.
In that case, you should equate page views per month to the amount you charge for sponsored posts and ads. That’s why constantly promoting yourself and finding new ways to get yourself out there is so important.
There’s a big change right now. Especially in the food world, everyone is buying their followers. You’ll see very low engagement on social media or an Instagram account relying on bots to make it seem as if the profile has a higher engagement rate.
If a brand is going to spend money, blog posts are the best value. A great blog post will show up on Google forever. I have one brand who has been in my top ten blog posts for the last 18 months straight thanks to solid SEO keywords. It gets traffic every single day. It does well on Pinterest and it grows and grows.
Would you say you rely heavily on SEO to drive traffic to your blog?
SEO is huge. It helped me get to the point where I was consistently getting work for the blog and at time, earning more on the weekend from a sponsored post than I would going to work for the week.
My reasoning is: what is the point of writing if you’re not going to optimize it? It’s not that difficult. Once you get the hang of incorporating keywords, it becomes second nature. Writing a blog post takes time, but if you do it correctly, it will come back around and help you.
My Valentine’s Day post from last year did killer this year leading up to Valentine’s Day and that’s traffic.
Traffic is, as you’ve said, integral to your business model.
Traffic makes money in multiple ways. The more views you have, the more you can charge for your next post in addition to the money you earn in ad revenue. You just have to put the effort in!
I’ve recently started to focus on using long pins on Pinterest. I have a few viral pins that are amazing. I’m the queen of quiche on Pinterest for whatever reason. I have one post which provides a step-by-step progression of making a quiche and it drives a significant amount of traffic to the site every day. You’re always trying to create winds like that. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.
It can be tough to anticipate [what will work well]. You may luck out on the perfect headline or may a viral pinner reposts your Pin.
Ultimately, Kit reminds us that the key is to find the method works that for a you. Kit for instance, has found an incredibly receptive audience on Pinterest of consumers actively on the hunt for her recipes. Be it pull-on shoes or long-tail keywords, you’ve got to find what works for you and pursue it consistently. You’ll have a series of hit or miss blog posts but if you keep it up, the odds are in your favor. “You’ve got to be focused,” says Kit.
Luckily, to complement that focus, there are plenty of resources out there.