I love keeping up on news about the health coaching industry, and one of the ways I do this is by setting up Google Alerts for “health coach.” (I wrote about my affection for Google Alerts in this post.)
Earlier this month, Google notified me of a Huffington Post article, Bowls of Love: An Interview with Author and Health Coach Ali Rakowski, so I did what I usually do – and that is see how the news uses the word “health coach” and also see if the person is an Institute for Integrative Nutrition grad. Nine times out of 10, the answer is yes … as was the case with Ali. She graduated from IIN in September 2013. I read about Ali’s book project and decided to find her on Twitter and followed her. She followed me back, and I asked her if I could feature her on my blog. She said yes, and here’s our conversation:
Melanie: How did you get to be featured in Huffington Post, Ali?
Ali: I reconnected with an old friend, Alison Walkley, who has published multiple novels and used Kickstarter to fund one of her projects. She is a guest blogger for the Huffington Post and offered to write a piece on my new book, Bowls of Love: Paleo Soups for the Seasons.
Your Kickstarter project sounds amazing, and the photos for your upcoming book look great (photos featured here are from the Kickstarter site). Tell us about the campaign you set up to fund Bowls of Love.
Bowls of Love is my first cookbook and takes the concept of holistic health from the stove to your bowl, combining vegetables, locally sourced meat and homemade stock to create a plethora of soups that are both healthy and delicious. Unlike other cookbooks on the market, Bowls of Love has one main distinction – it focuses on the fact that every food we eat has a story. Each meal has a memory attached to it, and every plate and bowl holds those stories. I shared this concept with 44 of my friends and family and asked them to send me bowls that spoke to them. Overwhelmed by the joy, love and bowls I received in response, I crafted a seasonal Paleo soup for each one, stringing the recipes and stories together to create dozens of dishes filled with love. I am using Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary to produce the project. The funds will go towards registration, editing, design and publishing so this dream can become a reality. (You can learn more about supporting Ali’s project and pre-ordering a cookbook here.)
I’ve been checking out your SoooPaleo blog, Ali. How long have you been blogging, and what’s the main purpose or goal for your blog?
I started SoooPaleo back in October of 2012 when I was living in Boston and working out of my home. With limited friends, colleagues and family in the area, I started to really explore my passions in the kitchen. I spent my free time getting certified as a holistic health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and cooking like crazy. I lived next door to the best farmers market in Boston, so I would buy the freshest, most beautiful ingredients every week and experiment in the kitchen. I decided to start a blog to document my adventures, share love through food and encourage people to spend a little extra time to prepare beautiful, healthy food for the people they love.
How much time do you spend each week on your blog, and where do you get ideas for posts?
The time commitment for the blog certainly varies. I had a bit of a hiatus in 2013 amidst a big move and career change, but now I am back in the groove. Ideally, I like to post 1-2 times a week. I typically spend 15-30 minutes daydreaming of new recipes, 1-2 hours shopping/cooking and then 30-60 minutes creating the post itself. I am hoping to get a good camera and invest more in the photography. This will certainly increase the time commitment because I will spend more time staging the photos.
I talk a lot on this blog about getting more mileage from your blog posts by sharing them broadly on social media. Which social sites support your blogging efforts, and what approach do you take (# of times you share a post, etc.)?
After every post, I share it on my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. I also use Instagram for all of the pictures that get used in the post. I typically just post all of these things once, but as I grow my business I plan to repost content more often.
What advice do you have for health coaches and wellness pros wanting to start a blog?
This advice is simple – just go for it! I had absolutely no experience in creative writing, photography or formal training in the kitchen. I think it is always easiest to start small and treat the blog like a journal. As you get more comfortable, you can expand with your creativity, find your true voice, and share it with the world!
You mentioned Instagram and Pinterest. How are these sites supporting what you want to do with your business and the Kickstarter campaign?
Pinterest specifically drives the most traffic to my blog (other than Facebook). I think Pinterest is a fantastic site and has special attraction for foodies. I always share my photos, and it gives pinners a chance to connect with my creations, drool a little, and then check out the blog. The other thing I love about Pinterest is that the effect in social media is exponential. It is so easy for followers to re-pin and then share with their broader network. The response has been fantastic, and I’m using these sites to promote the Kickstarter campaign, too.
So you’re definitely a fan of social media. What’s your favorite social channel and why – and your blog could be included in this?
My favorites are Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook is the most personal for me since my “friends” are my true network, and I love staying in touch with the new and exciting things in their lives. Pinterest yields the most creativity for me and seems to be the easiest in terms of sharing content. I think Twitter probably has the most potential for people starting new businesses and blogs, but I think you need to be extra-strategic with an approach for managing a successful Twitter account.
For health coaches and wellness pros just starting out using social media to promote their health and wellness practices, what advice can you share?
As with everything, I recommend a structured and strategic approach. For someone starting out, this probably means starting simple. I would recommend setting up a solid Facebook page and committing to regular posts – this could be anything from once a month to 10 times daily. I think the key is consistency so your followers don’t get disappointed and think you fell off the map. You can then get your blog started and absolutely should share your posts on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. There are many individuals that are skilled in social media these days, so never be afraid to ask for help.
Thanks, Ali, for taking time for this interview and for sharing your thoughts about blogging and social media marketing. I wish you the best with your Kickstarter project. Let’s keep in touch and talk again when your book comes out … and you can share how you’re using social media to make it a best-seller!
Are you a health and wellness professional who’s using social media marketing to promote a book or other product? Contact me and you could be featured on this blog.