3 Things I’ve Learned About Digital Marketing from Food Blogging

By day, I am part of a digital marketing team developing and managing the web content for a corporate law firm. My work includes managing Holland & Knight's social media accounts and blogs, and I assist with developing and executing external mailings to clients. Nights and weekends? I’m cooking, eating and writing about it on my food blog, A Little Saffron. I’m also a correspondent for Florida’s largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, with a regular column on home cooking based on my food blog.

These seemingly dissimilar activities that make up my days actually complement each other more often than expected. My job at the firm has taught me ways to improve my food blog (SEO! Branding! Website maintenance!), and there are several lessons I've carried from blogging into my work in web content management. My blog and column were even part of the reason I landed my job as a digital communications coordinator.

Design matters. Starting my food blog gave me an outlet to flex and hone skills beyond the creative one I began with: writing. Reading is a great way to become a better writer, and in my attempt to become a better photographer and blogger, I studied dozens of food blogs, cookbooks and magazines. I became a better cook over the years, but I also greatly improved my photography skills. I began to better understand composition of both photographs and websites, and I got a handle on food and prop styling. Eventually, my photos were published alongside my writing somewhere beyond my blog. I learned to approach content as a package beyond the words on the screen or page. This perspective made me better at my job with the firm's Web Content team. My blogging background helped me develop a better eye for making sure content looks good on our firm's website. It's that thing everyone already knows: it's not just what you say, but how you say it. I learned that in digital marketing this includes design and looking at all aspects of our website, including its many sections, pages and maintaining that point of view across all of it.

Be your own editor. As the writer, photographer, cook, creative director, stylist and publisher behind my food blog, this party-of-one learned to be a better self-editor. You're looking at a former elementary school spelling bee champ—ahem—so I've always been good at catching little errors or discrepancies in text, but managing the web content on my personal blog and for a firm with more than 1,100 attorneys sharpened my focus. For client mailings, social media campaigns and other content, we take time to have more than one set of eyes on content. But it's still me or a colleague on my team viewing an article or an update on a page for the last time before hitting publish. So, I ask myself, does that link actually work? Does it go to the full page or an anchor midway down the article? Can we shorten this headline? Are there any typos? Whether it's an alert for our clients, a tweet or a recipe, it pays to think like an editor.

Consistency is key. My column runs in the paper on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. I create a LinkedIn post and share a tweet for each article or blog update I post on Holland & Knight's website. I aim to post on my food blog once a week. It's easier to stretch that on my personal blog where I hold myself accountable (see earlier note about my party-of-one behind the scenes), but I know it to be true: consistency is key. That's true when it comes to maintaining a certain voice in content across a website, posting frequency and style. A friend once said she'd know an article was written by me just from reading it, not by looking at the byline. High compliment! But at the firm, I need to write and edit content to match the firm's voice, not mine. Working at developing my own voice in my writing helped me get a handle on knowing and maintaining the tone for a large firm, too.

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Ileana Morales Valentine Digital Communications Coordinator, Holland & Knight

Ileana Morales Valentine lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is a digital communications coordinator for Holland & Knight and writes about food and life on her site, ALittleSaffron.com.

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