By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
Tesia Love is the creator of FlavorDiva.com, a blog that reaches out to African-American women who appreciate and enjoy cooking. Love’s goal is to inspire more African-American women to reclaim the culinary talent and skills held by previous generations of Black women, and promote well-being through food.
Love has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and mass communication and a Masters in media and public affairs. She works in marketing and communications in the non-profit sector. We spoke about creating the blog, reaching out to a target audience, the importance of social media in promoting the blog, and advice for those who want to do something similar.
NABJDigital: How did you come up with the idea for FlavorDiva.com?
Tesia Love: I came up with the idea when I was taking a web design class. Also, about seven years ago, I began to get back into cooking. I had stepped away from it, but always enjoyed it. So I studied and re-taught myself how to cook and took classes. During the web design class I was taking, we had a project to design a website, so I decided to design a food blog since food was the topic that was most on my mind at the time.
ND: How long has it been running?
TL: It will be two years in August 2010. It has really been fun. I enjoy writing it on several levels. It has allowed me to meet people online and at conferences like Blogalicious. It also makes me practice what I preach: to cook more often.
ND: Why did you think that a site like yours was needed for African-American women?
TL: One thing is it was definitely needed. Across the board, Americans are not cooking their own food as much as in the past. I chose to target black women to get a niche audience for my blog because there are thousands of food blogs out there. A blog that targeted African-American women did not exist at the time, but my blog can really speak to everyone. I also encourage men to cook more often, however, the reality is it’s still women who make most of the decisions around food in most households, so that’s who I target.
ND: How often do you post on the blog?
TL: I post about once a week; that’s my goal. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. To keep blogs consistent, it’s advised to post three times a week, but once a week works better with my schedule. I’ve learned not to spread myself too thin when it comes to blogging.
ND: What do you see as your ideal blog post?
TL: My ideal post not only gives a recipe that readers can make, but also inspires readers in regards to food or their connection to food. Food is about more than just taste. It’s about our health and our relationships with people as well. Food touches our everyday lives, and that connects with readers.
ND: How do you attract the advertisers for your blog?
TL: Currently, I haven’t pursued advertising for FlavorDiva.com, mainly because I’ve been focused on creating good content and building my readership. When I do start to proactively solicit advertisers, I want to try to be selective and work with marketers whose products or services don’t conflict with the values of my blog, which is fresh, homemade cooking with minimal use of processed foods. One means of attracting advertisers that I have been keeping my eye on is The B-Link, a marketing network for women of color bloggers. The B-Link was started by the MamaLaw Media Group who hosts the Blogalicious conference that I attended last year.
ND: How important has social media been in promoting your blog?
TL: Social media has been extremely important in promoting my blog. I wouldn’t have as many readers as I do if I did not use social media. After I post on my blog, I then tweet about it and post a link to it on my Facebook page and on FoodBuzz.com.
ND: You won a Black Weblog Award last year. How did you feel about that win, and how has winning brought exposure to your blog?
TL: I appreciated wining because I won the judges’ and the popular vote for Best Food Blog. Each person nominated had to push their blog to promote it and social media helped with that. There were five blogs nominated in my category, and I won during the first year of publishing FlavorDiva.com, so I’m proud of that. The win definitely brought me more exposure by increasing the number of referral links FlavorDiva.com receives from other bloggers.
ND: Who did you work with to design FlavorDiva.com?
TL: I designed it myself using WordPress. This is a WordPress.org blog, where I buy my own server space through a hosting company. I used a WordPress theme (template), but then, because of my web design experience, I was able to change and customize the theme to make it my own. I also designed my own logo.
ND: What advice would you give to NABJDigital members who want to do something similar to what you’ve done?
TL: Do your research. There’s so much free information on social media and blogging online regarding how to set up a blog, including questions like whether or not to use a hosted site or set up your own self-hosted site. There’s a really great book for women called “The It Girl’s Guide to Blogging With Moxy.” It was the main book I used as a guide to when creating my blog. It has information on things like choosing a name, developing a brand and searching for advertisers. It’s a very helpful resource.