Tessa Arias is a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. She loves to write about all things sweet, carby, and homemade. She’s on a mission to make the world a more unapologetically delicious place. Tessa lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
Tell us a little bit about you, Tessa Arias, and what you do.
I am 25 year old woman who is obsessed with all things food, specifically anything sweet, anything with chocolate or bread. I have been able to create a full-time business from this obsession.
How did you get into blogging?
I started blogging in 2009 which was basically before Pinterest. It was a very different place online, and I was discovering this obsession with recipes and food. I was watching Food Network and reading recipe magazines all the time. I was only 18 and none of my friends were interested in that at all. I kind of turned to online forums and groups to find other like minded people who enjoyed this kind of stuff and eventually created my own blog. I loved being online since my parents first allowed me and taught myself some basic coding and Photoshop. It kind of just all seemed like a natural step to start a blog and capture my adventures in the kitchen and just to do it for fun and as a hobby. It was a hobby for many years and only until about 2 years ago did it became a full-time job.
What were the first steps you took to taking that leap into a full-time job and making income?
Obviously a lot of tactical stuff, but it was mostly big mindset shifts. I started to treat my blog like a business. I started to make decisions based off of what I was hearing from my audience and what I thought they would be interested in and not just what I randomly felt like doing in that moment in time.
How did you learn that you had to listen to your audience and what were they saying?
It’s just that whole shift in changing from viewing your blog like a hobby where it’s an expression of your creativity and to it’s a business. My audience members might not have been buying anything from me at that time, but they were the way I was making money through ads. I knew I had to start treating them like customers even though I didn’t have products back then. I wanted to get a better understanding of what kind of things they would be interested in. I was using very basic tactics to try and figure them out. I was really paying attention to comments. If I saw something that a lot of people were saying or asking or requesting, I would copy and paste those comments into a document. I would make notes of recurring things that seemed to be happening with my audience and then looking at my Google Analytics. I watched what kind of posts were popular. It’s just really paying attention and keeping my finger on the pulse.
What would you say to someone who is in that place right now where their blogging a little bit about everything? Do you think that everyone should have a specific niche?
I definitely think there are no hard or fast rules and you have to make whatever you’re doing work for you and your audience. If people really love your other posts, then why not. At the end of the day you run and lead the business and so it’s really your decision. However, I will say that in my experience getting really specific with your niche, your topic, the kind of things you write about until you’ve grown a really loyal tribe who understand you, who get you, who are your people is helpful. Until you’ve gotten to that point, it kind of just confuses everyone and it puts a lot of pressure on you to just keep up with all these different avenues of content. I always advocate for people to niche down, get specific and then, once they’ve built up a core audience, once they experience success in that, then you can branch and start to cover other things and bring in other topics or interests. You’ve established your audience and they want to know everything that you’re into, not just the one thing that they started falling you for in the first place.
What would you say to the listeners who don’t have a huge audience?
You have to create something that people already want. You have to basically create a solution to a problem that already exists. This might not be with your audience if you don’t have a big audience yet or if you’re just starting out. What I discovered is that if you are in tune with some audience that’s out there, if you understand deeply and intimately what kind of problems are they facing in their lives, and you can offer them a solution, then you can be successful. With platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, and Google you can create content surrounding this topic, this solution, this value that you can offer the world, you’re going to get traffic from it. I think that’s the best part in all of this is that when you’re putting valuable content out, people are going to find it. They’re going to find you and they want to follow you and support you and get more from you.
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Handle the Heat +Baker by Nature
Tessa Arias is the blogger behind Handle the Heat. She loves to show people how to bring more sweetness to their lives and impress their friends and family with the best homemade recipes. She shares her favorite tips, tricks, and baking science to all but guarantee success in the kitchen. She has a culinary degree, over six years of food writing experience, and a published cookbook (and an eBook).