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Issue 003
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies, courtesy Paleo Gluten Free

We’re back with more news, trends and ideas for food bloggers. Buckle up, people, because here we go . . .

TWO FREE WRITING TOOLS PERFECT FOR FOOD BLOGGERS

    Hemingway App

If you’re not using Hemingway Editor, you should start! (Spoiler alert: it’s free.)

We hate dense, complicated sentences. They make our brains hurt!

Why can’t everything be expressed simply and clearly? Especially on food blogs, right?

Hemingway Editor is great, easy-to-use software that checks your writing and determines how easy it is to read.

It checks for things like complicated sentences, passive voice, and more. If you write the word “utilize,” it will encourage you to go with “use” instead.

Hemingway also determines a grade level for the writing. Here at Eats Index, we shoot for around a 7th or 8th grade level. That is, seventh graders should be able to read the writing here without trouble.

We’re not here to impress you with SAT vocabulary words — we’re here to help food blogs. And yeah, nothing we write should go over 7th and 8th graders' heads!

It is fun to enter text and then improve it, using the Hemingway’s colors. (Maybe we’re nerds, but it really is fun!)

Hemingway App costs $19.99 (disclaimer: we are not affiliated with them in any way) for the downloadable software. They also have a free, web-based version, which is what we use for our every article.

Disclaimer: This was run through Hemingway App.

Hemingway App

    Google Explore Tool

We write all our articles in Google Docs, which has a number of advantages over Microsoft Word and other text editors.

First of all, Google Docs are online and in the cloud. This gives us confidence that we won’t lose our work. We don’t know about you, but there’s certainly been times when we’ve closed Word documents without clicking save. It is a truly horrendous realization!

We’ve also known a food blogger who writes her posts directly in WordPress – and she occasionally loses work, too. So frustrating!

Google Docs seems pretty on the ball with saving – we’ve heard of no mishaps there.

Google Docs and Explore

Another cool trick in Google Docs is its Explore Tool.

Simply go to the Tools menu in Google Docs and then select Explore.

A narrow side panel will appear – it’s a “mini-Google!” Type in a term and off you go.

This can be very handy – a nice way to do a little research without leaving your document. And just like with regular Google, you can search up photos, too.

Along with Hemingway app, Google Docs is another powerful, free tool that makes our work better (and more pleasant to do!) Give them both a try and see what you think.

Savory Oats
Savory oatmeal – really? Image courtesy Margarita Zueva

LITTLE BITES

    Savory Oats

The Quaker Oats Company recently surveyed Americans about their breakfast eating habits. The study revealed a few surprises – that 10% of people in the Northeast like to top their oats with eggs, for instance. 3% of respondents like hot sauce (!) on their oatmeal. The whole savory oats thing is new to us (and frankly, a little bit shocking.)

However, a quick Google search turned up 5 Savory Oatmeal Recipes For Breakfast over at My Food Story. Honestly, these recipes all sound delicious – Mexican Oats, Indian Oats (Oatsa Dosa) and Garlic Oats with Eggs. Yum!

The Worktop also features a good-looking savory oatmeal recipe — with bone broth and savory mushrooms.

And Macheesmo’s Cheesy Bacon Savory Oatmeal – that sounds like something that needs to be sampled this very weekend!

The Quaker survey also contains less surprising revelations – that 45% of Americans like to eat breakfast foods for dinner. That figure strikes us as a bit low. (We love breakfast for dinner.) You can read more about the survey – and see more facts and figures – here.

    Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Have you ever laid awake at night, wondering, “Who invented the first chimichanga?” Well, toss and turn no more. A new book, Signature Dishes That Matter, traces the sometimes surprising origins of famous dishes, such as baked alaska, carpaccio, club sandwich, margherita pizza, and yes, the chimichanga (invented by accident in Tucson, Arizona by restaurateur Monica Flin.)

    Enough with the Pumpkin Spice Already?

Could it possibly be true? A leading market research firm reports that pumpkin spice (also known as "pumpkin pie spice") – once the hottest and most trendiest fall flavor – is on the decline. However, the researchers found that savory pumpkin dishes are still capturing hearts and minds. They suggest trying diced pumpkin in salads, pumpkin pasta, and pumpkin soups.


FREE GIFTS FOR YOUR SUBSCRIBERS

This suggestion is probably not new to you, but it's worth looking into a little further.

To sweeten the "subscribe" offer, many top bloggers promote a freebie – an additional something nice that the new subscriber will receive.

The idea is to give potential new subscribers a specific and immediately obtainable reward ("Get My Top Five Most Beloved Dessert Recipes") – rather than the promise of future, vague goodness ("Stay in touch," "Never miss a new recipe, etc.)

To be clear, this free gift can be a PDF, with special, exclusive content just for your subscribers.

You could also offer something other than a PDF. More on that in a minute.

You want your offer to motivate visitors to subscribe in that moment. If your offer is weak or namby pamby, people will leave your site without signing up. Who knows if they'll ever return – let alone ever join your list?

Let's look at some freebie offers from top blogs in the food space...

One of our all-time favorites is from Hello Spoonful – where blogger and nutritionist Elizabeth's subscribe inducement is . . . "5 Reasons Calories Are Stupid And Why."

You had us at "calories are stupid!" We want to know more.

Minimalist Baker gives signer-uppers a "49-Page Fan Favorite eBook with 20 recipes we think you'll LOVE." That sounds like a lot of value – and of course it's free. We like that the recipes are promoted as "fan favorites." We want to know what foods are exciting other people – and we want in. FOMO!

Recipe Tin Eats gives new subscribers not one but three free eBooks. Pretty cool!

"Free 5 Secrets Email Series" is the freebie from Jen at Once Upon A Chef. But more than that, her subscribe area says: "Join over 200,000 others and receive my weekly new recipe newsletter. 200K is really a lot of people!" Seeing that honestly makes us think, well, if two hundred thousand people are reading Jen's recipes, we better, too...

One more example for you, from Shelly at Cookies and Cups: 5 Baking Secrets That Will Change Your Life. We like this one a lot. Yes, it uses "secret," like many others, but life-changing secrets – now we're talking! Shelly's strong and funny phrasing caught our eye – and got us to sign up!

Yes, cool. But is this going to be a lot of work?

These days, it's easier than ever to make these PDFs. You can use Slides from Google. (A free tool.) Believe us, no technical or art school degree is needed.

The process of emailing out the freebie can be automatic of course. You want it to be automatic (you don't want to think about it). Host your giveaway PDF on your site, and include a link to it in your welcome email to subscribers.

Idea: What can you do to stand out from the pack? What can you offer that nobody else does? We're specifically wondering what you can send that isn't a PDF. Don't get us wrong – there's absolutely nothing wrong with sending content in PDF form. But everyone does it.

What about a link to a special video, in which you share your best, secret chocolate chip cookie recipe? You can easily upload this video to YouTube as "unlisted" – meaning that it's available for people to access as long as they have the link you give them. (You could do this in addition to the PDF, of course.)

Outside the recipe blogging space, we have seen some marketers offer actual, real books for free. The new subscriber just pays shipping. This strategy may involve more work and a greater cost, but it certainly is a way to be different.

Another idea – and maybe some of you are doing this now – are surprise freebies. Like, what if you sent your current, existing subscribers a PDF ebook of top ten Thanksgiving recipes in the first week of November? Maybe that would keep readers appreciating your emails and opening them up to see what you're sharing.

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COMING NEXT WEEK

We're already hard at work on next week's batch of food blogging goodness. Here are a few stories to watch for...

✓   A coming new color . . . for your leafy greens?

✓   "Honey Pot" traps that affect food bloggers

✓   A trend that's boosting the popularity of pancakes

✓   Inverse cooking – and why it scares us.

✓   Ideas, analyses, and just a whole digital cavalcade of fun

Nothing above is sponsored content. All the opinions are our own.
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