Here it is, the first announcement day of 2016! This time congratulations are in order to Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef, who will be publishing a beautiful cookbook with Chronicle Books. Here’s the official deal listing from Publisher’s Marketplace:
I’m so excited about this book for two reasons (well, actually it’s more like two trillion reasons, but I’ll spare you the exhaustive list):
Jenn is such a success story and a great inspiration for anyone who’s on the journey of building their platform. Jenn’s big dream was always to write a cookbook. After graduating from college, she went to culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine and began working in the kitchens of fine dining restaurants like the L’Auberge Chez Francois. But, as she wrote in her proposal:
“Not only was I the only woman in a hot kitchen full of big, sweaty men, but I was also not at all right-sized for the massive equipment that surrounded us. At 5 foot, 2 inches, I had to get lifts on my shoes just to reach the plates. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to cook in a restaurant kitchen, just imagine trying to juggle multiple orders in your head and cooking on four different burners with food in the oven at the same time. Plus flames, sharp knives, hot pans, and an incessant stream of orders. It was terrifying!”
I love this story because it shows how not every food job is the right fit for everyone, no matter how passionate you are about food. I’m 5 foot, 2 inches, too, and I can tell you that the restaurant world is just NOT designed for the slight of stature. But you know where height doesn’t matter? In the writing and blogging world.
So when Jenn gave birth to her son and decided to stay home with him, she hung up her chef’s whites, picked up her apron, and went back to that cookbook dream. The problem was, she needed a platform.
And a platform she built. Over many years—one recipe and one blog post at a time—Jenn built a wonderful, engaged, and highly active community at Once Upon a Chef. She now has over 4 million page views, an email list of over 100,000, and a real connection to the people she’s helping. That right there—a close sense of knowing your readers and being dedicated to serving them—is the real purpose behind platform-building.
Lucky for us, Jenn has graciously agreed to share a few bits of advice about what it was like building the platform that got her the cookbook deal of her dreams:
What one thing worked best for you to grow your audience and increase traffic?
In the beginning, contributing to larger blogs, like HuffPost, Parade and Serious Eats, exposed me to a broader audience and drove lots of traffic to my site. (Reach out to the editors; sometimes it’s not as hard as you think to become a contributor). More recently, I moved away from the typical blog format/design and invested in a custom site redesign, which increased my numbers dramatically.