How a Powerful, Clear Brand Led to a Food Blog Empire with Dana Shultz of Minimalist Baker

Welcome back to episode 5 of the Summer Series!

 You’re in for a treat today.  Not only is my interview with Dana from Minimalist Baker the most downloaded C&C episode ever, but it includes her best tips to create a rock-solid brand that you and your audience will love.

 If you’ve ever been asked “what do you do?” and end up tripping over your words, this is the episode for you. 


Before we get into Dana’s juicy branding tips, there’s another reason this episode is a must listen.

You may look at Dana’s super successful blog, 1.6 million Instagram followers, her print and electronic cookbooks and online courses and think she’s always had success.

But like we’ve seen many times on this podcast before, we all have to start somewhere. Dana learned the basics of blogging on a completely different website (one that isn’t even available on the Internet anymore!)

In her courage half of this episode, she describes all the early mistakes she made as a newbie blogger. Her site had no real focus,and she attempted to build a lifestyle blog before she had built an audience. She would write about whatever she wanted – fitness, recipes, travel. You name it, she wrote about it!

What she realizes now as a veteran and successful blogger is that those early days were like her training wheels. Her writing skills improved, she learned the basics of how to set up and post on her blog. Once she realized that recipe posts were gaining in popularity, she wiped the slate clean and started over with Minimalist Baker.

Remember, the heroes that you look up to now were not always at the level they are now. Dana credits not giving up and letting a fear of making a fool of herself as a key to her success.

Principles for Branding

30 mins or less, 1 bowl, 10 ingredients or less – Minimalist Baker’s core message is crystal clear, and readers know exactly what to expect from the blog. Here are Dana’s top tips to create a strong brand that builds trust.

Internet interactions aren’t real life.

You have between 30-60 seconds to grab a reader’s attention and show them what you’re all about. Visitors to your site and your brand should know exactly what they’ll get when they find you.

Try and look at your blog with fresh eyes, is it clear what you’re offering?

You WILL repel customers and attract your dream customers.

This may scare early stage content creators, but it’s true. If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody. You have to get okay with not everyone liking you or what you’re building. Get clear on who you are writing for, and write only for them. Trying to appeal to too many people will water down your message and hurt your brand. Stay focused and let anyone who isn’t into what you’re doing find something else. You’re there for YOUR people.

Stay essential to your core message.

Build your foundation around one core idea to begin. Stay tuned because you’ll read Dana’s tips for creating a concise and powerful mission statement later in this article.

Your core message should be what all of your content and effort orbits around. It connects you to your audience, and when you stay consistent with your message, you build trust.

But if you’re worried you won’t get to grow and end up feeling stifled by your core message, the next tip is for you…

A brand will evolve as the creator evolves.

We are multi-passionate beings and we have a diverse and exciting range of topics that we’re passionate about. Because of this, you may worry that you’re limiting your opportunities by focusing on one message.

Remember, as your brand and yourself or team grow, there will be time to evolve and add in new ideas.

This will happen naturally, but only after you’ve remained true to your original core idea.

The Power Of Consistency

Dana credits much of her success to her commitment to a consistent posting schedule. For the beginning years of Minimalist Baker she posted recipes every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Her followers knew they could count on her blog for fresh, inspiring content like clockwork.

You don’t have to be the best, but you do have to add value and remain consistent.

- Dana Shultz

Be wise in the schedule you commit to, and don’t make excuses. She will often work 1-2 months ahead of schedule to give her grace if and when an unexpected life event pops up. She doesn’t use them as an excuse, she is always ready to adjust and stick to her posting schedule.

Crafting your mission statement

A well written and authentic mission statement will shape every facet of your business + content. Use it as a filter to influence you’re doing or not doing.

Before you try and write or re-write yours – ask friends and colleagues “what do you think I do here?”

Their answers will be very telling to how clear your brand is.

After you’ve done your research, take the common threads from your friends’ answers + your own answer, and distill it all down into one sentence.

Keep it concise – people don’t have time to figure out what you do. Compare “I share easy recipes” with “I share recipes that require one bowl, ten ingredients or less and thirty minutes or less.”

Do you see the difference?

Dana tells her readers exactly how her recipes are easy.

Where can you refine your brand?

Now it’s your turn. Take a look at your content, your website, the copy you write – is it crystal clear what you do? Ask your friends the same question and be open to their answers.

Then I challenge you to write a one sentence description of your brand and share it in the Courage & Clarity Community.

Show Notes