A pair of good friends recently started a really cool blog – A Slice of New Hampshire.
Their self-stated goal – “Touring the Granite State to create the ultimate guide for the ultimate food” – is to eat their way through the state’s pizza joints, one pie at a time.
Their site is a work in progress. Over a recent lunch (surprisingly, not pizza), I offered to share a few suggestions with them and they agreed to let me blog about it.
The shtick of this post is that I only gave myself 15 minutes to tool around the site and I had to come up with at least 15 viable, not-too-difficult ideas concerning design, content, or marketing.
1. Give the most recent review a more “centerpiece-style” look to give the home page more impact.
2. Whether you go to a centerpiece module or not, there are too many reviews on the home page. Try limiting the home page to four or five posts, tops.
3. Even if you’re unable to consistently go statewide, try to get a bigger geographic sampling of reviews. Maybe plan weekend getaways to the North Country, Upper Valley, Keene, etc. and hit a couple places that way. Maybe as a gimmick, go to the northernmost and southernmost pizza places in the state.
4. Once you get more geographically spread out, a Google map of the state with push-pins marking places you reviewed would be cool. In the short term, add a Google map to each review page so people can get directions easily if they want to act on your recommendations.
5. Create a gallery for all the pizza photos you have. Ask readers to share their pizza photos, too. Maybe take some funny shots with slices arranged like Pac-Man or a Jack-O-Lantern and/or ask readers to submit their own creative “pizza art.”
6. A weekly poll question would be fun for the home page – pepperoni or sausage, all veggies vs. all meat, etc.
7. Add a Twitter feed to the open spot on the right rail of the home page that tracks any references to @pizzanh.
8. A couple design tweaks: On the little wrap-around banner above each review, take the hyperlink to the home page off your names, it makes it really hard to read with the red background and since you are the only two reviewers you really don’t need a link there. Also, the plus-sign graphics next to the county names makes me think they would open a collapsible list, which they don’t. Use a different kind of bullet.
9. At the end of the reviews, put a “rate this review” widget so people who don’t want to leave a comment can still participate in the conversation.
10. Think about adding videos – maybe interview a pizza chef about secrets a home cook can use, or do a tongue-in-cheek video showing the best way to eat cold pizza. Nothing fancy, just fun.
11. In terms of monetizing the blog, try selling ads. You can also offer to post full menus of places you reviewed for an annual fee.
12. Notify a pizza place after you review them positively and invite them to post the review on their bulletin board – it’s a free ad for your site.
13. When you review a place or two in a new geographic area, send a news release to the local paper. If they run anything, it’s free PR for the site.
14. Offer your reviews to print publications, such as Hippo Press or the Union Leader’s NH Weekend to build influence and reach for your blog. You could also try to land a weekly gig on a morning radio program.
15. Find and link to all other NH-related food sites and see if you can get links back to your site. Also, if there are any sites that list NH blogs, add your blog to the list.