Wholesome Yum's Maya Krampf: create for your audience, not yourself

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With so much negative coverage of publishing, we at Bibblio are shining a spotlight on the many vertical publishers that are thriving. Welcome to the "Vertical Heroes" series of interviews.

This time, Wholesome Yum's CEO and founder Maya Krampf reveals what has made her company a success. Founded in Minnesota, USA, Wholesome Yum focuses on easy, gluten-free low carb, and ketogenic recipes using 10 ingredients or fewer. Established in 2015, this enterprise specializes in recipe development, professional food photography and video production, as well as marketing, brand and product development services. You're likely to have discovered Maya and her healthy offerings across social media, with her Instagram following alone sitting at over 180,000 keen foodies.

Maya spoke to Bibblio CEO Mads Holmen about knowing your audience, getting them to follow you and to eventually become your advocates.

Maya Krampf, CEO and founder of Wholesome Yum
Maya Krampf, CEO and founder of Wholesome Yum

Mads: Hi Maya. Let's start by finding out more about your publication's target audience. Who are they?

Maya: People who want to get healthier, want to lose weight, or are generally interested in a low carb or keto lifestyle.

MH: What different types of content are you offering them?

MK: Recipes on our website, weekly meal plans, print cookbook, ebooks, monthly giveaways on various platforms, social media content and communities, and soon, keto friendly food products.

MH: How large is Wholesome Yum in terms of audience and size?

MK: We have 7 million monthly views per month on our website and a 22 million monthly social media reach. Our team comprises eight employees, including myself and my husband, and growing.

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MH: You’ve managed to grow impressively - what has been the secret sauce?

MK: Thank you! I'm not sure I can attribute it to any one thing, it's more like hundreds of little things that add up to a big difference. But I think the big key is always putting our readers first and doing our best to serve them. We are constantly trying to learn what they are looking for, what struggles they face, and how we can make their lives easier with what we can offer them.

MH: How are you retaining your audiences?

MK: We offer multiple ways people can subscribe to follow along with new content we create, including an email newsletter, push notifications, social media communities (our Facebook support group has over 150,000 members), and more. In addition, we create more of the same content that may have interested our first-time users, so that they come back for more of what is important to them.

Wholesome Yum's home page
Wholesome Yum's home page

MH: What are the key audience metrics you define success by?

MK: Audience reach, engagement, and word-of-mouth referrals. The biggest success is when people start talking about our brand and our community with their friends and family, on their own.

MH: Define what SEO means to you these days.

MK: It's all about the standard influences, such as keywords, page speed and engagement, but most importantly it's striving to answer your audience's questions better than anyone else.

MH: What’s your social media strategy, and how important is it for you to be present on those platforms?

MK: We have a pretty complex strategy involving a team of multiple people and spreadsheets, but like everywhere else, our goal is to present the most useful, interesting content and get repeated engagement. We are strongest on Pinterest and Facebook, and very active on Instagram as well. YouTube and Twitter are currently less active, but we are present there as well.

Wholesome Yum's Instagram
Tasty treats on Wholesome Yum's Instagram

MH: How do you drive engagement when readers land on your site?

MK: Simple. Provide useful information and make it as easy as possible for them to interact.

MH: Do you work together with other publications in your vertical?

MK: We contribute to a few publications occasionally, but for the most part we focus on our own platforms.

MH: Could you shed a bit of light on your revenue model?

MK: Currently our revenue comes from advertising, affiliate income, sponsorships, and digital products.

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MH: How do you work sponsored and affiliate content into your mix?

MK: We only include it if it's a truly great fit for our audience and we personally believe in the product. In these situations, we weave it in naturally into our free, useful content for our readers.

MH: What are you most excited about?

MK: I am so excited to share my new Wholesome Yum Foods products with our readers! People often ask me for product recommendations, and in many instances, I had ideas for something better than what's available out there, so I developed my own. Our first items are a line of natural keto sugar replacements called Besti. We can't wait to share more products in the coming year! Otherwise, I can't reveal too much quite yet, but we'll have a completely redesigned keto meal plan model, coming in 2020 as well!

MH: From your own journey, what do you think other vertical publishers could learn?

MK: There's a million and one things I've learned along the way, but the three big ones are: create content for your audience (not for yourself!), niche down, and don't be afraid to outsource.

MH: Which other publishers do you look to for inspiration? 

MK: I am inspired by many different publishers of all sizes. I believe we can all learn something from each other. Everyone has their strengths, and one of the most fun things about having your own business is trying out new things to see what works.

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Publishing in peril

Web users have enjoyed free access to content for years, which has meant some digital publishers are having a tough time of it. To make money they either put up a paywall or rely on ads and clickbait. Google and Facebook offer easy ways to share content, but these referrals are fickle, hard to monetize, and dependent on algorithms that can change in a heartbeat.

In this ecosystem, quality journalism cannot thrive, replaced instead by sensationalist content and filter-bubbled fake news. The experience for users is jumbled and distracting, putting customer loyalty at serious risk.

Help is at hand

Bibblio's discovery platform lets publishers increase engagement, build loyalty and improve how they monetize. Our AI understands the context of each content item, recommending it at the right place and time, recirculating the publisher's content and personalizing their audience's experiences across any touchpoint.

Using either light-touch self-serve tools or running deeper integrations with support from Bibblio's engineers, these successful publishers have found smarter ways to deliver value through their sites, gain a better understanding of their audience and return their focus to quality editorial.

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