If you're a dessert lover, chances are you've heard of Dorothy Kern and her blog, Crazy for Crust. After all, her recipes have been featured at BuzzFeed more than a dozen times. She's also appeared in publications such as Women's World Magazine, Rachel Ray Magazine, Huffington Post, and Redbook. She's even popped up on this humble site a few times, featured in our Easter desserts, creative brownies, and no-bake desserts roundup posts.
She's earned that kind of exposure. Dorothy started Crazy for Crust in September 2010 (you can read her first post and her first recipe), and in her four-plus years has produced well over 1,000 posts. That's an average of 20 posts per month, which amounts to nearly every weekday. In other words, Dorothy puts in the work necessary to make it in the food blogging biz.
With so many recipes, it's only natural that Dorothy would share. Her husband and daughter benefit from her baking habit, of course, but she likes to spread around the dessert bounty. "My neighbors and the teachers at school get the brunt of most of what I make!" The teachers must feel disappointed at the end of the year when her daughter moves onto the next grade.
Success did not come overnight for Dorthy and Crazy for Crust. It took her nearly 18 months to produce her first viral recipe: Peanut Butter Football Dip. That post generated over 55,000 Pinterest pins and nearly 2,500 Facebook shares. It also generated a ton of attention around the web, getting linked up from BuzzFeed among others.
Why was this post such a hit? "Peanut butter and chocolate always hits a nerve with my readers," she says.
Dorothy cites her Funfetti Gooey Bars as her most shared post: 157,000 Pins! "I'm not sure why," she says. "I guess everyone likes easy recipes…and sprinkles!"
The journey from that first post in September 2010 to her first viral hit in February 2012 was an educational one for Dorothy. What did she realize during that time? "That I had no idea what I was doing. Seriously!"
With practice, she started to improve. The biggest improvement she made throghout the year was her photography skills. "When I first started I used a point and shoot and had no idea what I was doing." She has since upgraded and considers her photos, all taken in the natural light of Sacramento, California, to be one element that sets her apart from other dessert bloggers.
What else sets Dorthy and Crazy for Crust apart from other dessert bloggers? She thinks it's her innate creativity. "I post some ‘normal' desserts, but I also have out of the box thinking to come up with creative new ways to put dessert together."
Her improved photography skills, combined with that creativity, started paying off two years after she started Crazy for Crust. That's when Dorothy went pro and took her blogging full-time. It's been more than a year since the full-time move, and Dorothy is still cranking out recipes.
Although the recipes are what make the blog, Dorothy also understands the importance of promotion and networking. By her own admission she spends "too much" time on social media: three to four hours a day. But that effort helps spread her work to a wider audience.
Where does she spend most of her social media time? "Pinterest and Facebook are the top traffic drivers from social media," she says. "I've used Pinterest like a pro for a long time, so I have lots of content on there." Pinterest like a pro, indeed. She has more than 80,000 followers. You don't get there, and to 150,000 pins on a post, by pure luck. Dorothy puts in the work, and it has paid off for her and her family.
The food blogging landscape has changed a lot since Dorothy started in 2010, but she still has some advice for anyone starting a food blog today. "Don't expect it to happen overnight. Some people get lucky, but most work the hard for a long time before making this a living.
"Also, photos are key, as well as good recipes."
Although she focuses on recipes, don't think that Crazy for Crust is merely a food blog or a dessert blog. Dorothy has shared many personal stories with readers over the years. She isn't afraid to open up, and by doing so she forges a connection with readers that many closed-up bloggers lack.
If you're new to Crazy for Crust, make sure you check out these posts:
- Her infertility story
- A very difficult story to share about body image and weight issues
- An update to the previous post
Read those posts, and then check out a couple of Dorothy's recipes. It's impossible to not become a fan of hers after that. Which is probably why she's such a successful dessert blogger.
When I asked Dorothy what was the most rewarding aspect of being a food blogger, she gave an answer that I absolutely loved.
"The friends I've made. And knowing that I did something myself. I built a business from the ground up – there is a lot of pride in that!"
As she should. If you're not already a fan of Crazy for Crust, make sure you head there right now to check out her 1,000-plus recipes: crazyforcrust.com.
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