How I Did It: A Food Personality Banks on Blogging

How a home chef turned passion into an expanding brand

(Image: Thinkstock)

Monique Kilgore wants modern women to know that they can be divas and still tear it up in the kitchen. This wife, mom and food blogger is using her site, Divas Can Cook, to brand herself as a food personality. She’s already been featured in a Philadelphia Cream Cheese commercial—after entering Kraft and Paula Deen’s “Real Women of Philadelphia” contest—in addition to being a finalist in the Next Food Network Star YouTube Challenge and winning a cooking segment on The Nate Berkus Show.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Kilgore about her passion for cooking, how she is expanding her brand via blogging.

BlackEnterprise.com: Where did your passion for food come from, and how did you get started blogging?

Kilgore: My passion for food definitely comes from growing up in a family where cooking was involved in everything. I started blogging about two and a half years ago. Originally my blog was just a site for me to keep all my family recipes. And somehow my link to my blog got shared on a forum and it just took off from there. I started getting letters saying, “Monique, you’re teaching me how to cook. I didn’t learn how to cook growing up and I’m learning through your recipes.”

When did blogging stop feeling like a hobby and more like a profession?

I would have to say early on, like the first month or so. Even though my traffic was kind of low, I was still getting offers. a lady wanted me to cater for her wedding, and I also got someone wanting me to do meal plans. And they were willing to pay for it. And that’s kind of when I started thinking well maybe I could turn this into a business.

How have you attracted people to your site?

In the beginning I was spending a lot of time getting traffic to the site. Now since I’ve been doing the cooking videos on YouTube, I’ve been getting a lot of traffic from that. Social media is like the best thing ever for getting traffic, free traffic anyway. So my Facebook fan page, and Twitter, YouTube—those are all really big places that I get a lot of traffic from.

Another thing that’s really important for bloggers is marketing. What strategies have you found to be successful?

What really works a lot for me is commenting on other food blogs. I would go to a food blog and they may ask a question and I’ll give an answer, what I think will be helpful for them. And that’s how people are finding me. They’re like, “Well I found you on this blog; I liked the advice that you gave.” Just giving out free advice, offering what I have to offer for free. I find that to be a really, really good way to get myself out there.

You also said that bloggers should find their individual niche to set themselves apart. What would you say your niche is?

I wanted to show modern women how to make old-school type dishes. Almost everything on my site is handmade from scratch. And I feel like that was kind of like dying out a little bit, that old-school type of cooking. So I feel like that’s my niche: bringing that back.

Kilgore, along with other food industry professionals, will be profiled on BlackEnterprise.com throughout this month, in conjunction with Black Enterprise magazine’s November 2011 “A Passion for Food” issue.

Check out the latest features on industry heavyweights, including Marcus Samuelsson and The Neelys, on newsstands now.

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