Blog Award winning, book deal getting, amazing ice cream making Kieran Murphy runs Ice Cream Ireland the most torturous website in Ireland for those on diets. The blog has one acclaim all over for the quality of writing and the insights on ice cream. Kieran also answered some questions about blogging and books.
You’re the ice cream king in Ireland, certainly online. Why did you start the blog? Was it a business reason or did it just work out as being a great but accidental business decision?
It wasn’t accidental, although I never dreamed it would be so successful. I started the blog because I saw that blogging was in the news and was already aware of the potential because of successful bloggers out there, both in terms of web traffic and profile. One of our goals as a company was to become known experts in our field (ice cream), which certainly helps with the press. In addition, I wanted to create a forum for Murphys Ice Cream customers and potential customers for feedback and new ideas. Both of those goals have been largely successful. Finally, I love what I do and wanted to share it both with customers/potential customers and other interested parties.
Your blog is constantly referenced in articles as being a great example of a business blog. Do you feel under pressure to perform if you will and to work harder on what you write on the blog?
I don’t think so. I enjoy writing the blog, and although I’m pleased by the mentions, it doesn’t really change what I do. I’m quite certain I’d continue as long as my readers are interested – with or without any acclaim.
Have other businesses approached you asking for advice on how it’s done?
No. It’s a bit surprising to me, since I see it as such a good thing, but I haven’t been approached by anyone. In fact, I’ve tried to convince some friends who are business people to start a blog with no success.
In terms of importance to the business and priorities, where does the blog come?
It’s not a big priority in terms of the business, but rather something I do mostly in my spare time. We don’t have meetings about the blog or plan content or anything like that. It really is an on-line journal of the issues I find important at the moment or recipes with which I or my production team have been playing. It’s a big time commitment, but I don’t mind since I enjoy it so much.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a business that wants to start a blog?
A business blog should contain information that is useful to the readers. There must be a pay-off for them visiting your site. In my case it’s the recipes as well as tips and tricks and information about Kerry and a personal point of view. Company propaganda is unlikely to interest many people…
Congrats on the book deal. How did that come about?
The book came directly from the blog. An editor at our publisher was a fan both of the blog and our ice cream, saw the potential for an ice cream cookbook, and contacted me. Needless to say, my brother and I were delighted. We then put together a book proposal, which their board approved.
When is the book coming out? How is it going to be marketed?
The Book of Sweet Things will come out in April and should be available in Irish bookshops nationwide and on Amazon. In terms of marketing, we will market it in conjunction with the publishers. They have a wealth of experience in terms of marketing books. From our side, we will mount a PR campaign both in traditional media and on-line. Of course, we also expect to sell a good few copies through our own Murphys Ice Cream shops in Dingle and Killarney.
What’s the work regime for putting the book together? Is there a certain amount of time set aside each day?
That would probably be the best way to do it, but since our business is so seasonal, I didn’t really get anything done until the summer season was past, and I then put the book together in a few months of intense work. My brother covered all the other parts of the business to give me the space to do so and helped with the editing.
Putting a book together is new to you, I assume? Did you get advice from a few people on how to do it?
It is new to me, but I didn’t get advice except from my brother and parents, who were very helpful. I figured the publishers like what they saw on the blog, so I simply continued in that vein. Of course, a cookbook is very different from other books, since so much of it is simply recipes. It requires less writing and more testing than other types of books! I also did the photography myself, and that was very time-consuming.
You’ve done pieces for the Irish Times, you’ve done the book, have you been approached by a TV company about doing a series on icecream?
Not yet, but that would be great fun!
What’s next after the book?
I’ll get back to the ice cream. There’s always so much to do and much to improve, and there is a new season coming up. It’s really my first love. In the longer term, I do like writing, and I would like to do more of it. Whether that means another book or media writing depends on what comes my way.