Tips from Bjork and Lindsay
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Welcome to episode 160 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, we’re sharing a recording from our most recent Live Q&A on Food Blogger Pro.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork talked with Mark Daoust from Quiet Light Brokerage about testing new income streams and spending money to make money. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
You are getting a sneak peek into one of our favorite perks that comes with a Food Blogger Pro membership: Live Q&As!
We hold a Live Q&A for our members every month, and they’re a chance for our members to get answers to their toughest blogging questions…live.
Our Q&As are the perfect opportunity to invite our experts to chat about a specific topic, but they’re also great for picking Bjork and Lindsay’s brains.
This month’s Q&A was an “Ask Bjork Anything,” and Bjork answered our members’ questions about email lists, photography, monetization strategies, and more. Enjoy this sneak peek into Food Blogger Pro Live Q&As!
Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Madison from A Joyfully Mad Kitchen! If you’d like to be featured, leave a review for us on iTunes and include your name and blog name in the review.
We’d like to thank our sponsors, WP Tasty! Check out wptasty.com to learn more about their handcrafted WordPress plugins specifically made for food bloggers.
If you'd like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Alexa Peduzzi: Today we’re sharing a recording from our most recent live Q and A. And I share some exciting news from FBP HQ.
Hey, hey wonderful listeners, you’re listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, where we talk blogging, business, and everything in between. But before we hop into today’s episode, we’d like to thank our sponsors; WP Tasty. WP Tasty is our sister site, where we develop smart, light weight, Word Press plug-ins for food bloggers. We have a recipe plug-in called Tasty Recipes, and image optimization plug-in called Tasty Pins, and a slick keyword auto linking plug-in called Tasty Links. Raquel heads up our WP Tasty brand as a product manager, developer over there. And she does just a fantastic job listening to the needs of our users and making solid plug-ins.
You know working with smart, hard working, motivated people, is one of my favorite things about being part of the Food Blogger Pro team. Which leads me to our exciting news, and our Tasty Tip of the Week.
Food Blogger Pro is hiring! Yup, we’re looking to add one more person to our small but mighty team. Food Blogger Pro is growing. We have this podcast that you’re listening to right now. A Thriving membership site with instructional videos, a community forum, deals and discounts, live Q and A’s, and tools for bloggers like Nurtrifox. And as I’m sure that you can imagine. We have a lot of members, customers, and listeners to support, motivate, and assist. So that’s why we’re looking for a member success agent. This member success agent will respond to support requests, and help our customers utilize Food Blogger Pro and Nurtrifox to their maximum potentials. It’s someone who has a heart for helping people, is super patient, and who is a ridiculously good communicator. So if you think you might be the perfect fit, awesome, we would love for you to apply. But if it doesn’t sound like you, and it sounds like someone else you know, encourage them to apply. We are so, so excited to add another member to our team. So you can learn more and apply at FoodBloggerPro.com/apply.
And now the episode. We hold live Q and A’s for our members on Food Blogger Pro every single month, and we’re sharing this month’s Q and A with you today. They’re a chance for our members to get answer to their toughest blogging questions, live. Sometimes we invite one of our experts to join us, to talk about a specific topic like Pinterest or GDPR, and other times, it’s moderated by our fearless leaders Bjork and Lindsay, in an ask us anything format. This month, Bjork went solo and answered our members questions about IGTV, monetizing, site speed, email lists, and so much more. So without any further ado, let’s jump in.
Bjork Ostrom: This is something that we have never done before. But, we’re been wanting to occasionally, maybe once every couple months, let Food Blogger Pro Podcast listeners, know what’s included with a Food Blogger Pro membership. And one of the things that we talk about on the Podcast often, is the video training. So we have over 300 videos for Food Blogger Pro. We talk about the forums, but one of the things we don’t talk about as much, are these live Q and A’s that we do every single month. And these are one of my favorite things about Food Blogger Pro, and we thought the best way to let Podcast listeners know, is to record this, and then publish it as a Podcast. So obviously you that are attending live, know that this is something that we do monthly. Ut for Food Blogger Pro Podcast listeners, we thought it would be helpful for you to know, to get a little bit of a sneak peak into what’s included with the Food Blogger Pro membership.
So we have one hour for today’s live Q and A, and we have people tuning in from all over the world, that are Food Blogger Pro members. And people from Edmonton, Vancouver, which is incredible. Buffalo, New York, Madison Wisconsin, two people back to back from Madison, Wisconsin, which is kind of fun. Utah, one of my favorite states of all time. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Hong Kong, one am, bonus points. Seattle, Iowa City, Iowa, and we have St Paul Minnesota here, for me, tuning in.
So for those that aren’t familiar, these live Q and A’s happen every month at Food Blogger Pro. Sometimes it’s just me, sometimes it’s me and Lindsay, oftentimes we have an expert on. So we have somebody that is an expert in a certain subject area, and we ask them specific questions about everything from search engine optimization, to social media, like Pinterest. We have different subjects that we focus on, and this is an opportunity for members to essentially get a little consultation that you’d normally have to pay an exorbitant amount for from an expert to answer questions. And what we do is, we have a little area to ask the questions, then members can vote up those specific questions and we answer them in real time, on this live Q and A.
It’s one of my favorite things that we do for Food Blogger Pro. And I’m really excited to jump in. So for those of you that are members, that are tuning in live, just a reminder to drop your question in, and to vote on any of the questions that you’re especially interested in hearing us answer. You can vote on those, and then those will go up, so that we know they’re the questions that people are most interested in having answered. And at any time for members, you can go back and watch any of these previous live Q and A’s to see if there’s anything that you can pickup and apply to your blog or your business.
So, with that in mind, I’m gonna kick things off. You can see here, for those that can see the video, I am joined by Sage. She’s chilling out in the background. But I’m kind of covering her up when I talk, so she says hello. And is excited to be a part of this today. Alright, let’s jump in and answer some of these questions.
This is a great question about the Pinch of Yum making money in the first month. So the question is “How did you make 21.97?” So $21.97 “your very first month? It’s honestly amazing to me, that right off the bat you made money.” And then says “I mean, this is all in very positive loving way.”
Great question, and excited to answer that. And one of the things that I think is important to point out, is a little bit of back story for that. So for those that aren’t familiar, this question is referring to the very first income report that we ever did for Pinch of Yum, and we talked about how we made $21.97. A couple disclaimed to that, number one, we were just talking about the revenue. So later on, when we were doing those income reports, we started to report on revenue. But we also included expenses, and then the number that we reported on was profit.
I think that’s one of the really important things to consider. Whenever you look at a business, or whenever you look at any type of numbers for a business, you need to make sure that you understand; hey is that profit, which is the total amount of money that a business is taking home after you move expenses? Or is it revenue, which is just the total amount of money that a business made? And profit is really accurate because it allows you to see, hey is this person just spending $1,000 on ads and then making $1,000 from that? It would be $1,000 in revenue, but zero dollars of profit. So, in those early stages, those first I don’t know how many. But there was, I would say, it was 10 maybe 20 of the income reports that we did, were just revenue. So it didn’t factor in expenses at all. So, even though it might have looked like, hey, you’re making $3,000, there’s also expenses that went into that. And time that went into that. And so all those things are important to consider.
The second thing is, that wasn’t our first month blogging. So, we had been working on Pinch of Yum as a tiny little blog, in it’s early stages, for a long time. And it was maybe a yearish at that point. I don’t remember exactly. But it was early on, it was still early one, but we had been working on it a decent amount. And it was after that first year that we started to do the income reports. And so, we had some momentum, we had sometime, and we had some energy behind it, before we started doing those income reports. So that’s another thing that’s really important to consider, is that there was a substantial amount of time and energy that we put into it, before we started doing those income reports, which in the early stages were just revenue. So two important factors to consider. And important things to think about whenever you think about any business or blog that’s talking about, hey, we made this much in revenue. Or, the other important consideration is, how much went into that beforehand.
And even before we started Pinch of Yum, there was a lot of work that I did, trying to understand websites better, and listening to Podcasts. So there’s a lot of lead up to that stuff, and so maybe seemed like, hey, right off the bat, we had this momentum, and we were able to start building this business. But there’s months, and months, and years, and years that went into it before that. So if you want to check those out, those are archived posts, those income reports on Pinch of Yum. We don’t do those anymore. But I think the most helpful part of those, was looking at those early stages where we were starting to figure things out, and getting a feel for how that worked, and slowly but steadily starting to build up the momentum for the blog. So great question, I hope that builds it up a little bit.
This is a great question that’s coming in, and looks like a lot of people are interested in this, as it has a bunch of votes, what are your suggestions for new bloggers who wanna reach out to brands for sponsored content. A couple comments here down below. So we have a course on Food Blogger Pro for members, all about sponsored content. Alexa linked to that. So make sure to check that out. And we also did a boot camp on sponsored content with Danielle, the Food Blogger Pro expert on sponsored content and working with brands, and all things legal. She represents Hashtag Legal, which is a consultancy and it’s a team, Danielle and her partner, that are lawyers for bloggers. And it’s a great fit that she has some dep expertise on both sponsored content, contract, working with brands, and then also all the legal stuff that comes along with building a blog and building a business online.
So my suggestions, and I think the best way to answer this question, would actually be to tell a story, so in that sponsored content bootcamp that we did, we talked about some different strategies. And one of the strategies that I talked about, was this idea of working for free. Which for most people, the idea of working for free is like, “Oh you never wanna do that, and always get paid for your work.” And in general, I really agree that it makes sense, to insist on getting paid what you’re worth. And in the early stages, it’s gonna be really hard to sell somebody on the power and impact of your work, if you don’t have any type of portfolio that you can point them to.
In the sponsored content boot camp, one of the things I talk about, was one of these strategies you could take, is to connect with the brand that you love, that you would love to work with, and say "I’m trying to get started working with brands, and doing sponsored content. I would love to, for free, do a post, or work with you in some capacity, whatever that might be, do something on Instagram, where I talk about and promote your product. And there wouldn’t be any need for you to financially compensate, but to just have that be something where you come to them and say, I would love to do this, and then do everything you can to have that be an incredible, incredible piece of content, and to serve that company as best as possible.
And a couple things might come from that. Number one, they might at the end, say “Hey thanks, really appreciate that,” and you go on your separate ways. But then you have something in your portfolio that you can say, “This is a time that I did sponsored content with a brand. This is when I worked with a brand, and produced a piece of content, and here’s the result from it.” The other thing that could potentially happen, is that after you establish that relationship with somebody, after you have that contact at the company that you’re working with. They might come back to you and say, “Hey actually, this is something that you did a really great job with it, you delivered when you said you would, you provided some stats and some numbers that help support this as being worthwhile for us, and we would love to work with you together.” Or they might come back to you and say, “Hey, we really loved the photography, maybe we can work together in a capacity where you’re shooting some photographs for us so we can have some branded images.”
The point is, that it’s really hard to quote unquote, sell somebody a company, a brand, a person, on working with you, and paying you a substantial amount in a sponsored content capacity, if you don’t have the history and credibility. And also, if you don’t have a relationship established with that person. So, in order to start that relationship off right, it’s better to give as much as possible, than to ask from them initially. And a lot of times, the question is, people are like, “How can I get paid right off the bat without having any prior relationship, or any prior history doing sponsored content?” And the answer is, it’s really hard to do. Some of you might be able to do it, but one of the ways that’s a little bit earlier that allows you to on ramp.
And another part with it that makes it a little bit earlier, is that it relieves the burden of you having to negotiate a contract. With the first one, two , three times you do it, it’s a really scary thing to do, and it’s like, you don’t know you’re rate, and it’s intimidated by the numbers, and big contracts. This allows you to step into it, get a feel for it, become a little bit more confident. And it’s important to know, this is really important.
You’re not wanting to do that forever. You don’t wanna get caught in this place where you’re just working with brands and not getting paid. This is like step number one from being at a standstill. And you wanna be at a good pace, where you’re jogging, or maybe running and not getting winded, but in order to do that, in order to get to that place, you have to take that first step or two, to get started. And my suggestion for people that are in the early stages, to take that first step, is to be willing to do the work, to give as much as possible, to a brand, to a company in order than to get to a place where you feel comfortable and it makes sense to then ask. And that can come relatively quickly after the fact. But because okay with your first interaction with a brand or a company being giving, as opposed to asking them for something.
The story here with that, is we had after that sponsored content bootcamp, somebody reached out and said, “I decided to give that a shot, I reached out to a brand, I said I’d be willing to work with them. I worked super hard, I didn’t ask for any compensation, and now they’re coming back to me and saying we would love to work with you again.” So it was this very specific story of following along with this specific piece of advice, or insight, and it worked for her. And so I think it is a very, very small sample size of somebody who implemented this, and had some success with it. So, worth a try, especially if you have the bandwidth to do that. So, great question.
Alright, here’s a questions coming in that is about Instagram TV, so IGTV. “What are your thoughts and feelings on IGTV? Do you think IGTV should be prioritized over Instagram stories? Are they two different platforms that should be utilized differently? Thanks.”
So, I won’t read through this, but for those of you that are tuning here on the Podcast, you can see that Abby, who’s a social media manager here at Food Blogger Pro, and for Pinch of Yum, left her thoughts on it. And the basic idea is, each platform’s gonna have it’s own voice. And each platform’s gonna have the people that will perform better on that platform, given who they are and how they create content. My thoughts on platforms in general, and this could be applied to platform TV. Knowing that I’m not a social media expert, so this would be more of a general business and time management.
But my advice is, for you, especially in the early stages. Let’s say that maybe you have a full time job, a family that you’re prioritizing. And you’re doing this kind of as your side hustle. The reality is you’re not gonna be able to be active, and do an awesome job on all the social media platforms. So I would find one that’s a really good fit for you, and a good fit means something that you’re excited to use, and there are people in your audience that would also be on that platform. So find something that’s a good fit for you. And go deep on that specific platform. And, for the time being, let the other platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever it might be, Pinterest. Let those be platforms that support your main platform.
So if you love Instagram, and that’s the place that feels best for you, and is a really good fit, put your time, energy, and focus in on Instagram. And let those other platforms, either lay dormant, so you’re not putting time and energy into them. Or, you bring somebody in that would be able to help with it. So maybe you have a cousin who’s in college. And they have three hours a week, and you can hire them to help with the Pinterest account. Something like that. So thinking creatively around outsourcing those other social media platforms. So you can go deep on yours, and really put the time and energy that you need, into growing a following there.
Because the issue so often, is that all of these things come up, Instagram stories, Instagram TV, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, and we get spread thin, because we think that the best approach is to have a following on every single platform. And what happens is, we end up managing social media platforms instead of really going deep on building a blog, and building our business. And the social media stuff, is really important. Especially in this business of online content creation, the social media stuff is super important. But realistically, you’re not going to be able to put the time and energy needed into all of the different platforms while still creating content for your blog, and having time in life for all the other important things.
For social media, pick the thing that you wanna focus in on, that you’re interested in, that you wanna do, and go deep on. And either let somebody else handle the other stuff, or just let it go dormant. Let it be something that you say, “Hey, eventually I’m going to pick that up, but for the time being, I just don’t have the time and energy for it.” So maybe the account is there, maybe it does some type of automated publishing, in a really basic way, but you’re not spending a bunch of time and energy onto it. And if Instagram TV feels like a good fit for you, if it’s something that you’re excited about. If it’s something where you feel like, “Hey, this is who I am, and this is what I would be excited about doing,.” You can look into doing that, but just make sure that there are enough people there. There’s enough of an audience to justify that.
And I think with Instagram, with Instagram TV and Instagram stories, it is such a popular, active, engaged, audience and platform, that that would make sense. An example would be to contrast that. You might say, “Twitter feels like a really good spot for me, and I really love that.” In terms of the potential to drive traffic, or to work with sponsored content on the platform, Twitter’s not gonna and as effective. So you need to be cognizant of that. And intentional with making your decisions as it relates to social media and the platform that you’re focusing on. Knowing that the formula isn’t just hey, what feels like a good fit? This is the equation. What feels like a good fit for me, times what is the platform that has engaged audience that either has traffic driving potential, like Pinterest, or engagement potential to work with brands, like a YouTube or an Instagram.
So it’s a great question, and I think that it’s something that you’ll probably consistently wrestle with as you think think about, hey, how much time do I have in a given day, or in a given week. And what are the things that I wanna prioritize from a social media perspective.
Alright, so here is a questions about the Pinterest images, and the latest recommendation for sizes. And you can see in the comment are below, for those of you that are watching this, that Abby jumped in and said Pinterest is now recommending a two by three ratio for long pins, so that would be an example of the pixel size would be 600 by 900. Any pins longer than that will be cropped in the feed. We did a great interview with the creative, not creative director, I forget her official title, from Pinterest. We’ll link to that in the show notes for those that are listening on the podcast here, and we’ll also link to that in the comment area for those that are listening in the live Q and A. That was Yuka, her name was, and she talked a lot about some of those specific questions that we had, so that would be a good one to check out.
All right, we are moving along here. This is a great Q and A. Just a reminder for those of you Food Blogger Pro members that are watching live, you can vote on any of the questions that you’re especially interested in talking about here today. If we don’t get to any of these, you can transition them over to the forum, and we’ll make sure that we hit those, but for now, we’ll try and get through as many of these as we can.
Question is, “How many serving platters, plates, dishes, does Lindsay own and where do you store them all?” This is a great, great question. We at home, so here at home, where Lindsay will occasionally shoot, I’m recording this from home today, don’t have a ton of plates and dishes. We have a smallerish kitchen, so the ones that we do store here are downstairs in the basement, so we have an unfinished lower level, a basement. We’ll go up and down and grab those, but we have a substantial amount of just general kitchenware at the studio.
One of the main reasons for that is because when Lindsay does workshops, we want to make sure that everybody has a good variety that they can pick from, so we have a pretty big storage area where we keep all of the dishes, plates, towels, things like that, not because we use all of those personally or because Lindsay does, but mostly because we want to make sure that when people come to do workshops, they have stuff that they can pick from. A substantial amount, not as much as we need.
I would say what you’ll probably find is that as you accumulate different pieces that you’ve used for photography or for video or whatever it is that you’re doing, you’ll have your go to, the 2080 rule, where 80% of your shoots will only use 20% of the things that you have. My encouragement to you would be to consistently think about, “Okay, what is the stuff that I actually need?” So you don’t get into this overload of just having a bunch of stuff. There’s something really true about analysis paralysis where sometimes it’s easier to have fewer things because then you’re not having to make as many decisions and that’s just in life in general, but I think especially with creative decisions, it helps sometimes to have fewer as opposed to more. Great question.
All right, so this is a question that says, great question, “As a newbie,” and then it says in parenthesis, “Sorry, we are all new ones,” no need to apologize, “How important is website speed, photo size, Google Analytics, as opposed to just getting busy, posting recipes, building your audience?” There’s a second part and it says, “Also, a structured data test,” which I’ll get to that as the second part of the question.
First question, as a newbie, how important is website speed, photo size, Google Analytics, all that stuff. I think this is a great question and it’s worth spending a lot of time on because one of the biggest hiccups I think, or hurdles that people can run into is optimizing all of the levers and tweaks and changes and making all of these micro adjustments when the thing that you are adjusting, the content, isn’t actually there. Those pieces are really important, website speed, photo size, Google Analytics. All of those things are really, really important, but they become more important the more traffic, engagement, and momentum your site has.
I think what happens, though, is people can mix that up and they can say, “Before I get traffic, momentum, and engagement, I need to get all of this stuff fixed and tweaked and changed and make sure that it’s all optimized,” but the most effective content creators are doing those things in tandem with an emphasis on the content. Instead of saying, “I’m going to make sure that my website speed is the fastest speed possible,” spending two weeks optimizing that, and then not doing any content during that period, that’s not really going to have an impact because you’re going to have a really fast site, but it’s not going to matter if people aren’t coming to it.
My encouragement, what I would point people to in terms of time allocation, would be focus first and primarily on the content, the main core of what you’re doing, and then in the margins, let’s say that you get burnt out one week on doing content or you get ahead and you have some time, during the margin, in the in between when you have maybe an hour at the end of a day or you get up early on a weekend and have some time, that’s when you can say, “Okay, I’m going to add in some of these other important elements. I’m going to set up Google Analytics. I’m going to make sure that I make one change to make my website a little bit faster,” some of the more technical things as opposed to the more artistic side of things, which is the content creation, which sometimes it’s a little bit harder to do that because the technical stuff feels so good because you have, “Here’s what I need to do, and now I make this change and now I’ve done it and I can check that off.”
That feels really good, but with content, it’s like you’re never done with it. It’s less satisfying because you don’t have that same type of, “Here’s the problem, here’s the answer, now I fixed it, I get to check it off.” If you figure out how to hack yourself, meaning how to establish rhythms and how to get into the norm of content creation, then you’re going to be able to long-term be able to find ways to be successful with building a blog because content is such an important piece of it. It might be for you that you get into it and you’re like, “I’ve realized that writing blog posts just isn’t something that feels like a good fit for me,” and that’s okay. You don’t have to do something that makes you miserable, but then check in with yourself and say, “What is it that I’m trying to accomplish? What is it that I’m trying to do?” Then, “How do I find that thing that helps me get to that place?”
An example would be I just got an email from somebody this week that we’re maybe going to interview for the podcast and she talked about how she leveraged her podcast into a book deal. For many, many people, they think, “I need a blog in order to leverage that into a book deal,” but podcasting is a type of content. For a lot of people, it’s a better type of content than writing and publishing a blog post. Think about what your end goal is and how you can establish those rhythms over a long period of time in order to continue to create that content, to get momentum, and this is the last piece, then, to go back to your question, focus on the content and then build around those little pieces, like the optimization stuff, as you are doing that. Don’t just optimize and then say, “Now I can do content.” Don’t just do content without ever optimizing. It needs to go hand in hand, but the focus should be on the content side of things.
The second question here coming in has to do with structured data. It says, “Also, with the structured data testing tool, four warnings were there. No one had liked it yet, so there wasn’t a review or a rating. There was no video, no nutrition, and then no cuisine.” The question is, “Since these are not programming issues, are they that important?”
The idea with these additional pieces of structured data isn’t that it’s necessarily going to allow your recipe to show up higher in a search result, or it’s not going to mean that Google comes to your site and says, “Oh, you’re not including this. Therefore, it’s broken and we’re not going to show your result.” It’s just saying, “These are things that we recommend and your recipe in this case doesn’t include that.”
That’s not going to keep it from ranking on a search results page, but some of those things, like a rating or a review will help people, will encourage people to click on a site. Let’s say if you saw a search result with no structured data at all, there’s no photo, there’s no rating, there’s no nutrition information, so it didn’t display calories, it didn’t have any of that information, and the exact same recipe hypothetically was right next to it that had a bunch of ratings, it had a photo, it had maybe the nutrition information, the total cook time for it, if all of those things were displayed, chances are that you would click on the one with more stuff, a photo and ratings and reviews than you would on the result without any of that.
The incentive here isn’t to say, “Okay, I need to do this in order to show up on search results.” The incentive is, “I should do this in order to increase my chances that somebody will click on this result.” It’s not this error where something’s broken. It’s a warning saying, “This isn’t included and we recommend it to be included.”
It’s not something that you need to panic about. It’s not something that you need to stop everything and make sure that you include it, but as you think about making those small tweaks like we just talked about, one of the tweaks that you should consider is, “Okay, maybe now I enter the cuisine as part of my routine for creating a recipe,” just so you have that established as a norm. That’s a great question.
All right. This is a question about email lists, from Alex, “What are the best ways to grow your email list as a food blogger? I’m having a hard time coming up with opt in ideas.” Email lists, everybody talks about how important email lists are for building an audience and it’s something that you own and you can reach them directly, but how do you go about doing that? What does it look like to build an email list?
First, a little bit of context. One thing I would encourage you or one thing that I would want to make sure that we talk about is statistically what it looks like for an email list. I would feel comfortable telling people that an opt in rate, a normal opt in rate for an email list would maybe be something around 1%. It could go way up depending on how aggressive you are with popups and incentives and things like that, so it might go 3, 4, 5% if it’s somebody that has a really aggressive email opt in strategy or something that aligns really well with what their audience is looking for, but I would feel comfortable saying on an average is maybe about 1%. If you have 1000 people that come to your site every day, that would be 10 people opting in. If you have 100 people that are coming, that would be one person opting in, just to set some expectations around what you could expect when you are doing some of the opt in stuff.
The other thing that I would say is if you want to be really intentional with building an email list, it’s important to think about not your entire site and what do people want, but to think on the micro and to think on a very specific post basis what do people want. An example would be on Food Blogger Pro, one of the changes that we made is we used to have a generic opt in. We still do. You could go and see it and it’s 10 Mistakes That Bloggers Make and How to Fix Them. It talks through 10 common mistakes and what the fix for those would be.
That was the generic opt in that we had and it worked okay, but one of the things that we did within the last year as a team is we went through and said, okay, some of our most popular posts are around video, and it makes more sense for those to have an opt in around video than it does around general blogging. We created a little opt in for video that was for the people that were coming to those posts, because it made more sense to have an opt in specifically for that piece of content than it did to have this generic blogging opt in.
We’ll include this in the show notes for the podcast and for people that are listening live, you can see it in the comment area, but there’s this recipe videos post on Pinch of Yum and it outlines that. You can see how we did that and why it was important for us to include that. You can see how closely aligned it is. It’s the Seven Essential Tools You Need to Shoot Your Own Recipe Videos. That allows you to download a little PDF where we talk about the most important tools that we have.
That would be my one piece of advice as you’re thinking about opt ins for your blog is to think about how you can get something really specific to the post as opposed to a general thing that you’re giving away on your blog, and then the second piece of advice would be just thinking about how aggressive do you want to be and asking for those emails. You could do it at the bottom of a post. That wouldn’t be very aggressive. You could get a little more aggressive and ask somewhere in the middle of the post. You could have some type of popup or opt in as people leave, so sometimes you can have that where it triggers where if a mouse goes up to the top of the page, then it’ll show a little hover over that says, “Hey, before you leave, make sure to download this eBook.” Just a couple thoughts right off the top of my head, but I think the most important thing would be to think specifically about a post versus thinking generally for your blog.
All right, this is a great question for hiring. Here’s the question. “Could you describe how you decided to hire your first employee? Did you start with the VA first and then go to a full-time employee? What advice would you give when considering hiring support staff, VA or local help?”
Our progression in building a team was really slow and it started out really close. The first person that we officially hired was somebody that we were connected with in the Philippines. Lindsay and I lived in the Philippines for a year, and when we moved back, we hired, Jade was her name, to help out with some things. That lasted maybe about a year, a year and a half, and then she was in school and had to dedicate time to that.
We had also some of our first hires were a local person that we were connected with to just help out with some social media stuff. We also hired Lindsay’s best friend and she was staying at home at the time and had some free time to help out with, in this case it was specifically Pinterest. Lindsay knew it was something that was important, but she didn’t want to do that, and so we just hired her on a contractor basis, so paid an hourly amount. She just kept track of her time. When she could work, she did, and it was something that we knew that we needed to have happen but it wasn’t something that we needed to do, so there’s just a few hours a week that she worked helping out with a few different things.
Essentially, it was just slowly but surely building on that. It was hiring people that we knew or people that are close to us in a contractor position, then it got to the point where we said, “Hey, realistically if we’re going to be able to continue to grow and serve our audience, we can’t do all of this on our own.” The place that we looked and what I would recommend to you is to say, “Hey, who are our friends or friends or friends, ideally?” Maybe not your first tier friends, but friends of friends that would maybe looking for work that’s flexible where you can teach them what to do or ideally, they would have some idea how to do whatever it is that they’re looking to do, and hire them to help out in a flexible way where they’re working from home and maybe you work together a little bit.
When it comes time where you have something that’s a little bit more of an official position, maybe you have something that’s 20 hours a week where you can start to move towards having it be like a “real job”, you can stay and look, friends of friends, but you can also look towards, and this is where we’ve really tried to prioritize for hiring for Food Blogger Pro and Pinch of Yum, is look towards the audience that you have, whether on your blog or social media.
We have a team that we love and that we’re super proud to be a part of and motivated, intelligent, kind, incredible people like some of the people that you interact with here on Food Blogger Pro or in other places, for those of you that interact with people on WP Tasty or Pinch of Yum. For us, it was finding people that knew and understood the ecosystem that we lived in, so people that follow along on Pinch of Yum or people that were members of Food Blogger Pro or people that had used WP Tasty plugins.
These are people that knew and understood what we were doing, and so we didn’t have to teach them about the company, we just had to let people know that we’re connected with a company, we are hiring, they had the background and expertise and insight into what we were doing, and then we were able to then say, “Okay, let’s work together here and build this position,” and in doing that, finding people who maybe weren’t necessarily like, “Hey, I have a background in membership management or the business of plugin development.” It’s finding people who are incredible people and then saying, “Okay, let’s work together to do this thing that we want to do.” Much like building a blog, it’s stuff that you can learn and develop and come to understand together.
In the little chat area, people are saying, “Like Alexa.” Yes, like Jasmine. These are people that are a part of our live Q and A right now and as you know, Food Blogger Pro members, incredible, incredible people. We’re able to connect with them through the Food Blogger Pro community, so that’s where we looked, and we also have incredible team members across the board with Pinch of Yum and WP Tasty, and the connections that we made with them was through the community itself.
Now, some of you might be in the early stages of building your blog so you don’t have that necessarily. A couple things I would say with that. I would say you probably more than you know are connected with people through your blog, and you can encourage people to share with other people that might be interested in it. Alana, who worked on the team before she moved on the Pinch of Yum team as a video expert, it was her mom who connected her to the position. If you do post something, let people know about it and say, “Hey, this is something that we’re hiring for. Would love to hear from you, or if you could send this along to people who you knew that you think would be a good fit, that would be awesome.”
If you don’t have that, if you’re just in the early stages and you’re looking to connect with people, that’s where I say, friends or friends. Don’t be afraid to talk about it to say, “Hey, this is something that we’re looking for,” to get the word out there in a grass roots way. It’s going to be a little bit easier than doing a generic post or going to some generic hiring place where you’re connecting with people who don’t necessarily understand what you do at the heart and soul with what it is. They can maybe understand it conceptually, but not on a level deep enough that’s probably important to do the job well. That’s a great question, and would love to continue that conversation in the forums area if you have additional questions about it.
This is a question that I love, and I think it’s important to share this stuff. “Do you have a pic of your early, early, early, three early websites? I keep comparing my simple self to your current stuff and I need to get some encouragement.” I think it’s really, really, really important to have perspective as you look and compare and contrast to what other people are doing.
In this case, if you’re looking at Pinch of Yum, it’s a site that’s existed for eight years, which is 30 or 40 in internet years. It’s an established website and it’s been around for a while, and if you’re just getting started out, things might not look the same or feel the same. There’s a reason for that. It’s because you’re just getting started out and the same is true for every single site or business or blog or social media account that you look at.
If you go way back, you can see, “Okay, this person has evolved and things have changed.” You can go back and look at some of the early posts on Pinch of Yum to get a feel for the photography and general structure and look and feel. There is also, and we’ll link to this in the show notes as well, there was also a post that I did. It was an income report, I think, where I talked about the evolution of Pinch of Yum through the years and I compared and contrasted the different designs and how it looked and what it looked like when it was just Lindsay and I creating scrappy little Photoshop things to put in the sidebar, and then eventually working with a professional designer. It was going from a free theme to a $99 theme to a theme where we paid somebody $1500 to design and develop the website and as we stepped through the different progressions, and you can see that. It’s really obvious what that looks like as it changes, and it was 0% polished when we first started. It’s an important perspective piece to look at.
The other thing I would say is, and this is kind of fun, you can use this service called the Wayback Machine. What that does is it takes a screenshot, or it’s not even a screenshot. It preserves a website in a certain state on a certain date, and you can get there by going to archive.org/web, which we’ll link to in the show notes, as well. But what that does is it allows you to see different versions of a website. If you are curious, like, “Hey, what did this site look like five years ago?” Whatever it might be, you can go back and you can look at that, whether it be Food Blogger Pro or Pinch of Yum or any of the sites that you’re curious about, you can see how those have evolved through the years using the Wayback Machine. It’s kind of encouraging, even the biggest sites like Google looks very different. I would encourage you to check that out.
All right, we have some time left here. I will hit a few more of these and if we- We won’t get to all of ’em, but if we don’t get to some of these, I would love to answer them and jump in on the forum. If you have some time to transition it over, that would be a great place to have the conversation here.
This is a question coming in from Ice, “I started getting emails from app companies offering their services to create a shopping list in choppable analytics for the user and recipes. Just last week, I got two from Chickery, and Myxx Solutions. Myxx Solutions is I’m guessing what that is. ”I saw that you’re using Whisk in your recipes, I’m not sure if it serves the same purpose, but I wanted to pick your brain on whether or not you have experience with such apps? Are they worth it? Do they actually generate revenue, etc, etc."
So, don’t have personal experience with working with either of the sites, but I know at least, have had a couple of conversations with the people from Chickery, and they are great. The basic idea for those here for those aren’t aware, is these are apps that are hooking into your recipe, and then making those recipes shoppable. So, allowing the user to purchase ingredients related to the recipe.
AdThrive, which is the company we use for ads, is doing an experiment with this company called Whisk. I think it’s Whisk with two Ks. And that makes the recipe shoppable. We don’t personally have direct experience with it, it’s just an experiment they’re doing this month. Get a feel for how it works, and we opted into that. So they’re doing a little run with that to see what that’s like. But I know that there are bloggers that have used some of these and my feedback would be to give it a try. You could test it out. Maybe you can see if you install it on maybe your top ten most popular posts to see what that’s like, to get a little feel for the income that would come from that. I don’t think there would be any harm in testing. And as long as there’s not, with either of these, any type of commitment that you have and you’re just clear on what the terms and the agreement is with the company before moving forward with them. So something for sure that’s worth experimenting with.
And I think that there are two mindsets for people when it comes to creating an income from their content. One would be people that want to have it be as clean as possible, and have as few ads as possible, and to really let the content be the thing. And then there are people who will say, "Hey, if I’m doing this content for free, I want to, as much as possible, create an income from that, in as many different avenues as possible, and that might mean that the actual page or post or recipe gets a little bit bogged down with ads and calls to action, like shopping the ad, or opting into an email list, or something like that. But, if I’m going to be doing this, I need to be creating an income from it, so I’m okay having my site have more of that stuff in order to create more of an income.
And there’s a balance with that where on either side, it could probably tip over. In some cases, you probably don’t have enough in order to justify the time and energy that goes into that content. And on the other side, there can be too much, where it becomes detrimental to the user experience. So I would say experiment with it.
I know that there are a handful of people, even people who are Food Blogger Pro members here in the chat, as we’re talking about it, have chimed in and said that they’ve used it. That it’s been easy to install and get up and running, and set it and forget it. And then Rebecca posted to some threads in the community forum where people have talked about what that’s been like using it. So be sure to check that out, so you have a little bit of a background. And then it looks like somebody chimed in, in the comment area too with some specific numbers that they are seeing for RPM for that. And I won’t say that, what those numbers are because we’ll be doing this as a podcast. But you can see that as a kind of an example for what you might expect for using some of those services.
Great question. And that’s one of the things I love about the community. Is that people are able to say, “Hey. I use it. Here are what my results are. And here are my recommendations for it.” So, fun to see that. And thanks for members for jumping in on that.
Alright, we’re going to go a little bit longer here, and then I’m going to wrap up. Let’s do one last call for votes if you want to see any of these questions answered here on the live Q & A. Go ahead for people that are tuning live here, and go ahead and vote those up, the ones you are most interested in. And we will try to get to the most popular next three, I’ll shoot for.
Amazing Paleo says, “If I were to launch physical food products, products that could be used as ingredients in my recipes and/or would be of interest by readers, followers, how would you suggest I go about advertising them on my platforms like the blog, Instagram, etc. The products would be sold via a separate website, not on my blog, because they would have a different brand.”
If it were me, what I would go about doing would be thinking first about, what is, if you’re going from a content perspective…so let’s say that you’re thinking about, “How can I create content that helps support and sell this product?” I would, as much as possible, think about the piece of content that would be most helpful to your readers and followers. And in your case, it’s Paleo. So thinking about what are the questions of the people eating Paleo, what are the questions that they have, and what are the issues that they’re running into?
Brainstorm a bunch of content around that, and then within that, find ways to naturally mention the products that you’re creating. I think the issue comes from, or there’s an issue with trying to sell a product when you think first about what’s the best way to sell my product, and then how can I create content around that? Because that content is not going to be as sticky, and it’s not going to be as helpful, and it’s not going to get us much traction. But if you have a piece of content that gets a lot of traction, that’s sticky, that gets a lot of engagement, that’s going to allow more people to see it. There’s going to be more eyeballs.
And if you naturally talk about and integrate your product into that, it’s going to allow it to be more of a natural mention, especially if you’re able to use that in a way where people are able to clearly see how that specific product is helpful. So if it’s something that allows you to really easily create- you know maybe it’s a really easy Paleo meal pack, or something like that. And the content that you’re creating is ten ways to eat Paleo when you’re crunched for time. And you’re able to integrate that in as one of the recommendations. I think that’s a great way to promote a product, versus the extreme example of why my Paleo meal pack is the greatest thing ever. That’s not going to get a lot of traction because it’s not solving that problem, or helping people. If you’re able to help people solve a problem, and then in that, talk about the thing that you’re building or selling or creating that plays a piece in solving that problem. It’s going to be really effective.
The other thing that I would mention is, and I don’t think that people think about this enough, especially in our space, is if you have a physical product, or just a product in general, there’s probably opportunity for you to do paid advertising, and to be strategic about that. And at a very basic level, one of the things that you’re going to want to do is remarket or retarget the people that are coming to your site with the product.
We’re starting to get this up and running. We’ve done it in different forms for the different brands that we have. We’re just in the early stages of getting this up and running for WP Tasty. So for the products and the plugins that we have, were any time, and you can test this out if you wanted to see how this works. But anytime someone goes to, right now it’s Tasty Recipes, but it will also be true for Tasty Pins and Tasty Links. We’re working on getting those set up. We’re right in the middle of that process. But any time that anyone goes to that specific sales page and doesn’t purchase, when they go back to Facebook, what will happen is they’ll see an ad, it’s actually a testimonial from somebody that has used the plugin.
So it’s a low hanging fruit for paid advertising, where you are able to retarget the people who come to your sales page and haven’t purchased. In your case, you could also do that for anyone who has come to your website. If they go back to Facebook, you could show them information about your Paleo product. Because you know they visited a Paleo website, you know they are somebody that’s interested in Paleo. And therefore, there is going to be a higher likelihood that they will be interested in purchasing a Paleo related product.
So that would be another way, even if it’s on another site, that you could strategically think about using Facebook and Facebook Pixel in order to show ads for a product that you are creating. So I don’t think enough people think strategically on how they are using paid advertising for a product. Because once you figure that out, once you crack that, it’s a matter of just changing that lever. So you say, “Okay, I know that I can make, let’s say $20 on every product that I sell. And if i only spend $10 on it, then I can just increase the amount of spending that we’re doing for these types of ads.” And you know that there’s going to be this built in profit of $10, and you can buy that traffic, which is really great if you can get to that point where you’re doing that. So that’s a great question.
Alright, a couple more here, and then I am going to wrap it up. It’s been really fun to do this. And I hope, for podcast listeners, that you’re able to take away some action steps here as well, and get a little feel for what it’s like working behind the scenes with Food Blogger Pro. Again, we do this every month. We do a live Q & A. Often times Lindsay joins me and we talk about other things like photography and video. And we have experts on often times as well, so a lot of the Food Blogger Pro experts will come on a lot of times and do a live Q & A and we’ll have other people as well that are a part of it. So we’ll do a couple more here and we will wrap up.
Joel says, “I am thinking about the concept of growing traffic by taking down old, irrelevant posts from five plus years ago. Should these posts actually be deleted from WordPress or simply made private? If private, is Google able to see these pages, or will it create crawl errors in Google search console?”
Great question Joel. So the idea here is that there is a school of thought with SEO, that if you are intentional with making sure that your blog or your website only has high traffic, high quality pieces of content that, and in turn taking down pieces of content that aren’t high quality, or are thin, meaning they’re short, or just don’t have a lot of traction that you’ll see net gain from removing those pieces of content. It’s not something we’ve ever done. I’ve heard podcast episodes and read articles about it. So I can’t speak of a place of experience in doing it. But I do know that there are people who have done it and they’ve had success with it. There’s a way within WordPress, where you can not delete a piece of content, you can remove it from being a public post. And that will, in essence, delete that piece of content from public view. That would be my recommendation as opposed to actually deleting that piece of content. Just in case down the line, you’re like, actually I had 10,000 people coming to this post a day and then for whatever reason didn’t realize it.
It’s always nice to have that backup of it and to not actually delete something. And if you’re getting into this, where you’re deleting and changing and updating pieces of content, would really encourage you to have some type of back up either through your host or VaultPress, which is the company that is company that is connected with wordpress.com. So the other thing to consider, and it’s a little bit harder with recipes, but the other thing that you could consider, is if you have a piece of content that could be folded into another post, that’s a really strategic move that you could do and then do a 301 redirect. So instead of deleting content, you’re combining content, and combining the momentum with that content.
So, and I just realized that I forgot to press start on this, so I will press start on this answer for those that watch the live Q & A, you know that you can go back and rewatch these, and then press start, so you don’t know when this started. Rewind five minutes, and that’s when I answered this.
So the strategy would be rolling up with pieces of content. It works better for content sites as opposed to recipe sites, but that’s another thing you could consider. Alright. We will wrap up here, and Joel, if you have any other questions about that, drop them into the forum. I would be happy to chat about that. And would love to continue going on as long as possible. We have a bunch of questions here, but like I said before, feel free to transition those over to the forum. And there’s been some awesome, awesome questions, so thanks to everybody that’s tuning in live here.
I’ll end with this one. This is kind of a fun one. Alexa says, “What platform do you use to set up your bootcamps that has the capability to switch from a live broadcast to a recording, and then back to live?” So for those of you that have attended a bootcamp, we do these bootcamps three to four times a year. And essentially they are a time for us to do a free, open to anyone course or we call it a bootcamp. But essentially it is a teaching time, and it functions two purposes.
Number one, it allows us to just have a fun time where we can connect with people who normally we wouldn’t connect with. And number two, it’s a little promotional period before we do an enrollment for Food Blogger Pro. So it is both like general PR awareness, and then intentional marketing. And in that we do prerecorded sessions that we broadcast live and then after we fold those into Food Blogger Pro membership. So Food Blogger Pro members don’t need to attend live to see it. Those are always available live there. We’ve done an SEO bootcamp, we’ve done a sponsored content bootcamp, we’ve done an Instagram bootcamp. All of these specifically for people in the food blogging niche. So for Food Blogger Pro members, if you haven’t seen those, be sure and go check those out. There’s a bootcamp area in the food courses area.
So one of the things that we do for that is I will come on, like I am doing here, do a little live intro, and then we’ll play the bootcamp. The idea being that, if it’s video, it’s hard to do video in a live capacity where to us talking about video live. So we record it, and then we play it, and we do that through Zoom. And what I do is I come on live, excuse me, and then I press play and then play the Zoom screencast, which is the video.
And I’m getting to the end here, so I’ll wrap up as I’m losing my voice a little bit. And it looks like to those on live that I’m quietly crying to myself. But it’s just this cough that I have, sorry. So, in short, it’s just Zoom we use for that. And then a question, to wrap up, this will be the last question. It came through the chat. “Is Sage still sleeping?” And yes, indeed, she is still sleeping.
So that’s a wrap for today. Wish I could go longer. Sorry I have this cough that I’m working through, so I had to mute occasionally. But really fun to connect with you guys, really fun to be a part of this, and we’re just so honored to be a part of this community and looking forward to staying connected. If you have any questions, feel free to hop over to the forum and we will answer those there. And looking forward to continuing to do this. We have some awesome Q & As lined up here for the next few months, and looking forward to continuing to grow, and learn, and build with you guys. So, that’s a wrap. Thanks so much for being a part of it. We will catch you guys on the other side. Thanks for sticking with me here, as I power through this cough. See you guys. Thanks. Bye.
Alexa Peduzzi: Thanks so much for tuning in this week, friends. Bjork wasn’t lying. The Q & As we have with our members are seriously the best. We love connecting with you guys in a live capacity to work with you through your most burning questions that you have about your blog or business. So as we’re wrapping up here today, I’d like to remind you and encourage you to apply to our Member Success Agent Position if you think you’d be a great fit for our team. You can head over to foodbloggerpro.com/apply to learn more and apply.
And now, our reviewer of the week. I feel like we need some kind of celebratory music in this section because we love to read your reviews of the podcast on iTunes. And they really help the podcast get in front of other listeners. So this week’s review comes from Madison from A Joyfully Mad Kitchen at joyfullymad.com. And it’s says, “I’ve been listening to Food Blogger Pro for a long time now, and can honestly say I look forward to every new episode. Bjork is such a great interviewer, and I really enjoy hearing a variety of topics, all surrounding the blogger world. I’m always left with something new to think about, and a new action to take each week. I can honestly say that listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast, as well as being a Food Blogger Pro member for a year, has a made a huge impact on my blog success. Thank you for all that you do.”
I love that Madison takes action based on what she learns from the podcast each week. Sometimes blogging is a never ending To Do list. But breaking down those To Dos into small wins each day, each week, can really make a positive impact in your business. Thanks again for tuning in this week, friends. We’ll be here next week with a fresh new episode for you, but until then, make a great week.
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