Tips from Bjork and Lindsay
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Welcome to episode 88 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork interviews two key Pinch of Yum employees, Alana Woolley and Jenna Arend, about what goes on behind the scenes of Pinch of Yum.
Last week, Bjork interviewed Andy Traub from Take Permission. They talked about finding the right career, honesty in sales, and having the right mindset for growing your business. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
If you’re not a food blogger, it might seem like it’s a job that would be easy to do in your free time. If you are a food blogger, you know that there’s way more time that goes into it than that!
Many people are surprised to hear that Pinch of Yum employs a team of people, 3 of whom work full-time, to keep the blog up and running. Alana and Jenna are two of those people - Alana is the Pinch of Yum Video Specialist, and Jenna is the Pinch of Yum Office Manager. Today, they’re here to break it down for us and talk about how it all works.
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Bjork Ostrom: In this episode, we are talking to Pinch of Yum team members Alana and Jenna, and we’re going to talk about everything from advice that they have for working remotely, to some of their favorite tools to help work efficiently, especially as a team, and also some of the things that surprised them in their first year or so working at Pinch of Yum.
Hey, everybody. It’s Bjork Ostrom, excited to connect with you today to share this interview with Alana and Jenna, and if you haven’t connected with Alana and Jenna, then you probably will at some point, if you follow along with Pinch of Yum long enough. Alana does all of the videos for Pinch of Yum. She does all of the editing and shooting of those, and then Jenna does a whole slew of things, which she’s going to talk about today, but a lot of interacting with people through customer support, or maybe if you’ve reached out via the contact form, you’ve interacted with Jenna. If you’ve ever attended a Pinch of Yum workshop, then you’ve interacted with Jenna. They’re going to be talking about their roles, some of the things that they’ve learned, some of the important elements that maybe you can apply to your blog, as you are building your blog, and some of the things that they’ve learned in their time here, at Pinch of Yum.
Before we jump into this, I wanted to mention that we’re actually looking to hire a new team member, and we’re looking specifically for somebody that is really skilled with web design. We’re calling the position, “A visual designer,” and this person would handle the different brands that we have. We have a lot of different things we’re juggling. We have Nutrifox, which is the nutrition label generator that we have. We have the brand WP Tasty, and that is the parent company for our recipe plugin that’s called Tasty Recipes. If you don’t have a recipe plugin on your blog, you need to get one on right now. We’re building Tasty Recipes out and starting to use that on Pinch of Yum, and we have a lot of people that are signing up for that. We also have Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro.
A lot of different brands, and a lot of juggling that we’re doing with the design of those. We know that design is so, so, so important, and we’re actually hiring somebody full time on the team to help us handle and develop and build those brands. If you know somebody that’s really skilled with design, specifically web design, also understands mobile, would love if you connect them to us. The best way is to pass along the opening that we have, the position information, and you can get that by going to foodbloggerpro.com/design. That will redirect you to the page that describes a little bit more about the position. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you know somebody, but would really appreciate that, if you are able to find somebody that is able to fill this position and help us out, because we are super excited to bring somebody on.
This interview today Alana, and Jenna, I’m so excited to share it with you because I know that there are things that I don’t know that they’re going to be able to share, that you’ll be able to apply to what you’re doing with your blog and to help you build a more stable, successful blog. Let’s jump into the interview. Alana and Jenna, welcome to the podcast.
Alana Woolley: Thanks.
Jenna Arend: Hi.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You guys nailed the, what is often times, a very hard introduction because you have to space out the hellos. It can’t be like talking over each other. So far, so good. For those that are listening, here’s the idea with this podcast, one of the things that I want to do and be intentional about doing is taking some time to explain what’s happening at Pinch of Yum or at Food Blogger Pro. For a lot of you that are listening, you might be working on your thing as a solopreneur. You’re the only person working on it, and the point of this podcast isn’t necessarily saying, “Hey. It’s really, really important that, early on, you need to bring on team members to do this.” It’s me saying and admitting to the fact that there’s a lot of things at Pinch of Yum that I don’t know the details about and that I’m not intimately involved with, and Alana and Jenna handle a lot of that stuff.
What I want to do is bring them in and have them explain what some of those things are. For those of you that are listening, you might be able to take some things away and say, “Okay. This is really interesting,” one of the things that they’re doing. Maybe it’s a tool, or maybe it’s a process, or maybe it’s a general way that we’re doing things that you can apply and you can use on your blog or your website.
Before we jump into it, let’s do this. Let’s have each of you explain a little bit about what your role is and maybe what a typical day looks like. Alana, I’ll start with you. You’ve been on the podcast before, so maybe people are familiar with you, but can you do a high-level overview of what your job is and what it looks like on a day-to-day basis?
Alana Woolley: Sure. My position is the video specialist. I am producing the recipe videos that go on social media and also on the blog. My work week is broken up into filming days and editing days, where half the week we’re making the recipes and filming them and, half the weekend, editing them into videos.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. When you say, “We,” it’s important we point out … Not on the podcast today is another important team member. Can you explain the team of we? Who does that consist of?
Alana Woolley: Yes. That’s me and Krista, who is the shoot assistant. She makes all the recipes, and she’s the hands in the video.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Yep. One of the things that Lindsay’s talked about a handful of times is this reality that, “Oh, man, we can’t do it all, and we’re so thankful for you and Krista and your ability to create these awesome videos, because if it was up to us … There were some days where we did videos, and we were like … and you know this, but it was like, ”Oh my gosh, that’s so much work," and so much goes into it. Krista does the ever-important hands side of the recipe, or of the recipe video, and also does a lot of the testing to make sure that it looks good and is prepared and things like that. She’s not here today, but obviously has a really important role.
Jenna, do you want to talk a little bit about what your role is and what a typical day might look like?
Jenna Arend: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: If there is one of those.
Jenna Arend: That’s a good point. At Pinch of Yum, I’m the office manager, which really does cover a really wide variety of tasks. The way I usually explain it is that, first and foremost, I am the customer service hub of Pinch of Yum. If someone emails with a question or if they’re having an issue with the site, I’m the filter that it goes through, so it comes to me first. That’s really my main role, I would say, and also doing comments. I’ll be the one that’s commenting on past and present posts.
Then the other side of it is really just mostly behind-the-scenes work. I’m working really closely with Lindsay to make sure that posts are good to go when they go out. I’m also doing social media content, managing Pinterest, and then just physically taking care of the studio that we have in Minneapolis, so being present there and working on workshops. It’s kind of a catch-all, and I do have somewhat typical weeks, just because there’s things that I do every day that I do every day of the week. I schedule Pinterest content every Wednesday, and I respond to comments on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. There’s part of my week that are pretty consistent, and then there’s random projects sprinkled in there.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Office manager, we should maybe redefine that or expand it. I feel like it’s a very typical small company/startup job title, in that it’s like you are office manager/you also do HTML and update posts and do some of the social media. The office is both physical and digital, right?
Jenna Arend: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: You cover all of that stuff. That’s been such an important role for us, and you’ve been such an important key of that, or key role for that, because one of the things that we knew with Pinch of Yum is that, as it was growing, there becomes this point where it’s just not sustainable to continue to have a touchpoint with every single person. As much as we wanted to do that, we realized that there would be these one-to-one interactions we’d have forever, as opposed to writing a post or sending out a broadcast email. Your role has been so important, and also your personality, Jenna, in that you’re somebody whos able to articulate that, communicate well, and allows us to continue to have that touchpoint. That’s more of me just giving you public props out for that.
Jenna Arend: Well, thanks.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I’m interested to hear you talk about is when you first came into the role at Pinch of Yum. You understand it from the outside. Maybe you’re familiar with the blog or, before, you came in and had a conversation with us, maybe checked it out, followed along with it a little bit, but I’m curious to know what were some of the things that surprised you as you got into it behind the scenes and transitioned into the front-facing thing that everybody sees, and people that listen to this podcast are familiar with, and then the behind-the-scenes reality of what things look like? You can be a brutally honest as you need to be, if there’s positive or negative. Jenna, I’ll have you start with that.
Jenna Arend: Yeah. I think you touched on this, but I think the first thing that … Well, as some background, before I started working for Pinch of Yum, I started following the blog when I got married. I was cooking more and had my own place. That was really all I knew, just like everyone else, the public side of Pinch of Yum, but when I started working there, I think the first thing that was so surprising was just there’s so much that goes into behind the scenes. I had no idea, just because even when I get asked about my job … “Oh, so you work for Food Blogs, so what do you do then?” I think, from the outside, it looks like you just put a post up, and then you put it on Pinterest, you put it on Facebook, and that’s it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and then you have a margarita and watch the sunset.
Jenna Arend: Yeah. That would be nice. I think that was really the main thing, that when I really started digging into the position, was just that there’s so much that goes into making it successful, especially even … I think people are surprised by how many team members we have and the fact that there is enough work to go around for everybody to get stuff done. I think that was the main thing, and then also just how … And I even noticed this right off the bat, by going to the application to work for Pinch of Yum … Is just how efficient we are as a team, too. I feel like this is the most efficient position I’ve ever been in, just in the tools we use and the way we communicate. We’re a pretty small but very mighty team-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Small but mighty. Yeah, for sure.
Jenna Arend: … Where we just get a lot done. Yep. I feel like those are probably the main things. I don’t have anything negative to say-
Bjork Ostrom: No. That’s great.
Yeah. You could if you wanted to. It wouldn’t probably be the most natural place to say it, but that’s good.
What I’m excited to talk about is, on the efficiency side, some of those tools that we use. I think that’ll be a huge takeaway for people, even if maybe it’s somebody that’s just working as a solopreneur, and maybe they work with a contractor to do a little bit of development here or there or design, or something like that. Some of the tools that we’re going to talk about could be helpful in those situations or, just in general, could be tools that they could apply if they’re working on their own.
Alana, I’m interested to hear your story a little bit. I know bits and pieces of it, but what was it like for you to transition in and to enter into this role, which is like … Who would have ever thought that there’s a role for this, to produce recipe videos like this? What was that like for you, maybe some of the things that surprised you?
Alana Woolley: Yeah. Definitely a lot of the same things that Jenna touched on, and even just how video can be such a part of business, and how well it’s integrated into everything that Pinch of Yum is already doing, because my personal background in film/video production has always been promotional videos, like very straightforward for business, or solely for entertainment. It’s been interesting to see how you can use these entertaining videos and implement them strategically for the business-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Alana Woolley: … In terms of SEO and even sponsored partnerships and things like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s a really nuanced, interesting space that’s developing, and you’re right in the middle of it, Alana, with the work that you’re doing where it’s … and you see it in the Super Bowl commercials, for instance. It’s like, “These are legitimately interesting commercials to watch,” and it crosses the line between … Or it blurs the line between entertainment and commercial. I think a lot of the work that you’re doing and that we’re starting to do with Pinch of Yum, with video specifically, but also in general with some posts and content and stuff like that, is video that’s entertaining. People want to watch it. They’re not being forced to watch it, but there’s also a commercial aspect, especially when there’s partnerships or things like that.
I think that’s spot on, and really interesting to hear you talk about your background coming in. Maybe you would do something that’s just strictly entertainment, and then you would do something that’s like … I’m not saying this is what you did, but it is an example … Like a commercial for a dentist office. It’s like, “Well, that’s like a commercial, right? So, it’s not entertainment,” but the role you have now melt together a little bit, which I think is really interesting. Did you guys have a favorite Super Bowl commercial, by the way? Can you remember them?
Jenna Arend: Oh, gosh. I thought they were kind of disappointing.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, wow. Negative review from Jenna. Funny. I liked the … There was an Anhueser … How do you say that? And …
Jenna Arend: And … I don’t know.
Bjork Ostrom: Anheuser-Busch. I should know. It’s a Food Blogger Pro podcast, but there is about his story, coming, as an immigrant, to the US. Anyways, we digress. One of the things that you talked about, Jenna, was being an efficient team and this idea of small and mighty. We’re not a big team. Technically, it’s two different businesses. We have Food Blogger Pro, and we have Pinch of Yum. There’s a little bit of overlap, but in terms of the day-to-day communication, in general, you guys are connecting with and working with Lindsay, and the Food Blogger Pro team, in general, would be connecting with me. Sometimes we’ll connect. If somebody asks a question on Pinch of Yum that is Food Blogger Pro related on Slack, or whatever it is, trade some messages back and forth, but in general, we have the two different pods.
Pinch of Yum, in terms of actual team members, Krista, Alana, Jenna, Lindsay and then I would be in that as well. Then Food Blogger Pro … And we actually will have another podcast coming up with them … We have our team over there as well. I’m curious to know, with a small team … We have four people … And running a relatively big ship, in terms of businesses overall … It’s a tiny ship, but for four people, it’s a lot of stuff to do to keep the ship running. Jenna, can you talk a little bit about some of the tools that have helped us do that? There’s a few, even recently, that we’ve started to use that I think would be really interesting for people, especially in the contact management and things like that. I’d love to hear a little bit about those tools, hear you talk about those.
Jenna Arend: Yeah, definitely. Some of the tools … I was thinking about this earlier. Some of the tools that I use every day, that are always open on my screen, are Slack, like you mentioned, which is our internal … It’s like instant messaging, like AIM when you were younger.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Oh, the best. Bjorko13. That was my name. Alana, did you have an AIM account?
Alana Woolley: I did.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Good. That makes me feel better. Okay. Yeah. Slack, awesome tool, especially if you have a team.
Jenna Arend: Yeah. We use that just to … If we have a question, or if we just want to … Today, Lindsay shared something about a TV show, just fun stuff, too, that we can-
Bjork Ostrom: This Is Us. She’s obsessed.
Jenna Arend: … share back and forth.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Jenna Arend: Yes. That and then Gmail, obviously, email. Another tool that we use is Asana, which, for me, is my lifeline, where I would be lost every day if I didn’t have Asana. Sometimes, when it’s not working and it’s down, I …
Bjork Ostrom: What do I do?
Jenna Arend: I just struggle.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Jenna Arend: I have to remember what I have to do today. That’s something I rely on a lot, especially for setting up recurring tasks. I can set it to … Like how I respond to comments three days a week. I can just set it where every time I check it off, it’ll go now to Wednesday, and it’ll go to Friday. That’s really important for me.
Bjork Ostrom: Before we get too far out of those, I would love to hear a little bit about what that looks like, and also maybe how it’s a little bit different for each of you. Jenna, let’s focus in on Slack. Can you talk a little bit about how that’s structured? For those that aren’t familiar with Slack, I think it would be helpful to even say what’s the different between a channel and direct message, and how does that look different?
Jenna Arend: Yep, definitely. The way that we have … Well, I’m sure this is the way everyone has Slack set up … is like Bjork said, that we have channels and then we have direct messages, so our channels … I’m trying to think of … We have a lot of them, probably almost ten.
Bjork Ostrom: I have it pulled up here. Yeah. We have brands, email.
Jenna Arend: Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: We have one called Highrise, which you can talk about in a little bit, Huddle, Meetings, Posts, Random, which is where Lindsay would have talked about This Is Us, Social, Studio, Tech, Video. We have one called The Water Cooler, and then Workshops. Yeah.
Jenna Arend: Yep. Yeah. This just helps us to organize our conversations, so it’s not all within one channel. If I remember that I asked Lindsay something about a workshop, then I know to go to that channel, and you can search. You can just search a single word, and it’ll find those messages for you. That’s really how we utilize channels, is just to keep our communication more organized, and then direct messages are just if I only want to send a message to Alana, which I don’t even know what context that would be. Just if it’s something where I don’t want someone else to need to be pinged. It’s just a question I have for Alana, or for getting ready for this podcast. It was just the three of us in a direct message. There’s instances where we don’t need to bother someone else with what we’re talking about.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep.
Jenna Arend: That’s a high-level review of how we use Slack.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Yeah, or you could direct message me if I was in the studio, and you could say, “Bjork, you have ketchup on your shirt.” That would be a good example of it.
Jenna Arend: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: For you, you have Slack open, and a huge part of that is we’re all in Minnesota, but we’re still this hybrid, remote team where it’s like, “Okay.” At any given point, it’s not like I have any idea where you guys are. It might be at the studio. It might be at home. It doesn’t make sense for us to all be in the same place and try and communicate there, so it’s like, “What’s our hub?” But for you, Alana, your work is a little bit different. You probably can’t have it open all the time. For you, I’m guessing Slack is more of a, “Hey. When you sit down at your computer to edit some videos, that’s when you’d pop it open,” as opposed to, “You can’t have it open in the background while you’re shooting a video.” It looks a little bit different. Is that right?
Alana Woolley: Yeah. I mean, I always have it up on my computer. I’m just not always at my computer to check on it.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Alana Woolley: I also have the app on my phone, so I can get pinged directly to my phone and see the messages there, if there’s something urgent that I need to read while I’m filming.
Bjork Ostrom: Right. Got it. That’s a good thing to point out. You could do it on the web, so you could use a web browser. You could download an app on your computer, which is what we do, at least that’s what I do. Do you guys have the app on your computer that you use?
Jenna Arend: Yeah.
Alana Woolley: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Or you could do an app on your phone, which would also work great. Yeah. That’s the same for me. When I’m working, I usually have Slack open. Every once in a while, when I want to dive deep into a task, I’ll shut it out, and then if I’m doing writing or something like that, to dive deep. I’m reading a book called Deep Work right now, and it talks about how so much of what we do is distracted, and so I’m trying to get better at doing that and putting out and focusing in. Slack is a really great tool, especially for remote teams. For those that are listening that haven’t looked at that, I would really encourage you to check that out, because it could be really beneficial. There’s lots of different add-ons that you can have as well and integrate with, and it’s just a really, really powerful solution.
Another one of the things that you talked about, Jenna, was Asana. We have a course on Food Blogger Pro on Asana that Raquel did, a team member, at Food Blogger Pro, and it’s an awesome overview of the tool, but can you talk a little bit about how that works and what that looks like day-to-day to use Asana and why that’s so valuable?
Jenna Arend: Yeah. Asana is … I guess I’ve never had to explain it before. It’s a way to organize your tasks. It’s like my to-do list, but in digital form. This is how I use it. I really utilize it especially for recurring tasks, and that’s just because my job is very task oriented, so there’s things I’m doing every day of every week that are consistent throughout the year. I use it especially for that. The cool thing, too, is that you can assign each other tasks within in. Say Bjork wanted me to check in on an SEO something or another. He could assign that to me, and it’ll be put right into my Asana. It’ll come up on the due date, and I organize my Asana based on what’s due next. That’s just the way I like to view it.
That’s really, again, a super high-level overview, is its your to-do list. You can see what other people’s tasks are, too, which is really nice. For me, like I said, it’s basically my lifeline if I’m working each day, just to see what’s coming up, but the hard thing … I think we’ve talked about this, at least with Lindsay before, is the hard thing between Slack and Asana, because you can ask someone to do something in Slack, but then you have to put it into Asana. I’ll use it often where, say, there’s just a quick fix that needs to happen in a post. I’ll just go put that as a personal task really quick in Asana and assign it for today so I remember to go back and do that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. David Allen, who wrote the book, “Getting Things Done,” talks about this idea that the brain is a really bad holding tank for things. It’s like a really good tool to figure things out, but it’s not a good storage tank, and I feel like that’s an example where if you have random tasks that are coming in and you’re trying to remember them, it’s like, “Ugh.” My brain especially is so bad at holding those and remembering those, and Asana is a great tool for that. Do you guys, Alana, use it, Asana, for the video tasks that you have, or is that more offline communication that you have within Slack and fe in that way?
Alana Woolley: Yeah. It’s a lot of planning on Slack. We don’t use Asana for that, but I also have a production planner calendar in Google Drive that I use just for my own organization, to keep track of how far we are on different recipes.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about what that looks like? Because, you’re juggling a lot of stuff. You’ll shoot a video, and then you have some ones to edit, and then there’s some ones that you need to send to Lindsay for approval. What does that process look like, in terms of managing those videos? I’d be interested for you to talk a little bit about what that document looks like in Google Drive.
Alana Woolley: On Google Drive, it’s just a spreadsheet that has all the recipes we’ve ever filmed, and then upcoming recipes that we’re planning on filming. That has the shoot date, the date that I am setting to finish a rough cut by, and then where all them have been posted, because sometimes a video will be finished editing, and it will get posted somewhere for a few weeks, just to make sure that … I’m going back and making sure they’re being posted where they’re supposed to be posted. Then once videos are done, like once we have a cut of a video, they go to Dropbox, and they move around to different folders in Dropbox, as they go through the posting process.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That would be … I’ve done this. I was kind of involved with this a little bit, but the idea being if you finish something, you’ll put it in a folder that’s like, “To review,” or something like that. What is the name of the folder? Is that right?
Alana Woolley: Waiting for edit.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay. That would be Lindsay coming in and looking at it and saying, “Here’s some feedback or some ideas,” and then you’d go and edit, and then she would review it again, and then she would move it to another folder once she approves? Is that right?
Alana Woolley: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Alana Woolley: Yep. She’d move it to a folder that’s ready to publish, and that’s subdivided into standard-size videos and square-size videos. Once they’re posted, either Lindsay or Jenna will move them to another folder that’s posted, and that’s just all the videos that are done being posted and don’t need anymore work done to them.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yeah. It’s interesting. When you take a step back and look, there’s a lot of different steps that are involved, especially when you look from start to finish, with video or any of the other projects that we have. You realize that it’s not as simple as, “Hey. I’m going to shoot this video,” and then we just simply upload it. There’s a lot of steps involved.
One of the things that we’ve used a little bit … We don’t necessarily use it a ton, but we’re starting to get better about this … Is Process.St. I don’t actually know the specifics with Pinch of Yum. We use it a decent amount with Food Blogger Pro. Is that something where you guys have some processes built out on Process.St? A few?
Alana Woolley: I do.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Alana Woolley: I’m not sure about for video stuff, and that’s something-
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about that and what that is and how that works?
Alana Woolley: Yeah. Process.St is basically just a way for … Just to communicate basically how you do things.
Bjork Ostrom: Processes, yeah.
Alana Woolley: Processes. Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s confusing because it’s Process.St.
Alana Woolley: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s one of those startup-y domain URLs.
Alana Woolley: Yeah. Yeah. It’s pretty cool, it actually … Say that … I am trying to think of one of the more recent ones I’ve done. One that comes to mind is whenever we have an issue with an ad, especially our video ads, if they’re just messing up the post or making the screen go a little crazy for readers, we need to pull out the HTML of what that ad is to send it to ADrive. When we first put that process in place, I went into Process.St and just broke it out step by step, each step even. You can add a screenshot of what it looks like. You can also add videos, so you can show exactly how to do it. It really just breaks down different processes step by step. Whereas, if I was not around or I couldn’t do it, then Lindsay or Bjork could go right in there and see how it’s done really easily and do that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s really nice to have for that exact situation where you might after let’s say five times of doing it start to say, “Okay I know what I’m doing now I know this is going to work,” but if you’re like, “I’m super busy today or I’m not in the office for a week I’m on vacation and it needs to happen,” what you do? You can just say, “Hey go in to process Street and there’s a process for it and it walks you through step-by-step,” which is really great to have especially those super specific things that you can start to understand and do but are harder to explain. That’s something that it’s a great tool and we use Blogger Pro so those of you that even if your solopreneur I would encourage you to think about building out some of those processes. If there is a time where you bring a team member on or even for yourself I’ve noticed sometimes it will be a month or there are some tasks that I do every two months or three months and it’s just enough time for me to totally forget how to do it and then I have to relearn it, which ends up taking may be five or 10 minutes longer than it should.
I’m a tools guy so I like talking about tools and things that we use. There’s a couple more that I wanted to hit and one of the interesting ones Alana that we recently went back and forth on his this tool called CrashPlan and you had the interesting conversation with a customer support rep that kind of is a little bit of a CrashPlan hack but can you talk about what CrashPlan is, why it’s important, and maybe a little bit about what that conversation was like with that customer service person?
Alana Woolley: Sure so CrashPlan is a backup tool that’s continuously backing up everything on my computer and my external hard drive to-
Bjork Ostrom: The cloud up there, who knows where, right? The sky up above.
Alana Woolley: And because we’re working with so many video files, I backup, I organized the video content, all the raw files and the video projects by season, and so at the end of the season I’ll move them to the raid hard drive but now it’s February it’s the end of the winter season so we have close to a terabyte of just content and-
Bjork Ostrom: So much food video.
Alana Woolley: Yes CrashPlan’s been having a lot of trouble fully backing up. It takes like 35 days for it fully backup all of the content just on the hard drive, so I talked to a support representative who said that they do you it’s like one … I don’t even know the exact numbers but it wasn’t enough ram per terabyte of … Basically it’s too much information and it wasn’t moving fast enough so she doubled however much … I don’t know this process.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s all IT total nerd stuff that I get excited about.
Alana Woolley: She doubled something.
Bjork Ostrom: But the main things I want to point out which, are really good to point out is the video specifically video … Number one is backup, backups are so important and if you don’t have backups running, I would say this, on your blog and your computer pause the podcast right now and go and set that up and specifically you should have backups of your computer and we would use Time Machine. Time Machine backups to an external hard drive locally. Locally meaning at your desk.
Then there’s also CrashPlan and CrashPlan is great there’s other alternatives Carbonite, is that what it’s called? But other alternatives and competing products we use CrashPlan Minnesota company what it does is, like you said Alana, it Backs that up to the cloud and it does it every 15 minutes. The bummer is when you have videos and, like you said, it’s one terabyte it’s so much information. The little CrashPlan backup hack that you figured out was you connected with customer support and you said, “Hey guys this is taking forever, is there anything we can do about it,” and they’re like, “Oh we’ll twiddle our magic IT fingers and turn some imaginary knobs and open up things so it backs up faster.” If you have backups, great, if you’re not doing it to the cloud, you probably should and if you’re shooting video you should be backing that up as well but know that it will take a while and potentially there is opportunity to reach out to somebody and say, “Hey we have a ton of them information can you open up the virtual pipes for us so it can get through a little bit faster.”
That’s a good take away the other tool that I want to talk about as long as we’re in this geek zone is Highrise. So Jenna can you talk a little bit about Highrise? We started to use that recently. Why do we use that and how is that beneficial in the Pinch of Yum realm.
Jenna Arend: Yeah. Just as some background, for 2017 we started managing all of our own sponsored content, which is really exciting but is a lot of work so we have been looking for a tool that could organize just the grand partnerships that are either currently in place or we have a proposal out to them or even if it didn’t go through. Highrise is really a content management system but it also is able to track deals as well. We’re using it first to … Just to have all of our contacts in one place, which we are just finding is important because if say Someday we wanted to send an email to everyone as a thank you, or a Christmas card or something we have all those in one place.
Bjork Ostrom: Cat gifts if we wanted to send them cat gifts.
Jenna Arend: Yeah, exactly. That’s one important aspect of it is just to manage all of our brand contacts.
Then secondly, which I found is even more valuable, is to manage all of our deals, is what they call it. Say that I am working with the brand and I sent out a proposal to them, then I can put them in as a deal that is pending. I can put how much it’s for, what the content will be, I can forward emails to it from Gmail, which is awesome, just to both keep record of what’s happened already but also then if, say if Lindsay or Bjork wanted to go in and see the status of a partnership with one of our brands, than it’s all right there for them. Then say a partnership went through, you can change the status to, that we won the deal. It’s just a good way to just organize the deals that we have in place or ones that are pending and to keep all the communication in one place. I’ve also started using it to track payments just to put when the payment will be coming and then once it comes through I put a note that it’s been paid. It’s just nice to … We were trying to use a spreadsheet before, multiple spreadsheets so this is really together.
Bjork Ostrom: Just a total Frankenstein spreadsheet.
Jenna Arend: Yeah. That’s part of just starting … This is just been starting a whole new process just completely from scratch. That’s what we’re using Highrise for is just to organize that content.
Bjork Ostrom: The back story there is we previously were working with an agency called Sway, they were awesome, we loved them. They made a shift to not working with influencers and focus more on this program that they have called Massive Sway, I think that’s the general idea behind the shift that they were making. Then we had this moment when were like, “Okay now we are managing our own sponsored relationships,” which in the long run, more work but the benefit is that we get to have the touch point and get to be the main contact for these people at PR agencies, or brands, and that’s such a valuable thing. What we realized is, we need to be putting those somewhere where it’s just not in my email, in the Gmail when you type a Gmail address in and you’re like, “Okay good that’s what it is, it’s still there,” having some type of formal way to track and manage those. Highrise has been a good solution for that so far.
Jenna Arend: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Those are some of the big tools that I wanted to talk about and one of the things that I wanted to say for those that are listening and when you hear this I think it can be completely overwhelming and you can hear like, “Oh my gosh, there’s all of this stuff happening.” like Jenna said, when we started the podcast we’re not only a team, but we’re running pretty lean in terms of the amount of work that we’re doing, and it could seem overwhelming.
If you take anything out of this, I’d say number one, apply some of the tools that we’re talking about to help alleviate some of the work. Number two I would say realize that you can’t do it all. Sometimes what can happen is when you hear an interview like this or talking about this, it’s you create a mental checklist and you’re like, “There’s so much to do and I can’t do it all,” but what I would encourage you to do is, I would create the anti-checklist when you’re starting. You can say, “Okay this is interesting, I’m going to jot this down but this is something that I know that I’m not going to do until a certain point.” Maybe it’s a year from now maybe it’s when you’re able to have somebody that can come on and help with what you’re doing. Don’t hear all of these things and necessarily see them as action items. See that as things that you can learn about, maybe implement today, or maybe implement online. Not necessarily things you have to implement right away.
One of the questions that I wanted to talk to you guys about is, we talked a bit about, “Hey what are some of the things that surprised you when you first came into Pinch of Yum and started working in this what probably is a little bit of a unique position, just because of the weird world that we live in with the business that is Pinch of Yum?” One of the things I want to hear is, you guys have been here for a while and I’m interested to hear the analogy and thinking about is, when you dive in its kind and muddy and the mud rises up and then eventually the mud starts to settle and you get kind of into a rhythm or you get some clarity on how things work.
I’m interested to hear you talk a little bit about some of the ways that you have settled into your role. Maybe some of the changes that you’ve made and also just general feedback or tips or advice for the remote portion of your job. It’s not all remote, a lot of it’s in the studio but what that’s like for you because a lot of the people that are listening in some way shape or form are working on their own or in a remote position or not with the team directly where they are. That was a bad earned review question because there’s 19 questions involved with that. But Alana do you have any general thoughts on that, that you’d like to share?
Alana Woolley: In terms of getting into a routine and things I’ve learned, I think it been helpful to get to a point where we’ve made so many videos and had so many of them out there that we can look at them and compare them and see what does well, and what doesn’t do well, and what people respond to. I feel like at the beginning it was just like, “Pick a recipe and film it and make it under a minute and hopefully people will like it.” But we’ve gotten to a point where we can really look at the numbers and see different engagement from different … Even across different social media sites-
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have any examples of some of those things just off the top of your head? Like the things that have worked or maybe even the things that didn’t work?
Alana Woolley: It’s always changing. Like right now we are trying to figure out whether or not those little intros at the beginning where we had a little two, three second teaser and then show the title of the recipe. Trying to figure out if those are helpful because then people get excited about what the videos going to be or if it’s just better to leave it as a mystery and have that draw people to the video.
Bjork Ostrom: How do you track that? What does that look like?
Alana Woolley: We’ve just been making a list of the top-performing videos and then seeing what elements they have and what they don’t have. There so many factors that go into whether a video does well or not so-
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. But you have to work with what you have, right? It’s like you have a certain amount of data and as you have to be intentional and say, “Okay here’s what we have, what are some of the possible trends? Let’s see if we can replicate that and implement it and see if it’s successful again.” So do you have a lead-in now with the little intro things, the 2 to 3 second intros?
Alana Woolley: We stop doing them for a little while and I think we’re going to go back to them. I think it depends on the recipe too because some recipes are … Really the best part is seeing the finished product and the rest of the video is just watching things be mixed together. For those that think it’s important to get a little taste of what to come at the beginning.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s really like a level up, level where you’re at the point where you say, “Okay we’ve done the videos we’ve gone in, we’ve created videos,” but now it’s at the point where what we’re going to do is to say, “What are the things that we see that are working with the videos,” and try and fine tune our gut a little bit in terms of what’s working and what’s not. I would encourage people to do that across the board whether it’s videos, or looking in Google analytics and saying, “What are the top 20 posts I have and, what are the things that those have in common, and how do I replicate that?” I think so often what we do is, we go into content production mode.
A great example would be on the podcast we released an episode that Lindsay did and it was an interview on a podcast called mixergy, and it had the most downloads that we’ve ever had. What we do is we go back and look and say, What is it?“ I think the biggest thing was the title. The title was something like, ”Fourth-grade teacher transitioned to building a blog that earns 20,000 a month,“ or something like that. And it was like, ”Oh maybe we could be more intentional of including some of those characteristics in the podcast name.“ Si malar to what you said where, you’re looking at things and saying, ”This is interesting. This dancing gummy bears recipe did really well and the one where it was the gummy bears didn’t dance, not that we have one of those, didn’t do as well," and kind of comparing and contrasting that. I think that’s a good take away. Anything else you want to say about that?
Alana Woolley: No. Do you want me to talk about working remotely?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I’d love to hear it. Yeah.
Alana Woolley: For me it’s really helpful to just be around other people when I work otherwise sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m getting distracted. I’m lucky enough to have roommates who also work remotely sometimes. There’ll be days that all three of us will’s sit in group together and it’s really helpful.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s like your own little co-working space.
Alana Woolley: Otherwise that, I usually try to work in a studio or coffee shop somewhere where there’s other people around, even if they don’t know what I’m doing. I just feel like it helps me stay accountable for staying on task.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m the same way where I feel like I can get to like 1:30, 2:00 in the afternoon depending on what my day is but if I start at home and I’m at home that’s usually at the point where I’m looking around and like, “Well, the laundry needs to get done,” and so it’s nice to kind of shift and go somewhere else and be with other people even as background noise where there is distraction but it’s not the type of distraction that’s like doing the laundry or the dishes or trying to teach sage how to fetch, which is … That’ll never happen. Worlds laziest dog as you guys know.
What about you Jenna same question, be interested to hear what you have to say.
Jenna Arend: It’s interesting being in such a task oriented position because it is true that you … I’m doing a lot of the same things every day there’s some variety it’s not boring. It’s just a lot of reoccurring things that I’m doing so it can be really hard because sometimes I get so task oriented that I forgot to step back, look at the big picture and maybe see how things could be changed to be more efficient or just more interesting depending on what it is.
One example I can think of is recently over the past few months I’ve started changing our interests strategy. That was one of the things when I first came in, honestly I had such a hard time wrapping my head around just because I had always used Pinterest just for myself to pin recipes or design stuff or whatever. To come in and actually have to have a strategy behind it and … We do, I don’t know how many pins we do per week, about 70 not including group boards so over 100. So, managing that … I just kind of jumped in and did what we had always done based on how I was trained to do it.
A few months ago I was just feeling really, almost just like I was too much distance from it. It was so automated and I felt like I didn’t really have that much control. It just went and pinned and it was great but I just didn’t feel very engaged in it. I started just looking into other tools. We’ve been using only ViralTag and Board Booster and those are not Pinterest partners, which was part of looking into the change. So, I started looking into Tailwind and just started looking into how that could be scheduled differently especially with our group boards, which are super important to us. I looked into it and as I tested it out for a few weeks, I felt a lot more engaged especially with seasonal stuff like pinning winter recipes and things like that. I just felt like I needed to be more engaged in it. That was one thing where I had been so task oriented with it and I just had to step back and see how it could be done differently and I feel like it’s more efficient now and it’s also a lot more enjoyable.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk a little bit about the switch? What was that like? What were the things that were beneficial in making that switch?
Jenna Arend: In a way … just for some background how I was using the tools before was, for ViralTag I was using it for our own boards just because it has a queue function so you can just put a bunch of pins in, it’ll go to the boards at certain times that you choose so that was how I was using ViralTag. Then Board Booster I used for all of our group boards because you can do, hard to explain, I call them drip campaigns. You create tank of pins and they just get automatically put out to our group boards twice a day. The way I’m using Tailwind now, Tailwind is really similar to ViralTag in that you pretty much just use a queue again of putting the Post in, they go out at certain times. That was pretty easy to implement.
The hardest thing for me was figuring out how to do our group boards in Tailwind, which in talking to Alexa on the Food Blogger Pro team, I just talked to her about how she does her own for her own food blog and we both had that struggle of just how you balance between group boards and your own boards. I started using a tool within Tailwind called interval pinning. It puts it on a separate queue from your own boards and so that was probably the biggest bump was figuring that out.
I used to just fill these tanks for our group boards, just fill them up and they go out to the group boards. Now I actually am doing it where once a week I schedule those each individually so I can focus a lot more in seasonal things that will do better now than later. That’s been super helpful and just the part of being more engaged where I actually know what’s going out each week, it’s not just automatically going. The transition was pretty smooth it was just the hard thing with any tool was just for me to figure out how to balance group boards and our own boards.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about the idea behind group boards and why those are important?
Jenna Arend: Group boards and those are mostly put in place before I came in, you can get invited to a group board or you can create a group board. It’s basically just a collaboration between you and other pages. For us our group boards are super important because there are some where it’s only us and three other people pinning to it but there’s on tons and tons and thousands of followers to it so it’s a great place for us for our pins to get more exposure because it’s a small market of pins but a ton of audience, for us those are super important. A lot of ours are pretty general. We have one called healthy meals, or homemade recipes, so they’re pretty general. We try to stay away from ones that are too specific because we just often don’t have enough pins for something that’s that specific. Then our own boards are ones that we’ve created, we don’t collaborate with anyone else and those really match our categories on the blog so vegetarian or vegan, slow cooker, desserts, baking, things like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Cool that’s awesome. Super helpful and super insightful. Anything that you have to say in terms of like remote work balancing or tips tricks or anything like that relating to remote work?
Jenna Arend: It was interesting for me coming into this job because I had only ever worked in a traditional office setting. I was there 40 hours a week, at the same desk, in the same office. For me it’s really flexed over time. At first, I was at the studio almost every day, full day get there at 8:00 AM, I wouldn’t leave till 4:00 PM and that was great but also it’s super nice just to have the flexibility to work from home. I’ve flexed a little bit and it depends on the time of year. If it’s a workshop I’m pretty much at the studio all the time.
What I’ve done is just really figured out what tasks of mine I’m more efficient at home doing and, which one are more efficient being at the studio. For me responding to comments I like to do those at home because there’s no interruptions, I can just focus in get them done so that’s the way I break it up. Right now my schedule is usually, I work from home in the morning just to settle in and do emails and whatever first of the day tasks I need to do, and then I usually go to the studio especially if Alana or Krista or Lindsay are there because I do you go pretty stir crazy just being by myself sitting in this one little one-bedroom apartment. That’s also part of going in too is just getting to see them and it’s similar to going to a coffee shop where I’ll often do that around the same time like 1:30 or 2:00 if I need to get out of the house then.
Bjork Ostrom: You realize how eight hours in one place is so hard. I think back and had a more traditional office job at one point, not that it was always 40 hours a week in the same spot, but that’s tough to do and I think that variety piece is so helpful to stay motivated and keep the creative brain on.
Jenna Arend: Yeah and even to … one thing I started doing that’s been super helpful is I’ll just go for a walk in the middle of the day or we have a gym in our apartment so I’ll go down there just to get moving and I feel so much better when I come back. Even just putting little things in the day or even just making coffee at 2 o’clock. Just things to break it up.
Bjork Ostrom: Break it up, yep, absolutely. I think that’ll become more and more common as workforce distributes and teams become remote and people have more flexibility with when, and where, and how they work. Alana, I was just going to say here really quick, I saw you nodding your head when Jenna was talking about working in different places with different tasks is that something that you like to do as well, or you like to edit in certain place versus … Obviously you have to record at the studio but is that true for you?
Alana Woolley: Yeah I think so that there are certain editing things like different tasks within editing a video that it’s really nice to just be in a very quiet place, and even when you’re alone at the studio it’s not always super quiet-
Bjork Ostrom: There’s like a CrossFit gym down in the first floor and like video guys that will play their videos, the one I’m thinking of is the one when they had that Christmas video that they were playing, do you remember this? It was like a rock Christmas song and they just kept playing it over and over on loud speakers. So the idea being that. Studio isn’t always super quiet so finding a place that is quiet we can kind of focus in a little bit.
Alana Woolley: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Alana Woolley: Sometimes editing a music together I’ll play the same four seconds of a song on loop for half an hour and it’s awesome just to be alone just to know I’m not bothering people around me.
Bjork Ostrom: Over and over and over.
For sure. Hey we’re coming up to the 50 minute mark here and getting to the end but I just want to say thank you guys from a high level we just appreciate who you guys are and the work that you do and so we’re so honored and lucky to be working with you. On a micro level to come onto the podcast as quote, unquote guests on the podcast but obviously we work together closely every day, so thanks so much for coming on today guys.
Jenna Arend: Glad to be here.
Alana Woolley: Thank you.
Bjork Ostrom: Really appreciate it.
Another big thank you to Alana and Jenna we just think you guys are the coolest and we are so lucky, and grateful, and humbled that we get to work with you each and every day.
One more quick reminder for those that are listening about that opening that we have here at food blogger pro and Pinch of Yum, and Nutifox and MWD tasty. It’s the visual designer role for all of those brands. It would be somebody that would be developing really the look and feel and personality for these brands that we have. Doing everything from web design on the mobile and desk top side, so you really need to understand mobile and you need to understand desktop and then also potentially doing some kind of standard design stuff whether it’s e-books or things like that. Maybe that you, maybe you know somebody, either way the best way to find out information is to go to foodbloggerpro.com/design. D-E-S-I-G-N and foodbloggerpro.com/design that will direct you to the position information.
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