Tips from Bjork and Lindsay
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Welcome to episode 158 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork chats with Lise Ode from Mom Loves Baking about growing her Instagram following.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork talked with Kate Ahl from Simple Pin Media about treating Pinterest as a long-term game and generating conversions. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Growing your social media following sometimes feels like an impossible goal, but Lise has figured out the trick to quickly and authentically grow her Instagram following.
Her Instagram account, @momlovesbaking, now has 100K followers. And that’s after having just a few thousand followers a few months ago.
Lise will talk about the course that helped skyrocket her Instagram following, how she improved her photography skills, and the story behind her first post to ever go viral. If you’re looking for ways to increase engagement and growth on your Instagram account, you’ll learn a lot from this episode!
Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Kate from Tasty Seasons! 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.
Bjork Ostrom: In this interview, I share a quick tip about how to search for your images. And we have a conversation with Lise Ode about how she grew her Instagram following from just a few thousand to over 90,000 in a short period of time.
Hey there everybody, this is your Bjork Ostrom, and you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We are so excited that you are here and so thankful that you are tuning in. This is one of our great honors and privileges that we get to do each and every week, that is the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We have thousands of people from all around the world that listen to this podcast. That is so awesome because without you, we wouldn’t be able to do it. Here’s how it works. The podcast, we do interviews, we talk to people, sometimes I do a solo podcast interview. But with every podcast interview now we do what’s called a tasty tip, which is brought to you by our quote unquote sponsor WP Tasty.
I say quote unquote because it’s actually a site that we own and operate. It’s kind of a sister site to Food Blogger Pro. It is for people who have WordPress blogs and we create plugins for those sites. It’s actually plugins that we first think about hey on Pinch of Yum, which is the food blog that my wife Lindsay and I run, what are some things that we really want to do? What are some things that we want to implement and be an important piece of the site? We create that plugin and we have that run on our site and then if we think there is potential for other people to use it and there would be value, then we release it on WP Tasty so other people can get for a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the cost of the multiple thousands of dollars that we put into originally developing that plugin.
If you’re interested in checking out what those are, you can go to wptasty.com and learn more. But each week we do a tasty tip which is brought to you by WP Tasty. Today’s tasty tip is all about images. Specifically, it’s about searching for images. If you are a blogger, you know that images are really important and you put a lot of time and energy into creating those images and you want to keep track of how those images are being used around the web. One of the ways that we do that is a service called Pixsy, P-I-X-S-Y.com. Pixie does image searching for you and it lets you know the sites that are using your images.
The idea with Pixsy that if you want to, you can follow up with one of these sites and ask for compensation for that image that they are using. We’ve only done that a couple of times and it was actually before we used to Pixsy. The main way that I recommend people use Pixsy is to load in the images from their site so they can track along with how those are being used around the web. If you notice somebody using your image, best thing to do is to first reach out to them and say, “Hey, I notice you’re using my image, can you provide a link back to my recipe or back to the posts that you are linking to?”
A link is a really valuable thing when you’re building a blog, because it’s one of the things that Google looks at when they think about the algorithm, or when they put together the algorithm that ranks a certain piece of content. So, if you can get more links to your site, that means in general, that your piece of content is going to have the potential to rank higher. If somebody is using an image, a lot of times people don’t really think about or know the fact that they should credit back to where that image came from, then you can use a site like Pixsy or reverse image search on Google, which is not an automated service. But you can just take an image and drop it into the search field when you’re in the images area in Google and see all the sites that are using that image.
But you can use the services to get a better idea of the sites that are using the photos that you’ve created and you’ve put on to your blog. If they’re using that without giving you credit, you can reach out and ask for credit and a link back to your site. It’s a little tool, a little tip, something that you could possibly implement into your routine to get a better idea of how your images are being used around the web. That is called Pixsy, P-I-X-S-Y. But you can also do that with Google, with what’s called a reverse image search on Google. That’s the tasty tip for this week.
In today’s interview, we’re going to be talking to Lise Ode, and her site is Mom Loves Baking. She’s going to be talking about some things that she implemented to help grow her Instagram following. Anytime that we hear from somebody that says, “Hey, I’ve been doing these things and it’s been working really well.” I’m going to make sure that we have a conversation with them to expose that to our Food Blogger Pro audience. I think you’re going to enjoy it. Lise is going to be talking about building her Instagram following from just a few thousand to over 90,000 and exactly how she did that. Let’s jump in. Lise, welcome to the podcast.
Lise Ode: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s fun to connect because before we pressed record, we were actually talking about you attended, it was one of or was it the first Pinch of Yum food photography workshop that Lindsay did?
Lise Ode: I did. I was a member of the very first one.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, way back in the day. That kind of launched us into talking about this kind of timeline that you’ve been on, this journey that you’ve been on. Today, we’re going to be talking about Instagram. But I actually asked if you’d be willing to share kind of that timeline of your blog. It’s a little bit different than the story, because you kind of have this step by step, the years that you took in terms of like, you thought about starting a blog really early, then you didn’t, and then you started an Instagram, then you started your blog. So, I would be interested to hear the timeline of what brought you to today, and to talk about kind of those different important points along the way.
Lise Ode: Yes. Well, the idea for the blog was actually my husband’s, back in 2006. That was before I was even following a blog or knew what it was. He read an article about these retirees that were making six figure incomes just by writing about their hobby. Because I love to make cakes, he thought, “Why don’t you try writing about your baking?” I thought about it and I knew nothing about it. I was kind of scared and thought it’d be hard to figure it out.
I said, “Well, that sounds cool. But I don’t think I’m going to do that now.” I ended up being in actual cake business where I made wedding cakes and party cakes for about four years. And then, I started making recipes to enter in the Pillsbury Bake Off, and I got in that. I don’t know if you are familiar with that, but it’s a historic contest started in 1949. And so, it’s kind of a big deal that I got into that. They say they get tens of thousands of entries, and people try year after year to get into it.
At that point, I had stopped to take business. Once I got into the Pillsbury Bake Off, it really gave me the confidence to start the blog, because I realized that I really enjoyed creating original recipes, and I thought that I would give it a try, finally. 2014 was really the first year that I actually started the blog.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting how for so many people, it takes kind of that external validation of the skills that you already had. It’s not like you had new skills and then that’s what led you to win the award. It’s like you had these, but it was somebody saying, “Hey, we think that you are the best or one of the best, and we would like to give you this award.” Or, even to be a part of it is such a big deal.
If you rewind a little bit, so you had this cake business, and one of the things that we talked about is there’s different avenues to build a path to your passion and to doing your passion. When you think back to the four years of doing the cake business, for some people, that would have been a dream job and something that they would have really loved. I’m guessing for you there was parts that were really awesome about it, but also some parts that were not ideal with it. So, what led you to start it and then what led you to eventually the point where you said, “Hey, I’m going to close up shop on this and look for the next thing”?
Lise Ode: Well, thank you for asking that because that’s a really good question. I have always loved to bake since I was a kid, and it really was a dream to start a cake business and just to try to make money doing something that I truly loved. I was also a graphic artist. That was my day job. But when I started the cake business, I had become a stay at home mom basically, but I wanted to make a little extra money and I wanted to do it doing something that I love. So, I started the cake business from our home. I had the ovens in the garage, I had this giant mixer, I had the whole setup and I started doing really artsy type cakes that were really expensive and would take me like a week to complete them.
I had one assistant that would help me on occasion, but not every day. What happened is it was great at first, but after a while, it just became so much work and I wasn’t making much money. I started to just not like my love of baking anymore.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s an interesting thing that you want to protect when the thing you love the most becomes the thing that you dread. I feel like that’s a really important thing to be aware of as creators is that moment that that happens. I’d be interested to hear you contrast where you are now, what you’re doing now. You’re doing similar things, right? You’re still baking and that’s your focus and it’s something that’s still a passion, but it looks a little bit different. How are things different now than from that first business that you had?
Lise Ode: Yes, exactly. Well now, the idea and the dream was that I want to bake for fun, for me, for the family, for neighbors, for my friends just whenever I want to do it and whatever I want to do and not be told by somebody, “This is what you have to bake.” And along the way, create some really cool new recipes and give new ideas or easy baking recipes for busy moms and also fun. I love doing things that are really cute that kids love that are kind of artsy. Just a combination of all the baking that I love.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And that’s such a big part of it as people who are creative, is the ability to create what you want, as opposed to … My dad does ceramics and pottery and he talks about how difficult it is when people come and they say, “Here’s what I would like you to create, can you please create this for me?” Versus him creating something that then other people come and say, “I want that.” The act of doing it is exactly the same, but the intent and the creative process is so different with that. How nice it is to be able to create without restrictions or without detailed restrictions on what you’re doing. So … Yeah, go ahead.
Lise Ode: It’s the same thing as a graphic artist, because I did that for 15 years. It was the same thing as a graphic artist working for somebody else, I was doing art that somebody else was envisioning. So, it’s not really you, you’re kind of like the vehicle or … You know what I’m saying.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep, absolutely. One of the things that I find so interesting in your story is that you are a creator, you’re motivated by learning new things, and yet you’re willing to place yourself in the role of beginner or learner. One of the fun stories that you told was being a first-time attendee and of the first ever food photography workshop. You talked about this outcome that you had from it. You went to the workshop, learned about food photography. Obviously, you’re somebody that understands art and the creative process, but you were intentional to learn, to be a student. Can you talk about why you’ve done that, why you’ve decided to do that, and we’re going to talk about some of the outcomes that have come from that, but it’d be fun to hear that story from the workshop, what happened after that.
Lise Ode: Yes. Well, food photography was something that I had to learn as a food blogger of course. That was the first thing that I had to practice and get better at. The first year, when I look back, my pictures are just terrible.
Bjork Ostrom: I feel like it’s such a common … It’s like a shared feeling of looking back two years and being like, “Oh, man, I published that, didn’t I?” Everybody can relate to that.
Lise Ode: Exactly. As an artist, you know what’s good and you know what’s not. So, I was admiring all these beautiful food photographs on other people’s blogs and I wanted to be able to do that myself. So, I flew to Minnesota for your first ever workshop.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Lise Ode: Of course, I was inspired by Lindsay’s beautiful Pinch of Yum photographs, because she does an amazing job. Even though I have to add this that I hate to fly-
Bjork Ostrom: So, you pushed through even the fear of flying to come, it makes it even more special. Thank you.
Lise Ode: Yeah, it gives me really bad anxiety. So, I was like, “I have to do this.” And I did, I made it through and I’m so glad that I did and met some really nice people. I didn’t get to meet you, but Lindsey is a doll. She’s a sweetheart and she’s a great teacher. It was a weekend course, so I learned so much in those basically two days I think it was. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: You talked about taking what you had learned and then coming back and doing a shoot that resulted in kind of some positive outcomes for that post, kind of this viral post. Can you talk about what that was and was that correlated to improved photography?
Lise Ode: Yes, absolutely. It was actually a couple months after the workshop and I’d had a chance to practice my new skills. It was a sponsored post that I was doing, I think it was in November and it was a chocolate Turtle Poke Cake recipe that I had created myself for a brand.
It’s funny because I was actually in a big hurry to take those pictures because we were going out of town, it was the holidays I think it was right before Thanksgiving or something. And so, I took these pictures really fast, and then we ran out the door and I brought the cake with me to my family in Alabama. And then when I looked at the pictures, they really came out great and I don’t know, just one picture. All the pictures in that on that blog post are nice, but I think it was the pin it was because I think I made a long pin for Pinterest. One of the pictures was the process. It was like poking the holes I think for the Poke Cake. And then the other picture was the finished product. That one pen is still getting so many hits. When I look at my analytics, it’s like I’m actually making picture still.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It’s interesting when you stick with it long enough. We talked about this a decent amount. Oftentimes, you’ll have these things that we call kind of these hits. It’s kind of like a band where you may be write 50 songs, and then one of them turns into a hit. That’s such a good example of it.
One of the questions that I had kind of as a follow up, were there things that you took away from the workshop? If you were to say, “These were the biggest things that I implemented after doing the workshop,” for those that can’t attend a workshop, what are some of the things that you learned in that process that they could take away and potentially implement, if you had kind of a bullet list of important things that you learned?
Lise Ode: Well, sure. This is off the top of my head, because-
Bjork Ostrom: It was-
Lise Ode: Well sure, this is like off the top of my head because-
Bjork Ostrom: It was the first one so it was a while ago.
Lise Ode: Yeah, yeah. For me it might sound kinda silly, but I was kinda afraid to use the manual settings on my own camera.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah.
Lise Ode: I’d only been doing it in automatic mode and so just that alone … she just taught me … She kind of taught me the basics which is hard to learn … I mean you could learn it from a video, I guess or a book, but it just … I like somebody to show me how.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep.
Lise Ode: And especially an expert.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep.
Lise Ode: And then being able to practice while we’re there. And the lighting. The lighting is so important and she helped me with that. Actually I love the natural light, but I haven’t be able to use it a lot in my photography ’cause I was just positioning and I use artificial light and that was that one picture was, actually, artificial light.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, cool. And the thing that I think is so great about that is it’s such an obvious example of you intentionally learning and then applying those things that you learned, which it’s rare for people to make the effort to learn, and then it’s even more rare for after people learn to implement that. That’s something that I would love to talk to you about in regards to Instagram.
Anytime that somebody connects with us and they say, “Hey, I’ve been doing something that has been working well and would love to share it with your audience.” We want to look at the potential of saying, "Okay, is this something that we can open up to the broader Food Blogger Pro Podcast audience to see if that can help them as well.
One of the things that you mentioned is this idea of Instagram growth and having some … making a change that resulted in your Instagram account growing and growing at a pretty substantial rate. Would love to jump in and talk a little bit about that, so on your … with your Instagram account, you’ve been using Instagram for a long time, but you had talked about it being kind of stagnant for awhile. Can you talk about what … when you started and at what point you said, “I want to start to intentionally grow and then what you did about it.”
Lise Ode: Sure. Instagram, like I said before, it actually was started before I started my blog. I think I started my Instagram account in 2012 just for fun, just for personal use, but then I kind of transferred to my Mom Loves Baking once I started the blog and I would post fairly regularly, but I didn’t see a lot of growth there. I think I got to about 2,000 followers and it kind of stayed there for about three or four years, even though I was still posting fairly regularly, not every day, but, you know, a few times a week.
What I did is, last Fall, I think it was around September I decided to take a course on how to grow your Instagram and just try to figure it out, because it seemed like a mystery to me. Like how do you grow this thing?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And you can mention what that course is, if you’re comfortable with it. I feel like people would be interested to know.
Lise Ode: Sure. I found it while … just by searching on Instagram. There’s another page that I follow called Cupcake Project.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Lise Ode: Her name is Stefani Pollack, and she and another Instagrammer, I think his page is GrillinFools, they created this webinar together. It’s a course that you pay for and it’s videos that you watch yourself at home and it’s quite a lot of material. I think it was about 20 hours of video and so it takes some time to go through them, but they had found a lot of success in growing their Instagrams fairly fast and they’re earning income through their Instagram and so that was another key I wanted. I was looking for new ways to monetize. I’m doing this as a job. It’s not just a hobby for fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah and what I love about hearing your story is being so intentional with that to say, “Okay, I know that I want to improve my food photography. Here’s what I’m gonna do. Not only am I gonna take a class. I’m gonna take a class that requires me to fly and I hate flying. That is a sacrifice, and that’s hard work. Then saying, ”Okay, I know I wanna understand Instagram and grow Instagram so I’m gonna apply myself and take a course and learn about that."
You go through this course, you say, “Okay, I know I wanna focus in on this one area. I’m gonna focus in on Instagram growth. It’s a popular platform. It’s something that I know is important for brands. Let’s go ahead and think about ways to build this. Take this course.” What were some of the things that you started to change as you started to think intentionally about growing your Instagram following?
Lise Ode: Sure. Well actually I wanted to also point out that in the beginning in the course, she says that she has found that she can earn an income on her … She has a blog too, herself. But she’s found that Instagram can be a source of income all by itself, like brands are paying for you to post a photograph using their product, just the photograph, they don’t need a blog post. So I thought that was sort of interesting. So that was another reason why I was excited about doing it. So you’re asking …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah and well, and on that note I think it’s important to do a little bit of a side tangent to point out this idea of … you know there’s in this industry a lot of people talk about, “Hey, you should never build your platform in other places.” And they talk about this idea of share cropping and the idea like, "Hey, at any moment Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest can remove the … your reach or impact your … the algorithm that doesn’t reach people as much. But there’s also this reality of that’s true and yet these platforms are really influential and there’s a lot of attention on there. So I think it’s important to point out what you said that there are these places and it doesn’t have to be just your blog.
There are these places where you can also think intentionally about brand and business building. Instagram is a great platform for that and we see that as well with video and we have a lot of brands that reach out and say, “Hey, we’d be interested in just doing a video and that would be … we could do that just on Instagram because there’s so much attention there.” So I think it’s a great point and really important to give that some time as we think about building our businesses and building our blogs and not just building our blogs, but building our brands as well.
I think that’s a great point. So to go back, the question that I’d asked was some of the things that you started to learn and implement and knowing that, you know, like you said there’s 20 hours of content and we don’t want to share all the specific details of what that course would be out of respect for them and their course and want to encourage people to check that out, but for you personally, as you look at your Instagram following and some of the things that you change, what did you start to do that helped you to pick up traction and what did that look like in terms of followers and engagement and things like that?
Lise Ode: Okay. Yes. I’m gonna tell you that in one second. I just have to say one other thing on our little tangent that as I just said that I said and then I realized, I’m talking to you on Food Blogger Pro and telling everyone how you don’t have to just have a blog. I just wanted like…
Bjork Ostrom: No, it’s … you mean because literally the name Food Blogger Pro, is that what you mean?
Lise Ode: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes for sure. I think it’s super important and if I were to go back and rebrand it wouldn’t have blog in it because it’s so much more than that. It would be Food Brander Pro. No that wouldn’t’ be what it would be. But as much as possible, that’s why I try and call it out ’cause it’s not just blogs.
Lise Ode: Right and I do want to say that I still love my blog and I’m not abandoning my blog at all. I have so many things that I wanna do on my blog and I’m really excited about, but we’re focusing on Instagram today, so one of the first things that she taught which is one of the first I started implementing is to post much more often than I was before. So like five to seven times per day as opposed to like once every couple days or once a day. And also to share other people’s content, not just my own, you know, giving them credit of course and focusing in on your niche and being consistent.
Bjork Ostrom: So let’s talk about each one of those things. Posting more throughout each day. What does that look like for you? How often are you posting and what does look like from a scheduling standpoint? It feels like it would be a lot of work.
Lise Ode: It is a lot of work. I do wanna mention that okay, I said that I started with 2,000 followers in September and now I’m up to 94,000 today in June. So that’s what … six months, seven months?
Bjork Ostrom: Yep.
Lise Ode: I’m growing about 2–3,000 followers per week, every single week at this point which is great! I’m really excited about that.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m glad that you bring that up because it helps put some context around what that looks like. Yeah.
Lise Ode: Yes. But it’s not without a lot of work. Anything, you know, any success story is gonna have a lot of work behind it and I have been doing a lot of work. I’ve really focused on it and done … I think I spend probably a few hours a day on just Instagram and maybe an hour in the morning and an hour throughout the day, an hour at night and I’ve heard that you can post seven posts in a row supposedly and the algorithm will separate it out, but that didn’t work for me so I have to kind of post in real time, every couple hours is basically what I do.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it and for that you’re not using a scheduling app or something like that that builds that content out. You’re doing this kind of in real time.
Lise Ode: I am, but you can, like in the morning I will in the actual Instagram app you can create all these posts, like drafts, so they’re already … so I can kind of do all the work in the morning if I want to, and I can have my seven posts ready to go. Then every couple hours I’ll just hit share.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So you can batch the creation process and then what you’re doing is you’re doing is you’re going in and kind of spreading that out throughout the day so you’re sharing frequently throughout the day, multiple times but not necessarily having to go in and kinda turn on your content creation brain each time you do that.
Lise Ode: Exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it and then for the, for sharing other people’s content, can you talk a little bit about what that looks like? Obviously you talked about attributing that back to the post. Are you reaching out to these people and saying, “Hey, can I share this content from your post?” Or are there certain pages that you know would be places you can go to find that type of content, that sharable content. What does that look like? How do you go about doing it in a way where you know that you have the AOK from the other content creators that have created that content?
Lise Ode: Sure. Well I … my Instagram is cake and baking inspiration. That’s what I have at the beginning of my profile and so I have a lot of cake decorators and bakers that are looking for ideas and so I am taking … when I’m sharing other people’s content is they’re other cake makers and bakers who really want their content to be shared. It’s a very similar concept on Facebook when you’re sharing … people share a lot of other people’s content, it’s the same thing.
In the beginning I was asking a lot of people if it’s okay and everybody said, “Sure, yes, please!” And now I have all these people tagging me, I mean, I need to hire an assistant just to help me go through those because I have … I can’t get to all of them and it was pretty earlier on that I stopped even asking people because I’ve never once had somebody say, “Don’t share my picture!” You know, like, most of them have all said, I mean everybody said, “Thank you so much.” I feel like we’re helping each other.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting one of the things that we do for Food Blogger Pro is we have a hashtag and we use that to kinda curate content so one of the things that we, if you look at our little bio it says use Food Blogger Pro for a chance to be featured. Now we have 3,500 followers, not 90,000 so we’re not having to sift through as much, but for those that are … I think it’s a good idea for those looking to curate content.
If you’re looking to integrate that in, it’s one of the ways that you can do it in kind of a reverse way, you’re not having to reach out to other people and ask if you can use their content, but they’re essentially tagging you and saying, “Hey, this is something that you can use.” I know that Feed Feed which is a popular, they have multiple different accounts, does something similar as well where they have a tag that you can use which is essentially putting you into this category of saying like, “Hey, I would love to be featured on your account.”
Increased in the number of times that you’re posting in a day, and also it sounds like a little bit of a change with the type of content that you’re posting. So do you have kind of category buckets of what you’re looking for when you’re posting certain content?
Lise Ode: Yes. That’s an interesting question. I feel like I’m combining my art background with my cake background, because I love sugar as an art form, basically, and so, yes, so I love things that are artsy. I love painted cakes. That’s something that’s new and I love macarons. Those, they’re really beautiful. They can be … People are painting on those too. I share cakes, cookies, pies. There are people that are doing pie art even. There’s this one girl that does faces on pies, like Oprah or the Prince and you know, the ones that just got married.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Lise Ode: Who’s that other-
Bjork Ostrom: The royals. You could just call them the royals. Yeah, we were at … This is a side story. We were at a … My cousin competed in America Ninja Warrior and there’s this … It’s super late, you stay up ’till like 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. when they film and the … we were waiting to see my cousin and she’s like, “Oh this next girl is super good on the American Ninja Warrior. Her name is Meghan Markle,” and we’re all like, “Wait a minute. Meghan Markle? Like she’s not American Ninja Warrior, is she?” She’s like, “Yeah, no, it’s Meghan Markle,” and we’re like …
And it was Meghan Martin, who’s like, she’s an American Ninja Warrior celebrity, but I think there was so much talk about Meghan Markle and the royals that she had just gotten confused. That would’ve been really cool, but it wasn’t. Yeah, the royals, doing the face of the royals on the pie. So essentially it sounds like … Sorry, go ahead. What’s that?
Lise Ode: Harry that was his name. I couldn’t think.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, for sure. So it essentially it’s sharing these categories that are interesting to you, probably fun for other people to look at, but then how do you intersperse your own content into that? Because that’s an important piece of it, especially if you’re thinking about from the monetization standpoint. So you’re building up a lot of followers, but if you’re not getting your own content in there, then it’s hard to get a brand or a sponsor to pay for you to feature their content within your feed. So what does that look like?
Lise Ode: Well I’m still featuring my own content as well and at least once a day-
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Lise Ode: … I would say. And I’m also featuring myself, so I have … you’ll see pictures of me, because I’m trying to kind of create a brand …
Lise Ode: … see pictures of me because I’m trying to kind of create a brand with myself because … I think, actually, it might have been one of your podcasts that I learned I’m the only thing that is really unique about my business because there’s so many food blogs out there, but I’m trying to create a brand. That’s the stories. I was going to say the stories … I do share lots of everyday life stuff on my stories, and that’s been a lot of fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. To balance the stories and the actual posting, I would guess, would be kind of a hard thing because not only are you posting five to seven times a day, but you’re also doing stories. When it comes to stories, are you doing that … will you do an hour of Instagram posting and scheduling and kind of drafting and then say, “Okay, I know I’m going to do a story, so then I’m going to view this as a different block of time,” and walk through that content creation, or what does that look like? How do you balance those two things?
Lise Ode: The stories, I’m just kind of willy-nilly.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, like when you feel inspired, you’ll do it.
Lise Ode: For lack of a better term. Fly by the seat of my pants. Yeah. I just try to make it real, keep it real, and just whenever the spirit moves me or I’m just like, “I think I’m going to do a story now.” It’s not really that calculated.
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s what people like about stories is that they are raw and real and unfiltered. To use an Instagram word, no filter. A couple more things that I feel like would be interesting for people to hear about, as it relates to the Instagram growth … So you’ve been posting more. You’re intentional to block that time out to view that as a part of your brand to say, “Hey, it’s not just my blog, but there’s these other platforms that are important.” It’s using other people’s content along with yours, maybe kind of at a one-to-six or one-to-seven ratio. If you’re posting six times a day, you’ll try and do one post that’s yours as well.
Then there’s this really interesting component that has to do with having people come to you and say, “Hey, I see that you have 100,000 followers. We would like to work with you to get in front of those followers in a brand or a sponsorship capacity.” Can you talk about what that looks like and how that works, how those connections happen, and how it unfolds?
Lise Ode: Well, honestly, I’m still trying to figure that out. I have gotten jobs recently through an influencer network that are just Instagram only, so that’s been really exciting. I’ve already gotten a few of those where they’re just paying me to, like I said, post a picture or video, just on the Instagram, and so that’s really cool. At this point, I haven’t really learned how to go directly to brands, and that’s a whole other ball game that I have to change hats and figure that out.
Bjork Ostrom: That was something for Pinch of Yum. We used an agency as well, and that was just until … it was six months ago. Was it six months ago? I forget when it was, but we switched over into doing it just in-house because we had the resources, but it was the same thing for a really long time for us where we were using an agency, so can you talk about that agency that you use for that, and then is it something where you have to apply and say, “Here’s how many followers I have. Here’s the niche that I’m in,” or do they send something out and say, “Let us know if you’re interested”? What is the agency, and how does that work?
Lise Ode: Sure. Well, it’s Social Fabric, or they’re also called Collective Bias, and they’re just a company that I’ve been working with from almost the beginning. I’ve slowly made a little more money over the years. They’ve raised the pay, basically, as I got more experience and more followers and everything, and so I’m just used to working with them. What I have to do is they have a website, and you’re a member, and then you have the jobs that are available, or the campaigns, and then I have to apply and give them my idea. They say what they need, and I give my idea, and then they decide if they want to choose me.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. I think that’s super helpful, especially for people that are in the early stages kind of figuring out, “Hey, do I want to try and connect with brands and pitch them on my own, or do I want to work with an agency where there’s a little bit less of that heavy lifting that they have to do?” I think it’s a great resource, and I think people are always interested to hear what other people are doing.
For you, when you think of kind of looking to continue to grow and to build, is there more for Instagram for you, or do you feel like you’re moving on to the next thing here, you’re going to focus in on the next area that you really want to grow? What do the next six months look like for you?
Lise Ode: Well, I’m still … I’m full steam ahead with Instagram. I’m approaching 100,000, and I have … I want to do something fun to celebrate that. I want to do a choreographed dance video.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, nice.
Lise Ode: I’m not kidding, because I love dance. I actually did a vision board in January, and I have a blog post about it. I’d never done one before, but I’d kind of mapped out what I wanted to do this year. The first word at the top of my vision board is fun because I … the world can be kind of lonely, and I was kind of like my head down working on this blog for almost four years just by myself, and I’ve decided I want to change that. I want to start collaborating, and I already have started collaborating, and just trying to have more fun with it.
This week, I did something that was definitely fun. I did a live Instagram video with another baker, Allie from Baking A Moment, and we … I started a live story, and then she asked to join, and so it’s like a split screen, and we took baking questions, and we got to know each other. I’d never met her before, and that was really so much fun. I just enjoyed it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think it’s a great reminder, as much as possible, to think about creative ways to have fun but also do work, because it’s work, and it’s putting value and important things into the world, but it’s also fun, and it’s new, and it’s fresh, and those things are so important.
For those that aren’t familiar, can you talk about what a vision board is and how you did that?
Lise Ode: Sure. Basically, I had a few friends over and we got magazines, and scissors, and glue, and we cut out things were things that we wanted to do this year, pictures, words, and pasted them on the board. Like I said, I had fun. I had collaboration. I had fashion, style. I wanted to work on my style because I’m trying to build my brand, and there’s going to be more pictures of me. I want to publish a cookbook. I had a picture of a cookbook and stuff like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great.
Bjork Ostrom: I think one of the mistakes that we can make or one of the things that keeps us back from reaching our full potential is, like you had talked about, having your head down too often.
I’m in the middle of finishing this book called Getting Things Done, which sounds like the most boring book ever, but it’s just about how we can free our brain up to do creative thinking. One of the things that David Allen, who’s the author, in the book, talks about is how important it is to give time and energy to the high-level types of work that we do, whether that be thinking strategically about projects or, on an even higher level, thinking about what it is that we’re doing on a day-to-day basis and how we’re approaching our work from a 50,000-foot level as opposed to how do I respond to more emails in a day, but to be really intentional with that. It sounds like that was something that you were doing, and how valuable that is, and you see that impact by the things that change for you, like you start to do different things, and that’s such a great, powerful thing.
We’re coming to the end of the episode. If you were to speak to somebody who’s in the early stages of blog building and were just getting started out, what advice would you give them?
Lise Ode: This is something I wanted to say. When I started the food blog, I was trying to reach the internet, this big information highway, trying to drive traffic to my blog. I was on that track for a while. Now, lately, I said I want to collaborate, and I want to be around more people, have more fun. Now I want to try to do things in my own community and reach out to people in my own community, and I just want to say that. It’s kind of like missing the big picture, in a way, where you’re trying to reach so many people, but it’s like, hey, there’s people here that I want to reach too right in my own town, and to try to make human connections instead of just being by myself. I want to support other women, and I’m starting a series on my blog where I’m interviewing women that inspire me that are in my community. I’m also opening up my blog to eight new contributors. I have four so far, and I’m looking for four more.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. That’s great, so a good resource for anybody that’s interested in maybe going down that path. I think that’s a great way to build a brand is to have other people who are interested in the same things creating content around that thing in a central place, so good for you for doing that.
So, question. The question about, going back, if you were to speak to somebody who’s just in the early stages of doing this, what advice would you give them?
Lise Ode: That’s a really tough question. I’m not sure if I would have done anything differently. I didn’t mention that I started, in the beginning, with a project for myself, a one-year baking project where I made all of the Pillsbury bake-off recipes in one year because-
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, cool.
Lise Ode: I made all the winning recipes at that point, and there were 52, so it was one per week that I had to plan for myself to make one per week. I was making somebody else’s recipes, actually, so I didn’t have to worry about that part, and I just worked on the food photography, learning the WordPress, and just kind of figuring out the blog. For the first year, I didn’t worry about driving traffic to my blog. I mean I was just trying to learn how to do it, and just kind of step by step. You have to give yourself time and know that it doesn’t happen overnight. Just like any business, it’s going to take a few years. You know?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. I love that idea of having a project. That’s one of the things that I’ve been thinking about with any changes that we’re making is not necessarily thinking of them as, “We are forever going to change this moving forward,” but, “Hey, this is going to be something new that we’re going to try for this amount of time,” like I’m going to try for one week working out in the morning. What does that look like? How does that feel? For somebody else, maybe it’s, to relate to the topic we talked about today, “For one month, I’m going to try spending a little bit more time growing my Instagram account. What does that look like? How does that feel?” but to not think, “Okay, I have to change this forever,” but to, like you said, give yourself the time and to have a clear understanding that it doesn’t happen overnight, which I think is so valuable to have that mindset as you get into things.
Lise, so fun to talk to you, really great to connect. If people want to follow along with what you’re doing, where can they follow you online and on Instagram?
Lise Ode: Sure. Well, everything is called Mom Loves Baking, so momlovesbaking.com is my blog, and then all my social channels are called momlovesbaking.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. We’ll be sure to link to those in the show notes as well. Lise, so fun to talk to you, and thanks so much for coming on the podcast.
Lise Ode: Thank you, Bjork.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, everyone. Alexa here bringing you the review of the week. This one comes from Kate from tastyseasons.com. It says, “Of all the podcast series that I subscribe to, the Food Blogger Pro podcast is, by far, my favorite. I am a food blogger, so yes I am biased, but I think a lot of the topics that the Food Blogger Pro podcast guests cover apply to folks in a range of fields: finding your writing voice, photography tips, how to start shooting quality video on the cheap, advice for bloggers who are just getting started, et cetera. I also love Bjork’s interview style. He asks great questions, lets the guests answer, and asks good follow-up questions to dig deeper on interesting bits. It sounds obvious, but not every podcaster is able to pull this off with Bjork’s level of skill. Kudos and thanks to the Food Blogger Pro podcast team for a great series.”
That was an awesome review. Thank you so much, Kate. We’re so glad that you’re getting so much out of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. That is all from us this week. We appreciate you guys so much. Thank you for tuning in and listening. Whether it’s your first episode of the podcast, or your 50th, or your 100th, we just appreciate you for tuning in and taking what you learn and applying it to your own blog. Thank you so much for listening. From all of us here at FBP HQ, make it a great week.