Tips from Bjork and Lindsay
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Welcome to episode 191 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Ryan Walker from Link in Profile and Tap Bio.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Josh Wetzel from OneSignal about using push notifications on your blog. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, chances are that you’ve seen the words “Link in Profile” and / or “Tap Bio” before.
Link in Profile and Tap Bio are Instagram bio tools that help send your followers to your blog content. Ryan Walker, the founder of these two companies is here today to chat about these tools and how they can help you with your Instagram strategy.
He shares his tips for Instagram success, his advice for building a product or website, how to know when you should invest in your business, and so much more.
Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Margaret! If you’d like to be featured, leave a review for us on iTunes and include your name and blog name in the review.
We’d like to thank our sponsors, WP Tasty! Check out wptasty.com to learn more about their handcrafted WordPress plugins specifically made for food bloggers.
If you'd like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Alexa Peduzzi: In this episode, I chat about an easy way to share posts to your Instagram stories and then Bjork interviews Ryan Walker from Link In Profile and Tap Bio about his process for building a better bio.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, hey, lovely listener, you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast and we are so excited that you’re here. Today’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, our friends over at WP Tasty, a food blogger’s go-to resource for Wordpress plugin solutions. Be sure to head over to wptasty.com to learn more.
Alexa Peduzzi: For today’s tasty tip, I figured we’d focus on Instagram ‘cause today’s interview also focuses on Instagram. There’s actually a really simple way to share photos from your Instagram feed or others’ feeds in your Instagram stories and it’s not the most intuitive thing in the world.
Alexa Peduzzi: If you’re looking at a photo on your Instagram feed, there is a little paper airplane kind of icon on the bottom left of the picture. If you click that, you’ll have the option to share that image in a few different ways including to your Instagram stories. Why is this helpful?
Alexa Peduzzi: Well, there are actually a few reasons. For one, it’s just an easy way to promote your feed content in a different way and send people to your new content. If someone sees an image from your feed in your stories, they might’ve actually missed it in their own feeds, so they’ll be able to click on the image in your stories and be taken directly to that image on your feed.
Alexa Peduzzi: They can comment, learn more, and like your photo right there. Second, it lets you share images from other accounts. Let’s say you’re working with a brand and they share one of your images on their feeds. You can then promote that image in your stories or if you just like another person’s content and want to promote them in your stories, you can easily do that by clicking that little paper airplane icon.
Alexa Peduzzi: It’s such a simple way to promote content in a few different ways all on the same platform. I hope you give this a try and if you do, let us know how it goes by going to foodbloggerpro.com/191. And now, the episode.
Alexa Peduzzi: If you spend any time on Instagram, chances are that you’ve seen the words link in profile and/or tap bio before. Link in profile and tap bio are Instagram bio tools that help send followers to your blog content. Ryan Walker, the founder of these two companies, is here today to chat about these tools and how they can help you with your Instagram strategy.
Alexa Peduzzi: He shares tips for Instagram success, his advice for building a product or a website, how to know when you should invest in your business and so much more. Without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Ryan, welcome to the podcast.
Ryan Walker: Yeah Bjork, thanks for having me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, super excited to chat a little bit about your story and the great thing about your story is we’re gonna be talking about a couple businesses that you’ve started. We’re gonna be talking about Instagram, but there’s also great overlap with your wife Danielle and her story. We’re gonna be able to hit a little bit of all of that and I think that the Food Blogger Pro podcast audience will really appreciate all of those different angles that we slice things from and the different angles that we look at it from.
Bjork Ostrom: But before that, I wanna talk about, we’re gonna be talking about Link in Profile but I wanna rewind the tape even before that to hear a little bit about your story. What were you doing before you kinda started up some of these businesses that you’re now working on?
Ryan Walker: That’s a great question and my life has been somewhat of a lily pad life in the sense that I started out as an engineering undergraduate, I went on to law school of all things, and then kinda got into the tech world and just loved building software. I actually worked for a tech firm building software, helping them out and really said to myself, I kinda wanna go do this on my own.
Ryan Walker: I wanna go build my own product. I ventured out, I actually built a mobile app with a team. We were trying to reinvent what SurveyMonkey would be at that time. It was a phenomenal success in the sense that people really loved taking surveys from their phone. They would actually raise money for charity but a phenomenal failure in terms of getting corporate clients to actually ask the questions to pay for those donations.
Ryan Walker: That was what I was doing and I was wrapping that up and trying to figure out what was next in terms of where I was at professionally.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Coming out of that, what do you feel like were the things that you learned? I’m always interested to hear, there’s some successes but also I’m guessing you learned probably even more so from the things that didn’t go as well from that experience and what were those things that you pulled out both from a business and also maybe software perspective?
Ryan Walker: That’s a great question. I think being from the Bay Area, you’re surrounded by people who wanna create the next unicorn and I think going into this company called Micro Hero, it was a little bit of that. It wasn’t necessarily Will wanted to be worth a billion dollars, but it was something that we wanted to make really big and really huge.
Ryan Walker: I think what we lost sight of was having customers from day one that actually would use the platform. And actually, ideally, even having paying customers. Even before we were essentially flipping the switch, I found being the most valuable takeaway from what I did at Micro Hero. We built a really cool tool, it just didn’t have the saliency that we required from the corporate world.
Bjork Ostrom: What does that look like at the moment where you decide this is no longer going to be a thing? We’re going to stop doing this. I think as entrepreneurs, as creators, whether that be a blog or a software solution, there’s always the question of at what point do you continue to keep your head down and move forward and say it is perseverance that gets me through this and I if I persevere, eventually I’ll come upon something that will work? Versus hey, this just isn’t working and we need to wrap it up?
Ryan Walker: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: How did you work through that decision?
Ryan Walker: That’s a tough decision that I still think I struggle with being an entrepreneur and you get into more of the story about the other platforms just in terms of the amount of hats that I wear, but I think for Micro Hero specifically, it was clear that the team itself just wasn’t gelling anymore. Not only was the product suffering, but just in terms of the personal relationships, it wasn’t keen to …
Ryan Walker: I had at the time, a developer with me. I had a really amazing designer with me as well and I think it’s just one of those things where people just weren’t interested anymore and it was kinda like okay, let’s wrap up shop and close things down. It was more about the team kind of atmosphere than it was about specifically the technology.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, that’s really interesting. Do you feel like within that specifically, that the team dynamic influenced then how you went about building a team moving forward? In context for that question, I know a lot of people that listen to this podcast are either thinking about how to build a team, whether it’s in a really small way like having somebody help with social media or maybe a really big way, thinking about hiring somebody full time.
Bjork Ostrom: What would your advice be to those people as they think about what goes into building a team and the things that they need to consider?
Ryan Walker: Yeah, totally. I think the team aspect is such a big aspect of what anybody is doing especially the smaller entrepreneur. As content creators, at least I think my experience with my wife is that everybody wants to do everything themselves and it comes to a point where you can’t necessarily grow without expanding your team. Kind of hiring those right key people I think are so important.
Ryan Walker: I kinda view teams as two different things. One is find the right people and then find them a good fit into your org if you’re big enough. But if you’re small enough, it’s literally writing down all of the things like you said that hey, is it social media, is it literally just scheduling my meetings? And then just trying to find someone that can fill that kind of role maybe on a part time or full time basis.
Ryan Walker: As that happens though, especially because these are such small teams, the interpersonal dynamic is so important and being able to trust that individual, being able to not feel like they’re trying to glean things off of you that you might not wanna provide to them. I think it’s important that the interpersonal dynamic is there from the beginning but then also making sure that that skill set is the one that you need but then also one they get.
Bjork Ostrom: How do you know interpersonal stuff when you’re talking with somebody and interviewing and onboarding? What are the questions that you use to suss that out to see if they’ll be a good fit?
Ryan Walker: You know what’s funny is I think we’ve had some experience actually throughout all of our companies in hiring lots of different people and potentially having to part ways with different people. I think the interview process is so hard to gauge just from that. I think you can walk away from an interview with the right questions of how would you handle certain situations, how would you handle this appointment, what are your goals, where do you wanna be in 10 years?
Ryan Walker: But then I think the biggest time that we’ve ever been able to be like, okay, stamp of approval, we feel really good about this is when you have these references. It’s funny, I feel like I was always taught that put references on your resume but they’re probably not gonna get called.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Ryan Walker: I’ve actually gotten more information from calling those references about who is this person, what kind of character do they have, are they really interested in what they’re explaining to you in the interview process because I think the whole story fits. That would be my advice is actually call some references, call some people and say, "Hey, what do you think of this person? Is she gonna perform at a certain level and where does she go from there?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. You’d mentioned a couple different companies and I’m guessing that people are gonna be across the board familiar with each of them in their own way. Micro Hero was-
Ryan Walker: I hope so.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, was the company that you kinda started out experimenting with this. Where does Against All Grain fit into this? I’m guessing a lot of people would be familiar with Danielle and Against All Grain.
Ryan Walker: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: At what point did that start as a blog? And as you look back, did you know okay, we’re starting this and we want this to be a business? Where does that play into things as it relates to building these businesses?
Ryan Walker: It’s such a great question because I feel like it’s the quintessential blogger question and I think your audience would really appreciate this which is my wife was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, it was about 2008 and she wanted to be a stay at home mom, she didn’t necessarily wanna work full time so I was gonna be going into the workforce.
Ryan Walker: Where she started finding an outlet was literally creating recipes for this autoimmune disease that she had, so she started this blog and at the time, it’s like we’re buying domain names and we’re trying to figure out how do we use Wordpress and what are all these tools that we can use.
Ryan Walker: The thing that I remember the most and you’ll appreciate this Bjork, is she turns to me like, “I really wanna buy a DSLR to be able to start photographing these recipes.” I’m like okay, I know nothing about photography by the way so I’m not this creative person, that’s my background.
Ryan Walker: I look at the price tag and I’m like, “Honey, this is ridiculously expensive. How can we afford this? This is a hobby.” I remember my mind, going like, no, this is a passion of hers. What’s called the start up phase, we had invested like 30 grand in Against All Grain and we’re just like okay, let’s see what happens.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep.
Ryan Walker: And not a lot happened for awhile but then obviously, fast forward to today, I’m so grateful that I did that because not only did it give my wife an outlet, but then Against All Grain and Danielle has been transforming lives through her food and just the stories that we hear. It’s so much more than a business. It’s so much more than just her literally creating recipes.
Ryan Walker: It’s this way of life and it’s inspiring honestly. She’s way cooler than I am and I look up to her everyday.
Bjork Ostrom: It was fun, she was doing a book tour and stopped in the Twin Cities here and after Lindsay and I, whenever I watch or scroll through Instagram, it’s always over Lindsay’s shoulder ’cause I’m not an Instagram user. I was looking over Lindsay’s shoulder and was watching a little recap video that she was doing and it was an Instagram Live.
Bjork Ostrom: What’s so fun to see is the people commenting that had been at the event that they did for the book tour and it was obvious that people had such a strong connection and I think that strong connection obviously comes from who she is and the work that she does and also the impact that I’m sure she’s had through the work that she’s done on those people.
Ryan Walker: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: Against All Grain … Actually, one question that I wanted to ask related to that, we actually just an hour and a half ago, wrapped up a Food Blogger Pro, we do what’s called a Live Q&A and everybody that’s interested gets on, they ask some questions, we talk back and forth on it.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the questions was and the topic was around investing in your business and one of the questions was exactly what you had talked about which was how do I know when to invest in my business and when do I put money towards buying equipment and software and things like that versus do I wait and become profitable and then invest back into it?
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have any thoughts for the people that are kind of at a crossroads in trying to figure out do I invest in my business and then hope that it’ll help me grow faster or do I grow slow and then just put all the profit from my business back into the blog as it builds?
Ryan Walker: Oh man, another great question. I’d be curious to see how you answered it so I’ll have to go back and listen to the Q&A. I think for us, it was that initial, call it the $30,000 investment into her business, was more like a rider almost in the sense of taking the risk which is ironic ’cause I’m a pretty risk taking individual so you see the potential for growth and everything like that.
Ryan Walker: The nice thing about these days is you can invest a small amount in your business and see a huge return. I’m very much of the mind of if I can’t project income based on the expenses that we’re doing, it might not make sense. I’m always trying to figure out why rationally would we make an investment.
Ryan Walker: One of the things that I always kinda think about is if you have cash lying around which hopefully people do or savings or whatever, there’s places you can put that money. You could put it in the stock market, you could put it into bonds or wherever you wanna feel comfortable with it but then there’s also investing in yourself and making sure that even taking a look at yourself as a part of your diversity of portfolio, saying okay, if I put money into stock market bonds or whatever, I’m cover there but then I have this other cash and what do I go do with that?
Ryan Walker: Investing in yourself can be a huge, huge money maker because in the end, you’re gonna get a big return ’cause it’s gonna be what you make out of it. My delineation really is if you’re starting out and you really feel strongly that you can do this, it’s not gonna take a lot of capital I think to get kinda going especially with all of the software service today that you can subscribe for and actually do it as opposed to billing out your own thing.
Ryan Walker: But I think take the risk, especially if you believe in yourself.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. That was, it was essentially a version of how I answered it which was I think it really depends on where you’re coming from. I think there are those people who maybe have that disposable income that are willing to say we’re gonna take some of this, whether it’s savings or maybe it’s an extra $500 a month that you have, and risk the potential of investing that into a business which some businesses fail, some businesses don’t and you never know what the result of that is.
Bjork Ostrom: But if you have that and you are okay risking that, I think it makes a lot of sense to go for it and then for some people, it’s just not an option and it’s like you have to use the other resource you have which is time in order to eventually get to a point where hopefully that time invested into a business will result in additional disposable income which then you can figure out ways to invest back into it. Interesting to hear your thoughts on that.
Ryan Walker: Your answer was much more elegant.
Bjork Ostrom: Well, it’s because I got to think about it while you were giving yours and I just gave the answer 60 minutes ago so it’s my second round going through it. I’m guessing that as the blog grew and as you started to understand the potential of building this brand Against All Grain, there was some areas where you as a software producer, as a creator, as an engineer started to see hey, maybe there’s some opportunities here to build, maybe even for us to solve our own problem that also exists for other people.
Bjork Ostrom: Is that kind of how you got to the point where kinda creating some of the tools and solutions and applications that you’ve built to help bloggers and content creators? What did that look like as you started to build these other businesses that you have now, that you run?
Ryan Walker: Yeah, that’s another great question too. I think it’s funny because I’m the technical side of Against All Grain for all intents and purposes, so anything blog related and like you said, viewing it in the lens of software and how to build it and just the knowledge of what it takes to get from Point A to Point B was kinda where I could bring a lot of value and say okay, we can actually go do this ourselves or we go buy it off the shelf.
Ryan Walker: The best story is my wife and I worked together a lot and even when I was working in the corporate world, in a corporate job, we’d still be working together, it’s just our work times would be at 10 PM at night when we’re laying in bed.
Ryan Walker: It’d be often times that my wife would … She’s, I’m gonna say, a workaholic but in the good sense. She just loves her job so she’s always … Her mind’s always thinking. She rolls over to me and this is probably 2014, and this gets into the creation of Link In Profile, and says, “Honey, I love Instagram but I create these recipes and no one knows how to find these recipes on Instagram because there’s only one URL.”
Ryan Walker: I’m like oh okay, tell me more about that and I’m not a huge social media person which is ironic because I have essentially two social media companies but I’m very much an engineer, a very efficiency type person so I’m like, that’s not right, that’s not fair, how do we solve that?
Ryan Walker: She told me, “There’s these services that work for shopping, like Saks and Nordstrom use it.” It’s by this big company, based out of, I think they were Philadelphia or still are. Can you go investigate them for me? I went and investigated it and I went through their webinar which was probably the first inclination that it was probably gonna be too expensive.
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ryan Walker: This maybe will actually tie back into your other question about money. We got to the end of the call and someone I think asked, “How much does this software cost?” To be able to link essentially shopping products to the web pages. They said $1000 a month.
Bjork Ostrom: You’re like, oh okay.
Ryan Walker: My jaw just dropped. Yeah. I was like, that’s cool but that seems really expensive. That was when Link In Profile was born because I’m like honestly, I know a lot about the Instagram API ’cause I think I had messed with it for a different project I had worked on at some point that was just personal and I said, this should be pretty simple and so, went out and built it.
Ryan Walker: That was what Link In Profile was. It was always designed to be an easy way and obviously designed namely for food bloggers to say here’s my recent recipe, go click the link in my profile, and you can find it. There was the passive discovery of old recipes as well.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Ryan Walker: Ideally, that was kinda how it was born and that’s how Against All Grain has shaped a lot of what I’ve done. It’s nice because we talked about customers, having someone from day one, well, my wife was a customer and when she gives me technical feedback like hey, this isn’t working or this doesn’t work right or this doesn’t look right, she can find me.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, right. It’s a very quick feedback loop.
Ryan Walker: Yeah, exactly.
Bjork Ostrom: For those that aren’t familiar, can you kind of describe what that process is like? Essentially, you use Link In Profile and like you said, it’s a way for you to be able to link content within Instagram but can you kinda describe the mechanics of that and how that works and what that looks like?
Ryan Walker: Link In Profile is essentially … It was designed to make it super seamless and fast for someone to say, “I have a new recipe. I’m gonna post it on Instagram.” I want people to be able to access it immediately." What you’re able to do is actually, by original design, was include the URL which is not clickable in Instagram because of the way that they’ve architected the app, in the caption of your post and then our software actually goes through, looks for URLS in your caption and says, oh hey, Bjork wants to associate this recipe with this image. We’re gonna take that, put it on a simple landing page that then people can click through into the profile and then tap and go to that recipe immediately.
Ryan Walker: That was really, in terms of workflow, it was designed to make it super seamless. No one had to log in anywhere, you didn’t have to go find the image in this dashboard where you’d add a link. It was all supposed to be super fast and super easy. Then also, just as a core tenant of why I built Link in Profile, I never wanted to one, lock people in.
Ryan Walker: In my mind, if Instagram ever turned on linking in the Instagram app, all your URLs would be there already so boom, you wouldn’t use Link In Profile anymore, bummer, but you would still benefit from that content being there. Then also, making sure we charged the smallest amount possible to essentially say, hey, anybody should be able to do this. It’s not cost prohibitive.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. One of the questions that I have and this was actually in this live Q&A that we did just an hour ago, this came up as well and we’ve heard a lot of people talking about this. Obviously, Instagram is a really influential, important platform especially for people who have food and recipe websites but just in general, I feel like it’s a platform for content creators where you can really quickly, if you do it right and effectively, build a strong following and reach people in a way that you can’t on a Facebook, let’s say, or it’s definitely not in the same way that you could on a Twitter or Pinterest.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s an important platform. One of the questions that we constantly hear is what is the strategy between trying to get people to go to your website versus just engaging with them on the platform itself? An example would be, I was talking to Lindsay before we started this podcast. I was like, “How do you view, Lindsay, including an entire recipe within an Instagram post or not?”
Bjork Ostrom: She said, “Well, sometimes I’ll do that depending on if it’s a good recipe for Instagram” which is kind of one of these gut things like what’s a good recipe for Instagram or not? There’s probably a lot of nuance that goes into that.
Bjork Ostrom: But I’m wondering for you, as somebody who understands the dynamics related to engagement on the platform and also traffic from the platform, do you have any thoughts around that and how people should view content creation on Instagram? Is it lead generation for traffic? Is it trying to engage people on that platform? How much should you try and message people to go to your post versus staying within the platform? Curious to hear your thoughts on that.
Ryan Walker: Yeah, I think that’s changing too. I think if you had asked that question a couple years ago, I think the answer would be different and I think because of Facebook’s takeover of Instagram and the algorithms that have now come into play with how people are viewing content as no longer linear. I think it changes the way that you look at it.
Ryan Walker: The same thing with Danielle and myself, we’re constantly in discussions of do you include a full recipe or do you not? Because I think at the end of the day, the goal is really to be seen because your wife and you guys do amazing things. Your videos are unbelievable. It’s just one of those things where it’d be really sad if you created that content and no one could see it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Ryan Walker: How do you make sure that content is seen? One of the ways, I agree, is including a full recipe in the post to engage on the platform. Now, I think cutting against that is being beholden to a platform and obviously Instagram is kind of the king of the hill today and who knows what it’s gonna be like in a year or a couple years, is always the thing in the back of my mind going, as a content creator, you’re really good at creating this content that people wanna consume and it’s often times that people that wanna consume it can’t even see it or knew that it existed.
Ryan Walker: There have been multiple times and actually it wasn’t this last book tour but even the previous book tour where Danielle has posted, “I’m coming to this city, please come visit me and whatever” and then people would get on and be like, “Hey, why aren’t you coming to Dallas?” And Danielle was like, “I just announced that I was coming to Dallas, I was in Dallas last week.” It’s just that post was hidden.
Ryan Walker: It’s that balance of do you stoke the fire of engagement on a recipe post that includes the full recipe ’cause such that the algorithm then will promote content, is there a tail on that? It’s always this guessing game with Instagram. They had that whole presentation on we don’t rank based on this and blah blah blah.
Ryan Walker: But, in the end, when you see a higher engaged post, usually the post after that tends to perform a little bit better for whatever reason so maybe there’s some insight there. But I think one of the things, the reasons why we built these tools like Link in Profile and Tap Bio were really to make it so people could still cosnsume the content that you want them too but still feel like they’re on the platform.
Ryan Walker: Because I think that’s the biggest thing which is the follower doesn’t wanna leave Instagram. They wanna stay within that kind of flow, so making it really seamless to be able to say, I wanna get to this recipe, boom, I got this recipe, maybe I save it or maybe I share the URL somehow.
Ryan Walker: But then I can go back to the feed and engage with different things. I think that’s kinda our take on it now is Instagram is kind of like this beast where you gotta feed the beast but you wanna be cognizant of this is you’re audience, you should own your audience.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s interesting. I feel like it ties into some of the things that we’ve been thinking about with decisions of what we’re working on and just even kind of mindsets as it relates to the businesses and one of the things that I’ve been thinking about and constantly trying to figure out is what are the incremental improvements that we can implement that are ongoing?
Bjork Ostrom: I feel like a great example of that is including a way for people to easily get to your content from Instagram and it’s not gonna be like you turn it on and there’s this massive influx of people all of the sudden coming, but it’s an incremental improvement that over time, will pay off. It’s small strategies that build up and pay off over a long period of time.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you talked about that I think some people would have a little oh, I’m interested flag go up, would be you had talked about an Instagram presentation and some of the things they talked about in the algorithm. What was that? Can you explain a little bit more about what that was?
Ryan Walker: That’s a great question. I can’t remember exactly the details which is probably gonna fail in terms of people being intrigued but there were, I can’t remember if it was Tech Crunch or someone. Instagram announced the new algorithms and they essentially brought up, I believe it was five key points that they were essentially saying that impact and the viewability or visibility of posts within Instagram.
Ryan Walker: It was trying to essentially dispel certain rumors and obviously Facebook had these issues with the fake news and it being promoted and all those sorts of things so I think they were trying to dispel those kind of myths of how they were doing things but they’re still pretty opaque in terms of how they’re doing it. I’ll have to find the link for you ’cause it was publicized, I believe it was Tech Crunch.
Bjork Ostrom: We’ll include that in the show notes for people that are listening and wanna check that out. One of the questions that I have specifically with Link In Profile, then we can talk about Tap Bio as well is what were some of the things that you did differently with Link In Profile?
Bjork Ostrom: Or as you analyze and compare that to Micro Hero, what are the things that were different about that that kind of prove, okay, this is something that I think has some legs that we’re able to spend some time on and will actually be a worthy business and worth continuing on with?
Ryan Walker: Yeah. That’s a good question. It’s funny and this’ll go back to that kinda customer base. So I view Link In Profile almost as this thing where if I built it and Danielle used it and she found it good, done. I can say this is really amazing, it was worth it.
Ryan Walker: The story about that is even better because I think I had briefly touched on how easy it would theoretically be to build something like this and a buddy and myself built the alpha in a weekend. It wasn’t perfect, it didn’t have all the bells and whistles but it worked and we were able to roll it out to Danielle literally within 48 to 72 hours where she could actually start using it within Instagram.
Ryan Walker: Whereas Micro Hero, to give you context, we spent 18 months in design and engineering to be able to build that and then release it. Just in terms of the cycle, it was a lot faster. Then what I did was I reached out to four or five of Danielle’s key contacts that actually were in different verticals. So, jewelry, interior design, food blogging, I can’t remember if there was another, maybe another food blogger, what not.
Ryan Walker: I said, hey, I have this tool. It does these things. Would you be willing to use it and just tell me what you love, hate, what you’d like different? Gave it to them for free, got them up and running and I think we had those six people or five people on the platform for about three or four months before really anything took shape after that.
Ryan Walker: Then the ironic thing was we opened it up to I think everybody but no one could pay us so everybody was in this expanded beta trial that we were seeing but in reality, we just had … We didn’t build out the part of payment yet.
Bjork Ostrom: It was like even if you wanted to, you couldn’t charge them.
Ryan Walker: No, I couldn’t. It was impossible. It was like oh, you guys are just on a free trial. A six month free trial, whatever you want.
Bjork Ostrom: One of those very rare seven month free trials.
Ryan Walker: Exactly, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: At what point did you say, hey I think this is something that’s worth turning on payments for and starting to collect payments? The context for that is, the reason that I’m asking these questions is because I think it’s important, even if it’s not software, that people that listen to this podcast think about ways that you can be building solutions, building products, building services for people that help solve a specific problem and if you can do that, there’s some really exciting things that happen around that that are different than just monetizing via ads or sponsored content, which is good.
Bjork Ostrom: But also, there’s this entire category of business that we sometimes don’t talk about on the podcast which is tools and services and solutions. I’m interested to hear what that was like for you as it relates to Link in Profile, now eventually Tap Bio when we talk about that in a bit. But when did you get to the point where you said, okay, let’s turn this on? And then how did you introduce that to customers and say you’re on this plan, but it would be great if you upgrade or your free trial’s coming to an end? What was that like?
Ryan Walker: It was one of those things where I think it was always … It was to prove out the model first and I think that’s what the nice part about essentially having those extended free trials for many months was we kept getting users. People kept signing up and the interesting thing too was that people were signing up without any marketing.
Ryan Walker: Instagram is very much a scenario where people see other people do things and they wanna explore it and they wanna experience it. People would sign up to Link In Profile without us doing any sort o advertising and it’s like okay, this could be a thing. If we constantly get these sign ups, let’s find out what that payment should be essentially to keep servers running and all that kind of stuff.
Ryan Walker: Then just start charging them. The upsell to essentially from this beta period to pay was pretty trivial because in all, we always kind of intended to charge them and I was just hoping that they would forget. That was pretty easy.
Ryan Walker: But I do agree with you because there are so many things that people … For me, it’s software where I can go build software but there are so many different … There’s knowledge from all your listeners that they can probably teach someone else and someone would probably be willing to pay for it because so much of what we do these days, especially when you’re a content creator, is create cool things and think that almost you can’t charge for it but I think you can and I think it shortcuts a lot of abilities.
Ryan Walker: If someone is willing to pay a small fee for a PDF download on how to do things or one of the things I always see on Instagram is people selling filters. It’s just stuff like why not? Because you’re actually gonna benefit someone.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Ryan Walker: That was kind of an easy decision in that way.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, last question that I have with Link In Profile, one of the unique things that you have as a business owner for a service that helps people on Instagram is being able to see and understand influential people. Maybe it’s people that use the platform or just a general understanding of Instagram. Are there things that you notice as themes or rhythms that you see for people who are successful on Instagram?
Bjork Ostrom: Whatever that might be, in terms of how they approach the platform whether that be the content they’re creating, the consistency that they create the content, how they’re using the platform, and even it could be from experiences that you’ve had with Danielle and Against All Grain.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious to hear just kind of your assessment essentially to the question what does success look like on Instagram and how can the listeners to the podcast become more strategic and successful on Instagram?
Ryan Walker: Totally, totally. I think we’re in a weird spot in terms of Tap Bio and Link In Profile like you said. It’s able to see data essentially flowing through our system.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Ryan Walker: Obviously, we keep it all confidential in terms of specifics but it’s interesting because our platform in and of itself doesn’t necessarily see all of the data that would be associated with the user. I think we have this small subset of really successful people which I would include you guys in that world in the sense that they’re driving a lot of traffic through their Link in Profile to be able to get people the recipes.
Ryan Walker: By the way, taking even a step back there, there’s so much audience education in terms of click the link in my profile because even we at Link In Profile admit, it’s kind of a janky solution. It’s not super optimal. I would like to be able to click on a link, I can’t, so then you have to teach your audience to go do those things.
Ryan Walker: We see that tail end. The people that are successful on our platform are the ones that have done a really good job educating their audience on go to click the link in my profile and look for the image that you want and click it and that’s it.
Ryan Walker: But people that aren’t successful on our platform don’t do that and they kinda wonder why maybe it’s not working for them which is sad because I think it could. In terms of answering questions like that, we don’t necessarily have all of the insights into what successful Instagram from the technology side on those businesses.
Ryan Walker: I will say though we have some pretty famous people on Tap Bio that have, let’s call it six million or more but they don’t drive any traffic to their URL, their profile URL. Is that successful? They’re probably successful on the platform itself but utilizing a tool like ours, maybe we’re not the right fit because maybe they don’t need something like that.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Ryan Walker: But it is one of those things where we kind of see that. I will say on Danielle’s side, if I was to take a page from her playbook is, I was telling someone this the other day. Danielle is who she is and ideally when she includes me as well, if you meet us off Instagram or on Instagram, we should be the same and if we’re not, there’s a problem. Being authentic, I think, and I guess it depends probably a lot on your brand.
Ryan Walker: If you’re a food blogger who just does recipes, maybe that’s kinda different take whereas Danielle has a little bit more in terms of the social aspect of it. But just be who you are. Don’t try to be something that you’re not and just … Don’t be afraid to be who you are either. I think just people appreciate the authenticity of people and people do appreciate it. Also, people love selfies. People love pictures of other people.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. That’s a great little last reminder. People like people and selfies are a good thing. You had mentioned Tap Bio and the cool thing is that … And I had noticed this before kinda as I was doing some research for the interview and stuff, but some pretty significant people that use it.
Ryan Walker: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: When did Tap Bio come about? What is the problem that it’s solving and explain a little bit about that and how that fits into the picture?
Ryan Walker: Great question. It’s funny. When I was working for Link In Profile, I got offered a job to go actually be a software engineer at a big corporate tech company here in the Bay Area. As I was getting recruited, they essentially said, hey, you can’t really do Link In Profile anymore while you’re here. I said oh okay, that’s kind of a bummer ’cause it’s kind of successful and it’s doing really well.
Ryan Walker: I actually tapped a friend who had this longstanding background in technology and I said, hey look, one, do you wanna buy it or do you wanna take it over and run it for awhile? That’s what he did. While I was there, he ended up taking over the platform and the idea was I was hoping he’d take Link In Profile to the next step, kind of the next stage.
Ryan Walker: From a business perspective, Link In Profile, like I said, if Instagram turns on links, doesn’t need to exist anymore which is fun but in terms of planning income and all that kinda stuff, how do you essentially live with this notion of oh my gosh, Instagram could shut our business down?
Bjork Ostrom: Yes.
Ryan Walker: That was kind of the task given to him which was how do we make it even better? I think the linking space is essentially, for all intens and purposes, what Link In Profile is in, has become replete with many competitors because like I said, if I built the alpha of Link In Profile in a weekend, it doesn’t stop other people in building something similar.
Ryan Walker: Obviously, your listeners know about Link Tree which is the big 800 pound gorilla in the room and their offering. We kinda took a look at the market and said what could Link In Profile be that could be a lot more to people? One of the things that we wanted to focus on was this micro conversion aspect.
Ryan Walker: We kind of approached it from that because linking to recipes via photos is kind of this micro conversion aspect. Being able to quickly get someone somewhere and Tap Bio and Link In Profile being the conduit, not the end game, but the conduit.
Ryan Walker: We thought about email lists, we thought about what Link Tree was doing with just a table of links. We thought about including YouTube videos, easily being able to watch. We started conceptualizing this new tool that could quickly convert your audience or your followers into doing something. Then ideally, like I said, pop back into Instagram, pop back into the platform, start engaging with you or whomever in an easy way. It’d be very lightweight on the follower.
Ryan Walker: Instagram stories obviously based on Snapchat stories were such a huge thing, so we thought why not create essentially these mini websites in story form, that each card could kind of have a specific purpose whether it’s a single call to action, go download my new e-book from Amazon, or YouTube where you have your YouTube playlist and it has the most recent videos posted on there and all in this swipeable format that’s very mobile friendly, that actually honestly looks like you haven’t left Instagram ideally.
Ryan Walker: Ideally, it kind of has that same look and feel. That’s kinda what we had gestated on while I was doing the corporate gig and then with the corporate gig, my buddy that I sold to, Jesse, he’s like, “Please come back and help me run the technology side.” He essentially convinced me about a year ago, it’ll be a year next month, to come back and run engineering and product and kinda get it off the ground.
Ryan Walker: We launched in April of last year and I think it’s been, with any tech company, it’s been ups and downs and trying to fix bugs and make sure our customers are happy. I think we’re still trying to figure out what it is and kinda how does Tap Bio exist with Link In Profile and how does it look different?
Ryan Walker: I will say when people ask me what’s the difference, I say Tap Bio essentially is if Link In Profile and Link Tree had a child but that child was a super child and they had way more abilities than their parents.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. There’s a Marvel character somewhere in there that that would apply to. Maybe Superman is. Okay, this is just out of curiosity and I know a lot of people will be wanting this as well. You had mentioned some influential Instagram users that are using it. It’s obviously part of their profile. Can you share who those are?
Ryan Walker: Oh yeah, definitely, definitely. I think we have … Well, I can get into a story about Eminem if you want-
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, please.
Ryan Walker: He doesn’t use it anymore. We have people like Melissa Hardwick using it, obviously Danielle using it. We have Yes Theory which is a really cool brand, I guess they call it a brand but more of a way of life on YouTube. We have a lot of music people that use it. Janet Jackson’s using it right now.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool.
Ryan Walker: We have Bethany Hamilton who’s a famous surfer. Just some cool people that are … I don’t know, it’s a cool client roster because they’re doing cool things and a lot of these bios that they create are just beautiful and you’re like wow, that looks really nice.
Bjork Ostrom: The idea here is that what you’re creating with Tap Bio is essentially an experience that amplifies and tells your story in a way that either a, a link to your website wouldn’t ’cause you go to your website, it’s a Safari browser. It doesn’t really guide people. Ideally, it would be realistically, a website doesn’t really guide people through a story the way that maybe something like Tap Bio would.
Bjork Ostrom: Essentially, you’re kind of controlling the experience a little bit more and deepening the engagement while also introducing some actionable items. Can you talk about what those actionable items might be that you’d wanna … Let’s say if you’re a food blogger and you’re using Tap Bio. What are some of the things that you’d recommend people think about including in their bio that would help kinda give some direction and some intention behind the user using Tap Bio and kind of exploring their brand a little bit more?
Ryan Walker: Yeah, totally. I think the biggest thing and the way that I like to describe Tap Bio and why you would use it if you had a website was that think of us as this micro layer in between us and your content on your website.
Ryan Walker: What we, again, wanna do is funnel people in the right way with the easiest kind of path to get there. That’s where, like you said, you drop someone into your website. They’re gonna look for something and especially if their usually Instagram posts aren’t very generic like hey, go visit my website, it’s hey, go sign up for this new challenge I’m doing or go see this new recipe or go watch this new video.
Ryan Walker: It’s that micro kind of interaction where we wanna take that follower and get them to your content on your web page, on your YouTube channel, wherever as fast as possible. One of the things that we built out, we have multiple card types and that’s where we think of Tap Bio.
Ryan Walker: Tap Bio essentially is a deck of cards and each card has a purpose. You could be promoting download of an e-book. Let’s say you just launched your e-book, you post something on Instagram, you put your e-book card first and there’s a simple call to action where people can just click and I can go download it.
Ryan Walker: We have simple call to action, we have links card which is similar to Link Tree in the sense that you can have just a bunch of links on a page. We have Twitter, YouTube, these other social networks that you might not wanna cross pollinate with your Instagram audience ’cause that’s one thing that we recognized is that people not only do different things on different channels but then also might have a different audience on different channels.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Ryan Walker: Being able to have that kind of cross pollination benefit. We also have the Instagram links card by the way which is probably the one that you guys would be most interested in in general which is essentially Link In Profile but on a card format. By the way, the one thing too is we have a free version of Tap Bio which you can actually get a lot of the similar functionality of Link In Profile through that aspect too.
Ryan Walker: That was one of the other business decisions we made was let’s make the barrier to entry to these people that wanna create a Tap Bio even lower because they would benefit from it. The we have a profile card where you can link out to all your different social networks. Even a Spotify playlist or an Apple Music playlist.
Ryan Walker: We have other things in the works in terms of we actually are releasing a new feature, a card that’s gonna come out hopefully in the next week or so. Dependent upon when this airs, hopefully it’s out, where people I think will really benefit that are kind of more in the photography space or more maybe promoting different key influencers across their network.
Ryan Walker: We have some works in the shopping space, like being able to may it easy for people to shop within your Instagram but that’s kind of how we view Tap Bio and how this thin layer between Instagram and your website, your content, wherever that may reside.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s really cool. I’m pulling up the site, Tap.Bio and you can see … It’s a great little marketing page because essentially, it is what Tap … You’re using an example of Tap Bio, maybe it actually is Tap Bio, to show what Tap Bio is but then also it’s like that’s what the page is is a Tap Bio deck of cards essentially.
Ryan Walker: Right.
Bjork Ostrom: But the second page kind of outlines some of the people that use it and I think for those that are listening would be interested in checking out a little more, that would be a great place to go and say oh, I see a lot of these recognizable names. Some people that have been on the podcast, Michelle from Nom Nom Paleo, Simple Green Smoothies.
Ryan Walker: I love Michelle.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. These would be great people to look at and explore. Janet Jackson, of course, is on there as well which is such a great name to be able to have using the product, to explore a little bit. Are there any others that you’d say, for people in the food and recipe space, these would be good accounts to check out to see an example of how they’re using it and how we could be, as creators, using it on Instagram?
Ryan Walker: Yeah, I think obviously start there. That’s a great place and I’m glad you brought that up. Then two, one of the things that we’ve been doing or at least trying to do on our Instagram is feature our users. We just featured someone, I can’t remember exactly who it was but they had the most beautiful Tap Bio and every card has just got this attention to detail where it just is beautiful.
Ryan Walker: I think there’s some great examples that aren’t necessarily from big names but they’ve just created really beautiful bios. I think following us there … Are we at Tap.Bio? I should know these things before I come onto a podcast but I think it’s either tap.bio or tapbio.
Bjork Ostrom: We’ll link to it either way.
Ryan Walker: On Instagram. Yeah that’d be great.
Bjork Ostrom: Last question kind of as we’re coming to the end here. I really appreciate you telling your story, Ryan. Some insights along the way. But one of the things that I think is so valuable is your experience as an entrepreneur and everybody that listens to this podcast, even if they’re within a corporate environment, in some sense is entrepreneurial.
Bjork Ostrom: They’re creators, they’re builders, they’re people who are looking to implement ideas and you’ve done that in multiple different ways. I’m curious to hear your thoughts and advice for people as it relates to building a thing, whether that be a food blog which you’ve done along with Danielle, whether it be a software company.
Bjork Ostrom: What is your advice and what would the inspiration that you’d give to people be as it relates to building a thing, seeing your idea come to life?
Ryan Walker: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is if you believe in what you are setting out to build, whatever that is, from day zero to whenever, do it. There’s no … I think the nice thing about again the world we live in today is that you can really build a lot of cool things and it doesn’t take a lot of time because I think it used to be where you’d have to quit your corporate job or leave that corporate environment or have be the whole focus.
Ryan Walker: But I think you can do these things and have this side hustle and then as we were talking about before, build into the revenue and see if you can create profit and just build something that people wanna use. Build something that people like to use and then worry about how you’re gonna make money off it later because I think so much of what is revenue driven in the sense of how am I gonna make a buck off that, but if you make something that people like, they will probably pay you for it.
Ryan Walker: I think that’s my biggest piece of advice and then the second piece of advice I would say is it can get lonely dependent upon where you are in terms of your life stage and what not, as an entrepreneur, especially as a small business owner because I work from home. I’m actually doing this podcast from my car because my three year old would probably be crying in the background and you’d probably have to edit it out.
Bjork Ostrom: So relatable.
Ryan Walker: But it can get lonely. Yeah, so make sure you’re surrounding yourself with like minded people whether you’re listening to this podcast or you go to a meetup or whatever because I think that’s the other thing. Don’t feel like you’re on this island by yourself. There are other people doing something similar, the same, and you can connect over that.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Ryan Walker: Those would be kind of my two things which is if you believe in yourself, go do it but then also find other people to surround yourself and lift you up and make sure you have the moral support.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome and a great note to end on. We’ve mentioned a couple different times but for those that want to follow along with what you’re up to, check out the sites. Can you just do a quick little recap of the best places for people to learn more and even sign up for the services?
Ryan Walker: Yeah, definitely, definitely, and I think actually for your Food Blogger Pro members, we actually have a discount which is cool.
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, that’s right.
Ryan Walker: I’m not sure exactly where it’s posted on that there but for Link In Profile and Tap Bio. Take a look at us at Tap, T-A-P, dot B-I-O. If you visit us from a mobile browser, it’ll look really cool. If you’re visiting us from a desktop, it’ll look kinda like a mobile view. You can obviously follow us on Instagram which is @tap.bio and then take a look at kind of the different people that are doing things.
Ryan Walker: My wife obviously plugging her @daniellewalker and kinda follow her and see what she’s up to.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great. Thank you for mentioning that. Now that I remember back, that’s originally how the connection happened here was Jasmine who manages the deals for Food Blogger Pros said, “Oh my gosh, we gotta have Ryan on the podcast.”
Ryan Walker: Great.
Bjork Ostrom: If you are a Food Blogger Pro member, that’s just foodbloggerpro.com/deals and that’s the page where we have exclusive deals for Food Blogger Pro members. Tap Bio and Link In Profile will be there. If you’re a member, make sure you go there before signing up.
Bjork Ostrom: Ryan, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. So great to connect and excited to stay connected with you here moving forward.
Ryan Walker: Yeah, this is awesome. Thank you Bjork for the time. It was fun to talk about the history and fun to relive memories.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. Thanks, Ryan.
Alexa Peduzzi: And that is that, my friend. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Food Blogger Pro podcast this week. But before we wrap up, it’s time for our drumroll please, reviewer of the week. This iTunes review comes from Margaret in Cincinnati and it says:
Alexa Peduzzi: "Tuesdays are great days for me now because a new Food Blogger Pro podcast will be ready to listen to. I am a jewelry designer with an ecommerce site and blog, yet I benefit from every one of the podcasts. I have learned more about blogs, social media, websites, photography, legal issues, and more from the podcast than anywhere else.
Alexa Peduzzi: “Bjork’s interview style makes me think he is learning about the topic at the same speed I am. He asks the guests the questions I would ask and then asks the ones I wish I would’ve thought of and I’m so glad he did. Jargon and acronyms consistently get explained. Additional resources are provided for listeners to follow up with. I’m surprised but so glad that the podcasts are free.”
Alexa Peduzzi: Thank you so much for your review, Margaret and I agree, Tuesdays are just fantastic days because we love sharing the podcast with you all every single week, every Tuesday. Thank you again for letting us be a part of your day today, friend. We’ll see you here same time next week but until then, make it a great week."
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