072: FBP Member Spotlight: Sam Turnbull from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

Alexa

by Alexa on Nov 08, 2016 in Podcast

Food Blogger Pro Member Spotlight: Sam Turnbull from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

Welcome to episode 72 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork is talking with Sam Turnbull from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken in our first ever Member Spotlight episode!

Last week on the podcast, Bjork interviewed Amanda Rettke from I Am Baker. They talked about finding raving fans through Facebook Live. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

FBP Member Spotlight: Sam Turnbull from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

Many FBP members dream of leaving their full-time jobs in order to put all of their time and effort into their blog; Sam was able to do that very thing.

Since leaving her job last year, Sam has experienced some great successes with her blog - including landing a book deal. In order to get there, however, Sam had to learn how to relate to her readers and publish content they love.

Food Blogger Pro Member Spotlight: Sam Turnbull from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

In this episode, Sam shares:

  • How she transitioned from her desk job to being a full-time food blogger
  • How she deals with publishing recipes that she’s not super excited about personally, but others love
  • How she got in contact with publishers and secured a cookbook deal
  • Why she went for a short deadline for her cookbook
  • What the #1 thing is that’s working for her right now
  • How she knows what her audience is interested in

Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes or Google Play Music:

Resources:

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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If you'd like to jump to the comments section, click here.

Transcript:

Bjork Ostrom: Hey. It’s the first ever Food Blogger Pro Member Spotlight Interview. Today we’re talking to Sam Turnbull from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. She’s going to be talking about what it feels like to leave her full-time job and, eventually, landing a cookbook deal.

Hey, everybody. Bjork Ostrom here, and I am coming to you from St. Paul, Minnesota with an episode that is a first. It is the first ever Food Blogger Pro Member Spotlight. For these, we are going to be doing these occasionally, where we bring somebody in from Food Blogger Pro, somebody that is a member, and we’re going to ask them a few question about what’s going on with their blog and their life and everything that goes into this crazy world that we live in all about building a business online.

Speaking of building a business online, we are right in the middle of a an enrollment period for Food Blogger Pro, so if that’s something that you would want to check out and become a member, all you have to do is go to foodbloggerpro.com and, If you haven’t yet, I’d encourage you to listen to the last podcast episode that we released, it’s actually episode number 71.5, and that episode talks about all of the different things that you get when you sign up to be a member of Food Blogger Pro. If you missed that, probably the easiest thing to do is just to go to foodbloggerpro.com. We do limited enrollment periods, so you can’t sign up whenever; there’s a limited amount of time that you can sign up. We end on Thursday, November 10, so if you’re interested in joining, now would be the time to do it.

All right. Today we are talking to Sam Turnbull from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. Obviously, it is not all about chicken and meat because she’s vegan. Sam started her site a few years ago and recently left her job, and she’s going to be talking about what that was like to transition out of her job, a job that she really wasn’t happy with, and to really focus in on her blog. Those early years, the grind as we call them, are not always easy, and Sam is going to talk about that. She’s also going to talk about some of the more exciting things that have happened. She’s going to be talking about a cookbook deal that she got, and how, when that came about, there was not one publisher that was interested in working with her, but multiple publishers, and she’s going to be talking about that process and what that’s been like as well. Really excited to chat with Sam today and do our first ever Food Blogger Pro Member Spotlight. Without further ado, let’s jump in. Sam, welcome to the podcast.

Sam Turnbull: Thank you.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so excited to have you here. We’ve been following along with what you’ve been doing here and there, especially as we became aware of you. We had a few interactions on the Food Blogger Pro forum, and checked out your site and I was like, “This is so well done,” and had it had a great look and feel to it. One of the reasons that I realized, as I was researching for this podcast, is because your background is in graphic design. Let’s start out with that. Can you talk a little bit about what you were doing before you were working on It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, and we are going to dig into a little bit because I think it’s interesting. What was the job you had before this?

Sam Turnbull: The job I had right before is that I was the art director at an art publishing company. That’s the kind of no one knows the artist art publishing it is, it’s basically the bad art that you see for sale in Bed, Bath and Beyond and places like that. That’s what I did.

Bjork Ostrom: Like IKEA, where they have the giant photos that you would see when you go downstairs?

Sam Turnbull: Exactly. And all of that kind of stuff.

Bjork Ostrom: Essentially, your role was to help out deciding which ones you wanted to pick out and place, then, in these businesses, is that from a high-level?

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, that and I also recruited a lot of artists and often did the art myself when I couldn’t find someone to do it the way I wanted to do it.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s possible that someone has, hanging in their living room, a piece that you had done?

Sam Turnbull: Yeah. It would have my name on it too.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. I was looking through your portfolio a little bit before we recorded, and you have a lot of fun comics and paintings that you’ve done and things like that. It’s interesting for me, when I read your post about transitioning out of your job, quitting your job, and starting to work on your blog full-time, that even though you were a really successful artist in terms of your skills and abilities, that it wasn’t necessarily something that you loved doing each and every day. Can you talk a little bit about why that was, and after that, I’m going to talk about your transition to art director. What was it when you were in your first role as graphic designer, what was it that didn’t really sit right, even though you were a great artist?

Sam Turnbull: My first role wasn’t really in graphic design, I bounced around a lot. I worked in LA in the movie industry, I did scenic painting there, which is the backdrops of movies. I did faux painting for casinos and Disneyland, fake wood textures and stuff like that. I sold portraits, so I did portraiture and sold them, and then I worked in fashion for a while. Then I worked as a graphic designer.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, so graphic designer was down the path a little bit?

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, it was.

Bjork Ostrom: When you got into that specific role, that was with this … That last role as graphic designer was within this company, is that right? Where you had this view of going from graphic designer and you were doing it, and you weren’t really loving it necessarily, and you said, “Maybe if I get to art director, then I will really enjoy that position and feel really good”?

Sam Turnbull: It wasn’t the same company, but yeah, that was basically the thought. I realized that I didn’t like working on other people’s concepts all the time and I really wanted to be in charge, and I thought if I was in charge of it, then I would really love to what I did.

Bjork Ostrom: I was going to pull this little quote out from your post where you talk about transitioning into working on your blog. You said, “I made it to art director,” and you were like, “Success! Except it wasn’t nearly as fun as I thought. Making coffee when it was pitch black outside, digging my car out from under the snow,” and then you say it was a 13-year-old VW Bug that you called Fred, which I feel is such a Minnesota scene. You’re in Toronto, we’re in Minnesota, I can so relate to that, digging your car. Then you were like, “Please start, and then you stare at the bumper as you slowly make your way to the office, and then your coffee is cold, and you get to the office and then you’re like, ‘Now it’ll be good, now that I’m in the office,’ but it was okay for a while,” you said, but eventually the routine, the paperwork, sitting in an office all day.

Eventually, it got to this point where you were thinking about the things that you could be doing, and even though you had this new position where you thought, “This is going to be great once I get art director,” it wasn’t quite right. What was it about it, that internal tension that you felt with that job that encouraged you to transition?

Sam Turnbull: It was just what I was doing, I was not really happy with, being in art publishing, it was not something that I was super proud of a product. On top of that, I wasn’t even really making most of the product myself, it was more about the background, what sells, it became about all the statistics instead of creating what I wanted to create, and it just didn’t feel like it was me at all. I was still, in the long run, always working for someone else because it was someone else’s company.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s one of the things that I think is so true across the board where people that are passionate about creating something and that are creators, when they’re forced to do it in a capacity where either it’s bottom line only, so it’s numbers, what’s going to sell the most, not necessarily what’s the best art or what’s the best product, but what’s going to cause people to pick it up on their way out of IKEA for a certain price.

Sam Turnbull: They’re desperate to match their couch.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. As a side note, my dad was an art teacher, he has since retired and he does pottery now, but he had a shirt growing up and it said, “Good art doesn’t match the couch,” which I think is so great.

Sam Turnbull: Exactly. You understand my pain.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. As a side question, I’m curious to know, do you feel like some of those previous experiences with the resistance to producing the thing that is going to sell the most crosses over into the work that you’re doing on your blog at all? I know for Lindsay sometimes, she wrestles with doing the thing that she knows that she would love to do or doing the thing that she knows will be really popular.

Sam Turnbull: To me, it’s kind of win-win because if I make a vegan recipe, even if it’s not something that I would really, really like myself, but I know that other people would really like it, but everyone is making it, it means that people are using less animal products, if you’re eating more vegan. I’m happy about all of it really.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s not the kind of thing where it’s like it’ll be popular and therefore, more views and then it’s better for the bottom line. It’s like the bottom line is also awareness of vegan eating and encouraging people to adopt that as a lifestyle choice.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, just think of it is less weird, even. That would be enough for me.

Bjork Ostrom: At some point, you are in this position as art director and you say, “I think I’m going to transition out. I’m going to make the leap and I’m going to start working on my blog full-time.” Can you talk a little bit about how you came to that decision and the different questions that you had to work through along the way?

Sam Turnbull: I’m a pretty spontaneous person when it comes to stuff like that. Once I wrap my head around something like that, I just have to do it. I’d been thinking about it for maybe for a month, and then one day I was just like, “No, I can’t do this anymore.” I don’t think there’s any one particular thing that triggered it, there was nothing terrible at the company that I was at, it was just not me anymore and I wasn’t happy there, so I just needed to make a change. I knew that if it didn’t work, I can always get another job. Luckily, I’ve never had much of a problem getting a job. Maybe it wouldn’t be as good a job, but I knew that I could go back to something if I needed to, so I just decided to leave.

Bjork Ostrom: It seems like such a simple thing, but I think it’s so important. Lindsay and I have this conversations every once in a while where, if we feel like something isn’t quite right, whether it’s the things that we’re working on or the people that we’re working with, it’s like, “We can change it,” and it’s such an obvious thing, but it’s sometimes hard to do because it feels like maybe, “You’ve got to put in the grind, you’ve got to pay your dues. It’s okay to be miserable because other people are miserable in their job and that’s just the reality.” One thing I appreciate about you and your story is you said, “This isn’t really what I want to be doing. It doesn’t necessarily feel like the best fit, so I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to transition out of this and I’m going to make a change.” At the same time, that’s a really scary thing to do, right?

Sam Turnbull: Oh, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Because you have rent or mortgage to pay, you have food that you have to put on the table, not only for the blog but for yourself. Can you talk about what that was like in terms of making the transition? I know that you also had the potential of doing freelance to fall back on, and I think that’s such an important piece of this transition process.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, that was really helpful for sure. I had built up some clients over the years that I knew that would probably need some work here and there, so that was helpful and I got a few more gigs doing that, which was great. Yeah, it was really hard at first. The first couple of months were ok-ish, but then I went through a really big break up and I ended up having to back home with my parents for a little bit, which was definitely not what you want to be doing at 31.

Bjork Ostrom: Right, but nonetheless, it’s part of the story and it’s part of the journey.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s inspiring to see where you are now, where we will get into this and a little bit, but you have a cookbook deal that you’re working on and, as we talked about before, you said, “In terms of my day-to-day, 90% of my time is on my blog,” which is really, if I understand it right, what you had set out to do when you made this transition a year and a half ago, is that right? It was April 2015-ish?

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, that’s right. It has been that long now, I didn’t realize.

Bjork Ostrom: Isn’t that crazy? Time flies. Talk to me about the first year. What did that look like, the first year transitioning out of your job and into working on your blog and doing a little bit of freelance full-time. What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced and how did you move through those?

Sam Turnbull: Definitely just making enough money to survive was one of the biggest challenges. I guess just continually feeling like it was going to work. I am a very positive person and I’m always like, “Yes, it’ll work no matter what,” but then you’re not making any money, and then all of a sudden your ad income goes down for no apparent reason, all of these things, so you’ve got to really fight to believe that you can do it.

Bjork Ostrom: What was it that, for you, that kept you going? You said you’re naturally somebody that’s optimistic, but then you said obviously, you continued with it and you didn’t give up. Were there specific things where you said, “If I hit this milestone or this goal, that’ll encourage me to keep going,” or was it looking at other people and saying, “I knew that it can be done, so I’m going to keep going with it.” What was it that encouraged you to keep pushing on?

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, I knew it was possible. Sorry, my dog is attacking my pen right now.

Bjork Ostrom: Been there, done that.

Sam Turnbull: I knew it was possible from following blogs such as yours, and I really believed in it, that I could do it, and I knew that there was an audience there, especially with veganism being the fastest growing health trend, I knew that that was going to happen. It was really one day I just got an email from Random House and, once I got that email, even though I didn’t really know what that email was regarding because they didn’t say so, I just knew that that was a really good sign, someone really bid was paying attention to what I was doing.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s such an important little point. One of the things I talk about often is, when you get into analytics, and even just numbers in general, whether it’s how much am I earning from my blog? Or how many people are coming to my blog? It can be discouraging, especially when you’re first starting out, but one of the most important things that is hard to quantify is the quality of your work. If you’re doing really quality work at a super high level, even though those trailing indicators of traffic or income from a blog, in terms of transitioning it into a career, I consider those trailing indicators, even though those may not be there yet, if you have quality work, it doesn’t really matter because it’s more important to think about who is consuming your content, not just about how many people are consuming your content.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, you can have like 10 views, but you never know who one of those views is; it could be really someone important.

Bjork Ostrom: Exactly, and I think that’s what’s so fun to hear you talk about is you got this email from Random House and they said, “We’ve been tracking along with what you’ve been doing. We think it’s really great and we want to work together,” because of the quality of your work, because of your consistent posting of content and things like that. I think that’s just such an important point, this idea of who not necessarily how many, especially in those early stages. Talk to me about what that was like to get that email. Was that one of those things where you didn’t really know what it was, is this real? I’m so curious to know.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, it was a heart attack for sure. The email was very vague, it was just, “Can you come in for a meeting?” It wasn’t like, “We want to work with you,” or, “We’re going to offer you a cookbook deal,” or anything like that. Yeah, it was heart attack inducing for sure and I obviously replied within three seconds.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure, as you should. Then you have this meeting, you come in, and do they see to down and say, “Here’s the deal, Sam. We want to work with you and do a cookbook,” or was it still kind of vague at that point?

Sam Turnbull: It was still kind of vague. It was more of a … They were just testing the waters I guess. As much as they know my blog, they want to make sure that they want to work with me too. It’s not just about what you put out, it’s about who you are as a person and would you be good to work with and all of that. It was kind vague and he just said, “If you were to write a cookbook, what would that be about?” Stupidly enough, I didn’t even think of this question before going in.

Bjork Ostrom: What did you say just out of curiosity?

Sam Turnbull: I said I wanted to be the vegan version of Julia Child.

Bjork Ostrom: Which is a good answer. Especially for a cookbook company. That’s something that they would want to hear.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, because Julia Child brought French cuisine and made it normal, so I wanted to do the same thing with veganism.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. I’m curious to know, you go in, you have this conversation about a cookbook, are there things where … I feel like, for me personally, I don’t know a lot about that process. How do you research and figure that out, being that your blog is just a couple of years old at this point, you’re just in the stages where you’re figuring this stuff out, and then somebody comes to you and have this conversation about wanting you to do a cookbook. How do you figure out what the norm would be for a publishing timeline, or what different rates you could ask for? All of that stuff. Were there people that you could resource or research that you could do? I’m so curious to know what that process looks like.

Sam Turnbull: It was actually kind of bizarre because they asked me to do a cookbook proposal, to basically give them a draft of what I would make as a cookbook for them, but while I was working on that proposal, I did it for a couple of months, I actually got up preached by two other publishers who were also interested in me, which was crazy, and overwhelming, and shocking, and surprising, and awesome, of course. When I did that, I have a cousin who is in the publishing industry, in a different area more in women’s magazines and stuff like that, so I asked for his advice and he recommended I get an agent and gave me a name, and that worked out and then I have basically had an agent to do it for me so that made it a lot easier because I know nothing about the publishing at all.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. I think that’s such a great take away for any area, to be able to get experts in your corner that are able to help you out and, essentially, be on your side. Especially as we have continued on this one, it’s been one of the most important things that we’ve done. I realize I can’t continually be the guy who understands WordPress, it’s like, “Let’s get somebody else who understands WordPress and can help us out with that, and I feel like an agent is a great example of that.

At that point, it was three different publishers that were interested in working with you. Do you have any idea of how these people were finding out about you? Obviously, your blog is a really important piece of that, but even the path to get towards your blog?

Sam Turnbull: Actually, the latter two found out about me because I started reviewing a few cookbooks on my blog, probably because I was interested in seeing what other people were doing, but just being in contact with the publishers that way. Basically, when I said, “I want to review this cookbook, is that cool?” They would take a look at my site, and that’s basically how it happened, and they were like, “We like you. You should do a cookbook. Would you be interested in doing a cookbook with us?”

Bjork Ostrom: Interesting. Essentially, you had reached out to a publisher and said, “There’s a vegan cookbook that I like, or I think I would potentially like. I would love to review it on my blog.” You have a conversation with them, they say, “Great,” and essentially, that starts the conversation with this publisher where then they say, “and if you would have the time, we would love to talk to you about potentially working together”?

Sam Turnbull: Yeah. A lot of times, I think that’s just it. Just getting in front of people, just messaging people. You can’t expect everyone to find you.

Bjork Ostrom: Right. With these interviews, that’s one of the most common themes that I’ve noticed. Is it really is people that are going out and connecting with people as opposed to assuming that something will come in and somebody will just, out of the blue, connect with them. In some way, you have to be a little bit proactive about reaching out if you want to move in a certain direction. Obviously, there’s always the stories of stuff coming in and it’s like, “Then this happened and I never expected it,” but so often, it’s people being intentional and making connections or reaching out.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah. Even with Random House, I met someone who works at Random House in a completely different department, but just friendly chatting with her and she took a look at my blog afterwards and she was the one who forwarded it to the appetite department. You never know who you’re meeting, who you’re talking to, and what they’re going to do.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure. Let’s talk a little bit about what that was like. After you sign the contract or whatever it would be where you say, “We’re going to work together. We’re going to start this process.” What does that look like in terms of the balance of doing this cookbook and also doing your blog? At this point, are you also, then, putting freelance into the mix a little bit just to keep that door open? I’m so curious to know, on a day-to-day basis, what does your time look like?

Sam Turnbull: I wish I was better at scheduling. Yeah, it’s been really really crazy. Right now, I’m doing the food photography for my cookbook, and I have this month to do it, so it’s pretty much like I’ve been working 10, 12 hour days and not really taking many days off. Unfortunately, my blog sacrifices a little bit and I’ve only been posting once a week there. I would love to do more, but you can only do so much. I’m still doing the freelance as well just because, like you said, I don’t want that door to close just yet; it makes me too nervous.

Bjork Ostrom: That was a part of Lindsay and I, our story is this is very intentional slow transition where we had our full-time jobs that we loved, that was a part of it and we really liked it. Then we went to halftime, and then I was going in once a week. At any of those points, we could have fully transitioned, but it just felt good to make that transition slow as opposed to being too quick with it because it’s always nice to keep that door open a little bit.

If you were to go back, and you were to say, “I’m going to take a look at this in terms of what’s involved with it,” the cookbook specifically, do you think you would keep the same timeline for what you have right now? Because I know that they had originally said, “We want to have this out a little bit further, maybe 2018,” and you said, “I would love to have this a little bit sooner, but means that everything has to be quicker.” You have to get the recipes done quicker, you have to get the photography done quicker, which means that you, potentially, don’t have as much time for your blog. Can you talk about that a little bit? Do you feel like the pace is an okay thing? Or, ideally, would you have wanted that to be out a little bit further so that you can focus on your blog? Or is it like, “I’m going to do this all in a short amount of time to get it done so then I can focus on my blog again”?

Sam Turnbull: I think that is a weakness of mine is I really like results. Even as an artist, I always painted really fast just because I wanted to get to the end. I wanted to see the pretty picture. That’s definitely a weakness, yeah. If I did it again, I would take a little bit more time for sure. I wrote all of the recipes in 4 ½ months, and that was about 125 recipes, while maintaining my blog and doing the freelance, so that was crazy and now I am basically doing it all over again with the food photography. I would have loved to have taken a little bit more time, but at the same time, if I was doing it leisurely, I know that that would also drive me nuts because I’m a get it done kind of person.

Bjork Ostrom: To go all in and to really dive into it, I think, makes a lot of sense. Cool. One of the things that I’m always interested to hear from people is some of the things that have been working well for them. I think one of the advantages of talking with somebody that is in the earlier stages of their blog, you’ve been doing it for a while, so it’s not like it’s your first year. You started in June 2013, is that right?

Sam Turnbull: Oh, no. You didn’t look at that post did do?

Bjork Ostrom: I went back, yeah. I went deep into the archives, which is something that I always try and do.

Sam Turnbull: How embarrassing.

Bjork Ostrom: As it should be. You’ve been blogging for three years, which is still, I think, the three, four, five-year stage is when, if people have been doing it consistently and really been working hard, is where things tip. That seems to be part of your story too, is you have this cookbook deal now and it’s starting to get some traction with your blog, which is exciting. I think one of the interesting perspectives that people have when they are in those first one to three-year stages of their blog, is they see things differently than people who’ve been doing it for a while.

One of the things I’m always interested to hear from people is what’s been working well? I would love to hear from you, and it could be anything, it could be social media that you’re really enjoying and finding that you’re able to connect with people on, or maybe it’s something with types of content that you’re doing, or how you’re structuring your day, or anything like that. For you, as you’ve transitioned into working on your business almost full-time, doing a little bit of freelance, and then getting this cookbook deal, really building it into a brand, what are some of the things where you say, “This has been working well for me, I’m glad that I do this”?

Sam Turnbull: I would say the number one thing for me is just really understanding my audience, which is basically just understanding me more. At first, when I started, a lot of vegan blogs are all about very healthy foods, Chia seeds and kale and quinoa, and that’s fine and that’s great and there’s a place for that, but I just realized that that’s not really me, that’s not how I really like to eat, I’m not really interested in doing that, I don’t like going to health food stores. The more I could make recipes that appealed to me, I found that they also appealed to my readers, so it was just very, “10-minute recipes,” I’m lazy, I don’t want to do more than that. At first, it took me a while to get used to doing that because I almost felt guilty because I’m like, “This is easy; no one wants this. It’s too easy,” but that’s exactly what people want is what I’ve learned, or at least people that follow me. It’s really understanding my readers, and at the same time, understanding me and just running with that.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s such a great concept is this idea of producing content that is a good fit for you and also, then, having that reflect to your audience. It can’t be stuff that just … This kind of ties into what we were talking about before. It can be things that are just really … Have mass appeal if you feel like every time that you are working on that content you’re like, “This is stuff that I hate doing,” or, “I’m not interested in it,” even though you know that it would, potentially, be really popular. It’s really refining what are the things that I can be doing? What is the content that I can be producing that will really hit home with my audience and also will really align with what I believe and the type of content that I would like to see, or is this case, the type of recipes that you would like to produce. I think it’s easier said than done to do because, so often, you can see something working really well in a certain area and say, “I should actually be doing that. I want to focus on that.”

Sam Turnbull: Absolutely. That’s exactly what I found, at the beginning too, especially.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about how … You had said that that’s something that you focus on, or that you improve on by focusing on thinking about what you like and are interested in. Can you talk about how that process looks for you? How do you become more aware of what type of content people are interested in? Or is it truly saying, “What are the things that are really hitting home for me, and this is one what I’m going to publish, and therefore, that’s what my audience is going to be because they are going to come to consume the type of content”?

Sam Turnbull: It’s both. They are the same, kind of, for me. It’s like when I first went vegan, I really found that I wanted to make easy, non-scary food and I didn’t find that there was a lot of that out there; everything was bizarre. The more familiar I could make something, just a chocolate chip cookie, but happens to be vegan, or something just simple like that. That’s what really attracts me, and that’s what really seems to attract my readers. The more familiar and friendly and easy, especially, that has ingredients that you can find at any grocery store, that really works for everyone involved.

Bjork Ostrom: For sure, that’s cool. The last thing that I wanted to hit on that I think is an important takeaway is if you were to go back to yourself in June 2013, as you were first starting this adventure, what would be the advice that you would give to yourself, your past self, as you look towards … If you were to have a time machine and go back and have that conversation, what would you say to yourself?

Sam Turnbull: Oh man, I don’t know. It’s such a long time ago, but not that long at all, really. I would love to be able to implant some sort of little microchip that taught me everything about SEO and social media and food photography.

Bjork Ostrom: All of those things. You could have a blitz conversation of years of blogging education.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah, exactly. I feel like I did everything wrong in the beginning and had to work my way through that. And that’s great and I’m glad I figured it out, but wow, it would’ve been easier if I started off right.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example, just out of curiosity? When you say that you did everything wrong, specific to SEO or photography?

Sam Turnbull: Sure, yeah. My food photography was with my iPhone under my kitchen lights at night, and my recipes, I thought, quantities of ingredients were irrelevant, so I was just like, “Some of this, some of this, whatever. You’ll figure it out.”

Bjork Ostrom: You quickly learn how specific people need things to be?

Sam Turnbull: That’s right, yeah. Because for me, as somebody who has always cooked, it was easy. It would just kind of be like a handful of this, a pinch of this, but most people want more direction than that, especially if you’re looking for a recipe.

Bjork Ostrom: They want more specifics for sure.

Sam Turnbull: Yeah and better photos.

Bjork Ostrom: Part of it too, though, is that stuff is, one you could maybe have one of those … Like you said, it would have to be a microchip. It would have to be something where it would have a ton of information implanted in and then you would be able to access that because it takes time. The photography takes time, even for somebody like you who has a background in art, you understand those concepts, and yet there is the technical side that takes …

Sam Turnbull: Sure, but I had never really picked up the camera like that before. I still don’t really understand most of the settings, I just know what buttons to hit to make it look like the way I want

Bjork Ostrom: For sure, it takes a lot of time to get there. With SEO as well, those are concepts that, before, you just don’t have any idea. You just Google and what comes up comes up, and you just trust that that’s probably going to be the best information, but there is all of this information out there about what does it mean to have an image show up high or to have an image show up at all, to have that included as a search result. All of those things take a long time and don’t come easy. Sam, I want to thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. It’s really fun to start this Member Spotlight interviews, and you’ve done some really incredible work and it’s been fun to follow along with you. Congratulations on the cookbook deal and all of the stuff that you’ve been working on, it’s really cool

Sam Turnbull: Thanks so much. It’s been wonderful to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Curious for those that are interested, where can they track along with what you are doing, and even grab the cookbook when it comes out?

Sam Turnbull: Everything on my blog for sure, itdoesnttastelikechicken.com and then I am on all of the social media

Bjork Ostrom: All of the above. Any and every social media, people can follow along with you?

Sam Turnbull: That’s right.

Bjork Ostrom: Would they just search, “It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken,” for those”?

Sam Turnbull: Yeah.

Bjorn Ostrom: Sam, thanks so much for coming on today, and I really appreciate your times and it’s been so fun, like I said, to track along with what you’re doing and congratulations

Sam Turnbull: Thank you so much.

Bjork Ostrom: Really fun to chat. Thanks, Sam.

Sam Turnbull: Bye-bye.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for episode number 72. Thanks so much for tuning in and listening. As always, if you want to check out the show notes, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/72 and a really big thank you to Sam for coming on and sharing her story today. If you’re interested in checking out Food Blogger Pro, you can actually just go to foodbloggerpro.com, and the homepage there will have lots of information about what’s included with a membership.

One thing that I wanted to point out is, if you are thinking of joining, if you sign up with the yearly membership, we are tying in one year of access to Nutri Fox, which is the tool that we have started to build for nutrition labels. Right now, what it does is it really quickly parses, which means it looks through and pulls out all of the nutrition information from a list of ingredients and you don’t have to enter it in line by line, you can just paste it all in and it gets that information and creates this really nice embeddable nutrition label. Anybody that signs up for our yearly membership to Food Blogger Pro also gets access to Nutri Fox. We are super excited about both of those things, both the community and the lessons and the teaching at Food Blogger Pro, and then the tool that we are building in Nutri Fox.

If you have any questions about any of that stuff, when you go to Food Blogger Pro, there will be a little blue bubble down at the bottom right, and if you leave a question there, me or somebody from the team will be able to jump in and answer your question. One more thank you to Sam for coming on today, thank you for really appreciate your insight and congratulations on your continued success as you continue to build It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. Thank you, wherever you are, for tuning in, we really appreciate you. It means so much to have people all around the world listening to this podcast. As you know, we will be back here in seven days, the same time, same place. Until then, make it a great week. Thanks, guys.


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