338: Reflecting and Looking Forward – 5 Themes From 2021 with Bjork Ostrom

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An image of disco balls and the title of Bjork Ostroms's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Reflecting and Looking Forward.'

Welcome to episode 338 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks about five themes that he’s noticed when reflecting back on the past year.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Ali Stafford from Alexandra’s Kitchen about how she’s grown her traffic by leaning into SEO and learning from industry experts. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Reflecting and Looking Forward

As we enter into the new year, it can be really helpful to look back on the previous year and reflect on some of the lessons learned. So we’re doing just that in this episode!

You’ll hear five themes that Bjork has identified when reflecting on 2021 and how he’s going to use that knowledge to his advantage in 2022. From insight on creating valuable content to delegating tasks to defining your life goals, this episode is packed full of great advice to help you start the year off strong.

Plus! As a bonus in this episode, you’ll hear about The Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group that we just launched for podcast listeners. Within this brand-new Facebook Group, you’ll be able to chat about recent episodes, submit questions for future interviews, and more. Be sure to check it out to continue the conversation!

A quote from Bjork Ostrom’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'As I reflect on last year, what are the takeaways, and what does that look like heading into the new year?'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How The Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group will work
  • How to create really valuable content
  • What the difference is between makers and managers
  • Why it’s so important to delegate and elevate tasks
  • Why you should set both business and life goals
  • How to practice 1% infinity


If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Food Blogger Pro logo with the words 'Join the Community' on a blue background

Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: Hey folks, Bjork here. So occasionally I record what we call solo podcasts, which is essentially just me sitting, talking into a microphone, which we’re doing today. And what I’m going to be talking about is kind of some themes that I have when I look back at 2021, which is weird. I feel like COVID maybe warps all things, but it feels like I should still be saying 2020, but we’re actually coming to the end of 20 21, maybe you feel the same way. Just kind of some themes that I see from last year. And this also, I think these tie into looking forward as well. So kind of as I reflect on last year, what are the takeaways, and what does that look like heading into the new year? So there’s five different things that I wanted to share, and we’ll do those in a short episode today. But before I do that, one of the things that we’re really excited about is this new endeavor that we’re launching for Food Blogger Pro, and it’s a dedicated Facebook group for podcast listeners.

Bjork Ostrom: And what we’re going to do is we’re going to really lean into this community here by creating a Facebook group and creating the opportunity for people to weigh in on the podcast episodes, but also to join in on the conversation. One of the things that’s weird about a podcast is it’s really a one-way conversation. It’s you, wherever you are, working out, in the car, doing the dishes, those are all places where I listen to podcasts, listening, but we can’t really talk. And it’s, unless the interview guest, the interviewee, you can’t really talk to them either. So we’re going to try and figure out a way to broaden that a little bit, to make it more of a conversation where maybe you listen in on a conversation, but then you join in on it as well. And we’re doing that for anybody who wants to be a part of it, through a Facebook group.

Bjork Ostrom: And if you are interested in checking it out, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/facebook, and that will redirect you to the page. This is kind of a test. It’s an experiment, and we’d love for you to join in. So here’s how it’ll work. So you will be able to join the group and what will happen is we’ll discuss the episode the Wednesday after it airs. So we’ll spin up a conversation and you might have follow-up questions. You might have curiosities, you might have thoughts that you want to share, and we’ll be doing all of that in the Facebook group. And when possible, we’ll also have the person that I interview, join in on that conversation. And you’ll also be able to influence potential, upcoming episodes. We’ll field questions that you might have. We’ll share who we’re going to be interviewing and ask for any insights that you might have around the topic or questions that you might have.

Bjork Ostrom: And also just guests that you might be interested in hearing on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. So again, go to food bloggerpro.com/facebook, that will redirect you to the page. And we’re really excited about trying this out, to see what it’s like. And I’m excited to see some of you around. So this is open to anybody. You don’t have to be a Food Blogger Pro member, but we’ll occasionally maybe mention things that are happening within Food Blogger Pro, but really the purpose is all around this podcast and opening it up to the community of listeners we have here to expand things out. So it’s not just a one-way conversation like today, where I’m just talking or a two-way conversation with a guest, but really, a multivariate conversation with all the different listeners and people who follow along with this podcast. So excited about that, check it out, foodbloggerpro.com/facebook to learn a little bit more.

Bjork Ostrom: All right. What are the takeaways when I look back at 2021 and look forward to 2022? It’s so weird to say that. The first thing that I thought of was this idea that things change and things stay the same. And if you’ve been at this for any period of time, it feels like, “Wait, I just figured this thing out and now it’s not working.” And an example would be Pinterest, right? We recently did a live Q&A in Food Blogger Pro, where we talk to Kate from Simple Pin Media, all about Pinterest and the change that’s happening there. And that can be frustrating when you’re used to getting a lot of traffic, and then that traffic goes away. That’s true for search, a lot of times too. You’ll have some traction somewhere, and then it will go away.

Bjork Ostrom: Facebook is an example of a community where it would make sense, Facebook page, right? A page is different than a group, and you can drive a ton of traffic and then Facebook changes their algorithm, flips a switch, and suddenly that’s not possible to send traffic to your posts in the same way that it was before. Things are always changing online, but yet, things stay the same. And the thing that saying the same is what we need to think about as content creators, is creating content that is helpful or content that is entertaining. And the better we can get at creating helpful or entertaining, or maybe ideally both, helpful and entertaining content, that’s going to be something that doesn’t change. And there might even be small changes within that, what is considered entertaining? A half an hour TV episode was maybe more common for people to consume 15 years ago, compared to a 30-second clip, which is maybe more common now.

Bjork Ostrom: But the common thing throughout all of that is, the content that’s being created has to be helpful and it has to be entertaining. And so for you, the more that you can think about, how do I create content that is as helpful as possible, or as entertaining as possible, regardless of what platform it is, you’ll be able to eventually find success. Now, you can layer on certain variables of success for those platforms. For example, you can learn about the technical elements of search that are going to be really helpful in helping you reach a broader audience by doing kind of SEO best practices, but SEO best practices aren’t going to matter if the content isn’t good, if it’s not helpful content. And in our world, that means a really solid recipe, clear photos, well-written ingredients instructions if you’re publishing a recipe. How-to posts, that would mean really clear steps.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s best practices around communication, really. So, I see that really to be true. As I see things change and as we have generally observed things change over the last 10 years, we know that it’ll always happen. Things will always evolve. Things will always change, but there’s also the reassurance of things staying the same. And those things that stay the same are all around the core of what we do, which is creating helpful and entertaining content.

Bjork Ostrom: Number two, the thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about this year, and actually been having a lot of conversations with Lindsay about is this idea of maker versus manager. And I thought this was important to bring up as you head into the new year here, to think about what do you want to be? And sometimes what you can hear people saying is you need to evolve from a maker to a manager. You need to hire people. You need to scale. You need to do less of the stuff yourself and create a system around you, which I think is good if that’s what you want to do.

Bjork Ostrom: But in having conversations with Lindsay, we’ve come to the conclusion, she wants to be a maker. She wants to continue in some ways to do photography, potentially still kind of questions, is that something that’s sustainable? But wants to continue to do the recipe development, wants to continue to connect with the audience to do writing to a certain degree, and not a huge interest in kind of scaling that and becoming a manager. Whereas for me, I love the idea of leaning into this idea of management or leadership and thinking about, what does it look like to hire a team and to kind of create scalable processes? So that is a good fit for me and something I’m interested in doing, but it might not be for you.

Bjork Ostrom: And I think sometimes what can happen, especially on podcasts like this is, there can be kind of a spirit of conversation around becoming a manager or managing people, hiring people, building a team, that makes it seem like directionally, that’s where you need to go. But I think it’s a good reminder that it’s okay to continue to be a maker. If you want to be a maker, stay a maker and it ties into the fourth point that I’m going to talk about, kind of around life goals versus just business goals.

Bjork Ostrom: But it’s important to take time to think about that. What do you want to be? And as you move into the new year, I give you permission to release the burden of hiring and building a team, if that doesn’t feel like a good fit. So spend some time thinking about that. Do you want to stay as a maker? Do you want to move into being a manager or leader, or is it kind of some type of hybrid role? Maybe you want to have a small agile team that helps you and supports you, but you want to cap that, maybe you only work with one other person or two other people, but not grow beyond that.

Bjork Ostrom: Related to that, one of the things that we’ve talked a lot about with our team is this idea of delegate and elevate. And it’s a process within EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, which we talk about, but delegate and elevate is number 3 theme that I have for this past year. And also the thing that I’m going to be carrying over into the new year. And I’ve mentioned a few different times on the podcast, but the general takeaway or the general idea here is you want to continually be refining the work that you’re doing, so you’re always doing more of the work that’s in the category of work that you love and that you’re good at. There’s also work that you love and you’re not good at and work that you don’t love and you’re good at, but the work that you do want to be doing is the work that you love and that you’re good at. And it’s important to take time to step away and reflect on that.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s an actual exercise that you can go through. It’s called delegate and elevate. You could just Google, Delegate and Elevate EOS, and there’d be some PDFs that you could use. But it’s important to step back and think about that. What are the things that you truly love and what are the things that you’re good at or want to become good at and can justify spending more time doing that.

Bjork Ostrom: And the option for the other things in that category is either A, you just stop doing them. That is an option. An example for me would be social media. From a business perspective, it would probably be smarter for me to spend more time on social, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, whatever it might be. But if I were to do a delegate and elevate exercise, that might be something that I’d be okay at, or I could get good at, but I don’t think it’d be something that I would love. And so it’s important to think about for you, what are those things? What do you love and what you’re good at and how do you do more of them? Option one, you stop doing the things that you don’t love, or that you’re not good at, or number two, this ties in a little bit to the maker manager.

Bjork Ostrom: Number two would be that you hire somebody to help out with those things. An example might be bookkeeping or taxes. Maybe it’s keeping on top of your email. Recently, we have had a team member join Mary, who’s an executive assistant, and one of the things that she’s helping with is every day, twice a day, she’ll do a pass at my email and I’m using a combination of Superhuman, which is really great for processing email. It’s an app that layers on top of Gmail and also this app called Mailman HQ. And the idea with Mailman is similar to the mailman or mail person in your neighborhood, who brings the mail once a day. That’s a great way to process mail. It comes in, you look at it, you make decisions on what to do with it, and then you wait until the next day when it comes again.

Bjork Ostrom: But, what’s different with email, electronic mail, not physical mail, is that it comes in every minute, every couple of seconds, depending on how many emails you get. So we don’t have that control of allowing things in occasionally. And so Mary has joined the team and we’ve kind of created this system of using Superhuman plus Mailman at mailmanhq.com. And so twice a day after Mailman delivers the mail, she’ll go in and do a pass. And I’m continually working with Mary and we’re saying like, “Okay, what do you do with this email? Here’s where that goes. Here’s what happens with this.” So when I get into it, then I can see like, “Okay, these are the 20 actionable things. And I might have 40 to 50 a day, actionable things that I need to respond to. But what happens when I get in and I see those, I can probably get through that in half an hour or an hour.

Bjork Ostrom: And that removes the temptation for me to jump in all the time and check mail, “Is there anything that came in? Let me just check real quick.” Because even when I do that, there’s nothing there because the mailman hasn’t delivered the mail yet. And that’s an example of delegate and elevated, working with somebody to come in and help with something. And it also ties into the third piece that I think is important with this. So you can either stop doing it, you can hire somebody to help with it or assign it to somebody on your team, if you already have somebody or third, it would be creating some type of system or leaning into software that kind of solves it for you. So there’s lots of different software services that will help you do the things that maybe you think you need to do.

Bjork Ostrom: Zapier is an example. So Zapier connects different software solutions and sits in the middle and creates processes around those. Really basic obvious example is automatic bill pay, right? So as much as possible, are you setting stuff up, so it’s automatically paid versus you having to go in and write a check or even to fill out a check within your online banking portal. Think through, what are the things that you can automate that would cut out some of the things that you’re doing right now that you don’t love doing. So it’s one of the things I’ve thought a lot about in 2021, I’m going to think more about in 2022 and our teams’ thinking about that a lot as well.

Bjork Ostrom: So to recap, this idea of things change and things stay the same, know that as you think about perfecting your craft, don’t think about just perfecting a platform like Pinterest, Social or Search, think about or perfecting your craft as being a creator, maker versus manager. And neither one is right and neither one is wrong. It just depends on where you fit in and what you feel like is the best fit for you.

Bjork Ostrom: Delegate and elevate, thinking through what you love to do and what you’re good at. And number four is all-around goals. And I think a lot of times, we set goals within our business. I want to be at 50,000 page views. I want to be at 100,000 page views. I want to be at 5,000,000 page views a month, whatever it might be. I want to create enough to leave my job and work on this full-time. Usually, when we think about goals, we think about it in that context. But one of the things I would encourage you to think about is defining your life goals. What will that actually do for you, if you’re striving after this thing, will it result in a positive impact on your life or are you kind of selling yourself, your time, your energy, your thoughts, your focus? Are you giving those things up in pursuit of a goal that is probably ambitious, is probably helpful, but is that in service of a life goal?

Bjork Ostrom: Does it align with something that you’re after from a personal life impactful perspective? And I think we can get swallowed up sometimes in either comparison or just ambitious goals that we have. If you’re an achiever of trying to hit a certain mark, but I would encourage you to step back and think about why, what will that do for you? And what will your life look like if you get to that point, it’s not just out the numbers and not just about the metrics, but how can your business serve you? And I think sometimes what can happen and we’ve felt this, this is one of the reasons why I’m thinking about it and looking at it going into 2022, is I think sometimes you can build a thing, build a business, build a site, build a following, that actually you are serving. You’re serving that thing and that thing isn’t serving you.

Bjork Ostrom: So as you think about your goals heading into the new year, think about what is your life goal, and then build your business goals around that. Maybe it’s spending more time with your family, or maybe it’s getting additional income to save for retirement, or maybe it’s just having the security of a fallback option. I know for a lot of people, if you have a job that you’re nervous about losing, that you don’t want to leave, it’s helpful to have something that you know is available as kind of a safety net, if something does fall through. I think it’s one of the great advantages of a side hustle, is not necessarily a job replacement, but a safety net in case things change with your current role or your job, or who knows what? There’s so many different variables that come up in life, and it’s nice to have a safety net behind you, some diversification in your income streams, and it’s one of the great advantages that a side hustle can have.

Bjork Ostrom: So defining your life goals, not just your business goals, is something I’ve been thinking about kind of at the end of this year and moving into 2022, something I’ll be continuing to think about and that you do as well. The last one is an obvious one, but always coming back to this idea of 1% infinity, a tiny bit better every day forever. What does that look like for you? Are you building in ways that allow yourself to do that? And I’ve noticed that there was a season for me where I did that a lot. I would get up, I’d read every day and the kind of loose process, I didn’t call it a process, the system that I had, was a really strong morning routine. And as we are in a season now where we have a one-year-old and a three-year-old, my morning isn’t quite as captive to myself, it’s more in service of our two girls and it’s not as consistent, either.

Bjork Ostrom: So what I’ve learned is if I want to figure out how to create space, create time, or if I want to be learning and getting a tiny bit better, improving, and if what that requires is space and time to do that, I need to revisit how I’m doing that because right now, what it looks like is essentially, get up, work, girls get up, kind of see them to the point where a nanny comes and then it’s working throughout the day. And what that doesn’t allow for is, that disconnected to a degree, time where I’m reading or maybe journaling or kind of getting input, right?

Bjork Ostrom: So it might be articles. It might be books, it might be videos, kind of in the category of getting a tiny bit better in learning. So I need to revisit that system that I have, and that might be true for you as well. Are there ways that you’re continually learning and finding time to get a tiny bit better? And that’s what we’re all about. You hear me say it all the time. And so it makes sense that I include that as the last item here that I’m thinking about as we look forward here.

Bjork Ostrom: So those are the things I wanted to mention today. The quick recap, number one, things change, things stay the same. Inevitably in 2022, there will be a lot of changes. Platforms will change. Algorithms will change, but what will stay the same is your ability to produce helpful, entertaining content, that’s going to be the thing that’s most impactful, that type of content. Number two maker versus manager. Are you somebody who wants to lean into that maker role? You want to stay as close as possible to the creation process, or are you comfortable leaning into that role of team building and manager and leading a team, or is it somewhere in the middle? Do you want to have a hybrid?

Bjork Ostrom: I think defining that will help you as you build the path forward for your business. Somewhat related to that, is this idea of delegate and elevate. And then once you’ve done that and you’ve defined what you love and what you’re good at, how do you either stop doing the things that aren’t in that category, bring somebody on or assign somebody on your team to help with that or three, find a software solution or some type of solution that will help you take care of that without you needing to do it, so that’s number three. Number four, defining life goals, not just your business goals and making sure that you take time to step back and think about that. What are you actually pursuing as opposed to just metrics or data or growth? What is it those things will actually do?

Bjork Ostrom: And then number five, making sure that you take time to get a tiny bit better every day. And that has to be an intentional thing. So, when I say you, I think it’s for you, podcast listeners, but also for me, these are really reflections that I have and things that I’m thinking about heading into 2022 here. So, one more reminder for the Facebook group, the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Group, we would love for you to join there. And you’ll be able to see the faces of other people who are listening to the podcast. And it will put more of a community on this group of people. Again, we’re going to be posting before a podcast goes, fielding questions, getting some ideas around the things that you’re really interested in, in regards to the topic that we’ll be talking about. And then we’ll also have a follow-up conversation after.

Bjork Ostrom: So maybe you listen to an interview and you have a question for the person who is interviewed, or you have an additional tip. Sometimes we can learn from each other in groups like this. Oftentimes, we can learn from each other in groups like this, and you have something you’d love to share, that would be an avenue for that. And that’s foodbloggerpro.com/facebook, if you want to check that out. I’m excited for the new year, excited to continue to put this podcast together, and appreciate you being a part of it. Like I said, in number five, our goal is really to help you get a tiny bit better every day forever. And we’ll continue to show up here each week in an effort to do that. So thanks for tuning in, make it a great year, and we’ll see you here next week. Thanks.

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