325: Bilingual Blogging – How Alejandra Graf Shares Recipes on Her Blog in English and Spanish

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An image of flags from different countries and the title of Alejandra Graf's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Bilingual Blogging.'

Welcome to episode 325 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Alejandra Graf from BrownSugar&Vanilla about how she shares recipes on her blog in both English and Spanish.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Cassidy Stockton about how Bob’s Red Mill works with content creators on sponsored content. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Bilingual Blogging

We’re so excited to share this episode with Alejandra with you today! Her story is really fascinating, and the way that she shares content is a bit unique compared to other content creators.

After immigrating to the United States from Mexico, she launched her food blog, BrownSugar&Vanilla, where she shares family-friendly vegan recipes. But she also has another version of her site called Piloncillo&Vainilla where she shares all the same recipes — but in Spanish!

In this episode, you’ll learn how she uses a plugin to share content in both languages, how the traffic compares on the two versions of her blog, and more. It’s a really fascinating, inspiring interview that demonstrates the unique ways you can share content with different audiences.

A quote from Alejandra Graf's appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'When I noticed that I needed to start earning more money and that it could be a business, that's when I started to write more in English.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why Alejandra immigrated to the United States
  • What led her to launch her blog
  • How she started sharing recipes in both Spanish and English
  • How she determines what content will resonate with which part of her audience
  • How the traffic compares on the English vs. the Spanish side of her blog
  • How she runs ads on her site
  • Which plugin she uses to share content in both languages
  • How she strategically grew her team
  • How she earns revenue from her site
  • How she gets sponsored content work
  • How she uses the Pomodoro Method to maximize her productivity

Resources:

About This Week’s Sponsor

We’re excited to announce that this week’s episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti!

With Clariti, you can easily organize your blog content for maximum growth. Create campaigns to add alt text to your posts, fix broken images, remove any broken links, and more, all within the Clariti app.

Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:

  • Early access to their $25/Month Forever pricing
  • Optimization ideas for your site content
  • An invitation to join their exclusive Slack community
  • And more!

You can learn more and sign up here.

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: This episode is actually sponsored by our sister site, Clariti. I’ve talked about Clariti before on the podcast, as a tool that we use, so it’s just come up naturally, but also as an official sponsor, as an official advertiser on the podcast. The reason that we’re advertising on the podcast is because it is a perfect fit for people who listen to this podcast, people who are thinking about how they can optimize and improve their existing content. That’s why we built Clariti. It really came out of this need for us, as we were working on Pinch of Yum, to have a tool that would facilitate our projects and the work that we needed to do on posts in a way that we were doing, but with a giant spreadsheet, so we created this tool called Clariti. It’s C-L-A-R-I-T-I, so it’s Clariti with an I. The simple premise of Clariti is to build something that will allow you, or to have, and it’s a software app, that will allow you to look at your content at a high level, and you can filter, and organize, and understand your content, and then you can build projects around the things that you need to do.

Bjork Ostrom: So what does that look and how does that practically work? I can give you some specific examples of what Pinch of Yum is doing right now. On of projects that we have is adding internal links to posts. The reason why that’s important is because you want to make sure that the content that you have on your website, on your blog, links to other places on your site. Now, of course, you want it to be relevant content, content that makes sense to link to. But if you don’t have any internal links on a post, that potentially could be an area for you to optimize, it could be something for you to look at, and to add internal links. So for Pinch of Yum, what we did using Clariti is we filtered and we said, “Show us all of the content that doesn’t have any internal links.” Or in your case, you could say maybe just one internal link. You might want to add two, three internal links to that post.

Bjork Ostrom: So you could filter using Clariti, and then you could take all of that and add it to a project called add internal links. Another project that we’re doing is simply adding alt text to images that don’t have alt text. We have 772 different posts on Pinch of Yum, that have an image that is missing alt text in some way. So we filtered using Clariti and we said, “Show me all of the posts that have at least one image with alt text missing.” Then we took all of those posts, and using Clariti, it takes 30 seconds, we said, “Create a project where we are going to look at these pieces of content and find those images and add alt text to those.” There’s lots of different things that Clariti can do. We’re still early stages with it. Because of that, we’re offering what we’re calling 25 Forever Campaign. We’re allowing the first 500 users who sign up for Clariti to get their plan, to get a subscription to Clariti, for $25 a month forever. We’re not going to raise that, even down the line when Clariti becomes more full-featured.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s already pretty powerful with the things that you can do. But even when it becomes more full-featured, and we increase the pricing, maybe we change it based on how many pageviews you have, or how many posts your site has, whatever it might be, anybody who signs up in this early stage will continue to get that $25 a month forever plan. So if you’re interested in doing that, and getting that deal, you can go to clariti.com/food, it’s C-L-A-R-I-T-I dot com slash food. That will bring you to a page where you can sign up and we’ll follow up with you once you’ve signed up expressing your interest. We’ll talk through how you can do it, how you can sign up, and really what comes with Clariti subscription. So thanks to Clariti and the Clariti team for sponsoring the Food Blogger Pro podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: We have, it’s kind of a tight-knit family here with the Tiny Bit companies, but it is an official sponsorship, and we want to thank the Clariti team for sponsoring the Food Blogger Pro podcast and for building an incredible tool that we’ve been able to use across the Tiny Bit brands. Now, almost, we have over 100. I don’t know what the current number is at. It will be more, most likely, by the time this ad runs, but 100 to 200 members. I don’t know subscription subscribers, I don’t know where it’s at right now. So if you want to join, there’s still time for you to sign up. It’s not we’re going to run out of those 500 user accounts right away, but they also won’t be there forever. So you can check that out by going to clariti.com/food and thanks to Clariti for sponsoring the podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: Hello, hello, you are listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast, this is your host, Bjork Ostrom. Today’s interview is with Alejandra from BrownSugar&Vanilla. But that’s not the only name for site, she actually has two sites that are exactly the same in different languages. We’re going to talk about that. It’s one of the things that was really interesting for me to hear about her journey is, not only her journey, in general, what her journey looked to the United States, some of the reasons for that, and how that eventually led her to exploring and thinking about starting a blog and kind of her side hustle growing into her main hustle, and how that started both from a kind of need perspective for her to figure out what the next step is, but also thinking about what the needs are for other people.

Bjork Ostrom: She’s going to talk about a concept that really resonated with me, and we’re going to talk about specifically what that is, and that idea behind keeping an eye out or an ear out for the things that people are saying thank you for. I think that’s a great concept to think about, especially if you’re in the early stages, trying to figure out what you’re going to do next, what you’re going to focus on, what your niche or niche will be. Using this idea of thinking about what people say thank you, when somebody is coming to you, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, thank you for…” this thing, this advice, this service, whatever that is, think about what that is for you. Maybe that can guide you as you think about what your focus is going to be.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s a great conversation, we cover a lot of ground and a lot of territory that I’m not familiar with, especially with a bilingual blog that’s published both in Spanish and English. It’s the same site, but different URLs, really fascinating, and an interesting conversation with Alejandra from BrownSugar&Vanilla. She’s also going to talk about the Spanish version of that as well. So let’s go ahead and jump into this interview with Alejandra. Alejandra, welcome to the podcast.

Alejandra Graf: Thank you so much.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, this is going to be a really fun conversation, because the way that you’re producing content is really unique, because you’re producing the same content in different ways, English and Spanish, two different sites, we’re going to be talking about that. But before we do, I want to hear a little bit about your journey to this point, how you got here. Take me back to the point where you said, “You know what, I want to focus on creating content. I want to blog.” And when you first started blogging, was it in English, or was it in Spanish?

Alejandra Graf: Well, I kind of started blogging as an accident. I’ve been living here in the United States for around 10 years now. The first two years we lived in Austin, Texas. Those years were my learning curve on how to live here in the United States, and a different culture, and a different language, and everything.

Bjork Ostrom: What were the things that were most surprising from a culture perspective when you first moved?

Alejandra Graf: I love how family-oriented families are here. I love how dads end up their work at six o’clock and you see them playing in the park with their kids, and there’s so hands-on with the babies and with everything. I love that. We’re not used to that in Mexico, people work until nine o’clock. We usually have help at home, so moms are not as involved as you are here with all the kids. I mean, we are very involved, but not that much hands-on, we have a lot of help. So, I love that. I fell in love. It was funny, because the minute we got to Austin, I felt like, “Oh, this is my place in the world.” You know what I mean? It was like, I loved it. I loved it.

Bjork Ostrom: You’re reason for moving 10 years ago to Austin was what?

Alejandra Graf: Because it was like, in Mexico, the city where I live in is the north part. I was born in Mexico City. When I was around 16 years old, we moved to Monterrey, that’s the north part of Mexico. 10 years ago, 11, 12 years ago, we had a lot of security problems, right? There were a lot of cartel fighting, there were a lot of things that were not pretty…

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Is that because it’s a northern city, that it’s closer to the border? It’s just by chance that that’s-

Alejandra Graf: No. Sadly, it’s been going on in all of Mexico. But where we lived, it’s close to the north to Matamoros, and all that part, where they fight more. Also, the city, Monterrey, it’s an industrial city, so it has a lot of money and a lot of power. I guess that they were fighting for a place there, or I don’t know, but it was bad. What happens is that, the neighborhood, or the county that I left is very small. Everything starts to close down, society wise, everything, right? So-

Bjork Ostrom: To the point where you don’t feel comfortable going out at night, and wouldn’t-

Alejandra Graf: Yes. To the point where I mean, Santiago, my firstborn was eight, nine years old. There was a wedding going on in a church next to our house or in the neighborhood that our house was. There were fireworks. He suddenly stood up against the wall, and he was like, “Mom, there are gunshots and stuff.” We’re like, “This is it.” Right? So this is not a way to live.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. When your kid assumes that fireworks aren’t fireworks, but are a threat to safety?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. It was like, “No, this is not a way to live.” Also, all that society-wise, kids started to, “Oh, if you’re not from this school, I don’t want to go to your house. If you’re not…” I understand it society-wise, because for security, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Alejandra Graf: Because you want to know the families and you want to know everything. Because sadly, with all these bad people, they go through all the, from poor people, to rich people, to private schools, public schools, they’re everywhere. So we were like, my husband and I were like, “There’s a world out there, so let’s move.” We took map out. So, “Where do you want to live?” My husband is American. His mom is from Brownsville, Texas, and his dad is from Mexico. So he was born in Brownsville, Texas, but he grew up in Mexico. But he went back and forth during the summers and stuff like that to the United States, so that was a huge thing. Right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: We basically opened the map and, “What city do you like? Do you like Austin, San Antonio?” Because he had his business in Mexico, so I came first with the kids, and then he drove back and forth. So basically, we’re like, “Oh, San Antonio is close enough. But we don’t like that much, San Antonio. Let’s go to Austin. Okay, let’s go to Austin.” So okay-

Bjork Ostrom: You went to Austin, before it was cool to go to Austin.

Alejandra Graf: I know, I know.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Now, it’s like it’s the spot to go to.

Alejandra Graf: It was so funny, because literally, we bought a map, I mean, a map at the gas station. “Okay, so where should we go?” Then when we got to Austin, we bought a map again, we searched for realtors, and, “Okay, where should we leave?” So we started looking houses around. That’s how we landed. I mean, it was a very brave decision. In our minds, there was never a plan B. So we have to make it work.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it was burn the ships kind of analogy where there’s no going back.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, totally.

Bjork Ostrom: Does your husband still have his business in Mexico? Or is he doing that anymore? Not anymore? Okay.

Alejandra Graf: No, not anymore. Part of the reason that we also moved is that he had a vending machine business, so it’s a lot of cash, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: So they pick up the cash and put the cash. So-

Bjork Ostrom: I remember when I was a kid, I would go help my grandpa at a building that he owned. One of the things I would do is open up the vending machine and take all the quarters out. As a kid, it was the coolest thing ever. Because you just open it up, it’s like, “Oh, there’s all these…”

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s some really popular YouTube accounts of have people who have vending machine businesses or laundromat businesses, and they go around and they collect all the money, but it’s like, it’s all cash, you’re operating entirely in cash, and then you carry it around.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. The situation that I was telling you about, I mean, it was not the ideal business to have in a city where there’s, security-wise, is not safe. You know?

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. Yep, yep. So you make the move and you land in Austin?

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: For at least a period of time, your husband was driving back and forth and was operating his business. For you, it sounds that was a period of time where you were starting to say like, “Okay, then what?” Like, “What do I do when I’m here?”

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Obviously, there’s a lot to do just around moving, establishing in a new place, new culture, things that. But then it sounds there’s another piece around consideration for work. Like, “What am I going to do? What am I going to create?” Was that kind of what you were thinking about at that period of time?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. It was a time where I felt I got my family back, we regrouped, we started new schools, new way of running a household and stuff like that. Then, my husband came to Austin and he found a job in Houston, so then we moved again.

Bjork Ostrom: Houston, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah to Houston. Well, we live in the Katy area, so it’s the suburbs.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Katy, Texas, is that a college town? Why do I know? Or is it just-

Alejandra Graf: No, it’s not. Well, you know what? Texas A&M is really close from here. That’s a college station and it’s about an hour, an hour and 15 minutes from here, so probably because of that.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Alejandra Graf: But it’s big in football. I don’t know if you follow high school football, so Katy has a football-

Bjork Ostrom: Maybe that’s what I’m thinking of. Yeah. Texas high school football. I love high school football, but Texas high school football feels like it’s just another level, it’s so extreme.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, it’s fun, it’s fun…

Bjork Ostrom: So you land in Houston and that’s when you start to kind of think about-

Alejandra Graf: When I was in Mexico, I was working in a high-end art firm. I studied art, so I always loved creating, and photography, and painting, and all of that. But my son Santiago, when he was born, he was born with dairy allergies. Now, he’s 20 years old. So 20 years ago in Mexico, in the north part of Mexico, when it’s a very macho culture, and meat-oriented and carne asada, and all of that, I started to raise him dairy-free and in a vegan diet. I was that crazy mom that did not give animal products to the kid. It was all bad, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Alejandra Graf: So fast forward 10 years, when we got to Houston. I started to, “Okay, so now I know how things work around here. I know that my kids are okay, we know the school system, we know anything.” That’s when I started thinking of what I was going to do, right? So I enrolled myself in a masters for art history. I don’t remember what it was. But that time, I was reading the book from Danielle Laporte, Fire Starter Sessions. There’s a line where she says, “Do what people thank you for.” That clicked my mind. Because at that time, my friends were calling me, all of my friends that told me that I was crazy one, they started calling me, “My daughter has allergies, food allergies, what do I do? How do I substitute this and how do I do that?” So I…

Bjork Ostrom: I love that idea of do what people thank you for.

Alejandra Graf: Thank you for.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a great concept.

Alejandra Graf: That book is awesome.

Bjork Ostrom: What is the book called, again?

Alejandra Graf: Fire Starter Sessions, and it’s from Danielle Laporte.

Bjork Ostrom: The kind of focus of the book is…

Alejandra Graf: What to do with your life.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, I’m reading the… it says the Fire Starter Sessions, soulful, practical guide to creating success on your own terms.

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: So you’re reading this, kind of thinking, “What do I want to do with my life?”

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And that phrase stuck out to you, do what people thank you for.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Then, you started to think, “What do people thank me for? Oh, it’s when I help them with-”

Alejandra Graf: Yes. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: “… how to, with their family, eat dairy-free or without animal products?”

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Interesting.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I spent a lot of time on the phone, like, “Do this, add this, add a pinch of this,” and stuff like that. My husband got to a point where he was like, “Can you stop? I mean, you have to do something, you have to make a blog, do something.” I was like, “Okay.” So I went and Googled, “What’s a blog?” Then, I started.

Bjork Ostrom: When was this, that that happened?

Alejandra Graf: This was 2013. I have to tell you that I enrolled in Food Blogger Pro.

Bjork Ostrom: Great.

Alejandra Graf: I don’t know when you started, it was a long time ago.

Bjork Ostrom: It was around that time. It was a while ago. Yeah.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. So I’m so happy to meet you, and finally thank you for all the things you have done.

Bjork Ostrom: Good. Yeah, that’s awesome.

Alejandra Graf: For me and everybody else. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s fun whenever we can close the loop on that. That’s why we built Food Blogger Pro, to be a part of somebody’s journey, right?

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s fun when it’s two parts of the journey. One would be, “Hey, can we help somebody early stages, figure out what’s next, how to launch?” But also, like this, we’ve been around long enough where now we can have a conversation with somebody who can come back around and give advice and insight to people who are potentially themselves starting or early stages. Or even if somebody is more established, to be able to say, “Here’s how you view work, and what you’ve done, and how you’ve kind of found success.” So, that’s really fun to hear.

Alejandra Graf: No, so thank you so much. I mean, you showed us a way and I loved it.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome.

Alejandra Graf: But in that time, I was super crazy with my… I have three kids, and they all do sports, and band, and three different schools, and stuff, so I had to stop. But I really remember that I was sitting on my bed with my computer, doing laundry, watching all the courses, that…

Bjork Ostrom: Totally.

Alejandra Graf: From Food Blogger Pro.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: So you have this moment where you ask the question, “What do people thank me for?” You start to get some clarity around that. How quickly after that did the idea of what your blog and your business would be, start to formulate?

Alejandra Graf: I think it was like, I don’t know, around three to six months after. Because as I said, then, I was enrolled for my Master’s of Art. I think it was art philosophy, or art something. I had to cancel that Google, what’s a blog, and how to make a blog, and stuff like that-

Bjork Ostrom: So you were pursuing a Master’s and decided to switch.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Like, “Maybe this won’t be a good fit for me.” Was it that the idea of building a blog became the more attractive thing or was it in going through your masters, you realized this isn’t a fit for me.

Alejandra Graf: Helping people.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Alejandra Graf: Helping people, it really lighted up something in me, and I didn’t know how to cook. I learned how to cook here in Austin. I mean, I was born a vegetarian, because I’ve never liked meat, or chicken, or something like that, not because of my family, because of me. When Santiago was born, being vegan, I had to start learning how to cook and eat the things that I wanted. When we got to Austin, I saw all these products, and this new produce, and everything. So I was like, “Oh, this is my calling.” So it was something like that, but it was more related to helping people. When I decided to start the blog, I divided it in three, because I knew that it could be a business. So I first divided it in three areas.

Alejandra Graf: First, all the tech side. Then, the photography side. And then, the food. So I was like, “Okay, what should I do first? First, I need this.” So I started with all the techie things and stuff that. Then, I learned how to… I took a professional certification course on how to be a plant-based chef. So, I did that. Then, I started learning photography. But as I said before, I was so busy with the kids, that it made sense to me to divide the business in three. Every other year, I’d go around, like, “Okay, I’m stuck on photography. What do I need to do?” I need this and this.“ Or tech wise, ”I need this. I need a better server. I need better things.” That has helped me a lot.

Bjork Ostrom: Do you mentally divide that up? So it almost feels you’re making progress in a way that it wouldn’t be that, if you were just like, “I just need to do all these things, until I get through all of them, then it’s not considered done.” Whereas if you’re focusing just on photography for a season, then you can say, “Great, I want to get better at photography and understand Lightroom,” say. So then you do a class, and of course, you get better at it, and you feel, “I moved through that, check, done. Now, I can focus on some of the tech stuff.” Or what is your reason for kind of viewing it in three different areas or three different buckets?”

Alejandra Graf: Because I feel that I realized really early that to show what I wanted, the recipes, and the food, and the idea of this new way of eating that I had, I needed to show that food, yummy food. Not just the picture and everybody asks you, “What is that?” I mean, I needed something beautiful.

Bjork Ostrom: The feeling. Yeah.

Alejandra Graf: I needed to know how to write a recipe, because my recipe sharing was, “Add a pinch of salt, it’ll taste good.”

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: “Just a little bit of lemon.” I needed to really do that. The tech side, always was not my forte. But that the reason is when I felt I just couldn’t go further, because of all of my knowledge, I went and hired somebody else that was smarter than me. With photography, when I looked at the photos and I was like, “God, no, this is not working. I feel stuck.” That’s when I moved ahead. It’s more of a feeling than a to-do list.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure that makes sense. When you started out, did you know, hey, you’re going to start with writing all your content in English or writing in Spanish? And talk a little bit about what that’s like, because you have two different sites, but same content, but different languages. What is that like, two different sites?

Alejandra Graf: They are two different languages in two different voices. Because there are things that you say in Spanish, that if I said in English, they would be like, “What is wrong with this girl?” Right?

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Do have an example of that? What would that be, one of the things you would or wouldn’t say?

Alejandra Graf: I mean, well, not in the blog, but with my life. Once, one of my friends went to my house to… My daughter had a play date, so she went to drop her daughter to my house. I was just back from Mexico, because we had a wedding there. I was standing at the door. I mean, I laugh, every time I tell this story. I was standing at the door in my house, and she was in her car. She just put down the window and she was like, “How was the wedding?” I was like, “Oh, God, I got intoxicated. It was so bad.” But imagine me screaming from my door to her car. I could see her face turning white, doubting, “Should I leave my daughter or not?” I was like, “That’s weird. What’s going on? I don’t know.” So she left her daughter. Then, she came an hour earlier than she said she was going to come. I was like, “Yeah, what’s up?” She was like, “Oh, I think you meant food poisoning, right?” I was like, “Yeah, I got sick. I mean, I ate something and I got food poisoning.” And she was like…

Bjork Ostrom: Versus her thinking you just had so much to drink and you were this completely irresponsible person.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. You could see her face changing and I was like, “What’s wrong? I mean, I’m the one that was sick, not you.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right, right. Yeah.

Alejandra Graf: But examples that, I have a million. I always mix up words. So what I did is I started in Spanish, because of my friends were calling me from Mexico, like, “What do you do this? How do you do that?” and stuff like that.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s literally you being able to, somebody asks you, and instead of you writing an email, you write a blog post.

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s a good way to think about it. That happens even with me, wherein my family and kind of circle of friends, I’m known as the tech guy. So my brother-in-law is like, “Hey, should I buy the new iMac or the old one that’s a little bit bigger with an Intel chip?” It’s like, “What do people thank you for?” Like, “What do people ask you questions about?” If I didn’t know what content area I wanted to write about, I could write a blog post analyzing the difference between those two things. It sounds that’s what you did.

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Because your friends, who were asking you, if you were to connect with them, you would speak Spanish, you wouldn’t speak English, you started your site in Spanish. Is that right?

Alejandra Graf: Yes. Yes, that’s it. So I started in Spanish, but then, I noticed that it was kind of expensive to maintain the blog, and the cameras, and all of that, so I needed to… Even though I knew it was going to be a business, I didn’t realize that so early I needed to start working and to cover the costs. So then, I noticed that people were hiring me for my… They liked the recipes and they hired me, but they were like, “Can you write them in English?” So I started writing them in English and they were bad, but I mean, really, really bad. At the point that one editor just told me, “You know, your writing is so weird.” I was traumatized for life.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, I know, it was hard.

Bjork Ostrom: Who were these people that you were writing for? Were these brands doing sponsored content or for other companies?

Alejandra Graf: Other companies. Magazines on the internet, like mom bloggers, like networks. So yeah, they would hire me to showcase the Mexican side of a recipe, or for Mexican Independence Day, that it’s today, also, and stuff that. But it was bad, so I had to learn. It’s not only that I wrote in English, also, I had to learn how to write in English. Because I mean, I grew up in a bilingual school, and lived in Boston, and lived all over the place, but I never knew the vocabulary for the culinary world. You know what I mean?

Bjork Ostrom: Uh-huh.

Alejandra Graf: So, I needed to do that. That’s when I noticed that I need to start earning more money and that it could be a business, that’s when I started to write more in English and that’s when I decided to also, instead of calling it Piloncillo&Vainilla, that’s when I call it BrownSugar&Vanilla, the English side. Because my friends here in the United States were like, “What’s your blog?” It was like, “Piloncillo&Vainilla.” I mean, I never thought about that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, but they would look at it and be like, “Wait, what is this? How do you pronounce it?”

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Versus, if you translate that, it’s, “Oh, brown sugar and vanilla. Okay, I know, what that is.”

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, totally.

Bjork Ostrom: When you go through the process of publishing a recipe, my guess is you write it in Spanish first, you have that all established, you publish it to your Spanish site. Then, you’re taking that, translating it, publishing it to your English site. Is that correct?

Alejandra Graf: Yes. Uh-huh. I have the multiple language plugin for WordPress, so that has made it really easy, because I just press a button and it says, “Copy the content from the Spanish site.” So it copies it. And then, Google Translate has been an amazing tool for me, and I also use Grammarly. But now, I also have an amazing editor, that she’s been helping me a lot. Because I always mix up my prepositions, or I invent sayings, like instead of in a pinch, I use it in a totally different way. She’s so lovely. She’s like, “You know, Ale, this is not the way we use this expression.” She’s been really, really lovely. I’ve been learning a lot with her.

Bjork Ostrom: I feel like languages, I remember this in high school, learning Spanish. It’s after I got done with Spanish One, I was like, “I’m pretty good at Spanish.” But it’s like, with languages, the more you learn, the more you realize you have no idea.

Alejandra Graf: No idea. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: And so much respect for anybody, like yourself, who’s able to not only be bilingual, but then also to create content that reaches both audiences.

Alejandra Graf: It’s like being cultural, because the-

Bjork Ostrom: Yes, totally.

Alejandra Graf: … culture here and the culture there, it’s two different things, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Different. You would interact different, you greet people different. I remember my wife, Lindsay, and I lived in the Philippines for a year. There’s all of these really small things that you don’t know. A super specific example is, one of the ways that somebody would affirm, or say yes, they just be like, raise their eyebrows, almost like a nod. When you don’t know that, it’s a really weird interaction, when you ask a question, somebody affirms by saying, yes, raising their eyebrows, but you don’t know that that’s what it is.

Alejandra Graf: I know.

Bjork Ostrom: And so, there’s all those little nuances that exist, and so you can understand how that becomes difficult when you’re trying to, whether it be a little quip or phrase, and just used in the exact right way. is kind of difficult.

Alejandra Graf: I know, I know.

Bjork Ostrom: So one of the things you had talked about, and that’s actually a tool that I use as well, Grammarly, which is just this incredible tool-

Alejandra Graf: Yes, incredible.

Bjork Ostrom: … that gives you real-time feedback, even on tone and things that.

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: I think the way that we write is such an important piece. When we look at hiring, it’s so important. Any of the content you publish, so important. So I think that’s important to point out. I’m curious to know, with the two sites, so you have Google Analytics, probably running on each site. Do you kind of run them as two separate things? Will you know that something will be popular, a Spanish version of it will be popular, but the English version won’t? Then, I’m also curious about seasonality, because I’m guessing that there’s certain seasons where it’d be like, “Hey, this is the perfect timing for this recipe in Mexico, but it wouldn’t be the perfect timing for that in Minneapolis, Minnesota.”

Alejandra Graf: I know.

Bjork Ostrom: Will you still publish a recipe on both sites, despite it being out of season on one? Or does that not matter as much?

Alejandra Graf: No, yes, and I think I’m still learning. It’s been a huge, huge learning curve for me, all of that. Because, I mean, I am Mexican. So in Mexico, we feel different, not how we feel, we plan different for seasons. We’re not as organized as we are here, that we plan for Thanksgiving months in advance, especially with food blogging that you have to go way further, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: It has worked that I combine the two countries, because for example, as I said, today is Mexican Independence Day, and it’s also Hispanic Heritage Month, right? So I started publishing all the recipes. But on top of that, I’m also vegan, so it’s difficult to understand that Mexico, here in the States, that I’m Mexican and that I’m vegan. It’s another level. And I don’t look Mexican, so that’s another thing.

Bjork Ostrom: True. Difficult to understand, because traditionally, you wouldn’t, Mexican recipes would include some type of meat. Is that what you mean?

Alejandra Graf: Yes. Here in the States, yeah, it’s always meat, it’s always cream, it’s always queso, it’s always something. But in Mexico, it’s not.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s animal products, always.

Alejandra Graf: But in Mexico, it’s not, because in Mexico, there are a lot of recipes that are, as you know, our cuisine is based in masa, in this corn flour. So there are a lot of things that are made with just masa, or we use a lot of tomatoes and other vegetables. So we don’t always include meat and dairy in our food. So it’s been a long process to understand what resonates better with the people here. But also, in Mexico, they’re 10 years behind on the vegan side, so it’s also been educating people that, “You can do a soup and make it vegan, you can do this and make it vegan.” So right now, I think that everything has worked in a good way, favorable, do you say favorable?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: For me, yeah? Because as I said, Mexican Independence is today, and it’s Hispanic Heritage Month. Then Mexico, it’s growing its Halloween festivities, and it’s getting big in festivities. Then, here in the States, Dia de los Muertos is getting big, so it’s also Mexican. So in a way, it’s kind of working.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So I’m curious to know, what does traffic to your site, let’s say your English site, look like in Spanish-speaking countries? What does traffic to your Spanish site look like in English-speaking countries? Specifically, I’m curious to know in the US, there’s a massive population of people who speak Spanish. My guess is that it’s a relatively, in the US at least, in the food space, an underserved market? But maybe I’m off on that.

Alejandra Graf: No, no, no. But the people that live here are also consuming information. They’re used to consuming information in blogs and everything in English.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Alejandra Graf: Right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: So my Spanish blog has an audience that it’s from all over the world. I mean, Mexico is the first place. Then, Argentina is the second one. The United States is the third one, because that’s a Spanish. Then, the English side is all US and it’s growing. It’s still growing. I mean, it’s not that much traffic, but I like to have the option. I mean, if I was just writing and looking at the numbers, it would make sense just to write in Spanish, because it’s a huge difference, but I like having the English version. I think it’s been a catch-up at some point.

Bjork Ostrom: The huge difference in that your Spanish site is more popular?

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Is that what you mean?

Alejandra Graf: Yes. Because I started it way before then the English one.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. The other thing I’m curious is, what does that look like? You’ve talked about kind of the transition to being a business, you knew that it was going to be a business, it is, you have a team and editor, people that you’re working with. I’m curious to know, number one, at what point were you like, “Oh, this is transitioning into being a business.” Was it running ads? Or was it getting a sponsorship? Then, I’m also curious to know, are there things that are different in terms of running ads on your site? Can you work with a traditional advertiser, like Mediavine or AdThrive? Then, also sponsorships, are there companies that you’re working with? Would you work with companies in Mexico who hire you to promote a certain product, and are there considerations around contracts, or things like that?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m just really curious to know what that Looks like.

Alejandra Graf: Yes. I am with AdThrive, right now. Again, I have to say that you and Lindsey showed us a way. So I followed you, what you were doing. Yeah, I’m so grateful for you both. I don’t remember, but you said every month. I don’t know how often you did it, you sent like, “This is what we earned,” or something. Something like that, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Uh-huh. Yeah. For a season, we did reports where we said, “Here is…” later on, we said, “Traffic. Then, here’s kind of what we’re spending money on. Here’s where income is coming from.”

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: I think, for a lot of people, it’s like the four-minute mile. Where it’s like, once you see somebody do it, then you’re like, “Oh, okay.” Then you can do it.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m grateful, because you were like, “Oh, this is possible.” You showed us a way, at least you showed me a way. I was running ads with… I always forget their name. It’s Blogher, with Blogher, until I got the page views that you need for AdThrive. Then, I got accepted in AdThrive. I’ve been working with them. It’s a challenge, because I have to grow my us audience, also. But, I mean, I’m there and it’s working. That’s a huge thing for me.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you run it on your Spanish site?

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: You can run it on both? Okay.

Alejandra Graf: Yes, yes. Remember, they’re the same site. They’re just mirrors. Even though I write in different languages and with a different voice, with that plugin, it’s like a mirror.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Alejandra Graf: You go back and forth from one to another.

Bjork Ostrom: This is helping me wrap my head around it. Even though the URL is the same, everything else-

Alejandra Graf: It’s different. Even though the URL is different…

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, thank you. Even though the URL is different, everything else with the site is the same. So even though I can pull up the Spanish version and the English version, those are viewed as technically the same site. Do you know what’s going on behind the scenes and how that works or functionally? So do you have just one Google Analytics account, so it shows you…

Alejandra Graf: With Google Analytics, you can have as many properties as you want.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: So I have one for the whole site. I have one for the Spanish URL and one for the English URL.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Does it work in a way where, how does it, is it based on the search term that you’re using in terms of what shows up? Or like, if I’m sitting here in Minnesota, will it always be BrownSugar&Vanilla that shows up?

Alejandra Graf: No.

Bjork Ostrom: Or if I search using a Spanish search term, that will be the version that shows up? So it’s Google’s intelligent enough to know, based on the term that I’m using, what post to display?

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Alejandra Graf: Yes. Because sometimes I even look for something in Spanish and my BrownSugar&Vanilla site comes first, then the Spanish one, because I’m here in the States.

Bjork Ostrom: Is that location-based? Or would you also say, if I switched my default language within Chrome or Google to Spanish, I wonder if that would impact it? Do you know?

Alejandra Graf: I don’t know, probably you know more than I do, but I think it is location-based. Because all of my settings are in English, because I never understand the Spanish that they use. I understand only the English. But when I go to Mexico, I run ads in Spanish. So I think it’s location-based.

Bjork Ostrom: So it locationally knows. When you are in Mexico, would it be more likely to show the Spanish version of your site?

Alejandra Graf: I don’t know. I don’t know, we’ll have to… Probably.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s so fascinating to me.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Because it’s an area that I don’t really know anything about. It seems kind of mysterious to me. But the point being, the Spanish and English version, are you logging into two separate WordPress accounts? Or it’s the same WordPress?

Alejandra Graf: No, it’s the same. It’s the same.

Bjork Ostrom: Same WordPress account.

Alejandra Graf: Uh-huh. It’s the same and I can go, I can show you the back end any day that you want, so you can take a look at it. But there’s a little flag at the top, and there, you can click on Spanish or the English version, and there’s also a logo that I can show that shows the whole site, both languages.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure, that makes sense.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, so I have an amazing developer that he’s a genius and he’s been helping me-

Bjork Ostrom: It’s good to have those, especially in situations like this. How about your team? What does that look? The people that you’re working with? How did you build that over time? When did you know it was the right time to hire?

Alejandra Graf: Well, Lee, the developer, it took me forever to just do the coding to hide that image when Pinterest, you know?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah.

Alejandra Graf: I always mess up. It’s like, “Oh, no, this is not my thing.” So he came into Piloncillo&Vainilla, first. Then, I have Joanna, she’s my manager, brand manager, she helps me with contracts and stuff. Answering to the other question that you asked before, I don’t work with companies in Mexico. I only work with companies here in the States.

Bjork Ostrom: Why is that?

Alejandra Graf: Because it’s a different way of working. I’m used to working with the US companies, so it’s different. US companies are very formal. They say like, “Here’s the list of things that you need. This is what I’m expecting. This is what I’m going to pay you.” Everything. Mexico, everybody is lovely, “I’m so glad to meet you. Let’s see if we see each other tomorrow.” Then, tomorrow never comes and it drives me crazy, right? So I’m more used to working here. I mean, they’re amazing. I love them. I am Mexican, but it’s a totally different story. Right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Alejandra Graf: Then, Joanna came, because, as I said, I mean, Spanish is my first language. When I read all the contracts, it took me forever, because there were words that I did not understand or there were terms that I did not understand. I was like, “No, this is not…” Even negotiating, I wasn’t asking enough, and I wasn’t… it was a mess.

Bjork Ostrom: This is somebody who helps with contracts and brand management?

Alejandra Graf: Yes. She’s Johanna Voss, she has an agency, a talent agency. That’s what she calls her. I think she works with-

Bjork Ostrom: What’s the agency called?

Alejandra Graf: Johanna Voss, her name.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. So, she helps. I think we are five girls working with her. I love her, because she’s been a huge help to my business, and also an amazing teacher for me on what can we do as a business and how we can work together. She’s amazing.

Bjork Ostrom: What has been most helpful in that relationship? When you say it’s been amazing and super helpful, do you have some examples?

Alejandra Graf: Negotiating.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Alejandra Graf: Negotiating. Because I don’t know if it’s my Mexican side, or my immigrant kind of feeling, or I don’t know what it is-

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s personality, like some people just don’t like negotiating.

Alejandra Graf: I feel like I have to do a lot more, because I don’t speak English or whatever. So she’s been like, “No, you’re good. Stop.” It’s just been amazing. Then, I have a designer that works with, it’s a designer, social media, everything guy. He’s super nice. He’s young, much, much younger than I am, so he has a more modern way of looking things. So he helps me edit videos, work with social programming stuff and all of that. Every year, I do a magazine, where I share tips, or recipes, or how to do this, or, I don’t know, for all of the people that want to start… January’s big with healthy stuff, so I do that, and he’s in charge of all that. Then, I have Allison, that Allison, she’s my editor. I hired her, well, started working with her, because I wanted to look more professional. Because as I said, I mixed my prepositions a lot of the time, or I don’t know how to say things. Especially for the content I do for other companies, she checks it and checks it again. She’s also an amazing translator. So if I don’t have time to translate something, I give it to her and she translates it.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, that’s awesome. So how did you find the different people to work with? I know it’s a question that often comes up as people say, “Hey, I’m at the point where you kind of need some help, but I don’t know where to go.” Like what would your advice be for people who are trying to find people to help them build their site.

Alejandra Graf: I really feel that when you’re ready, and you’re open to opportunities and stuff, things will pop up and come to you. Probably, this is frustrating if you’re to hear me say this, if you’re looking for a tech guy or looking, but it does. Those are the ways that people have come to me. Asking. I ask a lot of questions, a lot of questions. I don’t know, I think that to this point, I’m embarrassing free, or how to say it, I don’t feel embarrassed. So I just go and ask, and ask, and ask.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s being humble and not being above saying, “Can you help me?” Or, “I need help?” Not like, desperately need help in this thing. But like, “Hey, here’s the thing. Can you help me with this?” I think a lot of times, that stuff just lives in our head. I’ve thought about that, even when we go through the process of, whether it’s trying to solve a problem or trying to hire, just saying it. I went down and got a sandwich today at the sandwich shop in our building. If we were hiring a, let’s say, social media person, it wouldn’t hurt to say, “Hey Doug, if you know anybody, we’re looking to hire a social media person.” I see my parents this weekend. “Hey, yeah, it’s been great at work lately. Just so you know, we’re looking to hire somebody.” Putting it out into the world, I think, allows other people to activate their brains. Naturally, people will just try and solve a problem when presented with it.

Alejandra Graf: Yes, 100%.

Bjork Ostrom: Whether that’s me figuring out, we have this huge brown spot in our yard from our dog Sage going and peeing in our yard in the same spot. I’m like, “How do I solve for this? I don’t know how to patch.” But then, I start to ask people and there’s all these ideas. The same thing exists with our businesses, and it sounds a little bit, that’s what you’re getting at, which is you speak it into the world, what that does is it activates other people to kind of problem solve and try and figure it out along with you.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, yeah. For example, Luis, the designer that works with me, he was working with a friend in Mexico that has a magazine and with COVID he had to cut people off, and he came and visit. We were talking about this and I was just saying that, “You know if you know somebody that wants to work, and…” because I’m like, “I have a lot of things to do.” He’s like, “Oh, you could hire him for an hour a day, and that way, if you pay him that way, he will get his complete salary.” So, that’s what I did.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. When you look at where, if you had a pie chart and you were to kind of graph out the business today, I’d be curious to know both sides, percentage-wise, what does it look for income sources? So advertising, versus sponsored, versus if you’re doing freelance work? And then also roughly what does that look expenses? Is it mostly team members? Or is there some other crazy expense that you feel is really worth it? It doesn’t have to be specific numbers, but just, what does that look for you from business perspective? Both from the things that are most important for revenue? Also, the places that you say, “Hey, it’s really important for me to spend money within my business in this area.”

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. Right now, it’s, let’s say, 80% sponsored work and 20%… Well, 75, 25% advertising. And for a long time, I did all the work by myself. And then the minute I had a little bit extra, I decided to hire somebody. So I didn’t pay me for a long, long time. I think I-

Bjork Ostrom: Invested back into the business? Yeah.

Alejandra Graf: Uh-huh. So I’ve always spent first on the business. What I spent on ads right now, it goes directly to… I mean, what I earn on ads, it goes directly to paying the server, and paying all of the plugins, and paying Grammarly, and all of the extra things that I do. Half and half of the what I earn with sponsored content goes to paying the team and a bit for myself.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, with the sponsored content, how are you able to find those connections and those… Is it sponsored content, like you’re posting to Instagram and your blog? Or is it doing freelance work for other food and recipe sites, where you’re maybe developing recipes and photographing it?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, so I don’t do freelance work anymore. Because now, my focus is 100% on the blog, because I have a lot of things that I need fix and figure out.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally, an endless lists.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, yeah. To update content and a lot of things. Sponsored content, I get it from Instagram, or Joanna, again, she helps a lot promoting my business.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So with the agency, that’s one of the things I think people forget about, the agency will sometimes find deals and bring them to you. Is that what you’re getting at?

Alejandra Graf: Yes, yes. But before Joanna was working with me, I asked. Again, I just asked and introduced myself, and, “Hey, I’m Alejandra. This is my blog. I do recipes in Spanish and English.” That’s the way. Or sometimes, when I started, I just bought a product that I really, really loved, and took pictures of it, and developed recipes, and just contact that girl, the PR. You can Google all the PR and you can Google everything, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Alejandra Graf: So I think I’ve become really resourceful, Googling, and so I do a lot of that. I just introduce myself and say, “Hey, I’m Alejandra. I made this recipe with this flour. I loved it. My kids loved it. Would you like to work with me?” I told them a little bit of my story, and that’s how I started, asking, again.

Bjork Ostrom: Made that connection. Yeah, yeah. And asking, but not without doing anything.

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: You did some work, and you proved that you’re willing to take the time to make the recipe, to photograph it, to include the product, versus coming without anything to offer, which I think a lot of people do and it’s a weird way to start a relationship.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. There’s a lot going on, right, in the food blogger, that… Well, not just the food blogging world. In all this influencer world, that has become that. It’s like, “Guys, you have to show why you’re good. You have to show why you’re different and why.” So, that’s how I think.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. It’s inspiring for me to hear how resourceful you’ve been. Doing this is just hard, in general. But then, also as some additional hurdles that you’ve had to navigate. I feel it’s hard just to communicate in general sometimes, but then what does it look like to communicate in a second language, right?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah. Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s a level deeper. So a lot of admiration and respect from me-

Alejandra Graf: Thank you.

Bjork Ostrom: … for the work that you’ve done. It’s really inspiring to see. If you look back between now and the time when you were folding laundry and watching Food Blogger Pro videos, what were the things that you did, along the way that were most impactful to the growth and success of your blog and your business?

Alejandra Graf: I think that I started to see things turning around when I took it really seriously.

Bjork Ostrom: What does that mean and look like? What did not taking it seriously look like? Then, what does taking this seriously look like?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, so I kind of divided my time through the day. You have to make some sacrifices, wake up early to write a post before I send the kids to school or taking my computer with me everywhere. As I said, I have three kids that are super, super active, so I always carried my computer, because I knew that I was going to work during soccer practice. I had half an hour or stuff like that. I stopped going to lunches, breakfast, whatever mom’s get-together things. I was like, “No, I’m working.” I also applied, I call it I know it’s called the Pomodoro Method, but I call it the Lavadora, that’s the washer method. I turn on the washing machine and then I do something, and then I do something…

Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain that concept for people who aren’t familiar with it, just the basic idea?

Alejandra Graf: Uh-huh. So the Pomodoro Method is that you work for 45 minutes and then you rest, or you walk, or you do another thing for 15 minutes. That’s kind of the idea, because my washer, the cycle took 45 minutes. That’s why I do my washer method.

Bjork Ostrom: The question is, do you just run it without a load when you don’t have any laundry?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Use that, still?

Alejandra Graf: Well, you got me thinking, when I was folding laundry, the kids were 10, eight and six, at that time. My husband traveled a lot, I was alone with them, but it was crazy. It was not only the washer, it was also like, “Take him to the class and come back.” And, “Take her to the class and come back.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You had these windows of time, essentially.

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: What’s great about Pomodoro Method is that it’s kind of breaking apart the idea of you have eight hours in a day to work. You just kind of slog away for eight hours to say, you work super-focused on one thing for 45 minutes and then take a break. The idea being that if you work with a tick-tock pattern of like, focus, focus, focus, break, that you’ll actually be able to do more than if you just try and do eight hours straight through. But that idea of committing to it, taking it seriously, we hear that. There’s an interview we recently did with Sarah Cook from Sustainable Cook. I want to make sure that I get her URL right? But she talked about that same idea. She was like, “You know what, I decided to take it seriously. Once I took it seriously, the impact that that had was substantial.”

Alejandra Graf: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Sustainable Cooks with an S, not just Sustainable Cook. So I think it’s a great note and an important consideration for people who are looking to level up. It takes time, it takes commitment, it takes hard work. It’s cool of your story, Alejandra, of you doing that and finding success in it. So if people want to connect with you, if they want to follow along, like you said, today, when we’re recording this, I don’t know when it will go live. But when we’re recording this, it’s the start of the Hispanic Heritage Month, which is kind of fun to kick this off. Then, you said, is it the 16th, technically, so today’s the 16th in Mexico.

Alejandra Graf: The 15th,

Bjork Ostrom: Well, is the 15th or 16th, you said it was Mexican Independence Day.

Alejandra Graf: The 15th.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, it’s the 15th. Okay. I Googled it quick, and it said September 16th.

Alejandra Graf: Ah, well, what happens is that today is the, they went to a church and rang a bell, then they scram, it’s, “We’re independent, let’s…” But we start celebrating from today.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah. It’s a birthday weekend, as a birthday day.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, you know Mexicans. I mean, we party.

Bjork Ostrom: We know it’s coming up, let’s just start now.

Alejandra Graf: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. Fun to have this conversation on today, leading into this month, and really fun to connect with somebody whose familiar with Food Blogger Pro, especially in the early stages. So for those who want to follow along, where can they do that? How can they connect with you, Alejandra?

Alejandra Graf: Yeah, so my blog in English is brownsugarandvanilla.com. My Instagram is Piloncillo&Vainilla, but if you Google AleVegan, you’ll find me. Ale, it’s A-L-E, not I.

Bjork Ostrom: Great.

Alejandra Graf: Okay?

Bjork Ostrom: We’ll link to it in the show notes, too. So people can go and click if they need to. So thanks so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your story. We really appreciate it.

Alejandra Graf: Thank you so much to you and Lindsay and everything that you have done for us. I mean, it’s amazing and I will be forever grateful.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh, well, really appreciate it, it means a lot and thanks for coming on.

Alejandra Graf: Bye.

Bjork Ostrom: All right, one more big thank you to Alejandra for coming on the podcast, sharing her story, her journey in starting her site, but also her journey in coming to the United States, what that was like and what that experience was like for her. It was really fun to have this conversation with her, we’re not publishing the podcast on this date, but on the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, so it’s fun for me to have a conversation on that day. Mexico’s Independence Day as well, as she shared, so it was kind of cool.

Bjork Ostrom: If you are interested in following along with the podcast, if you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe, be sure to follow, whatever it is called in the area where you listen to podcasts, whether that’s an app, or on YouTube, or on the website, foodbloggerpro.com/podcast where we publish these, we’d love for you to follow along. To those of you who haven’t checked out Food Blogger Pro, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com. You can simply sign up for the email list, it’s probably the best way to learn a little bit more about who we are and what we’re up to. We send along a PDF, it’s an overview, we call it The 16 Ways You Can Make Money From Your Food blog, but essentially, it’s just a recap, an overview, for those of you who want to learn more about what it looks to build and grow a food-related or recipe related blog.

Bjork Ostrom: We talk about that on the homepage and in the email list, so go ahead and sign up there. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for listening. Our hope is that we can help you get a tiny bit better every day forever. That’s why we exist. We will be back here, same time, same place, one week from now, and until then, make it a great week. Thanks

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  1. I think it’s great when you all have guests that are users of Food Blogger Pro. Your company offers a wealth of extremely useful information and it’s nice to hear the testimonies of your users. Also, Bjork is a great interviewer. His questions are so thoughtful and you can tell he really enjoys this work.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Shannon! I think that’s a great idea — we’ll try and bring more FBP users onto the podcast in the future. 🙂

      And totally agree about Bjork’s interviewing style. He always asks the most insightful questions, and I know I personally learn so much from all the podcast episodes.