Welcome to episode 334 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Chandice Probst about how to craft the perfect pitch when reaching out to brands.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Emma Duckworth from Emma Duckworth Bakes about how she’s grown her blog by focusing on SEO. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Crafting the Perfect Pitch
While Chandice runs the popular food and entertaining blog This Vivacious Life, she’s also the Sponsor Director for Tastemaker Conference. And that means that she has learned a lot about pitching to brands and getting sponsorship opportunities over the years!
Today on the podcast, she’s sharing all her tips and tricks for food bloggers looking to create the perfect pitch. From focusing on mindset and building confidence in yourself to writing enticing emails that brands won’t be able to resist, this episode will give you all the information you need to confidently reach out to brands.
It’s a thought-provoking conversation that will leave you feeling inspired and motivated to reflect on your own pitching strategy. Enjoy!
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- What Chandice has learned throughout her entrepreneurial journey
- Why mindset is so important when it comes to pitching
- How to figure out what your strengths are
- How to create a strong media kit and rate sheet
- How to determine your rates when working with brands
- How to build relationships with other food bloggers
- How to create enticing pitches that will capture the attention of brands
- Tips for nurturing long-term relationships with brands
- This Vivacious Life
- Chandice’s cookbook, Gluten-Free on a Budget
- Find Me Gluten Free
- Shark Tank
- Tastemaker Conference
- Delegate and Elevate
- Creating a Media Kit course – available for FBP members!
- Meaningful Eats
- Frosting and Fettuccine
- 331: Building Community – How Abbey Rodriguez Founded and Grew Tastemaker Conference
- The Foreign Fork
- Marco Polo
- Follow Chandice on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest
- Check out the Food Blogger Pro YouTube channel (and subscribe while you’re there!)
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: Hello. Hello, this is the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Today we are interviewing Chandice Probst, and she’s going to be talking about pitching and a structure for pitching. She’s going to talk through, hey, step one here’s what you do. Step two, here’s what you do. Here’s when you talk about rates, here’s some ideas about how to figure out what your rate is, but she’s also going to be talking about some of her stories of developing her own pitches and how she’s used that to get some traction in some different business area.
Bjork Ostrom: Including a conversation that we’ll have right off the bat, which is how she first connected with Mark Cuban owner of the Dallas Mavericks and billionaire angel investor, which is a really fun story to kick things off with. So if you’ve ever been interested in sponsor content, working with brands, leveling up your ability to do sales and pitching, and also we’re going to talk about thinking strategically around the type of work that you want to be doing. And maybe you don’t want to be doing sponsored content for your blog, but there’s other ways that you can be thinking about pitching yourself and working with different companies and building your business in really strategic ways. So it’s a great conversation with Chandice who has a lot of experience in this. Let’s go ahead and jump in. Chandice welcome to the podcast.
Chandice Probst: Thank you Bjork. I’m excited to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, usually we do a little bit of a lead-in, ask some background questions, and just check in a little bit to say “Hey, what’s your story? Where you at?” But I want to dive in right away to a story around a name that a lot of people would recognize. As we’re getting ready for this you had mentioned Mark Cuban, and working with Mark Cuban or working on a project that he had. My own little Mark Cuban story is I read one of his books and then I emailed him and it was like, “Hey, I really enjoyed reading the book.” And then like three minutes later he emailed me back and I was like, “What the heck?” This person is just always working apparently and really on top of their email, but what was your experience working with Mark Cuban, and what’s the background with that?
Chandice Probst: Yes. Oh, I’m so glad he emailed you right back and that doesn’t surprise me. He is a very dedicated, hard-working man. Did the email have one sentence with no capitals and no-
Bjork Ostrom: yes, exactly. Exactly
Chandice Probst: That’s exactly how he would reply to me. And I got really good at when I would message him, when I’d send him an email I would get right to the point. He doesn’t want to hear the story, I just ask the question that I need answered, and that was how the reply came so it was really fun.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: So I actually got diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2008 I would say, right around there, and right away I just wanted to dive into this new lifestyle. I wanted to make sure that I showed people that it was not a terrible thing for me, it was an answer to a lot of years of pain. And one of the things I did after that is I worked with the Celiac Disease Foundation, I started my first blog, which is a joke now that I go back and look at it, it was in blogspot.com, you know?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: And then I created a company called Gluten Free Calendar, and that was where for a long time gluten-free was new. There was a lot of events, there was a lot of conferences and a ton of things happening, and so I wanted a place where you could find everything in one place. And my business partner on that, he was also working on Find Me Gluten Free. I don’t know if you’ve heard that business, it’s the number one app for finding a gluten-free restaurant.
Bjork Ostrom: Oh, cool.
Chandice Probst: Yeah. And he had gotten Mark Cuban on for that business and he’s like, “Hey, let’s talk to him about this business.” And we did, we pitched it and he was excited and so he joined us and it was really fun. He joined us as an angel investor or something like that I guess, and he was there to just help us answer questions, really as like a business mentor if you will. And it was exciting, and it was fun to see that press release go out and be like, “Gluten Free Calendar partners with Mark Cuban.” I mean, it’s a surreal moment, it was the moment went for me I knew that the pitching skills I had been working on for a long time had paid off, enough for The Shark.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m really curious to know. So we’ve done a couple small angel investments, I’m not a prolific angel investor, but I know that Mark Cuban is, and a lot of times it’ll be deals like that where somebody will pitch him and he’ll be, “Hey, actually I want to…” It’s kind of like Shark Tank, but just emails back and forth. Is that essentially what you were doing in that process? You had an idea, you pitched him via email, and then he was like, “Yeah, I want to invest a certain amount into the company to help it grow.” Is that what happened?
Chandice Probst: Yes. So it was so great because, I mean, I went to one of his basketball games and I was so excited to meet him. I’ve actually never met him in person, that’s kind of how it is with those partnerships I would think you would know. You would probably know that as most people do that some of those angel investments you don’t actually work in person with them, you via email communicate, and so that’s exactly what it was. It was the pitch via email, talking, I want to say we had a call, but I don’t remember for sure. But most of it was done via email, and then of course lawyers.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. On Shark Tank they always come to the table and they say, “For 10% of my company and $100,000 here’s what you’ll get.” So essentially they’re valuing their company at a $1,000,000 if for $100,000 you get 10%. How did you go about valuing your company at that point, and was there a negotiation with him back and forth on the valuation of it?
Chandice Probst: Yeah there was, I would say a lot of it was done because Find Me Gluten Free, my partner, who was a partner over there they had already done that groundwork over there. And it was more of like, “Hey, I have my partner over here and she and I would like to talk to you more about Gluten Free Calendar. So the groundwork was already laid thank goodness, and so it was just like, oh, another fun opportunity. That sounds great. Because at that point, Gluten Free Calendar was brand new. I mean, we had almost no-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, no revenue so you don’t have profit that you can go off of, you can’t do a multiple, it’s basically investing in you as individuals, and the idea, and the market too, is the market at a point where this could grow into something? So is that company still around? What did that look like? Because I know a lot of times for an angel investor there’s like a 5%, 2%, 10% chance that it will work out, 90% chance that it won’t. You mentioned the app is still around, but what happened with Gluten Free Calendar?
Chandice Probst: The app is huge and it’s doing great. You’re one of the first places that I’ve talked about this really openly.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: Because for a long time I viewed it as a failure, like, ah, I failed this business didn’t succeed, but it was amazing. And I look at it now, we went and did Celiac Awareness Nights with MLB teams and NBA teams around the nation. I mean, we were down on the field at the Dodgers games, we were on the court with LeBron James, it was so fun, and we were doing that to really raise awareness for Celiac disease and Celiac research, because a portion of the ticket sales from that night would go to research. It was incredible, and so I look at it now and I see it for what it was. It was for the opportunity to increase Celiac awareness, it was not necessarily meant to be a super profitable business and that’s okay. And my amazing business partner, Abbey at Tastemaker she reminded me, she was the one who said, “You need to tell this story more because it’s not a failure. It is an opportunity that you had to learn and grow.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Occasionally I’ll talk about these on the podcast, but I have a really deep filing cabinet of ideas that I pursued that didn’t work out. Lindsay and I will joke about all the different ideas, and some of them had a lifespan of 15 minutes where we got super excited about it, and then we talked about the details, and then we had this back and forth where we disagreed and then we’re like, “Let’s just not do this.” I talk about this story of this idea of Brighten Almonds we were going to call it, we lived in this city called New Brighton and that was going to be the tie in.
Bjork Ostrom: And you would also be able to brighten somebody’s day because you’d buy almonds, and then when you would check out then you could also do a gift delivery of a little bag of almonds to somebody else. And the idea being that there’d be virality within that, we’re like Brighten Almonds. We always joke about it because the idea had about a 15-minute lifespan, but then there’s other ones that we’ve had that maybe we put in six months of work, or a year of work, and got some speed with them and then decided not to, or invested substantial amounts of our own money in them. And that’s just part of the entrepreneurial journey, you never meet somebody who is going to bat a 100% and hit every ball that’s thrown at them to use a sports analogy, but in that process what were the things that you learned the most? And anything even from Mark in terms of his entrepreneurial insights and just such a unique person, was there anything that you learned from him and also through the journey of that company itself?
Chandice Probst: Yeah, definitely. And I agree with you, to me if somebody’s batting a 100, I’m like, “What are you not telling us?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.
Chandice Probst: And I tell people all the time when we do our stuff with Tastemaker, I say for 10 pitches you send out, you may get one yes maybe. And that’s how it works, because your prices should be where they should be, and if you’re getting a ton of yes’ then you’ve priced your work too low. And so I agree with you there, I just wanted to say that. I think the biggest thing that I learned from Mark is really just get to the point, let’s figure it out. I think that that was a big eye-opener for me because I love to talk about everything, and love to tell the story, and I’ve heard that many times on the blog from a lot of people is just get to the recipe, I don’t want to hear the story.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: And so it’s been fun for me to still tell a little story about recipes that I love, but then really help them troubleshoot the recipe. How can I make this better? Can I make it dairy-free? Whatever it means for the reader. So putting your customer, your brand that you’re working with, your reader first and getting to the point in helping them meet their needs. It’s a really selfless thing in business, and I really liked that. I thought that was a good lesson to learn.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How do you as much as possible think about what other people need and get there as quickly as you can? I think that’s a great takeaway. So what did that original pitch look like? I know there’s a little connection there because your business partner had already pitched and worked with him before, and we’ll use that as a transition to talk about pitching in general and how bloggers, influencers, creators can think about pitching themselves to all sorts of different people. A lot of times we talk about brands, but it might be investors, it might be cookbook deals, so what did that original pitch look like to Mark for that idea? And then let’s talk about pitching in general, how people can do that well.
Chandice Probst: Yeah. Well, and like you said there was already that tie, but then from there we had to hold our ground. I mean, you’ve got this incredible person here in business, you have to hold your ground to know your value too. I’m not going to give away 51% of our company because then we lose the primary shareholder thing, and I’m not really great at all the business lingo…
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, but they talk about that on Shark Tank, Shark Tank is such a great platform to have those conversations because it’s the real business considerations. And to your point, if you give somebody 51% of the company, they’re the primary owner, they get to make the decisions then. So if you don’t agree with something, suddenly you can’t say, “No, I don’t want that to happen” because they’ll say, “Well, if we’re going to vote on this, and I vote yes and you vote no then I still win because I have 51% of the company.”
Chandice Probst: Yes. And I think that’s important for anybody to remember is that you’ve created something, it’s yours, and to hold strong to that. Whether it’s an incredible celebrity or just a brand or whoever that you’re working with, know that your value is in your idea and that you should maintain that if possible. So I would recommend that. And then going into pitching with that is like you said, there’s so many ways. We have to get out of this box, this little box of I can only work with sponsors. There are so many ways to diversify your income. So I basically have no, not that I know have no fear, I have fear, but not much, and so I’ll pitch myself for lots of different things and yes’ and nos are always coming.
Chandice Probst: But another thing I wanted to do is I wanted to create a cookbook. My mom and I got diagnosed with Celiac disease three months apart, and she’s one of my very best friends, and I was like, “We need to write a cookbook.” Because we jumped right in. For us it wasn’t a woo is me kind of thing, we were like, “Thank goodness we have an answer for our pain.” And I said, “We need to create a cookbook Mom. We’ve been doing this for years and the recipes are great.” And I didn’t even know that I did it wrong, that you’re supposed to go through certain channels. I just put together a really beautiful proposal, and I sent it to my cousin who got her degree in English. And I said, “Will you just edit this for me?” And she’s like, “Sure.” And then I pitched ourselves to publishing houses, so I really didn’t realize that you’re supposed to have an agent in between.
Bjork Ostrom: You acted as the agent essentially, yeah.
Chandice Probst: I did, yeah. I was like, “Let’s just do this. What do we have to lose?” And eventually we got picked up and it was by a smaller publishing house, but it was really exciting because we didn’t have to pay the fees for our book to be published. And we did a book tour with Barnes & Noble and it was super fun, but I think a lot of the thing is to have gumption, to have confidence. If you are confident in what you are selling, then the person on the other end is already going to fill that enthusiasm.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So my question would be, what if you aren’t confident?
Chandice Probst: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Because I think for some people it maybe comes naturally. An example is I’m super comfortable, confident, whatever the word might be doing a podcast. Getting on a call with somebody I’ve never met, talking to them for 45 seconds to three minutes, and then pressing record and having a conversation for an hour. For a lot of people, they would think, “Ah, that sounds terrible. And I would dread it, I wouldn’t know what I was going to say, I’d want to have an outline written out.” Whereas, for me it’s like I don’t know what I’m going to say in two minutes and I’m super comfortable with that. And I think for some people they’re not… I think my question is how much of that is you are versus how much of that can you coach? And the question after that is then do you play to your strengths, or are there ways that you can move into confidence around pitching?
Chandice Probst: Absolutely. Well, that’s one of the things that we talk about is mindset, because that’s the first that you need to work on. I would not recommend pitching and doing all these things until you’ve figured out your mindset. And the best way to do that, I think that a lot of it is your personality, but I can promise you that you can coach it. Because we just did a little mastermind weekend retreat for Tastemaker, and there are some women who weren’t as confident, but by the end they were sending pitch emails, and they’re getting replies, and they’re like, “I have a call next week. Ah!” And I’m like, “You’re going to do great.”
Chandice Probst: And we had originally told them if you want me to be on the call I’m happy to act as your agent. And they’re like, “You know, I think I can do this.” And it made me so happy, and we took the time to work on mindset. So the biggest thing is deep down in all of us we have of confidence, we just have to find it, and part of finding it is asking yourself what lights you up? What lights you up? If you are pitching yourself to work with a brand and you hate working with brands, well, that’s not going to light you up and you are not going to be confident. So figure it out. Maybe what it is, is photography lights you up.
Chandice Probst: You are an incredible photographer, and you are actually very confident in your abilities as a photographer, but then maybe as a human being out in the world you are a little more shy and that’s okay. But when you’re behind a camera you are confident, so then what you need to do is figure out how you can use that talent that you are confident in to pitch. For example, “Hey, I see that on your website you have a beautiful recipe library, but you have no photos. That’s where I come in, I’m really great at photography.” I’m not saying for me because I’m-
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, sure. Yeah, example. Yeah.
Chandice Probst: But that, “This is where I come in to help you. I’m great at photography, and we’ve learned that people read or experience through their eyes first so let me help you with that.” So that would be a great way. And same with if you know that you are not good on camera, do not pitch yourself to TV stations.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: I’m like you where I don’t know what I’m going to say in two minutes, and that’s how I work best. In fact, when I write out a script I stumble on my words, I don’t do it well.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: And so TV is my favorite because you’ve got three minutes and there’s no redos, you are live.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: And it’s so fun, and I can feel the adrenaline rushing and I love it. It really is like a drug.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So part of it, it sounds like is self-awareness around how you operate, where you are best, and for some of us we might be getting into this and we might not have those skills refined to the point where we do feel confident enough, which I think is worth acknowledging. Everybody’s not going to be at that point, there will be a lot of people who will be able to say, “Here’s what I do. Here’s what I do really well.” But there might be some people who are in the early stages and you still need to refine those skills to a certain point to get to the place where yes, you can shoot video.
Bjork Ostrom: You can shoot photography at this level, but there’s really a fine balance between waiting to the point where you’re the ultimate expert and just moving forward on something and saying, “You know what? I’m going to do this.” So do you have any advice for people who are trying to figure out number one, what does light me up? I think some people know, but other people might not know. And then number two, at what point are you ready to say, “You know what? I’m going to move into pitching myself in this area that lights me up?”
Chandice Probst: Yeah, definitely. Well, I would suggest doing an activity. So put a pen and paper in front of you and write down many things that light you up, not just in your business, but other things. Serving others, whatever it is, whatever it is that lights you up, talking, or I don’t know, sewing, anything that lights you up, write it down and then funnel that in to see how that could work for your business. Maybe you really don’t want to be in front of anybody and you are an incredible writer, there are so many people who need ghost writers so that’s a great way to do that. So not everything has to be front and center and in the camera and working with brands, there’s a lot of opportunity there.
Chandice Probst: So I would recommend that first then moving it and just like you said, at some point you have to move forward, you really do. And so when you have a couple things that you know okay this is something I could do, then it’s having the confidence to say “Now, which are the ideal brands I’d like to reach out to about this?” And sometimes I does take one-on-one coaching, and I’m meaning like with a friend, ask a blogger friend who you know in the community and say, “What are my strengths?” It’s okay to ask, I would love to know from the outside looking in what you think my strengths are, where you think I could shine.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. One of the tools that we’ve been using a lot internally with our team that would maybe help facilitate this is called Delegate and Elevate. It’s actually a part of EOS, which is Entrepreneurial Operating System, and they have a bunch of tools that they do. So we’ll link to this in the show notes, but if anybody just were to search Delegate and Elevate PDF, and it’s four quadrants and it’s kind of related, it’s not exactly the same, but the top left quadrant is love/great, the top right is like/good, the bottom left is don’t like/good, and the bottom right is don’t like/not good. What’s different here is it’s talking about not only what are the things that you need to stop doing, but what are the things that you need to do more of?
Bjork Ostrom: And it relates to this in that it’s a facilitated exercise for you to think about great, what are all the things that I’m doing and what are the things that I’m great at and really love doing? And there’s probably going to be a few of those things, and as much as possible how do you spend as much of your time doing those things? And related to this, then how do you stop doing the things that you don’t like doing and you’re not good at? Especially those are the most important to stop doing. So let’s say you get to that point, you’ve distilled it now to maybe a few different things.
Bjork Ostrom: You’re a writer, a photographer, you love video, you love editing, whatever it might be, you love tech and Google Analytics so you’re going to focus on that and helping brands there, but you don’t have any clients. Nobody is actually paying you to do that stuff. Next step it sounds like is thinking through who are some of the brands that I want to work with. So you’re creating this ideal client list, but then what does it look like to actually start to form relationships with those brands? And do you need to stairstep your way up, where you work with brands or companies that aren’t as good of a fit in pursuit of the ideal brand, or do you think it’s possible to make a connection? I suppose a lot of it depends on who that brand is, but how do people actually start to get paid for the thing that they want to get paid for?
Chandice Probst: Yeah, Definitely. Well, so let’s say you’ve narrowed it down like you’ve said to what you love, the next step is you’re really going to need to create your media kit, and reason being is because this will again, build your confidence. So for example, when we ask people to gather all their numbers, and they’re like, “I only have 400 followers on Instagram. Nobody’s going to hire me.” And then we see their numbers and they have 150,000 users a month on their blog we’re like, “What? You’re doing so good.” But they’ve gotten into this mentality of the world says I have to have 100,000 Instagram followers. No one cares, it’s fine you don’t have to use that platform.
Chandice Probst: You have a beautiful blog that people are visiting so regularly, and so putting those numbers there on your media kit and you go, “Hey, this is something I’m good at.” Finding some testimonials, asking somebody else and putting those things on there, putting photos of your work, and I would stick to two pages if you can, it really puts everything into perspective of your work and how you are talented at it. And plus you don’t want to be pitching until you have your media kit, because if you’ve pitched correctly they’re going to likely come back to you pretty quickly and you don’t want to be like, “Ah, now I have nothing.” So next step is media kit, work on a really beautiful media kit that includes your numbers and lets them shine. If you have 200 followers on Instagram, don’t put that on there. You don’t have to, you make your own media kit how you want, you don’t have to do what everyone else does.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. You highlight the things that you’re good at, and craft it in a way where it’s not only pointing to the things that you’re good at, but pointing to the things that you want to be doing. Worth mentioning for any Food Blogger Pro members, we have a course on a media kit, how to go through that and build that, but for those who haven’t gone through that process or maybe have one and want to refine it and make it better, what would your recommendations be for things that are most important to include and maybe things to not include that you oftentimes see as a part of a media kit?
Chandice Probst: Yeah, well, we just spent the weekend doing this and it was so fun because everyone came with their media kits, and it was so fun to tweak them. And a lot of it tends to be that media kits are like me, me, me look at me, and really from the get-go if you’re this is how I’m here to help you, your media kit is going to be so much more well-received because it’s not just a me show. It’s how can I help you achieve your goals? This is how, I have these users who are focused on gluten-free recipes and gluten-free living, I see that you’re a gluten-free brand. This is my reader, this is the audience, really focusing outwards on how you’re helping them achieve their goals, and how your audience helps them achieve those goals.
Bjork Ostrom: Would you ever suggest tweaking your media kit based on conversations you’ve had with a brand, or for the most part are you seeing a media kit that looks the same regardless?
Chandice Probst: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I think it’s mainly the same media kit, but I recommend having a media kit and a rate sheet so you don’t put your numbers on the media kit. For example, I had a friend who was working with a company and they were excited, they were getting ready to go, and she said, “Okay, well what’s your budget?” Because she had been in sales and she learned that the first person to give a number loses they would say.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: And so she said, “So what’s your budget?” And her price was let’s say $1,200, and they said, “Well we have $5,000 to work with.” And she’s like, “Alrighty, let’s create that package.” She would’ve lost out on $3,800 if she would’ve just put that on there, and so I think that that’s important, and that will lead into the next thing that we talk about. But have a media kit that highlights how your audience will help them achieve their goals, and what you are good at in a non me, me, me sort of way and pick and choose. You do not have to put Instagram followers if you don’t have an Instagram following, and then have a rate sheet. And have them say starts at whatever, and then when you work with a brand that media kit or that rate sheet is going to change based on their budget.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So this is the question that comes up all the time and I’m sure that you hear it all the time, how do you know how much to charge? Gas prices, you can drive down this street and you’re okay, here’s what the gas prices are. A gallon of milk, you can see what a gallon of milk is. You can’t really see what other bloggers are charging, and so it’s hard to know what’s happening unless you’re a brand and you see all of the different rate sheets and what people are charging. So how do if you’re within the realm of appropriate versus way too low versus too high? What are your recommendations for people?
Chandice Probst: Well, the sad thing is no, we can’t see that, but we should more. I think we need to open up the blogging community, this is where we come back to mindset, we all need to open our minds to abundance mentality versus scarcity mentality. There is enough to go around. I love sharing a brand that I’ve worked with a friend and being like, “You would be a perfect fit for them.” And when I do that, the brand definitely looks at me different when I say, “Hey, I have this friend Lindsay over at… And she’s incredible and you’re going to love her, and I just thought you guys would be a good fit.
Chandice Probst: I don’t know if it’s going to work, but I wanted to introduce you.“ It just changes the way everybody works and operates. If you work in this community of no mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, it doesn’t serve you, and there’s plenty to go around. So I would preface by saying, I think we should share more so that we know a baseline, and that’s where having amazing blogger friends come into play. So Erin from Meaningful Eats is one of my best friends in real life and we met through the blogger world, and we share these things together. We’re like, ”What are you charging? What are you doing?” And then we have a couple other friends that we do that with.
Chandice Probst: And it’s been so helpful because then all of us, and I’m sure you know Sam from Frosting and Fettucine, she’s like, “Listen, you’re not doing any of us any favors if you’re undercharging what we’re all charging. It’s not fair. And we’re all in this together, so let’s all charge what we’re worth.” And I love Sam for that. And that’s the thing is have a few blogger friends that you can ask and say, “What are you charging? We’re about the same, we’re kind of in the same, what are you charging?” And let’s all get on the same level, so that when brands work with us, they’re like, “Oh, they’re all charging the same.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That there’s not a huge difference in terms of somebody coming in really low, somebody coming in really high. You had mentioned doing a mastermind, I think that’s a great example of a way to do that and facilitate that for people who maybe have this question around how do I connect with people and actually make that happen? How do I get a group of people where we all share information about how we’re doing things? Can you talk a little bit about that? I know that you’re tied in with Abbey and Tastemaker, we had a conversation with Abbey about the conference world, and education, and things like that, but is that a part of Tastemaker? And if people want to learn more about that specifically, where can they find out about that?
Chandice Probst: Yeah, for sure. Well, I feel like if anything, if the only thing I ever got out of my blogging career are two of my best friends in the world Abbey in Erin I’ve achieved, it’s wonderful. That’s it. I’m done. Okay.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: Because these women are my real-life best friends, I talk to them all the time, and it’s about blogging stuff yes, but it’s also about everything else. So I will tell you when Abbey and I met, this is what is so crazy, so Abbey and I are business partners at Tastemaker and I’m the sponsor director over there, Erin and I had met at a conference and just had so much fun. And we traveled to Expo West together and she said, “Oh my gosh, I have this friend Abbey that is darling and you two would love each other. I want you guys to meet.” And Abbey and I met and immediately it was like ‘ahh!’
Chandice Probst: Then we worked with Tastemaker, but it was literally this beautiful triangle of one of my blog friends opening up again, abundance mentality and sharing and saying here’s another friend that I think you’d connect well with, and then Abbey and I connected. So go to conferences, I’ll put that plug in there for Tastemaker because we’ve seen so many relationships built at a physical conference because you connect. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I have incredible friends from before my blogging days, but they don’t care about my blog. They don’t want to talk about it and that’s okay. I talk to them about other things-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s okay and sometimes nice.
Chandice Probst: Yeah, and sometimes nice to detach and be like, “Oh I don’t have talk about that.” But it is a huge facet of my life, and so I do love sharing that, and so go to a conference and make friends. I just talked to darling Alexandria from The Foreign Fork and she said she… Because Marco Polo is like the thing for all of us now, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: That’s how we communicate.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: But she has this group on Marco Polo with blogger friends and they bounce ideas and talk and all of those things, and I said, “Where did you meet them?” And she said, “At the first Tastemaker conference.” It was the moment where Abbey and I were like, “Everything we wanted to achieve is happening.” These women are connecting and it was because on the Facebook group someone said, “Hey, we have an extra room who wants to stay?” None of them knew each other, but they stayed in a house. They put themselves out there, and they stayed in a house together and now they’re best blogging friends.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Yeah. That’s great.
Chandice Probst: And we have the retreats which all of that is available. So Tastemaker Conference is in March in Chicago, and then we have twice a year usually, we have a weekend retreat at our headquarters in Virginia and it’s only for about eight people, but man, those people connect.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, really connect. And I’ve noticed that as I’ve been part of different groups, those connections are some of the most valuable connections. You learn things for sure, but it’s almost like the connections and the relationships lead to you learning from being close to somebody, working alongside them, doing similar things, as opposed to like this really specific thing that you gather around to learn. You will learn in that moment, but it’s those relationships that are truly valuable both personally and within business. So you had talked about a couple different things that will really help close deals, and I think that’s part of what is interesting in this conversation of pitching.
Bjork Ostrom: Is we talk about media kits, people are familiar with those, maybe a rate sheet people are familiar with those, in terms of setting your rate, connecting to groups of people and sharing like, “Hey, where are you at? How do you go about setting your rate?” And with that, there’s the obvious reality that it really did depends on where you’re at in your life cycle for blogging, and so that’s why it’s important to have people that you can connect with and get an understanding of where you are compared to where they are. But how about just getting to the point where you have success, closing a deal, you get to the point where you sign on the dotted line, and you have a relationship with the brand, or a sponsor, or working relationship. What are some other tips and takeaways that people could have that will help them be more successful in closing more deals?
Chandice Probst: Okay. Well, if it’s okay with you can we back up just a little, because this is my favorite part. This is the part lights me up, that I get so excited to speak about.
Bjork Ostrom: Great. Let’s do it.
Chandice Probst: And it’s I tell everybody and a lot of it’s my personality, but it’s not just my personality because I’ve seen very quiet shy people who have had the same successes I had. I said, “Get on a call.” So the first step would be reaching out to them on Instagram or social media and saying two lines, “I have a really fantastic idea. I’d love to talk to you more. Where’s the best email I can send more information.” Super simple, step one. Step two, send that email to that email address when they reply, again, no more than three sentences, maybe four. And it’s literally just you want to give them a juicy, juicy bait that they can’t resist.
Chandice Probst: Something small of I have this amazing idea with your buckwheat flour to create a buckwheat breakfast casserole, it’s going be delicious. And I have a couple more ideas, I’d love to send you more. I’d love to get on a call, can we talk sometime this week? So number one, number two. That’s number two. I don’t say anything about media kits, I don’t say anything there I say, “I’d love to get on a call and talk to you more.” I close 80% of the deals that I do when I have a phone call versus 20% with cold emails. So that’s why I encourage everybody to get on a call or a Zoom meeting where they can see you, and you can paint a picture that they cannot refuse.
Chandice Probst: That’s your time to get on and say, “Okay, this is such an amazing product and I use it all the time. I know my readers would love it and they would especially love to see it in some holiday recipes in quarter four.” And so really just creating this picture that they’re like, “I had no idea I even needed that. Yes, yes of course we want to work with you.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. And at that point have you talked about rates? Do they have a budget? That hasn’t come up yet?
Chandice Probst: No, because what happens is so step one, you’re getting the information. Step two you’re emailing, at that point if they have no budget usually they let you know. They’ll say, “I’m happy to hop on a call with you, but I want you to know that we have no budget whatsoever.” If they have any budget and you get on a call, you’re going to be the one to get the rest of that budget.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: 80% of the time.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: There’s few that will not get on a call and it’s because they have no budget, but if you can get them on a call, they’re interested because they have some budget and they have some needs that need to be filled and that’s you.
Bjork Ostrom: And at that point then so you’re having this conversation, you’ve convinced them of the idea, hey, generally speaking, this is what I’m going to talk about. This is what I’m going to share with my audience. Here’s the size of my audience. And then to your point earlier, first one to share a number loses.
Chandice Probst: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: How then do you facilitate that conversation after you’ve convinced somebody this is a great idea, but eventually you have to get around to talking about numbers?
Chandice Probst: Right. So how that call looks is you’re just… And I would recommend hopping on the call first and just being, “Hi Sarah, I’m so excited to chat with you. I have so many fun ideas, but first I want to ask you what are some of your marketing goals for Q4? I know that it’s a time of year for holiday recipes, but I’d love to hear more from you.” Giving them the opportunity to share with you their goals so that then the next part of your pitch, and this takes practice, is catering what they just told you. So maybe they say, “We are actually really focusing on quick and easy recipes that don’t require any baking. No-bake.” “Perfect. That sounds great.” And come to the table with a few of those ideas that maybe you would think that they would have so that then you could hurry and adjust. Excellent. I totally understand. Obviously, this wouldn’t work for flour, but for somebody else.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: Yes, I have a fantastic idea for that blah, blah, blah and then you go on for that. Then to facilitate the money talk you’d say, “So I think these things will definitely help you achieve your goals especially where my audience is your target audience. So I’d love to talk to you more about what you think. What are your thoughts on that? What does your budget allow for this right now?”
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting I don’t remember where I had this conversation, I’m going through a course right now called Growth University. It’s for marketing and growth tactics for businesses, it might have been within this, but it was somebody talking about these conversations and positioning yourself within these. And they were saying in those conversations, you’ll just ask somebody what are your needs? They’ll tell you, and then essentially what you do is in that conversation you say, “Here’s my idea, and here’s how it’ll help achieve those goals.”
Chandice Probst: Yup.
Bjork Ostrom: Which it sounds so obvious, but it’s really helpful for you to not assume you know what somebody wants, but to actually get that information from them while they’re giving that to you genuinely and authentically thinking about how can the things that I do help meet the goal? And then just repeat that back and say, “Great. Here’s what I heard you say, here’s what we can do, and here’s how that will help you do this thing that you had said is important to you.” And again, it sounds so basic, but it’s framing the conversation around what somebody else needs as opposed to what you need or what you think that they need. How often in that conversation would you say you hear something and it’s actually I can’t do that?
Chandice Probst: I think not very often because I feel like there’s always something that you can offer.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: For example, this happened yesterday and I love what you said about that because that’s exactly what we do is we ask their needs, and again, that takes practice. We did a lot this last weekend in Virginia, we did mock phone calls and they were like, “Ah, I don’t know what to say. Tell me what to say right now.” And we coached them through what to say in that moment because I responded how a brand would and they’re like, “I wasn’t expecting that, now what?”
Bjork Ostrom: What’s an example of that?
Chandice Probst: So for example, I said something about, “Oh, we don’t have a lot of budget, but we definitely do like working with bloggers, but we’re only looking to do for example, like vegan recipes or something.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Chandice Probst: And maybe you’re not a vegan blog, then they’re like, “Wait. Huh?” And then you just say, “Awesome. I think it’s really great to do meatless Mondays, and this is one of the ideas that I have.” Just quickly and fire that off, but it’s hard and so what I would say is before one of those calls prep with some ideas with where you could go with that. And again, it takes practice, and I’ve done a couple mock calls with some of the girls since then and they’re so confident, and they’re feeling really good. It’s not me, it’s not me I wanted to say that. It’s because they are building confidence in themselves.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah. It’s both end. I’m sure that what they’re learning from you, you’re being humble in it, but the other to your point around practice is I think a lot about this idea of tools in your tool belt. And I think when we go into some of those early calls, you are going in without any tools in your tool belt. For a long time it was probably like three, four years I would do programs with schools. So this was completely unrelated to anything that we would do, it was at a nonprofit and with fourth and fifth graders there’s this thing called a kindness retreat. And we’d go in and we’d talk essentially about like as a fourth-grader, as a fifth-grader, how can you be kind to your classmates? And we talked about different ways that you could do that.
Bjork Ostrom: It was a really fun all-day retreat, but you can imagine for fourth graders there’s this huge spectrum of things that you might encounter in a day like weird things that they would say, or weird ways that they would interact with you. And at first going into those I’d be really nervous because something would happen, it would throw me off, I wouldn’t know how to respond, but after doing it for two years, you start to develop these tools that then you can pull out really easily and be like if a kid runs up and punches you in the knee… First time that happens, I’d be like I don’t know what to do, but the 10th time that would happen, that didn’t actually happen 10 times, but then you have this tool in your tool about that you know how to respond.
Bjork Ostrom: And I feel like calls like that are similar, where what’s hard is on the first one you’re going in without any tools and how great to have practice sessions where you can start to figure out what those tools are so you can pull those out as needed. So maybe a good takeaway there is to do those practice sessions. How… yeah, go ahead.
Chandice Probst: Anybody in your community, if you want to reach out just say Chandice I want you to do a practice call with me, I’m happy to help you. I’m happy to jump on that call.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Yeah. That’s great. One of the questions that I had was around working with a brand, a sponsor, once you make that connection how much of the selling then changes to ongoing relationship? Great, you have this person, and now you want to stay connected with them moving forward versus how much are you seeing of, this might apply to Tastemaker as well, but also within your own blog and the work that you’re doing. How much of it is you’re starting with a blank slate every year and you’re having to re-pitch people, versus after a few years you develop relationships with certain people and can continue those relationships? Do you have any thoughts on that in terms of retaining sponsorships or brands on an ongoing basis?
Chandice Probst: Yes, it’s great when you get to work with somebody long-term because then it takes how many times of mentioning something from an influencer or a blogger before your listeners say, “I know she loves that brand. She talks about it all the time.” And I love to let the brands know that, that working together on a one-off is fine, but working together on a three to five grouping partnership will definitely drive that goal home that you have for your marketing team and your marketing needs. So like with Tastemaker the first year obviously was a lot of, I mean, nobody even knew who we were, and so for example, a brand like Mediavine, they’ve been with us from day one and they love a certain sponsorship, but this last year they’re like, “Let’s try something different.”
Chandice Probst: And it was really fun to say, “Yeah, let’s do that. And let’s tweak the needs that you have this year and help you achieve them through this sponsorship rather than this one that we’ve been doing.” And it’s really fun because then you definitely get to know the brand and their needs. So one of the ways to get those is to have a really beautiful, and Abbey is the queen at this, I did not pass math very well, like barely… math is not mine. Meanwhile, I was in honors English and things like that, but math, no. Mm-mm. So Abbey always says it’s really important after you do a partnership of any kind to come back with a… Oh goodness, what’s it called? It’s a…
Bjork Ostrom: Like a recap essentially.
Chandice Probst: Yes, and it has numbers like the reach for this and this and then you pull. You know when people leave comments on your sponsored post, you pull those and you put them in it as testimonials if you will or interactions, and she has a really great one laid out that we have in the Tastemaker community. I’m sure we can ask her where it is and link to it, but it’s great. And by sending that, it’s not just like, “Hey, thanks. I had fun.” It’s saying my community was engaged with the work that we did together, so then you have an opportunity to pitch again. So when you send that reply, that follow-up… We called it an event report for Tastemaker.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, sure.
Chandice Probst: Sorry, I was trying to think what it’s called.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah.
Chandice Probst: We call it an event report, and we show everything and then that’s a great time for me to say, “This was such a successful event in Chicago, we had a blast. The next one is coming up and as you know, the sooner you sign on the longer you get exposure for your brand. So I would love to set up a call to talk about your goals for 2022 so we can get thinking about the 2023 conference.” So when you send that, that’s a great time to do a tiny little pitch about a continued partnership. And again, it’s making it about them rather than about you. “Thanks for your money. Bye.” No it’s, “Here’s how we helped your achieve your goals, and here’s how I think we can help you continue to achieve them. Let’s work together on more things.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. And I think that’s where you can tie back to that first conversation or the early conversations you had around what their goals were. And then to be able to bring that back around and say, “Hey, I know your goals were this, and I told you I’d be able to help in this way. Here’s evidence of that actually happening.” I’ll do a little shout-out to my friend Bruno who has a company called InfluenceKit, and what they do is they do reports that round up in an automated way. So they tie in if you have an Instagram post, you put the URL in and then you can see here’s the engagement rate, here’s the views. So if people are looking to do that in an automated way, I can make a connection if you want to connect with Bruno.
Bjork Ostrom: But the thing that I like about that is not only are you fulfilling what is not a promise, but an obligation to help people with the goals that they had, but it’s also one of the best ways to open up the conversation to your point about looking ahead and saying great hey, we did this high five. What does it look like to then do this again? What are your goals in the next year? When would it make sense to have another conversation? Do you see those having a similar success rate or not success rate, but similar process where you say, “Hey, we closed this out awesome. Do you want to jump on a call and talk about the next thing?” Or is it like, “Hey, let me know when you’re ready to have another conversation.” What is the rhythm for those follow-ups after you close out one deal?
Chandice Probst: Yes. I wouldn’t say do you want to, or let me know when you’re ready. I’d say I have some openings next week, here’s three dates, which of these works for you to hop on a call and just recap this really successful partnership. I know it’s not called that, really successful-
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. like a campaign.
Chandice Probst: Really successful campaign because I have some really great ideas for the coming months. And that lets them know, oh, yeah we probably should do that. Okay. And then they’re willing to get on a call again, a need that they maybe didn’t know they had that needs to be fulfilled. Then when you hop on that call, that’s a good time to just do a little recap like this was so great, you should have seen some of these comments. I’m sure you saw on the recap and there was even more, but they loved this recipe or whatever. And then say okay, well now we’re moving into the next few months, and come with ideas to that meeting like I’ve thought about some great things for Easter or whatever, and come with those.
Chandice Probst: And that’s a great time then to also pitch beyond what you’ve already done. So for example, one of the brands that I’m working with they’re getting ready to do a media blitz. And I live in their area and we’ve worked together for a long time, and they know I love TV and I’m like, “Yes, let’s do a media blitz day.” And that’s a great time to pitch things like, “Hey, in addition to doing these sponsored posts, I see that again your recipe library is lacking and I’d love to also create some photos for the current recipes you already have.” And that’s really great to let them know that you have more skillset than what you’ve just done.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. The media blitz is essentially you’ll go on TV representing them?
Chandice Probst: Yeah. TV, radio. It’s super fun, and a lot of brands again, they don’t know they need that and so you’re the one who’s put that bug in their ear. “I’ve done some media blitz days before, or I’ve done some TV and I love it, and it’s super fun. I think this would be a great time to really get your brand out there on a different level.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s awesome. We could dive deep into a lot of these different topics, we could go on for hours I’m sure as I’m sure happens in some of the masterminds and the calls that you do, but we need to wrap up. I’m betting a lot of people after this conversation would say, “You know what? I want to learn more, I want to dive a little bit deeper, I want to understand this better.” And I know we talked to Abbey about Tastemaker so you can talk a little bit about Tastemaker, I would love for you to share a little bit about your site where people can find you. And then also best way to continue the conversation, what would that look like?
Chandice Probst: Yeah, definitely. So my blog is This Vivacious Life, and I probably should do an extension on there where we do some more of these one-on-one things so I’ll work on that.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Chandice Probst: But in the meantime, just send me an email or an Instagram message and just say, “Chandice, I listened to the podcast with Bjork. I listened to it, and I’d love to do a call with you, let’s do a mock phone call.” I would be happy to help you, I think that would be great. So you can just reach out to me through This Vivacious Life.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. That’s great. Thanks for coming on and thanks for your willingness to help people Chandice, and really fun to connect and chat for a bit.
Chandice Probst: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. It was fun to just visit, it was just like visiting with a friend.
Bjork Ostrom: That was great. Thanks so much.
Chandice Probst: Thank you.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for this episode with Chandice. Thanks so much for listening to this podcast, for following along. We couldn’t do it without you. As always, if you want to check out the show notes, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/podcast. The great thing about that site is you can search, really easily search, this is something the Food Blogger Pro team has worked on, all different categories. So I’m actually talking to you now as I’m looking at my screen, and searching through the Food Blogger Pro podcasts and blog posts. And you can search for let’s say within the past month a podcast episode that mentions Instagram, and so you can start to do these really strategic filtering processes or searches, I guess, is a better word where you’re able to find the thing that most interested in.
Bjork Ostrom: So usually people will listen to a podcast and they’ll just listen in the order that it comes out which is great, but also maybe you’re in the realm of thinking about SEO, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com and search SEO content and find all the different podcasts episodes over the last three months where we’ve talked about SEO. Or maybe a want to see any of the blog posts that we’ve published that talk about SEO. Most recently some SEO content we’ve published on the blog is What to Update When Republishing Content as a Food Blogger. So in October, we published this blog post that talks about all of the different considerations around republishing, and how you can be strategic with that.
Bjork Ostrom: So make sure to go over and check that out. We live and operate in lots of different places, not just the blog. You can find us obviously on foodbloggerpro.com, you can find us on Instagram, or you can follow along here on the podcast which we appreciate as well. So as always thanks for tuning in. Our hope is that we can help you get a tiny bit better every day forever, and we’ll continue to put out content in service of that mission. Make it a great week. Thanks.