This episode is sponsored by Clariti.
Welcome to episode 357 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Amanda Scarlati from Scarlati Family Kitchen (formerly Saporito Kitchen) about how content batching helped grow her blog’s traffic.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Jillian Johnsrud about achieving financial independence and sharing content confidently. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
From testing recipes to shooting photos to writing blog posts, a lot of work goes into running a food blog. So how can we stay on top of everything that needs to get done each week?
Enter: content batching! Instead of jumping from one task to another, try grouping similar tasks in one work period to stay focused and even increase your productivity.
In this episode, you’ll hear how Amanda started batching her content, how she plans out her blog posts for the upcoming quarter, and how content batching has dramatically increased her blog’s traffic.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Amanda got into food blogging
- How she invested in her business and hired certain tasks out
- How she started batching content
- How she plans out her blog posts for each quarter
- How she divides up her tasks throughout the week
- What her prep sheets for each photoshoot look like
- What task management tools she uses
- How content batching impacted her blog’s traffic
- Scarlati Family Kitchen
- Tastemaker Conference
- Eat Blog Talk Podcast
- Find Casey Markee on FBP
- The Feast Plugin
- Keyword Surfer
- Cooking With Keywords
- Google Calendar
- Google Search Console
- Join the Food Blogger Pro Podcast Facebook Group
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!
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by our sister site, Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I is how you spell Clariti. All different iterations of how people say it, but it’s Clariti because it helps you to be clear on what it is that you need to be working on, and really gives you direction around how you can go around improving and updating and tracking the content on your blog. We built it because we had been managing everything in a spreadsheet. So my guess is there’s two people listening to this podcast. One would be, you are people who track stuff. Then you probably track it in a spreadsheet, maybe Airtable, maybe Notion. My guess is it’s a lot of manual work. There’s another group of people who just aren’t tracking anything, and that’s okay, you’ll get there eventually.
Bjork Ostrom: But Clariti’s going to be the tool that’s going to allow you to do that more easily. It’s going to allow you to not spend as much manual time doing the tracking, updating, improving, and just generally understanding the lay of the land with your content. One of the things that I think is most important, a lot of times we talk about hiring on this podcast, but one of the things we don’t talk about enough, and I probably should talk about it more, is some of the first positions you should hire for are software. It’s not an actual person, you’re hiring software to come in and do a lot of the work that you are doing. That’s what Clariti is for us as the Pinch of Yum team, Food Blogger Pro team. We use Clariti to take manual work away from our day-to-day tasks, and we automate that. It’s one of the easiest ways to have your first hire.
Bjork Ostrom: So if you’re thinking, “Oh, I hear people talk about hiring a lot. Who should my next hire be?” My encouragement for you would let your next hire be a tool like Clariti, where you’re going to spend 25 a month and you’re going to save an incredible amount of time. That’s what it’s all about. So, if you want to check it out, if you want to learn a little bit more about what it is and how it works, you can go to clariti.com/food. You can deep dive into the ins and outs of Clariti just by signing up for that list. That’s not going to sign you up for the app. It’s not going to sign you up and process any payments or anything like that. It’s just going to allow you to understand the tool better through some onboarding emails that give you a little bit of context around what Clariti does and why we built it. So again, that’s clariti.com/food, if you want to check that out.
Bjork Ostrom: As a last note here, we’re halfway through this 25 forever deal. So when I say you can think of hiring Clariti at $25 a month as a little team member who’s in the background working for you, that deal’s not going to last forever. We’re just wanting to get to our first 500 users as we’re in the early stages with this. You’ll still get a lot of value out of it. But the great thing is, as the value within Clariti increases, as we build out more features, as we build out more functionality, you will be locked in at that $25 price as a thank you for signing up early, for being somebody who’s using the tool early on, giving us feedback, but also, finding a lot of value out of it. So thank you to Clariti for sponsoring this episode.
Bjork Ostrom: Hello? Hello? You’re listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. My name is Bjork Ostrom, glad to have you here. Today we are interviewing Amanda Scarlati. She’s going to be talking about batching content and how that helps her stay sane while also continuing to grow her blog. She’s going to be talking about what it was like to scale her blog from 7,500 pages to 65,000 in one year, and how batching content helped her do that. She’s going to be talking about the rhythms that she has, how she plans on a quarterly basis, how she shoots batch content, produces it, and all the ins and outs. So it’s going to be a great interview.
Bjork Ostrom: Before we jump into it, though, I wanted to give you a little heads up here. For any Food Blogger Pro members, on Thursday, May 19th, so that’s coming up right around the corner, 12:00 Central, 1:00 Eastern we have a live Q&A with Sam Adler from Frosting and Fettuccine. She’s going to be answering all things photography-related. So if you are a Food Blogger Pro member, make sure to check that out in the live area. And if you’re not, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com/join and become a member. And on Thursday, you can join us for that live Q&A.
Bjork Ostrom: So to this new episode all about batching content. I think there’ll be a lot of takeaways and some great insight for anybody who’s just starting out, or even for those of us who have been doing it for a while. I think anytime that you can think about efficiency and how to be more effective with your time is a good thing, and Amanda talks all about that. So let’s go ahead and jump into the interview. Amanda, welcome to the podcast.
Amanda Scarlati: Thank you so much for having me, Bjork. I’m excited.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. We had a brief conversation at Tastemaker Conference, connected a little bit. Followed up after that. Continuing the conversation here, we’re actually going to be talking about your journey with your blog and kind of some unlocks that you’ve had and growth that you’ve had. A lot of that tying back to batching content. We’re going to talk specifically about what that actually looks like to see if there’s some takeaways for folks. But before we do that, rewind the tape a little bit. I’d be curious to hear, when did you launch your site and kind of what was your mindset at the point when you started it?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. I launched my blog, Saporito Kitchen, back in 2017. At the time, I had just moved and become a new stay-at-home mom. I’ve been in the food business for a very long time and thought, “You know what? This is something I kind of always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to share my food, and I do my own thing. So now is the best time to do it.” I think like a lot of people, it started out as a hobby. Like, “This is something fun. I’m just going to make food and take pictures of it.”
Amanda Scarlati: As we both know, there is a lot more that goes into it than just making food and taking pictures of it. So it kind of started out as a hobby, but as I went into it, I thought, “You know what? I’m really enjoying this.” I started to really enjoy the photography, more writing, the cooking, recipe development, all of that stuff. And just kind of took it from there. After taking some time off and coming back into it, I thought, “You know what? This is what I want to do. If I’m going to do it, I need to kind of switch my mindset and it needs to be a business.”
Bjork Ostrom: When was that?
Amanda Scarlati: I would say that was probably at … it was during the pandemic, actually. Because I took kind of a break during the pandemic because all my kids were home. It was a pandemic and it was just very overwhelming.
Bjork Ostrom: You have four kids, so it’s-
Amanda Scarlati: I do. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: There’s a lot involved with that.
Amanda Scarlati: And there’s a lot going on. Well, and my husband is an emergency room nurse so he was gone all the time. I thought, “What am I doing here? I need to make a decision.” And I thought, “You know what? This is what I want to do and this is what I want to do for me.” So I kind of relaunched my blog at the end of, I would say, August 2020. I was like-
Bjork Ostrom: Is that a super stressful season? Because if your husband’s in the middle of everything that’s happening with COVID, feels like that would be a certain level of kind of stress. Doing some version of schooling from home. It’s not homeschooling, I know, but also kind of like a version of that. And then also saying, like, “Now I’m going to double down and actually change my mindset around my site.” It feels like that would be a stressful season to do that. Or do you feel like at that point, things were under control enough where you’re like, “Yeah, I have a sense for what’s going on and now is the time”?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. I mean, I feel like that first part of the year when we went in lockdown and all of that stuff was really difficult for me. I really struggled with it, having my kids home and trying to entertain them, but also having my husband gone. Just going through all of that, it was a lot. So the summer, I thought, “Okay, I’m going to take the summer to figure this out. I’m going to hit the ground running after summer is over. The kids are going back to school. I think I’ve got this.” It was still hard, and it still is hard. You know?
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm.
Amanda Scarlati: It’s a stressful situation. I think when you’re a mom or you’ve got … maybe you’re still working your other job and trying to do this, it’s a lot going on. So I kind of look back at it and it’s probably a little bit crazy, but I think it’s more a mindset shift. That you have to say, “Okay, I’m ready to do this.” When you’re ready to do that, you kind of just need to go with it.
Bjork Ostrom: So what was your mindset before? And then what was your mindset after and what caused it to change?
Amanda Scarlati: Well, before it was, I thought, “Well, this would be kind of cool to have as a business. Or I think I’d like to make money at this.” But, you know, imposter syndrome is real, and I struggle with it every day. It was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. Why are they going to listen to me? Nobody cares about what I do. I’ve never been a photographer before.” It was like, “I’m not making any money. I can’t spend money.” It was listening to some of these podcasts. I listened to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast a lot, Eat Blog Talk.
Amanda Scarlati: And then some of these other things, listening to these people. It really is like … I really live by, you got to live the life that you want to have. So if you want to be a food blogger, you need to act like a food blogger. If you want to be a marathon runner, you need to start eating healthy and running, and things like that. Instead of just saying, “Well, as soon as I become a food blogger, then I can act like a food blogger.” Or, “As soon as I become a photographer, then I’m going to act like it.”
Amanda Scarlati: If you started that mindset shift from day one, of saying, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to live this life and this is going to be my business.” Then it really kind of helps you to grow and be better at that. So that’s what I was like, “That’s it. I’m going to invest in myself. I’m going to buy that course or hire that person or get that equipment.” Because if you look at any other business, they didn’t just all of a sudden start making income that covered their expenses right from day one. There was some sort of investment in it. I think that’s hard for somebody, some people, especially in this business to get over sometimes. It’s like, “Well, I’m not making any money.” It’s like, “If you invest that money though …” As soon as I started doing that, investing in myself, then those returns started coming.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What were the greatest investments that you made?
Amanda Scarlati: I would say hiring people to do the stuff that I didn’t know about.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Amanda Scarlati: I hired NerdPress. Up until that point, I had been doing everything myself. I have zero background in website and all that other stuff. I used Food Blogger Pro quite a bit to get kind of those basic things, but it was taking up so much time because I didn’t know anything about it. So I had to learn and figure it out. And then as we know, things change constantly with Google and all that stuff. I was constantly trying to figure that out. Then Core Web Vitals became a thing. I decided, “You know what? I got to get this backend right. This SEO, website, all this stuff, this is a huge portion of it. I really don’t know.”
Amanda Scarlati: So I signed up to have an audit with Casey Markee. That was one of the first things. He was like, “You need to figure out your Core Web Vitals and get this in line before this May update comes.” So he suggested NerdPress. I changed my theme. Purchased a more expensive theme. Went with Feast and the Feast plugin. That helped quite a bit. NerdPress. And then, of course, having my audit with Casey. Instead of trying to DIY everything, you get to that point where it’s like, you’re pulled in so many different directions and wearing so many hats that you’re spread so thinly. So it was like, “I need to … What don’t I like, what I don’t know.” Figure that out and hire somebody to help me with that so I can work on the stuff that I really like doing, producing the content, making the recipes, photographing, that sort of thing.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Was that hard in the beginning when … My guess is, when you’re just getting started, you have this mindset shift, “Hey, I’m going to invest in myself. I’m going to invest in my business.” One of the strange things about an online business is you can kind of run it without any investment. It’s not like a restaurant where you have to put money in to get tables and chairs and equipment. You can kind of, if you really wanted to, do it without any investment, but it’s probably not the wisest thing, but you could do it. You could do Ramen Profitability. This idea of, you’ve made $10, but you only spent $3 on ramen, so you’re profitable. But there also is the ability to accelerate growth or have traction sooner by working with experts who will either do consulting or work with you on an ongoing basis. But it’s like, you also then are spending money.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: What was that like for you to do that? There’s a little bit of risk in that you might not get it back, but you could get it back if you have a business that grows and then becomes valuable. And then I’m also interested … So for you personally. And then, what was that like to talk through that with a significant other, like your husband in your case? Because I think that’s another thing that exists for people, is navigating the pursuit of their passion, and something they’re interested in and want to build a business in, but also getting buy-in in the early stages from a significant other who is maybe like, “Wait, you’re going to do what?”
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah, definitely. I think, personally, it’s really hard. Because like you said, for the most part you can kind of do it pretty inexpensively or almost for free. There’s a lot of free themes out there. There’s a lot of free plugins out there. I’m not saying that you have to hire somebody in order to experience growth. I just knew that I was at the point where I was like, “If I want to do this, I need to do it now. I want to see that growth and I want to take this places. I can see where I want to be in five to 10 years, so this is the investment that I want to make.” My husband has always been a huge supporter of me and a big proponent in helping me. So he’s always like, “Just do it. Just do it.” I’m the one that’s like … I’m more like the financial person, the analytical one, where I’m like, “But I don’t know.”
Bjork Ostrom: You’re the numbers nerd. Yeah.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. So that was harder for me, I think. But I think that was also helpful to have that support, you know?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Amanda Scarlati: And say, “Hey, I’m okay with this and let’s do this.” Some of the things were more expensive and he understood that. He was like, “I trust you that you know what you’re doing. I know you can make this work and I know you can do that.” So I think that was key in helping kind of be like, “Okay, I can do this. I have your support and we can move on with this.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How did you fit that in time-wise? Maybe this will step into kind of the … to start to speak towards batching content a little bit. You have everything that’s going on around you. We’re global pandemic, so there’s … I don’t know what schools look like for you, but it’s like, kids are in and kids are out. There’s exposure in the classroom, so then we can’t go in. It feels like, for a lot of people, it was just a full-time job. Between one person or two people kind of splitting it, but managing the household to figure out how to make things work, but then, also, to spend that time scaling up your site. What did that look like and how did you figure out, time-wise, how to do that over the past year and a half?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. It was really difficult. And it’s still something I struggle with. I still have my kids. I still have my husband. So it’s still hard. I think we’re kind of leveling out now here, at least as far as school. But even as early as the beginning of this year, they were sending my high schooler home because the cases were too high and the test-to-stay event. That kind of plays into my schedule, obviously, because if my kids get sent home or they have virtual Fridays sometimes, then I know those are days that I’m just not going to get a lot done.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep.
Amanda Scarlati: When I was looking at this and thinking, “Okay, I really got to get going on this. This is what I want to do. I really want to make this work.” But how do I do that? I still have these responsibilities. I have a teenager, but I also have little ones. At the time, were two and four. They need my attention quite a bit. How do I make this happen? So I had heard about batching content and people doing this. It was very scary to me. Like, “Okay, well, that’s a lot to throw into it and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to make X amount of recipes this day,’” or whatever.
Bjork Ostrom: What was scary about it? Just the intimidating to think about doing all of it.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. Well, and it requires a lot of planning, which I’m a huge planner, so I’m all about that. But it’s a lot of work to kind of get it set up. I plan out my … Basically, I go kind of quarter to quarter. I plan out the quarter before. But then I’ll review things kind of on a weekly basis or monthly basis if I need to adjust things. So it’s going through-
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about that? When you plan a quarter, what does that look like?
Amanda Scarlati: I just go through and say, “What do I want to do this quarter?” A lot of last year was consumed with republishing old content, especially after my audit. I didn’t publish a ton of new content. Maybe less than five in the back half of the year. So it was planning those out. If I had any sponsored work, putting those things on the calendar. And then also, looking at those and doing things seasonally, obviously. Doing grilling recipes in the summer and cookie recipes in December. Kind of putting those on there and saying, “Okay, this is how much I want to push out each week.” Looking at it and say, “I want to do two recipes a week or three recipes or one,” whatever that is and then planning those out.
Amanda Scarlati: I use Airtable. We kind of talked about this a little bit when we were at Tastemakers, but I use Airtable quite a bit to basically manage all my content. So I went through there and kind of make a calendar for the quarter, and say, “Okay, these are the things that I want to …” If there’s any goals that I have as far as republishing old content, maybe it’s 10 recipes in that time period, then I want to make sure I have all those on there. And then I will go through there on a monthly basis after I’ve kind of planned it out. Thinking, “I don’t know what I was thinking posting that recipe in February. That doesn’t sense,” or whatever.
Amanda Scarlati: Or if I sign a contract with somebody and I got to work that in, then I’ll do some adjusting and things like that. But then once I have that all in there, it really helps me because then all of that guesswork or planning is done. So it’s not like you’re sitting there on Monday, “Okay. What am I going to do this week? What recipe am I going to post? I’ve got to go to the grocery store now and figure it all out.” It’s kind of done ahead of time. So then-
Bjork Ostrom: Even that, it’s like a version of batching, which is batching planning. You’re sitting down and thinking in one … I feel like the benefit of batching is you’re not having to task switch.
Amanda Scarlati: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: So you’re sitting down and you’re thinking, “Okay, I’m in the mindset of planning. I’m going to plan out for … This block of time, I have four hours and I’m just going to plan.” And then you can kind of turn off that part of your brain with, to your point, you’re making micro-adjustments along the way, but it’s more of like, you have all the pieces now and you’re just kind of shifting them versus finding the pieces and putting them on the table. I’d be curious to know how far ahead you plan a quarter. So as one quarter’s coming to a close, is it like a month before the new quarter starts? Are you planning the next quarter? And do you plan quarters as a true quarter? So Q1 is January, February, March, and then April, May, June, or do you go with your own kind of seasonal calendar?
Amanda Scarlati: I do kind of go with the January, February, March Q1, Q2 type things. I’m a big proponent of seasonality, in cooking especially. So that just helps me brain-wise to think of it that way, too. So in January, I was planning quarter two. So I try to do it at the beginning, that way it’s done and it’s out of my thought process, and then keep going that way. And then in the beginning of January, I already know my schedule is solidified. And maybe I look at February to see if there’s any tweaks that I need. So I try to give myself a little bit of time, as opposed to doing it last minute. Now, are there times that that doesn’t happen? Absolutely. But I do try to plan ahead with that.
Amanda Scarlati: Going back to what you were saying about that task switching, that’s huge for me. They say, whatever, it takes like 20 minutes for your brain to really kick in and do something. I completely find that, especially like … I’m sure you can relate to having young kids. It’s like, you get pulled in a bazillion different directions, and you’re like, “Ah.” So if I can sit down and like … For me, writing is always really hard. That’s not my strong suit. So those days, I do those on a day that my husband is not working, and I can go to a quiet space and I can focus. But I find that I write so much better and I come up with really great ideas and tips and tricks regarding recipes. So some of those things that are harder for me, or I need to focus on more, I make sure that I’m doing on those days that I have more time when I … by myself when it’s quiet and that sort of thing.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that makes sense.
Amanda Scarlati: But I feel like creatively, too, even when I’m photographing recipes, I really kind of get into that. And then you remember like, “Oh, I did this. I’m going to try this trick on this photo,” or whatever. So it kind of helps you stay in the groove of things. I feel like I do better, more quality work when I’m doing those kind of in batching.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That makes sense. So interesting, in that, the start of quarter one, whether it be first week, first few weeks, whatever, you’re thinking about quarter two, but then you also have quarter one done so you’re working through that. I get the quarterly planning. What does it look like the next level down? Are you working on a set schedule then where Monday’s always this, Tuesday’s always this, so there’s some predictability there? Or does that get shifted around, too, depending on schedules, and what are those kind of blocks of work that you’re batching in?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. I do have kind of a weekly schedule that I stick to. Like, Mondays are my writing and keyword researching days and kind of planning. So I look at the content that I am doing for the week or the next week, or the week after that, depending on how far I’m ahead, and I do my keyword research. So I go through and research, because it takes a lot of time, and get all those topic things that I want to. And then I kind of go through and I write my first draft on my blog post. And then depending on what I have the rest of the day, I’ll kind of plan. So maybe I’m looking … This month, I’ll be looking into end of April, May for any shifts that I need to make.
Amanda Scarlati: Then Tuesday is kind of my administrative day. So it’s when I get all those kind of simple things done, but just monotonous tasks, accounting and social media audits, and looking at all these things that I need to get done. I also go grocery shopping. So on Mondays, I’ll also put together a prep sheet that I do for each shoot that I have. It shows all the ingredients in the recipes and what props I might need or extra garnishes, all that stuff. So that way, when I go to the store on Tuesday, that’s already done.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Amanda Scarlati: Also, works too when you’re doing keyword research. Maybe something comes up that you didn’t think of, but that would be helpful for the recipe. Then I make sure I know that ahead of time, before I shoot the recipe and go to the grocery store. And then Wednesdays are typically-
Bjork Ostrom: For that real quick, because I think people will be like, “Oh, I’m interested in hearing this.” For each of those steps, what are the different tools you’re using? So Monday you’re doing keyword research. What is the tool that you use for that? Can you just also talk through the different software and solutions that you’re using?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah, absolutely. I use a combination of things for keyword research. The biggest one I would say is Keysearch. I also use Keyword Surfer. I recently took Aleka Shunk’s course, Cooking with Keywords. Highly recommend that to anybody who is not sure about keyword research, because it was … I thought I had a good handle on it. I took that and realized I didn’t. So it was hugely helpful. There’s kind of a process that she walks you through of the best way to do that, using those different tools.
Amanda Scarlati: I have kind of a spreadsheet that I do for each recipe. So it tracks all of that stuff. That way I have that, too. So if after I publish a recipe and it’s just not doing what I want to, then I can go back and I can look at all those keywords that I researched or the different LSIs, and things like that, and say, “Oh, well, maybe I tweak this. Or add a different word at the end of it or add the word recipe,” or something like that. So I already have that done and I can go back and reference that. And then, obviously, I’ll just write the blog post right their in WordPress.
Amanda Scarlati: I also, like I said, I have kind of a prep sheet that I do for each shoot. It’s just in Google Sheets that I have together. It shows what the recipe is, if it’s for a client, when it goes live, all the ingredients that I’m going to need, places for me to make notes on timing, and then also, has the instructions. I plan out every shot. I say, “Okay, I’m going to do an ingredient shot. These are the props I’m going to use. And then I’m going to do this shot.” Because I do step-by-step photos as well.
Amanda Scarlati: That really makes it so much easier on shoot days because it kind of takes that part out of it. Because I can sit there and say, “Okay, now I know.” Because sometimes when I’m in it, I can be more creative and look up some photos for inspiration, and think, “Oh, this would be a cool idea.” But sometimes when I’m going through that, and maybe there’s a timing thing where I have to hurry and get this next shot, I completely forget about it. So it’s helpful to have that all written down, that way on my shoot days I know exactly what I do. I can pull on my props ahead of time, pull on my ingredients ahead of time, have them prepped and ready to go. And then that makes it easy. If you’re doing two, three, four shoots in a day, you can just kind of boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, go through them.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah. When you have that … It’s kind of the … I’ve talked about this a couple times on the podcast, but that idea of, I don’t know who this quote was actually … should be attributed to, but the idea, if you’re cutting down a … I feel like it’s George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or some other random author. It’s always these quotes that … It’s like every quote goes back to George Washington. But if you’re going to cut down a tree and you have eight hours, you sharpen the ax for seven.
Bjork Ostrom: It feels like with batching content, there’s maybe some similarities with that. Where if you’re going to shoot four recipes, three recipes, whatever it is in a day, that’s not just you powering through, it’s you having a really tight system and doing planning ahead of time. It sounds like this is an example of that, where you’re doing work … It’s like you’re batching the preparation so you can batch the actual shoot itself, which I think is an important takeaway within this. I think that idea of a sheet that you’re using or like a Google Doc to walk through and say, “Okay, here are the shots I need to get,” so you’re not having to do a lot of that thinking ahead of time is really smart.
Bjork Ostrom: To continue the walk-through of your week. Monday, keyword research planning, Tuesdays, a little bit of administrative stuff, Wednesday, you were saying was … what?
Amanda Scarlati: My shoot days. Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: Shoot days.
Amanda Scarlati: Yep, that’s the day that I-
Bjork Ostrom: You have one shoot day a week?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. Yep, typically, unless something goes wrong. Usually it’s once a week. So then I have everything prepped and ready to go in the morning. Get all my ingredients out and in our bowls, or whatever, for any ingredient shots. And then I can just, boom, boom, boom, go through it. I’ll plan out ahead of time, too, if there’s something that maybe is cooking in the oven for an hour or something. I might try to get another simple recipe or at least some prep shots done. Or if it’s a slow cooker recipe, obviously that takes longer. So you kind of have to do some planning ahead of time to fit everything in that way.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Amanda Scarlati: That takes up a majority of my day, depending on how much I’m doing. And then if I do have any time leftover in the day, usually I reserve that for catching up on podcasts or maybe there’s a course I’m trying to finish up or something I want to read, because I’m usually pretty tired after shoots because they’re physically-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally. It’s exhausting. It’s like a different type of brain space you need to access.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. Physically strenuous, yeah. Then on Thursdays, I usually edit. So going through any photos, or whatever, that I have and getting them edited. Making any sort of graphics and pins and all that stuff kind of photo-wise, and videos. I’m just kind of starting getting into that. So that kind is involved in that as well. And then Fridays is kind of my finalizing day. I try to do some finalizing on Thursday as well. Like, putting in those things and rereading my post to make sure what I wrote the first time is still what I want to say. Or did I make any tweaks when I made the recipe that I need to … or did I note any changes that might need to happen?
Amanda Scarlati: And then on Fridays, too, I’ll kind of try to wrap up the week. Was there anything I didn’t get done? I’ll schedule my social media out for the following week. But I do know a lot of times my kids have a virtual learning day on Friday or my daughter will have early release. So those days I try not to do as much because I just don’t find myself very productive on Fridays.
Bjork Ostrom: So you need a flex day.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah, exactly. So I use, right now, a combination of automations in Airtable, but I also use tasks in Google Calendar. I have repeating tasks that I just have set up. So I know, on Monday, this is what I do, Tuesday, what I do. But then I can also go in there and add the one-offs. Like, “Hey, I need to prep for this or I need to get this person their proposal, or I need to listen to this podcast,” or whatever. Because for me, when you have so much going on, just having a place to kind of write it down is helpful. And then, also, I feel like, “Whoa, look at all those things I checked off my schedule today.” It makes it really easy, too, because then I can move things around.
Amanda Scarlati: On Fridays, too, I’ll look to the following week and say, “You know what? I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. My daughter has soccer practice. I’ve got this appointment. I need to be home early for this. I might need to adjust my days a little bit.” So then I can just drag and drop those tasks to different days. And then, also, on the flip side, like if I’m going through a day, and I’m like, “Man, I really just didn’t get anything done. I still have these three tasks.” I can just push them off to the next day and say, “You know what? I’ll just move these over to the next day.” And then I can check them off when I finish them tomorrow.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s using Google Task. So what you’ll do is, like, you know, “Hey, every Monday, I’m going to be doing these things. So I’m going to create that as a recurring task that I check it off, but it’ll just automatically populate next Monday.” So there’s some kind of pattern and rhythm with that. What are you populating into Airtable automatically?
Amanda Scarlati: I just started doing this, because I was talking to somebody. I actually didn’t know a ton about the automation in Airtable until recently. Somebody was telling me about it, and I was like, “Oh, how did I not know this?” What I’ve started doing just recently is putting in automations to check on republished or published posts. So I have an automation, and then it goes after 30, 60, and I think 100 … or 90 days, I think it is, that I go in. Once I flip that task to publish or complete it, or whatever I have it as a status in there, then it will trigger that automation.
Amanda Scarlati: So after 30 days, I get an email that says, “Check this post.” So then I can go into Google Search Console or my keyword tracker and kind of look at things and say, “Hey, you know what? This is doing well, or this is not doing well.” It doesn’t always land right there at the 30 days. Sometimes posts take a little bit longer, but then I have … I started implementing that so I can see … kind of check on things and not just spending all this time working on these posts and then forgetting it in two years. Being like, “Oh, well, I haven’t seen any traffic from that. What’s going on?”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, yeah, “Why is that?” We have that for Google Search Console for all of our sites, where we just have a little reminder. We use Asana as our task management, project management reminder, but just to go and check Google Search Console. Like, “Hey, just do a review here and see what’s going on with Google Search Console. Are there any issues, warnings that we might have missed if we don’t have that habit around it?” Within Airtable, do you have a tab or an area that’s like recurring tasks? Where does that … I’m just trying to visualize where that lives.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. No, I don’t have that right now. Like I said, it’s fairly new that I’ve just started doing this. I have a list of all of my published posts that are on my site. And I have a list of when it was originally published, when it was updated, if it was updated recently, and when it was republished. So I have a trigger on there. You can set up an automation where it says, “Okay, if the publish date was within … or on the 30th day past that date, whatever it was, March 22nd or whatever, then it will send me an email.” You set up exactly what that email says. So I have it on there, it says, “Check post ranking.” And then you can put different things in there.
Amanda Scarlati: So I have the post title, the address, the website address, and then also when it was originally published. So then I can go into Google Search Console and filter by that date, and look forward and say, “Oh, okay, this is what it’s been doing.” Or, “I do see a huge jump in impressions, but the clicks aren’t coming through. What’s going on?” So it’s fairly new. That’s about as much as I’ve dipped my toe into it right now, but it’s cool. There’s a lot of things you can do with it. I just haven’t quite gotten there to do a lot of stuff with it yet.
Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Nice. That’s awesome. Really interesting to hear your … Quarterly, that’s the big planning. That allows you to set up the plan moving forward. And then the batching side of it is, on a week to week basis, there’s this repeating pattern that you have. So there’s some predictability, especially Monday through Thursday, with Friday kind of being a flex day. So you know, hey, generally speaking, each day is going to look like this. Having one day where you’re doing shoots start to finish. Might be republishing, might be new content. The cool thing is, the result of that, along with one of the things that I heard you talking about, which I feel like is important to call out, continual learning. Like, prioritizing courses, content, podcasts. Layering that in as part of what you’re doing has resulted in your site going from 7,500 to 65,000, which you shared before, which is incredible and kind of unlocks that stage of being able to apply for ad networks.
Bjork Ostrom: It also gets to this point that I feel like is a really critical point, where it’s like, “Oh, this is like …” Depending on people and where they live and what it looks like, but pay the mortgage type of income. I feel like anytime that somebody gets there, that’s like a life-changing event where you’re able to create a business that is supporting your family. Not that everybody uses it for a mortgage, but I just feel like that number is kind of like an interesting number and flexible enough, where people are like, “Oh, yeah, that’s significant.”
Amanda Scarlati: It’s a good, solid number.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a good, solid number. That was one of the first things I remember talking to with Lindsay, when she was first starting, is we had … We were living in a … it was a condo that we had bought for 68,000 and our mortgage was just like … It was ridiculous. It was like $460 or something. It was just such a tiny mortgage. But I remember saying, “I think you can create something that will pay the mortgage.” That was kind of the number that we had used as this inspirational pursuit, and you’ve achieved that, which I feel like is worth pointing out and saying awesome, that’s really incredible.
Amanda Scarlati: Thank you.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. If you were to, say, look back. It’s a relatively recent time period. One of the things that we hear on the podcast is like … You’ll occasionally talk to people who have been doing it for like 10 years, which is fun to hear, but for you, really, in a focused period of time, encased within the pandemic, you were able to do this, when you really started focusing and pursuing it. If you were to go back and say, “Hey, here are the things that I did that were most important along the way.” What would those things be for somebody else who is interested in really doubling down and focusing on their site and wanting to grow?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. I would say believing in yourself, helping you get that mindset shift of, “This is my business and I want it to succeed.” I think you have to go from just working on something to business owner mentality and saying, “This is what I got to do.” Kind of saying, “Okay, I’m going to make this work. This is my business and this is happening.” Really set yourself up. Like, “I’m going to go to work and these are the hours that I’m working.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Amanda Scarlati: I think it’s really, really difficult when you live and you work in the same space to kind of separate that, especially when you’re working for yourself. Because it’s really easy to be like, “Well, I’m just going to watch Netflix for a little bit.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How did you separate it?
Amanda Scarlati: I just, I set my hours. I really did. I went through and said, “Okay, these are the hours that I’m able to work, based on preschool drop-offs and pickups and people being home or whatever. This is the hours that I want to work.” So my kids know when mommy’s at work, she’s working, but when she’s home, she’s with them. I’m giving them my attention. So I really try to stick to those hours. Of course, there’s things that come up that I have to finish up or whatever, but I try to do that maybe after they’re in bed. So they know, “Hey, when I’m at work, I’m working. But when I’m here, I’m with you.”
Amanda Scarlati: And then setting those tasks for me. Like, “Daily, this is what I’m going to do.” Because I kind of started to think of, “Okay, when I used to work a job for somebody else, there was things that I had to do every day. So let’s do that.” That’s kind of how I started getting into the batching. Like, “This is what I’m going to do this day, and this is what I’m going to do this day.” Batching that stuff and putting it together really just was key for me. A, because I could get a lot done and in a focused space where I was really thinking and producing good quality work in that time.
Amanda Scarlati: And then just knowing what your limitations are. I knew that there was only so far I was going to get with this website, and not being afraid to spend that money. Like I said, going back to that, you don’t have to spend money to be successful. But if you know you’re just kind of like running into a brick wall with something, look for help. Look for someone to help you. And don’t be afraid to spend the money. Because like I said, once I invested in myself, and just not from a money aspect, but investing in myself and believing in myself, that’s when I started to see that growth. I know that kind of sounds cliche, but it really did.
Amanda Scarlati: I looked at it, I was getting really frustrated about fall of last year. Thinking, “I really wanted to qualify for Mediavine at this point. I set these goals and I just don’t think I’m going to make it. It’s just getting close and I don’t know what to do. I really got to …” I was trying to push out three a week and I was just getting really burnt out.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Amanda Scarlati: My husband was like, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” I’m like, “Because I have to do this.” And he’s like, “But nobody knows that you were going to post three recipes this week except for you.” I’m like, “I know, but I feel like if I have these tasks and these goals, I got to stick to it.” He’s like, “Yeah. But if you’re burning out and you’re seeing your quality slip, you need to back off.” That was my key. Like, “Okay, yeah. I’m not doing the best pictures or the posts aren’t written the way that I wanted to. Just, things aren’t the quality that I want them to.” That’s when I decided to back off, and I did. I thought, “You know what? Quality and consistent quality is more important than just pushing out as much content as possible.” They always say content is king, but it’s good quality content.
Amanda Scarlati: Fast forward. It was December 26th, I hit that mark for Mediavine. I was able to apply. But I got looking at it and I’m like, “Oh, man, I can’t believe I did it.” I went back and I looked at those numbers from the beginning of the year, and I’m like, “Holy cow, Amanda, you really did this.” It wasn’t like, oh, I was at 40 and got to 50,000 sessions, or whatever that goal was. Like, “You really took it. From January of 2021, you were at about 7,500 sessions, to January of 2022, you were up at 65. That’s pretty incredible.” So I think, too, looking back and … I think it’s really easy to get in this, like, “I got to just do more. I got to do more.” Especially when you’re your own boss, you’re really hard on yourself.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Amanda Scarlati: But looking back and saying, “Hey, you know what? Look what I accomplished. This is really great. I am doing good things.” I think it’s easy to kind of compare yourself to other people and say, “They’re doing this and they’re making this amount of money, and they got this sponsorship. Look at what you’re doing, and it’s pretty great.” Just staying in that focus I think is huge.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think of sports analogies. Which, whenever somebody else has a sports analogy, I’m like, “Ugh, sports analogy.” And then I find myself using them all the time. I really think of cross country as a good example, or maybe cross country skiing. Where I feel like the mindset of a lot of people who are doing a sport like cross country is like, “I want to beat my last best time,” as opposed to … I think you want to win. That’s part of what a sport is, is like, “Hey, it’d be really cool to get first place.” But just having this mindset of, “How can I improve? Within the constraints that exist for me.” It’s like, life is going to look really different if you have four kids. It’s a pandemic.
Bjork Ostrom: I think about that with Lindsay and I, too. We were both working on this thing together. That’s a variable that doesn’t exist for a lot of people. So what does it look like for you? And then what can you then step back and look at it, and be like, “Hey, I’m proud of the work that I did given the reality of the life that I’m living.” As opposed to, “I’m proud of what I did. When I put it up against this other example of somebody else, who I’m not really sure who is working with them or what their constraints are,” or whatever it is, but to stay focused on your own goals, your own progress, and to not get distracted from that. I think that’s a great takeaway.
Amanda Scarlati: Well, I think that’s really easy to do that is to compare yourself to other people. You never know what’s going on behind the curtain. You don’t know what they have or what they’re struggling with. So I think just … I love what you guys always say, just getting a little bit … tiny bit better every day. That was one thing I always kept in the back of my head, “Okay, you might not be where they are, but look how much you came over the last couple months and how much better you are, and how much you’ve improved. You did this and you did that.” Giving yourself a little bit grace, because things happen. There’s weeks that I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t get anything done. This is so frustrating. I’m not going to meet this goal and this goal.” It’s like, “Okay, but you also did this, this and this, and your kids needed you. That’s just how it goes sometimes.” You know?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That’s great. I heard somebody describe being an entrepreneur as taking a step back every day for four days in a row and then taking five steps forward once every five days.
Amanda Scarlati: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: So it’s like, you’re still … And then you pull that out over a year, or two years or 10 years, you make a lot of progress. But sometimes it can seem like, man, on average, it’s actually like going backwards. Now, I know that’s different for all different entrepreneurs and businesses. But this idea of, you show up, you hustle. You maybe end the day feeling like, “Gosh, I didn’t make any progress.” But the key is to do that five days a week. One of those days you’re going to have those leaps and those unlocks, even though it might feel like the majority of the time you’re showing up and you’re not making as much progress as you want. I think that kind of ties into the tiny bit idea, like, tiny bit better every day. Maybe some days you don’t, but over the macro year, two years, 10 years, you can make a lot of progress. You see that with your story, which is really fun to see. So, Amanda, where can people find you, follow along with what you’re up to, and connect with you?
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah, definitely. You can find me. You can connect with me through my website, saporitokitchen.com, or on Instagram, @saporitokitchen as well.
Bjork Ostrom: What’s the story with the name? Just as we close out. Usually we talk about it in the beginning, but …
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. No, so Saporito means tasty in Italian. A lot of my food is Italian comfort food, that sort of thing. It was something I had thought of a really long time ago. So when I started it in 2017, I’m like, “All right, this is what we’re going with.”
Bjork Ostrom: This is what it is.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Love it. That’s great. Cool. Well, thanks so much for coming out, Amanda. Really great to connect.
Amanda Scarlati: Yeah. Thanks so much, Bjork. Have a great day.
Alexa Peduzzi: Hey, hey. Alexa here from the Food Blogger Pro team. We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Thank you for tuning in. I wanted to let you know that we have a live Q&A coming up. We typically have a live Q&A every single month for our Food Blogger Pro community, for our Food Blogger Pro members. If you’re not a member or maybe you’re a new member of the community, maybe you don’t know what they are. So I wanted to give you a quick rundown on what you could expect from a live Q&A at Food Blogger Pro.
Alexa Peduzzi: Like I mentioned, we have one per month. In these live Q&As, we typically focus on a specific topic. Whether that be photography, SEO, WordPress, developing recipes, we kind of cover everything and anything on these live Q&As. And then Bjork, or sometimes Bjork and a guest, an industry expert, come on and answer all of our community’s questions live. So our community submits questions, and then Bjork and whoever is joining him in that specific Q&A will answer the questions live. All of our past live Q&As are available for all members. They are just such a great time. And we love being able to connect in a way that’s sort of face-to-face in a virtual setting.
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