326: Content Batching – Planning, Scheduling, and Creating Blog Posts Months Ahead of Time with Karli Bitner

Listen to this episode of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast using the player above or check it out on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

An image of a person typing on a laptop and the title of Karli Bitner's episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Content Batching.'

Welcome to episode 326 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews Karli Bitner from Cooking with Karli about how she batch produces content.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Alejandra Graf from BrownSugar&Vanilla about how she shares recipes on her blog in both English and Spanish. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Content Batching

As food bloggers, it can sometimes feel like we’re stuck in this never-ending cycle of producing more and more content. To avoid burnout, how do we develop strategies for content creation that are sustainable over a long period of time?

That’s what we’re discussing with Karli in today’s episode! To maximize her time with her family this year, she batch produced all of her blog posts for 2021 before 2020 ended. In this episode, she shares why she likes content batching, how she plans and schedules her content, and how she has expanded her team to maximize her productivity.

It’s a really great interview that will inspire you to reflect on your own content creation strategy. We hope you enjoy it!

A quote from Karli Bitner's appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'From last July to last December (so like a year ago), I shot all the content for this full year.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why Karli started blogging
  • How she chose a niche when launching her blog
  • How she used Facebook Groups to grow her traffic
  • Why she expanded her niche and changed her focus
  • What copycat recipes are
  • What tools she uses to grow her business
  • How she batch produces content ahead of time
  • How she strategically plans her shoot days
  • How she organizes her content and photos
  • How she adjusts her content plan as needed
  • How she works with a writer on her blog posts
  • What tasks she has strategically delegated for her blog
  • How she found the right people to hire
  • How she expects to create content in the future

Resources:

About This Week’s Sponsor

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

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

Sign up for the Clariti waitlist today to receive:

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

You can learn more and sign up here.

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

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

Transcript (click to expand):

Bjork Ostrom: This episode is sponsored by our sister site Clariti. Clariti’s tool that we built for Pinch of Yum and we’ve said, “You know what? As long as we’re building this, we’ve done this before with WP Tasty, as long as we’re building this, let’s make it a tool that other people can use as well.” It came out of us maintaining this giant spreadsheet that we had and saying, “You know what? There’s probably a better way for us to manage these projects that we’re doing, these improvements that we’re doing and also there’s probably a way for us to make it easier to understand the impact that these changes are having.”

Bjork Ostrom: We’re in the early stages of kind of exploring this and implementing this with Clariti and the way that we’re doing that right now is we have an integration with Google Analytics. So when you sign up for Clariti, you can connect your Google Analytics account and there’s two things that happen here that are really cool. Number one, you can look at the analytics for a page, so I’m looking at the Incredible Vegan Mac and Cheese for Pinch of Yum, and I can see on the 9th and 10th of September there is a bump, there is an increase in traffic, and what you can do with Clariti is you can see not only when that increase in traffic happened, but as you’re making improvements and as you’re making updates, you can add what we call notes.

Bjork Ostrom: Now this is a really important thing and something that we’re really trying to get good at with Pinch of Yum and any of the content improvements that we’re doing, which is adding notes whenever we make a change or whenever we make an improvement. Now here’s a quick tip, and it’s a little bit specific, but it’s an example of how we did this and then how we’re tracking that in Clarity. So recently for Pinch of Yum, we made this discovery. We’re using Yoast SEO and Yoast is prioritizing for the search image, it’s prioritizing the social image that you’ve put into search or for Pinch of Yum, we realized it was doing that. One of the things that was happening was for Facebook, we had created these images that we dropped into Yoast’s social section for Facebook, and those images had text on them, and what we discovered, actually a shout-out to Kingston, the founder of Slickstream, he actually helped us discover this, what we discovered is when you have text on images, and Google is using that image for the search result, you’re going to get pinged.

Bjork Ostrom: Google doesn’t like when you are using an image that has text on it for the image that’s going to show in search results, and that wasn’t an issue before, but my understanding is that there is an update with Yoast that started to prioritize or started to use the social image, the Facebook image in our case, as the suggested image for the search results. So what we did is we went out and we changed those images that had text on them to just regular images with no text on them, and again, this was in the Yoast SEO area for the social image for Facebook.

Bjork Ostrom: What happened was with one specific post for Pinch of Yum and we tested this, the next day, it immediately had a jump. It was position four, five, six, I don’t remember what it was, to position one. Just by changing out this image, so then what we did is we went into Clariti and we added an annotation or a note. It’s kind of like an annotation in Google Analytics, but you can do it on the page level. You can do it with a specific post, and we made a note with this chocolate chip cookies recipe and we said, “We switched the image out on this date.” So we have record that we can go back and we can look at that and say, “Great. Here’s when we made this change,” and over time, the more notes you have, the more analysis you can do to see the impact that the changes are having.

Bjork Ostrom: So you can see how this all ties in. Right now we’re tying into Google Analytics. Eventually it will be Google Search Console. You have notes, you have the information with WordPress that’s being brought in, you’re making improvements, you’re making enhancements. So that’s kind of the premise of what Clariti is and what we’ll continue to build it to be. So all of that, this is longer than a typical ad read would be because I included that little piece of information there as an actionable item for you to check out and to look at, and if you have questions about it, we would love to help you kind of navigate that if you think that might be happening with your social images and something to look into. But all that to stay, that’s the hope for Clariti. That’s why we’re building it and that’s what we’re using it for personally and also how you can use it.

Bjork Ostrom: So if you’re interested in checking it out, right now we’re doing what we call 25 Forever, and for the first 500 people, you get an account for $25.00 a month forever. We won’t increase that, even down the line when we switch how we are billing. We’ll most likely go to some type of scaled billing where it’s either just more expensive or it’s based on how many posts you have or page views or something like that. But for these early users, the first 500 people, we’re locking it in at this kind of early price point because we’re building Clariti. It’s not as full-featured, it will never be as full-featured as we want it to be because we’re always going to be working on it and improving it and enhancing it, but in these early stages, we want to get people in using it and in exchange for doing that, we wanted to give you kind of a forever discounted price on that.

Bjork Ostrom: So it’s 25 Forever and you can get that by going to clariti.com/food, C-L-A-R-I-T-I.com/food, and you can sign up for the list there and then we’ll follow up and go through the onboarding process. It’s pretty high touch here in the beginning stages, it’s not this automated thing where you’ll sign up and you won’t talk to anybody. We want to make sure that we walk people through the process of getting signed up and understanding it and would love for you to join us there. So again, it’s Clariti, C-L-A-R-I-T-I, .com/food, and you can just drop in your email address and first name and we’ll follow up. Thanks to Clariti and the Clariti team for sponsoring the podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: Hello, hello, hello. This is Bjork Ostrom and you’re listening to The Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Excited to be sharing this interview with you, Karli, from Cooking with Karli, and the reason I’m excited is because we’re going to be talking about some of the things that I often hear people ask about, talk about, a lot of the things that come up in the conversations that I have with creators, which is all-around sustainable content creation. How do you do it in a way where you don’t feel completely burnt out or you don’t look at the week ahead and think, “It’s just another week of kind of the daily grind.” Karli’s going to be talking about not only how she works with a team but also some of the strategies and rhythms she’s implemented around content creation that allows her to do things like take the summer off or take a long stretch of time off during the holidays and personally, I love the idea of batching content and having that available to work through during seasons when you want to be potentially more present at home or you want to go on a vacation, whatever that might be.

Bjork Ostrom: So Karli’s going to be talking about how she did that, her strategy for doing it, and also how she works with a team member, and what it’s like for those team members when she does have these periods of time where she steps back a little bit. It’s going to be a great conversation and I know you’ll get a lot out of it. Let’s go ahead and jump in. Karli, welcome to the podcast.

Karli Bitner: Hello. Thank you. Nice to be here.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it will be fun to chat. One of the things that I love about this interview, to tease it a little bit before we get in, is that we’re going to be focusing on something really specific, talking about how you batch content and really why and what that looks like logistically but what’s exciting for me is we’ve been … I’ve had a lot of conversations with a lot of creators and one of the most stressful things is the process of creating and it’s just this never-ending need to feed the beast.

Karli Bitner: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: What it feels like you’ve been able to do is to use an equivalent, it’s like figuring out how to make a bunch of food … It’s literally and figuratively make a bunch of food that then feeds the beast or a long period of time as opposed to waking up every morning and being like, “Oh, the beast needs to be fed again.”

Karli Bitner: Yes, exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: So we’re going to be talking about that, but before we do, I want to hear a little bit about your story before we jump in and talk about some of the specifics of how you approach content. So rewind the tape a little bit, when did you launch your site and what was your mindset like at the stage when you first launched?

Karli Bitner: Okay, so I launched back in February of 2018. So not all that long ago.

Bjork Ostrom: Great.

Karli Bitner: So I guess rewinding way, way back, I was in college. My husband was in college, we got married. I started having babies, he started to go to school. It doesn’t make sense to put kids in daycare to pay to go to school. So we decided we’re going to do it separate. He’s going to go to school, and then it’ll be my turn. He did his school stuff, he was done and then it was like my little identity crisis of what am I going to do with my life, right?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. How long was that phase where you … Because it sounds like you kind of pressed pause, you said, “Great, we have kids, I’m just going to focus on raising kids,” which takes a lot of time, energy. We’re in the middle of that right now in some extent when you have kids you always are in that stage, but maybe even more so in the early stages. How long was that period where he was in school and you’re like, “Hey, I’m just going to press pause and focus on kids?”

Karli Bitner: Right. So when he got out of school, my oldest was almost five. He was four, almost five. So I have four kids now. So my oldest is now eight, my youngest is napping in the other room, she’s seven months.

Bjork Ostrom: So you’re saying it’s like a five-year period?

Karli Bitner: Mm-hmm. Yeah, of me like…

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Was that hard for you to be in that season or was it like, “Hey, this is hard in one sense, but also really awesome in another sense?”

Karli Bitner: It was both. So it was hard and my husband did grad school so we moved across the country, like 3,000 miles away from family. He was at school all the time, I was like really full-time mom, single parent because he was studying from morning to night and I never saw him.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. What was he going to school for?

Karli Bitner: He’s a PA, so physician assistant.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Super intense.

Karli Bitner: Yep.

Bjork Ostrom: My cousin just went through that.

Karli Bitner: Yep.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Karli Bitner: It is super intense, but it’s all worth it now. He totally loves his job and stuff, but … So when he got a job and he started working and we moved again, so all of the family that I created with friends were back east, they were gone and I was like, “What am I supposed to do with my wife? I’ve just been wiping noses and changing diapers and making food forever,” and when kids are so little, they are just so demanding and they’re so hard to see any success. Like I was just … I needed something for me, and so I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, and –

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Can you talk about that piece of … The success piece I guess? Was it almost like you needed something that you could control and track, that you could see tangible progress with as opposed to parenting and maybe … I would guess a lot of parents can relate to this where it feels like … It’s seasons, like some are great and then you have this season where everything’s falling apart and it’s like, “Oh no.” As opposed to a blog or a business where you can start it and like, “Hey, great, I published a post. I got a little traffic. I’m making some progress here.” Is that the general sense of kind of what you’re feeling?

Karli Bitner: Right, exactly. So something where I could have an actual checklist of I need to create this content, I’m going to publish it, I’m going to share it here and there and see “success” but see something happening because I’m trying to teach my kids to be nice every day but they still hit every day, and it’s just frustrating. It’s like are they even listening to me and when they’re not able, no, but … I needed something for that, and I thought about going back to school and I’m like, “I don’t know that there’s anything that I could get a degree for that would be worth me leaving my kids.” What would I even want to do, right?

Karli Bitner: So I happened to be watching a Facebook Live from another food blogger where she was talking about how she made food blogging her career. It was –

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Just out of curiosity, who was it?

Karli Bitner: Lauren’s Latest.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Yeah.

Karli Bitner: It’s just her flood blog, and she talked about how her husband went to grad school and she was like, “Hey, I’ve got to really make this blog thing work.” So he went to grad school, they were living in separate states. She had small kids and then she said that he graduated and they were debt-free, and let me tell you, we were just $100,000.00 in debt freshly out of grad school and I was like, “What?”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah.

Karli Bitner: I didn’t realize that you could make money doing this, and I love to cook. I love to bake. I was the digital photography club president in high school.

Bjork Ostrom: Nice. What photography president you said?

Karli Bitner: I was the digital photography club president.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh digital photography president, yeah. Was there an analog photography club as well?

Karli Bitner: No.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay.

Karli Bitner: I’m kind of young. I am on the younger end of things. So I was just … Like my mind was blown. I could not believe that you could make money doing this because that was not ever anything that had crossed my mind, and so I showed my husband the Live and he had a lot more faith in me than I did and it took him a solid month of him saying, “Karli, you should try it. You should try it. What are we going to lose? Like it’s just $1,000.00, $2,000.00 investing into it. There’s nothing to lose, you should try it.” It took a long time for him to talk me into it because I just felt like, “I’m not cool.” All of these bloggers I put on a pedestal and was like, “You are all cool. I wish I could be your friend but I’m not cool enough.” But you don’t have to be cool. Like I’m not cool at all.

Karli Bitner: But I just decided I’m going to dive in, headfirst. I’m not going to take no for an answer and I’m going to work for free as little as possible, like as small amount of time as possible, because nobody wants to work for free, but it’s kind of the name of the game when it comes to blogging. You have to work for free for a time but then it really starts to pay off. So I had –

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and if there is something to lose, I suppose that would be more than income, it would almost –

Karli Bitner: Just be time.

Bjork Ostrom: Be time, energy, focus on something. Which for different people feels different, but it definitely is something, especially when you have kids or if you’re doing … Have another focus. It’s almost like opportunity cost.

Karli Bitner: Right.

Bjork Ostrom: So apart from just … Yeah.

Karli Bitner: Exactly, and at the time, it was during nap time I could either be shooting a recipe and then writing up a blog post, or I could be watching The Bachelor or something like that. It’s like my time was not worth a lot.

Bjork Ostrom: Also time well spent. Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Karli Bitner: So it kind of just depends, but I went into it with a very specific strategy of I kind of hopped on the instant pot train right as it started and was one of the first instant pot bloggers. So I was able to hit my 25,000 sessions with Mediavine within the 30 days of me launching and just got ads on my site as soon as I could and just kind of gone from there.

Bjork Ostrom: Went from there. I think that piece is really important, it’s one that we talk about a little bit on the podcast, but the idea of focusing on a niche and I think the other piece that’s important to point out is focusing on a niche that has some sense of … You’re able to catch the wave, and you kind of alluded to that with Instant Pot, where, “Hey, it’s this thing that a lot of people are talking about, a lot of people are using, a lot of people have a need to figure out how to use it,” and when you’re first starting out, you can’t be too broad. So you have to focus on something. It sounds like you in the early stages did a really good job of figuring that out. “Hey, there’s a wave, I want to catch that wave, and I’m going to try to not ride all the waves or do all the sports or whatever the analogy is, I’m just going to focus really on specifically on this thing.” Was that an intentional decision and how did you go about deciding that? Was it like gut? Hey, I see this trending and should I do that? Was it you being like, “Actually, I use this a lot and I see a lot of people asking questions about it. How did you make decisions around it?”

Karli Bitner: So my mom gave me an instant pot. So I was trying to figure out how it worked and so in me trying to figure out how it worked. This was a year before I started the blog. I joined some Facebook groups. Some instant pot Facebook groups. Just to kind of stalk because I didn’t want people to make fun of me because I didn’t know what I was doing. So I was just learning and trying to read all these things, and one day just was like … I thought I could make homemade Go-GURTs. Because you can do the yogurt in the instant pot. So I bought these little things from Amazon and I did it, and I just posted in the group, it was one of my first times posting in there and was just like, “Hey, I did this. Thought people would think it was cool.” And it was shared almost 2,000 times, and I was like, “What is happening?”

Karli Bitner: So when the blog thing kind of … We were talking about it, it was very intentional of like, “I bet I could use these groups to bounce traffic to my website,” which is exactly what I did. There’s a couple of them. They all have different rules. You have to follow, some is one a day, some whatever, and so I just followed the rules and made sure I was –

Bjork Ostrom: One a day meaning you can’t post more than once a day?

Karli Bitner: One post per day.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.

Karli Bitner: Right, and some of them were like you can’t post the same recipe more than once a month, and there was lots of different rules in there that you’ve got to follow. But I was also very apparent, very … Not apparent –

Bjork Ostrom: Transparent and saying like … Yeah.

Karli Bitner: Forward and transparent, there you go, saying, “This is my recipe.” Like I’m not linking to my own recipe and saying, “Oh my goodness. This is so good. Has anybody tried it.”

Bjork Ostrom: Check this out. Yeah, totally. Yeah yeah yeah.

Karli Bitner: Like I always said that it was mine, and people started getting to know me as a person in those groups. So it was kind of like a behind-the-scenes to the blog because they thought that they kind of knew the person behind it a little bit. So I was able to…

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. Yeah, it’s … No, finish that thought, and then yeah. Did you finish that? Was there more?

Karli Bitner: Oh, was just going to say, I was able to create relationships or more fans kind of that way because I was just more personal with my posting than I am on the blog.

Bjork Ostrom: The thing that I was going to point out and wanted to mention before you got too far away from it was … So I think one of the most defensible things within a business, within a blog, whatever it might be, is community. It’s like people who know you, who trust you, who like you, but that’s really hard to build in the early stages and what I think is interesting about what you’re saying is you found communities that you could be a part of and became a significant contributor in those communities in a way that was respectful of whatever kind of guidelines they had outlined. It’s that fine line between self-promotion which is this is helping me and helpful content that people actually want to see and it feels evident that it was actually helpful content if people share it 2,000 times, great, that landed really well. If you went into an instant pot community and shared some random cookie recipe, it would be like, “Wait a minute. This is just somebody trying to help themselves.”

Bjork Ostrom: But I think the piece about finding communities and finding ways to help those communities is a great way to build your own community and my guess is now some of those people just follow along with you, whether you post or not. Like they just are aware of you, maybe it’s social followers, whatever it is. I’m curious to know, was there some point where you shifted away from kind of the niche of instant pots and said, “You know what? I’m going to kind of open this up a little bit. Maybe it will still be a focus area,” but you can’t … Maybe you could, I mean you probably could, produce instant pot recipes forever. But what does that look like for you in terms of … Yeah, like strategy around focusing on a niche but kind of land and expand beyond that niche?

Karli Bitner: So I’ve actually done that. My passion is desserts through and through, I love them so much, and so it was just kind of slowly introducing it and honestly I post a new instant pot recipe once every few months now. It’s not a major part of my blog at all anymore and in fact I’ve kind of … Over the past six years, I’m kind of starting to ride a new wave which is kind of fun. I enjoy finding the little trends or the little things and kind of jumping on that and so I’ve been doing a lot of copycat recipes and kind of jumping there with baking –

Bjork Ostrom: For those who are not familiar, can you explain what that is?

Karli Bitner: Yeah, so it’s a recipe for … I’ll tell you exactly what it is. They’re Crumbl Cookies. So it’s just a cookie chain. It’s actually started pretty close to where I live.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. They just put one a mile from here.

Karli Bitner: Oh really?

Bjork Ostrom: It’s a Utah-based company, right?

Karli Bitner: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So the original one is 20 minutes from where I live and it started in a college town. You could get them delivered hot to your door or dorm until midnight, so warm fresh cookies, right? So they have rotating flavors every week, and I just take those rotating flavors and make a copycat version. So I’m inspired by their recipes, by their flavors, and credit them and just do a “copycat”.

Bjork Ostrom: So this is you, to the best of your ability, creating a recipe that’s similar to this seasonal recipe that they’re doing for somebody who’s like, “This cookie is really good. What if I tried to make this as opposed to bought it,” and then they search for that term of whatever it would be.

Karli Bitner: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: And see like, “Oh, yeah.”

Karli Bitner: The catch there too is that their rotating menu only comes in once every four or five months.

Bjork Ostrom: Oh sure. So if it goes away and somebody’s like, “Gosh, I love that cookie.”

Karli Bitner: If it goes away, it’s away.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Interesting.

Karli Bitner: So it’s been like … I don’t know why I get so much joy out of tasting theirs and then trying to figure out exactly what’s in it and working it and recreating it, I love it. It’s like a science experiment for me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’s a puzzle. For sure.

Karli Bitner: Yeah, and so I kind of have been doing that lately but there’s all the other recipes still going on too.

Bjork Ostrom: How do you let go of the focus on an idea that you’re getting … Where you’re getting a lot of traction, like the instant pot recipes, to go somewhere else? Like how do you know when to double down versus expand out into other areas?

Karli Bitner: So I kind of let go of instant pot … Well I shouldn’t say let go of it, but kind of backed off on it when I was feeling so burnt out. Because I don’t want anything else in the instant pot. I want something else, and my traffic was still strong and I didn’t feel like my new instant pot content was getting as much traction as my older stuff because the market started getting saturated. There are a lot of bloggers now doing instant pot recipes, and it just wasn’t making the impact that I would have hoped or wanted, and so I kind of shifted to more SEO-based recipes, so looking at what content I’m missing and kind of trying to fill in those gaps on my website to make it full of everything that you’d want on a food blog.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. How do you go about doing that? Are you using a tool for that? Doing kind of analysis? What does that look like?

Karli Bitner: So I’m using SEMrush but I have to admit that I hate spending money. So I’ve only used that for maybe a year. Maybe.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah yeah yeah.

Karli Bitner: Before I was using The Hoth.com, it’s H-O-T-H .com, and that’s free.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Nice.

Karli Bitner: If anybody ever needs free things –

Bjork Ostrom: The price is right. Yeah.

Karli Bitner: Just ask me. Because there’s probably no one.

Bjork Ostrom: What are some of the other tools that you use that are helpful for you with your site?

Karli Bitner: Just really SEMrush. I use AnswerThePublic a lot.

Bjork Ostrom: Can you explain how you use that?

Karli Bitner: Yeah. So when I am writing my posts, well we can get into this later too, but I have a writer now so that’s great. So I just put in my keyword or variations of my keyword and it will spit out just commonly asked questions, and I’ll just look through those just to kind of trigger in my mind like, “Oh yeah. That would be a really great question to answer within my blog post,” and so I’ll jot that down for my writer so that she can answer that when she’s just writing the blog post, so …

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So the way that you work with the writer is you will kind of come up with the recipe, develop it, will you photograph it as well?

Karli Bitner: Mm-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: And then kind of build the outline almost and then they’ll go in and kind of fill in the rest of the post with the actual writing?

Karli Bitner: Yeah. So what I do is I don’t know if you’re familiar with Trello?

Bjork Ostrom: Yep.

Karli Bitner: That’s another one that I should have mentioned that I use all the time. I have a shared Trello board with her, so I just have a card for each recipe. There’s a photo in there, the full recipe, so she’s got that context, and then I’ll put little helpful tips for her as I’m creating the recipe and just give her any information that she needs just to write the body of the post and then she’ll just take that information and put it in for me.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s awesome. Any other tools that would be worth calling out or mentioning?

Karli Bitner: I think that’s pretty much what I use. I use Google Calendar a lot. So Google Calendar and Trello probably the most.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Hand in hand. That’s great. So it seems like you’re somebody who likes systems, likes processes, has kind of developed those. An example of that is the way that you approach content which kind of hinted at that at the beginning. But can you talk about your content creation process? It sounds like you have really leaned into batch producing content. You’re really strategic about your time, how you use your time and have optimized around producing a lot of content in a relatively short period of time compared to how most people produce content I would assume? What does that look like, I’m so curious?

Karli Bitner: So this is actually a perfect time to talk about this because like I mentioned I just had a baby seven months ago. When I found out I was pregnant, and I know this is my last baby, so I was like, “I really want to just enjoy babyhood.”

Bjork Ostrom: Totally.

Karli Bitner: So from last July to last December, so like a year ago-ish, I shot all of the content for this full year. So I am not having to shoot a ton. I do once a week just because I love it and I miss it, but I shot everything. So I didn’t have to focus on creating content at all this year. I had all my recipes done, the photos are done. I’ve got all of the recipes written and my writer is just … She’s still…

Bjork Ostrom: Going through and writing them.

Karli Bitner: Because she’s just going through and writing them. But that is really important to me, to be able to take time off. Because when I very first started blogging, we go way back to the beginning, I felt this need to have all the content on my site right now. So I was publishing one post a day for six or seven months.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Which is a lot.

Karli Bitner: It is a ton of content, and it’s exactly like you were saying. You wake up and you’re just like, “Okay. Something’s got to go up today. I don’t know what it is but something’s got to go up today.” I’m guilty back then of walking through the aisles of the grocery store, hoping an ingredient would just jump out at me.

Bjork Ostrom: Just inspire you. Yeah.

Karli Bitner: Inspiration, and that is stressful and I did not want to do that anymore, and my kids were going back to school … Yeah, my kids were going back to school, and I decided I did not want to work at all when they were off on Thanksgiving break or Christmas break. I just wanted to be able to take that time, be with my family, not have to stress about posting things, and so I just scheduled it out and made it so that I wouldn’t have to. So what I did was I first scheduled what I wanted to post onto my Google Calendar. So ahead of time, just posting –

Bjork Ostrom: Where are you pulling that from? Was there a pre-step to that step where you’re brainstorming ideas, you’re thinking about things that you could create or how solidified are the recipes when you’re drafting those in or the content if it’s not recipes where you’re saying like, “Great. December 1, here’s what I’m going to post, this specific recipe.” Or is it like this general thing?

Karli Bitner: So it’s a specific recipe and I have a list on Trello that’s just recipe ideas that is five million miles long.

Bjork Ostrom: And it’s always you saying like, “Hey, this could be cool. I’m going to add this here. Day to day, it’s kind of a catch-all.”

Karli Bitner: Yeah, or for example, I have a donut recipe but I don’t have a separate donut glaze recipe, which would go really well hand in hand to link together. I have a cinnamon roll icing recipe that does really well so I could link that with the glaze because they’re similar. So that’s just something that I was like, “I should put that on the website.” So I just go and jot it down. So I have a list really long of that and then I’ll also go into SEMrush and kind of look to see what I am ranking for or what I am almost ranking for to see if I can make some supporting content for it to try and kind of boost it up a little bit. Then I just make that list and so that’s where I will kind of schedule those recipes from onto my Google Calendar.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. So the beginning part is scheduling and I suppose it depends on the season. You could do it for the entire year as you did in this case but for other people who want to take a different kind of approach to this, maybe it’s quarter-based. So you have a couple weeks and you kind of are setting that time aside to batch and first step in your case would be scheduling that out. How many posts a week did you land on for that season?

Karli Bitner: So the first time I did it, I was publishing three new posts a week. So Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then this last year when I did it, I went down to two and then I’ve been updating old content so still –

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, and how often would you update old content? Is it like once a week where you’re doing that?

Karli Bitner: Yeah, once a week. Yeah, and so it’s kind of shifting now to where I need to update a little bit more and everything is kind of balancing out. So that was the first step is just kind of getting it on the calendar and then from there I would organize my shoot days and my shoot days were always Tuesdays and Thursdays because that’s when my daughter was at preschool and my other daughter was napping so I’d have some time by myself. So obviously this can work for whatever schedule you have. This is just like … That was my schedule and then once you have a lot of content planned out and scheduled on the calendar, I would go and look for similarities in recipes. So I could schedule my shoot days to be smart. For example, if I was publishing a chocolate chip muffin recipe and a blueberry muffin recipe, even though they’re being published three weeks apart, I’m going to make those on the same day because they are pretty much the exact same thing. So it just takes a lot of the extra work out and I mentioned in the Tastemakers Conference and somebody was not very happy with me but I’ll mention it again.

Karli Bitner: Also use shortcuts if you can. So like chicken pot pie. I have a pie crust recipe on my site. It’s awesome. Just use the store-bought pie crust. Just make your life a little bit easier and honestly with my readers, they prefer the shortcuts. So obviously if your thing is all homemade, then don’t do it, and I’m very apparent and transparent with my readers of saying, “You can use a store-bought pie crust. I use a store-bought pie crust. But if you want.”

Bjork Ostrom: Here’s one that you could do homemade.

Karli Bitner: “Here’s a link to my homemade one.”

Bjork Ostrom: The point being if it takes an additional two hours to make a crust, you need to be strategic about how you’re thinking about your content saying like –

Karli Bitner: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: I think I only have two hours to do this. For the photograph, is that kind of what you’re getting at? Like for the photograph?

Karli Bitner: Exactly. Just for the pictures.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s not going to make any difference. Yeah, totally. Yeah. That makes sense.

Karli Bitner: Yeah. Just for the pictures, and then another thing that I’ll do too is look at the timing of recipes. So if I know something is going to need to be in the oven for 45 minutes, then I’m going to intentionally schedule a recipe that’s super short, like Rice Krispies or something similar to that that I can do the entire thing while the one recipe is in the oven. So that I’m just scheduling my shoot days and I physically put in my calendar the exact recipe titles on the shoot days so I know exactly what will be going and I organize those shoot days in and then I’m able to, as long as you’re shooting more than you’re publishing, you’re going to get ahead. So I will try and do three recipes on every shoot day, and it’s pretty easy once you’re able to schedule out your time and what recipes you’re doing and just kind of get it figured out in your brain. It’s easy to get them done in a couple of hours, depending on the recipe obviously.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure. So if you have two shoot days and you’re doing six recipes, then that’s two recipes a week. So you’re essentially in a week getting three weeks of content more or less?

Karli Bitner: Three weeks of content. Mm-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and how much of that is … How much of your time, this may be hard to do on a percentage basis, but one of the things that I think a lot about as a creator is they talk about if you have eight hours to chop a tree down, spend six hours sharpening the ax, and I think if you have eight hours to produce content, spend at least three planning. Like the analogy is not exactly the same, but that’s one of the takeaways that I hear when I hear you talking is like part of the work isn’t the actual doing the actual work itself, it’s planning for the work. Would you have an idea of how much time you spend thinking about, planning about, scheduling, versus, “Hey, I’m in the kitchen producing content and taking pictures and developing recipes?”

Karli Bitner: So it is a fraction. Just like a teeny bit of the planning, and it makes your life so much easier. Honestly, the one day that I scheduled out for the entire year basically was … I sat at the computer, it was a long day. I sat at the computer maybe six hours. But it’s six hours for an entire year. That’s nothing, and so worth just the peace of mind and not having to have all of that stuff in your brain all the time.

Bjork Ostrom: Yes. Totally. So on that day –

Karli Bitner: So it’s like freeing your brain.

Bjork Ostrom: You said, “Great, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to get my drink of choice, my favorite drink. I’m going to set it next to me, put headphones in, and I’m going to plan out all of …” In that case, was it 2021?

Karli Bitner: Mm-hmm.

Bjork Ostrom: Is it essentially you’re planning out the entire year. And so you’re going and you’re saying, “Great, January, let’s look at that. What’s going to be seasonal content in January? Two posts a week, here’s what I’m going to post in, here’s what they’re going to be.” Were you also picking the content that you were going to update? Like bring to the front of your blog?

Karli Bitner: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay, so it’s essentially two to three pieces of content, two new content, pieces of content, one old one that you’re picking and saying, “Here’s one that I’m going to update.” So it takes in that case let’s say half an hour per month to say, “Here’s what January looks like. Here’s what February looks like.” So you get to that point, then what? It’s all on the calendar, you’re able to step back at the end of the day and be like, “Awesome. I planned out the entire year.” Where do you take it from there?

Karli Bitner: So then you just start your shoot days, and the thing that is really important is just to stay on top of your content. So I would be shooting three a day. I don’t want those pictures to get piled up on my card.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. So when you say that, you mean like editing, organizing, importing, things like that?

Karli Bitner: Yeah. I just have to stay on top of that or else you will just get buried really, really fast. So every night, it was either … I tried to do it that night, but if it didn’t happen the night of my shoot, it was the next day during the day to make sure I got all of the pictures edited and then all of those Trello cards updated and over to my writer’s board, and so all of that was done and I’m very organized with my folders on my hard drive so I know exactly where everything is. Each recipe has its own folder, it’s titled what the recipe is, all of the images are in there, I make the pin images, and I just have all of that content ready. So when my writer is done with it, I know exactly where to find the photos. All I have to do is go in, add the photos, add the recipe card and publish.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. Can you talk about, this is getting into like kind of nerdy details of folder organization, but I think it’s just helpful for people who maybe aren’t … People who aren’t naturally organized or these would be the people where … I used to work at a non-profit and would do kind of IT stuff as a part of the job and whenever I would sit down, at a computer, I would say 50% of the time, people would say like, “Don’t judge. Like before you get in, just don’t judge my computer.” Inevitably it would be like the smallest possible icon size on their desktop and it would just be like the icon desktop equivalent of somebody shooting a shotgun 17 times, just everywhere random, not organized. So there are some people who are super organizational, organizationally minded, everything is structured really well, and then there’s the people who are that version of organization. For the people who would maybe skew towards not being naturally organized, can you talk about your process for how you structure your folders and maybe why you do it that way?

Karli Bitner: Sure. So I have just … So my blog is Cooking with Karli. I just have a Cooking with Karli folder and inside of that folder I have a few different ones. I have recipe photos, that’s obviously where all my recipe photos go. I have logos, I’ve got headshots, I’ve got sponsored work where I keep all of sponsored work contracts and inside that sponsored work one has different folders for each sponsored work, like project. I’ve got employee information and contracts and things like that. I think those are pretty much my top ones, top folders inside of my main folder. But inside of my recipe folder, I have a folder per year and then inside that, I just have all of the recipes.

Bjork Ostrom: The recipe names. Yep.

Karli Bitner: The recipe names there. So there’s a folder for each recipe name and I’m crazy and I keep all of the RAWs, all the RAW images. For some reason, I can’t delete them. So I keep all of them in that folder as well as edited JPEGs and my PIN, anything that goes with that post is in there, and I always make sure when I export from LightRoom to rename, so this is good for SEO too, you know that, to rename the pictures, images, what the image actually is.

Bjork Ostrom: So as opposed to like image_548, you’ll rename it like instant pot mac and cheese?

Karli Bitner: Yeah. Rename it. Right.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, whatever the image is, you use that as a file name?

Karli Bitner: Right, and so then that way too … If for some reason, it ever does get lost, it doesn’t export into the right folder and you’re like, “Where did that go?” It’s really easily searchable. You can just search it.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. Do you use a PC or Mac or…

Karli Bitner: I use a Mac, yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay yeah, you’d use Spotlight, which is like the search tool and you’d just type in the name, you’d be able to find it really easily. Same with folder. I use a search tool that’s awesome, it’s like a launch app I think is what it’s technically called and this would be a note for anybody listening if you want to geek out on stuff, it’s called Alfred, which is just like the best thing ever. It’s like Spotlight on steroids, which would be a good thing to check out, and then the question that I would have for you that maybe a lot of people are thinking is like, “Wait, what about space? Do you just have a huge hard drive? If you’re keeping all your raw files, what does that look like?” Any comments on that would be like, “How do you do that from a space consideration?”

Karli Bitner: My husband is like the tech –

Bjork Ostrom: Tech guy.

Karli Bitner: Guy. In fact, he’s so stoked today because it’s the Apple event, and he like…

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. It’s like the Super Bowl for tech people.

Karli Bitner: Yeah. He’s been counting down the days.

Bjork Ostrom: Will he watch it live or go kind of radio silent and then watch it at the end of the day?

Karli Bitner: So usually … He’ll watch it tonight just because he’s in surgery and stuff, but back in the day, I made an Apple shirt for him that he’d wear on these event days.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.

Karli Bitner: I’m not even kidding, and we were the crazies that would sleep out of the A&T store overnight to get the new iPhone…

Bjork Ostrom: All right. Good for you guys. Love that.

Karli Bitner: So we’re big into the tech launch, my husband is, I just go along with it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Totally.

Karli Bitner: So whenever my hard drive says, “You’re running out of storage,” I say, “Hey, I’m running out of storage.” He’s like, “Okay, I’ll take care of it.” But we have big hard drives –

Bjork Ostrom: External hard drives, yeah.

Karli Bitner: External hard drives that he’ll transfer stuff over, so just external.

Bjork Ostrom: So one of the things that we’ve … Two things that for anybody listening who would maybe be interested in it, if you have Apple, PC might have a comparable thing, but you have the ability to intelligently offload to the cloud with iCloud storage, maybe you’re doing that, maybe not. But that would be worth noting for anybody who uses Mac OS who are like, “Yeah. Maybe, maybe not.” But if too much space is being taken up on your computer, you can store, and it’s relatively affordable. It’s like $3.00 for 200 terabytes. So that would be worth noting for anybody, and then another thing worth noting for anybody who is listening is we actually use Google Drive. We have shared drives because we have a team who we’re working with.

Bjork Ostrom: So we store actually all of our video footage and our photos for all of the different sites on Google Drive and then we back it up with Backupify but what’s nice about that is like we have … Gosh, I forget what it is. It’s like 30 terabytes which is pretty significant between videos and photos and Food Blogger Pro content, but it’s all stored on the cloud and accessible and relatively affordable to share that there. I know not the thing that you get most excited about would be all the nitty-gritty details on the tech side, but it’s one of the things that I love and worth noting, especially as you start getting more and more of the storage consideration, as you get more content. Like it just … It never will become less content, it only becomes more.

Karli Bitner: Even though the content is the same.

Bjork Ostrom: So these are problems that you’ll have to solve, yeah, eventually. So one of the questions that I have about the batching of content is … And Lindsay talks about this, so Lindsay does most of the content production for Pinch of Yum, kind of the sister site to Food Blogger Pro, and she talks about it in regards to inspiration and if something sits too long, the potential feeling that it could be uninspired if she comes back to it at a certain point and I’m curious to know, and I don’t think that exists for everybody. I think there’s personal preferences around content creation. Do you have any thoughts around content as it relates to the season you’re in and feeling like separated from that season if you’re producing it too early? For instance, writing about Christmas in September or August, whatever it might be, June. And I know for you, you have a writer that you work with, so it’s a little bit different, but even creating the recipe could potentially feel different. Has that been something where you have felt like any friction there or it just is what it is?

Karli Bitner: No, it kind of is what it is, name of the game kind of. My neighbors all understand that they’re going to get Christmas recipes.

Bjork Ostrom: Christmas cookies in July. Yeah.

Karli Bitner: Christmas cookies in July. They’re going to get my leftovers. But it just kind of is what it is and I will say too that I definitely have and I always will all of a sudden just like pull a recipe out and be like, “Nope, I want this one. I’m sticking it in there and I’m shooting it today and I’m publishing it tomorrow,” just because I want to. So it’s more of just like having –

Bjork Ostrom: It’s not rigid, you have –

Karli Bitner: It’s done, and if it is what it is, and I don’t do anything else with it, it’s great. But you know constantly, I can shift stuff around whenever I want.

Bjork Ostrom: Right, and if you feel inspired, you can follow that and produce that content.

Karli Bitner: Exactly.

Bjork Ostrom: And if not, you don’t have to force it because you have this thing that you’ve done the work on and it’s available and you can publish it. Yeah.

Karli Bitner: Right, and there’s some times too where I get to shooting a recipe and I’m just like, “I do not feel like that anymore. I’m not vibing with that at all,” and so I think of something else and say, “I’d rather do this instead,” and then do that.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah yeah. And then do it. Totally.

Karli Bitner: So that’s the glory of being your own boss. Nobody tells you what to do, you get to call the shots and you can change things when you want and pivot when you need to.

Bjork Ostrom: I think what’s great about that combination is it allows you … For me it seems like you have a more healthy relationship with your work in that you don’t feel as … You own the work as opposed to the work owning you. Meaning you have control over it, you’ve crafted it in a way where you don’t feel like at the beginning of the week, shoot, I need to show up and do this. You’ve already done it, but if you feel inspired, you have something you’re excited about, you can go ahead and create that content.

Karli Bitner: Yes. It’s really freeing to be able to be in control of it instead of letting it run your life. Because it can and that’s how I was feeling that first year before I started really scheduling things out. It was just my life was dictated by creating content and I was being pulled in between, “Yeah, I want to go to the pool with my kids but also i really need to get this shot.”

Bjork Ostrom: Right, and that doesn’t feel great to be … One of the things that’s hard, it’s two sides of a coin. Or it’s the sun and the darkness of what we do is you have autonomy, so you could do that, which is like this great gift, to be able to go to the pool with your kids in the middle of the day because you’re not having to work a traditional nine to five. But you are your own boss, and so if you are deciding to work, it’s you saying, “I’m not going to go to the pool because I’m deciding to work,” and that feels different than if you just have a schedule because you’re not having to make that decision in the same way and what this does is it maybe allows or some flexibility in those moments where you are feeling not the strongest or if it’s not kids for anybody who doesn’t have kids or is maybe single like it’s your friend calls and they want to go for lunch, it’s your parents and you want to go back and visit them, whatever it might be, to have the ability to kind of shift in a way where you don’t feel like you are sacrificing the growth of your business because you’ve done the work in a different period of time to allow you to have that kind of fallback just seems super wise.

Karli Bitner: Yeah, right.

Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious to know … You had mentioned working with a writer and kind of mentioned a few different times just what it looks like to work with a team. When you go through the process and you get it to the point, everything’s scheduled out, you have it on the calendar, you are doing the recipe development, the photography, you’re putting that in, the writer is writing. What does it look like at that point? Is the writer you’re working with going into WordPress and writing that out and then you take the photos and drop those in and then you schedule it and then are there other people that you’re working with on your team that help push that to social? Because that’s another piece. It’s not just pre-content, it’s also post-content, there’s work that needs to be done.

Karli Bitner: Right. So my bread and butter is the photography and recipe development, like that is what I love so much, and I did all of it all by myself for way too long, and I remember the first VA that I hired when I handed over Facebook and Pinterest to her, I was like –

Bjork Ostrom: Sweet relief. Yeah.

Karli Bitner: I can breathe again. There is a lot that is required and a lot that you need to do all the time. So I have three employees. So I have the writer and what I do after she’s done is I go in, I read through everything, add stuff that I need, rephrase stuff that I want. So I really go through and read it all, add in the photos, video recipe card, whatever I need to do, and then I’ll schedule it, and then I have a social media assistant and she’s the one that puts it out onto Instagram, to Pinterest and Facebook and she does the push notifications too and then my other employee is my … I call her my marketing manager because I stink at marketing. I will own it all day long.

Bjork Ostrom: You can’t do it all, right? That’s an important piece of it, but yeah.

Karli Bitner: I don’t know why, but I would never … It took me two years, two and a half years to hire somebody to organize all of my existing content and create a calendar and a plan of promoting all of this content. I was just promoting the current stuff, and I would be like, “I have Halloween recipes from two years ago and I didn’t even mention it this Halloween.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah yeah. Right. So it’s somebody whose brain is dedicated to thinking about what’s the lay of the land –

Karli Bitner: What content is there.

Bjork Ostrom: And what’s available, yeah.

Karli Bitner: Mm-hmm, and what needs to go out and be promoted seasonally. She works alongside with my social media gal and they work together in publishing and creating the schedule for it, so …

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. I think that’s an area a lot of people are interested in. They know that they feel overwhelmed, and for a period of time, you have to, right? As you’re building up your business, you don’t have revenue, it’s sweat equity, you’re putting the time in to build it to a point where you can potentially hire somebody and then you get to that point and you hear a lot of people talk about that, “I wish I would have done this earlier,” you don’t know that until you do it, what that feels like, that moment of, “Great. Somebody’s doing Facebook, Pinterest, whatever it might be.” Curious, are those full-time people, part-time, contractor W–2, and then where did you find those people?

Karli Bitner: So they’re contract W–2, so I found them actually in a Facebook group for photographers. This is very random. But it’s a local group for photographers that are just kind of starting, they want to get their foot in the door with it. Most of them are stay-at-home moms that want to make a little extra money. That’s really what it is, and so I just posted it in there and say, “Hey, I run this blog, I’m looking for XYZ,” and I went there because I figure people that are starting up with photography, they have a website, they know how to work that, they already have social media, they post about their photography and stuff on their social media so they know how Instagram works. They kind of have all of the basis for what I needed to be able to train someone and so I … The three gals that I hired, they’re all stay-at-home moms that have … One of them has four kids, one has two, the other one just has two, now two, and they just could use some extra money. So I pay them hourly and…

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, and they work when they can and if a nap is short, then you don’t have to worry about…

Karli Bitner: Exactly, yeah. So they just can do it whenever they need to. My social media gal, she works probably 15 hours a month. So not like a ton, but it’s a great little bonus.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. Flexible.

Karli Bitner: She enjoys doing it, flexible, what she needs. I will say though that this, somebody told me this once, and this was great advice for me for hiring and I wish I would have heard this before. They said, “If you do the math and somebody works 10 hours a week,” so a total in a month of 40 hours in a month, and you pay them $10.00 an hour, we’ll just say $10.00, easy math. That’s $400.00 a month you’re going to be paying this person and 40 hours is a full week. So it’s like you’re giving yourself –

Bjork Ostrom: You’re buying a week.

Karli Bitner: You’re giving yourself a full week. Giving yourself a week’s worth of work to somebody for $400.00. So if you could be making $400.00 extra with an extra week in your life, it’s worth it.

Bjork Ostrom: Or if having that extra time to you is worth … Even if you’re not doing more, producing more.

Karli Bitner: Is worth that.

Bjork Ostrom: Is worth it, yeah, which is where it gets really interesting when you kind of start to crunch the numbers and there’s no perfect math on it because part of it is just lifestyle design as well. Like how much do you want to be working, how much can you afford to bring in into hire, and I think finding to your point people who are looking for something that complements what they’re doing in a way that’s flexible, that slots into the life that they have and how they want to be living. Great, then it’s you get help with the work that you need and somebody else gets to be working something, hopefully that they’re excited about that’s a good match for them, and is able to produce extra income from that.

Bjork Ostrom: Somebody mentioned this to me the other day kind of in that world, it’s called The Mom Project. Have you ever heard about this?

Karli Bitner: Uh-uh (negative).

Bjork Ostrom: I think it’s basically that same idea. It probably should be like The Parent Project, I don’t know enough about it. Like stay-at-home mom or mom who is working … What would be the way to say this, working on building their family or focusing on their family, but want to slot in kind of some variable work, I think there’s a couple different projects that do that. But essentially it’s like, “If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’re not going to be doing that 24 hours a day. You might have little pockets where you’d be able to focus on some work.” For people who aren’t wanting to build a business, what does it look like for them to be able to get a job that’s flexible enough, this type of work is perfect for that.

Karli Bitner: Yeah. It really is.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome, and cool to hear you talking about how you’re finding … Not only how you launched your site, but also how you found people to work with. Because I think hiring from another community is another great way to leverage a community. You say like, “Great, I know there’s these people who operate in this certain way that will be a fit for the role that I need them to be in, and I’m going to post this there to see if anybody is interested and I think that’s awesome.”

Karli Bitner: Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Did you ever think about emailing and posting on your blog about it, that’s something we’ve done before, we know that, “Hey, there’s readers, we have followers,” or were you able to find who you needed to find through this group?

Karli Bitner: Yeah, I was able to find who I needed to find pretty fast. I thought about posting for my followers, but I don’t know. I just am always scared it’s going to go south and then I don’t want people bad talking, and I just … The word of mouth just … It is so huge, and people talking, good or bad, just has so much impact. So that’s something that I’m scared of, and so –

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that makes sense. Like you wouldn’t want to post something and then somebody would have a bad experience associating that with your site or blog and then saying something about it.

Karli Bitner: Right, and then saying something about it and telling … Because I, and I have gone through some VAs. I have gone through a writer that wasn’t great that I’ve had to let go. So they weren’t all successes right from the get-go, and I –

Bjork Ostrom: If that somebody is like a huge fan, then that’s going to feel different than if it’s somebody who you’re not connected with.

Karli Bitner: I know, and then it’s going to be … I already feel awkward, letting people go or it’s not a great fit, whatever, and I feel like that would just be too much.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That makes sense. For sure. It’s a version, there’s maybe concentric circles around this idea you should never hire your friends. There’s maybe the next circle which is like never hire your fans, which I think one of the advantages that we’ve found, and it’s not fans, for us I viewed it as like people who are super familiar with what we do and aware of it. There’s something –

Karli Bitner: Yeah. I think there’s a difference.

Bjork Ostrom: In terms of like value alignment and you know that … Like if I know if somebody’s listened to all the Food Blogger Pro podcasts, that they are probably okay with who I am, as opposed to somebody who hears me for the first time, they’re like, “I don’t like the way he talks,” and then they don’t ever listen to it again. They kind of self-select out. So I think there is something to be said about it, but I also hear what you’re saying about wanting to be careful around getting too close in that kind of concentric circles around who you’re hiring and how close they are, so …

Karli Bitner: I know a ton of people have great success hiring people that follow them and maybe it’s just the fact that I don’t have a ginormous following yet, and so I feel like maybe one opinion could really affect me and my socials and everything, but maybe at some point you get to a point where it’s like people are talking bad all the time, whatever. It’s whatever.

Bjork Ostrom: Totally. That makes sense. I’m curious to know kind of as we close out here, as you think … It sounds like this season was kind of unique in that you are saying, “You know what? This is the last time I’ll be holding a three-month-old baby, a four-month-old baby, a five-month-old baby, up the line. I want to be present for that.” As you look at a schedule that isn’t as seasonal in regards to the uniqueness of that period of time, like 2021 being the last time that you’ll have an infant and saying, “Okay, I’m going to move into something that will …” Like year to year, it will maybe look similar. Do you have thoughts on how you’ll approach content in those seasons? Do you think you’ll still for a few months batch content for the year? Do you think you’ll switch to a few weeks and batch for the quarter? I’m curious to know in going through this a few times what have you learned and how will that inform how you make content in the future?

Karli Bitner: So what I will do is I will shoot … My two main times of year that I want completely off is all summer long so I can play with my kids which I did this summer for the first time in a long time and it was the best.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome.

Karli Bitner: Like seriously play and not have to worry about things, and then all of just November and December I went off. Just the holidays get crazy and I just want to be able to just enjoy my family.

Bjork Ostrom: Real quick with that, a side-tangent question. What does your team do during those times? Like if you’re off in the summer, is your team still working in the summer and then you’re kind of checking in and making sure things are going okay?

Karli Bitner: Yeah, and they have the option. They can work ahead if they want. They’ve got all of their stuff and honestly I think my social media manager, she does it all pretty much in like one or two days and just schedules it out and then she’s done. Or she could be doing it every day if she needed to.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s just like here’s what needs to get done in order for the summer to be successful.

Karli Bitner: Here’s what needs to get done. Get it done whenever you do.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah yeah yeah.

Karli Bitner: Yeah. So that’s what they’re doing.

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. Got it.

Karli Bitner: So how I will do it is starting in January, I will shoot for probably … I don’t know, it’s usually like a month, month and a half of shooting and that will get me through August. And then in August, when school starts again, I’ll do a month or so of shooting to get me through December and into January and so I just do two batch shooting sessions of the year I guess to get me through those months.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s great.

Karli Bitner: So I’ll shoot and take a break and then shoot and then take a break.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep, that’s awesome. My guess is people will hear this and they’ll think, “Wow. That’s awesome.” They’ll fold that into how they produce content, and I think, this is my prediction, Karli. I think it will have a substantial impact on somebody’s life. I don’t know who it is, but I think –

Karli Bitner: I hope so.

Bjork Ostrom: There’s enough people who listen to the podcast who will take some of the things that they’ve learned today and be able to implement those in a really significant way, so I appreciate you sharing this and being so open about it. Because I think it’s life-impacting in a real way because if not this, I think sometimes we can feel like we are feeding the beast forever. Like that’s just what our job is and every day we get up and feed the beast and for people to know, “Wait, you don’t actually need to do that. There’s a different way,” I think can have a really big impact.

Bjork Ostrom: Let’s say folks want to follow along with what you’re up to and what you do. Where can people do that, follow along, Karli?

Karli Bitner: So they can find me on all of the social medias at Cooking with Karli, it’s K-A-R-L-I, YouTube is also the same thing, doing lots over there these days and yeah. They can just follow me along on socials.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. That’s awesome. Karli, thanks so much for coming on. Really appreciate it.

Karli Bitner: Yep. Thanks for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a wrap for this interview with Karli. Big thank you to her for coming on and sharing her insights. As a reminder, if you haven’t, feel free to check out foodbloggerpro.com. That’s where a lot of the time and energy we spend goes. We do this podcast, you might know us from this podcast, but it’s really the tip of the iceberg, and the vast majority of the content, similar to an iceberg that we produce, you can’t see because it is all happening within Food Blogger Pro. There’s courses, there’s Live Q&As, there’s the community forum, and the best way to go and learn more about that is to go to foodbloggerpro.com and if you haven’t yet, follow or subscribe to the podcast. Super easy to do. All you need to do is search Food Blogger Pro, find that subscribe or follow button. Completely free, and every week we’ll come out with content and deliver it to your phone, your computer, wherever it is that you listen to this. So thank you for listening, we hope you enjoy the episode. We’ll be back here with another episode next week. Until then make it a great week and as always my hope is that these episodes help you get a tiny bit better everyday forever. That’s why we exist. Until then, we’ll see you later. Thanks.

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